Return of the Obra Dinn: See-Worthy Ship-bound Mystery’s A Must-Play

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“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…”

Confession: I’ve never played the multiple award-winning Papers, Please (a game that’s been on my backlog of games to FINALLY get to once I whittle down my other backlog). but a few years ago (and two computers back) I downloaded an in-progress demo build of Lucas Pope’s next game, Return of The Obra Dinn and while it was a bit wonky in spots and not all the ideas were in place (as demos tend to be, well, DEMOS and not representative of the final product, it still made quite an impression. After a few years of hard work, Pope has finally completed and released the game, which is available for $19.99 on Steam, gog.com and the Humble Store.

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“Now please pay attention and listen to me:
Give me some time to blow the man down!”

Check out the trailer and game description below:

 

 

An Insurance Adventure with Minimal Color

 

In 1802, the merchant ship Obra Dinn set out from London for the Orient with over 200 tons of trade goods. Six months later it hadn’t met its rendezvous point at the Cape of Good Hope and was declared lost at sea.

Early this morning of October 14th, 1807, the Obra Dinn drifted into port at Falmouth with damaged sails and no visible crew. As insurance investigator for the East India Company’s London Office, dispatch immediately to Falmouth, find means to board the ship, and prepare an assessment of damages.

Return of the Obra Dinn is a first-person mystery adventure based on exploration and logical deduction.

You had me at that “An insurance adventure…”, Pope. This one’s going to the head if of the line in the backlog, by the way.  Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to get back to my regularly scheduled (ha!) Monday.

-GW

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Lost in Vivo: The Walls, Close-in For Catastrophic Claustrophobia

(Thanks, Akuma Kira!)

 

Back in 2016, I pledged a few bucks to Akuma Kira’s Kickstarter for a new game he was working on called Lost in Vivo all because of the free and superbly devious Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion (Formerly Spooky’s House of Jump Scares), a game I recommend to anyone into horror because it will creep up on them in a surprising manner. In other words, don’t let the initially quite stupidly cute visuals and the rather simplistic but twisty corridors found in the first chunk of floors lull you into a false sense of security. Things get quite bizarre and eventually quite horrific as you descend into the darker, more hellish maps.

Anyway, fast forward to earlier Saturday morning when I got a download link to he completed build of Lost in Vivo from the developer via Game Jolt (an excellent indie site I VERY highly recommend along with itch.io  (the game can be found here) if you love to pore over dozens and dozens of great indies of all genres, many free or quite affordable). You’ll also see this one pop up on Steam soon (well, November 5th, thanks to Steam’s verification process taking longer), but if you need this faster, feel free to grab it from one of the other sites noted above for a measly ten bucks.

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Iris.Fall Hands-On: Shadow Play Works Quite Well in Kinda Goth-Land

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Based on a short demo was only supposed to be about ten minutes long (I was told ten, but I lingered about half an hour or so just to check out every nook and cranny because the level of detail is remarkable), Iris.Fall is shaping up to be a lovely little indie sleeper worth a buy. Developer NEXT Studio has cooked up a charmingly creepy puzzle adventure with beautiful visuals and an intriguing light/dark gameplay element fans of the somewhat forgotten (but memorable) Wii game Lost in Shadow will appreciate.  The demo features an early taste of the full game’s mix of environmental and other puzzles that revolve around Iris’ ability to manipulate light and shadow to progress through areas.

 

 

While simple to pick up, solving puzzles here makes for some fun brain work right from the beginning. Careful scouring of each room for areas where Iris’ powers to be used also reveals objects that can be manipulated or collected to be used with other elements. Foe example, in one room, a pair of marionettes is required to unlock a certain door, but you’ll need to dip into the shadows and light areas, moving things around to create a ramp on one side and then the other to nab each figure. Once they’re acquired, placing  them in the correct spots, then rotating their parts will form a “key” of sorts that allows passage into a new location.

