Lost Ember: Making Mooneyes at This Great-Looking Game

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I’d been quietly following Mooneye Studios upcoming Lost Ember for a few years with the hope that the dev team would be taking their time to make an already gorgeous  game even more so. So this new trailer and actual launch date are making me really happy:

Lovely, isn’t it? Well, that July 19 release date for PC, PS4 and Xbox One is indeed a good thing, and with a Switch version also in the works, it’s safe to say about the only folks who might be a tad perturbed will be Mac and Linux die-hards who have to be a bit less grumpy unless their wants are taken care of. Anything is possible, so who knows what will happen in the future, I say. Go stick this one on your watch and wish lists, folks.

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A wolf whistle to the art team for such spectacular environments might not be a bad thing here.

– GW

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Review: The Wizards – Enhanced Edition (PSVR)

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Yep, buy it.

BOOM. Carbon Studios has cooked up an absolutely incredible and fun VR experience in The Wizards: Enhanced Edition ($24.99), a game so immensely entertaining it’ll make you want to run out and buy a PS4 and PSVR setup just to play it. If you’ve already got that rig and are ready for the next instant classic… well, here you go.

Granted, there are a nice selection of other exceptional games for PSVR fans (Moss, Astro Bot, BattleZone and many more spring immediately to mind as must-owns). But as a huge fan of action/adventures with a fantasy setting (this isn’t quite a RPG despite having plenty of RPG inspired content), the game’s got that great “Just one more level!” pull to it that keeps you pushing forward with a rather huge grin on your headset-covered face. Well, an hour or so at a time if you’re not able to sit for long VR sessions and need to take breaks (I’m in that category, by the way).

As I haven’t played the PC version, going into the world of Meliora completely cold made for an even more thrilling time right out of the gate. Dual PS Move controllers in hands, the game does quite an excellent job at making you feel like a full on magic-slinging, monster mashing champ. While there’s likely going to be a bit of a learning curve for new players, for PSVR vets, the game excels at making you feel as if you’re in its solidly rendered environments with a level of immersion so great that even those glove-covered hands you’ll be casting and blasting with are pretty flawlessly animated. Once you learn how to time your spells and cast them properly, any initial frustrations will melt away (along with a few waves of weaker foes). Bosses are a challenge on a few fronts, but overall, this one’s a well-made chunk of entertainment. No new ground is broken here, but this comes recommended because it gets what it gets as right as can be every chance it gets.

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“You’ve got the touch… you’ve got the POWER!… ZZZAP!

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Hell to Pay 3: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Launch Trailer

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Shadows may Die Twice, but I’ll die quite a lot more playing this and be totally happy with that.

Confession: I’m notably terrible at FromSoftware’s Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, but I keep playing them all because of my overall love for the developer’s work and generally very solid lineup since the King’s Field days and the fact that they make some really damn fine games that have been varied, fun to play and challenging. I fully expect to be even more terrible at their new game, Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice, set for a PC, PS4 and Xbox One release on March 22, 2019.

This trailer is, to put it mildly, absolutely magnificent:

Granted, it’s a given that Activision and From have a guaranteed evergreen hit here that’s a gorgeous reminder the dev cut its teeth on some superb single player experiences way back in the 32-bit era. But this game also makes me wish someone would nudge the developer to get to work on Otogi and Otogi 2 remakes or remasters, as those were two very well-made original Xbox titles that deserve a new life on current-gen hardware or hardware yet to come. We shall see, of course, but hey – if we’re also getting Metal Wolf Chaos XD this year from Devolver Digital, anything is somewhat possible in the future.Micro

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Hey, pal… got a light?

