Games

One Gun Simply Isn't Enough In New Demo

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 17:55

Mothergunship is an arms race. When every turret can fire a screen-filling barrage of bullets and every new level is a glorified deathtrap, the only solution is to strap a few more flamethrowers to your arms and dive back in. Although you'll certainly be outnumbered, hopefully you won't be outgunned.

Set on the ships of an alien armada, Mothergunship is a first-person shooter with a mix of scripted and procedural content. Each level is a bullet-hell gauntlet with dozens of bots to blast through and upgrades to grab. The game follows in the footsteps of Tower of Guns, the previous title from indie developer Joe Mirabello. This time around, Mirabello has partnered with the developers at Grip Digital to bring the polish and scale missing from his previous release. 

“Tower of Guns struck a nerve with some people,” says Mirabello, “and we spent a lot of time trying to ... build that into the core DNA of Mothergunship, while at the same time not fooling ourselves about what could be improved. For example, it was pretty established that a lot of people wanted to see more gun variety.”

And the game delivers variety in spades. Like the crafting system from Dead Space 3 taken to its logical extreme, players build every gun from the ground up.

Mothergunship's customization on display

Mothergunship features three categories of gun modifications. Connectors make up the base of any given weapon. Each connector has numerous points that can be attached to new connectors, expanding the usable surface of the weapon. But they can also be attached to barrels, the things that shoot. Mothergunship has barrels for flamethrowers, lasers, and anything else that hurts, and they can all be jammed onto the same gun.

In addition, there are caps, mods that affects the behavior of the whole weapon. Slapping a lava cap on a gun provides shots a chance to leave explosive mines on enemies, while something that looks like a Walkman turns all bullets pink and makes them bounce. 

I played through Mothergunship's demo (free on Steam now), and left feeling like I had only scratched the surface. After jamming shotguns and grenade launchers together with mixed results, I realized different combinations of connectors could even set barrels to fire straight up in the air or down at my feet. Players have already shared many of their creations from the demo; from the looks of it, the game has almost no limitations on what can be built.

“We don’t worry about the game-breaking combos,” Mirabello says. "Too many games try and file away the game-breaking combos ... rather than embracing them. For Mothergunship, players will build an overpowered gun at some point. As designers then, it becomes our mission to keep that from overstaying its welcome.” 

Instead of traditional ammo, all guns use a shared energy gauge. There’s nothing to stop players from throwing 12 Gatling guns on one chassis, but it’ll probably burn through all that energy in about a second. Finding the perfect balance of power and efficiency is the name of the game.

Massive bosses are planned for the main game

“Mothergunship, like Tower of Guns, knows it is absurd.” Mirabello says. “The crafting system alone carries the potential for a lot of ridiculous antics, and to frame anything realistic around that would be incredibly strange. Instead, we let the crafting system’s ridiculousness inform the tone of the rest of the game.” NPCs reflect this silliness; one brags about her "gungineering" degree, and another gives you a giant metal cookie as a reward. The demo only features the voices of these other characters, but they hint at the game’s ultimate goal of destroying the mothergunship. To accomplish this, players must upgrade themselves as well as their guns (although the nature of these upgrades wasn’t shown in the demo).

The demo takes place over a series of rooms, each one ramping up the number of enemies and complexity of the design. By the tenth room I was bouncing between floors, setting turrets on fire with one hand and blasting flying robots with the other. Partially procedurally generated and partially scripted, the full game will also have co-op, bosses, and more ludicrous combinations of guns. 

A free demo is available on Steam, with a planned release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.  

 

Categories: Games

Yoku’s Island Express Review: A Breath of Fresh Air

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 17:00

Metroid-style platformers have become more common recently, which makes standing out from the pack a daunting task for new games in that style. Yoku’s Island Express overcomes this hurdle by creatively combining both Metroid-style exploration and pinball mechanics into one unique product. This combination sounds unusual at first, but the final result is a charming, delightful, and wonderfully satisfying hybrid.

You play as Yoku, a cute little beetle who has a ball attached to his hip with a string, and it's his first day as postmaster on Mokumana Island. The story is cute and straightforward, and there’s a large amount of backstory sprinkled throughout the game, but it doesn’t take long for the rest of Yoku’s Island Express’ beautiful game design to quickly take the spotlight.

The world of Mokumana Island is gorgeous, and the delightful painterly art style realizes each of the game's different stages with vibrancy--lush jungles and dark labyrinths blend in seamlessly with stunning snow-covered mountains and underground caves, and the background scenery is just as beautifully detailed as the foreground. Every environment is perfectly accompanied by sound design which gives everything a cheery and quirky atmosphere, and the charming background music keeps things light and breezy throughout. The roster of supporting characters is also a delight to meet. Ranging from animals and plants to imaginary creatures, the large cast of NPCs are all amusing in their own ways. Some give you side quests, some give you exposition regarding the main story or island lore, and some are simply there for a quick quip or two.

Yoku can only move left and right, and can't jump. However, flippers and platforms can be found all over Mokumana Island, which can be operated by using just two buttons, much like in pinball. These devices are all used to fling Yoku and his ball (which doubles as a pinball) in helpful directions to help you find and explore new paths of game’s cleverly branching world.

