Review: Golem Gates (PS4)

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Riffing with Glyph-ing: choose your cards wisely, or else suffer the fate of the unprepared.

GG_PS4Laser Guided games mostly excellent Golem Gates ($24.99) made me wish attract screens were still a thing in modern games. While it’s a solid and enjoyable take on the Real-Time Strategy (RTS), card collection and MOBA genres and translates well enough from its keyboard and mouse-centric PC origins to a game controller, it’s also the sort of game where a rolling demonstration mode would just be a cool thing to have happen when the game is booted up if only to get a few more people on the fence about it wanting to give it a shot.  If you’re super-old school and need a sort of reference point, imagine Herzog Zwei, StarCraft and DoTA having a baby and getting it onto PC and now, consoles and you’ve got an idea od what to expect.

Granted, if you’re buying this game for yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting into and likely don’t need any persuasion. Conversely, if a friend drops over and is itching to know what the big deal is, you’ll just have to have them plop down on the couch or wherever and play as they watch, or pick up a controller and join the fun if they’re more than a little curious. Thankfully, other than the rather dry main screen that greets you along with Dalvan King’s stellar music, the gameplay hooks you right in if you’re a fan of this sort of play. Kicking off with a tutorial that explains the basics, your Harbinger uses cards (called Glyphs here) to summon up a small variety of troops and useful goodies to assist in dealing with assorted enemies as you attempt to take out the enemy Harbinger. In Campaign mode, that list of Glyphs gets larger as do the enemy types that need crushing, and yes, decks can be created and customized to your liking as new Glyphs appear.

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Death Stranding Trailer: Lurking With Appreciation

So yeah, I’m not at all obsessing over Hideo Kojima’s new game project at all. Not because I’m not excited about Death Stranding (because I am). But it’s a very quiet excitement from me because I knew from the announcement a few years ago that this was going to something truly special from a few angles. From the stunning visuals to wherever the story will lead, as Kojima’s narratives tend to be entertainingly bizarre but purposefully so (past the offbeat touches some players will focus solely on). Nope, I’m just quietly avoiding news and speculation on everything so I can go in cold and play at my own pace, savoring every moment without relying on the internet to ruin my enjoyment.

Hell, I didn’t even watch that trailer above until I decided to run this post and even then, I just smiled that certain way I tend to when I see a project like this creeping towards its release date with that certain assurance that comes from a creative team that’s in sync on a project they have full control over. I can’t wait to play this, but ssssh… don’t tell Mr. Kojima I sad this. Shhhh!

-GW

198X: Hit-Bit Looks to Score Big With Its Nostalgic Retro Game Hybrid

Headed to PC and PS4 on June 20, and with Xbox One and Switch versions set to follow, Stockholm-based Hit-Bit Studios’ 198X is an incredible looking game that mashes up five types of arcade games and bundles them up in a young person’s coming of age storyline. That trailer is pretty impressive and yes indeed, my old arcade denizen days kind of popped into my head while watching it. I’m going to keep an eye peeled for the PS4 version, as it’s the console of choice these days (the Switch is a close second), but I have the feeling that this is going to be one of those games that will do quite well on anything it appears on.

Here are a few more screens for you – go poke at the official website and keep an eye peeled for this modern time capsule on a platform near you soon.

-GW

Gallery: Golem Gates

Golem Gates art

Well, this looks quite nice and grim, doesn’t it? This is Golem Gates, coming (very) soon for PC and consoles from developer Laser Guided Games and ever-busy publisher Digerati.  The latest trailer is below, the game’s press release and some gorgeous multi-platform screens are below the jump. Enjoy!

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Mary Skelter 2: Switch-Bound in September

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Excellent. One of my favorite Idea Factory RPGs is getting a very nice looking digital-only sequel that expands on what made it a solid game in the first place. While there are only four screens to share (so far), I’m gathering Mary Skelter 2 will get fans of the first game quite psyched for its September launch, but new players should also be in the same boat, as the upcoming Switch version also has the first entry included as a BONUS (woo and hoo!).

Read more on what’s in store below the jump.

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Digital Division Gives Me The Vaporwares

Well, yesterday for a bit, I was visiting this hot place seen below and not in a good mood over what I saw was a digital injustice (yaaaaaa!):

(thanks, Cartridge Magazine!)

