Retimed – It’s Time To Connect Again

Jack Boyles takes a look at Retimed —

We are more connected now as a species than ever before. Technology has made it possible to communicate with people all across the world by the mere tapping of keys; we can video call someone like we are in some ’80s sci-fi movie and we can take photos with instant results viewed by millions in the palm of our hand.

Yet have we never been so isolated, using these devices as our primary source of communication, locked away and pretending to be people we are not.

We need to escape the clutches of our self-imprisonment connect with people face to face.

Team Maniax knows the importance of getting together and having fun with their game ‘Retimed’. It’s a local multiplayer arena shooter up to 2-4 players where you can generate a bubble that slows down time. But is this just a simple mechanic used as a gimmick or is there more to this idea?

Maniax have gone for a great art style here – the sole purpose is to capture the childlike play and fun of the game. It’s the character design here that lends it an attitude and personality without the characters showing their traits. Using character anatomy and clothing as an illusion of characteristic; this of course isn’t a bad thing, it’s a very good and smart thing to do.

Level designs are simple with a few platform areas contained in a relatively small space, though it’s enough to manoeuvre around the map for tactical advantage.

However, it’s the mixture of pace that brings excitement while playing. Your character can slide and dash in the air and that makes traversing the map very fluid. When you mix the element of the time bubble, the game can contrast so quickly it looks you’re in a Zen-like state. Retimed implements its time bubble perfectly, allowing you to focus, use it as a dodging mechanic and as an offensive technique too.

The game feel here is a highlight; it just feels good to play. Combined with the level design, you can quickly feel like you’re a pro when, in fact, you are still a novice.

That’s not to say everything about the game is perfect. Personally, I feel like you don’t get enough bullets, or sometimes, even the opposite, the bullets don’t spawn quickly enough, there was just a sense of emptiness at times.

All in all, this game is a great multiplayer experience to play with friends or family. To rekindle time spent together and to shout, laugh and just enjoy your time spent with someone. Releasing on the Switch (later on PC), it’s a perfect game to sit alongside the family.

So put the social media away.

Advertisements

My Friend Pedro – Let’s Go Bananas

The Killer, 1989, is probably John Woo’s best film next to Hard Boiled. The scene in the church (the house scene) is action choreography at its best. Action scenes when done right are like a dance, everything unfurls and glides — an artform with style, finesse and grace.

DeadToast Entertainment’s My Friend Pedro is a 2D side-scrolling, run and gun game. Inspired by the movies of John Woo, the goal is to dispatch enemies in extremely cool, inventive ways and to chain them for maximum points. Published by Devolver Digital, this is a highly anticipated indie game.

Starting in a warehouse when a glowing floating banana wakes you up and guides you out, it appears the warehouse is full of henchmen who don’t want you to leave. You must escape and take out these henchmen in the coolest way possible.

My Friend Pedro is all about the gameplay; it’s just pure play and pure fun. You can jump, wall jump, hit, kick, evade (which is a cool little spin), roll and shoot; these mechanics put together to create one of the best game flows I’ve felt in a very long time.

You will jump off a wall, roll, stand up, shoot, then evade; it feels so responsive and innate. Additionally, you can slow down time allowing you to aim with more precision as well as do an awesome spin in the air. Furthermore, if you have two weapons, you can set a lock with one hand while the other has free aim allowing you to clear out sections quickly.

The demo ended with me on a motorbike drinking down a highway, popping wheelies, doing backflips and shooting down cars.

Graphically the game is simplistic with character models being the defining feature. The backgrounds have this noir-esque feel too them, concentrating more on the lighting than the environment itself.

Though, tonally, it fits well with the game providing an ambience to the proceedings. Its strength is that it does not distract from the gameplay, that’s key to the talent of the artist; they knew the gameplay was more important.

So, what do I think? I think this game is fantastic. It’s just so fun! When I put the controller down, I had a grin and knew I’d be buying it.

Everything flows with the game, but most importantly, it just plays well. It reminded me of being a teenager and playing the Tony Hawk games, that enjoyment of just playing. The way you can chain everything together, it’s absorbing and refreshing.

