Review: Far From Noise (PS4)

far from noise posterShort yet very replayble and guaranteed to make you think a bit about life on a few levels, George Batchelor’s brilliant Far From Noise is a compact indie game well worth a buy. If you love your games way on the weird side, this meaningful meditation will capture your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat. Given that in the game you’re trapped in a car perched precariously on the edge of a cliff and have nothing to do but wait as a bit of nature pops in for a visit, it’s one of those experiences where revealing too much spoils the fun.

Let’s just say this visually simple and mostly text-driven affair makes for a great bedtime tale where you encounter a talking deer that more or less helps you see things from a few perspectives. A bit of philosophy, some star gazing, a few guests and even the weather are your main companions as your character addresses his or her fears during a long night where it seems anything can happen. While seemingly simplistic, the visual style hides some nice effects and excellent use of controller vibration and the PS4’s color bar (which emulates the game’s day to night to day cycle as time passes).

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Review: 8-Bit Adventure Anthology – Volume 1 (PS4)

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Yep, this one’s a must-buy alright. I was actually a bit under the weather a few days back when code for this arrived and amusingly enough, a few hours spent dying and retrying in all three games in this set made me feel a whole lot better. That’s good old old school gaming for you, kids. Anyway, here’s the deal: three classic adventure games for a mere eight bucks is a no-brainer, especially if those three games happen to be Shadowgate, The Uninvited, and Deja Vu. Do yourselves a big, fat favor and stay away from walkthroughs, though. Trust me on this one – your brain probably needs the workout.

While fundamentally the same in terms of interface and straightforward pixel art visuals, each game has its certain charms and difficulty that make them quite enjoyable and yes, frustrating if you’re not into trial and error or frequent game saving. Shadowgate has elements of fantasy role-playing, The Uninvited is a straight-up horror/haunted house game, and Deja Vu is a thriller/crime drama. If you’re going in cold or haven’t played these since the Macintosh or NES days, expect your poor main character to die at the drop of a hat. A lot. Your characters in all three games are cursed with the weakest skulls, brittlest bones and other ailments that make them all too easy to fall victim to any hazard these games toss their way. Believe it or else, this is a good thing.

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Review: Spintires: MudRunner

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Spintires_MudRunner_Pack2D_PS4Taking the wheel from original developer Oovee Game Studios, the talented team at Saber Interactive has brought an expanded and even better SPINTIRES experience to consoles and PC with an excellent, highly challenging, and quite rewarding driving game that’s going to baffle some gamers while it pleases a certain bunch of folks who love to play in the mud.

Interestingly enough, Spintires: MudRunner (or MudRunner: A Spintires Game) also works supremely well as a hybrid driving/puzzle game where the environment is your worst and sole enemy as you attempt to simply drive from Point A to Point B or just try to enjoy exploring the massive, gorgeously detailed maps. This isn’t a game about speed at all, folks. It’s more about control and the ensuing chaos when that control is lost.

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MudRunner adds a new (shorter) tutorial, a new sandbox map, a Challenge mode and ups the truck count from 6 to 19. While it has a “casual” mode, this clearly isn’t a game for those who want to hop in and get blazing down a dirt road taking corners with powerslides. Here, you’ll rarely get above 20mph, the paved roads aren’t the widest you’ll drive on, and that mud? It’s practically got a life of its own thanks to an amazing physics engine that’s been tweaked even more from the PC original.

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#TBT: Play A Little With The 8-Bit Adventure Anthology Website

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While you’re waiting for this game’s Halloween release date to roll around, why not spend a little time treating yourself to a few tricks here: http://www.8bitaa.com/ where you’ll find a few fun mini-games that unlock demo versions of all three games in this upcoming set of classic adventure games. Hey, you know you want to and yep, it’ll keep you indoors and out of trouble. Your neighbors do NOT need their house TP’d again, so put that ladder back, pal.

-GW

Review: ECHO (PS4)

ECHO_Keyart_Cube_LogoSneaking onto PC last month and out now on PS4, ECHO is one of the smartest games I’ve played this year. Developer Ultra Ultra has created an intentionally initially slow-burning hard sci-fi game that relies heavily on its innovative gameplay that’s bound to keep you on your toes. It’s also got spectacular visuals, brilliant sound design and a pair of excellent voice actors (Rose Leslie and Nick Boulton) bringing their characters to life in what’s basically one character talking to an AI interface as she tries to survive a gilded palace filled with replicas of herself trying to kill her. While it’s got its share of (primarily technical) flaws, it’s a worthy experience that shouldn’t be missed if you like your games to shake you up a bit early and often.

After a century in space asleep, a woman named En is awakened by her computer, London and informed that their ship has reached its destination. The pair has traveled all the way to a strange planet because En wants to bring back to life a friend whose remains are inside a cube-shaped device she wears on her back. The opening is a deliberately paced buildup as En lands on the planet and makes her way into The Palace, an endless ornately designed structure that’s the size of the entire planet. There’s a great deal of exposition during the game with much of of it establishing a backstory for En’s long journey as she explores her initially unlit surroundings. When she locates a spot to place that cube, The Palace reacts by coming to life and over time, producing many copies of En that eventually end up coming after her with murderous intent.

