Review: Elli (Switch)

elli boxBandanaKid’s Elli ($19.99) is a fun, family-friendly game that focuses on precision platforming and simple to moderate puzzle solving over the standard combat-focused action that’s a staple of the genre. This ends up being a good thing for those looking for something a bit different than the usual mascot-themed, enemy-packed games where variations on the butt-bounce and besting big, bad bosses are core gameplay elements. On the other hand, those looking for a deep and direct comparison to certain AAA or other indie games of this type may find what’s here a bit lacking in a few areas.

For example, while the lovely, mostly isometric visuals are lovely to admire, there’s enough of a Breath of the Wild vibe here to prod one into thinking it’s some sort of spin-off gaiden featuring some lesser known NPC’s. Granted there’s a plot here about Elli, a 600-year young elf trying to celebrate her birthday only to have those Crystals of Time she’s guardian of swiped by the not so friendly Ghasti, whereupon it’s off to the races to retrieve them. That’s pretty much all you need to know and the game doesn’t throw any major world-building at you in an attempt to try and make you think it’s any deeper than that.

That by the way, turns out to be a mostly good thing, as the gameplay’s simpler focus is on getting from Point A to Point B and dealing with assorted obstacles just works well without the baggage of perusing copious amounts of whys and hows via lengthy text or cut scenes. On the other hand, between the mostly silent NPCs and Elli’s own somewhat quiet approach, the game at times feels a bit empty outside her general motivation to catch that nasty Ghasti.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Headed to PC

Wizardry logo

It’s baaaaaaack (yes!)

Say, can we get a “Finally!” up in here? Anyway, according to the Wizardry Wikipedia page:

As of 2017, thirty-nine different spin-offs were released in Japan, with four of them also making their way to North America: Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land, Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, Wizardry Online and Wizrogue: Labyrinth of Wizardry

That’s a lot of Wizardry games and if you’re one of those Sir-Tech missing purists who hasn’t touched a game in the series since the still fantastic Wizardry 8, I can safely say you’re missing out on a few games that, while they may look different than what you’re used to, do an excellent job of capturing the spirit and gameplay.

of the series. Personally, I’m psyched for this news because when my first PS3 was stolen, I lost ten years of game saves including about 120 hours of Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls along with the accompanying DLC. Although I ended up replacing the console and repurchasing the game and DLC for it, I’d been hoping this entry would have eventually made it to other consoles at this point. But hey, a PC version will do just fine for me, especially with the updated features and a solid price point that also includes the DLC.

It’s trailer time, already? Well, okay, here you go:

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is scheduled to release on May 29, 2019 for Windows PC via Steam and the Humble Store by Humble Bundle for $14.99, €14.99, and £12.99, with a launch week discount of 10%. I’m gathering system requirements will be low enough that pretty much anyone who wants to play this can do so.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-GW

Now Playing: Project Nimbus: Complete Edition

Project-Nimbus_Poster_B2

Wow. So, Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is out NOW for the Switch and so far, it’s pretty spectacular for that $19.99 price point. While not as visually sharp its PS4 older sibling, it’s still a great-looking game, there’s extra content in this version and the fact that it’s an Unreal-4 powered game running so well on the hardware makes it a must-buy for fans of mecha games in the Gundam/Macross vein. There’s also a solid Ace Combat element in the speedy air-based gameplay and even a dash of Armored Core in some of the customization elements.

Is there a thrilling trailer? Oh, you bet there is, folks:

So far, the game’s quite a blast to play in each mode I’ve sampled. in Campaign, a quick tutorial gives you the basics as a playable mini-mission before the festivities truly begin. The game is meant to get you playing as quickly as possible, so there’s little downtime during missions unless you deliberately hold back or are wanting to do a bit of exploring as enemies are targeting your mecha with all sorts of ordinance. In English: don’t dally too much here or you’re getting turned into scrap metal in rapid time.

