Average User Score: 7.1Aug 7, 2013You know how people say that things like religion and politics are best left out of conversations with friends? Divinity: Dragon CommanderYou know how people say that things like religion and politics are best left out of conversations with friends? Divinity: Dragon Commander puts these concerns front and center, and places you in the hot seat to make all the tough calls, delivering a real-time strategy experience that, though lacking refinement in some areas, makes your decisions in the throne room as important as the ones on the battlefield. Jumping into an AI skirmish to get a feel for the mechanics first, I was initially unnerved by what I saw. The lack of any fog of war, combined with the wide-open tech tree, made combat feel spineless and unstructured compared to the precise builds and attack timings of StarCraft 2. The art direction is similarly without organization, with pastel and base colors fighting a little war of their own while I tried to reconcile the steampunk unit designs with their arboreal, fantasy surroundings. After being all but slapped in the face with a generic looking “VICTORY!” screen, and being spat back out to the main menu, I anticipated a long, bumpy road ahead of me.
Split into three different game phases a point-and-click exploration of your ship and its inhabitants, a risk-style world map around involves strategically placing units in turn-based gameplay, and sprawling battlefields where forward-thinking is crucial Divinity: Dragon Commander is clearly trying to appeal to gamers of widely varying preferences and sensibilities. Though the three separate gameplay phases are tied together and balanced quite well, the RPG elements of Divinity: Dragon Commander are significantly more understated than the RTS game mechanics. The player character’s background, for example, is fixed: you are the bastard son of the recently deceased Emperor Sigurd I and a beautiful woman called Aurora, who was a dragon in disguise. When the old emperor is betrayed and murdered by your more legitimate siblings, you are tasked with defending the kingdom from their squabbles and drives towards expansion.
Character customization is quite limited to picking one of three dragon types, and the remainder of the role-playing is relegated to making decisions about political and social policies, such as whether or not to legalize doctor-prescribed narcotics, or to start taxing the region’s rich and powerful church. Of course, the player’s actual approach to battles and choosing skills to invest in also allow for a greater sense of connectedness with the character (will you research the best machinery available and command from a distance, or dive in headfirst and start flinging fireballs?) but since going to one extreme or the other is a surefire way to make things extremely difficult for yourself, most players would end up taking a middle-ground approach.
The AI isn't exactly genius level, but it doesn't have to be in order to meet you in the middle of the map for an all-out slugfest, which is what you'll inevitably be doing. Huge deathballs of units (reminiscent of Total Annihilation) collide amusingly while you assume direct control of your dragon, whose customizable ability bar allows him to act as something of a hero unit. Laying waste to armies as a dragon doesn't quite elicit immediate thrills though, owing mostly to how cumbersome it can be to order your legions about whilst in dragon mode. A heavy reliance on awkward hotkey combinations keeps things from ever feeling truly fluid, but once I got used to it, commanding the many unique and powerful units while swooping about and raining death on my foes proved to be a unique sort of fun. As a stand-alone RTS experience, its focus on going wherever your enemy is and getting bloody with them might have rung a bit hollow, but as one cog in a much bigger, more intricate machine, it works quite well.
Divinity: Dragon Commander definitely shouldn’t be missed for fans of real-time strategy, excelling at the art of tense and exciting battles where planning and in-depth knowledge of available resources is essential. If you were only really interested in the story and RPG elements then the game will most likely leave you feeling a little dissatisfied, but you can always blow up some zeppelins and then fly away into the sunset to cheer yourself up.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Aug 5, 2013Teleglitch: Die More Edition is a roguelike top-down shooter that was first released late last year and has since been given an extendedTeleglitch: Die More Edition is a roguelike top-down shooter that was first released late last year and has since been given an extended edition on Steam. Roguelikes are generally not games where I take my time. There’s a standard pace I play them at, which is not slow in the slightest. After playing dozens of roguelikes in my many years of gaming, I have fallen into a standard slump where it is hard to engage and engross me in the game I am playing. Until now, that is. Taking place in an abandoned military research complex in space, your objective is to explore and find a way off the planet all while trying to stay alive against the hordes of enemies that cover the planet. Using keyboard and mouse controls, picking up items and shooting weapons is straightforward and fairly intuitive. However, ammo is incredibly scarce, forcing you to scavenge for every item you can find and combine them into makeshift weapons in order to survive.