The Switch is the perfect home for this type of title, and for those without a great deal of time, that pick up and play mentality, blast a level here and there, then back to work.

My Friend Pedro is set for a June 2019 release date for Windows and Switch, so grab a banana and go dancing.

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night – Going Back To The Castle…

Ritual of the Night, a stark resemblance to its predecessor’s title; for many it will undoubtedly conjure nostalgia and quality.

That predecessor, for many, is a crowning achievement in video gaming, in many lists of the greatest videogames of all time and responsible for coining the term ‘Metroidvania’.

So, this game has some boots to fill, some big ass, sexy, kinky boots that would make some foot fetish person descend into some erotic madness… you know, those kinds of boots.

I have been somewhat hesitant of this title. As a fan of the Metroidvania genre (Super Metroid is my favourite game of all time) and as a lover of the Castlevania games that adopted this playstyle – yes, even the Gameboy Advance and DS bad boys – something felt off.

Watching early demo and gameplay footage, it seemed a bit bare, hollow and clinical. There was no emotion to it; it felt paint by numbers to appease fans.

However, I had faith and was allowed to try out the game. So, does it deserve to reinterpret a beloved title or is it just another Kickstarter corpse?

Readers who may not be aware of what I am talking about: Bloodstained is the spiritual successor to Castlevania and notably Symphony of the Night; the highest rated game in the classic series.

Sharing the same producer, Koji Igarashi, it surpassed its Kickstarter goal and is one of the highest funded products on the platform. Published by 505 Games and with the help of WayForward (who made the criminally underrated The Mummy Demastered), the game has somewhat turned into a cult supergroup.

Bloodstained has you play as Miriam, an Orphan Alchemist who has undergone experiments that allow her to have demonic crystals transplanted into her body.

Now, Miriam must stop another alchemist who had the same experiment, Gebel. Succumbed by the demon crystals, he has lost his humanity. In defeating Gebel, Miriam will end the demon outbreak and retain her humanity.

The gameplay is pretty much what is to be expected from a spiritual successor of the Castlevania series from Koji. A Metroidvania style game where exploration and levelling up is key to your success.

Leveling up is done like a traditional JRPG where experience points are given by defeating enemies and items such as weaponry and clothing provide stat bonuses. Also, you gain abilities by defeating enemies and absorbing their crystals.

Unlike its predecessor, Bloodstained has gone for a 2.5D look that really adds a modern feel to the game; using the dimension to give the world depth and a geographical sense.

A little addition is that the item of clothing selected shows up on your character; it’s something small but really goes a long way. It’s these tweaks that really add a modern touch and make the game look amazing. Moreover, the characters have a cel-shaded aesthetic that keeps it feeling nostalgic.

The demo I played started you on a boat heading to the castle when the demon force ambushes you. You must explore the boat and kill the demons. Though a small area, there was much to find and explore, you can read books to learn more, you can interact with cannons to blow up walls, and the monster types were varied enough to keep it from getting stale.

But how does it play? I hear you scream, calm down, you’ll wake up your children.

I can safely say that it only took a couple of seconds for all my anxiety to fade. It’s fantastic.

It feels slicker, it looks more beautiful and it plays just how you want it to play. Speaking with a representative, 505 games told me that the game’s speed is the same as Symphony of Night.

Hours of gameplay and various playable characters; this is something where you’ll get your money’s worth. This is a game that many have been crying for, and it delivers. Made for the fans but not for their money – for their love.

Bloodstained is set for release June 18th 2019 for Windows, Xbox and PS4. The Switch version hits slightly later on June 25th:

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.

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.

Detroit: Become Human

What To Expect From Detroit: Become Human

The release date of Detroit: Become Human is just around the corner, and I have taken a little look at the demo. So, if you’re still on the fence about whether to buy the game and want some more information about it, read on…

From the creators of Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream has now created a science fiction adventure game called Detroit: Become Human. 

What Makes Us Human? 

That is the question as the player joins the story of three different androids in a society where they are mere slaves, designed to do our every bidding. What happens when they realize that they are, in fact, self-thinking individuals though? You will be challenged to answer moral questions, leading the androids onto different paths, ultimately to different end points.