If Yoku is the pinball, then Mokumana Island is a giant pinball table. One minute you could be strolling through the jungle, the next you might find yourself seamlessly dropped into a literal pinball puzzle carved out of the environment. Familiar pinball mechanics, like lanes and bumpers, are all there and completing these challenges will reward you with fruit (the game’s currency) and unlock additional paths around the island. Though the puzzles require precise timing demands, and there are many moments when your skills and reactions feel tested, no puzzle feels impossible. Most can be completed in only a handful of minutes, but there's a lot of variety to the boards which help keep the game incredibly engaging.

Mokumana Island is surprisingly large, and filled with secrets and collectible items. A sprawling story quest and numerous side quests constantly push you in different directions, and there’s a lot of traveling and pinballing to be done. It’s also easy to get sidetracked from your tasks in favor of searching for the game's many secrets hiding within the beautiful island stages.

Exploring becomes even more exciting as Yoku learns new, goofy abilities, which are used to overcome hurdles in a lighthearted fashion, like removing boulders using an exploding slug vacuum cleaner. These fun and practical abilities add extra layers of cheery personality to an already joyful game, and as common in the genre, they make you feel excited to backtrack and unlock previously inaccessible paths.

Traveling back and forth from one end of Mokumana Island to the other can sometimes become tedious, however. A fast-travel system isn’t unlocked until later in the game, but even that is quite limited in regards to where you can and can’t travel. Some areas require you to complete a pinball puzzle in order to get from point A to B, which makes retreading quite repetitive and occasionally frustrating, particularly when the pinball puzzle is a complex one.

Yoku’s Island Express takes two unlikely genres and combines them into one playful, natural experience. The game’s audio and visual design is simply joyous and the large game world seamlessly combines its pinball puzzles with some brilliant level designs. While traversing the large map does get frustrating at times, Yoku’s Island Express’ main quest never drags, and with its slate of fun abilities, quirky supporting characters and a generous amount of optional content, Yoku’s Island Express is a unique journey that’s refreshing and just straight up fun.

Categories: Games

Octopath Traveler - A Tale Of Intertwined Destinies

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 15:00

After a strong first year, Nintendo Switch owners are looking for the next game they can sink hours upon hours into from their couch or on the go. Role-playing games are particularly suited for portable platforms, and this summer delivers an RPG that many Switch owners have been eagerly anticipating. From the team behind the popular Bravely Default and Bravely Second: End Layer, Octopath Traveler expands on concepts explored in those games and ties everything together with a beautiful, distinct art style that mixes pixel art with realism. After playing a couple hours, I’m excited for the ways it harkens back to retro role-playing games through its robust systems and fun turn-based combat.

Continue reading...

Categories: Games

Vampyr Review: The City That Never Sleeps

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:17

Vampyr may seem an unlikely game from the studio that made the narrative-focused Life Is Strange, but being an action-RPG doesn't preclude it from being a great vehicle for storytelling. It's set in a harsh city in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, and much of the game involves potentially becoming the savior the world so desperately needs. If anything, Vampyr feels like the spiritual successor to the beloved cult hit Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, but with much of that game's vampire politics replaced by heartfelt interpersonal drama. It's a story strengthened through the power of choice, with the fate of thousands resting on your ability to sacrifice your needs for the greater good.

Vampyr takes place in England, 1918, at the height of the Spanish flu pandemic. You play as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a renowned doctor just back from the frontlines of World War I. Not even minutes off the boat, he's violently welcomed back to his homeland by a vampire and subsequently shoveled into a mass grave. When Reid reawakens, confused and stark-raving mad with bloodlust, he attacks the first person he comes across. Before he's able to process his profound grief and confusion, a guild of vampire hunters chases him off into the night.

How deep you're able to dive into Vampyr's narrative rabbit holes depends on your dialogue choices, and whole subplots can be blocked off permanently by not correctly identifying what a patient needs or wants to hear.

Thanks to the help of a sympathetic stranger, your time scared and alone is graciously brief. It's not long before you're employed for the night shift at a hospital, and it's there that you also gain the support of Lady Ashbury, another vampire hiding in plain sight. Once acclimated, Reid aims to come to grips with his afterlife, maybe find a cure for his vampirism, and get some much needed answers as to why he was turned to begin with.

The larger story beats delve deep into the lurid lore you might expect from a turn-of-the-century vampire tale, but it's not until much later that it becomes the crux of the story. For the majority of the game, Vampyr goes all in on the idea of Reid as an altruistic doctor, a man tirelessly dedicated to the wellbeing of his patients and travelling around town seeing to their various needs. Much of the game involves chatting with fellow hospital employees, patients, and citizens about town, finding out how they're coping with the epidemic, and building a case file to get to the heart of whatever ails them. Sometimes, their problems can be fixed by simply lending a sympathetic ear. Some troubles can be fixed by concocting a bit of medicine in your lab. But the most engaging quests are resolved by getting down and dirty in an infected area of town, spearheading investigations no living person ever could. How deep you're able to dive into Vampyr's narrative rabbit holes depends on your dialogue choices, and whole subplots can be blocked off permanently by not correctly identifying what a patient needs or wants to hear.

Vampyr leans hard into the RPG side of the action-RPG spectrum, and though there's often a campy texture to the storytelling, it's very easy to get attached to its motley crew of characters. A factory worker waits on surgery to fix a near-gangrenous arm because his two attending doctors can't agree on an approach to treatment. A nurse and an ambulance driver rely on Reid to keep their interracial relationship secret. A man becomes an alcoholic due to his survivor's guilt over an anarchistic plot gone wrong. A non-ordained preacher goes around the city burning the sick alive, believing God told him to cleanse the flu pandemic with fire. Everyone you can converse with has a tale to tell, and the vast majority of them are worth the time it takes to hear them out.