Survival mode is as you’d expect, fly ’til you die fun for kicks and yes, it’s also solid as well as a good way to test your growing arsenal. Finally, Warfront mode is an excellent sort of rogue-like experience that randomizes missions and awards resources to spend on mecha upgrades. There’s an addictive RPG loop at work here as even a loss counts as a gain as any gear and rewards earned are kept. I fully expect to spend more time here than in the 26 campaign missions. Amusingly enough, I currently have the game paused as I type this out, so I’m going to sign off here, get this posted, get back to the game and get to knocking out a review over the weekend. So far, I’m finding very little to gripe about.

PN_banner

Uh… those aren’t fireworks, pal. A celebration IS in order, but you’re gonna have pigeons littering the landscape when those homing missiles find a target.

Back in a bit.

-GW

Signs of the Sojourner Headed to PC in 2019

Los Angeles-based Indie developer Echodog Studios has an intriguing game on the way called Signs of the Sojourner that’s well worth a look. Here’s the first trailer:

There’s also a Discord channel up for those interested in taking a free alpha demo of the game for a spin. The concept is certainly quite compelling, as you’ll discover below. Card combat is out – card convo? In like Flint, folks:

Sots_02

About Signs of the Sojourner

Signs of the Sojourner is a narrative deck-building game about relationships and communication. The ways in which you develop your deck, and thus your character, will determine how well you can communicate and connect with characters from different backgrounds and regions.

As your relationships grow, you’ll become involved in the lives and struggles of characters at home and abroad, all communicated via a unique card game experience.

Features

  • Navigate conversations via a card game

  • Your deck is your character

  • Meet dozens of characters in a variety of locations

  • Build your deck to develop relationships

  • Collect tasty foods to bring home to your shop

While it’s currently set for a PC release only at this point, I’m crossing my fingers this gets a console release at some point, as it’s a unique take on a sub-genre that’s popular and at the very least, adds some fresh ideas to a well-aged formula. We’ll see what’s what soon enough, as the game is set to launch later in 2019, but yes, do go sign up on that Discord page if you want to try out an in-progress version.

-GW

Digital Division Gives Me The Vaporwares

Well, yesterday for a bit, I was visiting this hot place seen below and not in a good mood over what I saw was a digital injustice (yaaaaaa!):

(thanks, Cartridge Magazine!)

Today, I’m still in that mindset as far as digital-only content goes, but ha and ha bloody ha, when I screw up, I go for it 110%, plus tax. PLUS TAX I SAY!!!

So, last night a friend comes over to return some Blu-Rays he’d borrowed and asks if I’d updated my PS3’s firmware so I could retrieve my game that was “lost”, which just about made me drop the cup of coffee I’d prepared a few seconds before. Fortunately, he reached out and tipped the cup upwards and pressed the RESET button on my forehead before things went blank.

via GIPHY

Okay, kids – here’s what happened that afternoon (cue dream sequence harp tune):

Continue reading

The Digital-Only Future? It Blows, Folks

So, color me somewhat annoyed. Yeah, yeah, I knew when one buys a digital product, be it a song, game, book or other file type, there’s the chance (well, actuality) that that data will expire and yes, *never* be available ever again unless there’s some sort of preservation being taken care of in the form of say, a physical backup or other legally obtainable copy. Anyway, yes, I still own a PS3 and use it on occasion – here’s what happened today when I went to dink around a bit with a game that’s not all that old:

Yep, that’s right. A game I’d downloaded had been “disappeared” from my PS3’s HDD with nothing left but that nice-looking startup screen. *Poof!*

As I was picking up my jaw from off the floor, my brain cycled in one of my favorite bits of dialog from a favorite film (that’s thankfully, still available on a dang disc):

Garry: The generator’s gone.

MacReady: Any way we can we fix it?

Garry: It’s “GONE”, MacReady.

Sure, I read the fine print on that license agreement, but to have a game in one’s library just VANISH is… kind of shocking and stupid at the end of the day. Was Master Reboot a GOOD game? I kind of have no idea other than the about 25 minutes I played sometime last year when it popped up as a free game on PSN and, not having tried it it, I downloaded it so (get this) I could play it any time I wanted to and find out. Yeah, that was a mistake on my part, I guess. My game historian/preservation side is appalled by this, but it isn’t a new thing. Ask anyone who played the superbly scary P.T. or the stupidly fun Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or any of the many other games that have disappeared from digital stores online.

