Review: Lydia (Switch)

lydia-switch-screenshot02

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.

Continue reading

Review: OVERPASS (PS4)

Overpass_Polaris8_NoWM

Grandma needs to move to a place less hard to get to…

overpass ps4There are a couple of ways to play Zordix Racing’s super challenging and very (very) methodical off-road game OVERPASS ($59.99). You can go into all the tutorials and learn the ropes, failing and retrying as you go, then hit the Career Mode’s many racing events in a few ways, earning sponsors, a team to manage along with race-earned cash to repair rides and purchase plenty of gear and upgrades. You can just hop into Quick Race, Custom Race, or hotseat-based Multiplayer and play on an assortment of tracks with any ride, learning as you play. Or, you can just mix in all the game modes and get an extreme and extremely lengthy experience that’s part driving sim and part puzzle game where you’ll need to successfully navigate some deviously designed courses that will test your skills and patience.

The game could use some patching to fix a few bugs with the physics and free up camera control (holding R3 down to look around is a pain), but even still, a warning comes for casual players: it’s definitely not for everyone, especially those expecting something purely arcade-like. This definitely isn’t a Motorstorm or Baja: Edge of Control despite its announcer’s twangy voice and a bit of genetic soundtrack action. When you approach the game from a simulation aspect, it’s a lot more enjoyable, although as they say, your mileage may vary when all is said and done. There’s definitely a LOT of game here for that money, although the day one DLC might be a bit of a pesky bit of business for some players resistant to that sort of thing.

Overpass_Yamaha3_NoWM

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

 

Of the two disciplines, the assorted buggies are the most fun to drive here, especially once you get a few upgrades and start fiddling with crafting the fastest and better handling rides. You’ll need to try and damage your rides as little as possible in Career, as repairs stack up and get costly, affecting performance to often great degrees if you don’t repair. Quads are a totally difficult thing to get used to throughout as you need to control the driver as much as the vehicle here, adjusting his or her body on the fly lest you go tumbling down a slope or over a steep hill. The unforgiving nature of the physics here means you’ll feel as if a stiff wind could send your driver flying off that ride, but they’ll fall off before the wind starts blowing anyway. This is clearly NOT a game about stunts and flashy moves and it doesn’t pretend to be. Add in the manual transmission options if you like, and parts of the game get really teeth-gnashing even when you get better at them.

Continue reading

Capsule Review: Knightin’+ (PS4)

Knightin' PS4_01

Warm and fuzzy, indeed: Familiarity does not breed contempt here.

Knightin' PS4When you play Knightin’ yes, you’ll be fightin’ monsters, traps, and more.
A bit like Zelda, and you’ll say, “Well, duh. I think I know that score!”.
But this game’s shorter, so you oughta temper expectations.
It’s great to vacuum up some time, but might not sweep the nation.

You just start playin’ – soon you’re slayin’ all creatures in you path.
Bosses are tough, but skills and gear can beat down all their wrath.
The writin’s great – you may let out a chuckle as it goes.
I wish the game were more fleshed out, four dungeons here just blows.

But still, they’re great – appreciate the hat tip to nostalgia.
Timing and precision rule, lest you go to Valhalla.
The tunes are bliss, they sure don’t miss that classic gaming beat.
A big grin and a toe that taps work even in defeat.

Collision woes may give you throes, but practice makes perfection.
See and learn those areas where parts need a correction.
It’s all good, though – the game will flow when things go with the plan.
And if they do a sequel – well, I’ll surely play that, man!

 

Knightin’+ is $5.99 on PSN, but you can get it digitally on Switch, Xbox One and PC as well. The EastAsiaSoft physical edition seems to be sold out, but you can see if Play-Asia can get you one, as they’re the only place to get it for the retail price outside of an auction site’s gouging. It’s quite nostalgic and funny, gets straight to the point with no filler and it’s worth a few plays even if you’re just collecting the 16 trophies. Indie developer Muzt Die Studios and port house Ratalaika Games did a great job overall here. Sir Lootalot’s adventures may seem short, but there’s a good chance you be back for more as the game is so much fun to play. And yes, a longer sequel would be nice.

Score: B+ (85%)

-GW

-Review code provided by the publisher

inbento: When Life Gives You Lemons, You Have A Mom Cat Make Sushi For Lunch

inbento_Key_Art

I bet you’re hungry right about meow.

