Review: Riverbond (PS4)

Riverbond boxIn this era of big deal brutal difficulty in games where progress is sometimes measured in thrown controllers, assorted creative swearing and online rage posts (among other negative things) Canadian developer Cocucumber’s simpler, pure fun to play Riverbond ($24.99) is a rare bird indeed. In solo mode, it’s barely mildly tough at times, but the average player should have little trouble getting through its eight nicely-sized maps without blowing a fuse. In co-op, up to four players can have at it in front of the TV and have a total blast beating up enemies and bosses while packed together on the couch or sitting more comfortably on some other furniture. There’s no online mode here, so the game’s old school feel demands you play old school as well.

Which, by the way is a great thing especially if you’re into family friendly entertainment and love super-colorful voxel graphics with a bit of environmental destruction tossed into the mix. Oh, and lots of character skins including eight from a few very cool mostly indie-made games. For all the bloodless hacking, slashing and shooting going on, the game just exudes a completely… nice vibe that’s too charming to pass up. I think there’s also a polite Canadian thing going on (well, all of the Canadians I know are pretty polite), but whatever it is, I do like it quite a lot.

Here’s the tutorial, by the way:

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Riverbond: A Little Big E3 Surprise For You

Brand new games dropping as surprise releases during E3 isn’t anything new, but Cococucumber’s immediately charming Riverbond ($24.99, PS4/PC/Xbox One – OUT NOW!) made me smile a lot and post that trailer on Twitter with the words CUTE. and WANT because it just jumped right out and bit me on the knee with what looks like a really fun dungeon crawler with nifty voxel-based visuals, destuctible environments, and what sounds like a killer soundtrack. Oh, and it has Raz from Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2 in it as a character skin (along with a few other indie fan fave guest stars), so there’s that to consider. Guess who’s not at E3 this year (but still has a busy week ahead) and would just love to get his paws on this game? No, not that person over there (Hwy, put your hand down, pal!). ME.

Well a request has been put in and we shall see what happens.  This sure looks like a ton of fun, right? Back in a bit – Yeah, yeah, there’s a LOT of news coming out of LA about cool games, but I’m rolling stuff out as I see fit because my stress level is already bubbling up about other (non-game) things.

-GW

Review: Golem Gates (PS4)

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Riffing with Glyph-ing: choose your cards wisely, or else suffer the fate of the unprepared.

GG_PS4Laser Guided games mostly excellent Golem Gates ($24.99) made me wish attract screens were still a thing in modern games. While it’s a solid and enjoyable take on the Real-Time Strategy (RTS), card collection and MOBA genres and translates well enough from its keyboard and mouse-centric PC origins to a game controller, it’s also the sort of game where a rolling demonstration mode would just be a cool thing to have happen when the game is booted up if only to get a few more people on the fence about it wanting to give it a shot.  If you’re super-old school and need a sort of reference point, imagine Herzog Zwei, StarCraft and DoTA having a baby and getting it onto PC and now, consoles and you’ve got an idea od what to expect.

Granted, if you’re buying this game for yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting into and likely don’t need any persuasion. Conversely, if a friend drops over and is itching to know what the big deal is, you’ll just have to have them plop down on the couch or wherever and play as they watch, or pick up a controller and join the fun if they’re more than a little curious. Thankfully, other than the rather dry main screen that greets you along with Dalvan King’s stellar music, the gameplay hooks you right in if you’re a fan of this sort of play. Kicking off with a tutorial that explains the basics, your Harbinger uses cards (called Glyphs here) to summon up a small variety of troops and useful goodies to assist in dealing with assorted enemies as you attempt to take out the enemy Harbinger. In Campaign mode, that list of Glyphs gets larger as do the enemy types that need crushing, and yes, decks can be created and customized to your liking as new Glyphs appear.

