For Honor Introduces Murderous New Combatant Sakura

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 21:50
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Montreal Release: February 14, 2017 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

There was a time where it looked like For Honor may be on the short list of Ubisoft live service games that just don't make it very far and the company would eventually move past or take another run at with a sequel. But here we are, several years and updates later, and For Honor is still keeping its community fairly strong. It looks like there will be another reason for fans to keep playing, as Ubisoft reveals For Honor's newest character, a warrior named Sakura.

With a ghostly yet demonic voice and a bloody weapon, Sakura comes equipped to the battlefield with everything she needs to defeat her foes. Check out the cinematic trailer introducing her below.

Click here to watch embedded media

There's not a whole lot of details about the new Japanese warrior yet, but she will be in the third year's second season, so it won't be too a wait. I just know that if I saw that at the other end of a bridge in Sekiro, my personal terror bar would probably go up.

For Honor is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

SteamWorld Quest Review - Letting Off Some Steam

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 17:00

It's easy to be immediately charmed by SteamWorld Quest's colorful fantasy world and the band of merry heroes you'll journey across it with. Their plight is simple and straightforward, making its adventure of confronting evil and its tightening grip on the kingdom around you palatable without feeling overbearing. Underneath this whimsical veneer, however, is a daunting strategy game, one which uses its clever take on turn-based card combat to create a wickedly complex system of decision-making opportunities. But it's also one that is designed intelligently enough to make each part easy to learn and engage with.

With regard to gameplay, SteamWorld Quest bears no resemblance to the rest of the games in the series. This is first and foremost a turn-based strategy game, with a light sprinkling of role-playing thrown into the mix in the form of character classes to differentiate each of your five potential party members. Each character features a variety of moves that deal different types of damage and inflict status effects on foes. Fire attacks will deal additional damage to enemies that deal frost, electrical attacks will have the chance to stun enemies for several turns, and poison will inflict recurring damage over time. It's easy to pick up and play, which helps SteamWorld Quest get you right into its combat without strenuous onboarding.

The act of deciding what moves to enact in combat is a bit more complex, though. It's governed by a deck of 24 cards, made up by your party of three who can bring eight cards each. In battle, new cards are drawn with each turn, while your deck resets automatically once depleted. Cards that represent the most basic moves in your repertoire cost nothing to play and in turn reward you with cogs once placed on the field. These cogs act as a currency that you spend to play more powerful cards--ones that inflict greater damage, target multiple enemies, or buff your party with helpful attributes--making you consider when to hold back and when to go all in.

The process of constructing a deck that works cohesively is as engaging as combat itself. You can combine multiple character-specific cards in powerful ways; for example, simply playing all three of one character's cards in a turn will play a bonus fourth move automatically, which itself is governed by the weapon you choose to equip on the character in question. Some cards will perform better when used as a follow-up to a specific character's card, boosting damage or adding a bonus effect. Your effectiveness in combat then is not just about the decks you construct, but all the ways in which you use the hands dealt to you efficiently. All these options can initially feel overwhelming, but the restriction to just eight cards per character condenses your options down to a level that balances its complexity without sacrificing its potential depth.

Combat is accentuated by delicately detailed character models that do a great job of retaining the signature SteamWorld look while also slickly adapting to the new high-fantasy setting. The vibrant coloring on each main character is also aptly used to inform you of what type of abilities they bring to the table. The red-hot knight's armor of Armilly alludes to her ferocious fire-based attacks, while the yellow and rose-petal adorned gown of a mysterious samurai flows with each of his fast-striking electrical attacks. Being able to tell this information at a glance is helpful, and on top of that, each design looks great.

Stylistic and impressively detailed effects also help each combat encounter feel intense, despite having a turn-based rhythm. Blistering fireballs explode in a blaze of red and orange glory on impact, and electrifying lightning attacks bounce furiously between foes while engulfing them in static. Some moves have repeated effects, layering damage numbers and sprites atop one another furiously until the attack has ended. These often resulted in the frame rate dropping to a complete crawl at times, however, and it was most prominent when the Switch was running in docked mode. It's infrequent enough to not hinder gameplay, but it is an eyesore when it does crop up.

That's a shame, because SteamWorld Quest looks delightful both inside and outside of combat, sucking you into its steampunk-inspired medieval world. The bold outline that each character bears helps them stick out from the hand-drawn backdrops you explore, but none of those backdrops go unnoticed, either. Gorgeous and brightly coloured forests contrast dark and gloomy castles whose hallways are sparsely lit with auburn lanterns. Your adventure also moves you along from one intriguing setting to the next, letting you take in the sights of an abandoned sorcery school before whisking you away to snow-capped mountains with billowing winds. Each chapter of SteamWorld Quest gives you something new to look at, and it's always a rewarding transition.

With so many combat options to play around with and captivating backdrops to accompany them, it's disappointing that SteamWorld Quest struggles to find a balance in its difficulty. Each chapter--broken up into small areas filled with either small treasure to collect or groups of enemies to fight--features increasingly varied foes to test your decks against. Despite their changing movesets and elemental defences, most regular enouncters feel too easy, rarely forcing you to consider strategic changes to your constructed decks or active party members. At a point I was simply making changes for the sake of curiosity and not necessity. This can trick you into a false sense of security, encouraging you to focus on only a subset of cards available to each character. This becomes problematic when SteamWorld Quest suddenly introduces daunting and demanding combat scenarios, while giving you few avenues to rectify poor past choices.

These encounters are predominantly made up of SteamWorld Quest's nightmarish boss battles. They are far more challenging than the foes that litter the areas around them, acting as unfair skill checks that ask you to understand your abilities in ways you're not required to elsewhere. Since you can only store a single saved game at a time, it's impossible to go back a handful of hours and better prepare your party, either, locking you into the decisions you've made and forcing you to rapidly rotate though your available options until a combination (hopefully) works. It's frustrating, too, because most of these bosses can feel like they break the rules of combat that all other enemies conform to. They can consistently pull off powerful moves one after the other without the same strict resource requirements you're confined to, bombarding you with damage you can't wrestle with effectively. Given that most of these encounters can be prolonged bouts, it's hard to work up the motivation to try again after a loss.

The process of constructing a deck that works cohesively is as engaging as combat itself.

Outside of its frequent and occasionally rigorous combat encounters, SteamWorld Quest plays it safe. Its narrative is framed as a story being told to characters you might be familiar with from other SteamWorld games, giving it a subtle attachment to the rest of the series. It is a simple, sometimes juvenile tale of a band of misfits coming together and vanquishing an uncomplex force of evil. It retains the same tongue-in-cheek wit of past SteamWorld games, with chuckle-worthy one-liners thrown in throughout. It keeps the narrative light and humorous, even as it eventually explores the purpose of heroes in an age where no one seems to care about society one way or the other. Although SteamWorld Quest falls short of ever saying something meaningful, it does leave the door open for even more tales in the future.

It's difficult to ignore Steamworld Quest's missteps, especially when it transforms itself from a delightful romp through a light-hearted medieval kingdom into a grueling test against unfair enemies. Despite most encounters not pushing you to play with new party configurations, building a powerful deck of moves is still rewarding when you see your clever experiments play out. Quest gives you a lot of complex combinations to play around with while also keeping things approachable enough to not feel daunting. Its uneven difficulty saps some enjoyment out of the otherwise whimsical journey through this new and gorgeous kingdom, but it's still one that is admirably accessible while deep enough to be engaging throughout its 20-hour adventure.

Categories: Games

Sekiro Gets A Patch Tonight That Calms That Bull

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 00:40
Publisher: Activision Developer: From Software Release: March 22, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

If you're one of the many still working your way through Sekiro, From Software's recently-released ninja action game, there might be some respite coming for you soon. An update scheduled to go live tonight will make a few changes in the game and attempt to make it easier for players to diversify the way they fight enemies by using more shinobi tools.

To begin with, the Blazing Bull has been toned down in the new update. The midboss, who appears shortly after the game's first real boss, ended up being a real wall for a lot of players. Up to that point, most enemies you fight are some manner of pragmatic human that acts with some rationality, while the Bull kind of stomps your face in with reckless abandon. The bull's posture and vitality have been "slightly" reduced, so it's not a walk in the park now, but it's a bit more manageable.

The bulk of the other changes are centered around the shinobi prosthetic. Seemingly From has gotten feedback of players not using ninja tools because they're afraid they'll run out of spirit emblems, so a number of tools have been made more efficient. You'll be spending fewer spirit emblems to use them, because From Software really wants you to use them.

You'll also find more divine confetti as drops from vanquished foes and information from Anayama the Peddler will decrease in cost post-patch.

Sekiro is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Fortnite Teases A More Extensive Collaboration With Avengers

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 18:35
Publisher: Epic Games Developer: Epic Games Release: July 25, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS

A few weeks ago, dataminers discovered a reference to Thanos in the game's update files, strongly suggesting a return of the Thanos mode in Fortnite Battle Royale that had appeared a year prior. That mode was made fairly quickly due to an unlikely mutual fandom between Epic Games and the Avengers: Infinity War directors, the Russo brothers, but it looks like an extra year has given Epic time to do the collaboration justice.

A new tease on the Fortnite Twitter account isn't being subtle about the fact that Avengers content is coming to Fortnite and likely soon. The tweet simply reads "Whatever it takes," followed by the date for Avengers: Endgame's theatrical release, and the hashtag "#FortniteXAvengers" at the end.