(Thanks, Wales Interactive!)

Well, at least the PC version is still available (but digitally, grrrrrr!), although I prefer playing on my console(s) of choice.

Yes, I completely grasp that licenses expire after a period of time and all that rot, but a game, song, piece of art or other data important to some people shouldn’t at ALL go dinosaur extinct and become a mere memory after such a brief period. Feh. I’d close this with an “oh well” or something similarly aloof, but I think I’m going to hit myself in the head with a rubber hammer and take a nap until the next disappointing episode of Game of Thrones comes on later this evening. Oh, that show has been and will also be on many discs going into the future, you can bet on that… for now.

-GW

Lornsword Winter Chronicle: That Certain Something Piques My Interest (Again)

 
(Thanks, zbencz2!)

Lornsword logo banner

You know, it figures.

Here I was, about to slip away from some of the busier genre games that involve some hybrid elements in favor of more streamlined gameplay and here comes indie dev Tower Five’s Lornsword Winter Chronicle popping up on my radar. Great. Not only is it a brand new game make by former Creative Assembly folks, it’s got that lovely mix of ARPG and strategic elements going for it and as a final kicker, it looks really great. Actually, the kicker for me is even though it’s headed to Steam soon, it’s also coming to PS4 and Xbox One at some point and that’s going to be something I’m dying to see because yes, consoles are my platform of choice these days. Let’s take a look at that trailer, shall we?

(thanks, Lornsword!)

Hmm, maybe the real kicker is the game supporting drop in-drop out co-op play?  That’s also certainly more than enticing to me.  Maybe it’s my ears and eyes perking up and being thrilled to see something like this doing things in a somewhat different manner? Or perhaps it’s just that oddly poetic text that accompanies that trailer that sounds like a song if you think about it long enough? Okay, that’s a smaller but welcome detail more than a selling point. Still, it’s a good sign for what’s ahead, I think.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well, not that I’m back IN, I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays, so yes indeed, I’ll be checking out the Steam version and hoping the PS4 port can keep up because this sure looks like a game that I’ll be playing for a while. Yeah, go wish list it, I say.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-GW
 

Review: Outward (PS4)

outward PS4 bxFor the record, I wanted to dislike Outward ($39.99) less than 15 minutes in after nearly dying during the tutorial thanks to an near-invincible enemy guard whose health never seemed to drop past a certain point and kept regenerating far too quickly to be reasonable. During my digital near-death experience, I ran away to recover, only to return and find he’d just *poof!* simply disappeared from the spot where he and the other guard I’d dispatched were placed. I recall my eyebrow arching up and letting out a “Great.” before resuming play with the hope things would go more upward before I got too far outward. Fortunately, they did (well, for the most part).

There were a few other issues with the game, such as items randomly vanishing from the bag I was carrying, my character or an enemy getting stuck in certain parts of the map when doing certain actions, and a few textures that could have used a bit more polish, among other things. I decided after a random death that had me unable to locate my bag when I resumed, to stop playing for a bit and move onto a few other games while I held out for a patches to correct these issues. That waiting turned out to be a good thing. Over the last few updates the game became much better and is now a solid recommend for those who want something fresh and furiously challenging. There are still a few pesky bits, but I’ll get to those later.

That said, prepare for a completely punishing game experience that combines fantasy RPG, survival game and simulation elements with a very welcome two player split screen mode and the option to play online with a friend or total stranger. In fact, preparation for every obstacle the game will throw your way is a huge part of surviving, to the point where you’ll be playing this with a keener eye to (at least) staying alive for as long as possible. Once you’re out in the open world of Aurai, your brain needs to go into invisible mommy mode before you get busy with that questing, so get ready to take *everything* under consideration. Do you have your traps prepared? Got enough clean water? What are you wearing for the weather? Did you pack your lunch? Clearly, this isn’t a game for those who don’t like to be reminded that rote carelessness other RPGs let you get away with won’t be rewarded by anything but an easier demise in this game.