It's impossible to avoid the fact that Reid needs to feast on blood in order to survive, but his thirst manifests in more subtle, diabolical ways than just a steadily declining hunger stat. Every little thing Reid does for the citizens of London adds to a pool of overall health for each of the game's four main districts, all of which contribute to the wellness of London as a whole. While that pool is useful for keeping an eye on the citizenry, it also just so happens you can explore that menu to get details on each of the citizens you've met. You can learn how nourishing their blood will be should you decide to feed on them--i.e. how much XP you'd get from taking their life--and refamiliarize yourself with their backstory. The stories of the city change depending on who, if anyone, you prey upon, and in much subtler ways than you might expect.

One of the best choices I made was to feed on a gruff man who Reid discovered was secretly a mass murderer. After his death, the man's mother, while certainly grieving her son, copes by deciding to take in the awkward orphan living nearby and giving him the love she foolishly gave to protect her own flesh and blood. Reid can certainly drive relationships into chaos in much the same way, but the fact that there's enough information to be had through your interactions to guide those decisions with is both impressive and empowering.

Walking the streets of London between residential districts, Reid is a persistent target for vampire hunters, brutal sub-human mutants called Skals, massive beasts, and highly skilled vampire elites. Encountering any of them means it's time to take a more hands-on and proactive approach. Using a combination of bludgeons, sharp implements, firearms, and terrifying vampire magic, you're quite capable of fighting your many enemies off, but these late-night battles are still difficult. Physical attacks and dodges drain a stamina meter that, if not carefully managed, leaves you utterly defenseless while it recharges. Your vampire powers are impressive and can devastate enemies, but they cost fresh blood to execute. While you can bite your enemies in combat to recover some, not only is stunning enemies to get the bite tricky--you either land enough hits in quick succession or parry an attack, which has a frustratingly small window of opportunity--the powers tend to use more blood than a single bite can replenish.

There are games that have tied survival and power to moral choice, but very few have managed to tie the lure of evil so perfectly--or seductively--to the core gameplay.

Mild combat frustrations are further amplified by performance issues. Playing on a PS4 Pro, Vampyr succumbs to frame rate drops and surprisingly frequent loading screens. You begrudgingly learn to live with these hiccups, but the most preposterous load times--stretching well over a minute--haunt you after death. In a game where enemies can one-hit kill you, and where bosses require a bit of trial and error to overcome, such long pauses aren't easily overlooked.

One of the best ways to avoid death is to trade in XP earned for ability and stat upgrades. You can increase bite damage and improve the amount of blood you draw with each attack, but the most interesting improvements come in the form of advanced vampiric powers. Some are simple, such as sharpening your claws mid-combo to increase your damage output, but you can also learn advanced spells, such as one that boils all the blood in your victim's body before causing them to explode. You can become an unstoppable force in London, but it all costs XP. And while you can gain XP from handing out meds or killing enemies, the payouts are a pittance compared to the thousands of points earned from killing just one of the proper citizens of London.

If you desire, you can work to improve the vitality (and XP potential) of everyone in town, only to drink your way through an entire district of healthy people in one night, personal connections be damned. This will make Reid nigh-invincible for hours to come, but conversely cause the district to descend into utter chaos as friends, family, and colleagues go missing, leaving those who remain in despair. Alternatively, you can play the game as a much more civilized sort of vampire, getting by only on the blood of rats and those who attack you first. Theoretically, it's even possible to play the game without killing a single soul, save the few mandatory boss fights. However, walking the path of the righteous man is the game at its hardest, especially as enemies jump up in level.

Ultimately, I opted for a balanced, Hannibal Lecter-like path: kindness and erudite mystery, coinciding with a predilection to savagely prey on the free-range scum of society--the occasional mass murderer here, a crime boss there, etc. It felt good, righteous, even, for a while. And somewhere around the time I reached level 20, I was still getting ambushed and demolished in two hits by a guy wielding a torch and cheap sword. The problem could be easily remedied by sacrificing yet another juicy, XP-heavy victim, but that could potentially put the surrounding community at risk of devastation. There are games that have tied survival and power to moral choice, but very few have managed to tie the lure of evil so perfectly--or seductively--to the core gameplay.

The narrative does take a mild decline as time goes on. The late-game answers to Dr. Reid's questions feel more focused on the game's fantastical threads than they do on Reid himself--though it cleverly delves into semi-obscure British/Celtic legend and very real macabre British history for inspiration. More and more as the game goes on, Reid's dialogue choices don't end up corresponding to the intended tone. And a few of the really huge choices to be made are no-win situations none of the characters deserve.

And yet, the credits roll on Vampyr with the realization of how seldom we see an open-world RPG experience like this, where being a citizen with a responsibility to a place and its people feels personal, even if that investment lies in who looks delicious tonight. Vampyr is certainly shaggy and rough in the technical department, but its narrative successes still make for an impactful and worthwhile experience.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Enchanting World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:00

After announcing last year that Dragon Quest XI would get a North American release, Square Enix has finally confirmed which platforms it's coming to. While many stateside fans have been pining for a Switch version, DQ XI has only been announced for PS4 and PC. It appears the company has no plans for the 3DS iteration to come here either, and seeing as the Switch version has yet to debut in Japan, it's unclear if or when we'll eventually see that one. If you're not keen on waiting for the biggest Dragon Quest adventure to date, however, then you'll be happy to know the PS4 and PC versions are coming packed with extras and the release date is merely months away. We recently went hands-on with the game, which, like past entries, includes British voiceovers for the Western release. We got a good look at party member Sylvando and an intense boss battle.

