Pode – Experience The Warmth That Companionship Brings

Companionship, we are always looking for it, be it in form of friendships, family, colleagues at work… A lover. We like to think we need only ourselves but when we feel empty and alone it’s companionship that saves us, picks us up and reminds us: it’s ok.

Without companionship, I doubt I’d be here, writing this very article, for you.

Pode is a 3D puzzle game developed by Henchman and Goon. You play as Bulder (rock character) and/or Glo (Light character) who explore an ancient ruin of a lost civilization to help Glo return home. Each character has their own unique abilities to help to solve the puzzles littered within the game, however many of the puzzles rely on both characters working together.

As this game is best played as a couch co-op experience you can also play it single-player with the capability of switching characters on the fly.

Both characters influence the world differently, with Bulder controlling rock formations and Glo blooms life in the environments that you help traverse the levels. Each character are opposites, and this is shown through the mechanics; this even extends to some of the slight physic-based puzzles too. It adds to the game an emotional depth, through the gameplay, which is rarely seen in others – one can’t simply complete a level without the other and this is further expressed by using each other as a platform to reach inaccessible areas.

Graphically the game has a very minimalistic style yet it’s utterly gorgeous, taking inspiration from Norwegian art and nature. It has this painted look using a lot of flat tones and colours, where these darker tones combine with brighter lush primary colours. It complements the gameplay by enhancing the relaxing gameplay experience. You’ll find yourself as Glo wanting to bloom life in the whole level just to add the bright colour pallet unfurl in a hollow and lifeless landscape; a great mechanical metaphor of the game’s central themes.

It’s hard to talk about the game because it’s fairly basic, but that’s the point. Minimalism is the heart of the design. Why you ask? So, it doesn’t distract from its main point, companionship. With a button to hold the other character’s hand, we see a game that’s inherently positive. You can’t help being touched by the game when you see these two opposite characters slowly begin to understand each other – especially in today’s social division. You can’t help but smile to yourself at those little tender moments.

Talking with Linn Sovig, the Marketing/Publishing Manager for Henchman and Goon, Linn explained the concept came about so that parents could play a game with their children that they could enjoy. That they both could experience the same positivity together and that they must interact with each other not just through the game’s mechanics, but verbally too.

Linn told me that there are hidden sections within the game and that these hidden sections are each dedicated to loved ones lost during the development cycle.

There is so much heart within this game, so much love and you indulge in the same passion while playing. You can play this game solo, but you will be robbing yourself the entire purpose of this game.

What Henchman and Goon have created here is a rarity within video gaming, something you feel. I urge anyone who plays games with people to buy this game and just experience the warmth the game has to offer.

Pode is out now on Switch with a PlayStation 4 port currently in development. Enjoy and remember what it’s like to feel something again.

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Valfaris

A Look At Valfaris – Rock Out By Killing Aliens

In space, everyone can hear you rock out and kill aliens!

It’s always nice to hear of a comeback story, especially within the games industry, and what a comeback story developer Steel Mantis had when releasing Slain.

On its original release, Slain received relatively poor review scores. A committed Steel Mantis hired programmer Thomas Jenns reworked ‘Slain’ into the now ‘Slain: Back From Hell’ and changed what originally was a mediocre game into a cult classic.

Now for the first time working together on a project from the start, Thomas Jenns and Andrew Gilmour are back to rock our socks off again with ‘Valfaris’, a heavy metal action platformer set in space.

The stupendous citadel Valfaris has reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun after disappearing from the galactic charts. Therion, a valiant son of Valfaris returns home to find Valfaris overrun by an ever-growing darkness. Playing as Therion, you must explore the citadel and rid it from its evil – basically, kill everything.

With artist Andrew Gilmour being a heavy metal fan, the game oozes with the iconography associated with that genre of music. From Therion being a badass bulky meathead with long hair who head bangs, demonic monsters, giant guns and backgrounds you’d expect from an Iron Maiden or Yes album cover, everything is loud and over the top.

Andrew’s detailed pixel art style really makes the environments tangible and the characters – even though completely fictional – believable within the context of that world and medium; like 2000 AD comics did with their characters.