Still, even after you get used to the preparation aspects, expect death to come calling regularly like early morning doorbell-ringing proselytizers cheerily chatting on about the end of the world the moment you poke your head outside. Oh wait – hold on a sec… someone’s at the door… What, so early in the day for this? Gyaaaaah.

Continue reading

Review: Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)

EDF 5 logo

Well, that took a while, didn’t it?

地球防衛軍5_20171112174531

There guys are new and quite a pain in the butt to fight. You’ll see (and how!)…

For me, an Earth Defense Force game is a particularly tricky review because despite the many similarities in each entry, the series has actually evolved over 16 years (yes, evolved!) into a game where you can choose a single character and dive in deep to uncover their rather massive set of weapons as you play through the different difficulties. While on the surface, Earth Defense Force 5 is a thrilling yet simplistic chunk of game to sink into, there’s a nice level of complexity in regards to how to approach missions in either single player, co-op, or online modes that makes if a fresh experience through multiple replays.

For many players, the easy to use all-rounder Ranger will be their initial pick, but I strongly suggest using Wing Diver for her air superiority and ability to snag more pickups than any other class. Or, you can play as each hero in any order, learning their unique skills (the Fencer and Air Raider require a bit of patience to master) as you challenge those aliens out to overrun the planet for the umpteenth time. It’s your call, and with 110 missions to tackle (not including DLC content), this isn’t a short game by any means.

地球防衛軍5_20170703124000

Going in solo? Expect to learn a lot about how your chosen class plays and put it into practice, or you’ll be in for a world of hurt.

It’s also the first EDF game with a proper (albeit awkward) tutorial for all four classes. It’s unskippable on your first play with any character even if you’re an EDF veteran, but it’s nice to see developer Sandlot make the game a lot more welcoming to new EDF recruits. For those new players, I’d recommend playing through each character’s tutorial just to see which one fits your play style and mess with “farming” a few missions to increase your arsenal. Of course, you can swap between characters between missions if you like, or stick with one for the entire campaign. Couch co-op play is supported via split screen in case you have an extra controller and a pal willing to dive in and get some bug and ‘bot blasting on.

Here’s a look at the Wing Diver intro level (all the EDF 5 videos in this review save for the official trailer are of me playing and there are quite a lot more of them on my YouTube channel, if you’re interested).

Continue reading

Now Playing: Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark

packshot_1500x2200As I’m still playing this one, this isn’t an “official” review at all, but more of a solid recommendation based on time spent with the game to date. Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark ($29.99) feels like a cross between Final Fantasy Tactics, the Tactics Ogre games and the original Vandal Hearts with more customization options, a gorgeous hand-drawn look, geat music and gameplay guaranteed to please SRPG fans who want a so far very entertaining experience. 6 Eyes Studio and publisher 1C Entertainment have a real winner here that’s even running better after a recent patch fixed a few issues.

This is the sort of game that will bring back more than a few memories of those aforementioned classics to fans who remember while giving those new to it an excellent new epic to go through at their leisure. What’s nice about the game so far is how well its story builds up dramatic moments from the first battle and leads you into certain points where you’re rethinking your opinions of certain main players. Eh, no spoilers here, but let me distract you instead with how the game opens and some early character edit stuff:

Okay, I’d actually recorded close to three hours of gameplay spread over a few more videos, but decided to use this shorter clip because I was thinking I was giving away too much of the story not too long into the game proper. Granted, a good chunk of that time was me messing with the wonderfully deep character creation system and adding a few more troops to my roster, so perhaps I’ll run those clips in a bit once I complete the main story, which so far, is quite good indeed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll shut up here and get back to the game for a bit so I can have a more informative review in a few more days. That said, I think SRPG fans will absolutely love what’s here. Hell, if this were on a disc or game card in a retail package, I’d likely end up with two copies just to sock one away for the future. Oh, never mind my oddball collecting proclivities – go give this great game a try whether it be on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I’ve no idea about a Switch port, but I guess that’s for 1C to decide on if the other versions do well enough and 6 Eyes can get Switch dev kits at some point. Should this occur, guess who’ll be playing this all over again?

-GW