I Am Iron Man

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 12:59

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Camouflaj Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation VR

For at least ten years, since Iron Man introduced the Marvel Cinematic Universe, people have idly wondered how cool it would be to put on the Iron Man suit. Everyone has some kind of superhero daydream, such as flying like Superman or swinging through the city as Spider-Man, but the idea being Iron Man always felt potentially glorious in its own different way. Now, armed with a VR helmet and motion controls, we can finally start getting there.

Announced at PlayStation’s State of Play video, Sony clearly wanted to put their best foot forward and begin with one of the biggest licenses in the world in the form of Iron Man as a PlayStation VR title. Considering this is another Sony-exclusive Marvel title hot off the heels of Insomniac’s Spider-Man, it is likely people expect a game with that same level of polish and meticulously crafted world-building as last year’s webslinging open-world title. After spending some time playing Marvel’s Iron Man VR, it doesn’t look like it will be that. But that’s okay, because the game Iron Man VR does seem to be is still pretty cool.

It’s hard to explain how the game functions without explaining the controls, which are somewhat key to completing the Iron Man virtual cosplay. In your hand are two Move controllers and their positioning around your body is key. Keeping them slightly above your waist with your wrists facing down lets you hover, while pushing them back behind you rockets your robot suit forward like you’re skiing downhill and trying to pick up speed. Raising your hands up and letting the move controller fall to the side so that your palm is facing forward activates your repulsor beams. There are some smaller things around the periphery of these core movements, but these are the foundations for how you move around the world.

The first stage in the game is a tutorial level where you, as the eponymous Iron Man, are running a training session outside the California home seen in the comics and movies that bear the same name. I was pretty surprised by the amount of freedom you get in exploration when flying around. The entire beachhead is available to the player, though I didn’t try to venture too far away from the designated area. When flying, the full 360 degrees around you is your playground, so you will often have to turn around physically to get to wherever you need to go.

It was at the end of this mission that the developer running my demo lifted up a headphone earpad and told me not to take a step forward because I had wrapped the length of the PlayStation VR cord around my legs.

The second mission was touched upon in Sony’s State of Play reveal trailer, where Tony Stark’s plane explodes thanks to what appears to be Ghost having hijacked the controls and the billionaire is sucked out the side of the aircraft. While the abridged reveal trailer seemed to imply this mission would be on-rails, it is anything but, giving you the full freedom to fly around very on-fire plane and defend it from incoming drones. While battling the drones, I found myself falling because I wasn’t maintaining my verticality, as well increasing my distance to the plane because I wasn’t actively chasing after it. There wasn’t a whole lot else in the sky, but this freedom to disconnect myself from the mission objective at its peril was unexpected.

Camouflaj mentioned to me that further missions would have things like side objectives and exploration and it is easy to see the foundation for it even early on.

As Tony fixes the various parts of the plane by cooling the engines or pulling out the landing gear, eventually the private jet is declared forfeit, and Stark has to rescue Pepper Potts from the emergency exit. It’s strange to describe simply chasing a plane down as thrilling, but it was undeniably fun to push the controllers behind me and dodge debris to try and get there in time. It felt like being Iron Man, which I would imagine is a stated goal somewhere in this game’s design document.

The demo ended there, but I was actually surprised how much I ended up enjoying it. It won’t be to Iron Man games what Spider-Man is to open-world superhero games, but it does seem more polished and interesting than I expected from a licensed VR game. In that sense, Iron Man VR does indeed have all the potential to be the best Iron Man game, though it remains to be seen if the rest of the game manages to do more than step over that bar.

Categories: Games

Samurai Shodown Unveils Darli, The Series' First New Character In A Long Time

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 04/02/2019 - 02:50
Publisher: SNK Developer: SNK Release: Summer 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

During the PAX East panel for SNK over the weekend, the fighting game developer revealed their first major new character for Samurai Shodown. Named Darli Dagger, she makes for not only the first new character for the game, but the first new character in years for the series.

Dagger makes up the first of a trio of new characters for Samurai Shodown, which has already made waves by being greenlit for Evo later this year despite not being released yet. Despite her last name, she wields a giant sawblade, and appears to be influenced by Polynesian pirates around the 18th century. 

Unfortunately, there's no gameplay footage of Dagger yet, but we should see some before too long. You can, however, see footage of us playing a recent build on a New Gameplay Today from last month. Samurai Shodown releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this summer, with a Switch version coming later this year.

Categories: Games

The World Next Door Review - Adorable Anime Angst

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 23:50

The World Next Door feels like it's a video game adaption of some manga or anime, which isn't too surprising. Rose City Games' visual-novel-meets-puzzle-battle game is published by anime and manga distributor Viz Media and features anime-inspired characters designed by artist Lord Gris. The game wears its inspirations on its sleeve, incorporating popular manga and anime tropes into its story. While the cast is fun to interact with and the game's combat a blast to play, there are certain aspects of The World Next Door's narrative that feels a little too stereotypical--especially in regards to most characters' portrayal.

In The World Next Door, you play as Jun, a human teenager who's lucky enough to win a ticket that allows her to visit the land of Emrys--a parallel world connected to Earth via both the internet and a magical portal that opens up for a few days every 20 years. Her trip in Emrys suddenly takes a dark turn when she fails to return to the portal before it closes, as humans can only last a few days in Emrys before they die. Jun teams up with her friend Liza, an Emrys native who's been communicating with Jun for months as a pen pal, to figure out a means of reopening the portal and getting home. The two enlist the help of a few of Liza's acquaintances as well, culminating in a party of seven when all is said and done.