Playing the game you can feel the smog and smell the rust. With the demo only lasting 30 minutes I saw external vistas, internal corridors and a junkyard, all of which transitioned naturally and never felt out of place.

And what to say about the gameplay… It’s good, it’s really good. Everything just feels fluid and right, the shooting and the platforming just meld well together, one never outdoing the other. You have a main pistol and a sword, as well as a secondary weapon that acts as a power weapon that uses energy, so you do not abuse them.

Speaking with Matt from Digital Upper Cut (the publisher) explained that you can level your power weapons too by collecting orbs throughout the level. You’ll be wanting to level up those guns because the game is difficult, many a section I find myself dying a fair few times at, especially the Junkyard Goblin boss.

However, credit here goes to the checkpoints and how each checkpoint is in the exact spot just before a difficult section so you ‘just have that one more go feeling’, as Matt put it when talking after my time with the demo “we say it’s a Nintendo difficulty” (he is referring to old skool Nintendo here). Furthermore, I won’t spoil it, but don’t rest so easy, expect surprises.

Matt informed me that the soundtrack has been composed by Curt Victor Bryant from Celtic Frost, with his style of metal really pumping you up for action and it’s the cherry on top of what looks like a brilliant game. The music makes you push into the action like a crazed madman.

Anyone who wants to shoot and slash monsters needs this game – it’s just a hell a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it completely knows what it is.

Playing the game reminded me of those ’90s action games that were full of gore, fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled action. This is one to watch out for.

Valfaris is scheduled for a 2019 release on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One.

Dark Souls Remastered

Turning Hollow – The Covenant Of Artorias

I“ am Jack Boyles. I am losing my humanity… I am turning Hollow.

Stories get passed on and permutate over time but there is one story I’ve heard that doesn’t, a story of a knight – one of the knights of Gywn in fact, have you heard of it?

Some say this knight had an immense power that he could traverse the abyss. He set off to Oolacile, a once thriving city that fell waste to the clutches of the Father of the Abyss. The noble knight with his trusted companion, a wolf, journeyed to the land Oolacile. The knight and his companion were to fight the Father of the Abyss and to liberate Oolacile from the ghastly creature. The knight fought valiantly but with his companion downed and on the verge of being defeated, the knight acted selflessly and sacrificed his own life in order to save his companions. This once benevolent knight, now only recognizable by his physique had been consumed and corrupted by the abyss. In his new-found rage, attacked anything or anyone until one day an unnamed knight ended his reign of terror. Stories say his companion still awaits at his grave, waiting for what, I do not know.

You see Chosen Undead, no matter how powerful we believe one’s self to be, we can be corrupted and consumed; do not fall prey to the power of the Abyss, do not allow yourself to be a consumer.

The Covenant Of Artorias

The abyss is pervading the land and tainting the very foundations of its construct. I and other reputable people try to inform the dangers and to fend off this lurid sap. A feeble idea marred by the nascent perception of the populous whom invest their souls on cosmetic items, loot boxes and other such content that should already be allocated within the innards of the game; sometimes that content is already prescribed on the disc. Tis not so much vexation if the game is free to play but one cannot possibly tolerate such etiquette with a full priced retail game. Principally when the game is formulated in such a way that its desiderata is for thee to spend their souls. This ritual has been coined ‘Games as a Service’ or ‘Live Services’, names conjured to send you adrift.

Not all ‘Games as a Service’ are harrowing, Nintendo’s ‘Splatoon’ hosts special events, adds new weapons, new maps and cosmetic items all for free; the only way to acquire the weapons are from points gained from participating within the game and the points are distributed respectfully… Many AAA companies such as EA and Ubisoft for example, have and will, design their games to devour your souls, applying this technique in both Multiplayer and Single player.

To me, this seems an unstable business model because companies are not just competing with other companies, but they will be competing with their own products.