Indie developer 7Levels and Afterburn Games (or Łukasz Spierewka, who created the brilliant Golf Peaks) newest title, inbento automatically made me smile today, which is a really good thing in this otherwise crazy week and world we’re in. All I’ll say about this upcoming Nintendo Switch-bound puzzle game ported from mobile is take a look at this trailer. The Android and iOS version is up now, while the new Switch version will be available March 12, so go wishlist it if that’s a thing you do.

Er, don’t mind the cat hair in your meal, either, meow!:

Some screenshots, as you now want sushi, I bet:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m going to shut up here, go ask for a review code and do my thing. This looks like a keeper for sure.

-GW

Review: Dawn of Fear (PS4)

DOF 01

How come no one has a sledgehammer handy so they can bust the heck through those locked front doors in these games?

DOFYou’ll either like or not like Dawn of Fear ($19.99) for a few reasons. You’ll like it if you’re a big of the classics for the strict, stick to the script “survival” horror gameplay borrowed liberally from the first Resident Evil, with a touch of the more unsettling Silent Hill for good measure, very limited save function, static to a fault camera angles, blind spots, rigid aiming, low ammo counts and all. You’ll not like it for all that if you’re a newer survival horror fan or an old fan of the genre that’s moved on to games with more freedom of movement and a plot that makes more logical sense. Plus there’s a somewhat spotty localization that needed a bit of work, as it’s a bit cringe-worthy on the grammar side. Oh, and there were some pretty awful bugs and glitches at launch, some of which stopped the game cold and either forced a restart, or had you go back to an old save to hopefully restore things.

A recent patch helps a great deal, though. It turned the sluggish movement speed to an always run animation that helps a tremendously (even though the instructions still state holding the Square button runs, when it now doesn’t). Although you’ll now zip into camera angles that switch so fast it’s tricky to not run back into an area you just left. Glitches that were major visual and technical ones seem to be stomped out, but sometimes areas you explore still load in pieces. For example, you’ll be walking running into a dark room in that mansion and the lights suddenly switch on, but it’s not the lights, just an area on the map that’s loading in its pre-rendered details (oops).

 

Continue reading

Review: 3000th Duel (Switch)

Switch_3000thDuel_04

Well, that’s true in real life, as well…

3000thWhat’s in a name? Well, If you take things way too literally, Neopopcorn sounds like a really bad time at the movies if you choose to munch on what’s in that box as a substitute for the real thing (well, minus the nasty, salty fake “butter” glopped on top these days) and 3000th Duel sounds like a straight to cable flick you’d accidentally find on a random channel at about 3 am or so. Fortunately, neither of these are true and you have some shopping to do on Steam or the eShop now.

Got a PC or Nintendo Switch? Go get this game, pronto. Indie developer Neopopcorn’s mostly excellent 3000th Duel ($14.99) is a nice surprise overall and well worth a few plays because you can tailor your hero’s skills to your liking through a deep series of upgrades and multiple weapon choices. The game is more or less, a side-scrolling Dark Souls-like or similar challenge where the smallest foes initially take off large chunks of your character’s health, and bosses? Well, you’re going to be enrolling your hero into a health plan and double dipping on a life insurance policy here until you upgrade weapons and skills.

 

Continue reading

Review: Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary (PS4)

BV 02

Just make sure you stick the landing, Miss B.

BVYou’re not buying that excellent Bayonetta/Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle ($39.99) from Sega strictly for the plots of both games, that’s for sure. Both titles hold up mostly excellently in terms of visuals and controls, but the writing is more of an excuse for some lengthy and visually lovely in-game cinemas that pad out both run times. Granted, both games are made to be highly replayed, especially Vanquish, which seems short at about six hours, but there’s a lot more to it once you mess with the difficulty and as with Bayonetta, play through like the bad-asses both characters are. If you’re into both games, they’re far from “one and done” experiences.

 

 

The two stories here actually enhance how wonderfully crazy and brilliant the gameplay is for both titles, especially when you go from hanging onto every word in cut scenes and free yourself from simple button-mashing to pulling of perfectly timed strikes of all sorts in the flagrantly sexy Bayonetta to taking down enemies and bosses with the fast slide and shoot moves from Vanquish. That said, the latter’s plot about Russian-led forces commandeering a huge US-built microwave-powered space cannon to decimate California and threaten to do the same to New York might be something a few players might find blows their minds a bit. Bayonetta’s still phenomenal opening just throws you into battle as it plays out, then teaches you the ropes before the real challenge begins. Trying to explain the plot here? Good luck – just enjoy the cut scenes instead and kill a lot of enemies and bosses when they’re done.

