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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Bevontule Update: Going Greenlight (With Some Help From You)

So, yep. Bevontule is still going strong as a work in progress and as you can see above, looking even better than before. Thanks to feedback on the multiple demo builds they’ve posted for about a year as well as a wealth of general improvements made over time, Multithreaded Games LLC (or the dynamic duo of Derek Bradley and Andy Fenton) is on target to make quite a memorable first game certain to garner a loyal fan base. Nitpick time! If you want to get really picky, calling it a “JRPG” is a *tiny* bit misleading. Both Derek and Andy hail from Portsmouth, Ohio here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Still, as the game does take some of its inspiration from a few classic turn-based strategy JRPGs, I’ll gracefully let them slide on that. The new typeface, even more polished visuals and what’s so far tighter gameplay makes this one a game to keep an eye on and hope it gets enough attention to get ported to consoles at some point.

(Cue Derek and Andy screaming in unison and calling up a local hit man to get me for wishing port work on them before the PC version of game is actually completed… Heh, sorry, guys!)

What’s clear about the outstanding visuals (that draw distance is amazing, isn’t it?) is the boys know how to make the Unity engine sing. Of course, the usual “Unity sucks!” naysayers will never be convinced, but I think Multithreaded isn’t listening to those know-littles (none of whom knows how to make a game, I’d wager). One of the more amusing things about the game going Greenlight is the comments section on the Greenlight page.  It would seem (in proper internet commentary fashion) that SOME so-called gamers don’t even know the game has not one, not two, not three, not four… but FIVE different demo builds to try out, all from different periods in development and all worth a play. You’d think someone would go as far as to post those links in something like a blog post so people can take the older builds for a spin, but noooooo… (heh).

Oh, that video above is me sneaking up on some hapless cranky Steam user on the way home to NOT play a game, but negatively comment on games they’ll never play because they’d rather be THAT guy stinking up an otherwise decent community with stinky s#!tposting galore. What happens next? Well… you’ve got those links above, correct? Go find out, you (all those builds are FREE, by the way!). Bevontule isn’t due until sometime in 2018, so you have PLENTY of time to see what’s what. That said, go vote it up on Greenlight while you’re waiting, please.

 

-GW

PC Review: Yooka-Laylee

While playing Yooka-Laylee,
the words, they kinda fail me
it all feels so nineteen-ninety nine.

That’s really not a bad thing
Fact: parts of it indeed sing
But others have me screaming half the time.

The camera’s got the jitters
This game’s not made for quitters
But still, it takes some patience to align.

The game world’s quite expansive
with infinite life chances
But tumbling off those ledges? Not sublime.

To give Playtonic their due
when stuff works well, it feels true
and older fans will find a lot of shine.

But games have come a long way
Those mascots, they’ve had their day
And newer work has fixed what was a “crime.”

The old school’s kinda backwards
One time it won most placards
But now, it’s seen more classical than prime.

The Ratchets, Slys, and others
Are the more modern druthers
So, is this vintage style worth your dime?

Provided you mind its quirks
You’ll find quite a few good perks
Collectibles galore? Tough to decline!

Those flaws, the dev can fix them
And make this game a true gem
bringing those bugs to heel as benign.

For Rare fans reminiscing
There’s fun here, but lots missing
But there’s no need to yell a lot or whine.

Whether pre-bought or now still sold
I’d say bad reviews will seem old
But only if the update redesigns!

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The Other 99 Returns: Killing Time Gets A Few Good Tweaks

 

It’s baaaaack… Thanks to input from its Early Access player base and critics, UK developer Burning Arrow has been hard at work fixing up its survival game The Other 99 with a number of big changes to the formula and a brand new opening that reveals a bit more about how your character ended up on that deadly island:

Corrections and improvements include :

– New Starting Area.

– Massively reworked Balancing.

– Better interaction for survival with the world (e.g. now you can drink water from rivers, etc..).

– Rework of the Survival Guide (Hunger & Thirst related).

– Overhauled the island with new props populating the environment.

– Rework of the combat.

Hmmm. It looks as if I’ll be diving back into this at some point soon, as those improvements were needed and publisher Deck 13 has been great at keeping me posted on these updates. My poor backlog is killing me, but this one is getting pushed up a few notches because it’s got some decent replay value going for it.