The demo focuses on a desert area, featuring the kingdom of Gallopolis. Gallopolis is known for its horse races and fearless desert knights. The party visits in search of a mysterious branch that can aid them in stopping a dark force from taking over the world. As soon as I enter the vast landscape, I notice the new dash function. This is a nice addition and makes getting around much faster and easier than it was in the original Japanese version.

 My main quest is to visit a sultan whose son, Prince Faris, is having his coming-of-age ceremony where he must prove himself in a horse race. The prince says he'll convince his father to give us the branch we need if we do him a favor. He takes us to the circus to discuss it in depth, where I find out he can't ride horses at all, begging our hero to pretend to be him for the big race. At the circus, a cheeky character named Sylvando appears. Sylvando is a jester, and a show-off through and through, spitting fire, juggling knives, and cracking jokes. Later when I take the prince's place in the horse race, Sylvando appears as one of my opponents.

 

Horse racing is a new minigame for the series. The controls are basic: Hold down a button to gallop, press another to slow for turns, and run through green swirls to gain speed and stamina. Win or lose this race, you prove your skills well enough to the sultan, but Sylvando catches on to the farce. Before much more can be done, a giant, yellow, scorpion-like enemy named The Slayer of the Sands is killing knights left and right. The sultan asks Prince Faris to take care of it, and once again he asks for your help so no one can discover his incompetence.

The turn-based Dragon Quest battle system hasn't changed much since its inception. As this boss battle proves, though, it's not about just choosing an attack. You are challenged to use your abilities, magics, buffs, and debuffs accordingly. To win the battle against this vicious beast, I use a balanced strategy, having two characters focus on healing, buffs, and magic, while the others tap into their special abilities. Special abilities can inflict status ailments such as poison or sleep, or have elemental strength. One of my characters has a spell that automatically deals damage when the enemy attacks, which I make good use of, wearing down the giant scorpion to ensure the prince's success. Sylvando is also along for the battle, but the A.I. controls him. He won't reveal his reasons for coming, which I'm sure is explored later in the game.

I won't spoil what happens with the prince's facade, but I will say there's a cool moment that occurs after the battle. If you're a fan of the series or just itching for a classic RPG, Dragon Quest XI should be on your radar.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With The Enchanting World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:00

After announcing last year that Dragon Quest XI would get a North American release, Square Enix has finally confirmed which platforms it's coming to. While many stateside fans have been pining for a Switch version, DQ XI has only been announced for PS4 and PC. It appears the company has no plans for the 3DS iteration to come here either, and seeing as the Switch version has yet to debut in Japan, it's unclear if or when we'll eventually see that one. If you're not keen on waiting for the biggest Dragon Quest adventure to date, however, then you'll be happy to know the PS4 and PC versions are coming packed with extras and the release date is merely months away. We recently went hands-on with the game, which, like past entries, includes British voiceovers for the Western release. We got a good look at party member Sylvando and an intense boss battle.

The demo focuses on a desert area, featuring the kingdom of Gallopolis. Gallopolis is known for its horse races and fearless desert knights. The party visits in search of a mysterious branch that can aid them in stopping a dark force from taking over the world. As soon as I enter the vast landscape, I notice the new dash function. This is a nice addition and makes getting around much faster and easier than it was in the original Japanese version.

 My main quest is to visit a sultan whose son, Prince Faris, is having his coming-of-age ceremony where he must prove himself in a horse race. The prince says he'll convince his father to give us the branch we need if we do him a favor. He takes us to the circus to discuss it in depth, where I find out he can't ride horses at all, begging our hero to pretend to be him for the big race. At the circus, a cheeky character named Sylvando appears. Sylvando is a jester, and a show-off through and through, spitting fire, juggling knives, and cracking jokes. Later when I take the prince's place in the horse race, Sylvando appears as one of my opponents.

Horse racing is a new minigame for the series. The controls are basic: Hold down a button to gallop, press another to slow for turns, and run through green swirls to gain speed and stamina. Win or lose this race, you prove your skills well enough to the sultan, but Sylvando catches on to the farce. Before much more can be done, a giant, yellow, scorpion-like enemy named The Slayer of the Sands is killing knights left and right. The sultan asks Prince Faris to take care of it, and once again he asks for your help so no one can discover his incompetence.

The turn-based Dragon Quest battle system hasn't changed much since its inception. As this boss battle proves, though, it's not about just choosing an attack. You are challenged to use your abilities, magics, buffs, and debuffs accordingly. To win the battle against this vicious beast, I use a balanced strategy, having two characters focus on healing, buffs, and magic, while the others tap into their special abilities. Special abilities can inflict status ailments such as poison or sleep, or have elemental strength. One of my characters has a spell that automatically deals damage when the enemy attacks, which I make good use of, wearing down the giant scorpion to ensure the prince's success. Sylvando is also along for the battle, but the A.I. controls him. He won't reveal his reasons for coming, which I'm sure is explored later in the game.

I won't spoil what happens with the prince's facade, but I will say there's a cool moment that occurs after the battle. If you're a fan of the series or just itching for a classic RPG, Dragon Quest XI should be on your radar.