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“I was the puppet, I was the puppet!” A puzzle, in progress (and five points if you get the song reference I made).

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Pinball FX3 Gets Some Williams In Its Catalog

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Lovely. Now, let’s take this pinball history back even further, I say. Lots of excellent tables deserve this treatment.

 

Nice. Here I was, wondering if I should buy up those import PS4 pinball collections that have gone out of print and *ding!* Zen Studios ends up with the Bally/Williams license. The developer has just published four tables available NOW on PC, (via Steam as well) Mac, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, with the classic 1992 table Fish Tales available for free across all platforms. I recall that one as being a high scorer with even beginners able to rack up tens of millions of points on three balls. The table also had flippers slightly smaller than standard ones, so it was actually easier to lose balls thanks to the super fast action.

 

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Capsule Review: The Conjuring House (PC)

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Uh, mommy? Holy hell, The Conjuring House sure is scary when it needs to be (which is often). Developer RYM Games has a an almost killer game here that despite a few technical flaws (which are currently being addressed via patches that will hopefully improve the overall experience) is one near-total freakout of a game. Things get off to a scary start and the tension builds as the game follows the tried and true “Old Dark House filled with dreadful evil”  formula with some pretty hefty psychological horror and jump scares. Unlike some more popular horror titles, you’re unarmed and have to try and avoid or run from enemies whenever possible, the game has intentionally distant save points and yes, this leads to a few too many deaths whether or not you’re careless. On the other hand, when when things click, you’re playing half under whatever you were sitting on when you started with one eye opened because the other has shut itself closed.

Nevertheless, in its current form, some elements of the game aren’t quite as solid as they should be. Changing the default video settings immediately makes the game too dark to see and that default setting uses a post-processing effect that seems to add too much blur to the movement. Some well-done but lengthy cutscenes do a great job of storytelling, but can’t be skipped at all, so if you die  before one, you’ll need to watch the whole thing all over again. Add in those long treks and/or backtracking between those save points plus a single save slot and you get a recipe for frustration as well as fear of playing for some of the wrong reasons.

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Your brain will look and feel like this decrepit room right from the moment you gain control of your hapless non-hero.

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Coffee Talk 1: The Daily Grind, I Guess

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Despite that name, no aliens were harmed in the making of this post.

 

I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I’ve certainly had my share of awful cups over the decades. Granted, I was never a badass brew-meister, but amusingly enough got my first gig making coffee at a law firm I worked at back in the early 80’s as a messenger/light legal clerk (or: a messenger who could pick up and deliver all sort of legal stuff from paperwork to banking related stuff). No one else in the small office could make a good pot of coffee, although there were two secretaries who did the basics with the office’s pricey Bunn automatic.

One day, one of the gals was out sick and the other kind of refused to make the coffee, so I figured “what the hell, it doesn’t look *too* hard”, only to discover one reason the guy running the firm wasn’t happy with the coffee was no one had EVER cleaned the darn machine. Ugh. I ended up hoofing it down to the nearest deli, buying a few cups of coffee there for the lawyer, rushing back and giving the Bunn and area around it a thorough scrubbing. At one point, the lawyer popped out of his office and saw what I was doing and was kind of floored that someone would go to all that trouble. Yes, he reimbursed me for the coffee I’d bought and told me that I was now responsible for getting that brewer brewing up his cuppa Joe. Pressure much?