-GW

Hell to Pay 2: Diablo Makes a Comeback

Excellent. After years of requests for a legitimate re-release, Blizzard and gog.com have teamed up to get the classic PC game Diablo out exclusively on the popular DRM-free digital platform for a measly $10. That tenner it costs gets you the original 1996 version as well as a separate build updated to run on Windows 7, 8, and 10 that includes “a host of bug fixes and high-resolution support via aspect ratio-correct upscaling”. While Mac and Linux versions are currently not available, I’d imagine someone clever will figure out a way to get those up and running for those fans who may want them. At this point, you won’t get that much-requested Hellfire expansion in this deal and I’d gather that will never be a thing to buy as that content wasn’t created by Blizzard

Blizzard and gog.com will also be getting both Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft 2 out as digital-only re-releases at some point in the near future. As for the still superb Diablo II? Well, there’s no news on an updated version at this time, but both can currently be purchased through Blizzard’s Battlenet online store. Personally, I’m hoping for this one to get the same treatment along with the Lord of Destruction expansion, as it’s pure hell trying to get them to run from the original discs without some mucking around with a bunch of config options. The last few times I played DII, I used the amazing Sven’s Glide Wrapper to make the game look better (as well as add a clock to the game screen so I could keep track of time, as DII is a total time-sink).

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There’s going to be a hot time in the old town tonight…

I still recall way back in 1996 when I walked into an Electronics Boutique to hunt down a few Sega Saturn games and saw a playable demo of Diablo with no one at the kiosk, stepping up to try the game and being floored by the dark tone and gloomy soundtrack. The game felt like a meaner, more complex version of Gauntlet that required a more methodical style of play and yep, I was hooked in. Even the less stellar PlayStation port was a thrill to play multiple times (and yes, I still have that here in the library). While Diablo II never got a console port, it sure would be very nice to see one appear for consoles in the not too distant future just so a bunch of us who want to check that off our wish lists can be giddy for a spell (even if there won’t be mods to mess with).

-GW

Hell to Pay 1: Warhammer: Chaosbane Update

It’s Beta time for those of you who pre-ordered Warhammer: Chaosbane on PC and console, so those of you who’ve plunked down that deposit can dive right into the thick of things and let all hell break loose. That beta time only lasts until the 13th of March. so get busy betting busy on that, folks.

Set for launch on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 4th, 2019 for the Standard Edition and on May 31st, 2019 for the Digital Deluxe and Magnus Editions, the game looks to fuse Diablo-like action/RPG with the classic Warhammer setting and if that trailer is any indication, Bigben and developer EKO wll have a huge hit on their hands. It’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up against the still mighty Diablo III on consoles, but it’s safe to say that genre fans will be well served if all the pieces fall into place.

-GW

Capsule Reviews: You Need That Cute and Busy Stuff These Days

Foo. In addition to hating being ill, I’m kind of really hating on the general level of discourse we’re often forced into on random occasions when one is not even thinking of doing any feather-ruffling and someone you barely nod at gets their feathers quite ruffled. Boo. Anyway, some games are actually quite perfect at boinging away the nonsense thanks to crafty devs who just want to share what they’ve created with anyone and everyone who wants to have a good old time and maybe end a day with a smile. Submitted for your approval are the following indies, all at a nice enough price point to recommend to even the cheapest of cheapskates:

 

 

ihugu boxIHUGU (Nintendo Switch, $3.99): The first time I turned on Kool2Play’s simple and offbeat game, I was greeted with a quote from Ronald Reagan about peace that made me nearly spit out the sip of water I’d just taken. The second time I fired up the game, it was a quote from Jimi Hendrix that was in the same peaceful vein. While more or less a basic memory match game, the concept works well enough thanks to a wacky factor that more than makes up for its repetitive nature. Hug as many different folks as you can in assorted levels set around the globe and try for high scores by not hugging the same person twice. A few brief mini-games of the non-violent sort are dropped in every so often and are the same simplistic fun, but complexity and depth aren’t supposed to be strong points here.

 

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It ain’t rocket science, folks: huggin’, not thuggin’ is the way to do it.

 

Then again, the idea of a simple hug making someone’s day is almost a luxurious thought these days, a pipe dream of sorts if you think about it in this climate. But some of you may be very surprised to know that in real life this action (when done in a non-creepy and pure manner) is actually a great way to greet friends new or old. The game’s positivity and bright, cheerful visuals make it something to dip into if your day has been chick full of gloomy types angst-ing at your ankles with their low attitudes. Besides, you can custom create a bizarre looking character that only a mother would love who gets to spread a bit of joy as it zips from stage to stage spreading the love. What’s to hate about that? Also, the new 2-player mode is pretty neat for what it is even though the game never sets its sights above novelty status.

