The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II PSN-Bound

 
Okay, it’s August 15 for you folks in the USA, but the game has dropped into the European PS Store already. As this PlayStation Blog post points out, a bunch of improvements and changes have been made over the PS original.

The Playstation 4 version of the game comes with a lot of new gameplay features, unique trophies, full DualShock 4 controller support and a completely reworked scenario mode and Tower Defense mini game. On PlayStation 4 Pro players are able to choose from three different settings: Better Performance (1920 x 1080 aiming @ 60fps), Balanced (2880 x 1620 aiming @ 50fps) and Better Quality (native 4K aiming @ 30fps).

– all of which sounds fine to me. Players of the first installment can (and should!) import their save file in order to take a more powerful Van Helsing into the second game, as the first big battle is indeed a tough one if you jump in under-prepared.

Even better, the game is only $14.99, making it a must for action ARPG fans looking for a budget-priced game that promises plenty of action for a fair price point.

-GW

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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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Review: Perception (PS4)

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Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

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Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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A Little Victor Vran Does A Body Good

 

VVOE_PS4As I’m still in recovery mode after my hospitalization, I’ll be brief with this review/recommendation. In short, Haemimont Games has done an absolutely spectacular job in bringing over its action/RPG Victor Vran to consoles and yes, you should pick this one up if you’re a like-minded chase & chop fanatic. The game’s enhanced content gets it re-titled Victor Vran: Overkill Edition with good reason.

Between the lengthy main quest to save the cursed city of Zagoravia, the randomly generated Fractured Worlds and quirky as hell Motörhead Through the Ages expansions, there’s a LOT of game here for a mere $40. And that doesn’t include the 2-player local co-op, 4-player online co-op, PvP mode or (optional) daily challenges that extend the fun for those who want to dive into a bit of competitive action.

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Neon Chrome Makes For Entertainment Outside The Game Space

 

This was amusing enough to have me typing a game-related post sooner than expected.  So, one game PS Plus users got this month for free was Neon Chrome, a top-down twin stick shooter/action RPG (I guess it’s a sort of rogue-like thanks to the random maps?) that has been around since 2016. PS Plus owners also get PS4 Pro support and a free cross-platform Vita version… unless they’ve downloaded the game demo at some point during the last year. Oops.

It seems that there’s a problem where the game demo won’t update even if you delete it and any save files. Oops. The only solutions are to contact PlayStation Customer Support (use the chat option for fastest results) who will hit you up with questions before hooking you up with a new code. It’s a reasonably fast process, so don’t let the average of 28 users in front of you be a deterrent. I thought I’d have enough time for a to boil water for cup of tea, but the doorbell rang and my number rolled up before the water had boiled.

Anyway, a nice guy named Caesar was on my case and did me up right. Considering I’m still in recovery mode (among other things, I’d had a stroke and a few seizures) and Sony has a tight two-minute per line of text time limit, we did alright with my chuggy typing and I got both versions of the game downloaded within about 25 minutes. Of course, I’m not even planning to play this game for the foreseeable future thanks to the rather HUGE backlog of games and movies I have. I’m going to try and kick out a short review this week for a recent arrival, but we’ll see how the therapy visits go this week.

-GW

 

Deadly Premonition: The Board Game Update (Surprise Swery Edition)

Well, oops. I was wrong. But that’s okay this time.

 


 

It turns out Swery does indeed have a hand in this particular pie after all. Excellent. So far, Deadly Premonition: The Board Game is still in production, so we’ll have to find out later if it’ll be partially crowdfunded or a fully-funded Rising Star Games project (EDIT: see below!). Either way, much of the game’s fan base is very likely going to be pleased while the rest will need to go make some friends in the real world as opposed to living vicariously through others online unless this board game gets some sort of digital treatment.

More updates to come as news lands in the inbox.

-GW

Well, ooh – news has landed in the inbox, so here’s an update: THE GAME IS NOW LIVE ON KICKSTARTER!  Three bucks gets you a Steam code for the bizarre horror/mystery action/adventure adventure Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut, while $30 gets you the board game and that Steam Key mentioned above. The game will come in Standard and Special Edition versions and yes, stretch goals are in the works should the game push way past its initial funding goals.

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Press release below the jump – the funding is already over the halfway point ($32K funded with a goal of $50K!)
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Deadly Premonition Returns… Where You’d Least Expect It

Wait, what, Zach? Whoa. Countdown clock on the site says three days plus a few hours to go before the big reveal. Suspense mode activated. I’m gathering Access Games signed off on this, as there’s no doubt here that Swery isn’t involved with them or his most popular creation these days. But speculation is for those seeking hits and I’m just here for splits and wiggles. Or something like that.

