Author Archive

Impressions: Magic Duels – Origins

By Ben Barrett on July 20th, 2015.

Look, Yu-Gi-Oh jokes are really funny so I'm using them in this piece about an entirely different card game, okay? Don't give me that, I bet you couldn't even tell me the CMC of every WUBRG card. Have you ever even been to a PPTQ? Watched the PT? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I’ve been playing Magic regularly for the past five years, and the blame for all that lost time and money is the first Duels of the Planeswalkers [official site]. During that time, the game grew from gateway drug for its cardboard cousin into a full series in its own right, and one looked forward to by long-time fans and new players alike. Unfortunately last year’s edition did almost as much work making me hate it as the original did making me love it. I’ve been playing the next iteration, Magic Duels Origins, to find out whether it manages to fix the series amid the move to an ever-updating free to play model, or whether it falls into the same trap (cards) all over again.

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Capone Arrest Simulator 2015: Blues And Bullets

By Ben Barrett on July 20th, 2015.

In the ‘things I didn’t realise I kinda wanted’ category is Blues And Bullets [official site], a 3rd person shooter/investigation game told in a noir style starring Eliot Ness, the man who managed to arrest and prosecute Al Capone. It’s 20 years later and Eliot’s no longer a cop, but is dragged into investigating the disappearance of several children. The noir drops a little bit when the tommy guns come out and the shooting starts but at least artistically it stays true, with red the only spots of colour in white/black backgrounds. The release trailer for the first chapter has recently come out, along with the announcement you’ll be able to pick it up on Steam come July 23rd.

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The Roguelikest: Caves Of Qud On Early Access

By Ben Barrett on July 20th, 2015.

There is the roguelite, where the ideas of permadeath and difficult combat are played with to create something that has those same values but appeals to the less patient player. There’s the roguelike, which at this stage in gaming history is usually so far flung from its low-bit routes and ascii art to be almost unrecognisable. Then there’s something like Caves of Qud [official site], which is so sure of the old school appeal it’s got a CRT filter on its display. At least it uses colour, I suppose. Set long after the destruction of all civilisation, adventurers start to roam into the old territory of the long-dead races that ruled there, seeing it as a promised land.

In development for 10 years and counting, it promises to kill you, confuse you and wonder you in equal measure as it arrives on Steam Early Access.

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Older Than Old-Skool – Odallus: The Dark Call

By Ben Barrett on July 19th, 2015.

You know it's NES-inspired because it as a minecart section.

What wonderful gems there are hidden in the bowels of the RPS hivemind/CMS. Just behind the mechanism that pumps melted down Generation One Transformers into Alec to keep him awake for the 763rd day in a row, nestled in a nook of the great million monitor machine from which Alice observes all of human civilisation with a slight, knowing smile I found the cassette tape containing a trailer for Odallus: The Dark Call. It’s grainy and battered but clearly shows a classically inspired platforming RPG filled with ghastly ghouls, terrible ghosts and big swords held by big men. It’s from JoyMasher, who you may remember from similarly retro but more robot-filled Oniken. I’ve been listening to that trailer music for a full 20 minutes. Odallus details below.

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Party Based Action-RPG Kyn Out July 28th

By Ben Barrett on July 19th, 2015.

Viking Seal, it does exactly what it says on the Kyn

We’ve not specifically posted about it before but I recognise Kyn [official site] from having put it into the exhaustive RPS Games of 2015 list at the start of the year. It’s a smashy, flashy action RPG that looks like Diablo but wants to play more like Baldur’s Gate. The upshot of this is tonnes of loot, enemies and explosive magic/vikings on top of more hardcore systems that emphasise party positioning and stat allocation. Hmm! It’s caught my eye with some fantastic enemy design in the latest trailer, embedded below.

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Eve Online’s Aegis Update Shakes Up Sovereignty

By Ben Barrett on July 19th, 2015.

I’ve stopped thinking of Eve Online [official site] as an MMO at this point. In my head it’s just a big, floating war which every now and then I look in on to see what caused the latest floating hunk of wreckage. I find it as intimidating as I do fascinating and no more so at patch time, which has increased in recent years as developers CCP have moved to a regular update schedule rather than yearly big expansions. The ‘Aegis’ update has brought arguably the most important change in years, altering how player-ran corporations control areas of space in null-sec, the PvP-focused and richest areas of the game. It rolled out earlier this week and, despite some increased server downtime after the patch, some interesting things are already happening.