The World Next Door is divided into two portions, with visual novel gameplay framing Jun's journey into four puzzle-battle game dungeons. The bulk of the game takes place in the visual novel portion, seeing you choose dialogue options and actions during conversations, complete fetch quests for Liza's friends, and figure out which three people you want to text in your precious allotment of limited free time each day. You do get some control in how Jun behaves, allowing you to make her nice, vengeful, flirty, sheepish, or bored. However, your choices don't influence the outcome of the overall story, instead shaping the direction of the conversations along the way.

Most of the game's anime inspirations come through in the visual novel gameplay, with many of the characters' personalities and designs fitting the implied archetypes of their appearance. The demonic-looking Horace, for example, acts like a sarcastic badass who's always ready for a fight. The blond-haired, pretty, always-has-a-cellphone-in-her-hand Lux, meanwhile, is a gossip with a vain need to always be the center of attention.

It works at first, especially as a means of quickly establishing the personalities of Jun's new friends. Even if you've never read a manga or watched an anime in your life, you'll probably be able to pick up each character's habits and temperament at a glance. However, none of the characters truly grow outside of their respective archetypes over the course of The World Next Door's campaign. Some grow as people, for sure, but they're minor, stereotypical transformations--like an increase in confidence or a newfound willingness to share their feelings. None of it really feels earned, either. Jun's friends just suddenly open up to her and accept each other without much prodding, despite which conversation options you choose. The one exception is Liza, who reveals a surprisingly intriguing detail in the final arc of The World Next Door's story. Trading quips with Horace or admonishing Vesper for the crime of putting pineapple on pizza may spark a chuckle or two, but Liza is the only one with any worthwhile growth.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't get to know the other characters. There are plenty of hilarious conversations to be had in The World Next Door, and it's absolutely worth your time talking to someone whenever you have a chance. If you do, you'll also learn more about the culture and history of the world of Emrys. Side conversations between story missions flesh out the fantastical land Jun finds herself trapped in. Even if it isn't necessary to get to know every character in order to complete the game, the promise of learning another fascinating fact about Emrys pushes you to chase down your companions between missions. It's an excellent reward for taking the time to explore.

The World Next Door plays like the first arc of something more, ending right when it seems like it's about to deliver the experience you want.

In the process of getting to know every character, however, I did encounter an unfortunate bug. In order to complete a favor for angelic straight-A student Cerisse, you are tasked with completing a riddle that involves using the runes on the floor of a room. However, when I entered the room, the runes never showed up. Even after resetting the puzzle, restarting the entire mission, and exiting the game and loading an old save, the runes still refused to appear. Thankfully, completing Cerisse's quest isn't mandatory for moving on in the main story, but missing out on the possible conversations that mission could have sparked is disappointing.

It's also disappointing that your conversation choices seemingly always lead to the same final large decision at The World Next Door's end. Also, unless I'm missing something, there's a pretty huge plot thread that remains unresolved regardless of which path you go with. Perhaps The World Next Door is being set up as the opening chapter of a larger story, but, as is, its narrative feels incomplete.

The World Next Door spends too little time in the other portion of its gameplay, the puzzle battles, as well, which is a shame as they're all pretty fun despite their simplicity. Throughout The World Next Door, you explore four different dungeons, each of which is inhabited by its own unique enemies. Upon entering a new room, you are thrown into battle and the floor is painted with an assortment of differently colored runes. Stepping on any spot of the map where at least three runes of the same color are touching allows you to perform a magical action. Three red runes, for example, let you send a fireball towards the nearest enemy, while purple runes summon a black hole to slow others down. You can drag runes from one spot of the room to another in order to get three of one color together, and dragging together more than three runes of the same color allows you to cast a more powerful version of the spell. All the while, the enemies in the room scurry after you, attempting to deliver a fatal blow.

Combat in The World Next Door is very simple to pick up, so by halfway through the main campaign--when the game starts throwing new types of enemies at you that do more than swipe at Jun's ankles--you're ready. These new enemies inject some welcome strategy into each battle, creating frantic matches of cat and mouse where you're trying to navigate around the room, dodge enemy attacks, and scan for the next rune you need to launch your counteroffensive. One of the best enemies in The World Next Door are these terrifying wraith-like creatures that attack by using the same runes that Jun does, so you have to constantly be aware of their position and try to lead them away from the runes that you're grouping together because your own attack might be used against you if you're not careful.

Battles can get challenging at times, but they're always finished in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, so they're rarely stressful. But The World Next Door never sets up clever encounters that test your reflexes and strategic ability until the latter half of its campaign, resulting in a first half that--though fun--is both a smidge too easy and feels uninspired.

The World Next Door plays like the first arc of something more, ending right when it seems like it's about to deliver the experience you want. The cast of characters are genuinely funny at times, and getting to know them has its benefits, but the story ends before most have a chance to really grow and mature. Worse, an interesting plot point that Liza introduces into the story near the game's end is never satisfyingly resolved. The combat portion has similar shortcomings. Though the puzzle battles are frantic bouts of fast-paced fun, the most interesting enemies and bosses are introduced in the latter half of the game, leaving combat in the first two dungeons too simple. Ultimately, there's enjoyment to be had with The World Next Door, but the game takes too long to start leaning into its strengths.

