Sunday, August 31, 2014

PAX Prime 2014 - Day 1 & 2  


Yes, it is indeed that time again… The Penny Arcade Expo (Prime Edition 2014) is in full swing right here in my home town of Seattle, and I’m bringing you all of the tidbits fit to print in chronological order…. This post will cover my first two days at the show.


On the day before PAX, I took a quick trip to @Undeadlabs for a press event. Their big push was for a new mobile game called…

>Moonrise Mobile. Not gonna beat around the bush here – it looks like a stylized, more realistic version of Pokemon, complete with catching weakened critters and fighting gym leaders.  That said, it streamlined a lot of the stuff that irritates me about Nintendo’s long-running franchise, and the artwork is pretty sweet. Also included will be a campaign, realtime PVP, and a possible async PVP mode in addition to other goodies. Besides Moonrise, Undead had great news...

>State of Decay PC/XBO. A new all-in-one package is coming to the XBO and it’s looking pretty sweet. The original core game gets a remaster and general cleanup, and it also ships with both Breakdown and Lifeline DLCs. Even better, some of the things from those DLCs will be added to the main game, and some fan-favorite characters will be available in other modes. No details yet on a price break or other possible deal for fans who already own the 360 versions, but it’s under consideration. Otherwise, if you’ve never played State of Decay, this is definitely the thing to jump into. Don’t have an XBO? No prob, it’s coming to Steam as well.
The next day, @Richardnaik and I took advantage of the one-hour press start head start and we made a beeline for the Sony booth to see…

>Bloodborne PS4. While it may seem like just another Souls game to anyone taking a casual glance, it struck me as being similar in spirit, but quite different in terms of how it felt. The immediate thing to notice is that there are no shields, so the player must constantly roll and dodge to deal with enemies. That in itself is quite a difference, but according to the representative standing nearby, every weapon loadout will have a projectile component, or an alt mode which turns it into a projectile. For example, I started with an axe and a gun, but I could combine the two to make a huge axe. The other set available to try (seen in early videos) was a gun in one hand and a blade in the other, and the blade unfolded into a much larger scythe-type weapon. The graphics step-up was immediately noticeable, as well. Everything looked detailed and sharp, and the street filled with a mob of angry undead (?) citizens was horrifying. 

>The Order: 1886 PS4. The demo for this one was brief, but impressive. Although I don't know much more about it other than it's a sort of Victorian-ish game featuring secret agents with steampunk weapons fighting maybe-werewolves, it's got a solid third-person cover shooter base and the level of graphical detail was incredible. I even had one of those moments when I didn't realize that a cutscene was over and I was back in the game because the visuals were so refined. The gun my character had was a neat thing that shot clouds of flammable spoke with a flare launcher as the alt, but the thing that really stuck with me was when my character picked up a note on the table and actually picked up the note and examined it before turning it over to look at the back. It sounds like a small thing, but seeing that represented in-game instead of getting the usual clean text popup/overlay was kind of mindblowing.

Moving on, the indie presence was quite strong in Sony's booth, and that was great to see. There were a number of smaller games on display, and I'm looking forward to nearly all of them…

>Axiom Verge PS4/Vita. This one is an obvious love letter to NES era, showing clear inspiration from/homages to Metroid, Castlevania, Contra, and other classics. It's a passion project from developer Thomas Happ, and it shows.

>Escape Goat 2 PC/PS4. from developer Ian Stocker was looking fantastic on PS4, and apparently the release date is imminent. This one is a true favorite of mine, combining precision platforming with often-deadly puzzles. Also, a goat. 

>Murasaki Baby Vita. a bizarre Burton-esque game where the player guides a creepy little girl across a hellscape. I suspect it’ll end up being too shallow, but my eye is on it.

>Nuclear Throne PC/Vita. action-heavy Roguelike weirdness from Vlambeer. I played a frog (maybe a fish?) in a desert with a shotgun. Not sure what else to say about that.

>Freedom Wars Vita. is a co-op Boss Rush/Hunting game where each player has a grappling hook for speedy (and vertical) movement, and players are tasked with rescuing captives from large creatures, and then protecting one of the team as they carry the rescue person back. Strong anime vibe.

>Helldivers PS4/Vita. is a pretty intense top-down shooter that seems to be along lines of a Space Marines type of thing, but not only is the action sharp-looking and frenetic, friendly fire is always on, which means that players have to really pay attention and use their heads in order to get through the skirmishes. I guarantee this one is going to be known as the "shit, sorry dude" game.

There were a bunch more games on display; too many to go into any great detail… It's pretty clear that Sony has gotten themselves back into a good headspace and are revisiting the era when they offered an incredibly wide variety of software for folks (like me!) who crave such.

