INSOMNIA: The Ark: 8 Years in the Making Means a Lot of Sleepless Nights for RPG Fans

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From the inbox it came… and it looks pretty cool, I think:

 

(Thanks, INSOMNIA: The Ark!)

 

My current backlog is rather huge, but it looks as if I’ll need to carve out some quality time to check out Studio Mono’s INSOMNIA: The Ark, which is set for a September release on Steam.  According to its press release (continued below the jump… suspense!):

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Review: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, MeiQ has a few surprises for those thinking it’s just another fan service packed JRPG. Lengthy and packing in some cool ideas, it’s a solid genre entry worth picking up.

meiq_cg7 Platform: PlayStation Vita
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/13/2016
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B (80%) BUY IT!

At first glance (and second… and third), MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death looks like many other fan-service JRPGs packed with gals bursting out of their too-skimpy outfits ripe for waifu fantasies from those eager fans into that sort of thing. Fortunately, a mighty good game lurks past that booby trap facade and this is one Labyrinth worth a full inspection and yes, another Iffy game you’ll want to have in your library. Once you get over the costume designs, there’s a long and challenging game here to conquer with a fine combat system, albeit one that doesn’t change all that much once you sink a few hours in.

The plot is pretty basic stuff with four towers that need to be conquered in order to beat the evil so-and so trying to rule and ruin the land. Adding mechs each gal can pilot to the mix is a great touch, as it allows for some interesting pairings as well as gives you a squishy backup plan should a mech fall in battle. That’s right, your gals and whatever skills they’ve learned are your last resource if their metallic rides go down in flames. Initially, it’s a lousy thing as the gals aren’t exactly powerful and it takes time to gain a full party anyway. But, after a chunk of time, they’ll improve and all gain some nice, useful skills that can do decent damage. You’ll still want those mechs in good shape, though.

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Review: Ember

N-Fusion’s nostalgic, gorgeous love letter to classic CRPGs hits most of its notes perfectly and is one of the nicest surprises this year in terms of value for the money and how well the team has pulled off much of what it intended. 

Ember-752x430 Platform: PC (also on iOS)
Developer: N-Fusion Interactive
Publisher: 505 Games
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/9/2016
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: A (90%) BUY IT!

 

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Back in the earliest days, there was no sun and the world was dark. The heavens opened up and stars fell like beacons into the pitch black world, and they were known as “Embers”. Powerful and wise druids of a primordial race, “the Lightbringers,” roamed the land searching for this luminous matter. They performed a ritual of awakening to call the “Embers” out of their deep sleep. Suddenly the world became bright, and the veil of darkness was lifted. The Embers were the embodiment of magical flame, light, and life, but as word spread about the sheer power of the Embers, they came to be hunted and captured…and so the War for Ember began…

 

Given this site’s moniker I’m probably the last person who should be reviewing Ember, as I fell head over heels for the game after first seeing it just over two years ago at a 505 Games media event. Back then, it was an iOS exclusive and after spending time chatting with N-Fusion’s Jeff Birns and seeing the game in action, I was all set to drop my non-Apple stance and throw good money into taking the iPlunge. Fortunately, my brain started slapping itself in the face, which got me to ask if the game was coming to other platforms. Flash forward to the game hitting Steam first, followed by iOS a few days later and yours truly sinking a few dozen hours into the PC version, loving every nostalgic minute.

You play as a freshly revived Lightbringer, brought back to life after a lengthy period of interment in order to save a pretty troubled land called Domus from destruction. Yes, the game deliberately checks off a long list of CRPG tropes with slight amnesia, bantering siblings, a bad pirate gone good and others swirling through the plot. But this is exactly the sort of game that’s been made by a team who knows what it’s doing and it’s been done so well that everything’s more than acceptable once you get it. Or get over it, if you’re one of the wags who goes into every game expecting “innovation” from everything you touch. That said, the game works excellently as a casual to hardcore play because you get to control how easy to difficult your own experience will be.

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Seraph: Demons Die Faster On A Lead Diet

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Pretty much what would happen if a side-scrolling version of Diablo had its way with The Matrix. This is, yes, a good thing.

Two things almost stopped me from trying out developer Dreadbit’s super fun and challenging Seraph ($12.99). One was the claim of not needing to aim in a side-scrolling shooter (What?!), and the other was the use of the words ‘Gun Fu’ (Geshundheit!) in the game description.

As in:

Seraph is a super-slick, skill-based, acrobatic shooter. Take the role of an angel who’s mastered the art of ‘Gun Fu’ as she battles her way through hordes of twisted demons.

Ugh. That reminded me of sitting through the 2002 action flick Equilibrium, one of those movies where you have to throw both your suspension of disbelief (some of those plot points!) and sense of wonder (the film’s dreary tone overwhelms the solid stunts) under a truck before buying a ticket. Thankfully, unlike that Bale-jumping flick, Seraph has style to spare, the screens and trailers showed tons of promise and yes, the game does deliver the goods every chance it gets.

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You play as the titular female angel, a death-dealer trapped in two places: a demon-packed prison and the fragile frame of a human. If that body perishes, so does our agile heroine. Equipped with Olympic-style acrobatic moves and two different weapons from an increasingly powerful selection, the game task players with surviving some pretty hellish enemy types who want that angel pushing up daisies.

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What The .dll? Or: Hot Ember Code Giveaway, Back On Track!

ember-riddle-me-thisOh. Brother. And so, it took me three days or so to figure out that the registry cleaning and other maintenance I did on the laptop and/or Microsoft’s fiddly ding-crack wizzle Windows 10 being an unhelpful junk pile of coding somehow removed the .dll file certain games use to start up. Guess which game in particular WOULD NOT RUN at all and made me think it missed its launch day? Yep. Sure, I popped onto Steam to finally find people playing and commenting away. But I figured my early build was having issues of some sort.