Categories: Games

Devil May Cry 5's Bloody Palace Is Now Available

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 21:35
Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: March 8, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

It's been less than a month since Devil May Cry 5 and you might have done everything with the game you can reasonably do right now. Capcom promised the Bloody Palace update, which lets players traverse the many enemy-filled floors of a combat gauntlet, would come to the game in April. Usually that means late April, but Capcom has gone ahead and released it on the very first day of the month.

You can go ahead and update right now to get access to the gauntlet.

Bloody Palace pits you against 101 floors of enemies and bosses as whichever character you choose. Your opponents are preset, so you'll be fighting bosses in Bloody Palace that you never fought using that character in the campaign. Want to see how Dante would fare against Goliath? Now's your chance, but you have to do it all in one go.

Datamines have suggested other features are down the line for Devil May Cry 5, such as new characters, but there's been no confirmation from Capcom as of yet. Until then, start working your way through Bloody Palace. It's no cakewalk. You can check out our review for the game, which is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, right here.

Categories: Games

Rage 2 Pre-Order Incentive Adds NBA Jam Announcer To The Action

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 19:15

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Publisher: Bethesda Softworks Developer: Avalanche Studios Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Today is April Fools' Day which is code for don't believe anything you see on the internet. This feels like one of those "pranks", but this is a legitimate thing you can actually add to Rage 2 when it comes out on May 14, as confirmed by Bethesda on its YouTube channel.

If you pre-order the game, you will be able to add Tim Kitzrow, of NBA Jam fame, to your game. He will narrate the action, use his iconic phrases, and create a bunch of hopefully new iconic phrases like, "You just sliced their head right off!"

For more on Rage 2, click the big old banner below for all of the features from when we had the game on our cover.

For more on Tim Kitzrow, you can check out our chat with him from a November 2017 episode of The Game Informer Show below.

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Categories: Games

Star Renegades Is A Stylish Roguelite RPG

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 04/01/2019 - 17:57

At PAX East 2019, I checked out an upcoming tactical roguelite RPG, Star Renegades. The stylish artstyle captured my attention immediately, but the combat and mechanics ensured that this indie from Massive Damage stays on my radar to launch.

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With combos and characters, players build relationships between characters that allow them to come together to perform special abilities in combat. Characters can even be taken by the enemy and converted to foes that you may have to battle down the line - the narrative changes based on your squad's survival over the course of the game, where good friends and allies could potentially become your adversaries. Not only does your squad form lasting bonds and relationships, they can also spawn heirs that fill your ranks with even more options and tactics.

As you move through the universe through an overworld map, you find new ways to kit out and equip your squad. Nothing is random in combat in Star Renegades, so you know exactly what the outcome is going to be when selecting an attack or skill - if things go south, it's on you. Despite the somewhat punishing nature of battle with big stakes on the line in every conflict, it was easy to get sucked in to the systems, leaving me looking for a whole lot more interplanetary rebellion.

Star Renegades is expected to release in 2020.

Categories: Games

Wacky Local Co-Op Adventures In Heave Ho

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 19:01

Heave Ho is pure silliness in the form of a local co-op experience. At PAX East 2019, I had the chance to check out the experience of little avatars attempting to squiggle their way to victory, a sort of party game that's designed for plenty of interaction between players.  While the controls are simple, the experience of moving your character to the finish line with the other players can be anything but. Using your hands, you've got to grip, jump, and slide your way around dangerous maps. If you're feeling really bold you can try to collect bonus coins to unlock cosmetics, which can also be unlocked by playing or participating in random mini-games that pop up from time to time.

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Hand over hand, things can go wrong in a hurry, leading you to fall to your doom or crash up against deadly spikes. If one of your friends is really good, they might be able to carry you to the finish line, quite literally, by attempting to hold your hand through dangerous twists and jumps. Working together is where Heave Ho shines, but it can be equally fun to just mess around and topple to the bottom of the board over and over again. If you die, you respawn right back at the start to try again - or to do some more dumb stuff and enjoy another hilarious demise.

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Heave Ho is coming to PC and Switch this summer. 

Categories: Games

Sega Announces Multiple Games For The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 18:17

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Publisher: SEGA Release: Winter 2019 Platform: Switch

Sega has announced four separate games to coincide with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, though three of them are versions of the one we already know: Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

In a trailer mixes footage of the four games with a quasi-inspirational montage of old Olympic footage, we see the four games in action. First, there's Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - The Official Video Game, which looks to be a more traditional collection of games based on Olympic sports. This one has regular people compete in the games instead of iconic, disproportionate mascots. This one is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC sometime in 2020.

From there, things get a bit funky. There's of course a new version of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games coming this winter, but this one is Switch exclusive. If you don't own a Swtich, you can still get your fix this summer by going to an arcade to play Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Arcade Edition, which will probably not have Yun or Yang in it. Finally, we have the iOS version of the game, which will exclude half of series' namesake and simply be titled Sonic at the Olympic Games. That one is also out this summer.

Categories: Games

Sega Brings The Series Back After Nearly 10 Years

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 17:07

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Publisher: SEGA Release: Spring 2020 Platform: PlayStation 4

Sega has announced the return of the long-dormant Sakura Wars series with a new entry on PlayStation 4 set to release next year.

Project Sakura Wars (working title, of course) is set in a "romanticized version of 1940s Imperial Tokyo," 10 years after the end of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (which released in the US back in 2010 on the PlayStation 2 and Wii). As with the rest of the series, Sakura Wars is a mix of action and adventure, with the return of the LIPS dialogue system, which makes dialogue options (which affect your trust with certain characters, as well as the potential ending of the game) more active affairs. It also has you fighting inside mechs called "spiricle armors," which leans into that "romanticized" version of Tokyo, I suppose.

