This week, Jon and I jumped into Black Forest Games' side-scrolling action-fest, Dieselstormers. As described by the devs themselves, it's "high-octane carnage for 1-4 players featuring customizable motorguns, gas-guzzling knight armour, generated levels and randomized loot", and we had ourselves a blast.
Of course, I really should have done the tutorial do nab myself some sweet upgrades first, but no matter. It's classic run-and-gun stuff, only with bouncy, electrified ninja ropes of awesomeness, and it has one of the best names out there.
GOG are running a superb one-day promotion that slashes the prices of a huge amount of quality software. The Mutator Sale allows you to pay an extra £1.29 to receive a random extra game for every three you pick, which could be anything on this list.
It's a fun gimmick, but the raw savings aren't messing around. Shadowrun Returns and the surprisingly excellent Aarklash: Legacy are £2.49 apiece. Trine 2 Complete, Driftmoon, Project Eden, classic Divinity games and Dust: An Elysian Tail are all under £2!
Well worth a look for thrifty PC gamers and retro fans alike. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Dragon Age: Origins | Origin | Free
Dragon Age: Origins is that rare thing, a Tokien-esque dark fantasy game that makes its universe and canon feel fresh, vital and new while still dealing with the clichés we know and love. It also happens to be a truly brilliant RPG with great characters, plenty of player choice and the ability to create your own character from numerous races and backgrounds with unique playable backstories.
And it's FREE! Go get it, though don't bother with the sequel. Thanks and credit to gemsa @ HUKD!
With the Hobbit movies proving to be one of the longest train wrecks in recent memory, it’s a relief to see developers looking elsewhere for inspiration of doing Tolkien’s world justice. So, to fill the gap between the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, we find ourselves deep in the heart of Mordor.
Enter Talion, a ranger working on the Black Gate who, along with his family, is killed almost immediately by invading Uruks. Luckily (sort of) for him, an Elven Wraith spirit invades his body just before death. Meaning that a short while later he is resurrected and will continue to do so each time he is killed.
Throughout the adventure we’ll learn more about life in Mordor for humans before the orcs and Uruks invaded and Sauron took over and we’ll even learn how the One Ring was forged and how Sauron betrayed the nine. The time setting and location are ripe for gaming territory and Tolkien nuts should definitely take a look.
Shadow of Mordor brandishes its base influences with little shame, but in fairness, Monolith has chose some of the best brands to initiate, namely Assassin’s Creed and Rocksteady’s Batman titles. So expect an open world where you can climb any surface and find lots of side-missions and collectibles to keep you entertained between story missions. These distractions also help to fund your numerous combat upgrades, so it rarely feels like time wasting. The climbing mechanics are solid and the animations have a pleasing weight to them too.Click here to read more...
Project Spark has long been one of the most quietly ambitious projects out there. Billed as a game creator that lets your imagination run riot, a free client that lets you create and share your own games while enjoying numerous exciting creations from the community, is now out of beta and ready for prime time on Xbox One and PC.
Meaning, of course, that it's fair game for criticism. Reviewing this crazy thing is going to be incredibly difficult, but since I've been on-board since the beta and logged a fair few hours since launch, I'd like to share my major initial impressions of Project Spark -- both in terms of praise, constructive criticism and some potential concerns.
This list is by no means complete and may be subject to change, I'm only human after all, but for now here are my burning observations.
Playing through the 'Crossroads' mode and the first episode of the campaign is fleeting fun for fans of third-person action adventures, but the real joy of Project Spark is its creation suite. It's magnificent. You're given an enormous flat plane to turn into your own wondrous creation. Map tools allow you to raise hills, carve out rivers and paint them to your specifications, creating majestic island networks, towns, mazes and platforms out of thin air. You can choose the time of day, the angle of the sun and the camera. You'll then sprinkle your creation with assets, objects, characters and NPCs, all of which can be assigned different sizes and behaviours using a pleasingly robust logic system.