Moving on, I tried to hit Microsoft before the crowd started rolling in, but the booth wasn't ready to go and things seemed quite disorganized. By the time they had their ducks in a row, people started flooding the place and queues immediately materialized. As such, I didn't spend a lot of time in the booth, but I did check out…

>Ori and the Blind Forest XBO. which had a great art style and organic tone. From what I can gather, it's more of a Metroidvania than I first expected, and it looks quite solid.

>Sunset Overdrive XBO. was quite popular at the show, with lines ever-present… Although to be fair, it did seem like MS was trying to artificially heat it up by requiring that players be at least 17 and erecting a little barrier that created a line where there really didn’t need to be one. ANYWAY, I did watch it for quite a while and it seems like a modern reincarnation of Jet Set Radio, only with guns and zombies. Characters effortlessly grind over any vertical rail or wire, rapidly zipping around the city while raining gunfire down upon the creeps below.

>Below XBO. Now, this is something that strongly motivated me to consider buying a One. Capy Games is one of the most solid, consistent developers out there, and I am a sucker for their stuff. This one grabbed me right away with an intensely lonely vibe and a clean, concise art style on display. It's almost as if Journey was turned into a subterranean roguelike… It looks fantastic and I can't wait to play more of it.

Dragon Age: Inquisition was the only other thing of note at the Microsoft booth, but like most of the other titles there, the queues were too long and I was content to check it out from a distance. I didn't see anything other than what you can already find on any of the videos or trailers available on YouTube, so I moved on.

From that point, I went to check out the indie megabooth, which was mercifully easier to navigate then it was last year. I'm not sure whether the booth was set up differently (didn't appear to be) or there were less people, but I was actually able to get through there without too much trouble, and that was a good thing since there was plenty of good stuff in there.

>Magic Circle PC. was an absolutely bizarre, psychedelic project which seems to be partly a fantasy exploration game, and partly a meta-approach with software development tools… It's hard to describe, but players were able to toggle different states on items in the environment, as if they were on a fantasy adventure and then could pop into a debug menu. Mindbending.

>Assault Android Cactus PC/PS4. A top-down arena shooter I've heard a lot about. It seems solid enough, but the action was so incredibly overwhelming that it was overkill… Blowing up 100 robots in a ring might be a good time for a little while, but killing 10,000 was a bit much. Hard to follow visually, too.

>Dead State PC. is a turn-based zombie apocalypse game, but the developer was quite clear in explaining that play hinges on the survivors, not the combat. In fact, he said there was no experience awarded for combat at all -- apparently the only bonus is that you survive and you might scavenge a few items off of them. Players will have to manage a group of the living while fortifying a base, and there is an actual script and story-based campaign to get through. (Yay!) As someone who likes the idea of zombie games but is happy to explore other avenues of play besides combat, this one looks quite good.

>Titan Souls PC/PS4/Vita. Expect to see this one on the Vita soon. (Speaking of which, I was surprised at how many any developers in the megabooth told me they were getting into bed with Sony. It's great news!) In any event, this is a boss rush game where the player has only one hit point and one arrow that can be recalled and re-fired. It looks elegant and challenging.

>The Road To Beta PC. This one was extremely early, but it's a top-down combat game where each character represents a different type of game developer -- programmer, artist, QA, and so on. As a player goes through the game, each area represents a different stage in game development, so an early part will have a lot of whiteboards and sketches, and boss levels will be something like getting approval from your supervisor (via combat) for example. I love the concept and it seems on the right track. Going to check back in with this one and another six months or so.

>Sentris PC. A tough one to describe, it's a music/quasi-puzzle game (not really) where the player moves sections of a spinning circle in order to create beats and change the sound of the game… It's difficult to understand at first, but there's definitely a strong Zen vibe.

>Hand of Fate PC/PS4. This one is also quite hard to explain, but it was one of my favorites at the booth. The game gives the player a customizable deck of cards full of challenges and equipment. A fortuneteller deals these cards out onto a virtual table, and that’s the playfield. The player then navigates through these cards one by one, and when an enemy is encountered, the game goes into third-person action to settle the outcome. I'm doing a terrible job of describing what a fascinating game this is, but it’s on my must-play list.

Other notable games: Edge of Space, Darkest Dungeon, Shattered Planet, Star Crawlers, Salt and Sacrifice, Air Escape: Fall of Gravity, and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.

After leaving the megabooth, I had a couple more appointments to wrap up the day… First up was…

>The Evil Within Multi. This is a very ‘classic’ Resident Evil-ish experience (think along the lines of RE1) coming from Shinji Mikami , so for anyone who's ever wanted that, this is it. The graphics were (as is becoming the norm these days) pretty amazing as I walked through a creepy mansion picking up ammo, money, text logs and (i'm pretty sure) weird-object keys. The approach to enemies is a little different here… apparently most of the enemies don't stay down unless they're burned, and matches are pretty scarce, or so I'm told.  There also seems to be a very Lovecraft kind of vibe with the player experiencing some insanity effects and twists in the game.

>Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris Multi. If you played Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (it was bloody excellent) you know exactly what to expect here -- isometric arcade-style action with a great deal of environmental puzzle solving and co-op gameplay. Good stuff.

>Evolve Multi. I've heard people raving endlessly about this one, but after playing it for about an hour, it didn't click with me. It's an asymmetric online team-based game where one side takes control of a huge monster, and on the other side are four players of various classes who work together to take the beast down. It's a pretty cool idea, but I’m concerned that it might get boring too quickly… The game is apparently shipping with 3 monsters and 12 characters, which seems like not a lot to me. I don't go in for these kinds of games for more than a weekend in general though, so perhaps others will get more out of it than I might. As far as how it plays, the monster I had (Kraken) was tough to control and didn't feel very powerful, and the characters felt like standard first-person action dudes plus jetpacks. I played two of the four classes and thought they were fine, but a lot of time was spent running around the level with everybody asking “Where’s the monster?” over and over. I’m still interested, but it didn't clear the wow-factor bar for me.


That's it for days 1& 2. My coverage of days 3&4 will be up as soon as the show wraps! Any questions on any of the titles I covered (or any that I didn't...) hit me up and let me know. I'll follow up if I can!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quick Looks at Natural Doctrine, Danganronpa 2, Walking Dead Pinball, and a load of links!  


So, PAX Prime is this week. Like... WHOA.

It kinda snuck up on me, there. Really looking forward to it for a number of reasons, but top of the list? Hands-on with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate!  

Planning to do at least one podcast from the show with @RichardNaik, but we'll see how it goes. Any requests for me to check out a specific game, hit me up here or on Twitter and let me know!


LINKS: Here's some quick links to stuff you might have missed... 

>@Gamecritics Podcast, Episode 115: The Souls show (Demon's, Dark, Dark 2) featuring yours truly, @Nelsormensch (from Mark of the Ninja), @Sajon77 (from MIT's Gambit Game Lab and Harmonix's Fantasia) and @Toupsi from the @Gaymebar podcast (which is consistently awesome.) 


>I also made a guest appearance on the @CaneAndRinse Podcast, and the subject was Hideo Kojima's underplayed classic, Snatcher


>I review Ultra Street Fighter IV  (And speaking of which, the good folks over at Capcom have created a little visual guide to the roster growth of SF IV… Click on the title of each game to see how the cast has grown.) 


>And I also review indie darling The Swapper.


PREVIEW: NIS America recently sent me a code for Natural Doctrine -- a strategy RPG I've been curious about for a while. I haven't had much time to get into it, but here's a quick rundown.

Story-wise, it's no great shakes and I'm not expecting much from the rest of the game. It starts by very briefly introducing four mercenaries who don't have much personality, and little context is given. It seems like a very typical Japanese fantasy game with a lot of names that are hard to remember and a lot of talk without much reason to care about it.

Graphically, it's not too strong, either. I’m playing on the Vita, and the graphics are on par with a mid-range PS2 title. Environments and character models are pretty simple. Not unattractive, just… serviceable. However, while those two aspects aren’t impressive, the game does have some meat where it counts -- the strategy.

Rather than being divided into squares or hexes, each area is divided up into zones which can hold a certain number of characters. (Four normal size humans/two large orcs, etc.) This works in tandem with a system where characters are able to support each other if they’re positioned correctly, so if attacks are focused on one person from teammates in the same zone, then the team-up gives multiple bonuses and power-ups. Poor planning gets characters killed in a hurry, and smart planning wipes enemies out with surprising efficiency. The design of the system is actually quite interesting, and requires a player to think more strategically then the average title of this type, at least so far.

Supplementing the team-ups is a system where the player can interrupt the order of enemy turns by killing the enemy who’s next to go. Furthermore, slower characters can take extra turns if they team up correctly with teammates who have higher speed. It's still a bit murky for me at the moment since the game doesn’t spend much effort on tutorials, but the structure is easy to pick up on. I’m missing some of the nuances, but what I've dipped into has been quite intriguing.

In terms of pace, the levels are fairly long… Although I've seen pictures of the game running on PS4 and it does look better, I think I was wise to choose it on the Vita. Knowing my play habits, I'm more likely to chip away at lengthy levels on a handheld, rather than sitting down for marathon sessions in front of my TV, especially with something like this where the attraction is in the strat and not the bells and whistles. The tradeoff of graphics for convenience was a smart move, I think.

