Games

Quarantine Circular Review: Who Are We, Really?

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 20:30

Much like its sudden release, Quarantine Circular aims to surprise. The second installment in Mike Bithell's short-story series doesn't have a direct narrative connection to the first game, Subsurface Circular, but it carries over the same sharp writing and intriguing central premise. This time the story jumps between characters instead of delivering its tale through a single lens, and while this structure leads to some tonal inconsistencies, Quarantine Circular is still a thought-provoking experience worth seeing through.

Like Subsurface Circular, Quarantine Circular is a straightforward narrative adventure. You never take control of its characters beyond determining how they respond to others during a conversation. A directed camera does a good job of keeping you engaged, utilizing sharp cuts and slow pans to evoke tension and serenity at the right moments. Its soundtrack, too, does an excellent job of setting the tone of each scene, especially after a sensational opening sequence.

Humanity is facing an extinction event in Quarantine Circular, which makes the simultaneous arrival of extraterrestrial life both inconvenient and suspicious. Taking place aboard a vessel tasked with maintaining a quarantine in a vulnerable city, you shift between multiple perspectives while trying to determine why the aliens have arrived and if they might be linked to the plague that's ravaging life across the globe. Although you never see the effects of the plague in action, Quarantine Circular ramps up the stakes quickly with a trail of clues that hint at what's happening outside the ship's confines. There's a palpable sense of urgency befitting the impending collapse of civilization.

Despite its brief two-hour runtime, Quarantine Circular manages to raise intriguing ideological questions about evolution, human nature, and tribalism. The arrival of extraterrestrial life opens questions about life beyond our planet at a time when there's little chance to preserve it. Issues concerning evolutionary fate and the human race's mistakes act as a centerpiece for the core conflict, which has some surprising twists before somewhat stumbling to a deflating conclusion. But it's a tale that will have you laughing moments before pondering deep existential questions, and it manages that balance with grace throughout.

Without the ability to see characters' expressions due to their bulky biohazard suits, dialogue has to do most of the heavy lifting.The color coding of each character helps keep things from getting too confusing, and it doesn't take long for Quarantine Circular to establish a strong sense of identity for each concealed face. Marc Peréz, for example, is a great early-game character with a contagious sense of optimism, and his inquisitiveness when coming face to face with the alien visitor for the first time mirrors your own. He eventually gives way to a set of characters with varied ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, all of which introduce differing yet surprisingly relatable perspectives for you to consider.

Conversational choices are often linear, giving you a handful of responses that sometimes loop back to the same outcome. They always align with the personality of the character you're guiding; you can't, in other words, role-playing however you see fit. You can't make a brooding security specialist suddenly sympathetic to a cause she doesn't believe in or work around the naivete of a young scientist. Quarantine Circular lets you make choices that affect events in some unexpected ways (so much so that you'll be enticed to replay certain sections to see alternative outcomes) but it never lets you mistake your role in its tale.

You also have the option to dive into alternative points of conversation that flesh out the premise and surrounding events. Sometimes you'll be limited as to how many of these conversational diversions you can take, and some choices lock out others. You'll never feel as though you're missing out on anything specifically crucial with your decisions, but your curiosity is often rewarded with morsels of information that influence more important choices down the line.

Infrequently, these focus points are used to inject some light puzzles into the story, which doesn't always work in the dialogue-heavy structure of the rest of the game. There's a section at the end that is specifically guilty of obstruction, bringing a powerful decision-making moment to a crawl as you rummage through character notes to hunt down a password. It breaks the flow of the game, but thankfully it's not a persistent hindrance.

What is slightly more annoying is the frequent hopping between characters. Quarantine Circular can shift perspectives multiple times in a single act, which gets confusing with the strict response options you have to choose from. The cuts feel jarring, and the writing is sometimes forced to acknowledge it. One scene cuts so rapidly that the responses are sign-posted to ensure you know who you're replying as. It's disappointing, too, when you're forced to change your perspective on a given situation during its potential climax, as it undercuts the emotional resonance the scene had built up all along.

Quarantine Circular's endings also struggle to prop up the stories that led to them. They aren't as surprising as the tales that they're meant to be rounding out, often concluding in transparent ways. They might factor in small decisions you considered inconsequential at the time, but the endings fail to encapsulate all the questions the story asks into a thought-provoking final message. Quarantine Circular ends too abruptly, and without much impact.

