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Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 21:05

Donut County, the puzzle game from developer Ben Esposito, has gotten a release date. The hole-based game will release on PlayStation 4, PC, and iOS on August 28.

Donut County gives you the power of holes to gradually expand and suck up an entire town. The game is very Katamari Damacy-like by having players start with smaller objects and get bigger to end up taking the entire town to the cavernous depths below.

We played the game at Sony's PSX show last year and really liked it. You can check out a release date trailer for the game below.

You can take your own look down the abyss of Donut County in just a few short weeks.

Categories: Games

New Footage For Xenoblade Chronicles 2's Torna Expansion Shows Familiar Faces

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 19:40

Nintendo announced the latest DLC content for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 at E3 this year, showing off a brand new piece of story content named Torna: The Golden Country.

The developer released a new trailer today expanded a bit upon the initial trailer with new footage. Be warned that some parts of the trailer can be a bit of a spoiler for some of the story of the main game.

In other news, Nintendo revealed in their most recent financial briefing that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has sold 1.42 million copies, making it developer Monolith Soft's biggest success.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Country will release as both DLC and a new retail copy containing the game and expansion pass on September 21. We wrote earlier this year that the game's DLC has improved the quality of life features of the game quite a bit.

Categories: Games

Sci-Fi Sidescroller Planet Alpha Shows Off Wild Planets, Familiar Danger

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 19:00

The indie market abounds with atmospheric sidescrollers. Inside was one of our highest-rated games of 2016, titles like The Artful Escape are somewhere on the horizon, and in September we'll get a stylish new sci-fi take on the genre with Planet Alpha.

A new trailer for the game shows the player character, a lanky astronaut, running and jumping away from a variety of of flora, fauna, and robots. Like Inside, it doesn't look like there are ways to directly fight back against enemies. Most of the footage instead involves close escapes and tense stealth against larger-than-life enemies.

Planet Alpha looks gorgeous and varied. It'll be available to explore on all major platforms September 4.

Categories: Games

WarioWare Gold Review - Worth Its Weight

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:00

WarioWare, one of Nintendo's strangest and most inventive series, tasks players with completing increasingly quick and difficult 'microgames,' each just a few seconds long. It's a pure expression of one of Nintendo's strengths--its games are often overflowing with abundant ideas that are all quickly experienced and equally strong. WarioWare Gold is positioning itself as the ultimate WarioWare experience--one that mixes together the three play styles that have defined the series' previous handheld releases.

The 300 microgames are split between Mash games (which use the D-Pad and A button, like in the Game Boy Advance original), Twist games (which are controlled by tilting the console, à la WarioWare: Twisted!), and Touch games (that use the touchscreen, like DS launch title WarioWare: Touched!). There are also a handful of games that make you blow into the microphone, making the playlists that incorporate them slightly more embarrassing to play on public transport. Just under 40 of these microgames are new, with the rest being pulled from previous games in the series.

When you start one of WarioWare Gold's microgame playlists, you'll be hit with a cavalcade of tasks in quick succession. In the space of a minute you might find yourself hammering the A button to snort up a dangling snot bubble, using the D-Pad to guide Wario as he jumps on Goombas, or navigating a short maze to find a treasure chest. You could be tilting the system to ward off samurai attacks or to extract a dead tooth from an open mouth; if your stylus is out you might be guiding a needle through a thread on the touch screen or slicing flying food, Fruit Ninja-style. You'll be given a very brief instruction at the start of each game ("Avoid!," "Stack!," "Remember!"), and a few seconds to decipher and complete the task.

In Story Mode, each supporting character is given a playlist with a control type and game theme. Most of the games are divided between Sport, Fantasy, Nintendo, and That's Life (essentially miscellaneous) categories, although these are mostly aesthetic distinctions, as a lot of them play similarly. When you select a playlist for the first time you only need to beat a handful of microgames and the character's Boss game--a slightly longer, more involved event that is closer to minigame than microgame--to clear it. The next time you play, you're going for a high score, with the games increasing in difficulty and speed as you go. The Nintendo-themed retro games are a highlight, as always, although the boss levels for the Mash and Touch playlists are disappointing (thankfully the tilt-controlled version of Super Mario Bros. you'll get to play in the Twist section is fantastic).

You can comfortably complete every character's playlist and "finish" the game within two hours, and unlock all the microgames in five, but WarioWare is all about the long tail. Over time you'll want to build up familiarity with each microgame to get a high score--the best way to succeed is to immediately know what to do when the instruction pops up. There's a lot of repetition involved, but thankfully it's extremely fun. The three WarioWare games that Gold most directly pulls from--the original GBA game, plus Twisted and Touched--were all fantastic in their own ways and having all three play styles in a single game is a delight.