The Covenant Of Artorias

These big AAA developers and producers no longer refer to us as players or gamers, we are consumers. Consumers, ha, must we not enjoy their games? Must we not look at them as entertainment? Must we not see them as an art form or a form of escapism from the atrocities of life? Not in their eyes. They are just consumable items for us to feed on, reducing their own games to just an item with no inherent value, insinuating we gamers just view these as products that we consume and gain no experience from. Ugh, uh… Surely, this implies that some publishers see games as nothing more than a vacuum sucking everyone’s time to serve no purpose other than to exist, acquire souls and then to be abandoned. Games are not the pendent.

Consumer! By the gods… Would you expect that from a director? Would you expect that from an author? Of course not, they are an audience or a reader. A level of respect participates, not mere vessels for conjuring souls. Would thou agree we should be treated with the same dignity?

The Covenant Of Artorias

If only there were more Covenant of Artorias… End this corruption and consumption… We all should protect ourselves, so our faint doth not follow that of the knights.”

Braid And 10 Years In Time

So, here’s to 10 years of Braid. And 10 years of Blow.

Braid went on to become a hit, critically and commercially. It contributed to the rise of indie games, digital distribution being a viable platform and self-publishing. Its most profound achievement is showing an industry what games can be – like Ico before it – that games can be an art form and it inspired this sensibility, not just for indie games, but the AAA market too.

What Braid is, is a fine – and very rare – example of postmodernism in videogames. Braid takes what we know from platforming games – especially citing the pinnacle of the genre Mario on several occasions – to only flip it on its head; to take what we conceive and then change our preconception of it.

This is evident in the closing level when you finally come to rescue the princess in more ways than one. How its narrative is told through books of text and not a cutscene, or how its story is fragmented and deconstructed is like the postmodern literature of Vonnegut, Moore or Pynchon. It takes the fun and simplicity of Mario (Modernism), then changes it to a high concept and philosophical platformer, Braid (Postmodernism).

Everything in the game has meaning, even if it’s not clear consciously. This has many people speculating and theorizing the true meaning of Braid; such as the game is about a scientist working on the atomic bomb, obsession, etc.

The game’s story sees you playing as Tim to rescue a princess from a monster. The story is told through text at the start of each world, here you’ll read that Tim has made a mistake that he would like to forget. After completion, more text is revealed adding more narrative, in a more ambiguous nature highlighting more of the deeper themes of the game.

Aesthetically the game is seeping with European and British iconography of countrysides and castles smeared with whimsical watercolours. All this accompanied by a folk-inspired soundtrack, that just hearing it makes you smell the fresh moisture produced from the green pastures. It screams of classic children’s novels like ‘Peter Rabbit’, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ or ‘Wind and the Willows’.

Braid, on the first glance, looks like a typical platformer with puzzle elements, with an added bit of collecting jigsaw puzzle pieces to complete a jigsaw on each level.

It’s when you play the game where one of the mechanics is the manipulation of time, mainly reversing time. It’s here where Blow shows his skill as a game designer and takes what I call a ‘Nintendo’ approach to game design; using a single mechanic and exploring that single mechanic to its full potential (now if anyone wants to debate this, please write in the comments as I’ll happily discuss… Even if you are Jonathan Blow yourself!).

This time manipulation is stretched and rolled like a piece of dough with some in-game items not being affected by it, the player’s shadow leaving an imprint on the world, slowing down time in a specific area or the world where time is governed by the direction you walk. Time manipulation isn’t just the mechanic, it’s the central core of the gameplay.

Here in the UK, we never had a video game crash. It was around this time the rise of independent video games happened. Teenagers coding on the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro or Commodore 64. Hobbyists turned into rock stars and the biggest entrepreneurs in the UK.

So, independent games have been around for decades but the rise of independent games from the past 10 years owe it to Braid. Braid was released on the infamous Xbox Live and then saw ports to various other systems. It cemented Johnathan Blow as a video game legend overnight; ushering a new wave of independent developers with new sensibilities to game design.

I was in my second year of university studying media when a close friend from my hometown, I kept in contact through Xbox Live and party chat, told me about this game he was playing that blew his mind.

