New RPG Druidstone: The Secret Of The Menhir Forest Receives First Trailer

In sheer strategic glory, indie developers Ctrl Alt Ninja have unveiled the first look at gameplay in their upcoming tactical RPG, Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest.

Check out the exclusive look at the upcoming turn-based role-playing game below:

Developed by the co-creators of the highly praised Legend of Grimrock games, the team looks to continue their success with their latest endeavour combining tactical tabletop and classic PC games.

“We are normally very shy to show unfinished work, and with the success of two Grimrock games under our belts, it’s been stressful meeting the high quality expectations, not only of our fans, but our own sky high expectations. But now that we have reached the alpha milestone, we are finally ready to show a glimpse into the new game world we have been building with Druidstone for the past two years.” – Petri Häkkinen, Co-Founder of Alt Ctrl Ninja Ltd.

All Of The Details We Know, So Far

Along with the debut gameplay trailer showcasing the upcoming game, we have a few details of what to expect from the game itself:

  • Druidstone is played as a single-player game with turn-based battles, strategic movements and tons of missions to keep players busy throughout the game.
  • Players control a party of three main characters – Leonhard, Aava and Oiko – as they embark on a memorable journey through Elo Sphaera, a vivid world brimming with fantastical elements and themes.
  • Experience a world of dense forests, puzzling ruins and snowy mountains as players explore and fight their way through vile enemies across a tale of love and death.

With the new trailer unveiling Druidstone has also launched their official game page on Steam.

The forthcoming RPG is set to release in Spring of 2019 on Windows PC.

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Survive The Arctic Conditions In Distrust, Now Available On PS4

Take on the bitter cold adventure game that has players fighting unfavourable weather conditions in Antarctica and attempt to survive the nightmare created by Cheerdealers, Distrust.

After successfully gripping players on the Arctic survivor-adventure game on PC, PS4 owners now have their chance to outlast the snowy conditions.

If you missed Distrust the first time around when it released on PC, check out the gameplay trailer below:

Distrust’s Chilling Details

As you make your way through the hellish tundra, there’s plenty that will keep you pushing forward, be them real or imaginary:

  • Distrust places players in the role of survivors of a devastating helicopter crash near an abandoned Arctic base pitted against the elements while struggling with their own weakening conscious.
  • Primarily an isometric adventure game, RPG and survivor elements make their presence known to keep players engaged in a thrilling experience, pushing them to the brink of terror.
  • Players explore randomly generated levels as a group of 15 playable characters that push for survival in a number of quests, exploration and a deep, twisting narrative.
  • Often players may find themselves not only fighting against the bitter cold elements but the fleeting distinction between reality and nightmarish hallucinations.

Distrust has laid an excellent foundation on the PC garnering mostly positive praise and now arrives on the PS4 for console owners to jump into the thrilling action.

Vintage Coated RPG Game, Unleashed, Brings A Story Of Sins And Virtues, Available On Steam

Introducing a classic take on traditional RPG mechanics and attaching a few modern twists, Unleashed is a brand-new indie game from French developers, Yozamu.

Set in a world taken hostage by a vile curse, players will embark on a journey to save their dear mother from the primordial sins performed by the infected citizens.

With the recent release of Unleashed to PC, a launch trailer shows off the many different mechanics rooted within the lavish formula:

Sin Or Virtue? Unleashed Details

This old-school inspired role-playing game is absolutely loaded with features offering various tastes of different gaming elements, such as:

  • Players fight as Mercy, a female survivor unaffected by the ongoing curse who’s searching for her mother in a vast world ripe with exploration.
  • In a theme focusing heavily on sins and virtues, Mercy will utilize pieces of her pure soul to summon up to 10 spiritual creatures known as Achivara to fight for her in a traditional turn-based combat system.
  • Mercy may summon up to three Achivara in combat at once, allowing for a strategic method of creature swapping to pinpoint enemy weaknesses. Utilize powers of either sin or virtue to cast damage upon your foe, be it devilish monster or curse-riddled citizen.
  • Outside of combat players will explore the completely unlocked world of Mysteria, forage for randomly spawned valuable resources, craft items to be sold or repair houses for useful storage spaces.

You can try out Unleashed available on Steam today, or check out the official website for more in-depth details and images from the game.