Will they stray from their given paths, or will they fulfil their originally designed program?

What these three androids have in common is that they have all broken from their original programming, as the player helps them adapt to their ‘new life’.

Detroit: Become Human
The visuals are amazing!

Connor (played by Bryan Dechart from True Blood; The Remaining) is an android designed to investigate crime scenes, assisting the Detroit Police Department in tracking down so-called deviants – androids that have broken their program, leaving their owners and/or turned to crime.

Will you remain cool and calculated, or will you begin to feel sympathy for your fellow androids, and consequently begin to question the orders you are given?

Markus (played by Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy; Cabin in the Woods) is one of the androids that have broken free from his programming, and he is the one that might be the cause of an android revolution. He becomes a part of a movement that wants to liberate the android population – but in doing so, will you resort to the pacifist route… or to violence?

Kara (played by Valorie Curry from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2; Blair Witch) is a deviant on the run with an innocent girl she has sworn to protect, and Kara must accept the inequalities she faces… or strive to rebel against them as she keeps the girl safe.

Detroit: Become Human
I mean, seriously. Look at these details.

Hostage Situation

In the demo, you play as Connor, who has been assigned to assist in a hostage situation. A rogue android has taken a little girl and is threatening to kill himself, taking her with him.

As Connor, you have to search around the apartment and piece together how this could have happened in the first place. By scanning and analyzing the crime scenes, there are small things in the environment Connor can interact with, challenging his abilities to be empathic.

After you’ve created a good picture of the crime scene, the time has come to confront the criminal; and save the girl.

Deducing from the mere half hour it took to play this demo; I must say it looks pretty darn good. How about visually stunning, as well as having some super smooth gameplay.

The narrative design is familiar if you’ve played Quantic Dreams’ games before, where each decision you make will shape and form the outcome of the story.

How you control the androids will have an impact on their life – if you decide that they will have one. Because there is a catch; if the path you choose leads to a character’s death (and yes, that can even be one of the protagonists), the story will move on nevertheless.

So be mindful – otherwise, a second or third playthrough might be in order.

In other words, if you categorize yourself as a science fiction enthusiast or just love a good story in video games, Detroit: Become Human is probably for you. Something different perhaps.

It’s out on PS4 this Friday.

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary soon to bring a new dimension of horror to Steam

Horror gaming in 2004 was a different landscape than it is today. Resident Evil 4 had yet to come along and redefine the genre, and Silent Hill games were still good. Most horror games played like early Resident Evil titles, featuring low-poly player characters struggling for their survival amongst compressed, pre-rendered backgrounds.

Yume Nikki + Kikiyama

A two-dimensional horror game was completely antithetical to what early-aughts horror game developers were developing. So, a two-dimensional horror game in 2004 would have been a pretty weird concept, right? Right indeed. Yume Nikki is a horror game from 2004 as weird as it is two-dimensional.

Yume Nikki was created by Kikiyama, a secretive developer about which little is known. The game was created using RPG-Maker and features simple gameplay mechanics. Players navigate pixelated nightmare-scapes and solve obtuse environmental puzzles. Unlike most of its RPG-Maker counterparts, Yume Nikki pits these gameplay mechanics against a set of bizarre, colourful worlds. Yume Nikki is notorious for leaving players dazed because of its sparse story, abstract world, and all around one-of-a-kind experience. Now available for free on Steam, Yume Nikki is a game you should play if you have yet to do so.

Playism, the publisher of Yume Nikki, recently announced a sequel too… sort of. Less a sequel and more of a reboot, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is a reimagining of the original title. Featuring direct cooperation and supervision from Kikiyama, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is being developed by Active Gaming Media, a company known for its localizations of titles No More Heroes and Soul Caliber IV.

Yume Nikki: Dream Diary will feature the off-putting, psychedelic world of Yume Nikki in three dimensions. Much like the original Yume Nikki, Yume Nikki: Dream Diary focuses on the young girl protagonist, Madotsuki, exploring a variety of dream worlds while trying to avoid horrifying humanoid monsters. Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is coming to Steam on February 23 and will cost $20.

