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Matt Gardner

Secrets of Raetikon Review | Winging It

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Broken Rules, Indie Games, PC games, Secrets of Rætikon

Secrets of Raetikon Review | Winging It

Exploration, discovery, the joy of flight -- these are the concepts at the core of Secrets of Raetikon, the strikingly beautiful flap-em-up from Broken Rules that has finally enjoyed a full released on Steam after a lengthy early access period. As I noted in my Let's Play feature, Secrets of Raetikon is a game that unfolds at a leisurely pace, putting you in control of a flame-coloured bird and encouraging you to explore a wonderfully-drawn world made up of angular shapes and held together with papercraft whimsy.

The first couple of hours are an exploratory delight. Though you can take flight with mouse and keyboard, the game suggests that using a controller might prove more intuitive, and so it seems to be. The controls are simple: you press a button to flap your wings, press and hold a second button to grab onto objects with your beak, and nudge a third to warble away with a spot of birdsong.

Secrets of Raetikon Review | Winging It

Imagine if Flappy Bird was an open-world game, filled with other creatures, weird and wonderful totems, statues, and the other remnants of a lost civilisation, and it was your job to piece these snippets of historical curios together and uncover the secrets of the world around you. So nothing like Flappy Bird, then.

Secrets of Raetikon doesn't give you much to go on, and that's fine for a little while. The game does a good job of nudging you on towards the next shiny thing or puzzle. You flutter about, seeking out shiny shards to add to the enormous statue that forms the hub of this world, restoring totems to their former glory, helping out foxes, dodging wolves and magpies and eagles and other pests that'll try and harm you. To access new areas, you'll often need to fix smaller, broken statues. There's always a full one to give you some idea of what the end result should be, but it's up to you to scour the nearby area, pick up the pieces, and arrange them correctly.

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Daily Bite: Frozen GTA IV

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Funnies

Wait, that's not "Let It Go". And that's definitely not Arendelle.

COMMENT | BioWare has a lot to prove with Dragon Age: Inquisition

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
BioWare, Dragon Age II, Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age: Inquisition, EA, RPGs

COMMENT | BioWare has a lot to prove with Dragon Age: Inquisition

To this day, Carl will occasionally drop the words "Dragon Age II" into conversation just to send me off on a ten-minute rampage about how bitterly disappointing and shoddily constructed that game was.

It's all relative, of course. Dragon Age II is not a dreadful game. One would actually struggle to describe it as bad. But in comparison to the past glories of a company I grew up adoring for their mature, choice-stuffed RPGs, BioWare screwed the pooch with Dragon Age II. They abandoned the expansive approach that made Origins a modern classic, threw away the narratives we'd all spent hours constructing in that first game, and gave us a boring city surrounded by cookie-cutter dungeons and endlessly repetitive quests for a story that offered little bite.

COMMENT | BioWare has a lot to prove with Dragon Age: Inquisition

I'm still annoyed by Mass Effect 3's ending (that's a whole other can of worms), but Dragon Age II exhibited warning signs long before the Reaper starchild showed up to retcon everyone's favourite interactive space opera. The lazy design is undeniable and was never fully addressed in the post-mortems after the game released. Accusations of rushing the game to completion, which would've explained an awful lot, were laughed off, as were suggestions that EA's high pressure corporate culture had negatively influenced the game.

We never got answers, but the results spoke for themselves. Something had gone wrong: BioWare were making games that looked better than ever, but had lost something underneath the surface.

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"Not all gamers are teenage boys" - Why we still need more variety in our gaming protagonists

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Choice, Female characters, Female protagonists, Game development, game industry, Jade Raymond

"Not all gamers are teenage boys" - Why we still need more variety in our gaming protagonists

We need more variety when it comes to gaming protagonists.

It seems like a no-brainer written down, after all everyone games these days, from toddlers to pensioners. Yet still there seems to be a prevailing idea of a majority market ruled over by a male, teenage demographic who demand the greatest attention.