Teleglitch Die More Edition has many standard roguelike tropes: random loot, random layouts, and permadeath. Even the graphics remind me of early graphical roguelikes, just being a pixelated mess on the screen. I mean, really, I have no idea what the monsters are supposed to be that are chasing me. I simply know they are bad and I need to kill them.
Set those things aside though, and Teleglitch is a very fresh experience. When I started playing, I was in the “generic roguelike” mindset. As I explored the corridors of the floor plan briskly and carelessly, I died rather quickly. Even though the controls are very easy (move with keyboard, hold right mouse button to aim and click left mouse button to fire) for a top down game, when I entered a room and was swarmed with a small handful of enemies, I wasted a lot of ammo. I’m used to loot being abundant, I’m used to swords and spells, and most importantly, I’m used to taking a step and the enemies taking a step.
There is a quiet urgency to every Teleglitch play through, though it is hard to explain why. Once you’ve overcome any given room of enemies, you can take your time and consider your plan of action. However, the frenetic pace of combat, which often devolved for me into quiet, pleading screams for mercy while running backwards and waving my knife futilely in the air, carries forward into non-combat moments. Although I was never the victim of a real sneak attack, I still found myself scooping ammo and meat off the floor in a rush, eating on the go and only pausing to take a look at the map when lost.
What really set the mood for me was the sound cues. Again, everything is presented as if it were originally played on an old Commodore C64 system, yet the audio in Teleglitch did a phenomenal job of slowing me down. As I explored the environments and opened doors, a warbled sound would grow in intensity, signaling a swarm of mutants all targeting me. The most frightening part was having this happen and noticing my ammo was dangerously low.
The game has been designed with terror in mind. The permadeath adds another layer of tension, and it was infuriating when I was doing great and made a stupid mistake like dropping a bomb instead of throwing it. If my keyboard was not part of my laptop, I might very well have thrown it on more than one occasion.
Teleglitch: Die More Edition is a brilliant example of how to blend genres that, on paper, don’t sound like a perfect fit. I can’t think of the last time I played a roguelike at a slow, methodical pace, or a top-down shooter paranoid of what was about to happen. The only reason I can’t recommend it to everyone is the punishing difficulty. But then again, we all like to be punished now and again, right?… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Jul 31, 2013Interceptor Software was given the go ahead by Apogee to bring their 1990's cult FPS classic, Rise of the Triad, back onto the scene with aInterceptor Software was given the go ahead by Apogee to bring their 1990's cult FPS classic, Rise of the Triad, back onto the scene with a new Unreal Engine based re-imagining. Released today via Steam, RoTT is as ludicrous as ever, but it's not without several caveats and it remains an acquired taste...kind of like Monk Meal.
In pretty much every way that matters, this reboot/remake is a 90s shooter with all the expected pros and cons. It’s lightning fast, and 90% of your arsenal is pinpoint-precise. Realism is thrown out the window, so levels are less “brown corridors” and more “big rooms full of spinning blades of death rolling past collectible coins”, or “tiny platforms floating above giant lava rivers”, or “ascent up a pair of physically impossible towers”, or “pedestals containing heavy weapons that rise out of reach when you approach, as secret walls open and enemies attack.” Or all of the above, on the same map.