Today, I’m still in that mindset as far as digital-only content goes, but ha and ha bloody ha, when I screw up, I go for it 110%, plus tax. PLUS TAX I SAY!!!

So, last night a friend comes over to return some Blu-Rays he’d borrowed and asks if I’d updated my PS3’s firmware so I could retrieve my game that was “lost”, which just about made me drop the cup of coffee I’d prepared a few seconds before. Fortunately, he reached out and tipped the cup upwards and pressed the RESET button on my forehead before things went blank.

via GIPHY

Okay, kids – here’s what happened that afternoon (cue dream sequence harp tune):

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The Digital-Only Future? It Blows, Folks

So, color me somewhat annoyed. Yeah, yeah, I knew when one buys a digital product, be it a song, game, book or other file type, there’s the chance (well, actuality) that that data will expire and yes, *never* be available ever again unless there’s some sort of preservation being taken care of in the form of say, a physical backup or other legally obtainable copy. Anyway, yes, I still own a PS3 and use it on occasion – here’s what happened today when I went to dink around a bit with a game that’s not all that old:

Yep, that’s right. A game I’d downloaded had been “disappeared” from my PS3’s HDD with nothing left but that nice-looking startup screen. *Poof!*

As I was picking up my jaw from off the floor, my brain cycled in one of my favorite bits of dialog from a favorite film (that’s thankfully, still available on a dang disc):

Garry: The generator’s gone.

MacReady: Any way we can we fix it?

Garry: It’s “GONE”, MacReady.

Sure, I read the fine print on that license agreement, but to have a game in one’s library just VANISH is… kind of shocking and stupid at the end of the day. Was Master Reboot a GOOD game? I kind of have no idea other than the about 25 minutes I played sometime last year when it popped up as a free game on PSN and, not having tried it it, I downloaded it so (get this) I could play it any time I wanted to and find out. Yeah, that was a mistake on my part, I guess. My game historian/preservation side is appalled by this, but it isn’t a new thing. Ask anyone who played the superbly scary P.T. or the stupidly fun Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or any of the many other games that have disappeared from digital stores online.

(Thanks, Wales Interactive!)

Well, at least the PC version is still available (but digitally, grrrrrr!), although I prefer playing on my console(s) of choice.

Yes, I completely grasp that licenses expire after a period of time and all that rot, but a game, song, piece of art or other data important to some people shouldn’t at ALL go dinosaur extinct and become a mere memory after such a brief period. Feh. I’d close this with an “oh well” or something similarly aloof, but I think I’m going to hit myself in the head with a rubber hammer and take a nap until the next disappointing episode of Game of Thrones comes on later this evening. Oh, that show has been and will also be on many discs going into the future, you can bet on that… for now.

-GW

Review: Outward (PS4)

outward PS4 bxFor the record, I wanted to dislike Outward ($39.99) less than 15 minutes in after nearly dying during the tutorial thanks to an near-invincible enemy guard whose health never seemed to drop past a certain point and kept regenerating far too quickly to be reasonable. During my digital near-death experience, I ran away to recover, only to return and find he’d just *poof!* simply disappeared from the spot where he and the other guard I’d dispatched were placed. I recall my eyebrow arching up and letting out a “Great.” before resuming play with the hope things would go more upward before I got too far outward. Fortunately, they did (well, for the most part).

There were a few other issues with the game, such as items randomly vanishing from the bag I was carrying, my character or an enemy getting stuck in certain parts of the map when doing certain actions, and a few textures that could have used a bit more polish, among other things. I decided after a random death that had me unable to locate my bag when I resumed, to stop playing for a bit and move onto a few other games while I held out for a patches to correct these issues. That waiting turned out to be a good thing. Over the last few updates the game became much better and is now a solid recommend for those who want something fresh and furiously challenging. There are still a few pesky bits, but I’ll get to those later.

That said, prepare for a completely punishing game experience that combines fantasy RPG, survival game and simulation elements with a very welcome two player split screen mode and the option to play online with a friend or total stranger. In fact, preparation for every obstacle the game will throw your way is a huge part of surviving, to the point where you’ll be playing this with a keener eye to (at least) staying alive for as long as possible. Once you’re out in the open world of Aurai, your brain needs to go into invisible mommy mode before you get busy with that questing, so get ready to take *everything* under consideration. Do you have your traps prepared? Got enough clean water? What are you wearing for the weather? Did you pack your lunch? Clearly, this isn’t a game for those who don’t like to be reminded that rote carelessness other RPGs let you get away with won’t be rewarded by anything but an easier demise in this game.