Pit People

Pit People Review [PC] – Hysterical And Pleasantly Strategic

The indie developers at The Behemoth have created a delightfully hilarious RPG strategy game with an addictive, simplistic outlook on the often confusing genre. The shrunken hand-drawn visuals, compelling backing score and hysterical dialogue offer a brilliant experience while combining some of the finer elements from the turn-based category. Build your army to prepare to fend off against absolute absurdity in brutally tactical combat.

The game itself looks like a direct sequel to The Behemoth’s mega-successful 2008’s comical brawler, Castle Crashers, with unique hand-drawn visuals and off-the-wall humour. The characters that make up your party are as unforgiving as ever, squaring off against foes that only add to the off-beat charm and often greasy humour. Travelling across the sundry map in search of quests and ridiculous enemies sets players into a wagon ride filled with chaotic bouts, side-splitting narratives and combat that ceases to let up.

Within Pit People, you won’t find a team of highly skilled characters looking to overpower their way to victory, but rather a group of unlikely candidates with a rather grim take on life. Combat doesn’t take any unnecessary risks by adding complicating tactics, manoeuvres or abilities, but allows players to meticulously place their characters in strategic positions for the best outcomes. While players won’t have the standard options of defensive or offensive skills per every turn, the turn-based fighting style still manages to give off a fresh sense of tactical gameplay.

A Simple Twist On Strategic Combat

While in combat players simply select which position on the grid each character will move to in sequence. Each turn consists of the player choosing where each player moves to, as well as sitting back as your characters take damage. Your party members think for themselves as they will attack whichever enemy is closest to their position – as well as defend any incoming blows – on the combat grid. Moving around to appropriate positions, pairing your mates up against the weakest enemies and watching your crew take damage is all part of the dance when battling it out in Pit People, adding a broad sense of simplicity to the combat mechanics.

Pit People
Pit People offers an easy understanding of the strategy inducing turn-based combat.

As your characters and battle companions begin their romp on the fantasy land of Pit People, each successful blow earns a bit of experience. Levelling up is a common occurrence, but never actually leads to any enticing unlockable skills, perks or abilities, but rather stronger and more advanced auto-attacks and a likely much-needed health refill. While the character development in any enduring RPG title will claim it’s a major asset found in the formula of keeping players successfully engaged throughout hours of gameplay, Pit People simply isn’t competing with that. That lack of any real character development is a bit disappointing – especially when live-action combat has been tossed out the window as well – but nonetheless offers yet another unique quirk from the veteran game developer.

The provocative nature of Pit People is borderline raunchy and filled with seemingly crude jokes around every corner. The narrator is an absolute cynic constantly pushing at the integrity of your group of “rough around the edges” heroes. One line after another leads to witty remarks that help keep the overall charm at play throughout the entirety of the campaign. The absurd monsters one will fight may come off a bit misleading at first, but once engaged the battles never seem overly impossible. Futuristic robots, dual wielding uzi sharpshooters or the vibrant unicorn foe barely show much of a difference when it comes to challenge of combat diversity, but does act as a solid form of exciting entertainment.

Pit People
Nothing absurd about this…

Building your party in Pit People is a major factor in success, as players are able to capture a variety of monsters and enemies throughout their rambunctious journey. Leaving specific candidates left alive last will allow players to trap these beasts – with a simple net of all things – in turn providing players with an opportunity to add them to their squad. There are tons of different enemies and foes to capture throughout your adventure, all with their own unique assets in having them aid you in combat.

Enter The Pit

While the campaign is brimming with hysterical dialogue and methods of unlocking more carnage-inducing characters, The Pit mode offers more of a challenge. Taking on unfair waves of enemies or online versus matches provide the same amount of excitement that comes in the campaign, earning gold and levelling up your crew. The Pit offers the same style of combat found in the campaign, so there’s not much in the way of diversity, but facing off against online competition and unique waves of AI foes does offer a good amount of practice for winning those tougher battles down the line.

Pit People
Entering the Pit allows players to face off against a variety of AI and multiplayer squads while levelling their own party and collecting valuable rewards.

Pit People is a vigorous turn-based title from a veteran indie team – and one in which they strayed from their usual path yet again. Taking on a new title in a genre that hasn’t been seen in their arsenal as of now proves The Behemoth isn’t afraid of taking risks to keep their library fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. The concept, gameplay, simple mechanics and, of course, off-colour humour shine delightfully all along the gruesome path left by your Pit People army.