Before you buy your copy of Rise of the Triad and you should you need to first ask yourself how easily you can live without gradual healing. Or cover mechanics. Or auto-aim. Or a HUD. If these things are to your FPS enjoyment what water is to not dying from thirst, then Rise of the Triad is going to destroy you. As difficult as trying to explain the popularity of Stone Temple Pilots hard. Rise of the Triad requires a lot of patience to complete, and that’s by design. In fact, Interceptor CEO Fred Schreiber said during a multiplayer session that the gaming system he keeps coming back to (besides PC, he was quick to make clear) is the NES, precisely because NES games can be so difficult to complete.
From start to finish, Rise of the Triad is obstinately dedicated to being as difficult as possible. Enemies are pattern-based. In-game interactive elements are difficult to precisely interact with. You have to find health when you get damaged, and you take damage excessively. Checkpoints are absolutely brutal make it to one and you’ll still find yourself grinding through waves of enemies again and again, often making it nearly to the end of a segment, and having to do it all over again when you’re blown up by your own missile.
But it’s hard to dislike Rise of the Triad for this sort of thing, because– no, I take that back. It’s very, very easy to get massively frustrated with Rise of the Triad and quit out of it because of this sort of thing, but the frustrations are somewhat forgiven when you wander into basically anything else. This is a game that makes shooting feel good, and it has enough heavy weaponry and things to shoot with that heavy weaponry that you’re doing stuff that feels good pretty much 90% of the time.
The single player campaign is much like the original game’s (and many shooters from that era) in that it functions largely as a chance to practice for the multiplayer. The plot is simple: A UN special ops team called H.U.N.T. is sent to San Nicholas Island (part of California’s Channel Islands) to investigate a strange cult based there. The team is attacked, their landing craft destroyed, and they must now fight their way through the cult’s labyrinthine fortresses and stop them before they execute their plan to blow up Los Angeles
Multiplayer is a scream. At launch, it has Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes, and more are promised. Interceptor is providing dedicated servers, but the game also allows LAN, Direct IP and player-hosted games as well. That’s good, because you’ll need to practice with friends a lot before testing your mettle against strangers who will almost certainly destroy you.
If you have played the original ROTT, and were a fan, you will be astounded how “extremely faithful” this reboot really is. While Interceptor has certainly added new elements to the game and created something pretty unique, they do this with so much reverence and respect to the original, you sometimes have to remind yourself you aren’t actually playing the 1993 classic. Every little detail is replicated and recreated here: the hovering discs, the coins, the injured enemies begging for mercy it’s quite incredible how seamlessly Interceptor has merged the old and the new to create what can simply be described as a reboot masterpiece.
It was a real pleasure to play (replay) Rise of the Triad, and Interceptor deserves every bit of credit they get for rebooting an all-time classic in the FPS genre.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Jul 31, 2013CastleStorm is Angry Birds for those of us who like our projectile-based arcade games served not with bad tempered cardinals, but rather withCastleStorm is Angry Birds for those of us who like our projectile-based arcade games served not with bad tempered cardinals, but rather with enough Viking beards to put The Hobbit trilogy to shame. With startling aptitude, it cracks jokes while juggling elements of tower defense and real-time strategy, and enough depth exists beneath its seemingly casual game-play to endear it to hardened strategists.
The plot involves a knight’s humorously epic quest to steal back a crystal from an evil Viking plotting to rule the world, but really, the heart of this game is in building a castle and then using its standard-issue giant ballista to fling projectiles like exploding apples and boulders that split into three boulders to bring your opponent’s fortifications crashing down. At the same time, you have ground units you can send out to try to weaken the enemy’s defenses.
Suffice it to say that there’s a lot going on here, and it’s a credit to CastleStorm’s beautiful design and gentle learning curve that it never gets out of hand. Almost without realizing it, I eventually found myself taking full advantage of the gamepad, jumping from Y to sort through magic abilities and then to X to summon new units and then jumping to A to fire projectiles. In each step, I made transitions between up to 15 units and spells with the use of the right bumpers, occasionally finding the time to tell my friendly-fire prone ground units to duck out of the way of incoming projectiles with the B button.