Still, even after you get used to the preparation aspects, expect death to come calling regularly like early morning doorbell-ringing proselytizers cheerily chatting on about the end of the world the moment you poke your head outside. Oh wait – hold on a sec… someone’s at the door… What, so early in the day for this? Gyaaaaah.

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Review: Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)

EDF 5 logo

Well, that took a while, didn’t it?

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There guys are new and quite a pain in the butt to fight. You’ll see (and how!)…

For me, an Earth Defense Force game is a particularly tricky review because despite the many similarities in each entry, the series has actually evolved over 16 years (yes, evolved!) into a game where you can choose a single character and dive in deep to uncover their rather massive set of weapons as you play through the different difficulties. While on the surface, Earth Defense Force 5 is a thrilling yet simplistic chunk of game to sink into, there’s a nice level of complexity in regards to how to approach missions in either single player, co-op, or online modes that makes if a fresh experience through multiple replays.

For many players, the easy to use all-rounder Ranger will be their initial pick, but I strongly suggest using Wing Diver for her air superiority and ability to snag more pickups than any other class. Or, you can play as each hero in any order, learning their unique skills (the Fencer and Air Raider require a bit of patience to master) as you challenge those aliens out to overrun the planet for the umpteenth time. It’s your call, and with 110 missions to tackle (not including DLC content), this isn’t a short game by any means.

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Going in solo? Expect to learn a lot about how your chosen class plays and put it into practice, or you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also the first EDF game with a proper (albeit awkward) tutorial for all four classes. It’s unskippable on your first play with any character even if you’re an EDF veteran, but it’s nice to see developer Sandlot make the game a lot more welcoming to new EDF recruits. For those new players, I’d recommend playing through each character’s tutorial just to see which one fits your play style and mess with “farming” a few missions to increase your arsenal. Of course, you can swap between characters between missions if you like, or stick with one for the entire campaign. Couch co-op play is supported via split screen in case you have an extra controller and a pal willing to dive in and get some bug and ‘bot blasting on.

Here’s a look at the Wing Diver intro level (all the EDF 5 videos in this review save for the official trailer are of me playing and there are quite a lot more of them on my YouTube channel, if you’re interested).

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Now Playing: Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark

packshot_1500x2200As I’m still playing this one, this isn’t an “official” review at all, but more of a solid recommendation based on time spent with the game to date. Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark ($29.99) feels like a cross between Final Fantasy Tactics, the Tactics Ogre games and the original Vandal Hearts with more customization options, a gorgeous hand-drawn look, geat music and gameplay guaranteed to please SRPG fans who want a so far very entertaining experience. 6 Eyes Studio and publisher 1C Entertainment have a real winner here that’s even running better after a recent patch fixed a few issues.

This is the sort of game that will bring back more than a few memories of those aforementioned classics to fans who remember while giving those new to it an excellent new epic to go through at their leisure. What’s nice about the game so far is how well its story builds up dramatic moments from the first battle and leads you into certain points where you’re rethinking your opinions of certain main players. Eh, no spoilers here, but let me distract you instead with how the game opens and some early character edit stuff:

Okay, I’d actually recorded close to three hours of gameplay spread over a few more videos, but decided to use this shorter clip because I was thinking I was giving away too much of the story not too long into the game proper. Granted, a good chunk of that time was me messing with the wonderfully deep character creation system and adding a few more troops to my roster, so perhaps I’ll run those clips in a bit once I complete the main story, which so far, is quite good indeed.

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I’ll shut up here and get back to the game for a bit so I can have a more informative review in a few more days. That said, I think SRPG fans will absolutely love what’s here. Hell, if this were on a disc or game card in a retail package, I’d likely end up with two copies just to sock one away for the future. Oh, never mind my oddball collecting proclivities – go give this great game a try whether it be on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I’ve no idea about a Switch port, but I guess that’s for 1C to decide on if the other versions do well enough and 6 Eyes can get Switch dev kits at some point. Should this occur, guess who’ll be playing this all over again?

-GW