While definitely expository, the tweet doesn't give us a whole lot of information, as is typical of Epic's Fortnite teases. The shield in the picture is obviously Captain America's, so there will probably be Avengers-themed items in the mix this time around. Will you be able to don the Iron Man suit? Can you swing around buildings like Spider-Man? Will you have to gather infinity stones? There's a lot of different possibilities.

Fortnite is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and mobile devices. Avengers: Endgame releases on April 25 in theaters.

Categories: Games

Mortal Kombat 11 Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:00

The new big bad in Mortal Kombat is named Kronika, and she's causing a ruckus by messing with time and rewriting history. Characters are getting erased or colliding with their past selves, while alliances are reverting and new ones are being made--it's the kind of chaos that's ripe for conflict. Nothing that happened with Mortal Kombat before really matters anymore; the series is giving itself a clean slate, and not just with the lore in the story. Netherrealm's multifaceted fighting system has been streamlined, and comprehensive tutorials and practice functions are focussed on making sure no matter where you're coming from, you're well-equipped to dive deep into Mortal Kombat 11.

It's hard not to get excited about the story mode in a Netherrealm game given the studio's history of crafting involved narratives, and Mortal Kombat 11 unsurprisingly delivers an entertaining and polished blockbuster-style cinematic experience with its tale of Kronika's time-bending antics. Combat is woven in with a number of cutscenes, though you'll probably spend more time watching well-choreographed action rather than participating. But the story is a great primer for some of the series' more popular characters nonetheless, and the joys of Kronika's time manipulation means that even if you're a passing fan and aren't up-to-date with all of the wacky stuff that's happened in the universe lately, you can still get a kick out of seeing classic versions of familiar faces, who are just as baffled as you about what's happened to their future selves since.

Watching the character interactions between young and old selves are a highlight, and with the exception of a somewhat flat Sonya Blade, the solid performances are endearingly sincere with some unexpected moments of introspection. By the time it ended I was eager for more--more of Johnny Cage being embarrassed by his younger self, more of the bromance between Liu Kang and Kung Lao, the sappy dynamic between parents and children. But the story mode hits that perfect balance of being just enough and not overstaying its welcome. The plot conceits are regularly ridiculous, especially when family members and lovers get into fatal tiffs, but it's a delightfully bombastic and outlandish visual spectacle if nothing else.

Mortal Kombat 11's eclectic roster includes a solid selection of the series' iconic fighters, along with some of the great additions from Mortal Kombat X, like gunslinger Erron Black and the grotesque insectoid D'Vorah. Three brand new characters do their best to help the lineup branch out--Geras is a tanky character with the ability to rewind and manipulate time, Cetrion is an elder god with flashy elemental powers, the Kollector has a wonderfully unsettling, six-armed demonic design--and they all add an inspired diversity to the familiar roster of magical ninjas and military hard-asses. Character variations also help to keep things diverse. A returning concept from Mortal Kombat X, each character can select between different sets of special moves that alter their playstyle. You can now customize these loadouts in MK11, but only two predetermined movesets are acceptable for serious competitive play. Even so, it means there are a few things to consider when picking which fighter to use.

Some key changes streamline the mechanics of MK11, resulting in a fighting system that somehow feels more active and aggressive than its predecessors. The special meter system has been simplified to allow for amplified offensive and defensive maneuvers to be used at almost any time--gone is the idea of needing to hold back and save up two or three bars of a meter to perform a particular kind of technique. Dedicated meters for defensive and offensive techniques, along with rapid recharge rates mean amplified techniques can be used a little more liberally. "Fatal Blows" replace MKX's X-Ray techniques, serving as a last-ditch comeback mechanic that can be activated once per match when your health is nearly depleted, adding a heightened tension when things get down to the wire. Significant block damage discourages you from being overly defensive, while learning the perfect-timing demands of the "flawless block" system is encouraged to mitigate some damage and open up turnabout opportunities. Running and stamina meters have been removed and dash distances feel shorter, honing MK11's focus on always being within striking distance of your opponent. All of these tweaks mean there is rarely a low moment in a Mortal Kombat 11 fight.

If you're new to the series, learning all those intricacies of the fighting system, special moves, and combo strings for characters can be intimidating. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat 11 does a lot to help onboard you to almost all of its concepts. Following the good work seen in Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat 11 features a comprehensive series of fantastic practical tutorials, with everything from teaching you basic attacks to more advanced lessons on managing the ebb and flow of a match, strategies on how to change or maintain the dynamic of a fight (like dealing with corners or projectile spam), and how to approach building your own combos. What's more, there are also a series of tutorials that succinctly break down expert-level concepts, such as one that shows you what frame data is and how it works in clear, visual terms. Not only that, there are lessons on how to interpret that information and use it in a practical scenario--it'll teach you what makes a move "safe" or "unsafe," how to create pressure in a fight, and even how to perform frame traps. It's an impressive resource that doesn't just give you a better understanding of Mortal Kombat 11's systems, but a deeper understanding of fighting game mechanics in general--knowledge that you can take to any other title.

Character-specific tutorials exist, too, and are more than just a simple rundown of all available techniques. These helpful lessons focus on the most useful and practical abilities and combos for a particular character and give you suggestions on when to use them, the pros and cons of doing so, and what you could follow up with. Furthermore, the in-game move lists are incredibly comprehensive, providing all sorts of helpful data for each move's properties, so you can easily discern something like which of your character's moves has the quickest startup. It's valuable information and knowledge which Netherrealm has been building upon in its last few games and is presented at its best in MK11. Of course, if you're the kind of player that couldn't care less about the advanced stuff and just wants to jump in and see blood spilled, Mortal Kombat 11 can certainly be just as entertaining. Predetermined combo strings, flashy special moves, and humorously over-the-top barbarity means that the game is a joy to watch and participate in, whether the players are just messing around or taking it seriously.

In addition to the game's story mode, MK11 sees the return of Klassic Towers, a more straightforward single-player mode where you fight a series of opponents before eventually facing big boss Kronika. But the real meat of the single-player offering is the Towers Of Time, MK11's version of the limited-time ladders seen in other Netherrealm games, which feature unique modifiers that can affect the playing field, combatants, and mechanics. The idea is that the Towers Of Time provide you with an ever-rotating palette of different single-player challenges to take on for various rewards, but the downside is that here, the odds are nearly always stacked against you.

Some modifiers in the Towers Of Time can affect both you and your opponent equally, like a tilting stage that drains the health of whoever is lower. But more often, the challenges I took on featured negative modifiers that solely affected me, which means they felt horribly cruel and unbalanced. No matter how good you think you are at Mortal Kombat (or how bad you think I am), trying to fight an opponent where you're constantly being targeted and shot and frozen in place by devastating lasers from the sky, or being chased by missiles that turn your screen pitch black if one hits you, is a rotten experience. Being the loner in a 2vs1 match, or fighting a much hardier opponent whose attacks can't be interrupted, is more of an exercise in frustration than it is a hearty challenge.

To overcome the more challenging Towers Of Time, MK11 encourages that you make liberal use of "Konsumables," a large variety of limited-use items that you can equip and activate during a fight. These have their own individual properties, whether it be countering a particular modifier effect, or giving you access to an additional ability. The catch is, the way that you obtain these Konsumables is through luck, perhaps earning one through completing other towers, or spending "Koins" you've accumulated from the game's activities to open one of hundreds of randomized chests in the Krypt, MK11's third-person quasi-puzzle-adventure mode designed for unlocking collectables like cosmetics, concept art, and countless other bits and pieces.

So, there's no guarantee you'll have the right item to help you out on a particular tower, and if you don't, it's going to be a steep uphill battle. But in my experience, even if I did have a suitable item, using it really didn't feel like evening the odds. In the example of the aforementioned blinding missiles, using the item to counter the effects of darkness modifiers meant I could only mitigate one or two missiles before the effect wore off, at which point I would have to wait for the item to come off a long cooldown timer and then manually reactivate it in the middle of the fight, which opens me up to severe punishment from my opponent.

I've only seen four days worth of Towers during the pre-release review period, so their behavior and difficulty may well change in the future. I'll continue to monitor the challenge varieties in the Towers Of Time during the week of launch to see whether the feeling of overwhelmingly unbalanced odds continues. While MK11's "Premium" microtransaction store wasn't live during the review period, the reliance on Konsumables to help even the odds in Towers Of Time, as well as the random nature of their acquisition, certainly makes me curious as to how you'll be able to spend the game's virtual currency, "Time Krystals," when the store goes live.

There's another issue in the way that the game handles its customizable gear for each character. Taking cues from Netherrealm's previous release, Injustice 2, each fighter in Mortal Kombat 11 has three interchangeable pieces of equipment that you're able to receive as a reward, level up, and equip with "augments" once you've done so. The problem is, there's not a lot of motivation to care about that stuff at all. With a few exceptions, gear parts are usually small and aren't a focal point of your character model. You're changing out weapons and pieces of flair rather than entire costume pieces--alternate costumes are predetermined and are unlocked through performing activities like Towers Of Time--so there's little motivation to change them up early on, especially when you'll likely have been earning experience on the default set you've already got equipped. Accruing experience to level up gear for specific characters is a slow process, especially if you like to use multiple fighters; the augments you can equip drop rarely, and the buffs they add for single-player activities are mostly meager. In Injustice 2, even if you didn't really care about the abilities a piece of gear had, they were at least interesting cosmetic parts that you could mix and match to customize a character in your own way for competitive play. Gear in MK11 by comparison just doesn't feel as interesting or meaningful to toy around with.