Score: C+ (75%)

Review code provided by the publisher

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Review: Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight

warplanes switch squareWhile it’s got quite the generic title, don’t pass up the chance to snap up Warplanes: WW2 Dogfight ($9.99) on the eShop, as it’s a stellar, challenging arcade-like flight combat game with a few simulation and light RPG elements. Featuring fast-paced gameplay, solid visuals, tight controls and difficulty that ranges from casual to challenging, it’s quite a nice surprise for a budget-priced digital game.

Each of the three campaigns (UK, Russian, German) can be played in their native language (with English subtitles), an excellent touch that adds authenticity to the overall experience. For the most part, the mission structure is similar across all three campaigns where you’ll hop into an assortment of planes and take on missions ranging from dogfights, bombing runs, and other aerial ace combat. The gameplay can be set to auto-target/autofire for more casual play, standard aiming and firing where you need to learn how to “lead” planes and fire at where they’re headed, or a hardcore mode that loses that auto-targeting and has you rely on sheer skill alone. Dealing with multiple bogeys coming your way from all angles when you’re having to target and fire without aid can be frustrating, but it’s a great way to truly test your nerves.

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Review: Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds (Nintendo Switch)

spintires switchAs with the PC and other console versions, Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds ($39.99) on the Switch is a pretty outstanding technical achievement, although this latest version isn’t without a few caveats. Packing in all the original game’s content along with the American Wilds expansion, it’s pretty amazing to see this simulation arrive on Nintendo’s hybrid looking and playing so well. Granted, it’s running at half the frame rate of the PC version and you’ll likely enjoy docked mode more than handheld mode if you’re a total visual purist. But it’s still amazing to see the Switch pumping out everything the more powerful consoles can with mostly relative ease.

If you’re new to the game, expect a hefty challenge the simple and quick tutorial deftly dances around because the game is meant to hook you in and have you figure out what you can do at your own pace.  This isn’t some fast-paced arcade monster truck fest with power-ups or turbo boosts galore. Nope, it’s a methodically paced simulation that demands practice and patience galore, but despite the learning curve manages to be incredibly fun and rewarding when all is said and done.

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“Keep on truckin’, baby…. you got to keep on… truckin…”

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Warhammer: Chaosbane Gallery

Now, this looks pretty entertaining and yes, it’s really good to see this legendary series tip its weathered cap to the speedier gameplay found in the Diablo series. Don’t get me wrong, though. I so love the tactical approach to both the Warhammer board games and PC/console games as well as most of the pure action games that have popped up in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Warhammer: Chaosbane feeds that need for my isometric games loving side and if the gameplay videos are any indication, it’ll also be a game that spends some quality time in my play list and perhaps even rise to the top if all it promises works as planned.

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My brain says “SOLD!”, so this one’s added to the bucket list. Thank you, brain. Also, thank you EKO Studios and Bigben for making this a reality as the first ARPG in the franchise.

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Earth Defense Force Iron Rain Update: Getting Antsy (With Purpose)

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And you thought your last picnic got out of hand when the ants started trundling towards that basket…

D3 Publisher in Japan has been running a series of informative live play videos of the upcoming Earth Defense Force Iron Rain on its YouTube channel, and while all the dialog is in Japanese, once the gameplay kicks in after some lengthy chatter, all four episodes are quite fun to watch. While there seem to be no plans to do a western version of these videos, I’d be first in line to volunteer for a series here provided I get to wear an ant mask or some sort of other disguise. That or, I’d at least want to do an interview with some of the dev team at YUKE’s behind the game and/or some of the folks at Sandlot just to give readers an idea of what goes into making the EDF games so insanely fun when all is said and done.

 

 

Given that this is the first game in the series to get a simultaneous worldwide release and it’s a PS4 exclusive, there’s a lot (ant) riding on it being a smash out of the gate or at least becoming a game with long (spider) legs as well as an “evergreen” game that sells well on a regular basis. The best thing about every game in the series is fans of all skill levels truly get their money’s worth if they want to see everything thanks to the tremendous amount of weapons and gear for each character. “Bang for the buck” really holds true for this series and that’s a great thing to see as a hallmark for this somewhat niche franchise that really deserves a larger player base.

Remember:

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-GW