But it's still a tale worth giving the little time it asks of you, if only to be entertained by its intriguing characters and inspired by their existential pondering. Quarantine Circular is a mostly well-written sci-fi tale that doesn't succumb to tired tropes or obvious plot contrivances to draw you in. Instead it uses its limited working space to deliver a captivating tale about human nature and our theoretical place within the universe.

Categories: Games

The First Gameplay Trailer Shows Off Surprising Mechanics

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:13

World Seeker is an open world One Piece game, and it looks like it may be taking cues from the Batman: Arkham games.

Along with being able to swing and leap through the game's open city world, the gameplay trailer also shows Luffy activating a detective vision-like ability to look through walls and see enemies. The trailer also shows off a healthy collection of Luffy's combat abilities, many taken directly from the manga/anime.

One Piece: World Seeker is coming later this year.

Categories: Games

The First Gameplay Trailer Shows Off Surprising Mechanics

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:13

World Seeker is an open world One Piece game, and it looks like it may be taking cues from the Batman: Arkham games.

Along with being able to swing and leap through the game's open city world, the gameplay trailer also shows Luffy activating a detective vision-like ability to look through walls and see enemies. The trailer also shows off a healthy collection of Luffy's combat abilities, many taken directly from the manga/anime.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

One Piece: World Seeker is coming later this year.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Newest Title And Its Brand New Features

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:00

Despite his long slumber, Mega Man has a history synonymous with gaming. With Mega Man 11, the blue bomber is attempting the kind of revival fraught with the same kind of dangers that dozens of other series have tried before with few coming out the other end successful. Mega Man's newest adventure, however, might be more well-equipped for a grand return than any of his former contemporaries.

We got a chance to play the newest build of Mega Man 11, which features BlockMan's Egyptian/Aztec fusion-themed level and FuseMan's newly playable electric bugaloo around a power plant. Mega Man traverses these environments with his usual repertoire of running, jumping, sliding, and holding in the charge button the entire time.

The newest tool for Mega Man to use, however, is the Gear system. Dr. Wily has an epiphany of the gear ability system in his advanced age, recalling that he pioneered the technology with Dr. Light when they were both young. The gears can slow down time, power up a fighting robot, or combine both for a last-ditch effort in battle. Wily decides to power up his current set of robot masters with the gear system and Mega Man insists that he also receives the upgrade from Dr. Light to fight off these powered-up enemies.

Using the shoulder buttons, Mega Man can activate the Speed Gear, which slows down time, or the Power Gear, which powers up his Mega Buster and gives him two full charge shots at its strongest charge. Both abilities are set on a cooldown, meaning you can't just walk through a level with time permanently slowed down. Activating either buys you a few seconds to take advantage of the gear until you stop using it or it runs out, requiring a full cooldown to zero before it can be used again.

Mega Man can also build up a charge through the level that allows him to combine both gears as a desperation move, slowing down time and giving his Mega Buster an extra bit of oomph. The super fighting robot better have defeated the boss with this ultimate attack, though, or he'll overheat and be unable to charge shots for a limited time.

The gears are not an easy button as I initially feared they would be. It allows the designers to be a bit more devilish with the design of optional challenges. An E-Tank in Block Man's stage requires platforming off a falling block to reach, which is doable for those with fast reaction times, but made just a bit easier using the Speed Gear. The Gears alone won't make anyone look like a speedrunner, but they provide a little smoothing out of some of Mega Man's hard edges.

The robot masters also have this same technology and use it to add different phases to the boss fight. BlockMan uses the Power Gear to assemble a block-filled mech that looks like something akin to Mega Man's monstrous rival the Yellow Devil. The gears end up making the boss feel fresher than when they simply bounced around the stage hitting you with projectiles, as classic as that formula may be.

FuseMan's stage revisits a trope well-worn in Mega Man's long history, an electric-themed stage littered with traps around Mega Man's feet. Fuses shoot electric beams as you go through the stage, invoking a Mario-style level design of introducing a stage obstacle and iterating on its use over the level. Before too long, Mega Man is avoiding moving electric beams while platforming up a vertical corridor and avoiding the exposed flooring.