Although it needs more polish in a few areas (devs, do NOT make me sit through turns of characters who aren’t even on screen, k?) and I’m guessing many will be quick to write it off, Natural Doctrine has had no problem keeping my attention. There’s definitely some weight in the tactics, and while it might take a little while to dig it out, it’s been promising so far. More to come on this one, and a full review is in the works.

Speaking of full reviews, I just turned in my piece after finishing Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

In case you're not familiar with this new series, it's basically about a bunch of high school kids who are forced to kill each other in order to survive. It plays like a visual novel, although it has some "courtroom battles" where the player tries to make a point or present some evidence in an action-minigame sort of way. It's similar to Phoenix Wright, although the pace is much faster. If this sounds like a good thing to you, you can check out my review of the first game here.

After loving that game pretty hard, I was a little skeptical that the developers would be able to do much better, but they have proved me so, so wrong. Danganronpa 2 is at least as good as the first, and debatably better. I had a fabulous time with it and the full review will be up soon, but I'm just going to spoil it right here… It's awesome. Don’t miss.

In other games news, I've been playing the Walking Dead table that was recently released for Zen Pinball 2. I totally suck at pinball, I am absolutely not an expert on pinball, and I really don't know much about the finer points of pinball table design or what makes a good pinball experience, but I've been having a great time with this, honestly.

Hearing the voice clips from season one and seeing familiar faces represented on the board is great, and the little minigames and interesting features (Snipe the zombies! Play soccer with Clem!) that pop up are a nice touch. 

I've never played Zen Pinball 2 before tonight, but I suspect I'll be putting some time into it fairly regularly from here on out.

TV: I'm a little late to the party on this one, but the wife and I just watched the final episode of Warehouse 13, and I have to say that I am genuinely sorry to see the series end. The characters always had great chemistry and the premise of finding famous artifacts imbued with magic was neat. Even if the plots were a little loopy at times, the episodes were always enjoyable and didn't take themselves too seriously… Every time I watched I had fun, and that's not something I can say for many shows.

Thanks for all the good times, guys. You'll be missed! 
While I'll be mourning it for some time to come, I am grateful that the writers were given the opportunity to wrap the show up in a graceful way, rather than having it unceremoniously yanked off the air and leaving fans hanging. (Reaper, anyone?) Although I wasn't entirely satisfied with the final ep and would've done something different with Pete and Myka, I thought it was a solid send-off, and I was content.

If you've never seen the show, it's definitely a good one, and now it's even easier to recommend knowing that there are a finite number of episodes and that it has a solid conclusion. If you need a lighthearted series with a fantasy twist to jump into, have no fear.


The Walking Dead pinball, Zen Studios’ latest digital pinball table based on The Walking Dead from Telltale Games and Robert Kirkman, the Eisner Award-winning creator and writer of The Walking Dead for his Skybound imprint at Image Comics, is now available across a variety of platforms. The new table brings the excitement and suspense of the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead along with a bevy of great features, including all-new voice work from the original Season One cast, compelling game modes, and more. Zen and Telltale have also released a new gameplay trailer below.


Titan Souls (coming to Vita) Gameplay trailer


Indie publisher Versus Evil, in partnership with Seattle based indie developer 4gency, today announced that Habitat: A Thousand Generations in Orbit, will be demoing new content and showing off an early version of how the game will support Steam’s Workshop support system exclusively at this years PAX Prime located in Seattle, WA fromAugust 29th – September 1st.  Integrating Steam’s Workshop will allow players to create their own pieces of junk for use in-game which will compliment the existing content roll out planned by the development team.

In Habitat gamers have to build and manage the future homes of humanity from orbital debris they find in space junkyards surrounding Earth’s orbit.  Leading their team of engineers, they will have to build and fly space stations in a zero gravity setting, mastering physics driven flight simulation to explore space. In order to thrive and grow they have to manage their population and their population’s environment.  In the event of a threat they will have to turn their space stations into deadly weapons using pieces of debris picked up such as rockets, lasers and particle accelerators to fight and ultimately survive against attacks from the enemy.  This is a space survival game where crisis is guaranteed and the only chance for survival is to be creative and decisive in the face of disaster.

An Early Access build for PC, Mac and Linux is now available through Steam, Amazon, Humble Store, GameFly, Gamer's Gate, GreenMan Gaming and Nuuvem priced at $14.99, £10.99 and €14.99.   

Visit the website:  
Follow us on Twitter: @4gency

Toren trailer (South American devs featuring a female protag in a Fantasy story) 

Aksys Games is proud to announce that Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late, a stylish 2D fighting game set to bring explosive effects and fast-paced fighting to thePlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, is now available for pre-order!Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late was created by a combined effort of Arc System Works, whose BlazBlue and Guilty Gear series are world renowned, and French Bread, which has rightfully earned its place amongst fighting game fans! Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late brings beautifully hand-drawn sprites straight from the arcades of Japan to your home console in 2015!