You typically have two ways to beat a level in CastleStorm. You can either destroy every room in your opponent’s castle or send your ground troops across the battlefield to knock down their gate and capture their flag. One of these is far more satisfying than the othe. But CastleStorm also includes an editor that you can use to design your castle. You unlock new rooms by playing through the 12 levels of the campaign; in addition to barracks for your ground units and aeries for your flying beasts, you can also slot in special chambers that do things like make your troops do more damage or grant you bonuses to the gold you collect for taking out your opponent’s forces.
Multiplayer is inevitable in a game like this, and Zen has made some very interesting decisions with it. You have three modes to choose from, the most obvious of which is a head-to-head fight in which you and your opponent race to destroy each other’s castles or, less interestingly, capture one another’s flags. But CastleStorm also includes two cooperative game types that are actually more fun than their single-player counterparts. Last Stand is a 2D brawler mode in which you and your partner each control one of the Hero characters. These are powerful melee fighters who are typically only available for a limited time in the campaign. But the most interesting of the three is Survival, in which one member of your two-person team controls the castle’s ballista and sends out troops while the other controls a Hero character on the ground. Co-op Survival is a fun exercise in coordination and communication that gives both parties plenty of interesting and useful things to do.
CastleStorm draws from a seemingly unmanageable array of inspirations and thoughts including real-time strategy, tower defense, and Angry Birds, and does so with remarkable creativity and humor. Touchy ballista controls may cause troubling gameplay on occasion, but the charms of CastleStorm’s multiple gameplay modes, varied campaigns and units, and quirky presentation keep the action on track.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Jul 24, 2013Other western games may better capture the great importance of the American West, but pure, outrageous western gunfights have never been moreOther western games may better capture the great importance of the American West, but pure, outrageous western gunfights have never been more thrilling and satisfying than they are in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Let’s hope this marks a new direction for the franchise and not yet another let down in its ever more schizophrenic history.
The story is presented as a mere flashback, with Silas Greaves, the bounty hunter, recounting his achievements across the American west as he holds court at a local saloon. At any moment though, the story might change as Greaves recalls something he forgot to mention or a listener gives him hard time for one supposed “fact” or another.
When it comes to game-play, you might be finding yourself fending off an Apache ambush in the middle of a hunt for fleeing bandits, only for someone to ask why there are suddenly Native Americans in the mix. Greaves then recounts and explains, “No, they ambushed me like they were Apaches,” at which point the scene changes as your attackers suddenly transform into outlaws.
This happens repeatedly throughout Gunslinger. The environment transforms itself right in front of the player, and an confined space could suddenly have an exit that Greaves forgot to mention. At one point, your path leads to a deadly encounter with the end of a speeding mine cart, complete with a Game Over screen that quickly disappears as the game rewinds while Greaves explains how stupid it would have been to take that particular path.
The unusual story progression does put a nice twist on what would otherwise be a linear FPS. Gunslinger embraces a much more ambitious look than past Call of Juarez games. Vibrant colored textures that heavily emphasize shadows to the unique look of Gearbox Software’s Borderlands games, but the overall feel falls closer to that of a graphic novel.
players also have the option of playing around with either Duel or Arcade modes. Duel is a boss rush mode that pits you against key enemies from the story in a quickdraw arena. The quickdraw mini-game however is a weak element in Gunslinger, with players needing to juggle a pair of meters by twiddling the left and right thumb sticks. It’s a solution to an aspect of Wild West lore that doesn’t entirely translate into good nor entertaining game-play.
Arcade mode though offers much more in the way of replay value, with breaking the story’s intense combat moments up into a chain of discrete encounters. You can simply max out a single skill tree in the course of one play-through, but you can’t go much further than that. Arcade acknowledges this with a “loadout” selection at the start of each challenge.