Eager to share this experience, my friend purchased me an Xbox cash voucher and told me to buy a game called Braid. Like my friend, I too was entranced by this video game, this piece of philosophy, this work of art. Never had I gazed upon a CRT for that length of time simply not moving – watching, understanding the levels and their logic.

You don’t simply play Braid, you assimilate Braid.

The Problem With Games Writing – An Open Response To The IGN And Boomstick Controversy

I’m sure you are well aware of the controversy: game giants IGN reviewed the indie game Dead Cells. It was revealed later that the review was plagiarized from a small independent YouTube channel known as Boomstick Gaming.

The channel exposed the giant with a comparison video of both reviews side by side. This resulted in people grabbing pitchforks and flaming torches in the dead of night, ready to hunt down this behemoth who prayed on a helpless mortal man – the pitchfork-wielding community vowing never to trust the giant again.

One thing is for certain, the review was extremely similar, enough for the plagiarism claim leading to the writer’s dismissal, forcing IGN to make a public apology to their audience, Boomstick and the developer in the hopes that just some of the pitchforks will be lowered.

The mob of us

No one except the writer can say with 100% certainty if it was copied knowingly in the hopes that he would get away with it, if he maliciously copied the review due to some internal crazed cosmic justice, if he was frightened of missing a deadline out of fear and panic copied the review, or if he watched or read several reviews and subconsciously copied the review; for the later you only have to look at the genius of the George Harrison plagiarism claim on his iconic track “My Sweet Lord”.

The timescales for any review are daunting; I know that from my own experience working a full-time job and with a review to be completed in a reasonable amount of time on a regular basis.

As some of you may not be aware, a lot of developers or publishers provide you with a code for the game and expect the review to be uploaded in a timely manner (usually within a week); this is usually completing the game, writing, maybe rewriting parts of the review and then publishing it.

Now you are probably thinking, ‘this guy’s full-time job is to write review pieces’ and you’d be right, but this wouldn’t have been the only piece he was working on. By all means, this is not me defending plagiarism, it’s merely an understanding of what variables are in place that may have caused such an endeavour.

My personal favourite Beatles member

To meet developer or publisher timescales for a review is crucial for any game news/review outlet, failing to do so can have lasting repercussions if a review is not met within a professional timely manner; review codes or copies usually are not distributed to you from that point.

Again, I’m not saying timescales and deadlines are bad, they are very good things that motivate us, however; with the ever-increasing length of games and these timescales presented to game journalists, they can contribute to ‘misunderstood games’. How can anyone confidently critique 100-hour experience in the space of a week?

We only need to see reviews of the first Nier to see how games do not always get correctly represented. Unfortunately, this will never change as there are too many forces at play; the developers and publishers want it published efficiently, the outlet requires the piece to be published as early as possible to generate the traffic that helps advertisement and funding.

But the above isn’t the major issue within this controversy, that is just the machine cogs turning. The problem with games writing is the writing itself. Most games journalism/writing is, in my personal opinion, boring. What a review tends to be is a list of mechanics, what it looks like, what it sounds like and an overview with a few fancy words thrown in for good measure so the writer feels credible. In short, it’s a glamorised laundry list devoid of any emotion, personality or creativity.

Very few reviews go into the deeper themes of the game, analyse it or represent games other than a product and not a mature piece of a medium that can be and is art. I want games to be viewed in a positive light, yet we don’t talk about them in any capacity to represent that, in the end, it’s the same old list with different words.

I’m not saying I’m the god of video game writing, nor am I the best writer out there, I am far away from that and I to, fall in the very laundry list trappings, but I try to add as much emotion, personality or creativity in my pieces.

So, Boomstick was plagiarised. Should it have happened? No. Could it have been avoided? Yes.

Write in a way that is your own, do something different, write in a way that can’t be plagiarised. It’s our responsibility to tell people what a great, joyous and inspiring medium video games is; how it has helped people view depression, how it can educate children, how these emotional journeys can offer more than any piece of literature, TV show or movie because these are video games, and they mean something to us.

Or as Neil Gaiman once said:

“Mean it. Whatever you have to say, mean it”.