The game will feature only Japanese voice acting, but will have subtitles English, German French, and Spanish. It's set to release in spring of 2020.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With Divinity: Fallen Heroes

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 01:29

Developer: Larian Studios

Everyone knows how awesome Divinity: Original Sin 2 is, right? So why stop there – many of the characters and skills are back for another round in Divinity: Fallen Heroes. Instead of being a sprawling narrative like D:OS2, this is a more tactically-focused title, bringing a set of heroes and characters into fight after fight. Since the combat in D:OS2 is awesome, this game seems like a pretty good idea, and I had a chance to play through a battle at PAX East 2019.

First off, the demo is pretty difficult. I was told that only around 10% of the people that attempted it completed it successfully. I would like to say that I was among that heralded group, but alas, I got stomped. After some exposition, I got to select my team. I recognized one of my favorite characters from D:OS2, Lohse, so I picked her first. After that, I got to select from a pretty diverse pool of "standard" characters, stuff like mages, archers, rogues, soldiers, healers. Basically a big old box of fantasy RPG archetypes to draw from. Then to make things even more interesting, I got to pick a few special items to take into combat as well. There were many choices, but I settled on a magical healing apple and a cowbell. The cowbell polymorphs an enemy into a cow, so that pretty much won me over on the demo right then and there.

The combat is essentially exactly as players remember from D:OS2. Some abilities have been changed slightly for balance reasons, and there are new elements on the battlefield that make for interesting interactions. Some magical gunpowdery stuff littered the ground all over the battlefield, and could be triggered to create an explosion with a potent knockback blast. My mission was to destroy several giant ballistas that fired upon my team every round, so coming up with a strategy to defeat them swiftly was the task. Instead of focusing on the ballistas, I quickly became mired in many small combats with annoying enemies, taking up all of my time and action points, and my team eventually fell. But at least I got to turn one of them into a cow.

The notion of "Divinity meets XCOM" is a fairly seductive game concept, and based on what I've seen so far, we're looking at another win for Larian here. There's no date for release yet, but I can't wait to mix up my team comp and take another crack at those ballistas when it arrives.

Categories: Games

Horror Anthology The Dark Pictures Gets New Developer Diary

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 20:10
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Supermassive Games Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Supermassive Games, developers of the PlayStation 4 horror game Until Dawn, is working on an anthology series titled The Dark Pictures. The first episode, Man of Medan, is slated for release sometime in 2019, but to showcase some of what the team has been working on, there is a new developer diary to check out. It's only a few minutes long, but it dives into the work behind the boat's physics, and what went into capturing accurate audio out on the open ocean.

A huge amount of work went into not only recording all the audio of a boat in a storm, but also the animations of a character on a turbulent boat ride. Little is said about the actual narrative direction or characters, but you can see some glimpses of the game in action.

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If you can't wait to see what the team has in store, take a look at the video. You can also watch the first dev diary on the game's sound design, or read our hands-on with the game.

Categories: Games

Hands-On With Tactical RPG Mistover

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 18:01

At PAX East 2019, I went hands on with the roguelike tactical RPG Mistover. In a nutshell, it's like what would happen if Darkest Dungeon and Etrian Odyssey had a baby. An anime baby. Featuring a cool cast of characters including witches and grim reapers, the stylized combat loaded with tough choices is the highlight of the experience, but moving around the map from encounter to encounter comes with its own set of interesting foibles as well.

You can hide in bushes, eat food, discover keys and treasure, and basically plot your course through the unknown in search of the dungeon exit. There's a tough decision to be made even after you find it - should you stick around and hunt down more loot, or get out as soon as possible? Death is permanent, and the monsters don't mess around. One wrong turn could very well be your last. Don't worry too much though, as you can always recruit more adventurers to tweak and perfect your team.

If you get into a fight (you can attempt to avoid them by using the environment, which is a smart move), that's where the action gets going. Combat relies on each character having a vast array of skills that can help them buff, debuff, attack, and position to help things go smoothly. Arranging how your team is laid out during the course of combat is critical, and luckily there are plenty of abilities to assist with that, like a paladin scooting up a few squares with a charge attack. While there are bread-and-butter basic attacks and the like, many abilities come with risk/reward choices that have you constantly debating your next plan; should you risk attacking with a big critical hit that might debuff you as a side effect? How long is the fight going to last? After keying in each move, there's a stylish animation segment as the skill plays out. 

Mistover is coming out this summer to Switch and PC, and I can't wait to go crawling through the darkness with my anime pals.

Categories: Games

Six Things To Know About World War Z

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 17:20

Publisher: Mad Dog, Focus Home Interactive Developer: Saber Interactive Release: April 16, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Max Brooks' bestselling novel World War Z was a natural candidate to make the leap from print to film, and even though the 2013 cinematic adaptation had almost nothing in common with the original fictitious oral history, it made half a billion dollars and extended the value of the brand.

A video game adaptation seemed inevitable, and now Focus Home Interactive and Saber Interactive are less than a month away from unleashing their interactive take on World War Z. I recently played an extended segment of the game to see how it's shaping up. Here are the big takeaways.

The Game Uses Both The Film And Book As Inspiration

Saber Interactive convinced Paramount to endorse a video game adaptation of World War Z, but the studio knew development could get tricky trying to recruit A-list stars like Brad Pitt to make the crossover. Instead, the studio found inspiration in the original book, choosing to avoid Hollywood complications altogether and opt for a short-stories approach. Each of the four episodes is set in a different part of the world and stars a unique group of four survivors. The base game takes players to Jerusalem, Moscow, New York, and Tokyo, and each location has three levels that tell the story of how these survivors game together. 

