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: Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back (PS4)

Bubsy Box“Wait. Accolade is still around?”  That’s the first thing that popped into my head as I fired up Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back on my PS4. About ten minutes in, the second thing I thought was that Accolade was not only alive and well, they’d somehow created some sort of time vortex where mid-level mascot character Bubsy came back to the gaming scene with newly polished visuals but the same old gameplay that’s guaranteed to frustrate some players while entertaining a handful of others.

In other words, veteran speedrunners or kids who like a challenge will very likely love this latest “2.5D” entry in the series. However, those who expect something along the lines of the superbly sublime retro-ness of Sonic Mania or Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap may find this a tough ball of yarn to swallow. While it’s got its share of issues, it’s not a terrible game by any means. just one that needs some fixing up. Yep. it’s another one of those gems where patience is key, practice helps out a great deal, and it’s probably another case where a post-release patch or two will help things out greatly.

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Review: Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut (PS4)

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When Slayaway Camp popped up on PC last year, it caught a lot of people by surprise (just like any decent masked serial killer would, mind you). The winning combination of intentionally blocky visuals, Sokaban-style sliding puzzles and optional (but necessary) comic use of gore made the game as fun to play as it was to show off to skeptical friends who initially didn’t see the appeal in such a simple looking game as a horror experience. Well, guess what? It’s baaaaaack and ready for its console close-up, (stab, stab, stab).

Even if you hate horror-themed games, Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut has a sneaky (but not subtle) way of luring you in because those sliding puzzles are really tempting to tackle and you’re hooked in (ouch!) before you know it. Don’t like violence against blocky, block-headed camp counselors and other serial victims? There’s a slider to turn off the pixel “gore” on the options screen. R to PG in a flash? Yep. Hell, there are sliders on that option screen for all sorts of oddball stuff, some of which you’ll see right away while others are intentionally vague. This is a game that aims to please and hits that eye with an arrow every single time (ow!).

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.hack//G.U. Last Recode – Launch Trailer: Time to Deep Dive Back In

 

Good gravy, veteran developer CyberConnect2 is made of of some incredibly busy and possibly crazy (in the best possible manner) people. Those power-packed Naruto games they’ve been doing great work on have set and raised a few bars in the anime to games scene and now, it’s .hack//G.U. Last Recode getting a superb-looking and super-polished remaster, now available on PS4 and PC.  I’ll need to grab this one when I have actual free time as I’ve been a big (but silent) fan of the .hack series since the PS2 days and while I was hoping the originals would get full remakes with new assets and features, this update of the second series will do more than nicely.  So, yeah – go add this one to your want list as it sure is coming in hot and pack to the gills with new stuff.

 

-GW

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut Brings Humor To Horror In Spades

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I was hoping Blue Wizard would get around to getting their runaway PC hit Slayaway Camp onto consoles and yes indeed, it’s finally here to slay. The most murderiest puzzle game ever comes to consoles with hundreds of levels, easy to grasp, hard to master gameplay and loads of killer content (as in loads of killers to choose from and bump off camp counselors and other B-movie fodder in plenty of blocky but gory ways). It’s kind of like Sokoban… but with 100 percent more killing instead of crate pushing!

Key features

Includes the base game and the following additional content: Deluxe Edition, My Gory Valentine, HellCamp, Monthly Murderers Series 1 & 2, Supernatural Forces, and Santa’s Slay
300+ Fiendish puzzle levels to massacre your way through
60+ Killers to cause comical carnage with, including deranged wackos such as Mutant Hillbilly, Kevin, and the killer inter-dimensional clown: THAT
90+ Gorepacks with delightfully OTT kill scenes to shock and entertain
Starring Mark Meer (Cdr. Shepard from Mass Effect) as Skullface and Derek Mears (Jason from Friday the 13th) as Jessica
Genuine hair-metal soundtrack by legendary Canadian group GNÜ TRUNTION
Created by Jason Kapalka (Peggle, Bejewelled), Nate Schmold & Jessi Ross (Cosmochoria) and Ido Yehieli (Cardinal Quest)
Slayaway Camp was recently selected as an overall winner at the annual Google Play Indie Games Festival
Achievements and Trophies (includes Platinum) added for Xbox One and PS4 versions
Localized in the following languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Russian

The game even has a non-violent mode for those of you concerned little Johnny will turn into a hockey-masked murder machine, although I’d say he was already headed there before this game was created. Anyway, yeah – go get this NOW, chop-chop. I just started playing, so a full review will go up over the weekend. As I loved the PC original to death, expect a similarly gushing review.

Okay, I’m out of slasher flick puns. Back in a bit.

-GW

Mega Cat Studios Keeps The Classic Game Flame Burning Bright

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Well, wow. “Meow You’re Playing With Power!” Thanks to PA-based Mega Cat Studios, collectors and gamers who own a Nintendo Entertainment System or equivalent now have three NEW games to snap up this Halloween (or heck, anytime they want provided they’re in stock). Here’s what’s new and ready to ship:

Creeping It Reel is an NES chiptune album with NES rendered, officially licensed Dancing Pumpkin Man dance moves and a fully playable pachinko game full of treats.

 

 

Creepy Brawlers marries monster movies & boxing to the NES.  An achievement system, counter attacks and enemy evolutions to keep the scares high and health bars low. This one’s also available in a Limited Edition if you like your games extra collectible.

 

Justice Duel is a four player couch co-op action game with a full featured single player campaign, mech-eagles in top hats and an array of weapons. As with Creepy Brawlers, you can also nab a Limited Edition if you’re into adding variants to your library.
I haven’t unearthed my NES in a long time, but it’s very likely going to get dug up and placed near the TV soon. Thankfully, I have a CRT in the living room so I don’t need to worry about fiddling with assorted connection methods for my HD set. Hey, some games were made to be played in true nostalgic fashion, I say.
-GW

Review: Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon (PS4)

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NightsofAzure2_KeyArt (Custom)Ah, Gust… I love you most of the time, but your quirky way of making games can get to be trying. While I missed the first Nights of Azure (I finally got my paws on a copy that’s in transit), Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon comes off as an intriguing standalone sequel that’s got some fine points but is quite flawed when it comes to gameplay elements.

It’s certainly got plenty of fan service if you like your cast of all-female characters doing their Action/RPG thing wearing revealing outfits of questionable levels of protection against injury. However, main character Aluche comes off as a mostly clueless to attraction cypher with a curvy figure (like almost every other character in the game). But between the strict timed gameplay that limits the action, somewhat pedestrian plot and AI that could be better, this one’s hard to love although it has its moments.

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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

Etrian Odyssey V: The Big Blowout Strikes

How “funny” is this? Yesterday I get my Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond The Myth review code (Thanks, Atlus!) and I’m giddy about that because it’s been a really good year for games and EO has been consistently awesome (although it needs to be on a more powerful system, in my opinion). Having put some quality time into the recent eShop demo meant I’d start off with a party pretty prepared for the challenge ahead (whee!). So, I fire up the game and play for a few hours until I need to recharge my 2DS, whip out the AC adapter, plug it in and about a minute into recharging… the adapter ups and dies on me. One word sprung to mind and yes, I have the WORST luck with technology of anyone I know.

(Sings) I’m Mister Tech Miser, I’m Mister Dumb… (now I need to write the rest of this at some point, but with my luck, the I’ll cut myself and bleed on the keyboard, which will summon a demon I can’t control or something) – back in a bit. It’s a good thing I have a few other games to review on systems that still work while I wait for my replacement charger to show up.

-GW