Broken Sword 5 Is Hitting The Switch

Paris in the fall, the last months of the year and the end of… Oh sorry, didn’t know you were listening to me then.

Broken Sword is a masterpiece of a franchise with ‘Shadows of the Templars’ sitting as my second favourite game of all time and if I ever have a son, I would name him after George Stobbart.

So, when they originally announced Broken Sword 5 a few years back I was over the moon and when I played it, it was glorious. Enough fan service to make me squeal and enough originality to keep me interested. Originally released as a two-parter on mobile devices and PC, later seeing console ports, we now see it come to Nintendo Switch.

This time George and Nico get mixed up in a shooting at a gallery and in a typical Broken Sword fashion, this ends with a historical conspiracy leaving George and Nico to save the world whilst everyone else is just enjoying tea or Countdown.

You will visit various locations with puzzles just for you to wrap your head around – plus witty dialogue that makes Nathan Drake look like a crappy sitcom. On the way, you’ll meet so familiar faces as well as some new ones, one of which is the best character in the Broken Sword series.

The Switch port will be released on September 21st with a new interface-like touch screen, interviews and behind the scenes clips. This is a must-have for any fan of the franchise or adventure game fans. Let’s hope we see more from Revolution in the future.

Past Blast: Chase The Express – Staying Above 50mph

What to say about the 90’s? Take That, Shell suits, Cassettes, the rave culture, Brit-pop, The X-files, The Outer-Limits, Steps, Strange but True, Sony PlayStation, VHS, Eclipse clothing, tramlines, the ear stud, Pokémon, Nintendo vs. Sega, Eerie Indiana and the Hollywood Blockbuster action movie.

In the 90’s, TV, clothing, music, brands and movies were events; they meant something. One burst out of nowhere, full of high octane action and was all thrill; that movie was the legendary ‘Speed’ starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper. An action movie that defined a generation with cheesy dialogue, a simple plot and a 1 hour and 56 minutes adrenaline rush.

I imagine any youth of today may laugh at the above comments on Speed, yet, I’m not kidding. Speed was the must-see movie that even had its own simulator. Speed later influenced one of gaming’s beloved franchises: Metal Gear Solid. With the first Metal Gear Solid soundtrack ripping off the Speed soundtrack (seriously, someone should have been sued) and Metal Gear Solid 2’s Fat Man being inspired by Dennis Hopper’s character.

But there was one game that feels like Speed the game just without the staying above 50mph, being on a bus and Sandra Bullock – that game is Chase the Express.

Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn (let’s be honest, that title sounds like a prog album) in America, was developed by Sugar and Rockets, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan/Europe and Activision in America. It was released in the dawn of the new Millennium for the PlayStation.

You play as Jack Morton (maybe I’m reading into it too much but the main character from Speed is called Jack) a NATO officer sent to board the Blue Harvest, a train carrying the Ambassador that’s been hijacked by the KGB who now have access to nuclear bombs.

You are the sole survivor of your team after missiles strike your helicopter, nevertheless, you’ll see many characters on the way, Christina Wayborn – one the ambassador’s special police, Philip Mason – the ambassador’s secretary.  As Jack, your job is to stop the terrorists and ensure none of the nuclear bombs are detonated.

Ok, but what about the gameplay? I hear you say that – I was going to tell you if you calm down and listen. Patience is a good thing.

Chase the Express is a third-person action game with puzzle elements and item management. It features the obligatory tank controls suited for the fixed camera angles you’d expect from a game of the genre and time; however, the environments are modelled in 3D meaning you can slightly alter the camera angle.

The puzzles are your typical ‘find item, and place item in said obvious place’. Firearm combat auto aims at an enemy with a ring that will appear around them – changing to a darker colour, it indicates you can deal more damage and if you run out of ammo you always have your fists.

Stealth mainly consists of you walking to one of the side cabin, waiting for a geezer to walk past, and walking out while his back is turned. Another option is popping out of cover with an action roll or dodging certain attacks; you Souls veterans will feel right at home. The game does it’s best to mix the gameplay up with controlling the speed of a train to match another train, multiple scenarios/endings and a bomb disposal section where the wirecutter is the slowest machine I’ve had the pleasure of enduring.