Holy Crap There Are A Lot Of Zombies

When Saber Interactive set out to build a World War Z game, the team knew it wanted to flood the maps with zombies so it looked like the movies. The problem was none of the third-party engines they considered could handle that without significantly compromising graphical fidelity. Rather than settle, Saber instead built a new engine from the ground up. The Swarm Engine is purposefully built to handle up to 500 zombies on the screen at one time.

These zombies don't mess around. A high volume will pile up to clear vertical obstacles and charge at you with wild abandon. Untended swarms will often form a thick ring of death around you, but Saber handily relocated the melee attack to the right bumper so you can pull out a machete (or another melee weapon) and start hacking away without having to swap out your weapon. Every level has at least one swarm encounter where the zombies pour in by the hundreds and the squad needs to hunker down and take care of business. When facing these overwhelming odds, it's smart to set up some defense kits like machine-gun turrets and mortars to cut through their ranks.

Missions Feel A Lot Like Left 4 Dead

A four-player cooperative experience, the World War Z campaign is built around teamplay. As with other team-centric experiences like Payday and Left 4 Dead, your group won't last long if it doesn't stick together.

Certain special enemy types require more coordination than others. Lurkers pin players to the ground. Bulls charge into the group and deal massive damage. Screamers can attract more enemies to the location, and hazmats drop stink bombs that drain health. Taking care of these special enemies when they appear should be the priority before laying waste to the dozens of regular zombies charging your position.

Since World War Z throws a lot of enemies at you at once, Saber isn't interested in creating a resource-scarce environment. A healthy amount of ammo and resupply points are provided in each level, but an A.I. director keeps squads on their toes. Saber designed each level, but several variables like equipment drops and obstacles are randomized each playthough to make the missions replayable. Saber also recorded four variables of each line of dialogue for the characters to keep the game feeling somewhat fresh.  

If your group handles the swarm with ease, you can test your mettle with five difficulty levels. Each time you up the difficulty friendly fire becomes more damaging, so it's important not to cut in front of your teammates. 

A Class System Differentiates Characters

World War Z caters to many different playstyles with the five character classes. The gunslinger is your classic assault class, armed with an automatic rifle and grenades. The fixer is a support role that can drop supply crates with explosive damage and boost the damage rating of the squad. As you'd expect, the medic is the healing class, but it can also give boosts to the squad's resilience. The hellraiser is a demolitionist armed with explosives like remote detonated C4. Armed with a shotgun and molotov cocktail, the exterminator is all about the crowd control.

You earn in-game currency by performing well in missions, which in turn lets you customize your experience by purchasing perks for each of the classes. Weapons also have their own progression path, and you can unlock new versions of each weapon. For instance, you could choose to buy a silenced assault rifle if your squad wants to move stealthily, or you could unlock a version with an ACOG scope and more stopping power.

You Can Fight Other Players Amidst A Zombie Threat

In addition to the cooperative campaign, World War Z supports eight-player competitive multiplayer in five different modes. However, these aren't just pure versus experiences; don't be surprised to see a zombie horde descend on the position in the middle of a match. The battles then become a juggling match of strategic priorities. Do you team up with your competitors to vanquish the invading horde, or do you keep your sights trained on your human enemy?

Saber Plans To Release More Episodes Post-Launch

Cooperative games like Left 4 Dead and Payday tend to have long tails if supported right by the developers, and Saber Interactive is very aware of that fact. When I asked about post-release content, I was told they plan to extend the life of the game with new stories, characters, settings, and competitive game modes. 

World War Z releases for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16.

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Categories: Games

Remedy Breaks Down One Of Control’s Big Mysteries: The Astral Plane

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 15:19

Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Remedy Entertainment Release: August 27, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

At the end of the E3 2018 trailer that announced Control, we saw protagonist Jesse float toward a black inverted triangle against a white backdrop. Remedy later revealed that this final moment in the teaser takes place in the Astral Plane, an otherworldly area that Jesse frequents during her journey.

Communications director Thomas Puha describes the Astral Plane as “another dimension closely tied to The Oldest House.” The Oldest House is Control’s setting; it acts as the headquarters for the Bureau of Control, a government-run division that seeks out paranormal phenomena for containment and research. It’s a “shifting place,” and all sorts of other dimensions seep into this building, thus creating the Astral Plane.

Jesse fights enemies, learns new abilities, and discovers more about the peculiar predicament she’s found herself in by exploring the Astral Plane. We saw glimpses of this place in a hands-off demo during our cover-story trip. The Astral Plane has a vagueness to its aesthetic, contrasting a stark white background with more cubic shapes and sharp edges on the ground's platforms. There is no horizon in the distance and no borders to the endless white around you, which gives the eerie feeling that you're surrounded by the unknown. 

When Jesse comes in contact with an Object of Power, which are items altered by a paranormal entity, she is transported to the Astral Plane to prove her worth as she attempts to bind to a new ability.

“Objects of Power are at the root of what the Astral Plane is,” says game director Mikael Kasurinen. “When you get in contact with an Object of Power, it leads you to access this strange reality. There are all kinds of entities and beings and elements at play in the Astral Plane that we want to – well, we are going to keep our cards close to our chests with that for a bit.”

