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:

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Mice On Venus – A Singular Vision

It’s always day time here, especially during the night. The artificial sun rays saturate my room from the surrounding buildings, displaying all the shades of red, blue and green.

Laying here, I stare at the waltz dance of the swaying dust particles illuminated by the hues; it’s not long until my meditation is broken. A repetitious blinking light protrudes from the corner of my room, begging for my attention like a child to their mother. I quickly stand and move to mother the console, for I have heard the child’s cry, the cry of a job… The only cry I receive.

A cry for a missing package. Let’s hope the destination remains the same. To the bar, I go and speak with the client, see if I get any leads from him.

It’s a methodical job; tracking the civilians of this grand city. The mundane lives brought by the industry – wake up, work, home, pub, mistress; the same day in, day out. Not I, I would rather be dead… hell, I actively search it at times.

Stepping into the sunstroke streets, I inhale the dense fog into my lungs, the damp air solidifying on my lungs. The city glows from the neon lights humming in the fog and reflecting from the rain-soaked pavement. An outsider would say it looks beautiful, like a painting of Valhalla.

Yes, video game Mice on Venus is being developed by Callum Hancock. An ambitious project, it’s shaping up to be something interesting.

It’s a detective simulation game about investigating cases with ambiguous morality.

Mankind has left Earth, setting up colonies floating in the upper atmosphere of the planet Venus. You play as a PI, and you need to solve cases assigned to you by the world’s citizens. It’s up to you how to go about solving each of the cases.

Each case plays out as a routine, where the world’s citizens follow their own simulated schedules throughout each day. The player must navigate these routines to intercept targets, follow leads and gain information.

I can’t wait to hear more about Mice on Venus.

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.

Into The Breach Review Switch

Into The Breach Review [Nintendo Switch] – A Masterclass For Indie Strategy Games

Sometimes you play a game that oozes a certain type of magic. It’s not always immediately clear why it does so either, but you succumb to the feeling nevertheless as it draws you into its intricate web of splendour. It’s a rare feeling, one in which only a handful of games have given me admittedly but it’s one I experienced while playing Subset Games’ Into the Breach. A strategic indie title that has, to some surprise, arrived on the Nintendo Switch without forewarning.

Into The Breach Review Switch

It’s tempting to say that the Switch finally has a new Advance Wars, at long last, but that wouldn’t really give Into the Breach credit. While obviously similar in its turn, grid-based gameplay, Subset Games offers its own unique take on the winning formula. No longer do you have command of an almost endless supply of troops and tanks to manoeuvre across the battlefield… Instead, you defend earth from the Vek enormous creatures that are breeding beneath the planet with just three ‘mechs’.

Into The Breach Review Switch
Every move has to be considered carefully. Good luck, commander.

Each mini battle that takes place is essentially a fight for survival, a ‘hold them off until they decide to run affair’, across a number of different turns. During these battles, your job is to effectively minimise the damage to your power grid, protect your pilots and complete the available objectives in the smartest way possible. The penalty for a destroyed power grid is a literal Game Over and pilots killed in combat will not return. Buildings on the map are integral to powering the grid, so guarding them is important, but you also need to push back the Vek and smash those bonus objectives too success here bestows reputation (upgrade) points, life is tough without them. In other words: your movements are very limited, yet there’s an awful lot to do.

Yes, much like XCOM, Into the Breach does a remarkable job of making you feel helpless and guilty against your determined attackers. Every resource counts, every decision is questioned, every movement potentially your last. You did well, but remember that single building that was destroyed? Well, hundreds perished inside of it. It’s this state of vulnerability that makes it so thrilling as you just about pull off a victory, allowing you to ever so slightly upgrade your mechs with greater durability or additional moves.

Into The Breach Review Switch
Giant insects infest the earth. It’s a nightmare worth living.

Subset Games ensures a punishing sci-fi journey then; Into the Breach won’t be for everyone, even on the easier settings provided. However, like great strategy titles before it, precision, intelligence and skill are rewarded. Of course, losing to the Vek, as your precious power grid is depleted, isn’t the end of days when the majesty of time travel is involved. Upon defeat, your mechs are transported back through time, to before the point you were overwhelmed, and you can do it all again. The extra catch involved here? One, and only one, of your experienced pilots, can come with you. That’s multi-timeline Ralph for you (my longest serving pilot).