It's getting better, of course. It takes less time to point to a game with a female protagonist, or at least the option for one, but we're still a long way off. There'll be those who scoff and argue that little needs to change, and I'd wager that the vast majority of those reactions will be from male gamers. I don't want to bash people over the head with talk of privilege, but it's important to take a walk in someone else's shoes from time to time.

"Not all gamers are teenage boys" - Why we still need more variety in our gaming protagonists

As I explained in a vid on my personal channel over the weekend, I like playing female roles: I enjoyed Tomb Raider, No One Lives Forever is one of my favourite game series of all time, and I'll frequently take female characters for a spin in RPGs just to see how characters react differently to a protagonist of the opposite gender than to those when I'm role-playing as myself. But I also imagine what it might be like were the tables turned, with upwards of nine out of ten games released featuring female protagonists. I'd like to say that I'd be totally fine with that, but I'd be lying. Eventually I'd want to just be able to invest wholly in a character without compromise. It doesn't matter how well written the women in those imagined games might have been, at some point I'd want a character I could truly relate to. As a person. As a man.

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#GameBoyMemories - Happy 25th Birthday, Game Boy!

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
#GameBoyMemories, Game Boy, Handheld consoles, Nintendo, Portable gaming

#GameBoyMemories - Happy 25th Birthday, Game Boy!

Nintendo have never played by anyone else's rules but their own. In an industry that's seemingly obsessed with power and statistics and framerate and pixel density and other hilariously finicky snippets of metadata these days, it's easy to forget that Nintendo's two greatest successes were built off of underwhelming tech used in innovative fashion.

The original Game Boy was the brainchild of Nintendo's much-lauded Research and Development 1 team -- a team spearheaded by a true industry legend in Gunpei Yokoi. Yokoi had already struck gold with Nintendo's Game & Watch series of handheld LCD games, but change was needed, and in the wake of other pioneering devices such as the Milton Bradley Microvision that released way back in 1979, it seemed that interchangeable cartridges were the way to go. The Game Boy might not have been the first "programmable electronic game system", as the Microvision had been branded, but it did more to popularise the portable sector than anything before or since.

#GameBoyMemories - Happy 25th Birthday, Game Boy!

The key to  that strategy? Well, as the Wii would replicate years later, Yokoi's design philosophy for the Game Boy was simple: "Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology" -- or using easily produced, readily available, pleasingly cheap components in interesting ways. While rivals such as the Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear went for an expensive, but impressively-specced approach, the Game Boy co-opted a Z80-based CPU, and presented a display that struggled with more than one shade of grey let alone fifty or, god forbid, actual colours. It didn't matter.

In 1989, twenty-five years ago, a legend was born and we thought we'd share a memory or two of our time with Nintendo's grey pocket brick and invite you to do the same. Happy Birthday Game Boy!

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Easter Special: Top Ten Video Game Bunnies

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Easter, Rabbits

Alice Tsukagami  (Bloody Roar)

Easter Special: Top Ten Video Game Bunnies

One of the stalwarts of the Bloody Roar series, which saw human fighters with the ability to transmogrify themselves into enormous anthropomorphic beasts, Alice's alter-ego was an enormous, insane-looking rabbit. For some reason the rabbit kept her tiny jacket, possibly because it was always a bit nippy in the arena.

Robbie the Rabbit (Silent Hill 3)

Easter Special: Top Ten Video Game Bunnies

A bit of  macabre entry, this  one. Robbie's regular appearance in the Silent Hill games following his debut in SH3 is something of a mystery. A pink-furred anthropomorphic bunny with a ghastly, bloodstained mouth, Robbie is something of an homage to the sketchy nature of bloodied rabbits in horror films and the creepiness of  human-sized mascots in general. He's just there to tenuously tie games together in loose fashion, and freak players out by just being there. Watching.

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Puppeteer only £10.49 at Argos eBay Outlet on PS3

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Platformers, PS3 games, Puppeteer

Puppeteer only £10.49 at Argos eBay Outlet on PS3

Puppeteer | Argos eBay Outlet | £17.99
Price ComparisonReview

Puppeteer is a quirky little gem of a platformer. Sure, it suffers from the occasional overlong, unskippable cutscene, but it's a visually outstanding, brilliatly creative tour-de-force from  Sony Japan that kind of out-Nintendos Nintendo.