For 80 long years, residents of Oakland were banned from playing pinball because the game was viewed as illegal gambling. All that changed last month when the city’s long prohibition on pinball was finally lifted. To celebrate this momentous occasion, RadioShack and Stern Pinball are teaming up to host a month-long pinball tournament inside RadioShack’s new Interactive Remodeled store in Oakland. 

Kicking off on August 20, RadioShack will place a brand new Iron Man Pro Vault Edition machine in its Fruitvale Station store location, with help from Stern Pinball and the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA). Participants are welcome to play for free and test their skills, no quarters required and no purchase necessary. More than mere bragging rights are on the line; whoever wins the tournament, wins the machine as a grand prize.  Here’s how the tournament will work:

         Tournament begins on August 20, 2014 and ends on September 19th at 9:30 p.m. PT
         Players (must be 18 years or older) have 30 days to qualify for the finals and can visit the store Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. as many times as they like to try to set the highest score, at no charge and no purchase necessary
         To qualify, players must score 50,000,000 points or more
         16 top-scoring qualifiers are invited back for the finals on September 20, 2014
         Finalists will enter a bracket tournament until one winner emerges

If you want to showcase your pinball skills for a chance to win your own pinball machine, simply visit RadioShack starting August 20 at 3040 East 9th Street, Suite A. The tournament runs for 30 days, with the last chance to qualify on Friday, September 19 by 9:30 p.m. PT and a Grand Finale on Saturday, September 20 at the same location. The highest scorer on the machine in the Grand Finale will have the honor of taking it home. For more details and rules, visit the RadioShack TechSpecs blog, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

August 19, 2014 Torrance, CA – From Aksys Games, the publisher that brought the Zero Escape series to the West, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is a visual novel with compelling strategy RPG combat, now available to pre-order for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system! Take on the role of a ghost hunter, and feel the thrill of exploring eerie locations, uncovering the mystery of those who now wander as spirits! In Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, you decide who joins your intrepid group to brave the unknown!


Today Tin Man Games, the company best known for its Gamebook Adventures and Fighting
Fantasy adaptations, has released Steve Jackson’s classic superhero gamebook, Appointment with F.E.A.R.,
 in a new and exciting digital comic book format where the player gets to choosethe path of the story.

Designing their own super-powered defender of justice in Titan City, the player makes choices
that guide them towards new villains, super dilemmas and, ultimately, the Titanium Cyborg and
the F.E.A.R. meeting. Unlike the nearly thirty year old gamebook, players can now customise
their character choosing superpower, gender, looks, costume design and, most importantly,
their supername!

The interactive graphic novel also allows the player to collect F.E.A.R. cards by defeating
supervillains and being awarded hero points for acts of valour. If an iOS or Android player has
multiple copies of a card, these can be swapped with other friends via Facebook. By making
clever decisions during the adventure the reader also increases the possibility of getting rare
cards. The Steam version of the game features Steam Trading Card support.

Appointment with F.E.A.R. follows the life of the superhero across a handful of days as they
deal with their everyday normal life, whilst saving the citizens of Titan City from over thirty
supervillains using narrative based combat, which unfolds as the combatants trade quips. The aim is to collect vital clues and information that lead to the arrest of these villains and
discovering the location of the F.E.A.R. meeting.

The game also features a dyslexic-friendly font to make it more accessible. Players can choose
the ‘OpenDyslexic’ typeface which increases readability for players with dyslexia.
Appointment with F.E.A.R. is available to buy for $2.99 (USD) on the iOS App Store, Google
Play and the Amazon Appstore. It is also available to buy for PC, Mac and Linux on The Humble

Store and Steam for $5.99, launching with a 20% reduction for one week.
The Gamebook Adventures website can be accessed at and
Tin Man Games also runs a developer blog at


Take This is pleased to announce it will be returning to PAX Prime with the "AFK Room," mental health awareness training for volunteer "Enforcers" and a panel on how to be a friend to people suffering from emotional disorders.

Attendees who find that the hustle of the show is "damaging their calm" will find relief at the Take This AFK Room. The room will be staffed with volunteers and mental health care clinicians who can provide empathy and support for those in need, or information on how to help friends and family who are dealing with mental health problems.

The Take This panel will also be returning to PAX Prime. "Take This: How to Be a Friend" is scheduled for Friday, August 29th at 3:00pm in the Wombat Theatre. It is aimed at friends and family of those struggling with emotional issues. Friends and family are the first line of support, but don't often know how to broach sensitive subjects, or how to help those in need. While there is no one right technique for every situation, the members of Take This will offer some strategies that can help anyone be a better friend.

Take This will again provide mental health care and awareness training for PAX's volunteer "Enforcers," and will continue to work with the PAX organization to help increase awareness and empathy for mental health and other wellness issues throughout the show.

