Review: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4)

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The Chaos Engine, or Circle of Life in action, if you will…

fall-guys-ultimate-knockout-boxartWell, this one’s a pleasant and goofy surprise. Sometimes the silliest and most simple games ideas just work and Mediatronic’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout ($19.99 on Steam for PC, Free this month on PSN) reinforces this perfectly. The 60-person enter, one person wins element is pure battle royale insanity (a genre I usually avoid), it’s weaponless mix of puzzle, sporty and trap packed levels offer up some tough and hilarious navigational challenges and overall, it’s just about as good as it gets for a game of its type.

Sure, there are micro-transactions here, but they’re not at all necessary to jump in and start playing. You can get some cool cosmetics with currency earned from just playing the game, or you can pay real money for stuff if you’re in a hurry to look cooler as you fall or get knocked off assorted hazards multiple times. In other words, there are no performance-enhancing purchases here (so far and I hope there won’t be in the future). Besides, the developer and publisher need to make SOME money with this one, but it’s actually nice that PSN users at least get to more or less play free and not choose to pay… well, until they need some of the stupidly cute skins and outfits that pop up.

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It’s all fun and games, especially if someone gets cartoon hurt.

A constantly rotating set of 24 levels means you can’t predict what’s coming, but loads of dying and plenty of practice await. You just need to hope you can survive the chaos as it happens. Yes, there are some super-skilled players out there who can dive and dash through areas and as you play, some tasks get easier to plow through than others. But the lack of voice chat thankfully keeps one’s ears from burning off from what I’d imagine is some hefty amount of creative cursing taking place at some ignominious last second defeats. Although, yours truly actually screamed “Oh, Bugsnax!” at my TV after one terrible but funny loss because I’d exhausted every curse word I knew and that upcoming PS5 game’s name just popped into my head.

Then again, this is a game where you’ll watch someone winning a match and then lose it by accident when a platform vanishes suddenly, or they get beaned by a falling slice of parachuting fruit. Some players seemingly try to take out other players by lurking near an exit (grrrr!) and lunging at them or maybe hoping to be as threatening as a giant jellybean in a funky getup can. It’s all good though – sometimes you get the last laugh (well, until you lose in a future round) when the game decides to drop random survivors at the results screen to get the next stage kicking.

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Evan’s Remains: Logic Dictates This Will Be a Nifty Puzzle/Adventure

If you’re into some games that don’t rely on pure horsepower or an overdose of visual flashiness that shows off every graphical trick in the book, don’t let games like this get buried under big console announcements. Whitehorn Digital has what looks like a sleeper hit in Evan’s Remains, a game that’s also on PC, Xbox One, and Switch. I’m in the process of playing and so far, it’s quite a lovely experience with some stellar hand-drawn pixel art and a relaxing soundtrack. I won’t go into details about the story, as I’m not far along and there seems to be a few surprises I won’t spoil, but I’m truly enjoying the game so far. I’m going to shut up here and try to get more time in before the PS5 reveal, but yeah – go check this one out as soon as you can.

-GW

Pathfinder: Kingmaker on Consoles – Everything and The Kitchen Sink, Plus

((Thanks, Deep Silver!)

If you’re a PS$ or Xbox owner into deep and somewhat complex role-playing games with a bit of town building on the side, but haven’t yet tried Owlcat’s Pathfinder: Kingmaker in its PC form yet, well you’re in luck. Pathfinder: Kingmaker – Definitive Edition is coming from publisher Deep Silver on August 18, 2020. Packing in all six DLC and a new optional turn-based mode that makes the game feel more like the tabletop version, this looks like it’ll keep some of us indoors even longer (which might be a good thing). PC players on STEAM and GOG will be getting that turn-based update as well as a free download in case they want to give the game’s real-time pause-based play a rest for a spell.

A bit of brief official news below the jump. Read on.