This is without any doubt a fresh and original take on what most would call an ailing franchise, and it’s a game that is worth investing a handful of hours in if you’re a FPS fan. It may not reinvent the FPS, but Silas Greaves’ payable tall tale tweaks formulas just enough to provide a memorable experience. However Techland unfortunately is in the position of having to redeem itself after the horrific misstep that was 2011′s Call of Juarez: The Cartel and 2013′s Dead Island: Riptide. Gunslinger puts the tobacco spitting series back on track with an almost arcade experience and a visual twist you could only ever get if Borderlands screwed Red Dead Redemption, got pregnant and then gave birth to one genocidal child.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Jul 24, 2013Like its previous title, Sanctum 2 is an entertaining blend of first-person shooting and tower-defense-style strategy. Instead of passivelyLike its previous title, Sanctum 2 is an entertaining blend of first-person shooting and tower-defense-style strategy. Instead of passively watching your towers do all the dirty work, you are allowed descend into the action and distribute carnage alongside them. Both games execute this concept almost flawlessly, however Sanctum 2 has far more content than its small-scale predecessor. This is the fully featured, fully realized game this series needed, and offers lots of content to enjoy whether you’re a strategy fan first and shooter fan second, or vice versa. With 16 levels, 8 weapons, and 4 different character classes to choose from, there is a lot more to do right out of the box compare to the first title. with additional DLC being announced and there’s a Season Pass available that gets you all the future expansion packs at a reduced price.
Multiplayer has been completely overhauled as well. It is now easier to drop in or out of multiplayer matches, and you can now specify who exactly is allowed to join your ongoing game. It also scales rather nicely, with each additional player adding even more resources to the pool but also increasing the overall challenge. This way, the game’s difficulty is well-balanced. There is an easy mode, but it skews the game balance a little too much in your favor and is not entirely recommended.
Resources have also received a sort of overhaul. The game sort of just drops a set amount of supply for you to utilize, breaking up barricades and towers into separate categories. Credits, however are no longer a shared currency required for building barricades and towers. Instead you just get a certain amount of tower credits, and a certain allotment of barricades at the end of each round. Although It may not seem like that much, but taking away the decision of spending money on barricades really does make the game better, as you’re free to spend more thought on strategy instead of playing accountant on the battlefield. This is also mainly because on the field, weapon upgrades have been given the boot. In the first Sanctum you had towers, barricades, and weapon upgrades that you had to spend credits on. All of these things operated on the same currency, meaning that you could spend wrong and die. This would happen often. Though the field upgrades are gone, you can still tweak and improve your weapons through the smart use of loadout perks that can affect the behavior and damage of your guns. These perks however can also affect yourself, or your towers; but with the removal of upgrades, it would be smart to use the perk slots for more offensive purposes.
Other improvements in the game are minor tweaks and additions that keep things refreshing and new in smart ways. You’ve got AI squad buddies that will assist you now. While they can take about as much damage as a dandelion, they still try. Weapon damages are tweaked, enemy damage values and health have been tweaked. Bosses have been added and maps are varied and consistently intelligently challenging. To top it all off, the game looks gorgeous and is really brought to life by its high gloss neon art style. A style that has clearly taken cues from ’80s futurism, and the Anime from that era.
Sanctum 2 is a brilliant representation of a game that was developed with an open ear. When Sanctum was released in 2011, it was a great idea that wasn’t without flaws in the structure of its design. Here, Coffee Stain Studios have taken the time to improve upon every flaw, and produced an indie gem polished in the fire of scrutiny. While Sanctum 2 is still a challenging game, it’s tough in smart substantive ways that add up. Opting for this instead of the punitive approach that Sanctum was built on has made for a far superior product in the form of Sanctum 2.… Expand
Average User Score: 4.8Jul 24, 2013Ultimately, NASCAR games have been one of the greatest stepping stones in the budding career of a sim racing enthusiast. Many drivers canUltimately, NASCAR games have been one of the greatest stepping stones in the budding career of a sim racing enthusiast. Many drivers can recall countless hours spent fine-tuning their setups on NASCAR ‘99 for the original PlayStation, signing their first multimillion dollar sponsor on the legendary NASCAR Thunder 2004, or turning their daydreams into reality by purchasing a Nextel Cup team in NASCAR 07. While the occasional challenger appeared, offering innovating new career modes and racing series, EA’s long-running NASCAR franchise experienced both immense highs and devastating lows, going from critically acclaimed to universally hated in less than a decade. Incredibly detailed career modes were steadily phased out, extra tracks and game modes suddenly went missing, and by the final game in the series, NASCAR 09, even the four makes involved in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season did not appear in-game, in favor of a generic set of brand markings for all cars.