The Astral Plane is much more than a tutorial for when you acquire new powers. It’s also an environment where you encounter boss battles. For example, we saw a brief instance where Jesse went head-to-head with a large tentacle monster whose eye shot out projectiles from its pupil.  

Remedy hinted that the Astral Plane plays a big part in Control’s lore, but exactly how this all ties together narratively is something the team is remaining tight-lipped about.

“There is a lot of mystery surrounding the Astral Plane, which we want to keep,” says narrative designer Brooke Maggs.


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Categories: Games

Operencia: The Stolen Sun Review - A Journey Far, Far Away

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 14:00

In English, most fairy tales lead with the phrase "once upon a time." In Hungarian, they begin with the word "Operencia," which roughly translates to "far, far away." And that's exactly where Operencia: The Stolen Sun transports you--to a realm steeped in magic and mystery, wonderfully detached from all things real.

Operencia is a dungeon-crawler RPG set in a fantasy world. It begins by plunging you into the salivating jaws of a three-headed dragon. However, as soon as you slay the colossal serpent, the prologue ends. Before you know it you're no longer a dragonslayer, but a runaway farmhand determined to follow their dreams. Those mad powers you had ten seconds ago? Gone. You'll have to make your own destiny if you're to retrieve the mythical land's stolen sun.

Composed of 13 different levels, the world of Operencia boasts some breathtaking vistas. You explore a variety of locations, from the murky depths of a castle cursed by tears to the metal wilds of The Copper Forest--which is infested with copper soldiers sporting chainsaw-like utensils for hands. The diversity of the game's art makes for a journey that is at all times fresh, awe-inspiring, and wonder-inducing. Its bright colors and intricate art style create an aesthetic that complements the mystique imbued in its magic, and it boasts a score that screams tales of monsters and creepy crawlies told around the warm hearth of a dirty tavern. This envelops you in a world of imagination and fantasy, more concerned with evoking a sense of wonder than any sort of fantasy realism.

After you embark on your journey across this fantastical realm, you slowly begin to come across a whole host of intriguing companions. These characters all speak in pre-written conversations, leaving you no option to intervene with your own dialogue. However, conversations between characters are so well-written that it doesn't really matter. The banter between companions while resting at bonfires--which replenishes your health and energy--is no less arresting. Every companion you come across is their own person and has their own sense of humor--the witty Joska hurls jests at everyone in the party, whereas the strong-willed Kela ensures that you don't falter on your quest. I enjoyed sitting back and drinking in the conversation more so than I experienced a longing to interject with my own thoughts. This world is so wonderfully weird that it's better for telling you its stories, rather than affording you the chance to write your own one within it.

Combat in Operencia is fast-paced, fluid, and engaging. It revolves around turn-based mechanics, involving a mix of physical, ranged, and magic attacks. The magic attacks utilize a strength/weakness system based on elemental typing such as frost, lightning, and fire. Your build can either lean heavily into one fighting style, or encompass all of them in order to gain versatility at the expense of specialization. While maxing out a single stat allows you to deal devastating damage in some cases, immunities can render you completely ineffective if you've overcommitted to one particular attribute. I played as a mage, as I usually do in fantasy RPGs, but without my Strength-based companions I would have been Ancient Elemental bait before I could say abracadabra. After battles, you'll gain experience and loot. For every level you gain, you'll get three ability points to pump into attributes. Leveling up feels well-rewarded, and the game allows you to carve out a combat niche for yourself with its myriad permutations of attribute/ability point combos.

Managing the ability cooldowns and energy point costs of each individual character in your four-person team can be tough, especially in the late-game when a mistake can mean death, or game over if you're playing with permadeath enabled. As a result, it's important to play smart. Even the strongest of enemies can be quickly incapacitated if you're willing to exploit their weaknesses and be savvy with your potions.

Operencia's combat takes customary turn-based RPG mechanics and makes them feel fresh with its own pacing and style. The only thing it could use is a little bit more versatility, as at times it feels as if your own character is a bit vanilla compared to the more advanced predetermined builds boasted by late-game companions. At the same time, you have seven characters to build a team of four from, so you can always change things up if frost spam is starting to get a little watery. As for enemies, there is a whole range of different beasties of all shapes and sizes who would love to eat you for dinner. Some of their niches can be very annoying, but not in a way that seems unfair.

Traversal in Operencia is tile-based, creating opportunities for intriguing environmental puzzles. However, at times this system complicates attempts to look at the finer details of the world's beauty. There were moments where I wanted to look at objects caught between tiles or move an inch closer to the horizon in order to take the perfect screenshot, but I couldn't because the traversal system got in the way.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun transports you to a realm steeped in magic and mystery, wonderfully detached from all things real

Most of Operencia's puzzles are excellently designed. In one case, you have to defeat four powerful enemies, all of whom drop a token. These tokens are then placed in slots around a magic circle; you need to place each one in the right position, and then spin the circle's three tiers to match animals with the tokens' likeness. This might seem like the kind of puzzle you'd come across in similar RPGs, but Operencia's aesthetic really makes the solution feel special. Before you know it, a surge of color and light encapsulates the circle and magical powers begin to work in wonderful and mysterious ways.

The puzzles that aren't solved by environmental manipulation or visual prompts usually require you to use creative key items, which range from magic shovels to griffin feathers. These feathers can be attached to any object with a feather marked on it, and cause that object to become drastically lighter. This allows you to uproot trees and move heavy weights with the flick of a wrist. You even get magic beans to grow beanstalks with! The puzzles get progressively harder as you make your way through the game, but are almost always intuitive and fair.