Check out one of the trailers here:

South Park Trades In Fantasy Role-Playing For Superheroes In ‘The Fractured But Whole’

 

South Park: The Fractured But Whole’s release is right around the corner but many gamers still sit in the dark when it comes to the storyline. The prequel to Ubisoft’s upcoming release – The Stick of Truth – took players through a fantasy world full of aliens, zombies, and of course, the powerful Stick of Truth. Now players will have a chance to play the superhero role as the New Kid in the next instalment of the South Park RPG series.

With outlandish costumes, skills and abilities, as well as the ever-so-popular over-the-top narrative, the creative team behind South Park are back at it again with their new release quickly approaching. Entering Cartman’s new world of superheroes and villains, you’ll take control of a lowly new kid in a new world of fantasy mayhem, fighting enemy sixth graders and of course, tons of fart stomps.

fractured but whole.png
The cast of South Park will fend off evil in a brand new re-imagined superhero world.

Compared to The Stick of Truth – which harnessed the essence of traditional RPG mechanics combined with the hilariously disturbing and all around provocative dialogue – The Fractured But Whole takes this formula and expands on it immensely. With more of South Park to explore, diving into the lives of residents in the fictional Colorado town looks to become more enduring and exciting than its predecessor.

Highlighting the superhero world, the characters don heroic costumes, equipped with gut-wrenching moves and gross abilities. Players also have the option of choosing a starting superhero class, like the Blaster, Speedster, or the heavy hitting Brutalist, which changes the style of your player’s combat approach. Plenty of other stats, buffs and the powerful Ultimate move is sure to provide players with tons of combinations for intense, and excruciatingly side-splitting combat abilities.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is coming in the wake of the astoundingly successful prequel, The Stick of Truth. The RPG approach to the acclaimed franchise as well as changing the theme of the story from fantasy role-playing to superhero fantasy battles means Ubisoft looks set to devour fans with tons of new content.

The release of The Fractured But Whole is now right around the corner, releasing October 17th on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – The New Changes to Quests, Combat and AI Sound Brilliant

Many Assassin’s Creed players have come up with countless complaints and adverse opinions regarding one of video game’s most notable franchises. One problem that seems to return every major release – and almost always overlooked – is the responsiveness of the AI, frustrating combat mechanics and the static mission system. Since the showing and official reveal at E3, many new surprises are floating about regarding the new additions in Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

What’s New?

In the sprawling and beautifully crafted open-worlds of the AC universe, Origins is looking to stir things up by adding – and taking away – a few various assets. First, the addition of lively and engaging non-playable characters is a huge step in keeping the world “alive”. In an interview with Kotaku, AC: Origin’s game director, Ashraf Ismail, states many new changes in the game’s AI will be making an appearance in Origins.

In previous entries into the series, the NPCs found throughout the game always seemed stale and puppet-like. Following this standard route day-in, day-out gives the supposed ‘lively’ and ‘open-world’ an artificial feel and flavour to it. In Origins, non-playable AI characters will no longer follow their designated path to the same location that’s programmed into the game and will live standard routine days full of work, eating, using the restroom, doing errands and of course, a good night’s rest – sound familiar? Animals, as well as human NPCs, will fill out the vast and populated world of ancient Egypt – the aim is to bring more life to the AC universe than any previous entry to date.

Assassins_Creed_Origins_Ability_Points_Tree_List.jpg
Life in Origins surrounds Bayek with the new engaging AI system – making the world around you feel more alive.

An example given by Ismail describes a mission where Bayek must locate a target by discovering small details about this person’s day-to-day life. From dusk until dawn the non-playable characters and open-world population will seamlessly live a routine and busy schedule to help keep the player engaged. The target will not always be ready and waiting for your arrival, instead leaving the option up to the player on how they want to tackle this. This new system also brings a unique day/night advancement button, allowing Bayek to fast-forward the days and nights with the hold of the R3 (or right stick) button. Waiting for the perfect time when the target’s schedule shows a bleak sign of isolation for a stealth kill, or perhaps striking when Bayek’s target is distracted by the entertaining world around them may prove quicker for the less patient assassins.