The challenge playlists that unlock after you beat the story, which allow you to play microgames under numerous different conditions, offer even more immediate thrills than the story playlists, which can take a while to heat up. Playing with only a single life, or testing your mettle in a mode where games switch between the upper and lower screen with very little time in between, can be tense and exciting. Sneaky Gamer mode, the one excellent mode from Game & Wario, returns here too. In this mode, you play as series staple 9-Volt, who plays microgames on the bottom screen but must occasionally hide under his blanket on the top screen if his mother comes into the room to check if he's asleep. Keeping track of your game progress while also looking out for the telltale signs that your mum is about to burst into the room is a surprisingly nerve-wracking experience. There's great variety in these lists, and you can choose which control styles you want to focus on--in the extremely fast Very Hard challenge mode, for instance, you're given separate leaderboards for Mash, Twist, Touch, and Ultra (which mixes every control style) modes.

WarioWare is also where Nintendo lets its freak flag fly, and Gold gets beautifully weird. The artists interpret Wario in different ways throughout the game--one microgame might render him in janky polygons, while another might draw him as a downtrodden everyman working in a factory. He might be fat, thin, or absurdly ripped--it feels like each microgame was designed with a huge degree of artistic and creative control. The cutscenes before each chapter in Story mode are legitimately funny--WarioWare has a firmly established cast of characters, all of whom have separate personalities and backstories, and they're a delight to watch. Wario is given far more spoken dialog than is typical of Nintendo's characters, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find another game with so many lines delivered by Charles Martinet, who imbues Wario with a sense of pride and malice here that's a delight to witness. You can also unlock the ability to redub each character's intro and outro cutscenes with your own voice, which is perfect for anyone who thinks Wario doesn't swear enough.

Outside of finding all the microgames, there's a long list of extras to unlock within WarioWare Gold. They're available through what is essentially a loot box system, although, thankfully, it only uses currency earned in-game. You can spend coins to crank the handle on a capsule machine, which will drop one of several prizes ranging from oddities (character-themed alarm clocks and collector cards) to educational props (a gallery of past Nintendo consoles and inventions), through to more enjoyable and substantial offerings, including soundtrack albums and larger, more fleshed-out minigames. Those minigames vary in quality and complexity, but a few of them are truly great, and they're really what you want every time you crank the wheel. While there's a lot of filler in the capsules it's also not too difficult to earn coins, which are handed out through regular play and whenever you achieve any of the goals set out in the game's Mission screen (which include several demanding high-score goals that should keep you engaged for a while). This means unlocks are tied to persistence rather than skill, and that anyone who sticks with the game for long enough can reasonably unlock everything.

WarioWare Gold might not be entirely new, but it's the best representation available of what makes this series special. It's a true greatest hits package that showcases Wario's unique weirdo vibe, and this style of play remains inventive and thrilling 15 years after the original Game Boy Advance game. We're still hoping for an entirely new title on Switch in the future, but for now Gold is a compelling, generous victory lap.

Categories: Games

Chasm Review: The Battle Below

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 07/31/2018 - 13:00

Although Chasm offers a rare procedurally generated spin on the classic Metroid formula, its demanding combat is what makes it stand out from the sea of imitators. Monsters roam among the twisted confines of an underground lair, demanding deft swordwork and stubborn determination to survive. And it's in that deadly dance against lurching zombies, scurrying rats, and all manner of creepy-crawlies that Chasm truly shines. The tense fights leave you with sweaty palms and an elevated heart rate, keeping you glued to the action as you venture ever deeper below ground.

As a recruit stationed in a castle far away from civilization, Chasm hints at a greater world just waiting to be explored. But after you're chosen to investigate the disturbances at a small village, it soon becomes clear the world's mysteries have to take a backseat to more pressing dangers. Journals uncovered as you explore the mines, temples, and jungles explain why evil beings are being summoned, but the story doesn't offer an interesting spin on a ho-hum premise. The little narrative appeal comes from the citizens you release from cages. Each person has their own tale to tell and errand for you to run, giving you someone to fight for as you eradicate the enemies.

Thankfully, combat is the main draw of Chasm. Melee is the predominant manner of attack, and there are a wide variety of swords, hammers, knives, and other short-range weapons to find throughout the adventure. Fighting relies heavily on timing as you must learn the behaviors of each enemy to have a chance at survival. Wights, for example, lunge at you with a sweeping sword strike that can be avoided if you know what to expect but could spell your doom if you're too slow. The clear signs from every enemy ensure that it's your skill that determines fights and not cheap tactics.

