Posts Tagged ‘review’

Fran Bow Is A Worthy Heir To Wonderland

Fran Bow [official site] made me smile more than any other game I’ve played this year.
That might come as a surprise if all you’ve seen of the game is a couple of screenshots feauring gore and dead kids. Fran Bow opens with a gory murder scene and then traps its young protagonist in a creepy institution for (criminally?) insane children. But that initial setting and the dark tone are just a small slice of a story that spans worlds and perfectly captures the beautiful, delightful nonsense of Alice’s Adventures, an inspiration that is imprinted on the game.

Extending Alice’s curiosity to pitch black MORBID curiosity leads to an intelligent, melancholy and eventually hopeful journey toward an acceptance and understanding of death.

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Wot I Think: Act Of Aggression

Act of Aggression [official site] is a formidable, traditional RTS, a callback to Eugen’s pre-Wargame work. In some quarters it has been heralded as the game to fill the Command & Conquer gap in the strategy world. Its three distinct factions, resource gathering and near-future military tech seem to fit the bill. We asked Rob Zacny to join the battle and report back with a full analysis. Here’s wot he thinks.

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Wot I Think: STASIS

Stasis [official site] is a traditional point and click adventure game with a sci-fi horror theme. Successfully Kickstarted by tiny South African studio The Brotherhood in 2013, it was released yesterday. Join me for some space-screaming.

Perhaps the main reason adventure games and I broke up is that I found them too arbitrary to take seriously. The puzzles were so often at odds with the setting or theme, necessitating a suspension of disbelief (either that there really only are three usable objects in this room, or that the protagonist is simply too stupid to try anything else) that I was increasingly unwilling to provide in order to commune with some designer’s lateral thinking, or some writer’s gags. Even Grim Fandango, the last adventure game I loved, was guilty of this: that wonderful sense of journey regularly disrupted by an inherent illogic. I don’t enjoy puzzling for puzzling’s sake – but when it’s a puzzle which propels a game’s events onwards, that’s a different matter entirely. STASIS is all about momentum rather than stop-start headscratching. The majority of its puzzles act as natural stepping stones along its journey into body-horror darkness, not obstacles. It flows.

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Wot I Think: Satellite Reign

When I consider Satellite Reign [official site] as a whole, a grand canvas spattered with raindrops, neon and bulletholes, I’m in love with it. Yes, it looks and feels a little like Syndicate, but 5 Lives’ Kickstarted RTS-RPG does not slavishly follow a model from the past. Its city is open, a series of district-hubs with opportunities and mission locations scattered across them, and there are many possible routes to victory.

Satellite Reign is, from the wide-scan satellite’s view, a thing of beauty and promise. But I’ve been down in the streets for the last few days to take a closer look at the city. Here’s wot I think.

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Wot I Think: Pillars Of Eternity – The White March Part 1

It’s been nearly half a year since we devoured Pillars Of Eternity. Now Obsidian are back with another great big chunk, in the form of the first half of The White March [official site]. Does the expansion give good reason to return to the Dyrwood? Here’s wot I think.

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The Witcher 3’s 16 Pieces Of Free DLC: What They Are, Where To Get ‘Em And Are They Any Good?

Adding 16 free lots of new quests, items, outfits and modes to a game which already had a hundred million things in it was an ostensibly generous move from the creators of The Witcher 3 [official site]. But how substantial is this stuff, really? I took a look at what’s really in each DLC, how satisfying it is, and where in the Northern Kingdoms you can find it all.

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Wot I Think – Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Shadowrun: Hong Kong [official site] is the third-and-a-half time around the block for this cyberpunk-but-with-elves roleplaying series, and by now there’s a routine and a rhythm. You build a Shadowrunner, a secretive mercenary who can fight with technical or mystical powers (or a combination of the two), leading a team of fixed-spec allies with big personalities through real-time exploration and turn-based action. This time, the setting is one of the touchstones of 80s cyberpunk, and we’re dealing with Triads, social segregation and city-wide nightmares in addition to the usual gang war, troll mercenaries and magic-assisted corporate espionage.