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Less Is More Or Less Better For Overall Overkill

I’ve been pretty quiet on Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus for a good reason. I’m ignoring the off-balance people with zero (or less) sense of actual history (not to mention actual videogame history) hating on Machine Games and publisher Bethesda Softworks (it’s all white noise to me, pun mostly intended) while also not poking around the internet for every bit of information because I like my games relatively unspoiled. One of the problems with modern game “journalism” is the need (that’s not needed) to ruin a game too early because some can’t not reveal spoilers or keep an embargo correctly.

Me, I want to go in ice cold with the windows open (brrrrr!) and be thrilled and surprised at what’s been cooked up. Nope, I’m not going to tell you that you should go out and grab yourself a copy of the game and a console or high-end PC to play this on (although you probably should if you have that disposable income and want to support the developer and publisher in this crazy year of too many solid games and not enough time to play them all). As always, it’s your move, folks.

-GW

Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online – Time Eater For The Always Hungry

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I’m a bit behind in my Neptunia backlog, but I really do enjoy the games when I find time to play them. There’s a certain earnest goofiness to them that’s consistent and cute looks aside, there’s often a bit of profound wisdom mixed with the offbeat humor that sneaks into the writing and English localization that can be surprisingly refreshing for a JRPG. Anyway, here we go again, but with a few twists to the formula in Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online (which is out NOW for PS4 and coming soon to PC).

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There’s a ton of stuff to cover in a game this big, but let’s just send you all right on over to the handy Newcomer’s Guide so you can see what you’re up against. Me, I’m just a busy bee here to post a gallery you get to peruse and maybe pick up the game at your earliest convenience. Also as usual, Idea Factory and Compile Heart are on the case and ever-busy developer Tamsoft is doing some of its best work on the visuals as you can see here and below the jump.

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The Evil Within 2: Perfect For Your Fright-day the 13th

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Confession time, again: other than dabbling with a friend’s copy for about 20 minutes or so back when it was launched, I didn’t play the original The Evil Within. Between my ridiculous backlog and other busyness, I never got around to getting to that game and its assorted freakish frights. Well, here we are some time later and guess what? The Evil Within 2 didn’t wait for me to even think about playing the first game before it popped up to say “Hi!” and it looks as if I might need grab this at some point or it’ll come to get me. Help!

Of course, if I don’t get the game, no one will notice, right (he said, looking around and then checking all the closets and under furniture for something that might come get him at some point)?. And here I was, saving up my pennies for Wolfenstein: The New Colossus (which has “Timeliest Game of the Year!” flashing over it in bright neon lights for some reason). Oh, Bethesda, you keep it up with this stuff and I’ll need to start carving holes in my schedule like a pumpkin. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way (and neither should you).

-GW

8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One): The Throwback With Bounce Ability

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Adventure game fans of old will really appreciate this one, a triple threat of classics set to be re-released by Absolution Games in the form of 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One), coming October 31 to Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. No fancy updated visuals here (other than what looks like sharper cover art) for the three titles included.

So, what’s in that set, you’re asking? Well, let’s WALK up to the DOOR and take a PEEK inside:

The 8-Bit Adventure Anthology (Volume One) includes these classic games:

Shadowgate™: The wind whistles through the silent halls as you step through the stone threshold. You’ve just entered Shadowgate, a once shining castle, now an evil, dark moldering ruin. Swallow your fear and take up your torch. You are the ‘Seed of Prophecy’ and in your hands lies the fate of the world itself.

The Uninvited™: The last thing you remember was a figure appearing in the middle of the road and the sound of your sister’s screams over the screeching tires. When you come to, you discover two horrifying things: your sister is missing and the mansion that now looms before you seems to be calling your name…

Déjà Vu™: It’s 1942 and you wake up in a seedy bathroom with no idea how you got here or, for that matter, who you are. You grab a .38 hanging on the door, stumble up the stairs and find some stiff slumped over a desk with three bullet holes in him. You check your gun. Three bullets are missing. This is gonna be a bad day.

Yep, I can hear your brains all clicking into place now (well, those of you who recall playing these on PC or the NES back in the day). How about some screenshots to get you grinning? Okay, LOOK:

Pricing hasn’t been set yet, but I’m betting a few of you will be ignoring those Trick or Treaters just so you can camp out at home with the lights down low as you click away at solving and surviving the mysteries and assorted deathtraps that await. Well, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it. While it won’t be a HIT with the kids ringing my doorbell, I’ll feel better knowing I’m not responsible for any cavities in the not to distant future.

-GW

Review: NeverEnd (PS Vita)

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Indie developer/publisher Sometimes You also ports and distributes some interestingly nostalgic budget indie games for PC and consoles that aren’t perfect, but provide a bit of fun and challenge at a decent price point. Developed by Duck Devs, NeverEnd is a decent, simple looking top-down rogue-like/lite 3D pixel single player dungeon crawler (say that three times fast!) that’s influenced a tiny bit by The Legend of Zelda (without the overworld sections) with a tricky combat system that relies not only on weapon usage, but blocking and avoiding enemy attacks. While controls seem initially very clunky and off-putting, once you get the game’s mechanics and can deal with permadeath, things get much better. Granted, the game probably won’t win a ton of industry awards come the end of the year, but for $2.99 you’re getting your money’s worth and then some.

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