Realistic Combat

The combat featured throughout the series has been re-worked and re-imagined in almost every release since the original. Some mechanics worked wonders, while others seemed to take a few gradual steps backwards. In Origins, the combat system has taken on a new identity with a much more realistic approach, negating the “tethered” combat style in more recent releases.

acorigins12.jpg
The combat in Origins has been overhauled, but that doesn’t mean stealth still isn’t the best method of survival.

The enemies will no longer graciously pair-up with the player for an un-realistic battle, nor will enemies need to be targeted for an effective hit, but now every opponent (and Bayek) is open to the new “hitbox” style combat system. “In layman’s terms, you swing your weapon, if somebody’s there, they’re getting hit,” states Ismail. Carefully executed skills and combat moves will be required to avoid any open-air misses, in-turn leaving the player wide-open for an attack.

There’s A New Sidequest System

Adding to the quest system from previous iterations, Origins – for the first time in AC history – will feature a large sidequest system, following suit from the many sandbox-RPGs that have emerged since AC set its foundation. Bringing hundreds of stories captured throughout the times of Ancient Egypt, Bayek will become intertwined with tons of sidequests, giving Origins a true RPG feel in terms of sheer content. Hundreds of hidden secrets and unique surprises may also be discovered throughout the enormous open world of Egypt, leaving a huge amount of playability at the core of this new AC title.

Assassins-Creed-Origins-Xbox-One-X-version-4
An entire city is filled with new acquaintances and partners waiting for Bayek’s skills.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is shaping up to be a much-needed release in a rather stale franchise then; the fans urged the developers to correct major flaws and bring something desired to the ever-expanding table. After taking their first year off of consecutive AC releases since the original, Ubisoft has fans eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the highly acclaimed series. Taking that break may well have paid off.

Stick with D-pad Joy for more updates on Assassin’s Creed: Origins, as well as other upcoming titles for your favourite gaming systems.

Figment Preview – A Charming Musical-Adventure Guided By Nightmares

Figment is an inspiring adventure title taking players into the depths of the mind. The developers, Bedtime Digital Games, crafted a story inside of the surreal world of the mind, filled to the brim with witty and often adult humour, a rich, authentic story and gorgeous hand-drawn graphics set to an awe-inspiring musical score too charming not to dive headfirst into. After a couple of hours with the preview of the upcoming indie musical game, Figment is shaping up to be a mechanically sound adventure-platformer with its own bold musical setting and unique spin on the genre.

Playing as the dry and carefree protagonist – Dusty – you’ll traverse the mysterious realm of a troubled mind, all the while bickering with your winged side-kick, Piper. Exploring the environments and worlds that seem to be ripped straight out of a un-released Pixar film, Figment places musically delightful bosses throughout the game, taunting Dusty as you progress through the levels. Catchy and mischievously villainous songs ring about as you dodge and slash your way to defeat the devilish representations and embodiment of nightmares.

figment3.png
Dusty and Piper gearing up for their adventure.

Figment’s graphics are presented in beautiful isometric style camera angle, with a unique hand-drawn art style and some of the most surreal locations I’ve seen to date. With charming puzzles and mechanisms to solve as you venture further into the depths, the gripping and intriguing narration lies atop the gameplay in Figment, comfortably polished and fluid.

The combat takes a page from a number of hack-n-slash titles. Smooth and slower-paced than most of the hit arcade games that are released today, Figment shows the player the importance of patience and strategy when dealing with nightmarish enemies. Boss enemies were each unique and performed song-and-dance numbers during the fight which always left a catchy tune with me while playing. Requiring specific strategy to persevere, each enemy found throughout my playtime – though there were few – proved different and casually challenging in their own distinct way.

figment2
Many puzzles are scattered throughout Figment like turning windmills to clear poisonous fog.

But the combat is not the main focus of Figment, as there are many puzzles and riddles to solve that are scattered throughout the levels – many of which are centred around musical themes, such as pressing correct keys on an organ or finding and placing valve buttons on a trumpet to unlock further areas. Other various puzzles include tasks like unlocking pathways by swapping and placing items, finding synapse batteries to operate specific objects in each level, discovering hidden memories and of course, fending off nightmarish evils along the way.

figment4.png
Shifting gears, turning valve wheels and flicking switches all have unique outcomes.