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Wot I Think: Planetary Annihilation – Titans

Announced and released today, Planetary Annihilation: Titans [official site] is an expandalone version of Uber Entertainment’s Planetary Annihilation. The original game, Kickstarted and released last year, was trapped in the orbit of two RTS giants – Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. Staff at Uber had worked on both games and their new venture was seen as a spiritual successor of sorts, pitting enormous robotic armies against one another, backed up by Commander units, supply-and-demand resource management, and base-building.

Titans adds, tweaks and modifies but does it do enough to make Planetary Annihilation worthy of a second look? I’ve been playing since late last week and here’s wot I think.

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Wot I Think: Volume

Volume [official site] is a third-person, sci-fi stealth game, in which you direct a little dude around VR-styled, maze-like levels, dodging guards with wits and with gadgetry, with the aim of grabbing all the loot and getting out again. It’s out now.

I hope Mike ‘Thomas Was Alone’ Bithell’s new game wasn’t hoping to pre-empt any ‘turn down the…’ gags by hiring a celebrity voice cast, because sadly it wasn’t long before I started muting things.
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Wot I Think – Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon

No-one’s done Spider Simulator yet, although there’s almost certainly someone somewhere waiting to press publish on a perfunctory Greenlight page, but in its absence this genteel puzzle game about web-spinning and fly-paralysing might fit the bill. Spider: Rite Of The Shrouded Moon [official site], from a team lead by Ion Storm alumnus Randy Smith, does much more than that, even weaving a careful and subtle tale in the background and, er, spying on you.

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Premature Evaluation: Dead Realm

There are few areas in which I can claim to be a qualified authority, but, through the act of living in the rector’s lodge of an exceptionally picturesque but rather isolated graveyard for a number of years, I can probably cite a certain expertise in the non-existence of ghosts. As I was forced to tell the inquisitive, slightly perturbed taxi drivers who were occasionally required to drive me home up the long, rough, unlit track to the cemetery, I never experienced anything remotely supernatural while living there. And yes, the neighbours ARE quiet, ha ha. I felt I had to laugh each time, if only give some sense of assurance that I wasn’t going to axe-murder them and do something unnatural with their heavily-gnawed bones in the dark recesses of a crypt.

Each week Marsh Davies haunts the halls of Early Access, scaring up any stories he can find and/or enduring the eternal torment of the damned. This week he’s been playing Dead Realm, a spooky multiplayer game of hide-and-seek made under direction from YouTubers.

Pretty much every culture on the planet has a form of hide-and-seek and has done for thousands of years – even the ancient Greeks played it with the rules barely changing in the millennia since – so it’s a bit odd that games have largely relegated this kind of play to the modding scene. And it’s all the more surprising given what a massive entertainment spectacle it has subsequently become, largely thanks to Garry’s Mod and no small number of YouTubers, whose raucous antics wrack up cumulative viewing figures in the many, many millions. Combine this ruleset with that other video-friendly favourite, the viral horror game, throw in a few reaction cams, and you have surely created as potent an expression of YouTube gaming’s raw essence as has ever been divined. This must be at least partly the intent behind Dead Realm, a hide-and-spook hybrid, in which one ghost hunts the remaining players in a mansion, turning each of those it catches to its side, and, hopefully, noisily loosening some bowels in the process.

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Impressions: StarCraft II – Whispers Of Oblivion

The final expansion for StarCraft II, Legacy Of The Void [official site], is expected to appear before the end of 2015. But in the meantime, those who pre-order the game (don’t pre-order – Ed) can gain immediate access to the beta for prologue missions, Whispers Of Oblivion. We sent Rob Zacny in to take a look at both that short campaign, and the multiplayer for the expansion.

Perhaps it was unfair to expect too much from Whispers Of Oblivion. It’s a Legacy Of The Void pre-order bonus that will be free for everyone when the game launches later this year. It’s the StarCraft equivalent of a Happy Meal toy. I might have enjoyed it more, except that I started replaying the Wings of Liberty campaign, and thinking about all the places StarCraft 2 has gone — and hasn’t gone — in the last five years.

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Wot I Think: Submerged

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from all the murder. Even the most red-blooded psychopath needs a day off. Which makes Submerged’s [official site] combat-free, climbing-n-boating exploration of a half-drowned city an extremely refreshing time. Here’s wot I think:

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