As someone who has grown up alongside the Mega Man series and counts its games as some of my favorites, I was initially fairly worried about whether the eleventh game could successfully channel the spirit of its predecessors. After having played it, I am confident that the final product feels like Mega Man, and the developers understand just how difficult to define that feel can be. The blue bomber is modernizing, which in itself can be a game of inches, but he has not lost his robotic soul in the process.

Mega Man 11 releases on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 2.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Newest Title And Its Brand New Features

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:00

Despite his long slumber, Mega Man has a history synonymous with gaming. With Mega Man 11, the blue bomber is attempting the kind of revival fraught with the same kind of dangers that dozens of other series have tried before with few coming out the other end successful. Mega Man's newest adventure, however, might be more well-equipped for a grand return than any of his former contemporaries.

We got a chance to play the newest build of Mega Man 11, which features BlockMan's Egyptian/Aztec fusion-themed level and FuseMan's newly playable electric bugaloo around a power plant. Mega Man traverses these environments with his usual repertoire of running, jumping, sliding, and holding in the charge button the entire time.

The newest tool for Mega Man to use, however, is the Gear system. Dr. Wily has an epiphany of the gear ability system in his advanced age, recalling that he pioneered the technology with Dr. Light when they were both young. The gears can slow down time, power up a fighting robot, or combine both for a last-ditch effort in battle. Wily decides to power up his current set of robot masters with the gear system and Mega Man insists that he also receives the upgrade from Dr. Light to fight off these powered-up enemies.

Using the shoulder buttons, Mega Man can activate the Speed Gear, which slows down time, or the Power Gear, which powers up his Mega Buster and gives him two full charge shots at its strongest charge. Both abilities are set on a cooldown, meaning you can't just walk through a level with time permanently slowed down. Activating either buys you a few seconds to take advantage of the gear until you stop using it or it runs out, requiring a full cooldown to zero before it can be used again.

Mega Man can also build up a charge through the level that allows him to combine both gears as a desperation move, slowing down time and giving his Mega Buster an extra bit of oomph. The super fighting robot better have defeated the boss with this ultimate attack, though, or he'll overheat and be unable to charge shots for a limited time.

The gears are not an easy button as I initially feared they would be. It allows the designers to be a bit more devilish with the design of optional challenges. An E-Tank in Block Man's stage requires platforming off a falling block to reach, which is doable for those with fast reaction times, but made just a bit easier using the Speed Gear. The Gears alone won't make anyone look like a speedrunner, but they provide a little smoothing out of some of Mega Man's hard edges.

The robot masters also have this same technology and use it to add different phases to the boss fight. BlockMan uses the Power Gear to assemble a block-filled mech that looks like something akin to Mega Man's monstrous rival the Yellow Devil. The gears end up making the boss feel fresher than when they simply bounced around the stage hitting you with projectiles, as classic as that formula may be.

FuseMan's stage revisits a trope well-worn in Mega Man's long history, an electric-themed stage littered with traps around Mega Man's feet. Fuses shoot electric beams as you go through the stage, invoking a Mario-style level design of introducing a stage obstacle and iterating on its use over the level. Before too long, Mega Man is avoiding moving electric beams while platforming up a vertical corridor and avoiding the exposed flooring.

As someone who has grown up alongside the Mega Man series and counts its games as some of my favorites, I was initially fairly worried about whether the eleventh game could successfully channel the spirit of its predecessors. After having played it, I am confident that the final product feels like Mega Man, and the developers understand just how difficult to define that feel can be. The blue bomber is modernizing, which in itself can be a game of inches, but he has not lost his robotic soul in the process.

Mega Man 11 releases on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 2.

Categories: Games

Learning What Adventure Mode Serves Up

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 14:01

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash launched on Wii U in 2015 to poor reception from fans and critics alike. The game added little in way of new mechanics and even less in terms of reasons to return to the game time and again. With gameplay that expands your arsenal, an improved online suite, and a better list of modes, Mario Tennis Aces on Switch hopes to avoid the double fault and deliver a better experience for players. I went hands on with one of Aces' main attractions, adventure mode, to learn the basics of the new gameplay and see if this entry is more likely to sink its hooks into players.