The highlight of this game is by far the dialogue, writing and voice acting; it’s so terrible in that PlayStation 1 way that it provides the game entertainment and lots of charm. The lines are delivered vacantly with no emotion and are disjointed. The writing – there is a section where you speak to a character about how to disarm some missiles, his reply is just “Screwdriver”. Screwdriver… Genius.

That’s the joy of this game, it doesn’t try to be something spectacular because it knows it isn’t, the gameplay doesn’t try to wow you with some special mechanic because it’s all a poorly done version of something else, the writing and acting isn’t going to blow your mind and they know it.

What the game is, is entertainment, time out of your life for 4-5 hours. In that very 90’s way, it knows what it is and what its goal is, to entertain; not too much, but enough –  it doesn’t swallow your life in the process. If this was a 90’s movie, it would come in a triple VHS with ‘Money Train’ and/or ‘Daylight’; it’s that calibre of video game.

It cost me three pounds. If there is any PlayStation one fans/collectors who haven’t played this game and they want something they can hammer out in a day or two – give it a blast. I’ll be back soon.

the inner friend

The Inner Friend… Is Awakening – It’s Out This Year

Audio can sometimes distort the meaning, can change the perception of something. We can witness an event, but we hear someone else’s story or whilst we are witnessing the event the ambience can alter what we have clearly seen; we doubt ourselves.

Sometimes we just need to cut the talking and just watch, a picture can tell a thousand stories and gazing upon a canvass, silent movie or a photo is when we truly find something about ourselves; no external influence, only our internal thoughts to delight or dismay us, we, you, I…

The Inner Friend

The Inner Friend

The Inner Friend is a game developed by Montreal ‘s Playmind studio. Previously working on AR, VR and interactive installations, they have taken their experience on these projects onboard to develop The Inner Friend, a narrative told through the visual exposition of surreal landscapes – based on the psychology of a child and supported with an ambient/cinematic score.

As you go into the subconscious mind you need to restore memories but the further you drive the darker the world becomes – you must escape or fight horrid creatures.

The Inner Friend

Can The Inner Friend accomplish its goal? Will its minimalistic and surreal visuals draw us into the world? Will the puzzle and combat help to compliment its meaning or will it hinder it?

Like gazing upon the canvass… We will all walk away with our own thoughts and our own interpretations.

The Inner Friend

A picture can tell a thousand stories. The Inner Friend will release this year on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Desert Child game

Racing RPG Desert Child Due Out Q3

The heat is exhausting out here, the only time you get shade is when the sun sets and then, you still want to be under an umbrella. For me, well I just get on this hoverbike over here and ride, for pleasure, for pay; it makes no difference.

Racing RPG Desert Child Game

The hot air turns cool. Of course, it can get pretty hot then let me tell ya – but when I ride, it’s like, what’s the word, Zen, you know… Free. It’s then I forget about the earth and its bullsh… ha, sorry kids, its nonsense. That’s not the life for me; the life for me is up there, Mars; and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Me and my trusty Judy here, my hoverbike.

Desert Child game
Dine on a range of interplanetary cuisine with sweet buffs to help you win

Hell, I’ll race, hunt bounties and deliver drugs; whatever it takes… Oh, you don’t like that? Listen, kid, you may snarl away to yourself as you’re reading this on your phone, tablet, but out here you do what you can for a buck. Breaking the law? Nah man, it’s survival. It’s the difference between having a meal and rummaging in the bins for scraps.

To me, I see as I’m playing some RPG, life-sim, racing game; the more points I get, the better the ranking, the bigger the taking. Man, I sometimes see the scores with my very own eyes I get that absorbed in it. Pfft, don’t look at me like that, I’ve got rent to pay and noodles to eat. I might even customize I, Judy, here.

Desert Child game
Race, shoot, and get better! Designed for replayability, with secrets that keep you coming back

I know you don’t understand but look, kid, if you want to survive out here you should do the same, earn what you can and get your ass to Mars.