If, like me, you’re not well-versed in NASCAR, you’re probably thinking there’s not much track variety at all, however if you only look at the shape of the tracks, you’re right. They’re mostly oval shaped tracks, though there is one track in the game that looks like a ‘normal’ race-track. While the tracks are all the same general shape, the size, banks, corners and pit area are all different. Some tracks are large and wide, allowing you to pull far ahead, driving solo. Some tracks are small and narrow, forcing you to stick with the pack. Some tracks are a mixture. It isn’t until you get out there and drive or in this case play the game that you realize how different these tracks really are.
In NASCAR 2013 there are plenty of customization options to choose from. You can paint your car and stick it with sponsors of your choice. There is a lot of freedom in the design as you can make your own sticker using simple-shaped decals and turn it into one layer. Doing this allows you room to create detailed images and decals for use in recreating real-life stock cars or even creating your very own design Not that you’re likely to run out with 1200 layers available. Visual customization isn’t the only customization available. During season mode you can unlock new sponsors for your car and also upgrade the parts using your race winnings.
There are many different ways to get first place. One is Drafting. Drafting can be driving behind a car to reduce drag, then shooting out from behind it to overtake it this is the type most people are familiar with but it can also mean ‘docking’ your car with another to allow both of you to gain speed. ‘Docking’ is a bit riskier as it can raise engine temperatures, but can have a larger pay-off if you do it correctly. On the other side of ‘Docking’, there’s Blocking. Blocking is simple and just involves positioning your car in a way that stops you being overtaken, but trying to keep this up can easily cause a crash and a caution this could cause loss of position. Interestingly, while crashing brings up a caution flag, you can use this to your advantage and gain some positions by bringing the whole pack closer to first place and gaining positions on driver who decide to pit under a caution. Finding a balance between all of these techniques can be fun and cause for experimentation.
In my experience of multiplayer, coming into this as a rookie, I was destroyed. In the races I participated in online, everyone was much faster than me from the starting line, almost as if their cars were more powerful. I think the reason for this is single-player upgrades carrying over to multi-player. In multi-player, the only race option is a normal race. This was a little bit disappointing. There is plenty of control over the parameters of the race, which somewhat makes up for the lack of other modes.
NASCAR 2013 does enough to redeem itself from the negative pre-conceptions of the sport, but only if you give it the chance to. While there are a few minor bugs to be found, they don’t detract from the well-polished and fun core experience. NASCAR 2013 is full of little touches that neatly tie the package together. From the ambient garage in the menus to your character’s feet moving in first-person view, there are lots of little touches that just tie the game together well.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Jul 24, 2013If there is one studio that has proven themselves quite capable of making surprisingly great games based on existing properties, it’s HighIf there is one studio that has proven themselves quite capable of making surprisingly great games based on existing properties, it’s High Moon Studios. High Moon Studios has tackled Bourne, Transformers and now Deadpool, completing their inner circle of building off of novels, films, toys and comics. Deadpool as a character is the perfect anti-hero for a game, constantly cracking wise and using timely jokes that are either satirical or sardonic. He’s arguably the most comical superhero in Marvel’s entourage, so it’s amazing it took this long for someone to create a game around the self-indulgent badass.