Categories: Games

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers Review: Running On Fumes

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 20:00

Dillon the Armadillo is every stoic hero of the Old West... but as an anthropomorphic armadillo. He doesn't say much because he really doesn't need to. His prowess with weapons and dedication to defending good folks just trying to make their way is essentially his whole character. And while, until now, he's been known for his forays within small downloadable games, Dead-Heat Breakers represents a big next step for the franchise.

Most of the game makes the transition well, in part because the premise is played in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Dillon's a no-nonsense guy, and seeing him surrounded by a colorful cast of goofy sapient animals works pretty well. But, after a time there's definitely the feeling that too little game is spread out over too much time. Dead-Heat Breakers grinds to a crawl at times, and while it's far from insurmountable, it's hard to shake the feeling that in this case less would have been more.

While Dillon may be the game's namesake and main action hero, he's not the actual protagonist. When you start up the game, you'll have a Mii of your choice polymorphed into an Amiimal. And it's this "person" that the story centers around. In short, you've narrowly survived an attack on your home town, and you've gone to get help from the infamous "Red Flash," Dillon. On your way, your big rig is attacked by some industrial monstrosities and Dillon and his sidekick/mechanic Russ happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Most of the proceedings are played for comedy, poking at the classic tropes of the western, while mixing a good bit of modern absurdity. Not too long after that encounter, for instance, Russ determines that the team needs a massive gun. And they aren't kidding. He maps it all out in his head and sets to work getting the materials to build a weapon that would put World War II-era train-mounted cannons to shame.

This pair of scenes (the battle between your would-be attackers and Dillon, as well as the process for gathering materials after the fact) make up the two primary phases of play. They loosely correspond to the day and night and will follow that pattern throughout. In the prep part (daytime), you'll wander around town doing odd jobs for the people and participating in mini-games to gather up the required gear for your nightly missions. This works well for pacing at first, but you'll start to feel the drag as the cycles wear on.

Daytime will put you through a few different main activities, including time-trial races and bouts against the series' most iconic foe--the stone-headed, space-faring Groks. Here you can earn money which you can then toss to Wendon for supplies, which go to Russ for assembly into the Breaker (i.e. that giant gun). These are meant to help give you some practice for the more rough-and-tumble nighttime bouts but are too dissimilar to serve as a proper warm-up, and not unique enough to feel like a good break from the main action.

When that time does come, though, you and the Amiimals of your friends and other Miis on your system will assemble into a group, ready to tackle the big bad of the night. This is where the series' touted tower defense-action fusion comes in. Here, like in the opening segment, you'll command the Red Flash and have the option of hiring on the different Amiimals to play defense. Each carries a different weapon with their own attack styles and strengths. Ostensibly the daytime's mini-games are there to help acclimate you to these differences, but in practice, over the game's 15 missions, you'll know who does what pretty quickly and can make your own appropriate choices.

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers is best enjoyed in spurts. Powering through the game quickly reveals its many weaknesses (the toll on your hands, and the repetitiveness of the combat and day-night cycle being chief among them), but no part of the adventure is bad, really; it simply wears thin.

Once you've made your choices, you're off to the fight. Your job as Dillon is to keep the pressure off the Amiimals. Using a powerful accelerator as well as Dillon's natural claws and thick hide, you can slam and slash your foes while zooming about the map. On the bottom screen, you'll be able to see a breakdown of the map, the attack range of your team, and which places need your help.

Recruiting more teammates helps take the pressure off you but depletes your coffers and therefore cuts your strategic options for later down quite a bit. Therein lies the big question for how to allocate resources.

Dillon himself can be great fun to play, but the controls are perplexing. Most everything is handled with the joystick and the A button; attacks are somewhat contextual but rely on holding the button down, releasing before pressing, and holding or tapping quickly to different moves. This isn't ideal as it can be occasionally easy to accidentally dash instead of landing an attack, and the constant strain on your thumb during combat sections would have been reduced if you simply used another button or trigger when your attack was ready.

Many of these sequences devolve into high-speed chases where you'll have to clear out every foe during their final assault. There's an excellent bit of white-knuckled tension as you rush from enemy to enemy, spinning up, bashing them, and slashing to bits. Combined with some smart visuals and a great system for snapping you to baddies so you don't inadvertently overshoot them makes these segments a great bit of intense fun--even if they leave your thumbs sore.

Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers is best enjoyed in spurts. Powering through the game quickly reveals its many weaknesses (the toll on your hands, and the repetitiveness of the combat and day-night cycle being chief among them), but no part of the adventure is bad, really; it simply wears thin. It's a competent, fun little outing that's almost perfectly suited for kids who need something silly and ridiculous that won't require too much thought or technical mastery.

Categories: Games

The Forest Review: Are You Afraid Of The Dark?

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 18:00

The broad premise of The Forest is far from unique. A plane crash lands on a seemingly deserted island, and you, a lone survivor, have to figure out a way to survive. It doesn't take long, however, until blood curdling screeches fill the night and glowing eyes appear in the distance. Once it sets in that your new home isn't as empty as it first appeared, The Forest evolves into a uniquely harrowing adventure that you won't soon forget.