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Another 30 Minutes Of Overwatch Gameplay Videos

By Ben Barrett on July 19th, 2015.

Last time there were Overwatch [official site] videos aplenty, Jem lavished you all with them. He works at LoL folks Riot now (COINCIDENCE?!) so I’m here to do the same, not only because they’re pretty rad but I have some thoughts on latest announced character Soldier: 76. Oh yes, some thoughts indeed. Press on for those and the latest footage of Bastion (robot tank) and Zarya (russian gravity woman).

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Shenmue 3 Smashes Records, Finishes On Over $6 Million

By Ben Barrett on July 18th, 2015.

And so the unassailable Kickstarter hall of fame receives another member. Perhaps this one will actually ever be released? Shenmue 3 [Kickstarter] has finished its monumental run on the crowdfunding service at $6,333,295, making it far and away the most-funded game project and the sixth most on the entire service. The next slot up is the mighty(?) Ouya at over eight million, so not exactly close. Now begins the long, slow process of getting disappointed development with release still planned for December 2017.

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Open Skies: Skyforge Enters Open Beta

By Ben Barrett on July 18th, 2015.

Ah yes, I’ve just checked and it is a day ending in y, meaning a free to play MMO has entered open beta. This go round on the roulette wheel is Skyforge’s [official site], made chiefly by the lot behind Russian MMO Allods Online, Allods Team (formerly Astrum Nival). Obsidian, of Pillars of Eternity among various others, are oddly also involved (hey, we all have bills to pay).

Skyforge is set on the world of Aelion and you play gods attempting to protect it from alien invasion. It’s full on hammy sci-fi fantasy, but looks just eye-catching and interesting enough in class design and art direction to dispel some of my cynicism. Come see details on the beta and the latest trailer:

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Never Alone ‘Foxtales’ Expansion Coming July 28th

By Ben Barrett on July 18th, 2015.

The adorable and culture-packed Never Alone [official site] is to get an expansion named Foxtales, publishers E-Line have announced today. It’ll to focus on Nuna and Fox paddling their umiaq (a sealskin canoe) across frozen north-west Alaska now that spring has arrived. They’ll also be swimming underneath the ice along with all the platforming above it as they work, based on the trailer below, to save a mouse from icy doom. It’s based on a folktale called The Two Coastal Brothers, one of many that developers Upper One Games had considered before choosing Kunuuksaayuka for the original game.

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Watch Evo 2015 This Weekend, It’ll Be Great

By Ben Barrett on July 17th, 2015.

This man has just won a thing and is about to do a full forward roll.

But what, you may reasonably ask, is that?

Evo is the world championships of fighting games. If you like fighting games, you’re already planning to watch it, have Monday off work and are stocking up on cool snacks. If you don’t hopefully you haven’t already stopped reading, because Evo is the spectator event of the year unless you have some sort of allergy to excitement. Taking place each year in Las Vegas, it’s a celebration of competitive play, an exhibition of extreme skill and Championship Sunday is 8+ hours of pure, undiluted hype. Here’s what you should watch, when and how.

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Impressions: Hex – Shards of Fate

By Ben Barrett on July 6th, 2015.

Hex: Shards of Fate [official site] was kickstarted successfully in mid-2013, hot on the cardboard-heels of developer Cryptozoic’s final set of the physical WoW TCG. Long before Hearthstone made it clear that digital cards were going to be a successful market, the gaming public pitched in two million dollars and change for the MMO/TCG hybrid. While its single player campaign and the MMO portion’s dungeons, raids and guilds are yet to materialise, Hex is onto a third set release of cards in a free to play model. Here’s some thoughts after a few hours of play.

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Returning To World Of Warcraft With Patch 6.2

By Ben Barrett on June 29th, 2015.

Featuring my friend Mair, his cat-man follower Leorajh, *his* skeleton dinosaur mount and some plant-based hallucinogens. Video games.

I’ve been playing WoW on and off for most of my adult life and quite a bit more besides. It is my comfort game, a warm blanket of mob-killing, number-crunching and loot-grabbing that has always been there when I’ve needed it. Latest expansion Warlords of Draenor [official site] was, on release, the best the game has ever been in terms of quality, though rather quickly ran out of interesting things to do once max level was reached. I burnt out early this year but 6.2 and its laundry list of changes and additions piqued my interest and pulled me back in. Here’s how it played out.

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