MK11 also features a range of online multiplayer modes, including ranked and casual matchmaking, as well as private options like lobbies and the ability to practice with a friend. I'll be testing the performance of these modes over the next week once the game is widely available to the public. Additionally, GameSpot was not provided copies of Mortal Kombat 11 on PC or Nintendo Switch during the review period, and I'll be aiming to spend some time with those versions of the game--the PC release of Mortal Kombat X was certainly not without issues, and I'm curious to see how the game performs in the Switch's handheld mode. This review will remain in-progress until I've had adequate time to get a feel of these aspects, on top of keeping an eye on the Towers Of Time.

MK11 isn't just a sequel for series fans and Netherrealm devotees, it's a gateway into the realm of fighting games for anyone who has a passing interest in watching ruthless warriors beat each other silly. Streamlined mechanics keep the act of fighting furiously exciting no matter what your skill level, and comprehensive tutorials encourage you to dig into the nitty-gritty. There's a diverse roster of interesting characters and playstyles, and the story mode is an entertaining romp. The unfulfilling approaches to the game's dynamic single-player content and progression may feel like they've totally whiffed (at least at this early stage), but Mortal Kombat 11 hits where it matters.

Categories: Games

Adventure Academy Is An Educational MMO Teachers And Students Will Love

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 04/21/2019 - 20:00

Developer: Age of Learning Platform: PC, iOS, Android

As an elementary school student, I loved computer class for the video games our teachers worked into the curriculum. One game taught me typing skills. While we played, our teacher covered up our keyboards with orange, plastic slips that shrouded the keys, but when she wasn’t looking, I would lift the slip to peek underneath, giving me an edge over the other students on the leaderboard. Playing these games, and the competition that spawned from them, gripped me much more than sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher drone about math and geography.

Adventure Academy takes these types of learning games and presents them within the context of an MMO. You still practice your typing skills, read in-game books, expand your vocabulary, and solve basic math problems, but you experience all this within the context of an MMO developed by Age of Learning, the team behind ABCmouse. We spent some time with the game’s beta learning about Beowulf and Joan of Arc while exploring a charming 3D campus.

Each wing features an exhibit for players to interact with. In the library, students can read about the printing press and learn about Joan of Arc.

Character creators are part and parcel of many games today, but its inclusion in an educational game might feel novel to a third grader. After sculpting a Lara Croft-inspired character with brown pants and a long braid, the game dropped me into the titular academy. You’re encouraged to explore the campus, featuring wings for each major discipline: science, literature, history, and math. One thing kids will appreciate in Adventure Academy is that it allows them to focus on activities they enjoy. Don’t like math? You can read full-length books like Titanicat. Does history bore you? There’s a library of videos you can watch to learn science.

You participate in these activities by interacting with kiosks in each wing of the academy, and they take the form of simple flash games. I tried a number of games myself – they’re mechanically simple, and they don’t look as flashy as the game’s 3D world, but each one plays differently, which is another great way the game caters to different players. Some will like the drag-and-drop matching games while others enjoy Jeopardy-style vocabulary activities.

Most of the exploration-based quests we tried took the form of easy fetch quests, like this one that tasked us with planting trees in the garden.

A teacher oversees each area, and they issue you a variety of quests to explore on campus. Some take the form of fetch quests, like finding the missing finger bone of the T-Rex on display in the history wing or planting trees in a hidden mulch bed. One interesting quest asks players to locate pages of lore detailing the academy’s history, which are scattered around the building. While these quests were the type of mission I don’t like to see in MMOs, I think their inclusion might excite kids the most. Other players mill about completing quests, and there’s an in-game chat feature that third-grade-Hunter would have loved to use in a classroom. My best friend Jimmy’s assigned seat is across the classroom? Ha! I’ll just message him on Adventure Academy!

I expect the game to be some players’ first exposure to video game progression systems. You earn experience for completing each activity, and new quests open when you level up, as well as entirely new areas for kids to explore. New wardrobe options, like butterfly wings, backpacks, academy-branded sweaters, and infinity scarves, unlock at higher levels, which are incentives for kids to complete the game’s more educational activities at the kiosks. I was thrilled to see I could unlock a sword for my Lara Croft-themed avatar, and I know with certainty that, in elementary school, I would have obsessed over earning new cosmetic items long after class time.

Cosmetic items get more unique at higher levels. We saw top hats, cowboy hats, and every type of backpack in the marketplace.

While the bevy of unlockable cosmetics will stir competition within classrooms, I’m surprised Adventure Academy doesn’t include leaderboards for its skill-based games. The ability to rise through the ranks of your peers is a feature that lends itself naturally to a game that’s otherwise pretty social. Another head-scratcher is the decision to make the game download while kids play; traveling to new wings or hub spaces for the first-time requires long load times. These moments weren’t unbearable, but I imagine they could be for a teacher with a class of twenty students who just want to play the game. I’m curious to see if players can download the game entirely at launch instead of having to confront these first-time loading screens.

Gripes aside, I think Adventure Academy has the potential to be a great educational tool for classrooms or a fun kid-friendly MMO that parents could introduce to their children. There’s course material for every type of student – from the bookworm to the kid who just wants to earn a bunch of experience watching science videos. Adventure Academy launches on May 1 for PC and on Android and iOS devices. You can purchase a monthly subscription for $9.99 or an annual subscription that comes out to less than $5 per month when you pay up front.

Many of our editors at Game Informer are parents themselves. Read Javy’s column on what it’s like to be a gaming parent in a gaming world, or Matt Miller’s column on great tabletop games to play with your kids

Categories: Games

Mad Mad World

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 00:50
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: SIE Bend Studio Release: April 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

With Days Gone only days away from release, there are still a lot of questions about how the world functions. The open-world zombie game is meant to be freely traversed on a bike, but there's always danger around every corner, and behind every tree.

The newest Days Gone video is meant to convey that world and how it was created straight from the developers.

Click here to watch embedded media

You get a good look at all the various things that will kill you, including the various types of Freakers out there, but also humans who worship the Freakers and try to act like them. The video also explains how something as simple as the current weather might make or break your entire escape strategy, so having contingency plans will be important for Deacon St. John.

Days Gone releases on PlayStation 4 on April 26.

Categories: Games

One Piece: World Seeker's First DLC Makes Zoro Playable

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:21

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Ganbarion Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Bandai Namco announced ambiguous DLC and free update plans for One Piece: World Seeker late last month, but today it has provided some more concrete details for the first piece of paid DLC.

The Void Mirror Prototype will make Zoro a playable character and you will be able to, "engage in intense battles using his Santoryu battle style as he works to uncover the secrets behind a mysterious robotics factory." It will be available early summer and is part of the game's season pass, but can also be purchased standalone for $9.99.

For our review of One Piece: World Seeker, head here.

Categories: Games

Katana Zero Review - Slow-Motion Samurai

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 15:00

The neon-soaked hallways and dirty streets of Katana Zero do a great job of sucking you into its broken world. Gangsters operate unhindered as society is still reeling from a devastating war, one whose loss has littered the streets with homeless war veterans and bars with resentful and drunken citizens looking for a fight. You are that fight--a ruthless sword-wielding assassin with the ability to slow down time--and Katana Zero gives you delicately designed scenarios to slice and dice your way through. Its abrupt ending is an unwelcome surprise, but the riveting action is complemented by an intelligently presented narrative with a variety of captivating themes that is difficult to pull away from.

Katana Zero puts you in the shoes of a nameless assassin haunted by the fractured misdeeds from the past war. This war forms the backbone of Katana Zero's central mystery, which does take time to unravel. What starts out as straightforward assassination missions ordered by a shadowy organization slowly unfurls to encapsulate themes of post-traumatic stress, war crimes, and government killings. This plays out across multiple acts, comprised of small side-scrolling stages containing violent and thoughtful combat throughout.

Genetic experimentation and drug use are central to both Katana Zero's story and gameplay. Thanks to a steady supply of a blue serum, you're able to augment your simple sword slashes with the ability to slow down time. This lets you pull off some incredibly stylish maneuvers and experiment with a malleable dynamic to the otherwise straight-forward combat. Slow-motion rolls can be combined with precise movement to quickly close distances, and your sword is not just for close-quarter slashing--it can be used to perfectly time a bullet deflection back to its sender. When combined with stage-specific items that can be used as long-range projectiles and security systems that can be transformed from a deterrent into an environmental weapon, Katana Zero doesn't struggle to keep its combat exciting.

It helps that each stage is thoughtfully compact given how dangerously fragile you are. A single hit will send you back to the beginning of a stage, with fast respawns making the transition almost instant. This not only avoids the sting of detrimental progress loss, but also gets you back into the engrossing action quickly. There are a few stages that feel excessively long and end up being frustrating, but they're thankfully few and far between.

The variety of enemies keeps each encounter from feeling repetitive, gently introducing more dangerous foes that will force you to change up your comforting strategies. Enemies with shields will push you away before swiftly firing at you on the ground, while knife-wielding gangsters can stagger you and delay your attacks for a brief (but deadly) moment. The ways levels combine these different enemies turns each of them into clever combat puzzles, where your twitchy instincts need to be supplemented by thoughtful planning and careful consideration of who to target first.

Katana Zero doesn't shy away from telling its story through scenes of unsettling torture and vivid violence, yet it successfully contrasts this with delicately quiet character moments and some heartfelt relationships that help ground a protagonist that would otherwise be impossible to empathize with. It works incredibly well thanks to a creative approach to character conversations, which are often just as important as your violent exploits outside of them. Instead of just being given choices for responses, conversations allow you to interrupt characters to alter both the tone and direction of the scene. Characters react intelligently to your manners during an exchange, expressing disgust at your audacity to cut them off or surprise at your unexpected courtesy.