Known as 'Kode,' this system allows you to create cause-and-effect relationships ("when" and "do" commands) to govern how any object, character or creature works. For example, after plonking down an enormous squirrel the size of a house (no, not Conker!), I told the Project Spark that when I move the thumbstick, the monolithic woodland creature should move. When I press the A button, it should jump. It's a brilliant and deceptively deep setup with numerous options, AI behaviours and sensors up for grabs.
For my next trick, I created a rock and told it to follow my squirrel around, because every hero needs a sidekick. It's that simple.Click here to read more...
I'm really enjoying This War of Mine.
Actually, that's wrong. "Enjoying" is too jolly a word for such a bleak game. This War of Mine puts you in control of a band of civilian survivors trying to eke out an existence in the rubble of a war zone. Food is scarce, illness is widespread, and extreme circumstances have led many into taking extreme measures to survive. The pockets of humanity that are left are rife with mistrust and paranoia, and you must do all that you can to keep your characters alive.
Well... "must" is a strong word too.
See, This War of Mine is all about choices. It's what you might expect The Walking Dead to look like if they replaced the zombie apocalypse with a war-torn one, and took the shackles off the story so you could create your own survival narrative packed with questionable decision and moral crises.
As you'll see in the video, the characters you take control of are not hardened action heroes or gritty folk well-seasoned in the art of living off the grid. These are regular Joes and Janes, people who never thought they'd live through times such as those depicted here. Their concerns are basic -- food, warmth, health, safety -- but I was struck by the appearance of "sad" in their character files after I accidentally got one of them killed on a night-time scouting mission. Clicking them open, I realised that they'd been chronicling the days through brief journal entries -- character reflecting on the things that I'd caused to happen. The mental strain of it all taking a toll on their efficiency.Click here to read more...
This deal has now expired. This Winter is jam-packed with racing games, but don't necessarily overlook one of this year's most impressive offerings. GRID Autosport improves on its predecessor with superior handling (which is controversial, but I like it!), loads of cars and masses of events. It's not perfect, but for just £10, it's a whole lot of driving. Thanks to freeman76 @ HUKD!
The Humble Nordic Bundle is now live, offering three tiers of gaming goodness at varying prices. First of all, beat the minimum of £0.64 for Supreme Commander Gold, AquaNox, AquaNox 2: Revelation, Black Mirror and Summoner. Worth it for AquaNox, personally.
Beat the average to also get MX vs. ATV Reflex, Titan Quest Gold Darksiders and Red Faction: Armageddon.
I don't recommend the top tier at all. Darksiders II is good, but Spellforce 2: DotP is limp and Deadfall Adventures is utterly awful. Thanks to Dr4gOns_FuRy @ HUKD!
Happy Alien: Isolation Day, folks! Our review went live earlier today, and here's what I had to say about Creative Assembly's fright-fest:
Alien: Isolation is the most terrifying game I've ever played. It has several flaws (the Alien glitching through your hiding place is a surefire way of ruining immersion), it can legitimately be accused of padding its mid-section, and piling up of Android towards the end can get a bit silly, but I didn't care about any of that, I was simply too busy giving myself heart attacks. Alien: Isolation succeeds in doing something no other game has: doing justice to the Alien itself.
Are you getting stuck into Amanda Ripley's story today? Well, here are a bunch of tips to bear in mind when it comes surviving Sevastopol Station.
Don't be fooled when you get a weapon
This is not an action game. It looks like it would be, right? You even get a shiny little revolver in the first couple of hours. But every game to feature Xenomorphs has lied to you. This thing is unstoppable and relentless and you can't kill it. This is not a first-person shooter, so don't get cocky, kid. Run. Run like the wind. And then slow down, crouch and sneak, and find yourself a hiding place. The Alien is also faster and smarter than you.Click here to read more...
Alien: Isolation is out today and I'm scared to come out of this stupid goddamn locker.