You’ll see me soon kid, by Q3 you’ll understand and if you see me, you’d better shoot first kid; like I said, just think you’re on your PS4, Switch, Xbox One or PC… It makes it easier.

Desert Child game
Hunt bounties, deliver drugs, throw races – do anything you can to earn cash

Desert Child, that’s who I am. And that’s who you’ll be”.

Turning Hollow: Games And Difficulty

Turning Hollow – The Seal of Quality

“Hello again, Chosen Undead.

“I am Jack Boyles. I am losing my humanity. I am turning Hollow.

“We should exercise more prudence when it comes to the modern age of Video Games. We hath forgiven too long and our acceptance is too high. Acceptance of defective, and deficient and fragmentary games; allowing these attributes to slowly become normality. Souls are spent, only to await patiently for the game to be patched, stitched and sewed together.

“The seal of quality has all but faded from time. The seal of quality was guaranteed, a mark of honour, but with the rise of AAA games force releasing and online services with a lack of quality control; the seal has broken. Many hath scoured for the seal, for all whom hath foraged hath lost humanity.

“Won’t thee aide me in my quest?

“Cooperation may assist me to hold on to my humanity, assist me holding on to my cause…

The Seal of Quality

“Masses hath been delivered into this world only knowing of this tactic. As for I, I hath seen better times, a time during which the seal existed. In that period, developers could not manipulate their games with Hexic rituals like today.

“Games had to be made to withstand the test of time, to be made with calibre; as once fashioned, could not be altered. Delays were accepted, unlike the delays that inhabit this age, today delays can turn people Hollow. We can’t wait for anything.

“The games from the bygone age can still be played today and will remain the status as they did back when they were first crafted. As for modern games, once the server is closed the game cannot receive the Hexic spells to alter it – leaving a patchless pile of shame.

“An abundance of AAA publishers and developers make haste to deliver their games, acquiring the souls of many. Many AAA games materialize as buggy, shattered and unplayable until the first patch is liberated, yet that may last several moon circles. What are thou thinking? Is thou thinking those companies fabricate gigantic games, so it’s too be expected, and I concur, but with the emancipation of Breath of the Wild and God of War, tis now inexcusable to witness faceless characters and NPC’s swimming on fresh air.

Reminds me of my first kiss…

“Tis not just the AAA publishers and developers either. The absences of quality control of the independent scene must be held accountable too, with Steam and console eShop releases unimaginable. Such abominations like Fidget Spinner Simulation, Art of Stealth and Life of Black Tiger diminishing the worth only for the acquisition of souls.

“With video game development software readily available and in most cases free. This has given us more games than ever and with smaller team’s producing unique titles. This has also created many people releasing asset flip games. There is no quarrel in an indie developer using asset packs as a tool, but many have taken advantage off this and been making games from nothing but asset packs; no original content, no original ideas, just cut and paste.

Based on a True Story…

“When the youth of this age re-buy the equipment of their childhood to soak in nostalgia; they will not get that same experience from their childhood, what they will get are faceless characters and NPCs swimming on fresh air. Their childhood will be debauched and distorted.

“Will you aide me in finding the Seal, will you aide me to salvation?”

Bujingai Swordmaster

Past Blast: Bujingai Swordmaster – Surprisingly Rare

As I approached my favourite stall at the Doncaster Video Game Market, looking at all the obscure splendours, I thought: ‘It’s these obscure games that make me attend these events’. To dig into gaming’s past, games ignored on their release and games still ignored today.

As I’m looking through the PlayStation 2 games I hear my fiancée’s voice staccato with excitement to my left. There in her hand was ‘Bujingai-Swordmaster’, there was one of these obscure splendours. I hand over the game with my money to the merchant.

“You know what, this game should be a hell of a lot more expensive. This is a surprisingly rare game”, says the merchant consciously grinning.

“I know, I’ve been after it for some time,” I say, noticing the crowd look at the case in a curious bewilderment.