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Gallery: Kings of Lorn – The Fall of Ebris

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Keep an eye on this one…

E3 isn’t for a few more days and while I won’t be attending this year, I’ve already found a game I’m dying to play. Wyoming-based TeamKill Media‘s “first-person dark-fantasy survival-horror” game Kings of Lorn – The Fall of Ebris is headed to PC. PS4, and Xbox One in September, and as soon as I saw those screenshots and more importantly, some gameplay footage and the E3 trailer, this jumped way up into Games to Watch status. If you’re ancient enough to recall FromSoftware’s classic King’s Field games, prepare to be floored as this new Kings will set your spines to shivering – take a look at a ton of screens and see for yourselves:

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Here’s the game’s E3 trailer in all its bleak Unreal-powered glory:

As far as gameplay goes, while this footage is from almost a year ago, if the final build sticks to some what’s here in terms of gameplay, there’s going to be a a nice level of accessibility that opens the game up to more players. That said, I’d also gather that difficulty will either be player chosen via options or something that allows for those with lower skill levels to at least hop in and learn the ropes early on and not fall prey to low level enemies turning them into kibble less than three minutes in.

As usual, we shall see how TeamKill tackles that important part of their game, but no matter which rouet they choose, this game looks depressingly grand and ambitions enough that I’ll be seeing it through to the very end. I’m absolutely not expecting a sunny finale at all, but a few shocks and surprises along the demons, dragons and other foes as the game progresses? Yeah, that’s going to make this a game that will get a prime spot in the play stack and a few replays while it’s there.

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-GW

 

 

The Sinking City “Death May Die” Trailer Makes For a Perfect Rainy Day Diversion

Interestingly enough, for some weeks now, almost every evening and into the night and sometimes the early mornings, it rains here in NYC. I hadn’t been paying attention to the weather much until three different people in my building commented on it one day and a few more since have noted that it’s quite unusual to have rain rolling in for so long during the evenings. That made this trailer from thar press kit for Frogwares upcoming PC/PS4/Xbox One game The Sinking City almost amusing.

Well, to a point. If the other trailers and gameplay bits I’ve seen are any indication, Frogwares and publisher Bigben just may have one of the best Lovecraft-inspired games to date headed your way this on June 27. We shall see, naturally, but all sings point to a quality product that should have horror and adventure fans playing this half under a bed with a blanket to hide behind when things cet all creepy. Yes, it’s raining as I type this and of course, there’s a bit of lightning for dramatic emphasis. Off to close a few windows, as it’s a bit windy out now.

-GW

198X: Hit-Bit Looks to Score Big With Its Nostalgic Retro Game Hybrid

Headed to PC and PS4 on June 20, and with Xbox One and Switch versions set to follow, Stockholm-based Hit-Bit Studios’ 198X is an incredible looking game that mashes up five types of arcade games and bundles them up in a young person’s coming of age storyline. That trailer is pretty impressive and yes indeed, my old arcade denizen days kind of popped into my head while watching it. I’m going to keep an eye peeled for the PS4 version, as it’s the console of choice these days (the Switch is a close second), but I have the feeling that this is going to be one of those games that will do quite well on anything it appears on.

Here are a few more screens for you – go poke at the official website and keep an eye peeled for this modern time capsule on a platform near you soon.

-GW

Gallery: Golem Gates

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Well, this looks quite nice and grim, doesn’t it? This is Golem Gates, coming (very) soon for PC and consoles from developer Laser Guided Games and ever-busy publisher Digerati.  The latest trailer is below, the game’s press release and some gorgeous multi-platform screens are below the jump. Enjoy!

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The Sinking City: Crazy Cat and Little Cthulhu Make for Quite a Team-up

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Nice place for a visit, provided you like watery everything and a bit of psychosis as a chaser.

Since 2002, Ukrainian developer Frogwares has made some pretty solid adventure games over the years, but the upcoming hybrid adventure/exploration game The Sinking City, set for a June 27 launch on PC, PS4, and Xbox One is certainly looking to be the studio’s deepest work to date. Take a look at this trailer and you’ll likely want a towel to dry off with and a warm blanket to crawl under. Oh, and some sort of eldritch monster repellent, as things get decidedly creepy pretty fast:

Naturally, if you’re all aboard this particularly unsettling train for the long haul in this richly detailed and somewhat deadly open world, you can take advantage of the pre-order bonuses available here. And, yes indeed – there’s a trailer for that, too. I’m going to run a screenshot gallery later today or tomorrow, as my internet is AMAZINGLY slow today for some reason. The weird thing is, it was FINE until I went to download the game’s press kit (cue spooky music of unknown origin)…

Must be those Elder Gods mucking with my progress or something. As usual.

Back in a bit.

EDIT: Oh, wait – that VERY long download actually completed as I typed out the last sentence, so you get yourselves a nice gallery to peruse. Enjoy!

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-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.

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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.

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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