Cannibals inhabit the grassy fields and pristine lakes around you, watching your every move; they are the source of The Forest's ever-present tension. You might expect monsters like this to attack on sight, but their behavior is erratic. Sometimes they'll charge forward to unsettle you during daylight but stop just outside striking distance to simply stare in silence. Other times they might feign a retreat before leaping into nearby trees to quickly get behind you. The Forest's enemies aren't easy to predict, which makes each encounter thrilling.

The breadth of enemy types is impressive too, and they can get surprisingly weird. As you explore the island more and dive into terrifying, pitch-black caverns, enemies transform into terrifying body-horror figures--amalgamations of appendages that bellow deep, disturbing howls. They're frightening to behold and even scarier to fight.

The Forest does a good job of trickling out these surprises while you're already struggling to manage vital meters and resources. It's also imperative that you keep a close eye on the quality of the resources you find. Not every berry bush contains a bounty that won't poison you, and not all water is safe to drink. Meat you gather from hunted animals will rot if not cooked quickly. None of the resulting illnesses are serious enough to dissuade you from eating questionable food if you have no other choice, but needing to think about what you eat adds an additional layer to the minute-to-minute hunter-gatherer gameplay.

Chopping down trees for logs or scouting a route to clean water is paramount in your first few days on the island, and once you establish yourself, this goal shifts to fortifying your position with a base, and perhaps complex spike traps and tree swings. The sheer number of structures you're able to build is impressive, and thankfully The Forest doesn't gate your ingenuity with illusive blueprints. You're given a notebook filled with outlines at the start.

Building has a tangible effect on the island in several ways. Resources like small game and shrubs will respawn over time, but larger trees will remain felled for the entirety of your stay. You might turn a dense forest into an open field of stumps not long after you start, which gives enemies a clearer line of sight into your doings. The more you impose yourself on the island, the more aggressive your aggressors become. Patrols will grow and the more monstrous creatures will emerge from their caves for an all-out assault. The Forest doesn't force you to play in any specific way though, so a more reserved nomadic approach is sometimes safer and more viable. But the sheer delight at seeing an enemy trigger a well-placed trap during a raid is priceless, and well worth the risk of angering the locals.

There's a lot to think about when it comes to surviving in The Forest, but the balance between each of its interlocking parts keeps the game moving at a riveting pace. For every danger the island offers, there's a smart solution around the corner.

Crafting smaller items plays a big part when it comes to personal safety, too. Your inventory screen allows you to combine items you've collected to create new tools; from something as simple as combining a few sticks and stones to make an axe, to creating high-powered explosives using a combination of wristwatches, electrical boards, and spare change. The number of items you can both collect and craft is vast, but the inventory page eventually becomes cumbersome and overwhelming to navigate. And with only four customizable hotkeys, you don't have easy access to everything you want in a pinch.

Although it's constantly testing your perseverance and wants you to feel stretched thin, The Forest never feels overbearing. You'll always be able to depend on your crafted weapons as they aren't hampered by durability. Your pocket lighter will always help you see in the dark, never running out of vital fluid. This reliability frees you from the burden of worrying about the lifespan of any potential upgrades you can make to items too.

Exploration in survival games is usually tied only to your immediate well-being, but The Forest features a narrative that's slowly uncovered by exploration and incidental environmental storytelling. Abandoned camps are a great hunting ground for modern resources and offer hints at past and present events. Putrid remains of long-dead victims aren't an uncommon sight, but you'll also come across small photographs, videotapes and magazines that flesh out a conspiracy with the island at the center.

Uncovering The Forest doesn't have to be a lonely experience, and it offers co-operative play for up to eight people. The time spent getting a fortified settlement up and running is drastically reduced, but remains just as compelling. Co-operative play does, however, deflate the the feeling of being exposed. Larger groups of enemies become easier to deal with, and the fear of diving into caves alone is undercut by both voice chat and the fact that enemies don't scale accordingly. The Forest might be silly fun with friends, but it's at its best when playing alone.

There's a lot to think about when it comes to surviving in The Forest, but the balance between each of its interlocking parts keeps the game moving at a riveting pace. For every danger the island offers, there's a smart solution around the corner. Combined with unpredictable enemies and captivating horror set-pieces, The Forest strikes a compelling balance between survival and horror that you won't soon forget.

Categories: Games

E3 Trailer Shows The Game's Combat Flexibility

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 21:20

OtherSide Entertainment has released a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant, highlighting the flexible systems that players will have at their disposal. In the immersive sim, a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, players have a dizzying array of options for burning, flattening, and destroying their enemies.

Improvisation is a key part of the game's dungeon crawling, and players who pay attention to their surroundings will be rewarded for being perceptive. Take a look at the clip below to see how enemies and environments can be tackled using what's nearby – whether it's using a brazier to set an arrow alight, cutting a rope to squash goblins, or, well, finding plenty of other ways to squash goblins.

 

Look for Underworld Ascendant on PC later this year. For more on the game, take a look at our recent preview.

Categories: Games

E3 Trailer Shows The Game's Combat Flexibility

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 21:20

OtherSide Entertainment has released a new trailer for Underworld Ascendant, highlighting the flexible systems that players will have at their disposal. In the immersive sim, a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld, players have a dizzying array of options for burning, flattening, and destroying their enemies.

Improvisation is a key part of the game's dungeon crawling, and players who pay attention to their surroundings will be rewarded for being perceptive. Take a look at the clip below to see how enemies and environments can be tackled using what's nearby – whether it's using a brazier to set an arrow alight, cutting a rope to squash goblins, or, well, finding plenty of other ways to squash goblins.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Look for Underworld Ascendant on PC later this year. For more on the game, take a look at our recent preview.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Its Fangs

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:43

Just ahead of its June 5 release date, Dontnod has dropped a new Vampyr trailer featuring its Victorian setting and lots of neck-biting.