Figment is gearing up to be a puzzling title brimming with dreadful enemies, surreal and imaginative levels, intricate puzzles shaping the world around you, an all-too captivating musical score while backed with clever and humorously dry dialogue. The themes in Figment showcase a troubled and disturbed mind but not without adding a much more bearable approach than what it suggests. Taking the player through nightmares we all face and replicating them in obscure and fiendish worlds, one way or another Figment is looking to shine a light on the dreadful topics and trauma of a distressed mind.

We can expect to see Figment this September coming to PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4 and also recently announced, the Switch.

The Escapists 2 Preview

Time to break out of jail again! The release of the popular rule-breaking game, The Escapists 2, is right around the corner, so here’s our sneak peek of what to expect.

Two years ago, Team 17 released a prison simulator game that would become popular amongst anybody who loves strategy games. The deal is to – as the title of the game would indicate – escape prison. As an inmate, you are challenged with different prisons with various difficulties and you have to be creative as you desperately make your way to freedom.

Escapists-03

The first thing you notice about the game is the change in its art style; I am thoroughly surprised by the visuals. The new style looks amazing and is a definite improvement from the first. The graphics make the characters’ movement seem really smooth, with nice attention to detail in there – from the way the characters walk, to the way the hair bounces on their head. The style makes the game feel a bit more immersive, and it’s very enjoyable. I also want to make note of the soundtrack, which is very satisfying to my ears!

In the preview version of the game, the tutorial is called “Precinct 17”, where we play a short story about an escaped convict telling a man about his great escape. We learn the gameplay as we go along with the story and are given access to two of the game’s prisons: Centre Perks 2.0, a prison which is constructed in a very simple manner, leaving several loopholes for the prisoners. And Rattlesnake Springs which is a high-security prison that is built upon an unstable mine. So, uh, yeah. Good luck with that. 

You are able to craft the items you need in a new and improved crafting system, escaping the multi-level prisons in more inventive ways. The game also offers multiplayer modes in split-screen, online co-op and versus. (That’s pretty neat!) They should make for some hilarious moments in the game…

The-escapists-2-

What else is different? Well, you can now choose between a male or female inmate and changes to the combat system allow you to knock down fellow inmates and rob them of their stuff for your own convenience – however, beware! Unconscious inmates quickly get carried away to the hospital wing, so be quick about looting them. And whether you choose to enter the new hobby-system, which includes joining a band, learning to paint, all of which contributes to your great escape – is entirely up to you.

So, folks, this all seems very promising indeed. Look out for the release on the 20th August, and be ready to… erm… escape!

The Escapists 2 will be available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for PC.

Arcade shoot ’em up Danmaku Unlimited 3 available on Steam, releasing on mobile and Switch in August

One man indie studio, Doragon Entertainment, is set to release its third instalment of the bullet hell shooter series, Danmaku Unlimited 3, on mobile devices this August, as well as the Switch later in the year. The all new action shoot em’ up title will bring yet another high-intensity experience, packed with plenty of new and satisfying features to the App Store and Google Play.

Battling through the skies, risking it all to save the future of humanity against staggering odds, Danmaku Unlimited 3 looks to deliver a classic taste of retro arcade shooters combined with a bold and modern Japanese style edge to the bullet hell genre. Blast your way through 5 hand-crafted stages, equipped with up to 25 different furious weapon combinations to shred through your enemies. Along with a rocking Japanese indie soundtrack set to the high-paced action, DU3 will give players a true sense of immersion.

DU3_switch_8.png

Along with the variety of weapon combinations, you’ll be using the unique Spirit/Graze battle system, granting you the ability to use enemy attacks to your advantage throughout the game. This skill looks to come in handy throughout the action-packed levels. Capping off levels with high adrenaline boss battles, each shifting through multiple phases, will add even more to this exciting combative shoot ’em up experience.

You can find Danmaku Unlimited 3 via Steam for PC available now for $9.99, and on Google Play and the App Store on August 10th – at a limited sale price of $4.99. A Nintendo Switch version will also arrive later this year.