Color me intrigued and wanting this as soon as it drops. Back in a bit with more on this one.

-GW

Quick Takes: Some Good Games To Catch Up On (In A Year Of Too Many Great Ones), Part 1


 

Yep, the backlog has been officially backloggier thanks to stuff being stuff in the real world. But things are getting played bit by bit here despite incessantly annoying diversions. Hey, one needs something FUN to do between bouts of eyebrow lifts, sighing into adult beverages and trying not to trip over the assorted stacks of THINGS TO GET DONE lined carefully in strategic spots around the office. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that terrible, but I love to melodrama my issues a bit much. Anyway, here’s part one of a series of capsule reviews, or a brief rundown on things that have been tackled, games division.
 


 

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Extended Edition (PS4): If you’re a big Diablo III or other isometric ARPG fan and want another game of the chase and chop variety, a mere $20 will be well spent on NeoCore Games’ more amusing and in some areas, harder game. While it goes for a more Steampunk Victorian visual aesthetic and uses a good deal more in the way of humor in its storytelling, the quest and side-quest 1-2 punch holds things together quite nicely. Granted, you have fewer classes to play around with, but the skills system for your Van Helsing and his ghostly aide Katerina ends up being pretty complex with many passive skills that boost combat to some often grand destructive levels. There’s no defensive roll like the console versions of DIII, but you’ll get used to dealing with huge packs of foes by taking it slower and picking off smaller groups one by one.

The game is generally solid overall and features online co-op play (no split-screen here, sorry!), a very fun “tower defense” mode that pops up a few times as a diversion from the main plot, and about 30 or so hours of gameplay if you’re determined to get everywhere you can on one run. The ending is somewhat of a ‘To Be Continued’ deal, but having played the other parts on PC, it’s worth the wait for the sequel to hit PS4 at some point. In fact, as this is only the first of three chapters, it would be great to see the other two arrive on PSN as soon as humanly possible and perhaps later, the entire trilogy out on a disc via a small print publisher like Limited Run Games or SOEDESCO. As always, we shall see. But for the money there’s a load of great fun to be had and had again.
 


 

Mantis Burn Racing (PC/PS4/Xbox One): While it’s initially short on tracks and content compared to other arcade racers, the difficulty curve in developer VooFoo Studios racer makes the game supremely challenging right from the get-go. A blazing fast proprietary engine showcases gorgeous 60fps racing where the slightest mistake will leave you in back of the pack and eating the digital dust of your opponents blowing past you. Practice makes perfect, but expect the game to not let you breathe much against AI that gets better as you do. Against live players the competition is far fiercer with expert players constantly making short work of anyone popping online for the friendliest of matches. You’re going to get smoked like a country ham if you’re not ready for the tracks in this one for sure.

That said, once you get the handling and have matches where you’re in the zone and nail those tricky turns, not bashing into other cars and generally having a zen-like experience racking up wins, the game is so hard to put down that you may need an alarm set to remind you to do important stuff. I haven’t tried out the new Snowbound DLC yet, but if this video is any indication, this 100% FREE update is going to suck me in all over again to the point where I’ll need to get a dog or cat or some other pet to remind me with a paw to the face to get up and go for a stroll, play with or feed them. A service animal for gamers? Who knew!
 

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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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Spider-Man: Homecoming Trailer: Re-suit Reboot Looks To Grab Loot

 


 

So, how are you doing, dear readers? Good? Good. Me? Meh, I’m doing okay. Anyway, I missed the first trailer to Spider-Man: Homecoming a few months back, so it’s above and the newer trailer that dropped yesterday is below. The big legal issues keeping Spidey out of Marvel’s bigger cinematic universe seem to be ironed out (at least for the foreseeable future), so say hello a second time to Tom Holland, whose portrayal of the character in Captain America: Civil War helped give that film some much-needed levity. Speaking of levity, how’s the kind of in-joke of Michael Keaton going from playing Birdman to another bird-man get you? I don’t think Oscar will come calling again for a superhero flick (despite what Logan has done in terms of critical response and yeah, yeah, Suicide Squad winning its hair/makeup award), but it’s also just fine by me that this reboot isn’t looking as cheesy as the last few attempts at making him a big deal were.


 

That said, my rules of engagement still apply: Unless I get invited to a premiere here in NYC, I’m holding out for the Blu-Ray version for those bonus features and any extended footage chopped out of the theatrical cut. I don’t think Marvel is quite as nefarious as DC in terms of this stuff, but I’m admittedly a few films behind in both cinematic universes.

-GW