Posts Tagged ‘feature’

Has Darkest Dungeon been improved by its updates?

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Update Night is a fortnightly column in which Rich McCormick revisits games to find out whether they’ve been changed for better or worse.

Down a dark, dark road, through a dark, dark forest, under a dark, dark town, in a dark, dark — darkest — dungeon, there’s a new easy mode.

Darkest Dungeon developer Red Hook Studios introduced “Radiant” difficulty to their infamously tough sidescrolling slog ‘em up early last year, making it quicker and cheaper for the game’s gang of highwaymen, lepers, grave robbers, and other playable miscreants to gain new skills. The new mode reduces gold costs for upgrades, provides more cash for dungeon visits, and bumps experience gains, with the effect of dragging the time of a playthrough down from the 80 hours quoted by its developers to a more manageable 40 hours. But in a game renowned for its punishing difficulty and mind-shattering horrors, how does an easy mode even work?

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BenQ EW2770QZ review: If only its contrast was as good as the rest of it

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It’s not often that gaming displays make headlines during the yearly tech bonanza of CES, but this year Nvidia unveiled its gigantic 65in ‘big format’ screens with all the G-Sync bells and HDR 4K whistles you could possibly imagine. We have no idea how much they’ll actually cost right now – probably somewhere in the region of £1500/$2000, I suspect – but personally, I just can’t see myself having one on my desk. Maybe in the living room if for some ungodly reason I wanted to get rid of our TV, but not 30cm in front of my face.

For me, a 27in 2560×1440 monitor is still the perfect sweet spot for my PC gaming needs, and the BenQ EW2770QZ on test today is one such monitor. How about that for a seamless segue?

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Wot I Think: The bloody creepy Rusty Lake Paradise

The long-running saga of Rusty Lake continues in Rusty Lake: Paradise, and I’m pleased to report this is one of its finest outings. I wasn’t sure at first, but by the end I was deeply embroiled in its Lynchian psychic dystopia, once more tangentially exploring the lives of a creepy family, crow-faced creatures, and that fuzzy black man-thing that haunts my dreams.

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Playstyle Royale: Desert Sightseeing

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This is Playstyle Royale, where I head into Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and try to win my chicken dinner while adhering to arbitrary rules. It’s been a while and the desert map hasn’t yet received the Playstyle treatment, so I thought it’d be nice to kick off this year with some sightseeing.

As a sightseer, each round I’ll try to visit four locations I’ve deemed touristy enough to deserve my attention, and I’m forbidden to loot anywhere else. As usual, I’ve got five attempts before I have to call it quits.

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Pictopix just doubled in size, and remains the best picross game on PC

The best picross/nonogram puzzle game on PC, Pictopix, just got a free update on its first anniversary. It’s added in another 45 large-size puzzles, pretty much doubling the play-time of the whole game. So I’ve gone back in, and argue once more why this is the sort of PC game our industry is sadly failing to celebrate.

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Corsair Void Pro RGB review: Supreme comfort marred by underwhelming surround

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I thought it would be ages before I found another pair of headphones that could rival Steelseries’ superb Arctis 7, but it turns out great headsets are a bit like buses. You wait ages and then two come along at once. This time, it’s Corsair’s Void Pro RGB.

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Bridge Constructor Portal isn’t a rollercoaster of laughs, but it’s still good

Weeeee

It’s not the Portal follow-up we were expecting, but it’s the one we got. Bridge Constructor Portal is a crossover between Valve’s comedy science puzzler and the strut-straddling engineering of the Bridge Constructor series. You’re still making bridges that wobble from A to B, and sending small vehicles across your creations. However, you also have the distraction of portals, turrets, proulsion gel and catapults, as well as a passive aggressive computer that passes judgement on your techniques. It feels fruitless to review such a straightforward cocktail – it’s two flavours you may already know so let’s just see how they blend together. And the opening chapters are reassuring. This is a decent wee nugget of a puzzler. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Freeways?