Dragon Sinker Review [PS4] – Charming, Simple and Wistfully Sound

The immeasurable list of old-school inspired RPG titles seems too dauntless to rifle through, even for some of the most dedicated RPG gamers around. Dragon Sinker follows in line with the rest of the 8-bit moulded titles released from publisher KEMCO, but still manages to provide a few subtle twists to the waterlogged RPG genre. However, I’m just not sold it’s enough to separate itself from the enormous heap of other traditional turn-based RPG titles that consistently overflow the industry.

As any enthralling attempt at a fantasy story begins, players are thrust into an epic battle with a mighty dragon foe known as Wyrmvarg. In a vast world where the three distinct races – Humans, Elves and Dwarves – are all divided by racial tension, players will need to find a way to unite the land and take out the dreaded dragon threat, (LOTR, to some degree). Throughout the lengthy adventure, players will find themselves amidst a journey that feels similar to the other nostalgic experiences available. Taking on the many monsters that lurk through the overworld map and its many dungeons in search of the coveted weapons capable of slaying the beastly dragon is nothing close to original, but that doesn’t mean Dragon Sinker isn’t an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

Yet Another Dragon/Fantasy Adventure

The 8-bit pixellated visuals scream nostalgia and take players back to what can only be described as the golden age of RPGs. As you wake from your deadly fight with the dragon enemy – Wyrmvarg – players take control of the human warrior, Abram. As you progress through the story you’ll soon discover your hometown is only a small village in a very vast world. Each of the three races has their own regions throughout the lands, as it comes down to our team of heroes to unite them and take out the looming threat.

In standard RPG form, Dragon Sinker has players exploring an overhead map in search of villages and dungeons. As you travel from dungeon to dungeon or village to village, random enemy encounters occur bringing up the turn-based battle system. The combat is as traditional as most other turn-based RPGs, as players choose from a variety of physical and elemental attacks for each one of their party members. After each character – up to four in a party – has selected either offensive, defensive, or support tactics, it’s the enemies turn to react. It’s yet another take on one of the most common and simple battle systems found in traditional RPGs and done so in an easy-to-learn fashion.

Dragon Sinker Review
As you meet new warriors your party will expand and grow with a diverse cast of characters.

A Unique Team-Based Party System

Where Dragon Sinker takes a different path from the cookie cutter RPG formula is the unique team system. As distinguished earlier, the game’s world is populated by three separate races. As you continue your journey as a noble human warrior, you will meet characters from both the dwarf and elf tribes. As the legend has it, the dreaded Wyrmvarg was once defeated by a trio of warriors containing one warrior of each race. As you may have guessed, this is precisely what players must accomplish, among other tactics, to take down the fearful beast.

As you begin to build your party, players will become aware of Dragon Sinker’s unique team system. As you acquire new allies they will be paired with one of the three different parties. The player will control all three parties with the ability to swap between them in battle. Each team resembles the Humans, Elves and Dwarves – giving a bit more strategy during the tactical battles. Keeping each of the parties – and party members – distinct with multiple effective skills and abilities, the unique party swapping system helps players switch between weaknesses and other affinities while in the heat of battle.

Dragon Sinker Review
The turn-based combat system is a staple in the retro RPG era and one that’s not forgone in Dragon Sinker.

A Simple Experience

While the overall tone of Dragon Sinker doesn’t actually add anything new to the retro RPG category, the game still provides a sound and simple experience. Whether you’re a gamer who maybe missed the boat on the 8/16 bit RPG era, or perhaps an RPG enthusiast looking for the next sentimental experience – Dragon Sinker hits a few of those feelings, and rather sharply. Just don’t expect any game-changing moments throughout the brunt of the journey.

You can find Dragon Sinker on the PS4/Vita, Steam via PC, Google Play and the eShop for the 3DS.

Strange Journey Redux

Strange Journey Redux gets Western release date

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey was released on the Nintendo DS in both Japan and North America in 2009 and 2010 respectively. When was it released in Europe? Well… it wasn’t. Strange Journey never saw a European release, but Strange Journey’s 3DS port will see a European release.

Strange Journey Redux

Announced for European release in June, Strange Journey Redux (SJR) is an enhanced 3DS port of the original DS title featuring updated graphics, voiceovers, a new story arc, new characters, and a new dungeon.