PAX Prime 2014 will be held August 29 - September 1 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA.

For more details about PAX, please visit the PAX Prime website: 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review Links, Snatcher, Danganronpa 2, Wolfenstein's Demo & The Valley of Gwangi  


Games: sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been spending most of my time jumping back and forth between projects. Before getting into those, here are a few links to reviews that just went up at @Gamecritics:


Now with those out of the way, I’m happy to say that I just finished recording a podcast with the @CaneAndRinse crew on my favorite game of all time, Hideo Kojima’s Snatcher -- or perhaps I should say, it used to be my favorite game of all time.

I don't want to spoil everything here, but Snatcher made an incredible impression on me when it was released  stateside in 1994 and I've held it in very high regard ever since. Although I completed it two or three times back in the day, I haven't touched it in years (I live in constant fear that my Sega CD will stop working!!) so it's been quite a while since I put it through its paces. I decided the time was right when C&R gave me the nod, so I jumped back in and re-experienced it all over again.

Despite the age of the game, I’m happy to say that it almost totally holds up. The art is still charming, the voices are still great, and the music is still absolutely faaaaaaaantastic. On the other hand, I had completely forgotten and (or perhaps I was never aware) of how persnickety the actual gameplay is.

It’s essentially a visual novel and the player chooses different menu options to talk to people, to explore things, to go to different locations, and so on.  The problem is that the developers want the player to click on some options several times even though there’s no cue that they should do so, and it's also  very easy to overlook something and get totally stuck with no idea of how to progress. For example, despite going through this game several times before, I got hung up for about three days because I couldn't figure out what I had missed, and that was both frustrating and time-consuming. 

(Spoiler: It was the sunblock in Gibson's house.)

Although I still love the game immensely and I think it holds great value, the gameplay just doesn't stand the test of time and I'm afraid I have to remove it from my top slot. I'm not a big believer in nostalgia, so if something is good it's got to be good no matter when you play… Some games are able to pull off the trick, and Snatcher nearly gets the job done, though sadly, not quite. 

For a deeper dive on Snatcher and what the rest of the @CaneAndRinse crew thought of it, keep your eyes peeled for the pod… It's being edited as we speak, and should be up soon.

As an interesting parallel, I'm actually playing another visual novel for review at the moment – Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. I'm still under embargo so I can't say very much about it, but I will say that so far (and I'm not done yet) it's every bit as interesting as the first, and I really commend the writers on the things they've done. 

I wasn’t sure how they could top the original, but the characters are interesting, there've been a number of surprises I did not see coming, and the way that they acknowledge the previous game is very, very intriguing… I haven't hit the big payoff yet, but it seems like things are going a certain way, and I'm bursting with anticipation for how it's all going to end up.

I’ve still got about a third of the game left (or so) but I've been loving every second of it up to this point. The first Danganronpa is certainly going to end up on my top 10 of the year, no question, and it’s looking like the sequel will be right beside it.

Aside from those things there hasn't been a lot of time for gaming, although I did dip into Wolfenstein: The New Order for a few minutes… I thought I was going to have a chance to blast through it, but I only ended up having enough time for the first two chapters or so. I will definitely come back to it, but for now I’ll say that it's quite different now compared to what I played of the PAX demo last year.

At that point last year, I was supremely unimpressed, and I was wondering why anyone would even bother resurrecting the game. It seemed like a lot of exactly what someone would expect from a Wolfenstein, and not much more. A lot of guns, a lot of hallways -- I just didn't see the point. However, there have been a number of changes and tweaks in the final game, and it feels like a new project. From what I recall, the opening stage wasn't in the demo, the second stage (which I played) is now greatly truncated compared to what it was before.  The story bits (also not in the demo) really enhance the experience, as well.

I guess this is a prime example of how an early look can give an inaccurate view of what the final product will be, and if I had known it this was going to be this good, I would've done the review myself. Looking forward to getting back to it when I have more time, but so far it seems like a thumbs up.

Movies: My 5yo is really into movie monsters, so we've been going through a lot of old films together. It's awesome because he doesn't care if something is in color or black-and-white, and I don't care if we need to fast forward through a lot of talking to get to the action. We have a great time, and we’ve seen a lot of old favorites, as well as a bunch of things that I've heard of but never viewed. One of these was The Valley of Gwangi, from 1969.

The basic premise is that a bunch of cowboys who run a Wild West show come across a hidden valley which holds a number of prehistoric creatures. Of course, the beasts get loose and hilarity ensues… There's not much more to say about it except that it was a hoot, and if there was ever a movie that was right for revamp it's this one.

I mean, come on, cowboys versus dinosaurs would be a fantastic combination with today's technology. Of course it wouldn't have to be something eyebrow, just a big, loud popcorn flick to take a kid to in the summer.

