It's the final day of the Humble Spring Sale. That is now fourteen beautiful days of pure Humble sale madness we have now passed through. Todays sale brings some rather enticing games with even more attractive price tags!
Divinity: Original Sin is magnificent. Scoring a whopping 9/10 in our full review, gleaning an Editor's Choice Award and voted 'Kickstarter Success Story' in last year's alternative awards podcast, it's one of the finest RPGs of the last decade. Not to mention yet another sensational title for PC gamers to crow about.
But not for much longer. Larian Studios and Focus Home Interactive have announced Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition for PS4 and Xbox One, which will open up the game to a new audience.Click here to read more...
Do not adjust your system clocks. We haven't actually travelled back in time to the golden age of PC gaming. However, it certainly feels that way thanks to the release of a certain old-school RPG tomorrow and today's launch of Etherium: a proper, no-messin' real-time strategy game with three factions, tech trees, build queues, base expansion and the kind of hectic tactical mayhem we've rarely seen since the fall of Westwood.
I've been getting stuck into the pre-release build over this last week, but in all honesty I don't feel that I can write a full review yet. Like many RTS titles, Etherium's value lies with its multiplayer, and we'll need a few days if not weeks to work out how well balanced and featured it is for long-term competitive play.
What I can do, however, is tell you how the game is shaping up at launch. Which, I'm delighted to report, is rather well. Here are our launch impressions thus far.
Generic settings can often let down strategy games, but Etherium has managed to completely capture my imagination.
Every few hundred years, mysterious extra-dimensional aliens shift into our reality to breed and lay their eggs before heading off to realms unknown. Hailing from a completely different plane, these massive embryos are the only known source of Etherium, a rare and highly-prized power source that draws sentient races into conflict wherever they appear.Click here to read more...
Focus Home Interactive are the big Steam sale stars this weekend, perhaps the most deeply inconsistent publisher in the industry today. They deserve serious praise for the variety of genres they support, but on the other hand, their output also varies wildly in terms of quality. Which is a nice way of saying that they'll pretty much take a punt on anything.
Styx: Master Of Shadows is the newly-released star of the show at £19.99, a £5 saving, while the brilliant Sherlock Holmes titles are also available at a significant discount. The Divinity Anthology is decent value at £4.50, the brilliant Wargame series stars in a big fat bundle, whereas Yesterday and Rotastic weigh in at less than £2 apiece. Well worth a look, but stay far away from anything with "thrones," "orcs," "cycling" or "Confrontation" in the title.
Will you finally pick up Farm Simulator for your perfect noscope cornshot?
Platforms: PC (reviewed) | PS4 | Xbox One
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
I've been waiting for this game forever. One of the most under-appreciated American rock bands of the late 70s finally has a videogame of their own, complete with legendary tunes like Mr. Roboto, Renegade and Come Sail Away. Styx are awesome and it's about time too. Here's hoping for a Foreigner tie-in next...
...oh. Turns out that Styx: Master Of Shadows is actually a dark fantasy stealth game from Cyanide Studios.
Initial disappointment aside, this is still a remarkable turn of events. See, Styx is a real stealth game. Not an action game in Solid Snake's clothing, but a proper honest-to-goodness cold-blooded sneaky stabby treacherous quickloading brutally tense little experience that understands what the genre is all about, even if it doesn't always quite hit the mark.Click here to read more...
Do you want to be just or do you want to be kind? Are you a man who prizes the law above all else? Would you let a murderer walk free if it might serve the "greater good"? What kind of a man are you? These are the questions that are asked of the player when it comes to stepping once more into the shoes of Sherlock Holmes in Frogwares latest game in the ongoing series.
The gentleman detective may disappoint purists in this title, coming across as an amalgamation of Conan Doyle's original and the various popular incarnations seen across the screen over the last few decades. The accessories and affectations of Rathbone's Holmes are mingled with the calculating character of Moffat and Gatiss' recent reinventions, not to mention Sherlock's rather antagonistic relationship with his brother, Mycroft.