Once you learn an enemy's attack patterns, patience is often your toughest foe. Monsters can take a half dozen strikes or more to die, but just one mistake can drop your life bar down to nothing. Trying to get one more hit on a bouncing Grilla or boomerang-throwing skeleton can be a suicidal strategy. The enemies take advantage of even the tiniest mistake, and there's no worse feeling than dying because of your own hubris.

The first half of Chasm offers a tough-but-fair challenge that is every bit as intense as you'd expect when there are demons and ghosts milling about. Save points are few and far between. Trekking across unknown places with little health makes every encounter agonizing in all the right ways. Even a mere bat--among the weakest of all video game enemies--can strike terror in your heart. I died more times than I'd like to admit from a swarm of flies when I got cocky that no insect would be the end of me. Whenever I came across a branching path, I would poke my nose in every new area, hoping that a save point would relieve me from the pressure. More often than not, there was an undead knight or green slime waiting, and I'd have to calm my nerves as I prepared for another life-or-death battle.

Bosses pose a formidable threat during those early hours when you're still weak and inexperienced. Like normal enemies, bosses telegraph every attack, so it's on you if you take too many hits. The first boss in the game--a Wendigo who can become invisible and cling to the ceiling--killed me over and over again before I mastered its attack pattern. Finally tasting victory was incredibly fulfilling because I knew I earned the win, and I was eager to see what new challenges awaited.

Chasm emphasizes the "vania" in Metroidvania, giving you experience points for every enemy you kill. There are dozens of weapons to collect and pieces of equipment to wear, so you can tailor your character to your playstyle. Like slow but powerful weapons? Grab an ax! Prefer quicker ones with less range? Go for a handy knife instead. In addition to melee weapons, there are also ranged items that use your magic meter. Hurl shuriken at faraway enemies or throw a Molotov cocktail to set the ground aflame. None of these are as satisfying to use as a sword, but they can be mighty handy when things become overwhelming and you need a little help to progress. There are also food and potions to stock up on if you're feeling acutely vexed by a particular enemy.

All of these extra items, though, lead to an unbalanced difficulty as you get deeper into the adventure. Although I never set out to grind, I did backtrack frequently and killed every enemy I encountered as I retread the underground world. By the end of the game, I was so powerful and the enemies were so easy, I never felt threatened. I defeated the last two bosses on my first attempts, which would have seemed impossible after I struggled for hours to kill those early bosses. The last boss was so easy it was almost comical. I just stood underneath it, never bothering to avoid its many attacks, as I hacked and slashed at its glowing weak point. I had more than half my health left when it died and felt the dull ache that only an anticlimactic final fight can produce as I watched the credits roll.

I did start again from the beginning, this time on Hard difficulty, but couldn't find that sweet spot I had been hoping for. Hard is, as you'd expect, hard. Not needlessly so, or even unfairly so, but harder than I could have endured as a novice. It's a real shame that the difficulty balance is so out of whack. I enjoyed playing every second of this game, even when I was killing enemies without breaking a sweat, mostly because the combat mechanics are so satisfying. But I missed that creeping danger from the early goings when I could die at any moment.

The randomly generated levels also sound more impressive in theory than they are in practice. Yes, the layouts of the stages were different the second and third times I started over, but not so different that it felt like an entirely new adventure--the rooms were mostly the same, just located in slightly different positions. This isn't to say the random element is bad--my first time through was so fun that any extra incentive to start over again is appreciated--it's just not as noticeable a change as I was hoping.

I'm a sucker for beautiful pixel art, and Chasm is bursting with rich backgrounds and well-realized enemies. It's the little details that make all the difference. The rats eagerly wag their tails as their sprint toward you, making them seem almost cute as you thud them hard on the back with a hammer. The human-sized Meatman is every bit as gross as his name implies, and it almost felt like a mercy kill when I struck it through its muscled heart with my sword. Every new creature brought with it its own delights, so I was happy that there are almost 90 different enemies to meet and kill.

Even when its flaws are obvious, Chasm is a well-crafted adventure, and during the more than 12 hours I spent playing through my first time, I got lost only once. That's a huge bonus in a genre where getting lost is often the most frustrating aspect. Even after I finished, I was eager to venture forth on a new adventure, to test my combat mettle against harder foes and find the one secret that eluded me the first time through. It's a shame the randomization of the world isn't that big of a deal and the challenge could be better balanced, but the superb combat and visual design ensure your time with Chasm will be well spent.