You only play as Mario in adventure mode, but the story features many character besides Nintendo's mascot. Luigi has uncovered an evil tennis racket, and it has taken him, Wario, and Waluigi hostage. Mario sets out to rescue the captive characters and uncover the secrets of the racket's past. The journey takes Mario to Bask Kingdom, a dominion previously ruined by the powerful racket. To fight for his brother and the destroyed kingdom, Mario learns new abilities, which play out as brief tutorial stages in adventure mode.

As I work through the early lessons, I relearn the basics of Nintendo's brand of tennis. Once we get the different strokes down, I move on to learning the new abilities Mario Tennis Aces introduces. As I rally back and forth with my opponent, an energy gauge fills in the corner of the screen. I can use available energy for zone speed, which slows time and allows me to get into position, or zone shots, which I can perform if I get into proper position and expel energy as I swing my racket. If I initiate a zone shot, my character springs into the air and an aiming reticle allows me to place my shot; the longer I take to aim, the more energy I consume. You can aim away from your opponent, but if you want to challenge them, you can hit it right at them. If they don't time their counter correctly, the powerful shot will damage their racket. Inflict too much damage to your opponent's racket and it'll break, giving you the win by default.

Mario's newfound zone powers are great, but they're no match for the special shot, which can be initiated from any spot on the court when the energy gauge is maxed out. When you use a special shot, you launch into a character-specific cutscene and enter the aiming sequence again. This time, if your opponent tries and fails to return the shot properly, it'll destroy their racket in one hit. This means that if you decide to test your skills and return a special shot, failure carries a hefty price. 

The final shot type I learn is a trick shot, which causes my character to leap, lunge, or flip in the direction of the ball in a desperate attempt. It's tough to be successful with, but using this shot, I was able to reach several balls I would've just watched go by in most tennis games. With my new arsenal of attacks, I jump into the first few real challenges of adventure mode. From special-rules matches against other characters on the roster like Spike and Donkey Kong, to a minigame where I must return balls from a wall of piranha plants, adventure mode looks to provide fun diversions that give you additional ways to enjoy the game of tennis. As I complete challenges, I earn experience for Mario to improve his shot speed, run speed, and agility ratings. I also earn new rackets, which have their own set of attributes including attack, defense, and durability. I imagine that durability rating will be one to focus on if you're not great at timing your returns on zone shots.

My time with adventure mode culminates with a showdown against a boss: Petey Piranha. He puts wicked spins on the ball, but by simply continuing the rally, I chip away at his stamina. Once his bar is depleted, he tips over and I enter a zone shot to deal damage to his weak spot. After a few cycles of this, the battle is mine. It's a fun twist on the core tennis mechanics and I look forward to more creative boss fights.

Mario Tennis Aces seems to show a Camelot team that took the criticisms of Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash to heart. With myriad new gameplay mechanics and a fun adventure mode, I'm looking forward to seeing the full scope of the improvements when the game launches on June 22.

In the meantime, you can see the trailer for adventure mode below.

Categories: Games

Learning What Adventure Mode Serves Up

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 14:01

We try out the various new shots and play a few stages of adventure mode.

...(read more)
Categories: Games

Medieval Action RPG Has You Play As Fish-Powered Robot

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/27/2018 - 20:11

Feudal Alloy, an upcoming Metroidvania action RPG, centers around a bizarre concept. You play through a medieval era as a robot powered by a goldfish, who is on a quest to defeat bandits that burned down their home.

You're not the only goldfish piloting the robot. In this strange world, all enemies you go head-to-head with are similarly powered by fish. Feudal Alloy features hand-drawn 2D art, giving it a storybook vibe. Developer Attu Games describes the gameplay as discovering a "huge interconnected world, filled with wide range of enemies, bosses, skills, equipments and side quests."

Check out the trailer below.

Feudal Alloy is expected to launch on PC later this year, though no specific release has been announced.

Categories: Games

Medieval Action RPG Has You Play As Fish-Powered Robot

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/27/2018 - 20:11

Feudal Alloy, an upcoming Metroidvania action RPG, centers around a bizarre concept. You play through a medieval era as a robot powered by a goldfish, who is on a quest to defeat bandits that burned down their home.

You're not the only goldfish piloting the robot. In this strange world, all enemies you go head-to-head with are similarly powered by fish. Feudal Alloy features hand-drawn 2D art, giving it a storybook vibe. Developer Attu Games describes the gameplay as discovering a "huge interconnected world, filled with wide range of enemies, bosses, skills, equipments and side quests."