If there is less of the original Holmes' character to be seen in this game, it is because Frogwares has made the player the curator of Holmes' intellect and intuition, delivering the power of moral decision-making and deductive reasoning over into our hands. The Holmes of Crimes and Punishments is something of a blank slate in terms of judgement and ethical character, and it's up to us to fill in the gaps in a game that explores the consequences of the detective's findings and the processes of deduction in greater detail than ever before.
There are six cases that form the meat of the game in Crimes and Punishments, each of them unfolding with a series of twists and turns and opportunities for investigation depending on the player's thoroughness. Crimes and Punishments is, in many ways, an old-school point-and-click adventure game at heart. You survey crime scenes and areas of investigation, interacting with various points, persons, and objects of interest, collecting evidence, interrogating witnesses and suspects, and uncovering clues that may then be paired together to form deductions.Click here to read more...
Some say that Real Time Strategy is a dying genre, but Eugen Systems are having none of it. After shifting a million copies of Wargame, the passionate PC studio plans to bring the RTS back to its roots.
Act Of Aggression may be the spiritual successor to 2005's Act Of War, but judging by what Eugen co-founder Alexis Le Dressay showed me at Gamescom 2014, it's also set to be a spiritual revival of the classic fast-paced, over-the-top and brutal RTS action we once adored in the Command & Conquer days.
Set in the 2020s, Act Of Aggression sees three factions fighting over real-world locations in the strategic equivalent of a Clancy-esque techno thriller. The US' conventional military might faces off against the shadowy Cartel: a high-tech criminal syndicate who tacitly fund a vast number of PMCs, bringing sleek and futuristic tech to the table. Like the Brotherhood of NOD, perhaps, only eschewing religion for big business and bigger tanks. Finally, the United Nations rely on the Chimera; a hardbitten Private Military contractor empowered to act on their behalf.
The stage is set for epic showdowns on asymmetrical maps, with the time-honoured gameplay pillars of resource collection, base-building, tech trees and high-octane combat between dozens of powerful units and aircraft. However, despite its old-school pretensions, Act Of Aggression is loaded with cutting-edge new features that make real strategy the key to victory.Click here to read more...
Contrast is a short and fun little environmental puzzler with a great aesthetic, though most people know it as "the free PS4 game that replaced DriveClub at the last minute." PC owners can grab a copy for a paltry £3, saving nearly £9 on a Steam code.
Focus Home Interactive have tipped us off about a massive Steam sale starting tonight at 18:00, so consider yourself forewarned and forearmed. Though they're definitely not the most consistent of publishers, they're certainly willing to take a punt on plenty of genres, meaning that everything from RPGs to MOBAs, shooters, puzzlers and RTS games are all up for grabs at differing discounts.
My personal highlight would be EYE: Divine Cybermancy at a 90% saving, which I still rate as one of the most ambitious FPS games ever made since Deus Ex. Yes, it was far too ambitious for the engine and dev team, but worth playing to see how indie studios can push boundaries in loads of weird and wonderful directions. Aarklash Legacy will also be available for less than £4, which is a hidden gem of the first order.
The latest trailer for Warhammer 40K-themed FPS Space Hulk: Deathwing is turning heads and raising eyebrows. Both on account of it being astonishingly pretty, but also because it claims to be entirely comprised of "in-game" footage.
To put this in perspective: each Storm Bolter shell casing is individually embossed.Click here to read more...
A GOTY 2014 contender for sure, assuming that stands for Grow Our Tasty Yams. Or something.
Anyway, if you're a young professional parent struggling to spend time with your kinds, be sure to buy three copies of Farming Simulator 14 so your children can learn the value of crop rotation and noscope cornshots (ban this sick filth?) while giggling and staring lovingly at you on a sofa. You can do so on 3DS and Vita from tomorrow, or just don't and say you did.
To be clear, we're all for diverse genres and simulations - but last year the handheld Farming Simulator Vita title was a rubbish iOS port. Exercise caution.
I must admit that our hearts sank when we heard that Space Hulk: Deathwing was in production. Though Warhammer 40K has spawned its fair share of great games (Relic Entertainment are still annoyingly coy about the next Dawn Of War, damn them), the announcement that Focus Home Interactive were publishing a first-person shooter wasn't what we wanted to hear.
You know, because Focus Home's track record is... inconsistent... outside of Blood Bowl and Sherlock Holmes. And Full Control's Space Hulk reboot was a load of old cobblers.
However, a clutch of new screenshots and the specific developer involved have piqued our interest considerably - perhaps enough to get cautiously optimistic about what could be a fiercely unique tie-in.Click here to read more...
I've decided that I like Bound By Flame. It's won me over by virtue of its clunkily-gruelling, Dark Souls-lite combat system, its rich and varied approach to crafting, its plethora of throwaway one liners and non-sequiturs, and by generally being a little bit bonkers. For every mechanical misstep, jagged pixel, or dreadfully uttered line of dialogue, there are moments when the sheer force of the game's accidental B-movie personality just sticks a smile on my face.
But that doesn't make it a good game.
You play Vulcan, the powder master for a band of badass mercenaries known as the Freeborn Blades. Pleasantly, you can opt to be either male or female, but the customisation options beyond that are hilariously limited to six heads or so apiece. To the game's credit, you can actually rename your character, but it's completely pointless as the game and all of its characters will still call you Vulcan.
A war has ravaged the land of Vertiel, with seven Ice Lords invading from the North (it's always from The North) and sweeping all before them with an army of undead warriors and monstrous generals. The Freeborn Blades have been hired by a group of magicians known as the Red Scribes who seek to tap into the source of the world's power -- the Worldheart -- and seek a way of vanquishing the Deathwalker army that has never lost a battle. Unfortunately, the Deathwalkers show up at the time of the ritual, everything goes tits up, and though the Red Scribes end up summoning something, it breaks free of their enchantment and seeks out the nearest available host... which would be you.
And so it is, half-possessed by a demon, that Vulcan sets out to "purify" the Worldheart and bring peace once more to Vertiel.Click here to read more...
With the review coming later today, here's a look at the opening half hour from Spiders' new middle-tier RPG, Bound By Flame.
Focus and Spiders will no doubt be pleased with the level of hype that the game has garnered, far more than studio's last release -- Mars: War Logs -- ever received. But much of that is down to there being something of a hungering for a decent fantastical RPG. Taking cues most prominently from The Witcher and Dark Souls, Bound By Flame is arriving just in time to fill a gap, and deliver a timesink that we can use to fritter away the days until Watch Dogs finally releases.
It's worth noting that it's a decidedly last-gen game when it comes to the PS4 and PC version. It can go from looking moderately pretty one minute to downright ugly the next, and its appearance on PS4 is more of a courtesy than anything else. Don't expect it to blow your retinas out with eye-bulging beauty.
It's a clunky beast, with lots of little quirks, terrible voice acting and one or two odd bugs here and there, but it has a kind of goofy charm to it, and some of the one-liners are actually pretty funny. I'll go into more detail about the various aspects to the game in the review, but for now here are the opening scenes to Bound By Flame.
It's the gaming equivalent of a rather worthy B-movie.
We have one last video for you from last week's Focus Home Interactive showcase, and it's a rapid playthrough of one of the cases you'll be asked to solve as the master detective himself, in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments.
There's precious little Creepy Watson in this one, but it's choc-full of the usual stuff: character profiling, multiple suspects, creating links between evidence gathered and statements made, and then at the end of it all you get to make your final deductions and settle on one out of four possible suspects.
You can choose whether or not to condemn or absolve your suspects too, and also see if your deductions were correct or not. The last point is a lovely little touch, making it perfectly possible to go through the whole thing, never realising that you'd been banging up entirely the wrong people.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is out in Q2 2014, and is confirmed for all major platforms except for Xbox One.
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 | PS4
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
You have to admire Spiders' ambitions. They're a small team who want to make big games. Really big games. We're not talking shooters that you can rattle through in a matter of hours; we're talking RPGs with branching storylines, loads of customisation options, a decent story, optional companions, and an engaging combat system. These things don't come cheap, and the amount of effort it takes to craft a 20-25 hour RPG is intimidating.
That's what Bound By Flame is: a fully-fledged, high fantasy RPG on a budget that's a mere fraction of the likes enjoyed by Bethesda's and EA's studios. Made by a team more famous for porting The Testament of Sherlock Holmes to consoles than perhaps for their first stab at a truly expansive title in Mars: War Logs.
At least, that's the idea.
But Spiders are building up the time for their game at a good time. There's a dearth of fantastical Western RPGs right now, and if they can get Bound By Flame out ahead of the likes of The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, it is to be hoped that the gap in the market might do them some favours. With a while yet to wait until the coming big-hitters make their retail appearances, it's not surprising that Bound By Flame is getting a fair bit of attention, and rightly so.Click here to read more...
Spiders, the studio behind numerous Focus Home ports and last year's Mars: War Logs, are back with another mid-range RPG this year, setting out to try and prove once again that you can make a fully-fledged RPG with branching narratives, loads of customisation, loot, and character paths, for less than the usual multi-million dollar bill racked up by triple-A studios.
Mars: War Logs was a valiant effort, certainly, but it was riddled with issues and most agreed that whilst it was a game with a good grounding in the fundamentals of a good RPG, it was certainly lacking in the spit and the polish that a larger budget might have bestowed upon the game. Ambitious, yes; but ultimately hugely flawed.
Still, much of that can be attributed to it being Spiders' first real crack of the whip. Bound By Flame sees the studio returning with a different focus, a different setting and tone, and wearing its inspirations on its sleeve.Click here to read more...
Another little video from the recent Focus Home Interactive showcase, Space Run is a kind of inverse tower defence title that sees you running logistics missions across the galaxy and fending off pesky raiders, wayward asteroids, and marauding looters.
It's like Defense Grid crossed with DHL.
Each mission will see you given a ship made out of hexagonal parts that can be used to house cargo, thrusters, weapons and more. It's up to you, the player, to work out how to be outfit your craft along the way, managing the defence of your ship, making repairs where necessary, and manufacturing and aligning weapon modules to eliminate oncoming threats.
You can check out the game's official site here: http://www.passtechgames.com/space-run.html
Apologies again for the background noise. The new mic finally arrived just before the weekend and is glorious, so expect future vids to be rather more refined in terms of audio.
Developers: Cyanide Studio
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
Cyanide are rather busy of late. As well as readying a sequel to the Warhammer spinoff Blood Bowl, the studio are also hard at work on another spinoff title, this time in the world previously explored in Of Orcs and Men.
The recently announced Styx: Master of Shadows refers to the eponymous protagonist of the piece -- a goblin two centuries old, and the side kick to the orc Arkhail in the previous game.This is a world of traditional fantasy turn upside-down, where mankind has a lots to answer for as the races of Orcs and Goblins are trodden underfoot -- the former captured and enslaved, and the latter mercilessly persecuted.
Where Arkhail was large and lumbering and brutally strong, however, Styx is light, acrobatic, and nimble. A master thief and assassin, this game see him infiltrating the giant Tower of Akenash -- an intricately laid-out fortress built by the humans to protect a great tree that provides a substance called Amber. Think of Amber as Mana, and you wouldn't be far off, with the orangey substance proving to be the source of Elven magical power. Styx, the first of his kind, and full of questions as to the origins of the Goblin race is eager to sneak through the Tower and uncover the secrets of the Amber tree.Click here to read more...
Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studio announced a new stealth 'em up game called Styx: Master of Shadows, coming later this year and set in the world from Of Orcs and Men.
We got a chance to check out an early build of the game in action at a recent Focus Home showcase earlier this week, and things are looking very promising indeed, with the demo we were shown looking pleasingly open, the stealth and cover mechanics seeming to be very fluid in deed, and it appears as though the player will be given large amounts of freedom to achieve their objectives however they see fit.
Styx: Master of Shadows rather reminded me of a time when Hitman was about freeform assassinations and imaginative stealthing rather than spandex nuns, albeit with Codename 47 replaced by a centuries-old goblin.
To give you a better idea of what to expect, we've slung an offscreen video of the whole Styx: Master of Shadows presentation up on YouTube. It's less than ideal thanks to Amazon Prime's spectacular failure to deliver a new mic on time, so apologies for the background noise, and unfortunately the glare from the venue's strange, red lighting reflects a little in the TV screen, but you'll get an idea of what's in-store and you'll be able to read our Styx preview later today.Click here to read more...