Marvel has some of the best Canadian representation in this game. Not only will you see Deadpool but Wolverine also makes appearances throughout the story. Alongside those two, Cable, Rogue, Domino, Death and many others will join the quest to stop Mister Sinister in his diabolic cloning schemes. The story is there but isn’t coherent enough to care about. It’s actually thanks to Deadpool who specifically doesn’t listen to what’s going on around him that it kind of gets a pass. All you know is that Deadpool somehow convinced High Moon Studios to make a game around him, of course breaking the fourth wall, and he must stop Mister Sinister so the future will be safe once again. Deadpool on the other hand doesn’t care about that and only has eyes on the riches and of course, the women, so he goes on his own delusional quest.
While the core gameplay mechanics aren’t entirely the same as most common character action titles, they have stripped features from other existing franchises. The countering system is straight out of Rocksteady’s Batman games, along with the challenge maps, and the sword swinging and gun slinging combat comes from games such as Devil May Cry. While that almost sounds like a blessing, it’s not all great. For one, there are only three different melee weapons and it’s really not fluid to switch between each one during combat. Going into firing mode brings the camera closer to Deadpool’s shoulder, but keeps it there until a melee attack is swung, not to mention feels cumbersome. Platforming is also clunky but at least doesn’t punish you when something goes wrong.
Deadpool runs on Unreal Engine 3 and while the character models look crazy good, the rest of game looks plain. Even for a PC game, there seems to be an almost hazy fog that overlays the visuals from showing any vibrancy. Mix in ugly and generic looking environments with fairly idiotic artificial intelligence and you have yourself an unbalanced graphical experience. The most visually pleasing moments are the 2D animated cutscenes and they seem to be only near the beginning of the adventure.
The overall structure of combat is dry. There’s no doubting the comedy as this will have fans breaking out in laughter during multiple scenes, but moving through an uninspiring six hours of combat doesn’t help our masked anti-hero. Deadpool surely gives what his fans want, but exciting gameplay moments are too few and far between. It’s a great shame that the rest of the game isn’t up to par with the character performances as the industry needs more comical stories such as this one.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Jul 24, 2013As someone who plays a lot of PC games, I often rely on Steam to provide me with cheap, easily accessible gaming experiences that I can almostAs someone who plays a lot of PC games, I often rely on Steam to provide me with cheap, easily accessible gaming experiences that I can almost instantly load up anytime, by myself or with some friends. However there is a problem, Steam is so prevalent that it’s easy to overlook other digital distribution platforms and websites that are indeed out there, packed with some stellar content of their own.
In Bleed, you are Wryn, a very chirpy girl who has very big ambitions: to take down previously legendary video game heroes in order to become the greatest hero of all time. These “greatest heroes of all time” have grown lazy, greedy, or have just simply faded into obscurity since their implied golden days. Wryn sees this as a perfect opportunity to realize her dream and thus sets out on a quest to put down these forgotten heroes. Wryn herself is a great protagonist; her design and fourth wall-breaking quotes are utterly charming and presented in such a way that she becomes likeable to the point that she becomes rather memorable. She’s a character you actively want to play as, and the game is infinitely more fun because of this.
Bleed seamlessly integrates several mechanics that are easy to learn, yet hard to master: a technique that is quite scarce in the industry today, even within the vibrant indie scene. Wryn however makes use of a variety of weapons and uses them in conjunction with the fantastic jumping system. Wryn can “jump dash” in mid-air up to three times, which can be used to swiftly weave through projectiles, gain extra jump height and open up possibilities for speed running The jump dash mechanic is incredibly satisfying in that it’s as smooth as it is stylish. Using it effectively is a good way to measure how good your becoming at the game, making it rewarding. Wryn also has the ability to slow time for a few seconds depending on how full her energy bar is, which can help during some of the trickier projectile patterns and sections.