Check out the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Feudal Alloy is expected to launch on PC later this year, though no specific release has been announced.

Categories: Games

This Shooter About Childhood Fears Comes To Switch And PC

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/27/2018 - 19:13

Sleep Tight is a shooter that reminds you of the fears you had as a kid at bedtime. It's about the monsters that lurk in your closet and under your bed, but this time, you have the power to stop them.

This twin-stick shooter blends base-building with intense combat. You craft fortresses out of bedsheets and furniture while fighting waves of monsters. Your goal is to survive as many nights as you can.

With 12 unlockable characters, you can switch between them to try out varying difficulties and playstyles. Check out the trailer below.

Sleep Tight arrives on Nintendo Switch and PC on July 26.
Categories: Games

This Shooter About Childhood Fears Comes To Switch And PC

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/27/2018 - 19:13

Sleep Tight is a shooter that reminds you of the fears you had as a kid at bedtime. It's about the monsters that lurk in your closet and under your bed, but this time, you have the power to stop them.

This twin-stick shooter blends base-building with intense combat. You craft fortresses out of bedsheets and furniture while fighting waves of monsters. Your goal is to survive as many nights as you can.

With 12 unlockable characters, you can switch between them to try out varying difficulties and playstyles. Check out the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Sleep Tight arrives on Nintendo Switch and PC on July 26.
Categories: Games

New Gameplay Trailer Offers A Glimpse At The Game's New Donk City Level

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 22:01

Nintendo released a new gameplay trailer for the Switch port of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The trailer showcases the puzzle game's various features, including a quick look at the New Donk City level inspired by Super Mario: Odyssey.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker comes to the Switch and the 3DS on July 13. When Game Informer's Ben Reeves reviewed the original version of the game on Wii U, he said its extensive use of the console's Gamepad almost made if feel like a handheld game. Now, it actually will be.

Categories: Games

New Gameplay Trailer Offers A Glimpse At The Game's New Donk City Level

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 22:01

Nintendo released a new gameplay trailer for the Switch port of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The trailer showcases the puzzle game's various features, including a quick look at the New Donk City level inspired by Super Mario: Odyssey.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker comes to the Switch and the 3DS on July 13. When Game Informer's Ben Reeves reviewed the original version of the game on Wii U, he said its extensive use of the console's Gamepad almost made if feel like a handheld game. Now, it actually will be.

Categories: Games

The Upcoming Racing-Battler From Codemasters Gets Its Modes Detailed

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 19:24

Deep Silver has released a new trailer showcasing the upcoming modes in Codemasters new combat-racing game Onrush. The new title is being developed by a team created from the former members of Evolution, who were known for the Motorstorm series. Onrush seems to be a spiritual successor to those games, as it contains the same over-the-top crashes and car combat as Motorstorm.

The trailer dives into the four main modes; Countdown, Lockdown, Overdrive, and Switch. In Countdown, players must work with their team against a timer as they pass through gates to slow the decay of the clock. At the same time, they must stop the opposing team from passing through gates and ensure their timer reaches zero to gain points. Lockdown sees king of the hill get a racing twist, as players must fight with their team for control of a moving zone, and do everything in their power to stop the opposing team from taking it. Overdrive mode is the classic Motorstorm style of racing where players earn boost by driving recklessly and causing opposing players to crash. Once enough of their meter is built up, players can use their boost to gain points. The final mode is Switch, where every time a player wrecks, they switch vehicle classes. After three crashes, they run out of switches and instead must take down opposing players who still have switches left. 

Alongside the trailer detailing the new modes, Deep Silver and Codemasters have released two developer diaries. The Onrush Transmission video series goes behind the scenes, focusing on the design of the game and the influences behind the crash-fueled racer. You can check those videos out on the official Onrush YouTube account.

Onrush looks to be a different breed of racer and the influence Motorstorm has on its design shows in spades. The game comes out on June 6 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and is available in standard and deluxe editions. 

Categories: Games

The Upcoming Racing-Battler From Codemasters Gets Its Modes Detailed

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 19:24

Deep Silver has released a new trailer showcasing the upcoming modes in Codemasters new combat-racing game Onrush. The new title is being developed by a team created from the former members of Evolution, who were known for the Motorstorm series. Onrush seems to be a spiritual successor to those games, as it contains the same over-the-top crashes and car combat as Motorstorm.