Depending on how you respond, certain small narrative changes can take place too. In one instance I found myself pretending to love anime to convince a hotel receptionist to let me pass, which later helped me avoid the police as she corroborated my alibi. The same conversation played out differently the second time, as my short temper with the same receptionist led her to turn on me when getting questioned about my blood-soaked clothing. Small diversions like this don't have an impact on the trajectory of the main story, and there are a handful of scenarios where you'll be forced into a specific response in order to progress. But Katana Zero mostly handles your branching conversational decisions with grace, eloquently incorporating them into small but inconsequential changes to its excellently written dialogue.

Each character moment lands thanks to the sublime pixel artwork. There's an immense amount of detail packed into each sprite, bringing the colorful yet distressing world around you to life with its sheer variety. Character sprites are the most impressive, featuring delicate animation that lends a lot of emotion to each conversation and story beat. These extend to the thoughtful effects applied to simple dialogue bubbles, which use a combination of flashing colors, moving parts, and aggressive screen shake to allow important interactions to hit hard. Katana Zero doesn't just use its retro-inspired style to pull on nostalgic strings. It elevates the style entirely with a sense of depth and detail that is difficult not to appreciate.

Katana Zero doesn't shy away from telling its story through scenes of unsettling torture and vivid violence, yet it successfully contrasts this with delicately quiet character moments and some heartfelt relationships.

The real pity is that despite its slick presentation and enthralling dialogue, Katana Zero's story just doesn't wrap up in a satisfying way. It starts introducing its central themes about halfway through and only increases in momentum from there, seemingly building to an enticing climax. But it swerves unexpectedly at the end to reveal that this entry is only the first chapter in a larger tale. After four or so hours you're left with a number of unhandled narrative threads and an unsatisfying conclusion, which dampens the exciting momentum that was building up. It's a deflating and abrupt end to the proceedings, with no promise of more to come in the future.

The uncertain future of the story that Katana Zero so brilliantly sets up is concerning, but that shouldn't deter you from diving into this compelling introductory chapter. Its combat provides an exciting challenge that tests both strategy and reflex, while also giving you clever abilities to make it as stylish as possible. The narrative contextualization of both your abilities and role within Katana Zero's world is expertly written, with a clever dialogue system letting you inject personality into character interactions. Katana Zero is bloody and brutal, but it's also a heartfelt tale that you shouldn't overlook lightly.

Categories: Games

Falcon Age Review - High Flying

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 01:30

Having an animal retrieve something at your command is one of the great joys of being a pet owner. It's difficult to put into words. My girlfriend's daschund hardly listens and doesn't know any tricks, but when you ask him to fetch his plum-sized orange ball, he finds it, wherever it is, and brings it to your feet, tail wagging delightedly. Falcon Age, a first-person action-adventure game for PlayStation VR, understands the special fellowship that exists between a person and their pet, and it expresses beautifully the trust and affection that caring for an animal can make you feel. Besides robust combat and fine crafting, it captures that simple, precious thrill of playing fetch--and captures it so well that, after a few hours in the company of this bird, you may feel you've adopted a new pet.

Falcon Age places in your charge a baby falcon whose mother is killed protecting it, and over the course of a roughly four-hour campaign you feed it, train it, nurture it, lead it into battle, and otherwise act as its full-time caretaker. This can be done conventionally, on a television and with a DualShock 4, or in virtual reality, with a PSVR headset and a pair of Move controllers (or in VR with a DualShock, if you so prefer). Falcon Age was designed expressly to be played in virtual reality, though, so the traditional, non-VR gameplay feels like something of an afterthought. It's adequate in two dimensions with familiar first-person controls, but the game's best qualities are appreciable only with the headset on and the Move controllers in your hands. If you want to really bond with your bird, you need to be able to reach out and touch it.

You play as Ara, one of the few humans left on a planet ravaged by robot colonizers. As the game opens, Ara is imprisoned, forced to follow a monotonous daily loop of "reeducation" in the form of morning quizzes and hard labor mining ore by pickaxe outside. Soon enough, she escapes, and the story follows her efforts to adopt the ancient traditions of her near-extinct people while fighting alongside the scrappy resistance that aims to take the planet back from its unwelcome invaders. Interestingly, the story begins near what seems to be the end of the colonization; the planet has already been exhaustively ransacked for resources, and as we arrive it looks long-since despoiled. The air of late-stage devastation--evident in every bleak vista and arid valley--makes fresh a premise that might otherwise feel too familiar.

It also makes clear the game's politics, which are as central to Falcon Age as the bird is. The background of the story--a sprawling, rapacious colonial superpower ransacks a planet of its valuables, strong-arming the natives into wildly unjust obedience--is obviously meant to suggest certain real-world analogues, and it's hard not to keep the historical parallels in mind when hearing this tale from the perspective of the oppressed. Even the falcon is poignant here; you're told early on that falconry is part of the traditions of the native population, rapidly disappearing under tyrannical rule. It's a simple parable, but it's relevant, and it lends the game a seriousness that belies the impression of a game about an adorable bird.

As you and your falcon make your way through the desolate landscape, attacking robot outposts and learning to practice farming on the recaptured soil, you discover encampments, encounter other survivors, and, in keeping with the demands of an adventure game, meet merchants with things for you to buy and people with errands for you to complete. The world itself feels well-realized and intriguingly stark, as you chart vast plains of barren rock depleted of verdure and pitted with fixtures of sleek, ominous steel. The conversations you have with its inhabitants, on the other hand, tend jarringly slangy and sarcastic, with dialogue that clangs as oddly careless. Your hero, in particular, often talks like an angsty teenager, with options to sass in practically every exchange with other people. The snarky one-liners struck me as totally inappropriate to the setting.

Communication with your feathered friend is, thankfully, much more natural--perhaps because it's entirely unspoken. For your troubles, it's at your command. The mechanics are simple, modeled on the basic techniques of falconry. Your bird's default state is airborne, circling the sky above you. Bringing a fist to your lips calls it to you, and raising a hand invites it to land on your wrist. While perched, it can be fed, stroked, played with, or tended to if wounded--more on that later. The Move controllers are very responsive to even subtle movements, and the bird AI is sharp enough that I almost never had trouble getting it to follow my commands or fly to me when needed. It feels like a natural extension of your own body in an elegant, smoothly integrated way.

You can dress your bird, equip it with items and armour, and direct it toward points of interest in the environment before you. Sometimes this takes the form of a kind of problem-solving, as in certain AI-companion puzzle games such as The Last Guardian. A drawbridge out of reach can be lowered for use if you direct your falcon to cut the string holding it aloft, for instance. Other times it's a matter of getting along as partners in the wild. Your falcon will hunt animals, pick fruit from trees, or collect bits of ore for you if so instructed; stronger creatures, such as big armoured beasts who burrow in the sand, you can tackle together, taking turns striking and jockeying for advantage. While you are bereft of beak or talons, you are equipped with an electric baton and whip, which isn't too shabby. You may have to whip plates of shell off the back of a lumbering animal to expose a weak point where your falcon can swoop in.

It's at robot basecamps that the hunt becomes a full-blown battle--and it's here, too, where the surprising depth of the game's combat system reveals itself. The basic strategy involves tagging enemies and standing back while your animal does his thing, but in more challenging skirmishes you're obliged to be an active, nimble participant. Your falcon can pin certain enemies in place for you to attack their weaknesses; it also relies on you, in some cases, to attack first, and it's enormously satisfying to work out the right approach to a new situation. At their most complex, these are battles of wits and reflexes--a challenge that's gratifying rather than frustrating, thanks to precise, intuitive controls with the Move setup, especially with free roam on.

Like deflecting a bullet with a knife in Superhot, looking down the sights of a sniper rifle in Killing Floor Incursion, or slashing a block in half in Beat Saber, interacting with your bird in Falcon Age has a tactile pleasure that is truly satisfying. The bird itself, meanwhile, looks great, behaves believably, and feels on the whole like a coherent, fully realized character; more than a sidekick or ally, you come to think of it as a companion, like a cat or dog at home. The highest compliment I can think to pay Falcon Age is that it evoked the same feeling I get caring for my real-life pets--including the real wince of bone-deep alarm I felt anytime my bird was at risk of injury. This is about much more than a cute animal. It's about a bond, and one Falcon Age nails.

Categories: Games

Nintendo Releases New Trailer For Switch Version Of Mortal Kombat 11

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 22:42
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: NetherRealm Studios Release: April 23, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Nintendo released a new trailer for Mortal Kombat 11 today, ahead of its release in just a week's time.

The video shows off some never-before-seen story scenes, and it's also interesting that the backgrounds in fatal blows look noticeably different than they did in past entries.

Watch the entire teaser below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Mortal Kombat 11 arrives on April 23 for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Pathway Review - Pulp Friction

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 03:00

When you're struggling, Pathway sends you a dog to help out. It's that kind of game. You might have seen your squad massacred in the North African desert, but look! Here's a cute puppy called Donut. He's even got sharp teeth and the "Anti-Fascist" character trait that means he does +20% damage against Nazis. In moments like these, Pathway picks you back up and says maybe you can still complete the mission after all. Pathway is generous like that.