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Boreal Tales: Bargain Indie Scares Up The Past

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With a game developer name like Snot Bubbles Productions, one would imagine the Vancouver-based team to have a first game straight out of the gate that’s going to be pretty darn interesting.  Or kind of damp and sticky, ewww.

Welcome to Boreal Tales, folks.

The game is out now and it’s a paltry $3.00 or Steam or itch.io and that makes it for me, an automatic purchase even though I was offered a free code to review. Small developers with a great looking game such as this need a boost with any sales they can get and I really like these offbeat games, so it’s on my BUY IT! list as we speak. Anyway, “What’s the game about?” you may be asking right about now. Well, I’ll duck quickly into show and tell mode here (quack, quack!):

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Review: Dark Nights with Poe and Munro (PC)

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There are no incorrect choices in this game, as you’ll discover.

In the fourth episode of six in D’avekki Studios rather excellent FMV (full motion video) game Dark Nights with Poe and Munro ($12.99), there’s a rather neat dark surprise in store for fans of their first FMV game, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker. I won’t fully reveal that surprise, but sharp-eyed fans will have grasped it already from a single screenshot. Let’s just say that I hadn’t yet visited the Doctor’s office and had it on my Steam wishlist for a bit until that episode in Dark Nights had my brain spin around in my head and my wallet flew into my hands from across the room – SOLD. I’ve only put about four hours onto the (maybe) deceased Doctor’s couch, but it’s definitely been worth the session fee.

Back to the newer game, which is a more TV-like prequel to events in The Shapeshifting Detective (one of the better FMV games we’ve played) featuring the radio host duo from that title. You get six very replayable chapters featuring John ‘Poe’ Pope (Klemens Koehring) and Ellis Munro (Leah Cunard), both superbly possessing their roles, coming off a bit like this decade’s Mulder and Scully, but with a struggling radio show and much more supernatural goings on. Their relationship is a lot more complex (all together now: “it’s complicated!”) and the game uses that as both backdrop and foreground material for their escapades. All six chapters delve into their radio relationship as well as what happens off-air, with multiple choices that can lead to some, shall we say innnnntersting outcomes. Or, Death certainly doesn’t take a holiday here in some episodes, is all I’ll say.

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Jet Lancer: Take To The Skies On Switch, PC

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“Snakes… Why’d it have to be snakes?”

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A pilot, a Captain and an engineer walk into a bar…

Today, ace pilot Ash Leguinn joins the ranks of the many other legendary arcade shooter ladies who fly and blast enemies out of the sky with the release of indie developer Code Wakers’ Jet Lancer on PC and Nintendo Switch ($14.99) published by Armor Games. Having put in some playtime with an earlier PC build and and after playing the Switch version for a spell, this writer can say it’s quite a challenging mix of acrobatic flight combat against waves of enemies and some pretty large and tough bosses.

Ash travels from mission to mission on a small aircraft carrier piloted by a Captain who doles out briefings as she accepts them. Others in need of aid from Ash’s skills will pop in with their own requests as the game progresses, and you’ll get a talking cat engineer named Lem early on to upgrade your ship, the LANCE, as well as that aircraft carrier it travels on. The boat is sea bound until you get an upgrade that allows it to move over land barriers and the map unlocks more missions and plot elements.

Here’s the game’s launch trailer:

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Book of Demons: A Fun Pain & Paper Game That Needs To Be Played

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Fire usually burns paper, so this big guy is in for a surprise… or maybe those three heroes are?

A few years ago, I got an email from Thing Trunk Studios about a game they were working on called Book of Demons, which at the time was still in progress as a PC title. I got to try it out in Early Access form and found it to be quite well done, an amusing, challenging and well-made take on Blizzard’s classic Diablo, but with a paper crafted pop-up book aesthetic. I really liked what I played, but was hoping it would eventually make its way to consoles.