The trailer dives into the four main modes; Countdown, Lockdown, Overdrive, and Switch. In Countdown, players must work with their team against a timer as they pass through gates to slow the decay of the clock. At the same time, they must stop the opposing team from passing through gates and ensure their timer reaches zero to gain points. Lockdown sees king of the hill get a racing twist, as players must fight with their team for control of a moving zone, and do everything in their power to stop the opposing team from taking it. Overdrive mode is the classic Motorstorm style of racing where players earn boost by driving recklessly and causing opposing players to crash. Once enough of their meter is built up, players can use their boost to gain points. The final mode is Switch, where every time a player wrecks, they switch vehicle classes. After three crashes, they run out of switches and instead must take down opposing players who still have switches left. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Alongside the trailer detailing the new modes, Deep Silver and Codemasters have released two developer diaries. The Onrush Transmission video series goes behind the scenes, focusing on the design of the game and the influences behind the crash-fueled racer. You can check those videos out on the official Onrush YouTube account.

Onrush looks to be a different breed of racer and the influence Motorstorm has on its design shows in spades. The game comes out on June 6 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and is available in standard and deluxe editions. 

Categories: Games

Wizard Of Legend Review: Fast-Paced Action

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 18:48

Roguelike pixel-art games are so common that it almost feels like a cliché. Without a great hook, many of these would-be indie hits wind up lost among ever-filling digital storefronts. However, Wizard of Legend, despite a painfully generic title, manages to distinguish itself from its peers with fast, challenging gameplay. Despite a few missteps, it successfully delivers an engaging and endearing experience.

After a breezy tutorial framed as a series of interactive wizard museum exhibits, you finds yourself whisked away into a new dimension--one with an ever-changing, multi-floor dungeon inhabited by three all-powerful wizards. The challenges you face in this dungeon are called the Chaos Trials, and only wizards of truly exceptional skill have ever conquered them…meaning, of course, that you need to become a wizard of exceptional skill.

Your wizard character has animpressive moveset, with a basic melee spell, a dash/dodge spell, and two powerful techniques with cooldowns mapped to each of the controller's face buttons. While a lot of roguelike games focus on smart usage of the random resources you find on any given run, Wizard of Legend's emphasis is more on skill-based action gameplay. By using your spells and movement skillfully, you can create powerful combos, stunlocking enemies with a flurry of melee attacks, ranged magic, and dashes. The fast, fluid movement of your character and timing-based combos make Wizard of Legend feel like classic action-RPGs of yore--a welcome change from the generally slower rhythm of similar procedurally-generated games.

Finding and learning new arcana magic inside and outside of the dungeons can also affect your gameplay; you might have acquired a really cool and powerful spell, but it's practically worthless if you don't learn to use it well in tandem with your other skills. The process of experimenting with the magical combinations you acquire--and augmenting their effectiveness with various artifacts--allows you to personalize your wizard's playstyle to suit your strengths. Just don't get too attached to the spells and items you find inside the dungeons--most of those won't be coming home with you after death.

As you make your way through the Chaos Trials, you'll encounter a variety of obstacles, enemies, places of interest, and treasures scattered throughout the catacombs. Defeating enemies and collecting treasure chests yields gold and gems; gold can be used to buy goods and services within the dungeon, while gems stay with you even if you're defeated and allow you to buy new spells, clothes, and artifacts in the shopping area before a new run. Only the goods purchased outside of the dungeon are permanent--with a few rare and valuable exceptions--making hunting for and collecting gems an important part of exploration. That doesn't make gold worthless, however, as you can use it to purchase temporary upgrades, health restoration, and additional, powerful spells. Yes, you'll lose all the stuff you bought with gold if you perish, but these skills and items can help make a run last a lot longer, which means more potential permanent loot in the long term. It never feels like a serious setback when a run goes bad; you just buy a few goodies, practice your new arcana, and jump back into the game.