Making your way through each of the islands in Into the Breach demands you learn the mechanics thoroughly. You can reverse a move once per battle, true, but that really serves as a warning that you should be doing better. A large portion of the strategy focuses on using your environment and the unique abilities of the mechs. In lieu of directly attacking a Vek, a more efficient move might be to push it into the sea and drown it. Setting alight the monsters will perhaps validate a long game approach, but, alternatively, maybe you should have shunted two of them into one another. It’s a combined game of chess and billiards, and this is partly where that aforementioned magic starts to reveal itself.

Naturally, with a game of this calibre, the magic transpires in other more observable places too: the simplistic, retro visuals impeccably crafted and synthesised with the harps, cellos and sullen electric guitar riffs of the soundtrack which composer Ben Prunty describes as his, perchance, most ‘personal’ of all. One thing is for sure, the end of the world has seldom been this wholesome or inventive.

The even better news is that once you’ve vanquished the aliens and saved the earth, there’s so much more to see. New mech squads are available to purchase, think of them as extra chess pieces, which can radically change how you play. There are multiple pilots to recruit each with individual skills, a hard mode that demands just shy of perfection, and earning achievements serves a real, tangible purpose: it’s the currency used to buy these fresh squads. Numerous run-throughs are inevitable and encouraged.

Into The Breach Review Switch
New mech squads mean hours of fun. Forget your life.

The Switch version of Into the Breach is close to identical to its PC brother. It’s distinct, clear and attractive on the screen, with the UI from PC making it over in a rather perfect fashion. There’s some added HD Rumble support, for good measure, that subtly enhances the overall effect, but everything else is exact. Regardless, whatever platform you play Into the Breach on, quite simply, you should just play it. Did I mention that it’s a masterpiece?

Afterparty for Switch

Night School Studio introduces Afterparty in all its drunken glory

E3 has ended for another year, but luckily many awesome indie games were shown, none of them as unique as Afterparty for Switch and PC.

Created by the developers of Oxenfree and Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n, Afterparty gives you a reason to drink your problems away. You take control of Milo and Lola who are best friends who attend the last party of their college lives. They suddenly die and find themselves in hell. There is one way back to the land of the living and that is to outdrink Satan himself.

This adventure takes Milo and Lola into different bars as they attempt to figure out how they got there in the first place.

Afterparty’s E3 Gameplay Trailer

Drinking is the game and each drink has a different effect on Milo and Lola’s characters. These options change the dialogue and relationships throughout. If this is anything like Oxenfree, these choices will also determine the game’s ending.

Play beer pong, have a dance-off, sing karaoke or have a chugging competition with the demons of hell. How you spend your time in the underworld is entirely up to you. It’s looking rather great.

Afterparty will release for Switch and PC in 2019.

Limited Run highlights indie titles in first E3 press conference

Limited Run Games held its very first E3 press conference with a nice list of indie game releases.

If you aren’t familiar with Limited Run Games, they release digital games in physical format. Most of these were previously released on PC. What makes Limited Run special is that their releases are extremely limited (usually between 2,000 – 5,000 copies). Many of these games become highly collectible due to their limited nature. Games started as PlayStation exclusive titles until a partnership with Nintendo Switch began this past Spring.

Limited Run Highlights Indie Titles

Along with a cheesy, yet charming green screen and weird 2D audience, Limited Run announced the following upcoming titles during their press conference:

Limited Run Presser

PlayStation 4

  • Iconoclasts
  • Observer
  • Thumper
  • The House in Fata Morgana
  • Spelunky
  • Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds Overdrive
  • Exile’s End
  • Salt and Sanctuary
  • Double Switch 25th Anniversary

PS Vita

  • Iconoclasts
  • The House in Fata Morgana
  • 2064: Read Only Memories
  • VA-11 HALL-A
  • Senran Kagura Bon Appetit
  • Spelunky
  • Exile’s End
  • Phantom Breaker Battle Grounds Overdrive
  • Salt and Sanctuary

Nintendo Switch

  • Golf Story
  • Layers of Fear
  • Thumper
  • Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
  • Cosmic Star Heroine
  • Night Trap
  • Yooka-Laylee
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail

If you are a fan of classic retro style games, want physical PC titles or just desire something obscure, well, Limited Run Games may have something for you. They even toss a cool collector’s card for each game you purchase. I have a lot of Limited Run titles on my game shelf and I must be honest when I say I hadn’t heard of 75% of them prior.

They have exposed me to a whole new world of indie games and experiences. If you happened to miss the press conference, be sure to check out the replay on Twitch.tv.

Knights of Light

Egyptian studio Rumbling Games announces debut AAA indie title, Knights of Light

Take a deep dive back in history and get medieval with the rookie gaming studio to come out of Egypt, Rumbling Games.