I've been scared by games before. Silent Hill 2 is hands-down the creepiest game I've ever played. I love/hate the way that game messed with my head, the grotesque carnival of misshapen enemies, distended and crooked, that triggered genuine revulsion. They weren't just zombies, they were hideous apparitions that made me feel physically ill. Elsewhere, there were moments when games like Condemned and Dead Space and Fatal Frame and even Doom 3 made me jump and weirded me out.
But nothing has ever quite terrified me like Alien: Isolation.
In the past, Xenomorphs have been hazardous cannon fodder. In fact, up until this point, there's never been a game that really captures what it means to come face to face with that perfect organism. No game has ever succeeded in capturing the sheer terror of coming face to face with the Geigerian monstrosity. It took the team behind Total War to do that.
I've been having nightmares since I started playing this game. Before last week, I hadn't had a nightmare in about five years, and even then they didn't feature monsters. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the last nightmare I had before this involved drowning in a sea of letters from banks or HMRC or the Student Loans Company. Once, I was crashing a mate's couch and I realised that I'd forgotten my toothbrush, and I dreamed that all my teeth fell out and I could only eat plankton. You know, relatively boring stuff. Lately, however, I've been dreaming of Sevastopol Station, and the multi-mouthed monster in its bowels.Click here to read more...
Bundle Stars are crushing it yet again with the Reboot 8.0 Bundle, which is utterly superb.
£1.49 will net you Stealth Bastard Deluxe, which us excellent. Zeno Clash, which is excellent. Ring Runner, which is excellent. Grey Matter, which is merely good with a silly final act. See a theme emerging here? You'll also get Etherlords 2 and Heroes Of Annihilated Empires, both of which have overwhelmingly and vaguely positive reviews respectively.
That's a lot of excellence for £1.49. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Here's another one of those tried-and-tested Early Access titles that isn't finished, but we reckon is already an enjoyable and worthwhile game in its own right. Constructing your own high security prison is as addictive as it is slightly grim, especially at a 66% discount.
Hopefully Introversion aren't about to pull a DF-9, mind. As always, remember that Early Access has inherent risks and you might be better off waiting for v.1.0.
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...
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is another one of those games that plonks you down in the middle of a beautiful landscape and just lets you sort of get on with things. Of course, in this game those "things" involve dealing with the scribblings of an imaginative young chap -- the titular Ethan Carter -- and puzzling out a chain of murders and odd happenings that start as soon as you start wandering about the place.
I don't really want to go into any story details at all, such would be the danger to disrupting one's initial experiences of the game, but The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game that's really all about stories. The game begins with a disclaimer warning the player that this will not be a game that holds one's hand, and it's an apt observation. At first I'd worried that framing the game so might have an adverse effect on me, but that certainly wasn't the case.
Things take a rapid turn for the dark and macabre. Although you're pretty much free to wander wherever and deal with things in any order you like, the game's opening scenes are designed to intrigue, and there's nothing quite like a pair of bloodied, severed legs on an abandoned railway to do just that.
Certain objects and scenes require further examination, occasionally missing pieces of evidence may need to be retrieved and put back in the places where they're supposed to be. You find yourself stepping into the shoes of paranormal detective Paul Prospero, whose ability to sense things that are out of place helps the scavenger hunt for the weird and creepy somewhat. Prospero's internal monologue floats up onto the screen in fits and spurts when you interact with potential clues, the shorthand of his deductive reasoning appearing in Sherlockian fashion.Click here to read more...
Project Zomboid (early access) | Steam | £5.99 (save £4)
We only recommend Early Access titles that we've tried and tested, and Project Zomboid is one of them. This zombie survival sandbox sim has been around for yonks, but it's still a tense, compelling, atmospheric and unremittingly grim experience even in its unfinished state. I'd naturally still suggest holding off until version 1.0 if you have any doubts about early access, but £5.99 is still good value if you're feeling adventurous. Thanks to Ronin474 @ HUKD!