It's plenty of fun, but there are a few annoyances. The environments are dull and lack visual variety, and in some cases it's hard to discern what things are due to the colors used and a lack of detail. The dialogue, sparse as it is, also feels like it's trying just a bit too hard, particularly when it goes for lousy puns. It's also an unforgiving game for newcomers, as enemies are relentless straight from the get-go, making the learning curve steep. But no matter how good you are, sometimes you'll just get a really terrible, unescapable battle in a room filled with hazards and projectile-slingers that feels like it's there simply to ruin your run. While the randomness in Wizard of Legend feels like less of a run-killing factor than in other games of this sort, when its RNG decides it doesn't like you, you'll know it.

With a buddy, however, things get easier. You can play local co-op with a friend, with the both of you sharing a common pool of permanent items and arcana picked up from all your runs up to that point. Having two players makes the more difficult enemy encounters and combo challenges feel less overwhelming, and a generous revival system that involves picking up energy from defeated enemies lets a fallen player hop back into the action fairly easily. However, one major fault is that both players must occupy the same quadrant of the screen, which makes for restricted movement in certain situations--like when one player is working to get in for melee strikes while the other is trying to zip around to set up ranged skills. Giving the camera the ability to zoom out during these situations would have been nice. (Also, as of this writing, you can only play local co-op on the Switch using the Joy-Cons, so forget about using that Pro Controller when your friend's over.)

Overall, though, there's a lot to love about Wizard of Legend. While it does have some issues, the cycle of exploration, discovery, failing, learning, and exploring again will keep your determination to conquer the Chaos Trials high. Wizard of Legend might not look like much on the surface, but there's some good magic underneath.


Categories: Games

Dev Walkthrough Offers A Deep Look At The Impressive RPG

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 16:28

Inxile Entertainment is working on a new entry in the long-running Bard's Tale series, and the studio has released a lengthy developer walkthrough that shows just what players can expect from The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep. It covers virtually everything from combat and exploration to a glimpse at the game's puzzles.

Creative director David Rogers provides lighthearted commentary in the clip, outlining a quest that has the party exploring a dangerous castle. It's a nice look at not only the game's grid-based combat, but also how puzzles are incorporated throughout the experience – including a cog-based challenge that leads to a door opening, and a little bit of object-based puzzling that unlocks a new weapon's potential.

The game is coming to consoles and PC later this year. For even more on The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, take a look at our recent hands-on preview.

Categories: Games

Dev Walkthrough Offers A Deep Look At The Impressive RPG

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 16:28

Inxile Entertainment is working on a new entry in the long-running Bard's Tale series, and the studio has released a lengthy developer walkthrough that shows just what players can expect from The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep. It covers virtually everything from combat and exploration to a glimpse at the game's puzzles.

Creative director David Rogers provides lighthearted commentary in the clip, outlining a quest that has the party exploring a dangerous castle. It's a nice look at not only the game's grid-based combat, but also how puzzles are incorporated throughout the experience – including a cog-based challenge that leads to a door opening, and a little bit of object-based puzzling that unlocks a new weapon's potential.

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The game is coming to consoles and PC later this year. For even more on The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, take a look at our recent hands-on preview.

Categories: Games

Conan Exiles Review: Dull And Dense

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 00:00

For a game that’s based on the world of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Conan Exiles has remarkably little to do with any part of that universe. It’s a big, open-world survival sim that sticks true to its initial hardcore vision to a fault. When you combine the steep learning curve of a deep but confusing crafting system with largely monotonous gameplay and a spectacularly awful UI, Conan Exiles feels like it does everything it can to push back on those curious enough to step into its admittedly intriguing but highly flawed world.

The game opens as you regain consciousness in the scorching desert, completely naked and vulnerable. As an exile, you are trapped in a doomed and cursed land with nothing but the faint memory of being cut down from your crucifix by Conan, the giant hunk of man-meat himself. From there, you’re free to wander off into the wild yonder. The exiled lands are massive, made up of different environmental biomes that can be explored freely from the outset. Spectacular-looking sandstorms can roll in out of nowhere, forcing you to seek shelter lest they consume you. You can climb anything from mountains and trees to walls and buildings, provided you have the stamina. This adds an extra dimension to exploration, with the added payoff of some lovely views of Conan's varied world.

You start out small, picking up rocks and sticks and crafting simple tools. Almost everything you find can be broken down one way or another, and while it's neat to watch rocks chip apart and trees topple over as you hack into them, the humdrum motion of harvesting never feels rewarding. Eventually you’ll need to build shelter and a bed, which becomes your new spawn point. Given the game’s brutal permadeath mechanic, doing this sooner rather than later can save you some real heartache.