Heavily indebted to the genre of mid-20th-century pulp adventure of which Indiana Jones is the obvious cultural touchstone, Pathway depicts a world where the Nazis are plundering ancient artifacts to harness their powers in occult experiments and so must obviously be stopped by an international band of mercenaries. It's a light, breezy, knock-about game of turn-based combat that understandably always wants you to succeed at killing Nazis, with or without a surprise canine companion. However, it lacks tactical depth and, while killing Nazis is a noble pursuit, its moral stance is less sure-footed when it steps into the territory of tired colonialist tropes.

The core of Pathway is in its XCOM-style combat. Every encounter is preceded by a planning phase in which you place each member of your squad onto the battlefield. Smart players can take advantage of this head start by positioning their squad to, say, rush an exposed enemy on the first turn. In an early sign of Pathway's charitable spirit, you get this planning phase even when your squad has been ambushed and, unlike in XCOM, you'll never see an enemy already in cover on the first turn of a fight.

During combat, each squad member can typically perform separate two actions--move and shoot, heal and reload, or some combination thereof--and much of the time an encounter consists of outflanking an enemy to get off a shot at them around whatever cover they happen to be hiding behind. Characters can also perform special actions depending on the weapon they carry and, in some cases, the skills they possess. Pistols, for example, allow for a special double-shot action that can target two enemies, while characters require specific skills to use items like grenades or medkits in combat.

And that's about as deep as it gets, unfortunately. Aside from minor variations in clip size and range, all the guns function in much the same fashion and can drop most enemies in one to two shots. As a result, a character with an assault rifle plays no differently to one with a shotgun. The only meaningfully different weapon is the knife, not merely the game's only melee weapon but the weapon with the highest damage potential. Since there's no "zone of control" or "attack of opportunity" mechanic (outside a special action reserved for sniper rifles), it's perfectly feasible to run right up to enemies, jump over their cover and attack from the adjacent square. In fact, it's often the most effective approach, no matter how silly it looks or tactically uninteresting it becomes.

Fights can still be challenging, even on the default normal difficulty. A way of evening the odds is to have the enemy greatly outnumber you. Unimaginative, sure, but it gets the job done. At other times, some enemies will have access to special abilities that you don't, while others can move further than your squad. These factors create situations where you're encouraged to think several turns in advance, coordinate attacks between your squad members, and time your limited special actions.

But still, most of the time you're not really feeling that pressure. Most of the time you're just moving and shooting, moving and shooting, with the odd moving and knifing thrown in. Where the lack of depth is truly exposed is in the slim variety of actions on display, a failure that can be attributed to the derivative nature of each character's skill tree. Indeed, when leveling up characters don't earn new abilities, they merely improve existing ones; they'll boost that chance to for a critical hit, perhaps, or beef up their HP. True, you can unlock the ability for a character to use an additional weapon, so that they can now carry a shotgun as well as a pistol, but it's hard to get excited about that when, again, weapons don't function in any meaningfully different way.

The lack of variety extends to the maps on which the battles take place. There is barely a handful of scenarios--Nazi camp, desert village, underground temple--and you're served up a seemingly randomly-generated version assembled from stock parts each time you enter combat. A benefit of this approach is that you never know exactly what you're going to get, but on the flip side, it means that none of the individual battlefields are ever memorable and they all end up blurring into one by the end of a campaign. That's not to say the arenas are poorly designed; they're serviceable and little more.

Linking one encounter to the next is a campaign structure that sees you plotting a pathway across a network of nodes. At each node, you hit a narrative event that could be anything from following some Nazis into a mysterious mineshaft to finding an oasis at which you can rest. Sometimes you might end up in a fight, sometimes you might find some treasure or a trader with whom you can buy and sell, and sometimes nothing happens at all. It's a bit like FTL, really, except instead of zipping across space you're driving a jeep across the Sahara.

These narrative moments are fun and typically well-written. They often allow for choices that can lead to surprising results and occasionally let you utilize the skills of one of the squad characters you've opted to take on the journey. But they do a poor job of depicting the African people whose countries, from Morocco and Egypt and beyond, have been invaded by the Germans. The locals you meet are helpless simpletons, peaceful goat herders at best and, at worst, cowards hiding in ruined villages and collapsed caves until you wander by to hopefully rescue them. These poor people can't do anything until saved by a globetrotting band of wealthy adventurers.

Further, throughout the entire game, you're collecting treasure, much of it ancient religious and cultural relics of the people you're ostensibly helping. Literally the only thing to do with this treasure is sell it to fund the purchase of more fuel for your jeep and ammunition for your guns. Retrieve an ancient inscribed vase from the altar room of a secret temple? That goes for $250 at the next trader stop. The suggested idea is you're keeping these precious relics out of Nazi hands, but surely there's a better option than looting them for yourself and then selling them back to the people you stole it from.

Pathway looks and sounds great, it nails the pulpy attitude it's aiming for, and, of course, it's always fun to shoot Nazis. But the more I played, the more the cracks started to show, the more samey it all became, and the more uncomfortable some aspects of its design made me feel. I still enjoyed much of my time with Pathway. There's a pleasure to be had in both its aesthetic choices and the frictionless grind of its structure, but I came away wanting more--more tactical meat in its combat and a more thoughtful approach to the way it chose to represent its world.

Categories: Games

Surprise Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct Details Joker And 3.0 Update

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 02:25
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Sora, Ltd Release: December 7, 2018 Platform: Switch

A Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct dropped today out of nowhere, showing off Joker and the Super Smash Bros 3.0 Update.

Joker arrives tomorrow on April 17 and includes Persona 3/4/5 music and themes for the Mementos stage. In his basic form, Joker has a gun, a grappling hook, and uses his knife for most of his attacks. As he takes damage, however, Joker builds up the ability to summon Arsene, the Persona he summoned in Kamoshida's castle in Persona 5. Arsene either powers up or completely changes Joker's moves.

Joker's Final Smash is the All Out Attack, which mimics Persona 5 completely. He also has the Shujin Academy uniform as his alternate costume. The pack of Joker, Mementos, and the 11 music tracks are part of the fighters pass, but can be bought for $5.99.

You can watch the Smash Direct below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The Direct also detailed some new content for the 3.0 update like the Stage Builder, which has been in previous Smash Bros. games. The Stage Builder supports both a controller and the touchscreen. Players can add different layers to stages when creating them, as well. The update adds video editing, which can be shared in the game. The Smash World, the social service announced last November, also supports video sharing and level sharing.

In addition, the 3.0 update includes new Mii costumes like Morgana, Persona 4's protagonist, Persona 3's protagonist, Tails, and Knuckles.

Categories: Games

Heaven's Vault Review - Come Sail Away

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 00:00

On the face of it, Heaven's Vault sounds like chaos: It's a planet-surfing science-fiction adventure game in which you play as an archaeologist who gets caught up in a doomsday prophecy. But it's a much calmer experience than you might expect--you play as Aliyah, an archaeologist employed by a university on Iox, the wealthiest, most opulent planet within her nebula, to track down Renba, a professor who has disappeared. Throughout the journey, you'll peel away at the complex and ambitious lore of the world and meet the interesting characters who inhabit it, but not without some slow sailing.

You spend much of the game hunting for clues to determine not only Renba's fate, but also the nature of his research and the discoveries he was making in his travels. For most of the game, the exact details of Renba's mission are pleasantly unclear, and major theories the player concocts early on can be proven incorrect by later discoveries. To get to the bottom of things, you'll need to investigate various moons throughout the nebula, some settled, some abandoned. You'll also build and maintain friendships or trade alliances with folks who can provide you with assistance, collect artifacts and clues, and mess around with the game's neat translation mechanic.

Throughout the game, Aliyah will encounter many passages written in "Ancient" script, which require translation to decipher. This will begin as guesswork, but as you progress you'll develop a better understanding of what different glyphs within longer words might represent. There's a two-tiered system in place for translating words: If you encounter an inscription of a full phrase, you can guess any of the words you're not certain of until you have a full, hopefully coherent sentence. If you find what Aliyah will describe as a part of a longer phrase, a list of potential words you've already translated or guessed will appear on the screen, and you must see if the part of text matches up with any of the words you already understand or have guessed at. These partial texts can confirm your definitions--if you've decided that a word means 'water' in a previous translation, for example, and it pops up again as part of a longer phrase, Aliyah might declare that she is either now confident in the translation of that word or believes it's wrong. After a while, you'll build up a much bigger vocabulary of translated words, making it easier to fill in the gaps.

Across the game's somewhat excessive running time, I lost track of what the actual advantage of all this translation was to my progression, as correct translations tend to prompt conversation options rather than key clues for where to go next. But it's still an interesting and exciting mechanic, as so much of the pleasure of Heaven's Vault is about uncovering the lore of the world you're in and the characters who occupy it. You're dropped in largely unaware, and while the game builds an exhaustive timeline of events, stretching right back to ancient times, it's mostly on you to figure out the nuances of the occasionally abstract game world.

Heaven's Vault opens near its own ending--the very first scene tells you where your adventure will end, which is a curious structural choice for a game that is so contingent on player choice. It's meant to indicate, perhaps, that your story is always going to end up the same way, although how you reach that ending will differ dramatically between players.

This seems to be a fair claim, too. During my playthrough, I compared notes with another player to make sure that our choices mattered, and we discovered that our paths diverged completely at several points. Heaven's Vault unfurls in substantially different ways depending on how you play it and which choices you make. You can miss entire characters and plotlines, or experience hugely different relationships with the game's small but well-developed cast of recurring figures. The writing is mostly strong throughout, with dialogue flowing naturally and feeling in line with decisions you've made, and the moment by moment plot of Heaven's Vault genuinely feels like the culmination of your choices. There are some strange issues with character development--at one point a character demanded I come to visit them so that they could tell me about a major discovery and let me in on "certain confidences," only for them to reveal nothing when I visited with them, and a major character stopped trading goods with me for reasons I don't fully understand, substantially slowing down my progress through the game.

