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)

Capcom BEUB

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

Review: 428: Shibuya Scramble (PS4)

429_SS coverThis is probably one of the easiest reviews I’ve ever written and that’s thanks to Spike Chunsoft’s 428: Shibuya Scramble ($49.99, buy it!) being one of the best, most consistently enjoyable adventure game experiences I’ve had this year. Initially released in 2008 to acclaim in Japan, this visual/sound novel/mystery game hybrid manages to still be 100% relevant because the developer nailed everything right the first time and the snappy new English localization (courtesy of the fine folks at Absolution Games) does an excellent job at making everything click exactly where it needs to.

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Trust no one… well except for guys who aren’t anything but pesky sorts just trying to eke out a living. He’s okay (this is very early in the game, so nope, not a spoiler!)

On the other hand, it’s also one of the hardest reviews I’ve written because I don’t want to ruin a single thing about the game other than to say it’s gong to be best if you go in as cold as possible (avoid spoiler-laced video walkthroughs, please!) and enjoy the perfect blend of plot and puzzle elements this one brings to the table. trust me, your curiosity will be very well rewarded, especially if you love a good mystery laced with off-kilter humor, tense drama and some deep, dark secrets.

 

 

It’s pretty spectacular when a game zips from drama to comedy to fear-inducing without missing a beat while keeping your interest in its varied cast of characters and sub-characters. It’s even more special when it’s a game that uses live actors and mostly still images with limited animation and doesn’t come off as cheesy or half-baked. This is clearly due to Spike Chunsoft’s decades of expertise with visual and sound novels and even though it’s a ten-year old game, it feels like a blast of fresh cold air on a hot summer day. Five main characters’ (and a number of minor ones) lives cross paths during a fateful day in and around the busy Shibuya section of Tokyo and it’s up to you to choose how everything plays out. Pressure much? Good. That’s how this is supposed to work and wow, does it work.

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Onimisha: Warlords to Return in 2019

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He’s baaaaaack (finally!)

When I was working in an indie game shop many moons ago, I can recall Onimusha: Warlords being a constant seller for the PS2 and later, Xbox. The game eventually game spawned three sequels on Sony’s console and a few interesting spinoffs (a fighting game and a strategy/RPG). It took 17 years, but the first game is finally getting a nicely priced ($19.99) HD upgrade for consoles and PC with a January release date. Even better, North American gamers get a physical as well as digital release on consoles. Excellent.

Some details and more screens below the jump. check out the trailer (ah, memories!)

(Thanks, Capcom USA!)

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Shenmue I & II: It’s Back, and a Must-Buy

 

Shenmue I_IIa

“Hey, man… wake up! We’re finally out again on consoles (except the Switch) and PC!”

Speaking of backs: With my poor back giving me some trouble these past few days (ow), updates have been tricky to do, but I’m grinning and grimacing through the pain just to let you all know (well, those who haven’t snapped it up yet on PS4, Xbox One, or PC) that Shenmue I & II is out for $29.99 (physical or digital). Cue the parade sound effects!  I actually only got around to ordering a copy yesterday thanks to thinking it was shipping next week (oops), but it’ll arrive tomorrow, so I’m not too far out of the loop. I’d normally say that I can finally sock away my Dreamcast and original Xbox, but I still use them for other games because I am quite the nostalgic old coot. Anyway, let me get back to trying to give myself a back massage with a bunch of rolling pins (okay, not really, but it may come to that) and let you all go about your day.

Back (ow) in a bit.

(Thanks, SegaAmerica!)

Yes, Diablo III is Coming to Switch (Or: I Told You So)

(Thanks, Nintendo!)

 

Yeah, I believed it was going to happen as soon as I saw that nightlight post back in March on Twitter. So, it’ll be $60, include all the DLC and there will be Switch exclusive content in the form of Gannondorf-themed armor and other goodies? Nice and SOLD. I’ll even not mind replaying the game from the beginning or not having the ability to transfer my PS3 or PS4 save files because you can blow through the campaign fairly quickly. That and Adventure Mode is where the real endless action lies and yes, I want to see what other surprises await because it would be quite foolish for Blizzard and Nintendo to not mine their respective histories in order to get loads of new players who’ll be new to the Diablo experience really interested in either pre-ordering or grabbing this game on day one.