Come on Hollywood, let's get it done.


Obsidian Entertainment and today released the gamescom trailer for Armored Warfare.  In this "Urban Warfare" trailer, players will get an all-new look at the free-to-play, massively multiplayer online tactical military video game that puts you in control of modern tanks, armored vehicles and more. Fans can sign up for the closed beta now at
The trailer can be viewed here:


XSEED is happy to announce that we have launched our over-the-top action RPG title, AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead & Undressed, on the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system.

Touted as XSEED Games' largest voice-over project to date, AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead & Undressed boasts Dual Audio. Its English and Japanese voiceovers complement a narrative dripping with satire and nods to Japanese culture to create a bewitching modern-day supernatural "otaku" adventure set in a faithful recreation of Akihabara, a popular Japanese "alternative" tourist destination.
For more information, please visit our official site at
We've uploaded our new launch trailer on our official Facebook page as well.



Independent developer Vagabond Dog and oppressive game publisher Devolver Digital have released a unique new demo for the unconventional RPG Always Sometimes Monsters. Gamers will assume the role of a video game journalist attending a review event for the game itself and be able to interact with other journalists, the developers, and, of course, play a short demo of Always Sometimes Monsters. Those that complete the demo will be able to write a review and score the game within the demo and help determine the success of the developers.

Released in May to both critical and commercial success, Always Sometimes Monsters tells the story of a down-and-out character on the verge of collapse after learning the love of his or her life is set to marry someone else. Selecting from characters of different gender, race and sexual orientation players will encounter a world that reacts uniquely to who they are as they live through common experiences and unique hardships. With time working against them, players set out on a unique cross-country journey filled with memorable and countless choices. Each playthrough is filled with a staggering number of diverging paths, creating a narrative tailored to the individual playing, their choices, and their personal ethical compass.

Always Sometimes Monsters and the new demo are available on Steam ( with a 50% discount on the full game to celebrate the launch of the demo. For more information visit or follow @VagabondDog on Twitter. 



With a renowned history that’s served as the origin for many nostalgic video game characters, worlds and experiences, Sierra™ continues on today in a return to form that fans of great games will love. A part of Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), Sierra’s focus is on indie studios developing innovative, edgy and graphically unique games, including new IPs and contemporary reimaginings of beloved Sierraclassics. Headlining Sierra’s slate of indie games is an all-new King’s Quest™ experience in 2015, and a new Geometry Wars™game planned to launch this holiday season. Additionally, the Sierra team is well underway exploring other indie projects to potentially launch later this year, and in 2015 and beyond.

In development by the beloved and quirky studio The Odd Gentlemen (The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom), King’s Quest is a fully reimagined version of the fan-favorite Sierra game fit for both the old and new generation of King’s Quest players. Huge fans of the original King’s Quest series, The Odd Gentlemen are crafting a charming new adventure with an awe-inspiring art style, engaging puzzles, and a wondrous interactive narrative brimming with humor. In the new story, King Graham – revered as the greatest adventurer to ever live – shares his life’s adventures with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn. It is through these tales that Gwendolyn discovers the true greatness of her grandfather. King’s Quest is expected to make its heralded return in 2015.

The first title set to launch under Sierra is Geometry Wars3: Dimensions from the team at Lucid Games. Geometry Wars3: Dimensions is an exciting new evolution of the fast-paced, frenetic Geometry Wars gameplay fans love, and will introduce full 3D action and both cooperative and competitive multiplayer for the first time in the franchise.  In addition to a full single-player campaign with 50 unique challenges and over 10 battle modes – five of which are brand new to the series – Geometry Wars3: Dimensions features dynamic and persistent progression, offering players a consistently new experience each time they play.Geometry Wars3: Dimensions is planned to launch later this year.

For the latest information on Sierra, including additional details on King’s Quest and Geometry Wars3: Dimensions, be sure to check out the official Sierra website at


Ubisoft® and Signal Studios announced Toy Soldiers: War Chest, the next iteration in the Toy Soldiers series. Leaving the battlefields of past eras behind, players face off against rival toy armies to determine who rules the battlefield. Toy Soldiers: War Chest will be available for download on Xbox One, video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Windows PC in early 2015.

Four diverse armies will be available at launch. The proud and disciplined Kaiser returns to lead his German Empire forces and defend their reign with new troops, weapons and turrets. New to the franchise is the Star Power army led by the whimsical but dangerous heroine, Starbright – her army of unicorn steeds, ferocious pixies, flying Pegasus and laser-shooting teddy bears have come to rain hearts and rainbows of destruction onto the battlefield. Each army defends with its own unique base turrets, combat and aerial attack vehicles and army units, making each gameplay experience distinct. Two additional armies in Toy Soldiers: War Chestwill be revealed closer to launch.