Categories: Games

A Harrowing Night Out: First Impressions Of Indie-Horror Title Beware

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 22:00

Several times in his life, developer Ondrej Svadlena has found himself on the run. First as a political refugee, then as a frightened student, and even as a regular motorist, he knows what it’s like to feel chased. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that his new game reduced me to a bundle of nerves, anxiously looking over my shoulder while under tight pursuit. It’s right there in the title – Beware.

When I started my demo, all I knew was the basic premise: It’s survival horror in a car. And while cars usually offer protection in survival horror, Beware quickly proves that in the right circumstances, four doors and a motor are no reassurance at all.

The game opens in a trailer park at dusk. I’m already seated in my car. The family compact feels refreshingly tactile; the engine doesn’t turn on automatically, nor do the headlights. My perspective bounces around realistically as I pull out of the park, smacking against the side window when I accidentally drive into a ditch. The game makes a point of reminding me that I’m not controlling the car, just the nervous guy inside it.

I eventually find a road and follow it into dense woods. After a while alone in the forest, I pass the first sign of life I’ve seen: a well-lit building, with frosted glass only revealing the shadowy outlines of figures within. I apprehensively eye the windows as I continue along the road but only start to sweat in earnest when two spots of light appear in my rearview mirror. The car has no indication of ill-will, but an ominous music cue and the claustrophobia of the one-way road suddenly make me wish I was the only motorist out that night.

Beware’s level of visual fidelity is surprising given its one-man development team, and this is largely due to excellent lighting detail. Reflectors from empty trailers glow eerily in response to the car’s headlights. The map has the unearthly brightness of an overcast night in winter, but visibility is limited by a dense fog. The dark trailers feel like they stare back at me, and my lights barely penetrate the thick trees. Similarly, a lurking soundtrack only reveals itself when I'm found by a second car. The mix of low piano notes and a throbbing bassline fit right in with the frantic growls of the car’s engine.

Beware’s tone takes inspiration from Svadlena’s tumultuous past. He grew up in the Czechoslovak regime but only after being pressured by his kindergarten teacher to snitch on his parents did his family decide to flee the country. In 1984, they risked a moonlit trek over the Yugoslavian mountains into Austria.

“I still remember seeing the border station below us in a valley,” Svadlena says, “with shouting guards, barking dogs, and floodlights skimming through the forest.” Fortunately, they escaped and were successfully able to rehabilitate as refugees in Canada.

Beware doesn’t plant itself firmly in any specific historical period, but I can feel Svadlena’s history in the design decisions; Fearfully navigating around checkpoints in the cold night, I don’t know exactly what happens if I’m caught. The soundtrack and the isolation of the road are enough to convince me to not find out. 

I keep catching glimpses of the other car on the road through this fog. After every turn, there’s a brief period where I can’t see it; every turn, I pray it simply turns around. It does not. So I drive faster, I take corners more recklessly, and in my desperate efforts to get away from the other car, I spin out onto the shoulder. Immobile, I watch as the headlights grow closer and then, shockingly, drive right past me. I laugh – they were just another person out at night. The pursuit and malicious intent, it had all been in my head. And then, about 50 yards ahead of me, the car’s brake lights flash on. They start to turn around. I try to back up, but I’m trapped in thick mud and just rev the engine helplessly. Several men climb out of the other car and start banging on the hood of my car, and then the demo throws me back to the beginning.

My time with Beware raised my heart rate and made me anxious for more. The distinct lack of game conventions – No HUD, no map, no tutorial whatsoever – left me feeling like I didn’t understand the rules of the world. For most games, this would be a criticism. Horror thrives on insecurity though, and I’m excited to not know what else lies in wait.

Beware’s full release will include car customization and more explicit missions than what’s in the demo, but according to Svadlena, tasks within the game will be much more about gathering knowledge than literal vehicle enhancements. The entire map will be open from the start, so the decision of when to confront whatever lies at the end of the game is up to the player. He says the feel of the world will hopefully be similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – that is, a world with emergent systems that operate independently of the player’s actions.

Instead of scripted encounters, enemies are random enough that it doesn’t feel predictable. If you’re a good enough driver, you can outmaneuver a pursuer or attempt to turn the tables and run them down.  The demo I played had just a fraction of the world, but my two attempts are radically different. The second time, no one follows me after the lit-up building and I leave the forest for an open and abandoned series of towns in the countryside. In fact, I never encounter anyone at all. I just drive around the hills of Beware’s world for a while, trying to fight off a feeling of overpowering paranoia. Eventually, I simply quit out; while the demo has a hidden goal involving following a strange woman with a lantern, I can’t find her.