When you're bouncing easily between locations, making discoveries and having interesting chats with Aliyah's friends and co-workers--not to mention your robot companion, Six--Heaven's Vault is a pleasure. It's perhaps too easy to lose track of the spine of the plot, but in the first half especially, there's a constant influx of discoveries and revelations that give the game a propulsive hook. But the scope and ambition of Heaven's Vault get the better of it in the back half. It took me 22 hours to finish the game, and it felt like a lot of those last 12 hours was spent on busywork--particularly when it comes to the game's sailing mechanic.

In one of the lore's weirdest elements, traveling across the nebula necessitates that you "sail" the rivers between moons, steering your ship across literal bodies of water that act as pathways between locations. They only flow in one direction, so the only meaningful control you have comes when paths diverge in two directions and you must choose which way to turn. There's little to do out on the waters--you can steer left and right, fold your sails in to go slightly faster, stop to observe any interesting landmarks you pass, and check your map. Sailing isn't particularly exciting, yet it makes up a huge portion of Heaven's Vault.

For the first half of the game, sailing feels like a mildly irritating distraction with moments of beauty, taking up a few minutes at a time. But in the back half, the sailing mechanics come perilously close to ruining the whole experience. The sites you need to visit in order to progress are marked on the map as large areas to explore, and while you can make the search areas smaller by finding more artifacts throughout the game, at some point you're almost definitely going to have to find it by scouring those areas yourself. The layout of the river can become infuriating at this point. When you're traveling to a moon you've been to before and miss a turn, you're given the option to rewind to a point just before the turn; however, when you're searching for an unknown site, no such option exists, and a wrong turn can mean a long, slow course correction as you follow the one-way rivers back to where you just were, potentially eating up to half an hour.

The game has additional pacing issues throughout--Aliyah moves very slowly, and there was a section of the game where I found myself bouncing repeatedly between the game's two main locations, Elboreth and Iox, in the hopes of triggering new dialogue options between characters that would make the search for the next site easier. (Thankfully, you can skip the rigmarole of sailing to these two particular locations by asking Six to do it for you.)

Heaven's Vault can be a fiddly experience--although patches hit during the pre-launch period that cleaned up most major issues, I continued to encounter a lot of camera problems throughout, and at one point, a site that took half an hour of sailing to find failed to load when I reached it. When I eventually sailed back there, it ended up being the least interesting site in the game. While some of these places you're searching for are teeming with plot development, others can feel like a chore.

There's plenty to be charmed by in Heaven's Vault. The art style is pleasant, and the orchestral soundtrack is often beautiful. The writing and lore can occasionally make the game feel like an adaptation of a book that doesn't exist, and it's hard not to get invested in learning more about the game's world. It's just a shame that there's so much tedium to get through as well, and that the experience doesn't always reach the greatness it occasionally shows itself to be capable of. Heaven's Vault excels in creating a well-constructed, branching narrative, but expect long sections of it to feel like a slog.

Categories: Games

First Screens And Video For Judgment's New Actor For Hamura

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:29

Publisher: SEGA Developer: SEGA Release: Summer Platform: PlayStation 4

One interesting thing about video games is how much of a product is made up of different moving parts and gears that could, theoretically, be swapped out without everything else falling apart. In practice, a lot of things are a lot more interdependent than you'd like, but in the case of Sega's Yakuza semi-spinoff Judgment and the drug scandal with one of its actors, replacing the character was both doable and a seeming priority for the team. Just weeks after Judgment actor Pierre Taki has been arrested for cocaine use, Sega has already replaced the actor and we have the first look at the new Hamura.

You can check out a short video of the character below with Judgment's English dub.

Click here to watch embedded media

Here's also a few new screenshots of the actor replacing Taki as Hamura.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



In English, this effectively makes zero difference, as the west has never had Pierre Taki as Hamura and the voice acting has not been changed. In Japan, however, Sega is likely eager to get the game back on sale as quickly as possible, so it seems that placing the new actor in is happening at a lightning pace.

The western release of Judgment has reportedly not been affected at all by this change. The game still releases on June 21 on PlayStation 4 for digital pre-orders and June 25 for the physical release.

Categories: Games

My Time At Portia Review - Crop Circles

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:00

My Time at Portia starts off predictably when you disembark into its expanse of rolling hills and curious ruins. Like the Marvelous Interactive titles it clearly draws inspiration from (namely Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons), it sets you up with the holy trinity of prologues: a father, a child, and a ripe plot of land. No time passes at all until you're welcomed by a well-meaning public servant who tells you that your absent parent left a legacy of building and being a Home Depot whiz before disappearing like the evening tide. Now, fresh off the boat, you're tasked with taking over for your old man and making yourself invaluable to the people whose lives he enriched, which suggests My Time at Portia will be a more fulfilling adventure than it actually ends up being.

Portia has a distinctly post-apocalyptic feel, which lends a sense of intrigue to what would otherwise have been a familiar traversal of yet another sleepy town to be spiced up by the voiceless city-slicker of a player-character. The game paints a tidy, watercolor-inspired picture that wouldn't be out of place on a postcard; a "wish you were here" would fit nicely against the giant, scraped-out husks of metal that loom over lush fields and quaint cottages like relics from a bygone age. In fact, they are: Humanity in My Time at Portia is said to have gotten too ambitious in the past by exploiting technology and science to reach lofty heights that it was struck down for. Now, it's back to the Agrarian Age for the foreseeable future, and you're the closest they've got to Noah and the Ark.

These monolithic reminders dot the various landscapes of My Time at Portia, and they're an effective and unintrusive way to ensure you're clued into the broader message around hubris leading to the apocalypse. It makes for an interesting plot device, which would be well-utilized if it went beyond making the world more visually interesting, or even beyond the inclusion of one faction of NPCs dedicated to keeping the town of Portia back in the comparative Dark Ages. But that's about as far as it goes: aesthetic as opposed to substance. No storylines really pursue it, nor do the townsfolk seem to care. You're not provided with the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the setpiece of the world's past, which is a shame given how interesting it seems.

Instead, the majority of the experience remains relatively familiar and unbroken by a loop of crafting, fighting, and gathering missions. The crafting system is the game's real treat, though. As the child of a master-builder, you're given access very early on to plans created by your father. These plans function like crafting blueprints; they stay on your person as you romp around the world in search of materials, and you can easily refer to them and check exactly how much tin ore you need to convert into whatever arbitrary amount of bronze bars you need to prop a bridge up.

You're also given the ability to use a crafting station back at your house which tells you exactly what you're missing to build a particular item. There's no need for guesswork, and you also get to visually appreciate the nitty-gritty of what you're building as completing various parts of items sees them come to life before your eyes on the workbench. This wonderfully intuitive approach ties neatly into what you're told is the protagonist's innate skill as a crafter, which means that you spend less time wondering how many rocks you have to crack open and more time thinking about the next great creation taking shape in your backyard.

Crafting is also the only aspect of the game that feels integral to actually getting anywhere with the story--everything is expensive, and the most effective way to make money is to grind out crafting items to sell. But while the reliance on grinding isn't a surprise if you're a genre fan, the combination of quick day-night cycles in the game, timed quests, and the time commitment needed to actually get anything crafted is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Time feels like it crawls by unless you're occupying yourself with busywork, which unfortunately ends up detracting from the charm of the lively hustle and bustle of the town of Portia.

However, while the crafting is robust and an essential part of your experience with My Time at Portia, the other integrated systems--relationship management, dungeoneering, animal husbandry, and farming--aren't as engaging, fleshed out, or vital by comparison. Being able to gift your way to a perfect marriage does a disservice to some of the unique personalities that you can court, and you feel discouraged from spending time on farming because of how time-consuming and expensive it is to acquire enough land to turn those parsnips into a profit. The main story forces you to invest heavily in crafting and once you’ve tried your hand at the carpentry trade, it can be hard to look elsewhere when the demands of time and money limit your ability to engage in the other systems.

Among the cacophony of mechanics, there's a wistfulness for depth. An upgrade system has you picking various skills, ranging from increased experience gain to a higher chance of getting more items, each time you level up. But it's hard to actually feel the effect of these perks, and there isn't one clear build which gives you a significantly better performance over the rest. Min-maxing attributes is rarely the point of lifestyle sims, so it makes sense that rewards seem more like a little bit of gas in the tank rather than a whole new engine. But failing to actually use your skill points on anything is unlikely to disadvantage you at all, which cheapens the purpose behind giving you a mountain of options in the first place. Being a little bit more efficient at carrying out objectives in a game that's all about repetitive grinding isn't a bad thing, but you find yourself wishing that the improvements afforded to you were more significant for the time invested.

Your time at Portia is likely going to be an idyllic one, interspersed with chores and chatter and putting household items together for your neighbors. You'll spend your time idly dangling your legs off the edge of the pier, participating in fishing tourneys, ushering in holidays with your partner, and fending off local wildlife. However, the ruins of a time long forgotten will always darken the horizon, and there'll be a part of you that wonders what more there could have been before you find yourself shunted to the next life goal in a long series of life goals. That feeling is unfortunately hard to shake, and it's a shame that there's not as much to the world of Portia as first appears.