Some don't fit this formula, though. While optional puzzles used to unlock secrets and legendary items are understandably best fitted with esoteric solutions, ones that are tied to story progression shouldn't be as niche as they are. On one occasion, I spent almost an hour and a half looking for one of four keys, all of which were used to unlock a series of doors that led to the mould for yet another key. While the first of these was an easy find, the second one was randomly hidden far away from the cave and could only be found by using the magic shovel in a certain area. This made me decide to scour the whole map looking for hidden doors and buried treasure, of which I found neither.

As it turns out, the third key is actually obtained by returning to a melting pot I used to acquire a different key. There are so many keys. When I solved the puzzle I felt annoyed, not relieved. And I still had one more to get. Lo and behold, the fourth key was right in front of the last door, requiring no puzzles or exploration. After such arbitrary solutions to the previous puzzles, this was subversive. It was also incredibly irritating. I couldn't stay annoyed for long though, as the joyous booming of your relieved companions is infectious, and the game picks up so quickly that you're bounding onward into the next dungeon before you can get sufficiently annoyed to stop playing.

Operencia tells a wonderful story derived from Central European folklore, mythology, and history, and it does so with unwavering confidence in its makeup. Companion characters are funny, and the banter between them makes for a fun experience that's not without its heartfelt moments. In terms of combat, the strategizing is so engaging that you'll likely end up charging rat warriors headfirst instead of hopelessly attempting to avoid bumping into them. Best of all, though, this world is so stunning that you'll just look at the trees, the water, the rocks--everything. It’s a shame that some of the puzzle solutions are needlessly frustrating and present significant obstacles in getting through the story, but aside from that Operencia provides a truly special experience.

Operencia transports you somewhere far, far away, and once you get there, you'll probably want to stay a while.

Categories: Games

The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 4 Review

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 00:20

(Editor's note: This review contains spoilers for Episode 3.) About 20 minutes into Take Us Back, the finality of it all truly starts to sink in. This is the last chance we get to ensure Clementine is going to be okay. These are the last lessons we teach A.J. This is the last ever episode of The Walking Dead. So, it's rather appropriate that Take Us Back is very much about legacy, about taking everything Clementine's learned--and you along with her--and wrapping it all up in a bow.

It's not nearly as clean cut as that; it is The Walking Dead, of course, and the night gets plenty dark before the dawn. After Clem gets her bearings, and you get to decide what to do with Lilly, it's a rather breathless race to keep ahead of the horde of walkers the Ericson kids have brought down on the immediate area. They're everywhere, and in a particularly hostile mood after Lilly's trigger-happy goons draw their attention. On top of that, weaponry is in short supply, which means there's much more avoidance than shooting this time around. For what it's worth, the shooting is simplified in this episode, with bow-and-arrow moments made much more forgiving and impactful than before.

That said, the episode starts out as another rowdy QTE festival. But the real meat of it begins about a third of the way in, when Clementine makes the fateful decision of whether or not to trust A.J. as his own person, able to make tough decisions on his own. Here, more than Walking Dead has ever done, the decisions of the entire season bear fruit. A.J. will automatically make two of the biggest choices of the season--arguably, the series--based on your teachings. It's a fascinating narrative decision. Much of the climax here is out of your hands in all but the most basic mechanical sense, but in its own way, you've been deciding how this will play out for the entire series. No matter what, you're going to have to live with the fact that these are the logical consequences of your actions. This is your legacy, and even if A.J. makes what you might consider the right choices, in true Walking Dead fashion, none of them are pretty.

The one notable issue with letting the episode play out this way is that the weight of A.J.'s decisions overshadow quite a few of the smaller threads set up by previous episodes. Arguably, Episode 3's party was meant to cement Ericson and the kids therein as a legitimate home and family. But while getting back to Ericson is ultimately the end goal of the episode, Episode 4 is too breathless and urgent to slow down and explore the particulars of what home will look like until it's all said and done.

It's possible that's the point, though. As mentioned before, there is a finality to this episode, and without delving too far into spoilers, the ending is far less about the home of the present than about painting a detailed portrait of its future and what kind of people will be shaping it going forward. That portrait is one of contrasts, of things we've never seen before in this series up to this point--really, in any moving version of The Walking Dead--and yet are so simple we've taken them for granted. It's an understated ending, for sure, until you consider just how much chaos and distrust and dysfunction have defined this series. There is nothing more impactful than understatement as far as this universe is concerned.

We know what kind of legacy Clementine and you, the player, leave on A.J., but if there's any comment on what Telltale's legacy looks like, it's in the finale as well, in a stretch where you have control of A.J. instead of Clementine. Here, the trademark Telltale UI has changed, no longer that distinctive up-down-left-right grid of responses, but a floating collection of potential thoughts or emotions to have. It looks a little like the crucial time-stopping decision clouds of Life Is Strange. It acts a little like the emotion-based response system of Mass Effect Andromeda. It feels like a statement by a group of developers whose legacy is now safe and sound. It's rare that a shuttered studio gets to dictate the final grace notes of their body of work, but that's the opportunity Telltale had with these final episodes, and it's one that was not wasted in any way. The Walking Dead ends not with a bang, but an accomplished sigh.

Categories: Games

The Peculiar Indie Game Heaven's Vault Has A Release Date

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 19:20

Click here to watch embedded media

Publisher: Inkle Developer: Inkle Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4

Heaven's Vault is like what Tomb Raider would be without all the explosions – just a game about a woman exploring lost tombs and unraveling ancient mysteries. Today, developer Inkle announced that you can take a crack at solving its own historical mystery on April 16 on PS4 and PC.