Flash forward a few years and here it is courtesy the developer who have teamed up with publisher 505 Games:

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Dark Nights with Poe and Munro: A Date With Destinies Is On The Way

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It’s back to August, but in May…

They’re doing it again…

D’Avekki Studios (The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, The Shapeshifting Detective) has been up to it once again, making another smart, sharp, moody and mystery filled FMV game that’s bound to keep fans pleased as punch in these crazy times. Dark Nights With Poe and Munro is on the way to PC via Steam on May 19th, with a console release coming later. I’ve kept myself away from any info on the game as I did with The Shapeshifing Detective because going in totally blind works many wonders when exploring a game such as this. I still need to dive into that Doctor Dekker game, but my backlog is glowing at me from above (the stack of stuff to review here is rather imposing!)

As to what “this” is, read on below the jump and no, it’s not a time traveling game featuring Edgar Allan Poe teaming up with Caroline Munro (although, now that I think about it, that would be something else to see, wouldn’t it?).

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Review: Daymare 1998 (PS4)

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This is not the “Shall We Dance?” number from The King and I, by the way. Halp!!

DaymereWhile it’s not trying to completely reinvent the wheel (I mean, come on, look at the title!), a few very cool modern elements seep into Invader Studios’ and publisher Destructive Creations’ homage to Capcom’s much beloved Resident Evil series as well as genre films of the 90’s, Daymare 1998 ($39.99) that make it work despite the game sometimes working against the player. Assorted undead-like creeps, puzzles galore, and plenty of tense thrills are all here for those who like the survival horror genre, and while boss fights against too bullet-spongy enemies can be a pain, overall, I found the game quite nostalgic and appealing, warts and all.

First and foremost, some of the controls are needlessly complicated. There’s a basic walk (Left Analog) and light jog (L1) for its heroes, but running flat out requires stamina and pressing/holding two buttons and you can only sprint for a brief time before that stamina depletes. Reloading has what, three modes? Granted, there’s a neat touch of realism in the optional the need to load ammo into clips, then clips into guns. But it also adds a bit too much tension in areas with multiple monsters lurking and the need to switch weapons out in a fast way (there’s a human-like delay here and not a game-like rapid switch). Oddly, boss fights just cough up spare ammo clips for you because trying to search for empty clips and spare ammo during them would be too brutal.

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“Knock-Knock…” Uh, there’s no door, pal – just some room to RUN LIKE HELL.

The Dick Tracy-style system device worn on one wrist is nice looking and all, but can get a little too complicated if you don’t take time to check out all the things you can do with item combinations and get with the crafting. Being very methodical helps here, as well as realizing the game’s throwback nature means it’s going to feel a bit intentionally dated in some aspects, like the arcane save system (there’s no save anywhere feature). Well, if you hoard too much, there are also item boxes located in the darndest places that can force a bit of paranoid backtracking if you suddenly realize you might need space for something extra along your route or need to drop items but want to store them. Okay, perhaps that’s more my hoarding nature in games, but you know what I mean.

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Review: Lydia (Switch)

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Lydia_SwitchA short, haunting and intense game about an unhappy childhood leading to destructive teen years and an adult redemption of sorts, indie developer Platonic Partnership’s striking Lydia ($4.00) isn’t either a happy-filled “fun” experience or a game that’s easily forgotten once played. It’s a slice of life story where a little girl goes through a troubles with her alcoholic and otherwise less than perfect parents and as she grows into her teens, things go from bad to worse as a key event takes place that changes a few lives forever.

There’s a use of time as a storytelling element along with the stylized visuals that may go over some heads, bit it’s a simple thing, really. As the game covers snippets of Lydia’s troubled life through adulthood and the ending is a conclusion that’s somewhat of a direct one, it’s a case of seeing her world through her eyes. Her visions go from childlike in her younger years to to more or less her view of reality as seen by someone who’s not an artist, but more a realist in how she deals with a particular and sad issue many go through. The level of humanity here is somewhat intense, as the game’s not shy at using raw language throughout as we see Lydia’s plight unfold in dreams and the real world. Adults can be more monstrous that an imagined creature in a closet.

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