“Not got the demand, which is a shame because it’s a really good game”, replied the merchant as he’s bagging it up.

“Well, no one has heard of it”.

“I know, thanks mate,” I said, taking the bag from the merchant.

“Thank you”.

I walk off in search for more obscure splendours.

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai, Bujingai: Swordmaster (in Europe) or Bujingai: The Forsaken Forest (North America) is a beat em up/hack and slash game with loose puzzle-solving and platform elements.

It was developed by the legendary Taito Corporation in collaboration with Red Entertainment and published by BAM! Entertainment in North America and 505 Gamestreet in Europe.

The game was exclusively made for the PlayStation 2 and was a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Taito. Due to the anniversary, some exceptional talent worked on this game, with Toshihiro Kawamoto the character designer for Cowboy Bebop, Yosuke Kuroda the scenario writer Trigun and the main protagonist modelled after J-pop Icon Gackt.

So again, all this talent but I bet you just walked past this game?

Well, here’s what you’ve missed out on or for you retro collectors out there; here is what you can get and get for a reasonable price!

Now when I played this game, I didn’t pay that much attention to the story. I had a vague idea of something going on, but I’ve done some research (I read the Wikipedia page…) and here’s what I’ve got.

A 100 years ago an accident of an environmentally friendly energy source has wiped out 70% of the world’s population and in the process has wiped out the government.

All the remaining survivors have gained special powers from earth’s energy – in swordplay and magic. You play as Lau Wong, a human exile who returns to earth to battle his training partner and friend Rei Jenron – who has been possessed by an ‘Evil Spirit’.

Yohfa has been kidnapped, and numerous portals have been opened allowing demons to take over the Asian city Bujingai; it’s up to Lau Wong, to save Bujingai.

Bujingai Swordmaster

As you can see, not an Oscar-winning narrative, but this game isn’t about the narrative, it’s about gameplay.

The gameplay is simple, with two attack buttons and a jump button. The jump allows you to glide and run on the wall, then the light attack button acts as a counter if pressed at the right time.

The counter is where the game shines, you have these gems in the corner of the screen based on how many times you can defend before taking damage. When the counter kicks in, your mouth will drop, and you’ll salivate at its splendour.

Like all hack and slashers around this era, you have a combo counter; in this game, the combo counter runs out the more you are on the ground, so the game encourages you to jump around, gliding through the air and running on walls like some crazed Chow Yun-fat.

The unspoken genius of this game lays in the hands of the sound designers. It’s like listening to the nostalgia of old samurai and kung-fu movies. Those vivid swooshes of the sword, that ting and swipe of steel on steel, the swooping of bodies gliding in the air, those synthesized laser beams, and last but not by a long shot least, the sound of the loose fabric clothes contending with the force of its wearer.

It’s in those details in sound that gives the game authenticity.

Bujingai Swordmaster

Bujingai isn’t a masterpiece, the environments aren’t that exciting, the glide mechanic never feels like you have complete control of where Lau will go, and the game is repetitive.

But the excellent sound design mixed with the outstanding choreography of the fighting animations is just a fun gameplay experience; it’s a shame it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

Well, now I must give it a blast because it was so dirt cheap.

Neo Cab game

Meet Neo Cab – ride the emotion through neon

She’s missing. She’s been missing for some time now. I need to find her and the only way I can find out is by driving these figures, chatting with these figures, one of these figures knows something and one of these figures will guide me to her.

Neo Cab

Neo Cab – The Last Human Taxi Driver

Imagine that you are the last human taxi driver in a future drenched in low key neon lights. The developers at Chance Agency will allow you to experience just that with indie title Neo Cab shown at this year’s E3.

Playing as Lina, you must maintain your job, your rating and your emotional health whilst you find your friend who has mysteriously vanished. You must choose your passengers and your words wisely in this emotional survival game.

Neo Cab

You will navigate through a procedurally generated city full of random encounters and discoverable items with a diverse set of characters with their own branching paths.

It’s looking like a unique game indeed, with an emotional mechanic and in-game economy – this is one to watch out for when it hits PC, we think, this year.