Svadlena doesn’t want this feeling of paranoia to apply exclusively to individual enemies. It’s a tone important to the overarching narrative. He spoke about hiding from drunken police in Morocco and being followed by a semi on a nighttime drive, but he also references fears on a societal level. He views the threats of an unequal distribution of resources and a diminishing sense of privacy as just as real as a hostile car on a quiet road; growing up in a totalitarian regime, he’s had plenty of experience with both. The game’s open and mysterious world has plenty of room to hide story details. How deep a player wants to delve into these themes is up to them, but ultimately Svadlena wants Beware’s full release to have “a sense of relevancy in the bigger scheme of things.”

That full release is pretty far off. The game is being funded by a Patreon promising continuous updates rather than a Kickstarter campaign, but his progress so far already has me checking over my shoulder each night, hoping I’m on the only one on the road.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 20:30

La Mulana 2, the sequel to the tough-as-nails Metroidvania platformer from 2005, was given a release date over the weekend and then abruptly released today.

Developer Nigoro launched a Kickstarter for the sequel in January 2014 and has been silently plugging away at the game for the last four years. On Saturday, publisher Playism announced that the game would be out on July 30, just two days after the announcement. 

You can check out the game's release trailer below.

The game is a Metroidvania but with a larger focus on solving puzzles, leading to many, many attempts as the player figures out how to approach the puzzle.

Playism has not talked about console ports much, but the original game was remade in 2011 and then ported to consoles after PC release. PC owners can go ahead and grab La Mulana 2 right now.

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 20:10

Pretty much every PlayStation 4 owner is anticipating September's release of Marvel's Spider-Man, the open-world superhero game starring everyone's favorite webslinger. Today, Insomniac tweeted out that Spider-Man has gone gold, meaning that a master disc has been printed and sent off to manufacturers. 

That means the copy you buy at a retail store has basically been finished, not including any post-gold development that might come between now and release.

We are pleased to announce that #SpiderManPS4 has GONE GOLD for its worldwide release on September 7th. Thanks to @PlayStation and @MarvelGames for their support in the creation of this original Spider-Man adventure.

— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) July 30, 2018

The image references a meme taken from the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon, showing Spider-Man sitting at a desk with a picture of himself in the back. The actual scene is from the episode Electro the Human Lightning Bolt and involves Spider-Man taking cover behind a desk, but the meme took on a life of its own. Insomniac added their own flair to it by appending Spider-Man's picture once again to the gold disc in the back. 

Spider-Man releases on PlayStation 4 on September 7. What's the first New York City landmark you're going to check out when the game launches?

Categories: Games

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Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 19:20

Bandai Namco announced this morning that the newest Digimon title, Digimon Survive, will be coming to the west on pretty much every platform next year.

Not connected to any existing Digimon timeline or story, Digimon Survive has players learn about and bond with their Digimon in an entirely new world. The survival RPG puts tamers in the unenviable role of having their peaceful lives broken up with new dangers in a world they haven't quite grasped yet. Check out the teaser trailer below.

Digimon Survive will release in 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Categories: Games

New Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Multiplayer Trailer Shows The Value Of Teamwork

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 18:50

Activision and Treyarch have dropped a trailer for the newest Call of Duty game today, specifically focusing on the game's multiplayer and early beta access.

The new trailer shows of all the toys and operator classes players will take for a spin. It also ends with footage of the game's Blackout mode, the battle royale mode introduced into Black Ops 4.

For the various betas, PlayStation 4 once again gets early access, with other platforms to follow. All the console betas will require a preorder of the game to get access. The PS4-exclusive weekend starts on August 3 at 10:00 a.m. PT and ends on August 6 at the same time.

For Xbox One owners, the next weekend has a beta for both consoles at 10 a.m. PT, with PC having a closed beta on August 10, as well, and an open beta on August 11. 

The trailer shows off Blackout mode for the first time, stitching together several multiplayer maps throughout the series into a battle royale playground. From the footage, we can tell these include at least Nuketown and World at War's zombies map. Blackout mode is getting its own separate beta, also coming first to the PlayStation 4, in September.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12.

Categories: Games

Latest Jump Force Trailer Showcases The Bleach Roster

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 15:59

Bandai Namco released a new Jump Force trailer this morning showcasing the characters from Bleach that will be appearing in the game as fighters. We knew characters from Bleach would be appearing in the game, but this is the first time we've seen them in action.

The trailer includes footage of Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach's protagonist), Rukia Kuchiki, and Sosuke Aizen (Bleach's antagonist).

Jump Force is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019. You can check out some screenshots of the new characters below. For our hands-on with Jump Force at E3, head here.

Categories: Games