Road rage? Naw mate. Naw

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Whenever I see a GIF of someone’s twisting roadworks in this traffic-em-up, I think: “Ohhh! Freeways! How could I forget!” And then I forget about it again by the end of the day. On the face of it, this a throwaway puzzler about drawing roads to help traffic flow in the right direction. Glistening and enjoyable for fifteen minutes or a half-hour, and then you saunter on. But underneath that tarmac tinkering is a whole network of freeways that only gets bigger. Read the rest of this entry »

Cel-shaded PUBG, ’70s Truck Sim and zinester Assassin’s Creed with new Nvidia tool

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Post-processing tools for games aren’t new – hello Reshade and SweetFX – but the world of dramatically altering a PC game’s appearance with what could loosely be described as real-time Instragram filters has always been a scrappy wild west. Nvidia have this week built themselves a governor’s mansion on this new frontier, introducing a feature called ‘Freestyle‘ to the GeForce Experience suite of game optimisation, streaming and screenshotting tools. It might lack the open source and community-driven scope of ReShade, but it’s easier and slicker to use on the games that support it – and the results can be dramatic. Gimmicky, sure, but making a game you’re otherwise tiring of into a neon fever-dream can be a real shot in the arm.

Presenting for your wide-eyed delectation and howling disapproval – Plunkbat: The Animated Series, Assassin’s Creed Oranges: Vice City and American Truck Simulator: Grindhouse Edition.
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Premature Evaluation: Mesozoica

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s doing his best John Hammond impersonation by caging up dinosaurs and displaying them in exchange for tourist cash in dino theme park sim Mesozoica.

This summer, Frontier plans to launch Jurassic World Evolution, a licensed dino-park sim. I can almost understand, then, why I’m already playing Mesozoica, another dinosaur-themed management sim. Absent a big license like Jurassic Park, developers DreamInCode B.V. and Squadron Interactive might be keen to beat Frontier to the punch. This early launch is not likely to have the effect they intended.

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How killing permadeath in Darkwood led deeper into the forest

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Darkwood [official site].

“All roads lead deeper into the woods,” says one of the twisted characters in Darkwood, an excellent and haunting game of survival in a nightmarish forest. There are horrors in its tangles of subsuming wood, things you won’t quite understand, characters who aren’t quite human, aren’t quite friendly. A game in the tradition of Pathologic and STALKER, Darkwood was developed by a Polish team of three called Acid Wizard Studio, and in many ways, it sounds as if that mordant quote is a comment on their experience of making it.

Their desire to marry a strong non-linear story, meaningful choice, a threatening atmosphere, and a procedurally generated world that changes shape during play, led to serious challenges. As team working on their first-ever game, they’d blundered into tackling some of the biggest design questions in games today. “It was an extremely stressful experience,” artist and writer Artur Kordas tells me, as Darkwood’s development pushed into five long years. And part of their solution? Killing permadeath – a decision that led them deeper into the woods. Read the rest of this entry »

Dell Alienware 13 (Late 2017) review: A flawed gaming laptop I love to bits

Alienware 13

There are two types of gaming laptop in this world. Those with gorgeous, so-good-I-want-to-lick-them OLED screens and those without. Happily, Dell’s Alienware 13 is one of the former, and by god is it beautiful. If the paltry, washed-out screen on Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop was like a banged up Ford Fiesta from the mid 90s, the Alienware 13 is a modern day super car, its OLED panel and oozing luxury from each and every pixel.

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The best PC game trailers ever

Buh! Buh! baa-dddaaah!

The game trailer is a sly creature. It wants to entertain you, to excite you, to embolden you with curiousity. But it also wants to sell you a bunch of code wrapped up in some 3D shapes. Some trailers turn out to be more artful than the game they’re hawking, others plant sneaky emotions in your head with music. However, some are better than others. Here are the best conflagrations of light and noise in PC gaming.

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The Joy of self-determination in Monolith

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If you’ve ever played The Binding of Isaac or Enter The Gungeon, then Monolith is immediately familiar stuff. A comforting blend of twin-stick shooter and dungeon-crawl wherein you navigate mazes, hoard loot, upgrade your character (cute little spaceship-people in Pop n’ Twinbee fashion), fight menacing-looking bosses, and then do it all again with even more stuff unlocked in the dungeon generator. What sets Monolith apart from its peers, and what has earned it a near-perfect user review score on Steam, is just how little all of that progression means.