Categories: Games

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Review - The Power Of Empathy

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 01:50

In Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, the struggle of coming to terms with past trauma and guilt comes out in a number of surprising ways. Developer Ninja Theory channels its talents for narrative and presentation to tell a personal story that has more to say than it initially lets on, and will likely leave you wondering what's real, and what is a part of an elaborate hallucination.

In a far-off land covered in mist and fog, a traumatized celtic warrior named Senua embarks on a spiritual vision quest to suppress her inner demons, and come to grips with the death of her family. Plagued with severe psychosis, Senua's past trauma manifests itself through duelling inner voices and visual hallucinations that compromise her emotional and mental state. On this journey, she'll face abstract and reality-defying puzzles, and battle a seemingly endless horde of adversaries that aim to put a stop to her quest.

Pulling from Nordic and Celtic lore, the fiction of Hellblade evokes a dire and somewhat bleak atmosphere, making it seem like the world had already ended, leaving Senua with only the company of her memories. Hellblade is an introspective experience, albeit with several combat and interactive story beats scattered throughout. While the story and world are presented through cutscenes and stone glyphs depicting the history of the land, Hellblade also makes clever use of live-action cutscenes. These cinematic moments are blended into in-game graphics, giving each occurrence a somewhat surreal feeling, as if you're watching a live playback of an altered memory.

On her journey through the cursed lands, Senua will come into conflict with the Northmen, an army of berserkers that appear out of thin air. These moments are when the combat comes into play, and it offers some of the most intense and thrilling moments of the game. Despite her illness weighing on her, Senua is still quite adept at fighting and is able to take on a number of foes at once. With fast, heavy sword swings, as well as up-close hand-to-hand strikes, you can use some light combos to hack away at the Northmen, while using dodges and parrying their strikes to get the upper hand.

Though combat is one of the core pillars in Hellblade, the game doesn't concern itself with offering numerous weapons or complex skill-trees to work through. Aside from some new combat abilities unlocked at key story milestones, Senua's arsenal of skills and weapons is kept light till the end. The true challenge and satisfaction comes from mastering the base combat mechanics, which is responsive, and fluid--allowing you to bounce between multiple foes easily, with her inner voices warning you of incoming strikes based on the position they're coming from.

When it comes to portraying mental illness, Hellblade takes a sympathetic approach and isn't at all interested in showing the differences between reality and imagination. It's all about Senua's perspective; with her visions and what's truly real being presented as one in the same. One of the more oppressive aspects of her psychosis are the inner-voices, who quarrel with one another while commenting on the wandering warrior's present state. Using binaural audio--which makes wearing headphones a must for the full effect--you'll get to experience a taste of what it's like to have several voices in your head.

In many ways, it feels like a subversive take on the common video game trope of the bodiless companion offering help via radio, making them a somewhat distressing presence you desperately wanted to keep at arm's length. The effectiveness of the inner voices in making you uncomfortable is a testament to the stellar presentation of the game, which uses some rather inventive tricks to play with perspective and audio-sensory manipulation. It does well to make you feel on edge and in a state of confusion, while simultaneously getting you to focus on the more tangible and true elements of her surroundings--even if they are still hallucinations.

There are times where the voices become a boon to your survival--such as the rather tricky boss battles that force you change up your usual strategies--but the most useful instances come deeper in the game, when you're able to clear through more than 20 foes consecutively, a far cry from the struggles of fighting only two to three foes. Many of these battles serve as the capper for narrative arcs in the story, making it feel like a cathartic emotional purge where you vanquish a construct of Senua's past.

"It's all about Senua's perspective; with her visions and what's truly real being presented as one in the same."

While some characters from Senua's past treated her mental state as a danger, she's able to use it to her advantage to see the order in the chaos of her surroundings--finding patterns and solutions in ways that others wouldn't have the presence of mind to see. Despite how terrifying and draining her psychosis can be, Senua is able navigate the various trials thanks to her unusually heightened perception, which comes out in a number of unique puzzle solving moments.

For the most part, puzzles revolve around unlocking doors by finding glyphs hidden in plain sight or in alternate perspectives that require manipulating Senua's focus, illustrating her abstract attention to detail. While these puzzles can be clever, the same style occurs far too often, making some of the more drawn out sequences a chore. On the inverse, the moments where Senua is stripped of her senses and gear, forcing her to take a more subdued approach to avoid her enemies, felt far more engaging and interesting.

In one of the game's best moments, the shadows themselves serve to be a real danger as Senua rushes from one light source to another in a dark cavern, all the while memories of her torment and anguish come flooding in--obscuring your vision while she's making a dash to safety. These moments are a real highlight, channeling the same pulse-pounding sense of urgency found from set-piece moments in Resident Evil 4, making a seemingly simple objective into an unnerving experience--which in a way truly sums up what Hellblade is about. While these moments serve to be some of Hellblade's most profound and affecting moments, it uses them sparingly to help break-up general puzzle solving and obstacles, which feel somewhat bland by comparison.

While Senua experiences many dangers, such as the horrific hallucinations of the dead, immolation by a mad fire god, and ravenous beasts that hide in the shadows--there is one threat that constantly looms over her that can result in dire consequences. Early on, Senua is infected with a corruption known as The Dark Rot, which continues to spread after she 'dies' or fails a set-piece event. She passes failure and death off as another hallucination, but with every failure the infection spreads, and after multiple deaths it reaches her head. The result of this is Senua succumbing to her illness, forcing you to restart from the beginning of her journey.

Despite the inclusion of a permadeath mechanic, Hellblade is still a largely fair game. Taking around eight hours to clear on the hardest difficulty, and experiencing only a handful of deaths--mostly on account of some overly vague and awkward objectives coming off as obtuse, breaking the flow of traversal--the game is largely balanced with its pacing and difficulty. It even goes as far as to offer an auto-scaling difficulty system that adjusts based on how you're playing. Interestingly, there's no tutorial whatsoever in Hellblade, prompting you to learn the system by doing and listening to prompts from your inner voices.

Over the course of its journey, Hellblade keeps its gameplay lean in order to not overstay its welcome. Despite the complexity of the narrative and its presentation, combat only happens when it needs to, and puzzle solving and set-piece moments often drive the story forward to reveal more about Senua's motivations. Which in turn reveals the struggles that torment her, preventing her from moving on.

Hellblade's most notable achievement is the handling of an incredibly sensitive subject matter within an engaging and well-crafted action/adventure game. At its heart, the story is about Senua's struggle to come to terms with her illness. In the process, she learns to find the strength within herself to endure, and to make peace with her past. And in a profound and physical way, we go through those same struggles with her, and come away with a better understanding of a piece of something that many people in the world struggle with.

Editor's note (April 15, 2019): Hellblade has now made its way to Nintendo Switch. While this port manages to reach the same emotional and spiritually resonant highs as other releases, it unfortunately features some inconsistent frame rate and subdued texture detail throughout, lessening the impact of some key moments. With that said, Hellblade is still largely intact on the more modest platform. In the Switch's tablet form, it gives the impression you're diving into an engrossing novel, making for a more intimate experience that can't found in other versions of the game.

Categories: Games

Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Review - Infantry Does The Dying

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 23:06

Once again, there is an Earth Defense Force game out there. Once again, it is not good. And once again, I couldn’t stop playing it. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain isn't good in the same way eating an entire bag of Cheetos in one sitting isn’t good. There is very little your gaming life needs in this game. But some days, it might be the only thing you want.

Despite a new air of seriousness at the outset, it doesn’t take long to realize that Iron Rain is still Earth Defense Force, and not necessarily some reinvention for the series. Yes, the giant bugs are still invading Earth. Yes, you're a hapless grunt who must kill the ugly bastards dead for hours upon hours with an ever-increasing arsenal of weaponry. Yes, the story is still told by the most questionable definition of voice acting this side of the very first Resident Evil.

Yet, for more than 20 hours, I kept coming back to it. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain is in the business of immediate gratification; it gives you a weapon, lets you kill a whole slew of evil critters, generously showers you with rewards in the aftermath, and lets you progress. No questions asked, no sales pitch, few if any barriers between you and the main thing the game does extremely well, which is letting you kill a hell of a lot of bugs.

The game tells you, “Your name is Closer, an EDF soldier. You've been in a coma for seven years, Now you're awake, and we need you to kill every bug you see.” It shoves a gun in your hand, an assault rifle to start with, then drops you in the middle of a grudging facsimile of San Francisco and tells you to go to work. And you do. Giant ants come out of the woodwork within a few seconds. And for what it's worth, these suckers are smarter in Iron Rain than in previous EDF titles; they know how to flank, how to surround, and when to run to a place of safety. But you've got an assault rifle, infinite ammo (for most weapons, anyway), and a grudge. You blast away, sending giant insect thoraxes and the disgusting green guts inside flying everywhere until the city is more dead bugs than street.

That's mostly a good thing, since Iron Rain's cities and deserts and forests are depressingly threadbare and devoid of any signs of non-alien life, but they are much less hard on the eyes thanks to some decent texturing and new lighting effects. The improvements are noticeable, but Iron Rain, like every EDF game before it, still falls short of current standards in the looks department.

That’s par for the course in Iron Rain. Most of the new additions--character customization, a Horde mode called Mercenaries--are nice, but they don't fundamentally change what the series has been since 2006. Mercenaries in particular feels like a watered down version of Destiny 2's Gambit mode. It's a fun way to pass time, but without concrete goals beyond collecting as many gems from fallen bugs as possible, it's not something to pump serious effort into. One of the only two major game-changers is the fact that weapons are no longer exclusive for the series' traditional classes--for example, Rangers can now wield swords and missile launchers if you so desire. If anything, the character customization is a nice cherry on top, allowing you the freedom to create the insect-slaughtering war machine of your choice.