In terms of graphical and sound presentation, Bleed shines yet again. The game presents a very clean, pixilated look that’s fitting of its old-school styling’s. Games of this kind often make the mistake of losing solid game feel amidst top-drawer visuals, however Bleed’s obstacles and enemies actively work in conjunction with the aesthetics ensuring anything that could potentially harm you is clearly visible at all times. Bleed’s chip-tune soundtrack is as upbeat and charming as its protagonist, and is honestly home to some of the catchiest tunes of this genre since Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game.
“Love” is a term we attach to our favorite games, as well as games we enjoy a great deal. Bleed is a game I am in love with; it’s a game with very clear goals and for what it wants to achieve, it executes them almost flawlessly. Some may be put off by the short length, but honestly, there’s so much character already in each individual stage and a good deal of extra content to unlock that it more than makes up for this.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Jul 24, 2013As old as the genre is, and as tired and worn out as it may be, a well-made point & click adventure is still hard to find. Like revisitingAs old as the genre is, and as tired and worn out as it may be, a well-made point & click adventure is still hard to find. Like revisiting your favorite childhood movie, whose details have long faded over time, there is a beautiful familiarity when starting out on a quest that is both excitingly new and quite nostalgic. KING Art’s latest take on the classic genre, The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, excels in both respects by carefully taking heed of its predecessors, while adding a distinctive character of its own.
As with any point & click adventure, the plot is paramount, and The Raven has no shortcomings in this section. After a wonderful opening cinematic introduces the sly burglar amid a daring heist in a London Museum, the action moves to the Orient Express as it hurtles across 1960’s Europe. Bound for Venice, where a cruise ships awaits to take passengers to Cairo, the carriages are filled with interesting characters, all unique and intriguing in their own way.
Players take control of one particular voyager, a Jakob Anton Zellner, a Swiss constable, advanced in years but still quite full of spirit and yearning for adventure. Jakob however is tasked with assisting Legrand, a famous French Inspector, in his transportation of the Eye of the Sphinx to an exhibition in Cairo. The stakes are fairly high as this precious jewel is all that remains of a pair (the fate of the other depicted in the intro movie), and there are fears that the newly-returned Raven may strike again to complete the set. The latter half of the game takes place aboard the S.S. Lydia as it sets sail for the Cairo exhibition.
Much of the plot is revealed through conversations with other passengers and there are plenty of additional details that really flesh out the narrative. A rich and quite intricate world is painted through the dialogue and the more you converse with NPC’s, the more you learn about their backstories and your own. Jakob is a wonderful character, well-formed and extremely likable, eager to prove his worth at his old age both to the younger Inspector Legrand and, more importantly, to himself. There is a deep sadness to the man too, just beneath the surface, as he begins to realize that this is perhaps his last hurrah. The cast is relatively small in this first of three planned chapters, but allows much more attention to be paid to their development within in the story and the exploration of their motivations.
Other adventure games have been fairly criticized in the past for ludicrous combinations of items that have no basis in reality, but no criticism is needed here. KING Art have chose to make problem-solving practical and plausible, even down to the way certain inventory items are handled. Larger objects such as axes, that require both hands of the character, are set down when not needed and removed from the inventory, not stored in an invisible, bottomless backpack. It’s a nice little touch that is in keeping with the overall logical direction of the game. The search for clues is periodically broken up by unique mini-games that provide a welcome break from rummaging through locations, such as bending a bobby pin correctly to pick a lock, or a game of shuffleboard to win a useful quest item. But at no point does the game become monotonous or boring, nor does it become frustratingly hard. It carries itself thanks to a steady tempo in both story and game play.
The Raven is just about everything you could want from a point & click adventure, however the problem is that not many people want a point & click adventure. The game excels in nearly all aspects of the genre and adds a few fresh ideas but, in the end, it may struggle to succeed due to the aversion some people have to a game of this type. But with its simple UI, logical puzzles, fantastic plot and beautiful setting, it’s an excellent place to start for those who have never dabbled in an adventure game. This first chapter in The Raven saga is a class act from start to finish, and I simply cannot wait for the next installment.… Expand