Shelter can mean anything from a small stone shack all the way to a giant castle, complete with reinforced walls, towers, and even a trebuchet. Building is block-based and relatively free form, allowing for hugely elaborate base designs that can be some fun to build, provided you take the time to gather the raw materials to build everything you need. That's all well and good, except for the part where you aren’t shown how to do any of it. It’s all up to you to simply figure out or dive head first into a wiki to have anything explained in detail.

If you aren’t motivated by curiosity, Conan Exiles' single-player mode will feel empty and largely aimless. It's more like a practice mode, with only a handful of NPC outposts and structures to find. When you do, most of them are hostile, and the few that aren’t only offer minimal interaction. Multiplayer changes this up for the better in a few ways, mainly through the addition of other human players.

More importantly, though, multiplayer gives you more purpose and clearer goals to achieve. This includes defending your base from other players as well as The Purge, an army of NPCs that might attack and destroy your base as you gain XP. You can also join Clans, which will allow you to build collectively, either on or near clanmates' already-laid foundations. For times when you do have to leave home behind, you can create Thralls--human NPCs with specialised abilities you can knockout, bind, and drag back to base to enslave--to help protect it, and they do a decent enough job.

Character progression in both single and multiplayer takes place in the Journey, a series of tasks grouped into chapters that, when completed, grant you attribute points to spend on any one of seven main ability slots. You also gain knowledge points to unlock new crafting recipes, of which there are a lot. The number of things you can craft is staggering; weapons, armor, survival items, and even religious altars to help to deify the gods of the world and earn their favour.

Once you start crafting more complex items, you get better acquainted with one of the game's worst aspects: its UI. There’s nothing intuitive about it, and like the rest of the game, there’s very little explanation given as to how it works. On top of that, it's overly complicated, requiring you to place the resources along with any fuel required into the crafting bench first, select what you want to build from the menu, and then hit the play button to actually craft it. There’s also almost no difference between the console and PC UI, so it's an absolute nightmare to do any kind of inventory management with a controller. And like in most survival sims, it’s what you inevitably spend a significant amount time doing, making it a constant source of frustration.

When you get tired of chipping away at trees and rocks, which you will, you can chip away at creatures or other humans instead. There are all manner of things in the exiled lands for you to kill or be killed by, from animals and beasts to monstrous boss creatures like a giant black spider and a huge, spiked Dragon. But despite the sizeable enemy variety and the large array of weapons you can smith--from daggers to axes and giant mallets--combat is just plain bad. Both light and heavy attacks feel unwieldy thanks to sluggish animations, and weapon strikes lack any impact, resulting in dull and monotonous fights.

Conan Exiles is one of the most unsatisfying games I’ve ever played.

To top it off, Conan Exiles just feels really unpolished. The bodies of harvested enemies simply disappear into thin air, and large areas of the world can pop in and out of view at any time, clipping your character through the ground then respawning you somewhere else on the map. When the night starts to come, the moon’s light casts upwards from the ground, creating an bottomlit effect that looks atrocious. It’s also not in the most stable condition, with a number of crashes affecting gameplay randomly on both PC and Xbox.

Ultimately, Conan Exiles is one of the most unsatisfying games I’ve ever played. Its crafting and resource systems may be dense enough that the ultra-patient could find something to enjoy here, but anyone else would likely walk away with their hands thrown up in defeat. The mind-numbing tedium of harvesting resources, woefully boring combat, and a slew of bugs left me feeling completely underwhelmed and unimpressed when it was all said and done.

Categories: Games

Squad E Is Reporting For Duty In This Valkyria Chronicles 4 Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 18:59

Sega has released the first English-voiced trailer for Valkyria Chronicles 4 today, showcasing Squad E, the upstart company that is looking to change the tide of war.

The new trailer shows off the whole of Squad E with a mix of story cutscenes and gameplay footage to illustrate how the new characters look, act, and play. You can check out the trailer below.

The new squad includes Claude Wallace, Squad E's commander; Riley Miller, the Grenadier; Raz acting as the squad's Shocktrooper; Kai Schulen the Sniper; and Karen Stuart and her Shiba Inu Ragnarok as the team's medics.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 launches on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch later this year.

Categories: Games

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