No exact release date was given in June when SJR was first announced for European release, but with the New Year came news of a confirmed release. On January 17th a European release date for SJR was given. SJR will hit European store shelves on May 18th and North American store shelves on May 15th.

In addition to the release date, Atlus gave gamers their first glimpse of official artwork for SJR’s Western release:

Strange Journey Redux

As you can see, Gore’s body is just as ready for a Western release as you are.

Western Megami Tensei fans have long speculated on whether or not SJR would receive an English dub, but Atlus’ recently updated sales sheet for SJR confirms SJR’s Western release will feature the original Japanese voiceover audio and no English dub.

SJR was released in Japan on October 17th, 2016 as Deep Strange Journey and received a score of 33/40 from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.

Arelite Core Review [PC] – A World Only A Blacksmith Can Save

Arelite Core invests players into a journey in which a master blacksmith embarks on an adventure to witness the secrets of other master blacksmiths based around the world. Played in traditional RPG fashion with gorgeously rendered sprites, established turn-based combat, unforgettable characters and a timeless musical score wrap it all tightly together.

In Arelite Core, a master blacksmith – Karden – from the small village of Arreal undertakes a journey to travel around the world to learn the secrets of his trade. From village to village the legendary blacksmith will meet and greet with other master craftsmen, accompanied by his savvy and egotistical battle buddy, Baeme. Picking up other companions throughout your journey and uncovering truths about the dangerous ancient Arelite stones, players will swiftly grasp the mechanics of this familiar looking RPG.

Traversing through dungeons may lead to hidden paths containing helpful items, as well as more monsters.
A Colorful World

As the simple story progresses about the dedicated craftsman and his cocky companion, the lurking dangers of Arelite – an ancient resource used to make absurdly powerful weapons – is now falling into threatening hands. Knowing the power of Arelite, increasing your knowledge and skills as a blacksmith is now crucial in stopping the evil forces and bringing peace back to the world.

The aesthetics of Arelite Core brings back the early years of the adventuring/RPG genre, with colourful and unique sprites, text-based narrative and an enthralling musical backdrop. Exploring, developing your characters/parties and easy-to-learn turn-based combat all provide for a thrilling ride atop the compelling story following the master blacksmith and his faithful and colourful companions.

The open areas and dungeons to roam are familiar in almost every sense of the word when compared to the 16-bit fantasy titles the gaming community remembers so fondly. Unraveling bits of lore and dialogue by talking to the wandering villagers, or bartering with charismatic business proprietors for useful items, armour and weapons are still the standard when entering new areas. Though the game doesn’t offer much difference when it comes to the traditional RPG mechanics, Arelite Core still manages to produce an immersive story full of role-playing tactics and a plethora of evil monsters.

Traditional turn-based combat mechanics bring common tactics found in a heap of other RPGs.
Classic Combat Mechanics With A Few Quirks

The turn-based combat tactics involve all of the strategic – both defensive and offensive – manoeuvres, including physical strikes, magic, healing and special moves known as Blitz. Battles break out once the player (or the enemy) has made contact, spinning players into a bout filled with a number of powerful monsters. Standard strike attacks deal damage using whichever weapon is equipped by each character. By gaining levels and upgrading your characters, new skill points and weapons will increase the strength of these strike attacks.

Other tactics like parrying and the ultra-powerful Blitz moves offer unique abilities to raise defence, recover health or deal massive blows to tough opponents. Parrying acts as a form of defence to prepare the given player a stance against any incoming attacks, but also adds a touch of health to the character as well. With every landed blow or damage taken, each characters’ blitz bar begins to fill. Every time the blitz meter fills, a point is acquired and may be used to initiate a special blitz skill. Powerful elemental attacks, magic abilities like summoning monster allies, or healing/buffing your companions in battle are only a few of the unique tactics available through the blitz system.

The world is in turmoil against a devious threat using the powerful resource, Arelite.
Strengthening Your Stance

Strengthening your party comes in a variety of useful skill and blitz upgrades. Adding skill points earned through multiple levels, three different categories known as Stances – one for each of the three combat moves – are available to increase in a manner of different ways. Increasing the Strike, Parry and Blitz skills provide a number of buffs, percentage increases in strength or defence, more effective blitz encounters or the ability to stun enemies more frequently. These skill categories act as the main form of character development giving each character a unique twist in combat and strategy.