Now, as to getting Link or maybe Zelda as playable character DLC at some point? I think it would be awesome… but I will neither hold my breath nor bug anyone about seeing this happen (although it would be interesting to see).

-GW

428: Shibuya Scramble Hands-On: Flawless Detection, On the Case

428 SS_smallA little game history goes a long way, folks. Chunsoft pioneered the visual novel game way back in 1983 with Yuji Hori’s The Portopia Serial Murder Incident and over the decades since, the company, now known as Spike Chunsoft has released a number of quality visual and sound novel titles primarily for Japanese audiences. Visual novel fans here in the west probably know them best for some solid titles that have managed to make the trip overseas such as the Danganronpa, and Zero Escape games on consoles and handhelds, along with the upcoming Steins;Gate, AI, YU-NO, and Zanki Zero games set to arrive soon on a few platforms. Yes, they’ve also done a bunch of other (and better known) non-adventure game classics. But as you’ve gone and clicked that link above, you can do that extra bit of homework yourself. Me, I’m here to chat up this spectacular new but old number you’ll absolutely want to check out.

 

(Thanks, Spike Chunsoft!)

 

Another game on the way is the stellar formerly Japan-only visual novel from 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble, finally headed stateside for PS4 and PC on September 4. There’s a great demo out now on PSN that pulled me in right from its 70’s-sounding opening theme and had me playing through to both endings with a huge smile on my face. While it’s only a taste of what’s to come, the blend of text adventure, still photos and brief full-motion video clips makes this a quite impressive achievement even ten years after its release. It’s more or less a “choose your own adventure” game, but one where a failure state doesn’t necessarily end the game at all, but unlocks new story elements.

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Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PC)

Mary Skelter Nightmares PC

GhostLight’s wonderful port of Mary Skelter: Nightmares brings the game to PC in a flawless translation of the Vita version and yes, it’s absolutely worth a buy.  Seeing and playing it on a larger screen reveals sharper enemy and background art, but you won’t be fiddling with anything other than resolution and window size settings if you really need to. In fact, the rather low system requirements makes this one of the more accessible modern dungeon crawlers out there. Even if you’re not into the anime art style and overall offbeat tone here, the game excels on the gameplay front in capturing the spirit of the classic Wizardry games.

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Nope, this isn’t your Granny’s version of Snow White or any of the other gals from those old fairy tales. These girls can take care of themselves pretty well.

That’s not to say at all that the game is an entry level experience. There’s a decent enough difficulty curve and a combination of expansive maps, deadly traps and powerful bosses that will keep you on your toes. The main story involves a living tower-like dungeon called Jail looming over a city in Tokyo it has buried underground and the attempts of a squad of lovely anime ladies and one guy tasked with climbing that tower with intent on defeating the Marchen (monsters) and Nightmares (bosses) that inhabit it. The team’s main purpose is to enter the Jail’s oddball dungeons and defeat the Nightmares, which will grow the tower and allow it to reach the planet’s surface, allowing the citizens of the underground Liberated Zone their true freedom. There’s a bit more (well, a good deal more) to the story, but letting it unfold while playing is the best means of experiencing it.

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The Missing to be Found on Consoles and PC Later This Year

(thanks, Arc System Works America!)

The-Missing_BoxHmmm, perhaps I should pay more attention to more stuff online, right? Hey, it’s kind of hard to do these days when you burn so much energy trying to avoid all the negativity out there, grrrr. Anyway, I actually missed out on that video above that noted Hidetaka (SWERY) Suerhiro and developer White Owls, Inc. were working on a brand new game for Arc System Works America set to be published later this year.

Well, that game is called The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories and it’s set to drop digitally onto PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch before the year is out. Excellent. I have no clue as to what sort of game it will be other than it’s an action/adventure… well, that and you get all of three screenshots below:

Yep, I’ll be picking this up as well. SWERY’s work is always intriguing and it’ll be a nice enough appetizer while we wait for more news about The Good Life as that game tiptoes along its development cycle.

-GW