-GW

WRC 6 Slides Onto Console, PC

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Rally fans looking for another fun spin around assorted twisty tracks now have another entry in the genre as Bandai Namco, Bigben Interactive and developer Kylotonn present WRC 6 for your approval. PC (via Steam), Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions are out NOW, so I’m gathering you know what to do, right? Granted, Codemasters has the edge with its own rally games. But it’s always great to see other options available to fans who don’t mind playing as many rally games as possible. This one’s going to be more than welcome around here.

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-GW

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Husk: Shivercliff Is Calling This February


 

husk_logoHmmmm. UndeadScout’s upcoming horror game Husk just got a boot upwards on my play list because it seems it’s not going to be just another great-looking fright game in a roiling ocean of them. My eye has been on this one for a while, but I’ve been silent on it until more of what’s going on up in those hills was revealed (+25XP if you got the corny reference). In any event, the game is calling out to those horror fans who want a bit more meat on the bones, so do yourselves a favor and go check out the Steam store page and sure, go sign up on the official site for future updates. Hey, someone’s gotta go look for YOU after you go missing, right? Might as well be me or someone else you think you can trust. Yeah, I said *think*. It might be too scary to go get you if I’m not totally prepared.

Although, I do charge a nominal fee for rescue missions.

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Husk arrives on Steam February 3, 2017.

-GW

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Imprint-X Hands-On: A-Hacking We Will Go In Morgondag’s Latest Trippy Indie


 

Vendela and Kim over at Morgondag have been busy getting their next game up on Steam and if you love quirky puzzle games, Imprint-X will be right up your alley. A few minutes spent with a build of this unique hacker clicker puzzler reveal it’s quite engaging in its wordless presentation that opens gameplay up to anyone. Actually, all you need to know is in the description on the game page:

A robotic virus is raging! Nano Bots called Wardens are enslaving people! You are one of the hacker clones, saving intellects by hacking into infected brains and defeating the mysterious Wardens; figuring out their correct button sequences.

 

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There’s both a smart simplicity and hefty challenge awaiting you puzzle masters as the game goes from simple switch clicking to more advanced patter memorization and faster clicking needed to ‘catch’ moving parts of some puzzles. As with Morgondag’s stellar, strange Rymd Resa, the visual style is clean yet beautifully stylized with an intriguing soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere. I’ve only sunk a solid half hour into this so far, but my brain is getting a workout already. As reviews are embargoed until the 26th anyway (the game’s release date), you’ll all have to hold your collective breath until then. Back in a bit.

-GW

Yooka-Laylee Capital Cashino Trailer: Playtonic’s Platforming Playhouse Arrives In 2017


Well, the really good news is this Rare-inspired platformer now has a release date and more great-looking screens to go with that trailer above. The sort of bad news is the Wii U version has been sent to the glue factory, but the silver lining is it’s headed to Nintendo Switch at some point. Screens you want, screens you get thanks to my handy YouTube channel you should probably subscribe to now that I’ve figured out how to use the darn thing. I don’t monetize, so fear not – you’ll get no spam or even a slice of stale bread to have that spam on.

Press release perusal? Jump down, watch for spikes.

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Home Sweet Home Will Scare The Leftover Turkey Right Out of You

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Eeek. I made it about ten minutes into the demo for Thailand-based developer YGGGAME’s upcoming horror game Home Sweet Home before tapping out for the first time, too scared out of my skull to move another inch. Of course, I wisely (or not so wisely) went back and restarted, determined to push on through my nearly squeezing my poor mouse to death. Let’s just say you’re all very fortunate I’m not some YouTube streamer with a loyal or any following, as the assorted sounds I was making were often creepier than the demo, which is absolutely nightmarish and so far, very well done.

I’ll let the official site’s version of the story lull you into its spell here:

Tim’s life has drastically changed since his wife disappeared mysteriously. One night, after suffering from sorrow for a long time, he woke up in an unknown place instead of his house. While trying to escape from this place, he was hunted by a rancorous female spirit. Can he survive? Is this place actually his house? Does it relate to the disappearance of his wife? Some dark sinister secret is hidden inside this house, and it won’t be a place of happiness as it used to be any longer.

What actually happens in the demo is you wake up with a hangover in a messy, unfamiliar bedroom you don’t recall (was that your wife’s voice telling you to get up?) and when you open the door, the stack of furniture in front of it is the first fright because it’s unexpected and wait? Was someone trying to keep you IN that room? Fortunately, there’s a flashlight under the table you’re crawling under that comes in very handy. A walk through a few filthy hallways and rooms leads to a simple puzzle where you need to find a key to get out of a suddenly locked room… but after that, it’s a descent into almost peeing yourself.

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