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The Horror of Too Many Scary Games (is a Good Thing to Have), Part 2

You’re either back for more… or you fell asleep reading that first part and just woke up in time for part two. Well, here you go, then. Some of today’s entries are coming out after October, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less frightening. Anyway, here are six more games to look forward to (unless you’re too freaked out to want to try some of the scarier ones, mua-ha-ha-haaaa!):

 

 
Home Sweet Home (PS4/PSVR/Xbox One) – If the trailer is any indication, this could be one of the downright scariest stealth/horror games of the year. I missed out on the PC version of this truly scary-looking Thai horror game from Bangkok-based indie dev Yggdrazil Group Co.,Ltd, but my pals at Mastiff Games seem voraciously intent on putting me under the couch with this upcoming PS4 and Xbox One port. The PS4 version will support VR as an option (I’ll take my scares flat, thank you much) and if you prefer your games on a disc, this one’s going to be a GameStop exclusive in addition to a standard digital download on PSN and Xbox Live. I may have to shell out for the disc version, as this one certainly looks scary enough to be a keeper. That and I want to have the option of maybe loaning that disc to a friend or two who hate horror games but are slowly coming around. Then again, I have the feeling that this might be one of those games that sends them back down the ladder to being too skittish to fire it up.

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The Horror of Too Many Scary Games (is A Good Thing to Have), Part 1

Although horror-themed games are released all year long from developers and publishers of all sizes, the number definitely increases as the Halloween season approaches. I’m currently playing a few quite interesting to downright too damn creepy titles that should keep you up at night if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ll divide this into a few parts because my inbox is a bit loaded with what’s looking like some really fun games of varying degrees of scariness. Let’s start with five for now:

The Conjuring House (PC) – Holy #@*+. Well played, Morocco-based RYM Games, well played. Here’s a game that knows what it wants to do (make you too scared to keep playing) and it gets right to it with the scary stuff after an extended opening cinematic sequence that gets your heart pumping before handing you control in the middle of a chase sequence. Gee, thanks. So far, the game is absolutely dripping with atmosphere and the Unreal 4-powered visuals definitely get the job done. That said, the English translation needs a bit of tweaking as some awkward text mars the experience when it doesn’t match the spoken dialog. Still, this is going to be one of those games that sucks players in and should keep them jumping long after they’re done. It’s out September 25 on Steam, so keep an eye peeled (or else). I’ve got my fingers crossed for solid console port (PS4, please) if only to keep further away from the screen. Or: playing this on my laptop has been pretty damn frightening with those blasted creeps right up in my face, yahhhh!

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Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle: Hit After Hit (Minus a Few Hits)

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Now, you’re playing with POW… er, never mind… wrong company!

At a mere $19.99, the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle is one pretty solid deal that’s out now on consoles and PC. Check out this hilarious “retro” trailer and get that wallet out, folks:

Yeah, it’s missing Black Tiger and Magic Sword (which have appeared as titles in other Capcom collections on PC and older consoles) and the two Dungeons & Dragons games (which are still available on last generation systems and PC the last time I checked). But these games are made to be replayed and you’re getting two titles (Armored Warriors and Battle Circuit) that are making their debut on game consoles (whee!)

Capcom has certainly been on a roll lately with all these returns to greatness. Now, all we need is a Quackshot remake and more arcade classics, plus some nice HD versions of the Mega Man Legends and Tron Bonne games and we’re even more golden. Hey, a guy has to dream every now and then (well, more often than that, actually).

-GW

Insomnia: The Ark Launch Trailer: Peek Performance

Here you go, the launch trailer for Studio Mono’s impressive looking sci-fi RPG Insomnia: The Ark, set for a September 27 release on Steam:

I’m liking the Bioshock-like vibes pouring off this one and that third-person action viewpoint is also lovely to my action/RPG loving eyes. Of course, the proof will be in how it all plays plus the expected launch window patches that will no doubt beat up on any bugs that are guaranteed to be part of the initial experience. In fact, I’m instituting a new review policy where I’ll wait a few days to a week or two to review some games just because I know they’re going to ship with assorted imperfections great to small. I’m okay with that waiting, though because it allows for a more reliable and fair review over first impressions that pick at issues that end up getting squashed once a larger audience gets to attempting to break a game by looking for flaws.

The only thing I’m looking for is another solid game to play that captures my imagination and has me grooving on the lore, world building and role playing elements. That’s not too much to ask at all, right?

-GW