Taking a page out of decisive action-adventure games like Assassin’s Creed and The Witcher, Knights of Light looks to capture the essence of the battle between the Arab forces in Iraq squaring off against the Sassanian Empire of Persia.

Knights Of Light

Along with the announcement of Rumbling Games’ debut indie AAA title, players can also find some pre-alpha gameplay footage showing off Knight’s design and impressive visuals below.

A few takeaways from the recent announcement of Knights of Light include:

  • Players will have the ability to control several side characters, as well as one main protagonist. Many boss characters and the main champion will also be based on factual historical figures.
  • Knights of Light is already said to engross players for up to 60 hours of playtime including a hidden path full of fantasy elements to help stray from the factual medieval timeline, as well as two planned expansions to add to the experience later down the line.
  • Lead design of Knights of Light worked with the original Assassin’s Creed title; borrows major influence from The Witcher series to add depth to player choices and decisions.
  • With an ever-engaging setting, players will change the world around them through consequential player choices, optional side quests and a story written by a veteran medieval fantasy writer.
  • A massive map detailing a 7th century Iraq stretches across 400 kilometres in Knights of Light, boasting full of vast deserts, lush forests and the snowy regions of Kurdistan.

As of now, Knights of Light has only been officially unveiled and no release date has been announced. Though being published by Sony, the developers have stated the game will be coming to both Xbox One and PC as well.

Stay tuned for more on the upcoming medieval fantasy adventure game, Knights of Light.

The Curious Expedition

Devs release The Curious Expedition’s game content on GitHub

The developers of indie game The Curious Expedition have released the game’s content for free on open-source platform GitHub.

The Curious Expedition – Pixel Art For All

This new release from developer Maschinen-Mensch includes all the image files of the game which has become noted for its dazzling pixel art style.

Maschinen-Mensch’s co-founder, Johannes Kristmann, said:

Johannes Kristmann

“We have been successful with the game beyond our hopes and now want to give something back to the creative game development community. This is why we have decided to release our game’s content as open-source.

We would like to encourage you to use the many image files for your own prototypes or gamejams. Your usage of our content can be completely unrelated to modding The Curious Expedition, as long as you adhere to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license”.

The release includes full modding support and Steam Workshop integration as well. With the available image and script files, remixing and creating new content for the game should prove to be an entertaining project.

In case you didn’t know, The Curious Expedition is a roguelike expedition simulation set in the late 19th century. Together with famous historical personalities, players venture out on expeditions to regions never explored before for fame, science and even some treasure. You can see it in action below:

Do Indie Games Deserve More Attention… and Money?

The good folks over at Get Good Gaming have posted a new video that discusses indie games, focusing on their place in the games industry, among other things. As you know, we’re no stranger to these types of games ourselves.

– Takeaways –

Some key takeaways from the discussion ask the following:

  • Are we undervaluing indie games?
  • What exactly is an indie game today anyway?
  • Do indie developers deserve more money?
  • Why is there this mentality that indie games are not ‘as good’ as AAA games and don’t deserve as much attention?
  • There’s even a bit in there about TV series True Detective… What’s not to like?

It’s certainly worth a listen – you can check out the full video below.

Who are Get Good Gaming?

At Get Good Gaming, we strive to start conversations that include unique and diverse voices, exploring the many topics that make our chosen field of entertainment so wonderful and, sometimes, so frustrating.

Our Get Good Talks podcast tackles everything. We lay out the facts, and offer up a variety of opinions to incite thoughtful reflection with an engaged audience.

Xbox Live Indie Games to Close Next Week

Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) were quite the revolution when they first launched on the Xbox 360. At the height of the ‘indie-revolution’, XBLIG allowed bedroom programmers to get their stuff onto the same marketplace as the big guns. Sure, it was the dusty and dimly-lit corner of the marketplace, but it was a step in the right direction for how the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo treated indie developers.

There’s No Marketplace Like Home

We were told earlier in the month, via Twitter, that you won’t be able to buy XBLIG anymore and that the last day to purchase ‘vibration’ games was going to be today – the 29th of September.

Good news though. You’ve got an extra week! The 7th of October is when you’ll no longer be able to purchase any of the weird and wonderful (?) offerings available on XBLIG. You’ll also still be able to re-download any titles you’ve purchased after the 7th of October.

Whilst it’s fair to say that XBLIG hasn’t been relevant in ages, some may argue ‘ever’, it’s still worth taking a moment to reflect on what was an important part of indie games breaking into the mainstream.

Goodbye XBLIG, you’ll be missed remembered.