Weapons are ammo-limited and ephemeral, upgrades tend not to be especially dramatic, and progression is rewarded by an ever-increasing difficulty level. In Monolith, the most important weapon you’ll ever use is the starting pea-shooter. Your default, unlimited-ammo machine-gun may not spit out quite as much damage as the fancier weapons, but it’ll still do the job if you’re able to dodge bullets for just a couple seconds longer. There is nothing in Monolith that you cannot defeat with raw reflexes and knowledge of enemy patterns alone, and knowing that makes every victory sweeter, and every defeat sting just that little bit more.

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Have You Played… Rusty Lake Hotel?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The Rusty Lake games are beautifully macabre creations. Hotel is my favourite, I think, though Roots is perhaps more ambitious. If you haven’t played them, you should play both. Here’s why…

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Warhammer II’s Tomb Kings are a defensive juggernaut

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If you’ve ever come back from holiday to find that your flatmates/children/parents have flooded the kitchen/dyed the cat blue/thrown out all your original Jethro Tull LPs, then spare a thought for the Tomb Kings, Total War: Warhammer II’s first all-new DLC faction. Once upon a time, they ruled a pseudo-Ancient Egyptian empire in which scholars quested for the secret to eternal youth and tyrants went merrily to the grave, confident of resurrection in paradise. Several millennia and a couple of necromancy wars later, the mummified Kings stumble from their pyramids to find their bodies reduced to KFC leftovers, their southern homeland of Nehekhara trashed, and the continent awash with bearded barbarians, talking rats and stupid sexy dinosaurs.

Unfortunately for all the younger races, the Tomb Kings are far stronger in death than they were in life. I spent half an hour getting to grips with their quirks, including a series-first crafting system. Here are my thoughts.

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Steam Charts: Feedback Edition

As the feedback loop of Steam successes reaches an ear-shattering scream, this week we see last year’s best sellers dominating the New Year’s first week. So I refuse to live in the past. Let’s look forward. Let’s imagine what we might want from these behemothic developers. Read the rest of this entry »

Hitchhiker: a purgatorial roadtrip through a place both wonderful and strange

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Hitchiker: the colours of Firewatch, the zen roadtrip calm of Truck Simulator, the addled homespun wisdom of that sarsaparilla-loving barfly from The Big Lebowski and the abstract underworld uncertainty of Twin Peaks’ supernatural side. Also, an awful lot of raisins. Basically, it’s somehow identified all the aesthetics that most please me (raisins excepted) and bundled them together into a cars’n’conversation odyssey that is equal parts charming and terrifying.

The first of several planned parts, each of which sees you hitching a ride with a different driver, is out today. Your travelling companion for this first ride, still officially deemed a prototype but available as a Humble Original right now, is a honey-voiced raisin farmer in no hurry to get anywhere but with a whole lot of secrets to share. It’s rather special, despite a few shortcomings.

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Cree concerns hammer home why Civ needs to reject its own traditions

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In Civilization, civilization is a competition. Land and resources are limited, and even those nations that don’t expand through military might are attempting to climb to the top of the league table in other ways. Geography, technology, culture, religion, diplomacy – they’re all, to some extent, weapons to be deployed, or at least arenas where an advantage can be gained. Culture and history are the clothes that Civ wears but it’s not really about building an empire or a nation, it’s about sharpening a knife.

The upcoming Rise and Fall expansion for Civ VI introduces several new playable nations, but the introduction of one civ has led to criticism from an unexpected source. Yesterday, Milton Tootoosis, an elected headman-councillor of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, spoke to CBC News about the inclusion of the Saskatchewan First Nation. He acknowledged excitement about the news and noted that historical chief, Poundmaker, is to be portrayed as working to build “a bridge between settlers and First Nations”. But he also voiced a fundamental concern about the portrayal: “It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land.” It’s a concern that cuts to the heart of what Civilization has always been and – I hope – to what it could become.

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Samsung 850 Pro review: SSD overkill

Samsung 850 Pro

If you’re in the market for an SSD upgrade (and if you’re still using a hard disk, you really should be) you’re spoiled for choice. Any modern SSD, such as the Samsung 850 EVO, Crucial BX300 or WD Blue 3D, will transform your PC, but there are some of you who need the ultimate in performance. Enter Samsung’s 850 PRO range.

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