With more heroes, missions and playable armies than any previous Toy Soldiers, Toy Soldiers: War Chest is the most expansive title to date. Additional features in the game include more turrets and turret upgrades, more barrages, new game modes and expanded multiplayer and cooperative play.
For more information on Toy Soldiers: War Chest, please visit


Bethesda is pleased to announce that we’ll be offering a Season Pass for The Evil Within, the upcoming survival horror game from legendary director, Shinji Mikami.

The Evil Within Season Pass will allow you to experience survival horror from a new perspective. In the first add-on, assume the role of The Keeper (aka Boxman)in a sadistic collection of mission-based maps. The second and third add-ons take you further down a path of madness in a two-part, story-driven experience in the role of Juli Kidman -- Sebastian Castellanos' mysterious partner from The Evil Within. Encounter unthinkable enemies and new areas that reveal hidden motives and harrowing evil.

Priced at $19.99, the Season Pass offers savings on three planned add-ons for the game and will be available soon at select game retailers, PSN, Xbox LIVE, and PC. Season Pass and DLC content may not be available on all platforms or in all territories. Pricing and release dates may vary by territory and/or platform.

The Evil Within releases on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC on Tuesday, October 14th in North America and Friday, October 17th in Europe.
The Evil Within has been rated M for Mature by the ESRB. For more information on The Evil Within please visit


Sweden based game development studio Night Node have released their first game Orbital Gear on Steam. Orbital Gear is a fast paced shooter, where gravity defying mechs fight each other in a multiplayer mayhem!

You slingshot yourself using the gravity of planets and try to aim your movement towards the enemy, in an attempt to destroy their base. Once you have destroyed enough buildings or defeated enough enemies and stolen their energy cores you quickly manoeuvre yourself away from the enemy fire and leave the energy cores in your main base, charging your super weapon and obliterating your opponents once and for all!



Dying Light has a new trailer!


Deconstructeam and Devolver Digital have released the “Mercy Update” for the indie thriller Gods Will Be Watching on Steam, Humble and GOG, bringing sweet relief to those gamers that found the harder paths through the game a bit too hard. The update to the critically lauded title brings new challenge settings that adjust the game’s overall difficulty and a new option to remove the element of chance from decisions made throughout the game. It’s still no cakewalk though, chumps.

"The team is very happy with the release of Gods Will Be Watching and the reception of the intense challenge we set out to deliver, but we've also been listening carefully to all the feedback, and we want to make the game as accessible as possible to every kind of player,” said Deconstructeam designer Jordi de Paco. “The Mercy Update is the result of our team’s discussions with both fans and critics, refining the game and creating new settings that allow more gamers to experience Gods Will Be Watching at a comfortable challenge level."

New challenge settings range from Original Mode, which keeps the game’s full difficulty intact, to a new Puzzle Mode that removes all elements of chance and Narrative Mode for gamers looking to just experience the story with minimal obstacles to success.

Gods Will Be Watching is available now for PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam, GOG, and Humble. For more information on Gods Will Be Watching or to try the original prototype, visit


It's time to return underground and uncover how 4A Games made Metro Redux the most complete and ambitious "remasters" of modern times.

Improved graphics, complete with Ranger, Spartan and Survival game modes, hours of additional content and features packed into games that were rebuilt on 4A Games' brand new engine -- Metro Redux from Deep Silver is a beautifully re-mastered package for newcomers and Metro fans alike.

For a look into how this compilation came about, check out the video below for download or on YouTube.

Download link:

Upon release on August 26th in North America, Metro 2033 Redux and Metro: Last Light Redux will each be available separately as a digital download for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC for $24.99. Alongside the digital release, a boxed compilation containing both games, Metro Redux will be available at retail for a suggested $49.99. 


Rising Star Games' digital escapade continues with another new partnership for 2014. Japanese developer, Pygmy Studios has partnered with Rising Star Games to bring La-Mulana EX - a new version of the cult 2D action-adventure game - to PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system later this year.

 Set in the fabled ruins of La-Mulana, players will help Professor Lemeza Kosugiembark on an exciting but incredibly deadly adventure. Armed at first with only his trusty whip, he'll traverse through the lost city, finding treasures and discovering a bounty of unexplored caves, unsolved riddles and ravenous monsters. But with the ruins having claimed the lives of everyone that has ever entered, will Lemeza be able to survive in the quest to find the secret to life itself?

Packed with challenging enemies, treacherous locations, huge bosses and punishing but rewarding gameplay, La-Mulana EX is guaranteed to be a must-have title for PlayStation®Vita system when it arrives later this year. More details about La-Mulana EX, including the new features exclusive to PlayStation®Vita system, will be made available in the near future.

For more information on all Rising Star Games titles, please visit the official site: