We're seeing a fair few nostalgia trips these days, blending old-school sensibilities with updated systems -- distilling the elements that made classics like Baldur's Gate and Fallout and Elite so utterly brilliant and updating everything to provide a smoother experience that feeds our rose-tinted desires and removes any clunkiness or mechanical cobwebs.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing indeed, and it carried Pillars of Eternity (just called Project Eternity back then) to the top of Kickstarter's funded list, giving Obsidian Entertainment the chance to pay homage to the Infinity Engine games that put so many of its employees on the map.
Last week, we got the chance to check out the game and chat to project lead Josh Sawyer, who delivered a half-hour presentation bringing us up to speed on where development currently sits. There'll be a preview coming shortly, but here's the presentation in full for now. Apologies for the awful visuals (had a slight tech fail on the day).
Unrest is a game all about talking to people. There's little by way of direct violence in this indie RPG adventure title from Pyrodactyl Games, instead the emphasis here is fixed firmly on the notion of playing a role, wrapping yourself up in a character and then making some rather weighty decisions.
This is absolutely my jam.
The scene is set in the city of Bhimra, with the game taking its cues from a fictionalised, fantastical vision of ancient India. The years have not been kind to Bhimra and its population, and interminable famine, drought, and burgeoning slums have brought the city to the brink of utter collapse. An uneasy treaty with a neighbouring Naga empire, whose citizens are a giant race of snake people, would seem to be the answer, but in exchange for provisions and welfare, the Naga are looking for jobs for their skilled workers. Unlike Bhimra's caste system, the Naga empire allows for greater social mobility, but even so, there are only so many opportunities to go around.
That doesn't sit too well with certain pockets of Bhimra's society, however, particularly out in the slums where an influx of immigrants would seem to be the absolute last thing their city should be undertaking in a time of famine and strife. Riots start kicking off, and a royal visit to the areas of deprivation, designed to illustrate the benefits of the treaty with the Naga empire, goes horribly awry. Everything goes downhill rather quickly after that and you the player, are in charge of determining a future path for Bhimra across eight chapters and five different playable characters of varying standings and affiliations.Click here to read more...
The Banner Saga is one of the finest games released this year. With its stunning aesthetics and art that emulates the famed work of Eyvind Earle, an accessible-yet-deep turn-based battle system, dynamic narrative twists and turns that come about as the direct result of the choices you make, and boasting an exemplary Austin Wintory soundtrack, can you really afford to miss out on this?
Plus it's a Kickstarter success that delivered on its promises and lived up to its own hype, which is awesome. And as the Yogscast will surely testify, that doesn't always happen.
Unrest is a conversation-heavy RPG, in which the responses you give to people and the choices you make are at the heart of things. The stage is set in a fantastical vision of ancient India, and instead of dealing in combat and inventory management, the game impresses on the player the importance of playing a role -- choosing to align its focus on characters who might find themselves overlooked in other games, and whose fates are predetermined thanks to a caste system.
Instead of an epic narrative involving gods and demons, Pyrodactyl Games’ have chosen to narrow their focus for the game down onto the civil unrest in one city, and the impact of a treaty to be signed between two factions rife with distrust for one another.
We've gone and captured the first 15-20 minutes of the game, without commentary, for you to check out. There'll be a review later on today.
There's a big fat EA racing sale going on over on Steam, and Hot Pursuit is probably the pick of the bunch. Of course, that all changes if you somehow don't own Burnout: Paradise, because The Ultimate Box is only £1.24. If you're only just dipping your toes into this sort of thing, definitely plump for Paradise.
Or you could buy the whole EA Racing Pack (Need for Speed Undercover, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, Need for Speed: Shift, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Shift 2 Unleashed) for £13.74.
The Forest is a cracking survival-horror game that emerged onto Steam in Early Access a couple of months ago, and instead of playing it then, I decided to wait until July, which is traditionally a lovely quiet month, where AAA titles can be put to one side to allow for the sampling of exquisite indie treats and that backlog of games "that I've totally been meaning to play" can be trimmed down before silly season kicks off.
But then I (somehow!) convinced myself to play 50 hours of Watch Dogs. And then the Destiny beta turned up. And then The Crew beta turned up. AAAAARGH!
Even so, I'd wanted to check out The Forest for some time after having it recommended to me my several trusted colleagues and friends, and now I have. It's pretty damn good too.
Everything kicks off it Lost-meets-BioShock fashion. There's a plane crash, you land in a lush forest, it seems like you're the lone survivor, and right at the start you're introduced to a seemingly indigenous chap who carries off the only other passenger with you on the plane -- a young boy. The lack of passengers is probably an alpha thing, and therefore the presence of the young lad (Son? Nephew? Kidnap victim?) is clearly important. You probably have to save him as some sort of endgame objective.
As you'll see in the video, much of the early game is all about foraging for supplies -- rocks, sticks, food, etc. -- and fashioning yourself shelter and a fire. You've got a very handy survival guide that tells you exactly what you need to build structures and furniture, making the level of entry fairly low. But then it starts raining and your fire goes out and you can't find any sticks and you begin to freeze and you eat the wrong berries and die of food poisoning.Click here to read more...
Oh Daikatana, how we've totally not missed you.
It strikes me that an entire gaming generation now exists, the members of which are completely oblivious to the fact that there was a time when developers were rock gods who could invite you to "suck it down".
That's not necessarily a bad thing on second thoughts.
The reason for this nostalgic prattle is that Humble Bundle have teamed up with Square Enix for this fortnight, and you can pay what you want to bag Thief Gold, Mini Ninjas, Daikatana, Hitman: Codename 47, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Anachronox. If you beat the average ($7.92 at the time of writing) you'll also unlock Deus Ex: Invisible War, Deus Ex: The Fall, Hitman: Absolution, Battlestations Midway and the Nosgoth Veteran Pack. Those who pay $15 or more will receive all of the above, plus Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut, Just Cause 2, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition and Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days.
Do it for Anachronox. Carl will love you forever.
£3.75 is a bit of a steal for the tens of hours you're going to get out of this. New Vegas might not be quite the masterpiece that Fallout 3 was, but it's still an utterly fantastic game in its own right, and for less than four quid you can bag the Ultimate Edition, which comes with all of the DLC, over at the Ubisoft Online Store.
Thanks to BlightySpike at HotUkDeals.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes place on the moon of the planet Pandora in the time between the first and second games, with players working for Handsome Jack. Not played any of the other games? Don’t worry; this is a simple place to start and newcomer friendly while giving plenty of nudges to the fans. So let’s dive in and see what 2K Australia has brought to the table since Gearbox handed them the reigns.
Two playable characters were available to choose from in this demo. First time through the snaking queue at the MCM Manchester Expo I tried Athena, a light and nimble character packing a collection of long-range weapons. Her standard mêlée move involves a sweet red katana slash that has a satisfying feel. Athena's most impressive feature though is her shield ability. A tap of L1 sees her raise her shield in her left hand, leaving the right free to continue firing a gun. The shield can be thrown Captain America style for a devastating attack with a tap of L1. The shield is thrown automatically after the meter has depleted too. It’s a great way to create some breathing room when multiple enemies are closing in. You're going to be happy to splurge hard-earned skill points on reducing the cooldown period for this one.
The second character I was able to choose was the imposing figure of Wilhelm. So, it comes as no surprise that we’ve found this Pre-Sequel’s tank character. His default loadout favored more explosive weaponry like shotguns and rocket launchers. Sadly, his melee attack lacked any sort of impact or visual style compared to Athena’s. Why should we be content with a standard rifle butt jab when Athena gets a freakin’ sword? Come on 2K, give him a hammer at least or seeing as we expect mental weapons from this series, maybe a small rabid skag on a stick would be better? Wilhelm’s special ability is much more useful (but again not very unique), a small backup drone that flies around you shooting at will. Frankly, I was too busy shooting to see how useful it was being.Click here to read more...
Inversion is a passable Gears clone with some nice ideas. The anti-gravity mechanic at the heart of the gunplay is a nifty idea, but it's also completely undermined by the game never really using it's USP to the fullest advantage. Instead, here we have a mediocre shooter with a forgettable plot, limp setpieces, and little by way of imagination besides enemies appearing on walls and ceilings.
If you're really, really bored this summer, and you've somehow played all of the really awesome games that have come out this year so far, then this is a good deal at face value (be quick, though, it runs out in eight hours), and we're honour bound to tell you about it.
But I wouldn't call it a good game.
It's Skyrim. It's amazing. And on PC there are a whole host of mods to enable you to pretty much do anything you want, which are super easy top install and get up and running thanks to Steam Workshop. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Radial-G was one of the highlights of this year's Develop Conference Expo. Tammeka Games are currently Kickstarting an antigravity racer in the same basic vein as WipEout and F-Zero, seeking £50,000 to bring the fierce project to Oculus Rift and potentially Project Morpheus, and aren't afraid to let us try it out. Suffice to say that the hands-on prototype was intense... and yet somehow managed to throw me through twisting geometry-defying space tubes at breakneck speeds without even the slightest hint of simulation sickness.
You don't even have to take our word for it, because the demo is free to download and fully-playable on regular monitors.
Keen to know more, I grabbed Tammeka Games producer Sam Watts for an interview, who proceeded to explain how military precision, genre experience, years of preparation, careful planning and smart design have led to Radial-G becoming a very different kind of racer.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Sam. First things first, can you give us the elevator pitch? In your own words, what is Radial-G?
Sam Watts (Tammeka Games): It's a high-octane futuristic arcade racer, filling the slot that's been woefully left open by a lack of F-Zero and WipEout, to bring a high-octane antigravity racing to the current and next generation!
Dealspwn: Not to mention Virtual Reality platforms such as the Oculus Rift and Morpheus. I was very impressed by your prototype – what opportunities and challenges did you face when developing a game for VR?
Sam Watts: I don't want to blow our own trumpet too much, but we are very experienced in creating VR experiences. We've done a lot of high-level military virtual reality simulations before with multi-channel output and a lot of back-end networking...Click here to read more...
Typing Of The Dead: Overkill is absolutely brilliant. Yes, it's just a lightgun game that swaps the lightgun for typing words on a keyboard. Yes, it's crass. Yes, it's rude. Yes, a thousand times yes, but that's why we love it Better yet, you can get it for £3 at Green Man Gaming with their P36EYA-K5JYKT-ABO7X9 voucher code.
Platinum Games are best-in-business at crafting OTT brawlers and intense hack & slash action games, and Revengeance is yet more proof of their absolute mastery in the field. Despite feeling like a Metal Gear game, it's stuffed with outrageous combat, huge bosses, robot chainsaw wolves and more juicy cyborg ultraviolence than you can shake an HF Blade at. £9.99 is a steal. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
The Blink Trading Cards Bundle is brilliant and very slightly depressing. A paltry £1.16 will net you superb puzzler A Virus Named TOM, epic space adventure Ring Runner: Flight Of The Sages, innovative platformer LOVE and a game about a furniture-eating stealth robot. Mint, even if you don't upgrade to grab an extra 8 titles for £2.92.
And yet, rather than advertising these unsung highlights, the bundle instead decides to boast about those silly collectibles. Still, if you do manage to flog a few, you'll make a bit of your money back!
We've occasionally seen it cheaper, but Dishonored is still a screaming deal at £2.49. In fact, paying so little is almost an insult to the hardworking developers (but you won't hear us complain!). You can alternatively stump up £6.79 for the complete edition. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Developer: Alan Hazelden
Sokobond is a game about making molecules.
It's so simple. Controlling a single atom, you'll move around some 2D grids in cardinal directions to bump into other atoms, locking and bonding if you each happen to have a free electron. Like a Sokoban puzzle, only with molecular bonding. Geddit? Eventually you'll form a molecule and learn an interesting science fact, all while enjoying a soothing minimalist atmosphere and subconsciously improving your basic chemistry skills. A low-key idea, but so masterful in the execution that Sokobond became one of 2013's best puzzle games.
Time makes fools of us all, and I simply didn't have enough time to pick up and review Alan Hazelden's minimalist masterpiece at launch. Now that it's headed to Steam on July 21st, however, I finally have a perfect excuse to rave about it.Click here to read more...
Usually I've played most or at least a couple of the games in any given indie compilation, but I'm afraid you're on your own with The Indie Royale Apollo Bundle. Talisman should be a dead cert if you like the original -- Games Workshop boardgame adaptations usually are (see also) -- while I've heard good things about Terrorhedron and Echo Of The Wilds in passing.
What I do know is that £1.51 is very cheap. Thanks once again to jaystan @ HUKD!
Groupees' Shiny Loot 6 Bundle is another 'build-your own' affair, allowing you to pick two games for a Dollar (c. 58p) and add extras. In this case, I'd recommend grabbing Escape Goat and Hacker Evolution Untold, both of which I can personally recommend as being well worth the price.
However, there are two things to note. First of all, you'll have to create an account on Shiny Loot to redeem your bundle keys, which is a bit cheeky. To ease the sting, though, you'll probably get a free copy of Really Big Sky for your trouble once they sell over 2000 bundles. UPDATE: Full credit to jaystan @ HUKD, who found this before I did!
Hands up if you fancy playing one of the best RPGs of the last decade, because that's what we've got right here. I could spend 1500 or so words dissecting Divinity: Original Sin for you before delivering that conclusion, but frankly that's time that you could be spending playing Divinity: Original Sin.
Let's put it this way: if you like your old-school, isometric RPGs, if you've lamented the increasing tendencies of modern games (especially purported role-playing games) towards handholding and streamlining and other simplifications, if what you crave from an RPG is freedom and customisation and a combat system that makes you pause and think, this is the game you've been waiting for.
You should probably stop reading and go and buy it right now.
If you're still here, perhaps you need a little more convincing. Some proof, perhaps, or a little more specificity. We're back in Rivellon for this prequel to Divine Divinity, but it won't matter if you've never played a Divinity game before. You can jump straight in and starting questing to your heart's content, the only things you'll miss out on are a few "A-ha!" moments and in-jokes as previous characters make cameo appearances. You begin the game by creating two Source Hunters, who are on a mission to find the dastardly magical evil-doers that have been mucking about with the balance of things and so on and so forth. It's a fairly hackneyed story, one we've seen countless times before, but it's the way Larian tell it rather than the story itself that makes Original Sin such a delight. This game is all about freedom, choice, personality, and funny one-liners.Click here to read more...