The big new addition, however, is a brand new class of soldier tied to the Prowl Rider armor. With it, you not only get the ability to attach yourself to a surface and reel yourself in with a device similar to the omni gear from Attack on Titan, but the ability to summon your own giant bug to wreak havoc against its own kind. Once you get the gear about 15 missions in, it's a literal game changer that splits the difference between the versatile-but-frail Jet Lifter (formerly Wing Diver) and the more hardy Trooper class. Verticality and speed are encouraged and not punished this time around. That's to say nothing of the idea of strolling into battle riding on top of your giant scorpion friend.

That all sounds wonderful on paper--and it often is in practice--but there are moments where it can be clunky. The reel works, but it's finicky about what surfaces you can swing to, there's very little flexibility in how you can move while in the air, and you can't fire or even use items while it's in progress. Even with the new customization, Iron Rain plays pretty stiffly in many crucial ways, and getting soldiers to run while firing a weapon or swinging a sword is awkward. There's a new Overdrive ability that helps in that it speeds your soldier up, makes reloading much faster, and regenerates health, but you only get one per stage, and you can only regenerate it during a fight using a rather expensive consumable item. It may work, but making the mechanics play the way they always should is rather disappointing when it’s implemented as your character’s ultimate ability. That's all on top of the same problems the series has always had. Slowdown is excruciating when too many enemies or explosions are on-screen. There’s a ton of repetition after all the various enemy types have been introduced. Crucial plot points are presented during gameplay while under heavy fire. The lack of a checkpoint system means dying at the tail end of a 15-minute mission sends you all the way back to the start. Earth Defense Force is still a fundamentally janky game.

The game may slow down. You might take more than a couple of cheap hits. But that little jolt of endorphins when those six-legged freaks go legs up after pumping a few rounds into them is an awfully powerful motivator. A noise says you're in the clear, you collect the energy gems scattered across the field, and congratulations, you've earned guns, healing items, clothing, and ample opportunity to try them out before taking them out on a mission. Come across a difficult enemy? You probably picked up a weapon in a previous stage better suited to the situation. Flying ships? There are homing lasers for that. Giant mechs? There are missile launchers for that. Giant hopping spiders? Run where they land and slice em in half. There are no penalties for experimenting, and Iron Rain is generous with the currencies needed to purchase just about anything in-game. Enemies just drop gems on the field, and you get an extra 30 seconds at the end of every stage to go collect as many as you can. Everything you need to buy new gear is right there for the taking instead of the buying, the grinding, or the waiting. Every weapon feels distinct and worth its while in actual combat.

Where Iron Rain fails as an overarching plot, it succeeds in creating a stronger and more engaging vibe than its predecessors.

Iron Rain's plot is sorely lacking, a flaw highlighted by how much less tongue-in-cheek the game is compared to its predecessors. That said, your squadmates are affable, prone to gallows humor, and fill the ride home--and the game's somewhat lengthy load times--with grim banter. A pop music radio show that plays during mid-mission menus is hosted by a peppy host named Olivia, whose endless cheer belies her obvious shell shock. There's a human rebel faction you'll occasionally have to fight with and/or against, and they add interesting twists on virtually every stage where they pop up. For the first time in the series, you feel less like a red-shirt in a 1950s alien invasion movie and more like a tired soldier fighting a tough war, trying to find the little moments of levity wherever you can. Where Iron Rain fails as an overarching plot, it succeeds in creating a stronger and more engaging vibe than its predecessors.

Even without narrative motivation, though--and in the latter portions of the game, there is much less of it--having an enormous loadout of weaponry and kinetic movement options means constant innovation is needed and possible. It's engaging not because of the time sunk into it, but because it's just so incredibly fun to do for its own sake. Iron Rain iterates instead of innovates; its version of advancement really just means removing a couple of shackles keeping you from making the bug-killing experience your own. There are expected current-gen niceties that would make EDF better, and yet it's not hard to imagine the series losing something in the process.

Categories: Games

A Stealthy Approach To Metroidvanias

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 22:30

Publisher: Chucklefish Developer: Cardboard Sword Release: TBA Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

The Siege and the Sandfox is quietly sliding into the crowded 2D Metroidvania genre with a sneaky twist. We’ve seen plenty of Metroid-style games that focus on action, such as Shadow Complex, or on exploration and platforming, like Ori and the Blind Forest. However, we haven’t seen a Metroidvania that puts a big focus on stealth. In fact, 2D stealth games are few and far between; Mark of the Ninja proved that it could be done well, and now The Siege and the Sandfox aims to do it in a beautiful, interconnected world. We came away from the first hour impressed and hopeful for this so-called “Stealthvania.”

The game is a treat to look at; its ancient Arabian aesthetic with dusty caverns and gorgeous desert vistas peeking through ornate palace exteriors are drawn in meticulously detailed pixel art. The atmosphere is rich thanks to the Sandfox’s blending of pixelated environments and modern graphical flourishes. Light creeps through open windows revealing dust hanging in the air, guards hold torches that light the surrounding area and leave a trail of embers, and phosphorescent mushrooms give off a neon glow. It all comes together with the game’s smooth character animations to feel more cohesive than you might expect from a pixelated world.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



The Siege and the Sandfox is developer Cardboard Sword’s debut game. Its first attempt certainly leaves a strong impression, putting a stealthy twist on a well-worn genre. Instead of strapping a gun to your arm, you attempt to escape a cavernous prison with nothing but your wits to guide you – fortunately you are an experienced assassin, so your only immediate disadvantage is that you’ve been stripped of your tools. I quickly found helpful upgrades like lockpicks or a club to knock out nosy guards, which made me a dangerous, shadowy force. In my time with the game I didn’t get to see much variety in the enemies; most were simple, patrolling jailers who were easily dispatched.

I came across several upgrades while playing, all appropriately significant. Finding the club meant I no longer needed to be as timid in my approach and could incapacitate foes. The climbing boots let me run up sheer walls, and the lockpick immediately had me excited to scour previously explored areas for all the doors I’d passed by. My time between upgrades was brief, but with no sense of the game’s length or how many upgrades are in the final version, it’s hard to say if that pace can continue. I enjoyed that momentum in my time at least.

Crucially, the controls felt as smooth as the animation. Aside from figuring out some particular platforming nuances, the game never got in my way when I was exploring. Running around and up walls was satisfying and whacking unsuspecting guards has a nice, tactile feel. Everything from the combat to the navigation animated nicely adding to the layered world. I can’t wait to make a quiet escape when the game comes out.

One of the more interesting aspects of The Siege and the Sandfox is its storytelling. You’re an assassin who has been falsely accused of murdering the king and are left to rot in the palace’s excessively large prison – and the story is narrated by a woman describing events as you play (similar to Supergiant’s Bastion). The narration adds gravitas to your actions, and lays the groundwork for an interesting and complex world full of larger-than-life characters that feel straight out of One Thousand and One Nights. I came away from my time intrigued by the setting and the player character and even more interested in learning about the woman narrating my escape.

Since I wasn’t formidable in a fight, I needed to stick to the shadows to get by unscathed. This could be as simple as avoiding torchlights or enemy sightlines. You can hide in certain environmental objects like a large pot or empty crate to avoid enemies as they stroll past. Stealth was handled well in the game’s 2D environments; running with the right trigger will send out a visual pulse that lets you see how much noise you’re making. Enemies spotted me several times as I ran through an area, and when they did, it was game over.

Unfortunately, The Siege and the Sandfox’s stealth loop is more generous than I prefer. Your character has nothing to defend himself in the opening minutes of the game, so you are forced to sneak and hide early on. Once you find the club – which unlocks a melee attack – the enemies became less threatening. Being able to easily knock out the enemies meant I only needed to hide long enough for them to turn around. Even then, there were a few times where an enemy was standing on a platform and when I would clamber up there, I would get spotted, but they would do nothing for several seconds. It removed the element of danger that was more present in the opening section. It often felt more like an action game where the enemies just let you attack them rather than a tactical stealth game. The Siege and the Sandfox is still in alpha, so much of this is subject to change. For how smooth the presentation is overall, though, it felt like I didn’t need to engage with the stealth as thoroughly as I would have liked. This could be attributable to either its early stage of development or perhaps the game gets more demanding further in. We’ll have to wait to find out.

Click here to watch embedded media

The Siege and the Sandfox does not have a specific release window and is currently only slated for release on PC. We looked at the game at GDC; here are our thoughts on the best indie games from the show. While we wait for more information, you can read our thoughts on another upcoming Metroidvania, Ori and the Will of the Wisp.

Categories: Games

Overwatch Archives Trailer Showcases A Mission To Take Down Doomfist's Accountant

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 19:35
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: May 24, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Blizzard gave us our first teases of this year's Overwatch Archives event, titled Storm Rising, last week with a mission description from a newly-named character in the lore. Blizzard has now given us out first trailer of said mission, showing us what Overwatch players will be doing in the event taking place in the past.

The event, as described by Sojourn last week, was for Tracer, Genji, Mercy, and Winston to team up and take down Doomfist's accountant. You can watch the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Much like the previous events, the mission looks like a four-player co-cop player vs. enemy mission pitting a designated team of you and your friends against a designed level. In this case, it is to take down the robot accountant of supervillain Doomfist as a way to get to Doomfist himself. You know it takes place in the past because people are going to jail for white collar crime.

The Overwatch Archives Storm Rising event starts tomorrow April 16 and runs through May 6 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games