You should buy it.

Be quick! GOG's Battle of the Games roundup sale ends in 90 mins

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
GOG.com, Heroes of Might and Magic, PC games, The Witcher, Unreal Tournament

Be quick! GOG's Battle of the Games roundup sale ends in 90 mins

GOG's Battle of the Games sale ran across Easter weekend with fans voting on new deals every day, but they've been running a roundup sale for the past day with all of the discounted games on offer for those who didn't  manage to buy the first time around.

There are some cracking bargains to be had, including savings on The Witcher and its sequel, the Gabriel Knight and Divinity games, and a whole host of other brilliant classics such as Unreal Tournament (there'll be a Game Night coming up) and Heroes of Might and Magic.

But you'll have to be fast -- the sale ends at 11am today!

Nab Batman: Arkham Origins (inc. pre-order DLC) for £12.99 on Wii U at Zavvi

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Action Games, Batman: Arkham Origins, Wii U games, Xbox 360 games

Nab Batman: Arkham Origins (inc. pre-order DLC) for £12.99 on Wii U at Zavvi

Batman: Arkham Origins (inc. pre-order DLC) | £12.99 | Zavvi
Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Happy Easter folks! While you're rolling out of bed on Bank Holiday Monday, be aware that Zavvi have dropped their price on Batman: Arkham Origins on X360 and Wii U. If you snap up the latter you'll also bag yourself the Deathstroke pre-order DLC, which is quite a bit of fun.

The game itself isn't particularly fresh, and it had to endure a buggy release, but it's still worth a look for Arkham series fans. Thanks to Chanchi32.

Game Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About Dre

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Bungie, Call Of Duty: Ghosts, DLC, Game Buzz, Martin O'Donnell, Podcast, PWNCAST, Snoop Dogg, Titanfall

Game Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About Dre

This week on Game Buzz... We have a gander at Titanfall's DLC plans and ask what the game needs to keep it fresh, we chat about Marty O'Donnell's departure from Bungie, we touch upon the announcement of Civilization: Beyond Earth, and we take a look at Call of Duty's plans for Snoop Dogg DLC.

Still can't believe that last one isn't a really late April Fool.

Game Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About Dre. Recorded 17th April, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Game Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About Dre Game Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About DreGame Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About DreGame Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About DreGame Buzz | Episode 72 - We Forgot About Dre

The Elder Scrolls Online Review Journal: Part Four - Crafting Is Bliss

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Bethesda Softworks, MMOs, PC games, RPGs, The Elder Scrolls Online, Zenimax Online

The Elder Scrolls Online Review Journal: Part Four - Crafting Is Bliss

It's often been the case that I've found myself lacking the patience for the seemingly needless convolutions at work in MMOs. Crafting in particular has always been something of a bugbear of mine, with systems often cluttered beyond belief, often only half-explained, and ultimately incredibly offputting.

The Elder Scrolls Online is nothing like that. In fact, it's something of a joy.

The Elder Scrolls Online Review Journal: Part Four - Crafting Is Bliss

As it stands right now, there are six different professions available in The Elder Scrolls Online. Each have their own unique benefits, and what's impressive to see in a number of them has been how they tie into mechanics used previously in the series. As a player, you can start pretty much straight off of the bat once you emerge out into Tamriel -- it's just a matter of finding and obtaining resources and then getting to work. Here's a rundown of the sort of professions you can invest your time in currently:

  • Alchemist: Becoming an Alchemist is all about potion creation. It's a great role to engage in if you're looking to become something of a support character as potions are particularly useful in battle, buffing stats and restoring health, magicka, and stamina.
  • Blacksmith: This one is fairly straightforward. Becoming a smith involves crafting metal weapons -- swords, maces, axes, daggers, hammers etc. -- as well as heavy armour. It's a perfect profession for the Imperial Dragonknight I'm building up to be an utterly beastly tank.
  • Clothier: You won't be strutting the catwalks of Milan as a clothier, but you will be able to craft and improve light and medium armour.
  • Enchanter: Enchanting is all about enhancing items with special powers, for both aesthetic and functional purposes.
  • Provisioner: Much like the alchemist, this is another profession that involves making consumables, in this case food and drink. But before you can do this, you'll need to uncover the various recipes tucked away around the world.
  • Woodworker: Finally, becoming a woodworker gives you the opportunity to craft and improve, yep, you guessed it, wooden items such as staffs and bows.