Well, that actually wasn’t the case… Continue reading

Ember: Waiting For My New Flame (And Yours) To Return…

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“Hey! There’s supposed to be an Ember review up already!”

Well, there would be, but the game isn’t back up Steam after getting carted away for some tweaking and having its release date shifted to sometime today. Amusingly enough, I got about five or six hours in over the last weekend and before the game’s temporary removal, but for some reason the game clock kept running. When I checked in at some point Monday to pop back into the game with my notes, it not only wasn’t running, I saw my time was a whopping 27 hours. Eek. I could have sworn I shut my laptop down a few times over the weekend, so I’ve no clue as to what happened.

Oh, look! The launch trailer!

Anyway, from what I’ve played so far… I say it’s a buy AND a bargain at $9.99 Or: YES, you should buy this if you’re an old school CRPG fan or a new fan who want a gorgeous game world to explore full of life and depth (as in the game world is lively and the books here are great little lore reads). My full review is going to be up once the game is back up and I sink some more time into it. I kind of left things at a crucial moment and I hope my save files are intact. Back in a bit. I had Eventbrite plans for today, but just tossed them out a window here. Hey, it takes a lot to get me to pass up free alcohol. This game’s one of those things.

Back in a bit. Funny, it’s Free Stuff Friday, too. I have two Ember codes here to give out, but not until the game goes live. Drop a VERY short note in the comments if you’re interested, and I’ll pick two of you later today. Er, once the game is back up. Yes, you need a STEAM account if you don’t have one yet.

Remember EMBER? PC, 7th September!

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Wow. For a while, I thought N-Fusion Interactive’s gorgeous looking mobile RPG EMBER was dead and buried. Snuffed out like a campfire. Ash, even. Well, my flame has been rekindled into a super-hot sun thanks to that day-making email from 505 Games telling me the game is not only arriving after such a long wait, it’s coming to PC via Steam on September 7 for a mere $9.99. Wow. SOLD. This trailer dropped today – let’s take a look:

SOLD. Here’s a handy screenshot gallery to eyeball as well:


N-Fusion’s lovely proprietary engine makes for a beautiful game, doesn’t it? Yes, there’s a review coming on launch day, so stay tuned… and YES, go wishlist this one and keep an eyeball peeled for when it pops up for purchase.

 

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Featherpunk Prime Hands-On: Plink Flamingoes Surprise With Skill

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SuperHatchGames_Logo1If you told me I’d be gushing endlessly over an old-school run ‘n gun with a modern look that just so happened to star a cybernetic FLAMINGO, I’d probably ask you what YOU were smoking. But, here I am extolling the joys of Featherpunk Prime, one hell of an indie action/platform shooter from two guys with a ton of talent.

Stephen Payne and Dan Jeffery make up Super Hatch games and their baby is headed to Steam and the Humble Store September 1st. BUY IT, I say. The game is a total blast to play, it looks phenomenal, packs in a great soundtrack from Wingcap Audio (buy it!) and from my brief stretch with a recent build, it just might be one of the better arcade-style shooters this year.

FeatherpunkPrime_CyberFlamingoOnce you get over the oddball choice of a lead character, dive in and see how tight the game is, any preconceived notions will be vaporized. The game’s gaudy neon color scheme, catchy music and excellent re-mappable controls suck you in and keep things bouncing along as the level of challenge blow you around in your seat.

The game is wonderfully balanced and (to me), plays like a Bizarro World version of Contra meets Midnight Resistance with a CYBER FLAMINGO as the hero. I’m sure a few Treasure games also influenced Super Hatch, but the important thing here is the game they’ve made manages to stand out on its own as original thanks to tat heroic metal bird and how the game makes you adore it so damn much. It’s not a “cute!” shooter at all, folks. But then animation on that metal bird is so damn priceless you’ll crack up at the genius absurdity of it all.

I’ll shut up here before this turns into a full-on review (that’s coming!). For now, head below the jump for more…
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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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Arrow Video September: Back to Film School With An Unholy Trio of Horror Flicks

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Ah, September. Kids are back in school whining, parents still daily grinding it to make ends meet, pets being pets and not knowing what the hell time it is but play/sleep/eat time. You’re bored already, right? Well, looky here, lazybones: Arrow Video US and MVD Entertainment have got your back with a trio (that’s three, oh?) of horror flicks for your viewing displeasure. So, roll up the kids in a rug and send them to gramma’s place – it’s about to get steamy inside (well, if you keep the windows closed and a scream too much):

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Dead-End Drive-In [Blu-ray] (September 20th)

THE PRICE OF ADMISSION IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

One of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors, Brian Trenchard-Smith was a key figure in the Ozploitation movement, responsible for The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits… and dystopian cult classic Dead-End Drive-In!

Set in a near-future where the economy has crumbled and violent gangs play havoc in the streets, the powers-that-be have decided to lure the delinquent youth into drive-in cinemas and keep them there. No longer just a place to watch trashy movies and make out, these outdoor picture shows have become concentration camps for the unruly and unwanted.

With its day-glo color scheme, new wave soundtrack and extraordinary stunt work, Dead-End Drive-In is in the tradition of Ozploitation milestones Mad Max and The Cars That Ate Paris only very, very eighties.

Bonus Materials
* Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
* High Definition (1080p) Presentation
* Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
* Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
* The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith’s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
* Hospitals Don’t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith’s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
* Behind-the-scenes gallery by graffiti artist Vladimir Cherepanoff
* Theatrical Trailer
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

Hey! You’re not done reading and I’m not done cutting and pasting! Siddown and see what else is on the plate, mate.

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