In Heaven's Vault, you'll travel between locations via the Nebula.

In Heaven's Vault, you play as archaeologist Aliya Elasra who is tracking down a missing academic. To find him, you'll have to decipher glyphs of a lost language to make sense of the clues left in his wake. It's possible to misinterpret the glyphs, though, and Inkle says you'll never know if your translations are correct. The story in Heaven's Vault adapts to how you interpret the glyphs, so the story will be different for every player.

Categories: Games

New Pathologic 2 Trailer Announces May 23 Release

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 19:05

Dramatic thriller Pathologic 2 will be coming to Steam and consoles near you in the very near future. At the Gearbox panel today, the publishing arm of the studio revealed they'll be putting Pathologic 2 out in just a few short weeks along with an accompanying trailer.

You can check out the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The thriller puts you in the place of a healer in a rural town who can help people fight off an impending disease poised to plague the lands, but you have to survive long enough to be able to save anyone yourself.

The game will release on PC in May, then on Xbox One later in the year, where it has already been announced as a game pass title.

Categories: Games

Indie Platformer Cyber Shadow Being Published By Yacht Club Games

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 19:30
Publisher: Yacht Club Games Developer: Mechanical Head Games Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Yacht Club Games, the developers behind the indie hit Shovel Knight as well as all its associated DLC and expansions, recently teased a new game showing a ninja standing over a Blade Runner-esque city. They quickly clarified that this is what they're dubbing as Yacht Club Publishing and people soon figured out that the game bore a striking resemblance to the already-announced Cyber Shadow from Mechanical Head Studios.

Now, Yacht Club has confirmed they will be publishing the action platformer which itself bears a strong resemblance to Ninja Gaiden and looks to be the love letter to that genre that Shovel Knight was to its inspirations. You can check out the new trailer for it below.

Click here to watch embedded media

It's extremely cool-looking and seems to evoke Ninja Gaiden without being beholden to everything that might make that game incredibly unfun to play in a modern context. It'll be interesting to see how Cyber Shadow stacks up against last year's Ninja Gaiden-like The Messenger, but they look like they're taking two different angles at the same idea.

Cyber Shadow will release for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC "soon."

Categories: Games

Her Story Creator Finally Details What To Expect From Telling Lies

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 16:00

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Publisher: Annapurna Interactive Release: 2019 Platform: PC

Sam Barlow is no stranger to the allure of a mystery. Barlow’s previous game, Her Story, had you searching a crime database by taking in keywords to discover what really happened in a fictional case. His next game, which is not a direct sequel, but rather a spiritual one, takes a similar approach. Barlow calls it, “bigger, messier, and more colorful.”

Today Barlow released a brief teaser, which you can watch above, showcasing performances by Logan Marshall-Green, Alexandra Shipp, Kerry Bishé, and Angela Sarafyan. It gives you a taste of the different tone and premise. We sat down with Barlow recently at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to do our own sleuthing about what Telling Lies entails. Here’s what we found out.

Telling Lies begins with you watching a woman run into a dark apartment and pull out a hard drive, which contains a stolen National Security Agency database with private video conversations of four people, to put into her laptop. “You get that there is some impetus for having access to all this information...that there is a larger incident, that something bad and suspenseful has gone on that colors it all,” Barlow says.    

This won’t be a crime detective case like Her Story. Instead, Barlow is creating more of a political thriller, but it is steeped in just as much mystery. You follow four characters and the relationships that they have with each other by searching the government database and watching their private exchanges on things like webcams. Barlow says even revealing the characters’ names fall into spoiler territory, so once again it will be up to you to make the connections and have those “ah ha” moments.  

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Set in modern day, you must figure out why the government would take an interest in listening to these four people’s conversations. “It’s about privacy and how we carry out our intimate relationships with technology now,” Barlow explains, saying he was inspired by ‘70s movies like The Conversation, the Ed Snowden leaks, and using things such as FaceTime to keep in touch with his own family. The interactions you watch take place over two years, jumping around in place and time. Examining body language and subtext is key, but paying attention to how environments, such as their apartments, change at different points in time also infers a great deal. 

Although technology, privacy, and the government are a big focus, Telling Lies also examines the different sides we show to different people and how honest we are in our relationships. “It’s very much about how you can be in a relationship with someone and know them intimately, but the idea you have of them is never the full extent of that person,” Barlow says. “ [It explores] the lies that we tell to ourselves about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. There’s an amount of digging to understand who these people really are and their intentions.” 

The gameplay captures the simplicity that made Her Story so fun, but you have a lot more to digest this time around, with around nine hours of footage to examine. You still search for words and phrases in the database to pull up clips, but Telling Lies lets you listen to entire conversations, unlike the snippets we saw in Her Story. “We drop you into the clip at the point of where they’ve said the thing you’ve searched,” Barlow says, using the example of a phrase like “love you” and being brought straight to where a character says it.

The database you search has also received an upgrade with the story being set in the modern day; you now have a scrub interface, which allows you to go forward and backward at different speeds to see more of the discussion and focus on specific elements. Barlow compares it to an old-school editing machine, letting you explore these much longer and detailed exchanges, which can be anything from starting on a cheerful note to the conversation turning into a fight lasting seven minutes. At any given time, though, you are only retrieving one side of the exchange, trying to infer what’s going and how it relates to other things you’ve watched.

Telling Lies launches this year on PC and iOS. Barlow says he’s hoping for a summer release.

Categories: Games