Crysis 3 won't win any awards for storytelling, but it's graphically gorgeous and shows more ambition than its predecessor when it comes to level design and sneaky stealth suit shenanigans. The multiplayer community was practically deserted the last time I checked, a shame since Crytek UK (the Timesplitters guys!) really put in a shift here. Still, £4.99 is a great price, at least if you ask yourself one question.
"Will it run Crysis?" Thanks to HedgyHoggy @ HUKD!
Survival sandbox titles have been popping up all over the place in recent years, so to stand out within the genre takes something a little special. Hinterland Studio reckons it has the right stuff with The Long Dark, and so I grabbed my nearest warm coat and along with testing out the game for the first time, attempted to see if I could survive the harsh Canadian wilderness.
My efforts were... erm... not great, but the game itself not only has a very charming aesthetic, it also manages to capture the feeling of loneliness and isolation perfectly. Especially when everything goes wrong. Which is did. A lot. See for yourself in our latest episode of First Contact!
You can learn more about The Long Dark, which is currently in early access, by visiting the official website.
Welcome back to Click To Play , the new-old regular series that takes a look at a new browser-based curio each week to further the fine art of procrastination. We accept absolutely no responsibility if you get caught at work/school/uni gloriously wasting time on the games listed here when you should be working.
This week: Phoenotopia
This one's a little bit special, and it's about as good as free adventure/RPGs get.
Phoenotopia sees players step into the role of Gale, a pink-haired farm girl eking out an existence on a post-Earth colony. Life's is pretty good until a bunch of alien spaceships come and spirit away all of your neighbours, leaving just you and a rabble of pesky kids behind to fend for yourselves. As Gale, it's up to you to leave behind your home village, and to venture out into the world and discover what the hell happened to your friends and family.
As a game, Phoenotopia plays out like the lovechild of Zelda and Metroidvania's heyday, except it's free. But the price tag, or lack thereof, is in no way an indication of the quality of the game. Slap it on Steam for a handful of pounds and I'm pretty sure it could have done some serious business there. It's aesthetics are glorious. The visuals will appeal massively to SNES lovers, and the soundtrack is fantastic -- fantastical whimsy blended expertly with a dash of the rousingly epic.Click here to read more...
The release schedules are fattening up nicely now and we have a great selection of titles hitting the stores this week. Like hiding in lockers? Well the horror fan in you might find something Alien-related to enjoy, while the perv in you is also catered for via the latest browser-troubling release from Japan. PS4 racing fans rejoice as a certain much delayed racer is finally on the starting grid and XO owners, get those creative juices flowing for your answer to LBP. Failing that you’ll have to settle for some basketball or running around Hong Kong with a meat cleaver and handcuffs.
Creative Assembly’s title ditches the pulse rifles for a survival horror experience which seems so well suited to the Alien universe we don’t know why it’s taken someone this long to try it. Early reviews are largely positive and we’ll have our own soon. Be sure to check out our past coverage below.
Best Price: Simply Games: £32.85 (PS4/XO)Click here to read more...
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an odd little game -- an exploratory adventure title, shrouded in mystery, that sees you stepping into the shoes of paranormal detective Paul Prospero as he responds to a letter received from a very scared little boy.
Games that plonk you down in the middle of a new space and simply demand that you get on with it are becoming rather plentiful these days. The delights of piecing a narrative together for oneself are obvious, but these games are not without their risks. It's not simply enough to expect players to automatically engage with a game world or feel obliged to work out what's going on. As I found with Betrayer, it's all too easy for games such as this to have skipped out on the precious foundations of creating a game world that we want to be in.
Thankfully, though, when it comes to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, there's plenty to keep one's attention. It helps that the world is gorgeous, that the soundtrack makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Murders and disappearances are always useful hooks for ensnaring curious minds, and the splashes of evidence and mysterious happenings here in the first half hour certainly do a good job of encouraging progress. I continue onwards because I want to, rather than feeling like I should.
The review will be up by Monday at the latest (silly season has begun!) but in the interim, here's the first half an hour or so of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter along with some real-time initial observations.Click here to read more...