The developer, whose previous work includes Life is Strange and Remember Me, boasts that each unique citizen can be killed or spared by the vampire protagonist. Each action will summarily affect the fate of the other characters, and of London as a whole. 

Vampyr, despite its infuriating spelling, looks really neat. Dontnod has a great track record in terms of involving storylines, and the combat seems interesting and skill-based. Hopefully this will be a nice reprieve for the dry summer months. 

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Its Fangs

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 17:43

Just ahead of its June 5 release date, Dontnod has dropped a new Vampyr trailer featuring its Victorian setting and lots of neck-biting.

The developer, whose previous work includes Life is Strange and Remember Me, boasts that each unique citizen can be killed or spared by the vampire protagonist. Each action will summarily affect the fate of the other characters, and of London as a whole. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Vampyr, despite its infuriating spelling, looks really neat. Dontnod has a great track record in terms of involving storylines, and the combat seems interesting and skill-based. Hopefully this will be a nice reprieve for the dry summer months. 

Categories: Games

New Trailer Highlights The Action-RPG's Bloody Gameplay Pillars

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:24

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is coming out next week, and there's a lot to do in the action-RPG. Developer Neocore Games has released a lifeline to prospective players in the form of a new trailer. It highlights the game's biggest (and bloodiest) pillars and also shows off plenty of in-game action.

Take a look at the video below to see the game's combat, upgrade paths, cover system, bosses, and much more.

Look for Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 5.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Highlights The Action-RPG's Bloody Gameplay Pillars

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 16:24

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is coming out next week, and there's a lot to do in the action-RPG. Developer Neocore Games has released a lifeline to prospective players in the form of a new trailer. It highlights the game's biggest (and bloodiest) pillars and also shows off plenty of in-game action.

Take a look at the video below to see the game's combat, upgrade paths, cover system, bosses, and much more.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Look for Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 5.

Categories: Games

The Mobile Action Game Shows Off Its Moves

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 22:27

World of Demons, the first PlatinumGames title that's made for mobile phones, has a brand new gameplay trailer.

The new trailer shows off more of the action gameplay people have come to expect from PlatinumGames, as well as some of the title's other features, like the demon summoning and asymmetric multiplayer. You can watch the trailer below.

World of Demons is scheduled for release this summer for both iOS and Android.

Categories: Games

The Mobile Action Game Shows Off Its Moves

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 22:27

World of Demons, the first PlatinumGames title that's made for mobile phones, has a brand new gameplay trailer.

The new trailer shows off more of the action gameplay people have come to expect from PlatinumGames, as well as some of the title's other features, like the demon summoning and asymmetric multiplayer. You can watch the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

World of Demons is scheduled for release this summer for both iOS and Android.

Categories: Games

Agony Review: A Captivating Disappointment

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 17:00

Hell, by its very nature, shouldn't be enjoyed, but there's still something enthralling and entertaining in seeing creators imagine it in various ways. Agony, on the other hand, is less about Hell as a vehicle for entertainment or even fear. Agony's version of Hell is simply a place of unimaginable horror. It is depraved beyond reckoning, a place whose very brick and mortar is composed of atrocities. It is a place that never opens its sick, emaciated maw except to blaspheme and torment. Hell is terrifying in Agony, which goes hand in hand with the fact that the game is also torturous to play.

In Agony, you are a freshly fallen wretch who wakes up at the gates of Hell with his memories--including his true name--burned away during the trip down. Under normal circumstances, it'd be torture time for the rest of eternity, but somehow, the new meat walks through the gates with most of his wits about him, and only one piece of knowledge: that Hell has a guardian angel, the Red Goddess. Only she can help him regain his lost memories, and help him escape perdition. So begins a long, arduous journey of survival horror--closer in function to Clock Tower or Alien Isolation than Resident Evil--to meet the Goddess, and beg for her dark blessing.

Agony's single most breathtaking achievement is Hell itself. It is an enormous, heretical province of terror, the ungodly conceptual Venn diagram between Hieronymous Bosch, H.R. Giger, and Clive Barker. The very ground you wake up on in the game's first level is made of rotting pink flesh, the mortar made from the crushed bodies and blood of the hideous unborn, a process a later cutscene even shows you in great detail. The architecture all around you is a pulsating gothic nightmare, cathedrals of wide-eyed corpses and skeletons, some of whom are still alive, trapped twitching inside for eternity.

It's because the world itself is so impressive that the enemy design then comes across so disappointing and predictable. While beautiful in detail, demons look mostly like the typical Doom interpretation of demons, and female variants tend to veer closer to being strippers-with-sharp-teeth as opposed to something legitimately imaginative. The Red Goddess herself is a near constant source of eyerolls, mostly coming off as a bloodied burlesque performer, with an inappropriately over-the-top voice performance that wouldn't be out of place in a commercial for a sex hotline. There are design elements that push the envelope--mostly centered around some truly unsettling perversions of genitalia--but the game's ham-handed attempts to be sexy, even in a sinister manner, is incongruous with the skin-crawling nature of the rest of the game.

All the wretched humans shambling around Hell--you included--are little more than desiccated revenants. You can walk--or, more accurately, shuffle along at a snail's pace--perform a limited sprint, and jump. There are no weapons to be had, though you can pick up torches, which provide light, but little else. When you come across an enemy, you have only three options: run or hide. You can technically sneak around, and there’s even a power-up to be gained later that supposedly lessens the noise you make. It is still very, very easy to be heard and seen, hiding spots aren't always close by, and aside from a rising musical sting, there’s no indicator of where exactly an enemy is in relation to you.

There's only a few different classes of enemy you see throughout your play time, ranging from swarms of insects to Lovecraftian behemoths that can snatch up your soul. With only a couple of exceptions, getting caught by an enemy is typically a one- or two-hit death. As such, an hour's work can be flushed down the toilet just by hitting the wrong enemy in a group. Later on, you can actually possess a few classes of demon, but this is never as empowering or thrilling as you might expect. Agony doesn't seem to know how to capitalize on its most promising aspects.

You do, however, have one big trick up your shriveled sleeve: if you should die another death in Hell, your soul can actually fly out of your current body, and forcibly possess another. That's only if you can find a vulnerable victim, though, and pull off the black shroud preventing them from being possessed. Otherwise, after about 10-15 seconds of being dead again, your soul dies a true death. The trick of it is not just finding the last person you unshrouded, but typically finding them in a maze, with an extremely limited and obscured field of vision while disembodied. If/when you die, the Goddess keeps you in Hell, though, and sends you back to the last checkpoint. Even then, checkpoints are a whole other problem. They're represented by a special mirror, where a soul must be sacrificed, but the mirrors are hidden deep in each level. Agony treats basic progressional milestones the way most games treat obscure collectibles.

The checkpoint issue is one tiny facet of the game's overarching issue: Hell is too big for its own good. Your one navigational tool, the Destiny Lines, sends out a little neon cluster of lights that can point you in the right direction, but often the cluster gets just as confused as you are, leading you through walls or ceilings, instead of along a proper route, which can be difficult to discern in the chaotic and painfully dim environments. In addition, on the game's default difficulty, the Lines are a limited resource. The idea here is sound, if the idea was, in fact, to make surviving in Hell feel like a Sisyphean struggle, wandering a realm that mortal men have no mastery over. It doesn't make for an enjoyable experience.

When you're not losing chunks of progress, the rest of the game pits you up against two types of glorified scavenger hunts: collecting a small number of important objects and arranging them in a very specific way to open a door, or finding the correct sigil among dozens written in the environment that will unlock the next area. The first kind is usually easy enough, though oddly, the most difficult one in the game is right at the beginning, where you're thrown into an expansive labyrinth full of enemies, and no way to save your progress when you've grabbed any of the resources you need to continue. Others are easier, but still more of a trudging annoyance than anything. The second kind involves exploring around to find the sigil, often involving backtracks into dangerous areas, only to get back to the door and discover the sigil you picked up doesn't unlock your door. This kind of slow and infuriating repetition typifies Agony from start to finish.

These are issues ironically exacerbated by the fact that it's all taking place in one of the most abominable, depressing, and fundamentally disgusting environments imaginable. Worst of all, you grow numb to Agony's uniquely repulsive flair over time. You start thinking about the environment in practical nonplussed terms, instead of the grim wonder that strikes you in the beginning. Distress turns to disinterest, then--even as the bigger revelations about the protagonist and the nature of his torture come to light--turn to total apathy. I entered Agony’s Gates of Hell with a slack-jawed gasp. It is such a disappointment to have to have left it with a shrug.

Categories: Games

New Screenshots Show Off Gory Thrills

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 16:08

10 Chambers Collective, an indie Swedish company led by Payday developers, made waves last year when it revealed the horror-focused co-op game GTFO. The trailer was brief but got the message across: you and your friends work together to complete objectives while fending off nasty monsters.

We haven't heard much about the game, developed on the Unity engine, since that trailer. However, today 10 Chambers Collective revealed some goopy screenshots that give you a good idea of the level of violence you can expect from the game, as well as a glimpse of a jellyfish-lookin' monster. Scroll down below to see all the screens.

GTFO is due out this year and 10 Chambers Collective says that the game will be playable at E3. For more on GTFO, you can watch the reveal trailer here.

Categories: Games

New Screenshots Show Off Gory Thrills

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 16:08

10 Chambers Collective, an indie Swedish company led by Payday developers, made waves last year when it revealed the horror-focused co-op game GTFO. The trailer was brief but got the message across: you and your friends work together to complete objectives while fending off nasty monsters.

We haven't heard much about the game, developed on the Unity engine, since that trailer. However, today 10 Chambers Collective revealed some goopy screenshots that give you a good idea of the level of violence you can expect from the game, as well as a glimpse of a jellyfish-lookin' monster. Scroll down below to see all the screens.

GTFO is due out this year and 10 Chambers Collective says that the game will be playable at E3. For more on GTFO, you can watch the reveal trailer here.

Categories: Games

New Soulcalibur VI Trailer Showcases Maxi's Return

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 15:33

Time to get your swashbuckle on. Maxi, The Dandy Of The South Seas, is heading to SoulCalibur VI.

The fan-favorite pirate has been a part of the series since the first entry. You can watch VI's version of the nunchaku-wielding fighter in action right here in this recently released trailer:

Soulcalibur VI is due out sometime this year. For more on the game check out The Witcher's Geralt, an unlockable character,  in action here.

Categories: Games

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