BV 04

“I thought you just used microwaves for Hot Pockets and cold coffee!”

Both games allow for unskilled players to get in their kills although the latter game is more punishing if you try and flail through it and refuse to pick up on all it’s trying to teach you. Then again, it may take a bit of getting used to the controls in both titles for some who’ve not yet played both games – your mileage will vary based on how adept you are at picking things up and dealing with the forced camera angles in Bayonetta. Vanquish has a bit more freedom in its camera, but on the harder modes (there are four difficulty settings), speedy, precise play becomes a must. Continue reading

Review: Terminator: Resistance (PS4)

Terminator_Screenshot_01.width-1024

Hi!  I’m Darryl and this is my other brother, Darryl and we’ll be killing you in a sec…

TRcoverWell, isn’t this a big surprise?

Reef Entertaiment‘s shockingly good Terminator: Resistance ($59.99, PS4) is the best game in the long running series of games based on the franchise since the one-two punch of Bethesda’s two very solid PC games, The Terminator: Future Shock (1995) and SkyNET (1996). What’s so astonishing is this new game’s developer Teyon is responsible for 2014’s RAMBO: The Video Game, which was raked over the coals critically for a number of issues, with being a simple rail shooter where movement was automatic and had too many QTE (Quick Time Event) sequences and some technical woes some of the biggest problems.

The Polish developer (who also has a branch in Japan) has been around since 2006 making a number of games for multiple platforms and to me, they’re a tiny bit like Cauldron, the Bratislava-based developer who made a number of journeyman-like titles across multiple platforms for a few publishers over the years. Whatever budget they had to work with here, Teyon really took the Terminator license seriously, going back to the first two films for inspiration and knocking it out the park as a result. Interestingly enough, there’s a even a Bethesda Softworks touch in the interaction scenes with other characters as choices you make affect a few outcomes and even the lock picking mini-game is lifted from the later Bethsoft-made Fallout games.

 

Continue reading

Review: SEGA AGES Shinobi (Switch)

Switch_Shinobi_06

Hey, that’s NOT a ninja weapon!

Switch Shinobi boxAnother flawless and essential port by M2 with a few excellent modern options, the 1987 arcade classic Shinobi ($7.99) sneaks onto the Switch, and it’s just as hard as ever. There’s an easier AGES mode that changes lead Joe Musashi’s garb to white and lets you take more that a single hit (as in the Genesis and Mega Drive follow-up Revenge of Shinobi) and you can choose to use the new rewind function if you like to make things a bit easier. I’ll admit that I didn’t touch it for a few days until it was tested for review purposes and yep, it helped a lot in a few areas. But it’s not necessary to clear the game if you’re averse to it and want to do it the old-fashioned way. Well, minus the feeding the machine part.

 

Continue reading

Review: Turbo: Super Stunt Squad

via GIPHY

TESTING, TESTING: For some reason, WordPress isn’t auto-saving drafts (again), which for me, is a problem of the very large variety as I may need to pre-load some future posts if I need to get some medical stuff taken care of.  So, I dug up an old post from my older extinct blog and converted it over to see if I can see what’s going on.  Hmmm. I see that I’m still experiencing failed draft saving, but let’s go post this using manual saves every few minutes try to figure out a few things. Time machine, activate!

TSSS_Wii_UPlatform: PS3/Xbox 360, Wii U

Developer: Monkey Bar Games

Publisher: D3Publisher of America

# of Players: 1 – 2

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Official Site

Score: B (80%)

Just like the DreamWorks film, Turbo on consoles is a nice surprise of a game that’s not bad at all for its target audience. Rather than retell the movie plot or do some sort of follow up to the films events, Turbo: Super Stunt Squad is a cross between a racer and and extreme sports game (more specifically, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series). This oddball mix actually makes the game quite enjoyable and thanks to optional tutorials, a slice of shell customization and some interesting course layouts. It’s certainly not a bad bit of diversion for adults who shell out for this one expecting the usual too-short licensed experience, only to find a game with a few tricks up its sleeves.

Monkey Bar Games has cooked up a pretty nice-looking game with a fair bit of content and some definite replay value for those looking to see everything. Granted, it’s not the hardest game in the world for expert players or even novices. But again, this game’s made for the kids who saw and loved the movie. The 3DS version isn’t as successful, but that one will get its own review when I can get to it.

Continue reading