There are still MMO staples involved here, of course. Running around and gathering resources from nodes is pretty repetitive and time consuming, but the respawn rate is fairly decent and if you're keeping your eyes open, you'll naturally spot plenty of maple, iron, jute and more on your travels. The limited inventory slots come into play when you're juggling lots of different ingredients for the alchemical and provisioning side of things, but you can stash crafting materials in your bank's vaults, so that takes the load off a little.  The real fun begins when you get back to a spot of civilisation and can work upon turning your raw materials into useful items.

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COMMENT: Snap Marty Up Quick, 343i - O'Donnell *IS* Halo

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
343 Industries, Bungie, Destiny, Game soundtracks, Halo, Halo 4, Halo 5, Martin O'Donnell

COMMENT: Snap Marty Up Quick, 343i - O'Donnell *IS* Halo

As I write this, I'm listening to Martin O'Donnell's Rock Anthem For Saving The World. I have the Halo albums shuffled up in a Spotify playlist. Greatest Journey from Halo 3 is up next, and I'm steeling myself for epic Warthog flashbacks from that game's majestic final run. Under Cover of Night aurally describes the midnight before a dawn of fire -- the calm before the storm. The Overture from ODST takes me back to slinking around the Covenant-strewn streets of New Mombasa before Never Forget almost makes me shed a tear. Not for the plot of intergalactic war and the loss and despair that comes with it, but rather for nostalgic good times that have yet to be bettered.

So much of my enjoyment of the Halo series comes as a direct result of Martin O'Donnell's (and Michael Salvatori's) work. The Halo suite itself is an iconic theme that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's a succession of strings that just says, Oh we got this!

In spite of his long service to the Halo franchise, it's the versatility shown in the games that don't feature Master Chief that gave me hope for O'Donnell's work on Destiny.

This week, though, presumably with much of the work on that game complete, Bungie terminated the contract of their in-house composer. Depending on whose account you read, it's either a straightforward affair, or possibly something a little fishy.

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Bag 12 Months of Xbox LIVE Gold for under £25 at CDKeys

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Games With Gold, Xbox 360, Xbox Live, Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, Xbox One

Bag 12 Months of Xbox LIVE Gold for under £25 at CDKeys

12 Month Xbox LIVE Gold Subscription | CDKeys | £24.90 (£23.65 with FB code)

CDKeys are currently selling 12 months of Xbox LIVE Gold Membership for £24.90, but if you go over to their Facebook page and give them a "Like" you can get that price dropped even further down to £23.65, saving you a tenner on the standard price for such goodness.

Click here to nab that 5% off CDKeys Facebook voucher code.

Have Senran Kagura Burst onto your 3DS for just £17.99 at GAME

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Deals
Tags:
3DS Games, Fighting Games, Senran Kagura

Have Senran Kagura Burst onto your 3DS for just £17.99 at GAME

Senran Kagura Burst | GAME | £17.99 | Review

I've got nothing to do really but pull a double facepalm and shake my head at Senran Kagura Burst, especially when it comes packing the tagline "Two good reasons to turn on your 3DS" directly below a pair of pendulous cartoon breasts. But apparently the combat is super awesome as Jon states in his review:

Though its ecchi overtones and puerile obsession with jiggling oversized breasts will rightfully deter many players, Senran Kagura Burst is still a capable brawler that's perfectly adapted for a handheld platform. There's a huge amount of content and responsive action to enjoy, so long as you're comfortable with the source material and tone.

Oh and it's now the cheapest it's been in a while at GAME.

Thanks to tbrossi46 at HotUkDeals.