Blitz, strike and parry moves are all vital stances in overcoming the odds, but having a strong weapon equipped can be just as important. Finding weapons happens, but more often players will find more success in forging their own weapons from resources and metals found throughout their journey. Taking gems and metals to blacksmiths will allow players to forge new weapons and armour for each character, also increasing your Smithing level in the process. The higher the Smithing level, the greater the weapons that can be forged at blacksmith shops.

Tons of foul monsters loom in the vast world of Arelite Core.
Arelite Core Review

While traditional RPGs come a dime a dozen nowadays, it’s refreshing to embark on a journey from a different perspective. Playing as the blacksmith with unyielding determination to become the best at his craft is inspiring and charming. Dragon Slumber creates a riveting tale with intuitive perks, skills and useful upgrades. Tons of vile monsters and a cast glowing with interesting dialogue and deep character traits all fit neatly inside this tightly wound RPG. An experience rivalled by so many, yes, but it still brings its own identity to the saturated genre.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review [PS4 Pro] – An Icy Return for the Nora Warrior

Enter the dangerous lands of The Cut

Earlier this year, Guerilla Games launched their new IP set throughout a vast and gorgeous postapocalyptic world in Horizon Zero Dawn. The adventure/RPG took players on an enduring journey 1,000 years into the future where humanity has devolved back to tribal living conditions – only to find themselves an outcast in a world overrun by the many ravenous and hostile machines. Months later, the gaming community uncovered the sacred hidden truths about the ancient world before the fall of civilization and craved more from the Nora warrior, Aloy. Meet The Frozen Wilds.

The icy region of The Frozen Wilds glitters the screen with heavy snowflakes and tundra-like conditions. The Banuk tribe has settled up north in Song’s Edge, a village just before The Cut – a snow-covered territory ravaged by never-before-seen machines, frozen peaks, mountain ranges, and the looming threat known as Thunder’s Drum. A billow of smoke suffocates the sky on the far edge of the map, but reaching the volcanic mountain comes with its own string of both physical, and spiritual, challenges.

The snowy peaks of The Frozen Wilds is an impressive sight, even with the billowing smoke of Thunder’s Drum.

Within the frigid lands of the Cut, Aloy will spend her time completing various tasks and objectives, similar to what she accomplished in Zero Dawn. Along with a new area of the map to explore, new weapons, outfits, characters and, of course, tribe-slaying machines, all await in the sizeable expansion to one of this year’s top releases. Adding more depth to the complex and driven personality of Horizon’s protagonist, Aloy will dive further into the truth surrounding the confusing relationship between the rationally intelligent machines, and their curious, and otherwise unstable, human creators.

The looming threat of Thunder’s Drum

Through the main line of quests featured in The Frozen Wilds, you’ll be introduced to the Banuk settler’s striving to survive in the snowy regions. Led by the chieftain, Aratak, Aloy finds her determination to discover what made the machines so hostile at the feet of the stout and fearless Banuk chieftain. With countless Banuk warriors lost to Thunder’s Drum in previously failed missions, very little hope rests in the dwindling tribe too proud to give in. Luckily, the fierce and persistent Nora warrior sheds any doubt that may inhibit her natural instincts to discover what lies in the depths of the scorching bowels of Thunder’s Drum.

Aloy finds new companions – Chieftain Aratak and Shaman Ourea – in the Banuk settlement, Song’s Edge.

The weapons earned from proving your worth to the Banuk reflect the growth and perseverance our beloved heroine so faithfully exhibits throughout her encouraging story. The Forgefire relentlessly engulfs targets in a rage of flame dealing severe, close-range fire damage, while the Icerail freezes enemies with crisp ice damage in a short-distanced stream of frosty mist. Jolts of electric energy launch from the dominant Stormslinger, adding a useful long-range weapon to the list of cutting-edge weapons found in the treacherous wilderness of The Cut.

In addition to an arsenal of elemental weapons, a fourth skill tree has been added to accommodate the increased level cap. Focused on various travelling aspects of the game, players are now able to grant Aloy with a variety of new skills and abilities. Gathering loot while mounted on an overridden machine, or striking from the back of your travelling companion with the Dismount Strike attack are only a few examples of the added perks to Aloy’s skill tree. Many of these new abilities provide useful and tactical approaches to increase travel time, storage space and repairing your hard-earned, overridden machine mount.

The new Tallneck viewpoint in The Frozen Wilds will first need to be reactivated before climbing atop the roaming machine.
Persevere against all odds

At the core of The Frozen Wilds Aloy finds herself in the midst of a lopsided war between the Banuk warriors, and another corrupt, machine-controlling virus, known as Daemon. Located in the depths of Thunder’s Drum, the Banuk have made their courageous run to infiltrate the mysterious plume of smoke, only to retreat empty-handed, and under-manned. Aloy will be put to the ultimate test of strength and will to determine if she has what it takes to uncover the secrets that lay within the volatile mountain. With the help of the spiritually obedient Shaman, Ourea, players will traverse the frigid lands in search of the hidden mysteries that make up the world Aloy so tenaciously pursues.

The frozen regions of The Cut opens players up to a new cast of keen and colourful characters eager to task Aloy with adventurous missions and reward her with extravagant loot. New hunting missions, side quests including an exciting new Tallneck viewpoint errand, as well as new bows and outfits crafted from the rare and exclusive resource, Bluegleam, are scattered throughout the snow-covered tundra. However, with improved weapons and skills comes new enemy machines, the likes that no warrior has faced before.

Scorchers and the virus corrupted Daemonic Machines are weak but persistent adversaries, while Fireclaws and Frostclaws are enormous and agile machines that deal corresponding elemental damage, often in rapid succession. All of these machines are capable of receiving healing waves generated by the new corrupted Control Towers, which must be destroyed or carefully overridden to reverse its healing effects. These towers are sprawled across the frost-riddled Cut, typically guarded by hordes of hostile machines.

A handful of puzzles await in the Cauldron that rests in the belly of Thunder’s Drum.
Survive. Prevail. We are Banuk.

Horizon Zero Dawn has proven that the courage, confidence and determination of a young, fierce woman, who is overwhelmed with curiosity and under-appreciated by the culture around her, is enough to overcome even the most perilous odds. The Frozen Wilds expands heavily on the brave and righteous protagonist, bringing with it a tale revealing a spiritual Shaman devoted to bringing peace back to the lands in the name of her God, a chieftain too proud and mentally resilient to give in, and a sole survivor achieving everything she can to unravel the mysteries of a world overrun by unpredictable threats, and a dark, catastrophic past.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Review [PS4 Pro] – A Fine Piece of Ancient History

The Assassin’s Creed series has covered a broad array of historical time periods, numerous revolutionizing civilizations and provided fans with plenty of towering platforms plunging you headfirst into shallow haystacks. Year after year, Ubisoft released the next entry in the series for the past decade, only acquiring a small number of stand out titles from the Assassin’s franchise. After a year off from the constant barrage of AC titles, Assassin’s Creed Origins relieves fans from the drought with a massive world to explore, set in the earliest days of the brotherhood.

Discover ancient Egypt through the eyes of a Medjay

Our newest (or shall I say earliest) assassin goes by the name of Bayek and dons the presence of a Medjay – a sort of royal officer serving the majority of the populace found in Egypt. Acting as protectors not only of the people but of Pharaohs as well – often looked upon as hired mercenaries – Medjay listen to the people and help bring peace and safety to the lands of ancient Egypt. Soon, the death of his son enrages Bayek to chase down the masked ones responsible, in turn learning more about the ancient lands then he may have anticipated.

The world of ancient Egypt is sprawling with enemy hideouts, dozens of viewpoints and tons of sidequests.

The arid scenery of the desert landscape is stunning, and the vastness of the map is daunting, to say the least. The open lands run through countless villages, ancient prospering cities and boundless desert climates reach as far as one can see. It’s no secret the team from Ubisoft took their time on Origins, but the sheer level of detail put into the living and breathing world is far greater than anything we’ve seen from the series. To say the vibrant world of ancient Egypt looks astonishing is nothing short of an understatement. Origins lives and breathes with the ebb and flow of life surrounding the civilization it so graciously clings to and does so brilliantly.

As you run through Egypt and its many territories found in Origins, many new features will begin to surface. The parkour technique has been simplified to one button, while the “marionette” style of character control scheme AC had so faithfully made claim to a decade ago has been completely abandoned altogether. But the true difference from the series doesn’t sit at the controls of Bayek outside of combat but is found in the overhauled mechanics during combat.

Big steps forward in revamping the combat system

To say the Assassin’s Creed new and improved combat system may have been influenced by outside sources beyond Ubisoft headquarters may become evident to most who have played other titles with similar combat experiences. Ditching the relentless style of attack where assassins would bounce between a dozen or so enemies, parrying each attack one after another in a flashy, ultra-bloody finish. Instead, Origins has the player focusing more on one enemy at a time with combat similar to that of The Witcher 3, or perhaps the Dark Souls series.

The revamped combat system brings a brand new approach to brawling with enemies.

Striking with either a light attack or heavy attack, blocking with your shield, using ranged attacks from a variety of different bows and, of course, pulling off stealth assassinations with the elusive hidden blade; the weapon to which made the assassin brotherhood so deadly. The combat in Origins will have you dodging around your enemy blows while counterattacking with one of many melee weapons to choose from. Be it mace, club, sword or spear, tons of thrilling weapons can be found in the massive world of Egypt.

While older systems and battle mechanics had players swinging their weapons at the perfect time to execute precise and deadly counterattacks, the combat would become stale quickly. Over and over we saw the same enemies, with the same predictable attacks, timing our counterattacks just right to squeeze off as many finishers as possible. Though the system saw tweaks here and there throughout the series, this is the first time it has actually been completely overhauled. And, while it takes away from one of the few aspects that separated the Assassin’s series from other titles in the dense genre, it fits well with the new mould the franchise has taken.

A hint of RPG elements

Skills that Bayek can learn throughout Origins are divided into a three-part skill tree. After each level up through gaining experience points, Bayek is granted one ability point to spend on one of the many enhanced skills and abilities. Becoming a stronger warrior with fierce, new attacks, discovering new skills for the helpful companion, Senu or acquiring various bombs equipped from Bayek’s tool belt are just a few examples of useful skills found from the skill tree in Origins.

A dash of other useful RPG elements have been added to the game’s weapons system, now with tons of options from heavy, blunt weapons to ferocious attacking swords. No longer must players discard favourite weapons simply because they’re out-levelled and weaker compared to newer finds with the help of the weapon upgrading system. Upgrading your weapons at local blacksmith shops, be it melee or bows, will bring the weapon to Bayek’s current level, for a fee of course. In some cases where players may discover a particular weapon, they’re comfortable using, instead of replacing it down the road, the upgrading system allows them to continue using it effectively at higher levels.

Tons of weapons, upgrades, unique skills and abilities are discovered, rewarded or learned in the massive world of Origins.

Though, in many instances, it may be wise to switch to newer weapons. Coming in three different colours of rarity (similar to the colour coding found in other RPGs, i.e. Borderlands, Diablo, etc.) weapons will be labelled blue if they’re common, purple if rare and gold if legendary. There are tons of different weapons, each with various stat boosts, and all may be dismantled for precious crafting supplies.

While crafting, Bayek is able to enhance various pieces of equipment, which in turn upgrade important stats permanently. There are a total of six different items to enhance through crafting, including the bracer for stronger melee attacks, the breast-plate which raises Bayek’s health or the quiver which increases the number of arrows one can hold. Other pieces raise range attacks, the amount of bombs or other tools held and the power of Bayek’s hidden blade. Each piece of equipment requires a certain amount of crafting materials, typically found through hunting wildlife, or grabbing loot off of enemies. Finding the loot would be rather difficult if Bayek did not have the help of the scouting eagle, Senu.

Scout the endless skies with Senu

Using Senu is another big change in the series, replacing the eagle vision from previous AC games. Additionally, while flying with Senu, the map icons appear, as well as icons for any nearby crafting supplies, within a certain proximity of your soaring eagle’s sight. Senu has an unlimited distance to scout, and the more viewpoints synchronized, Senu’s sight range is slightly expanded. Aside from pointing out various activities, loot, side quests and crafting materials, Senu is also helpful to provide the player with guard activity and numbers when raiding enemy hideouts.

Explore the skies as Senu and scout for additional quests, important events and necessary items like crafting materials.

Throughout the enormous map that makes up Origins, plenty of side tasks and extra content lay at the feet of Bayek. With the addition of actual side quests, and tossing out the unoriginal and repetitive objective challenges from all of the other releases in the series, Origins stands as the most unique and rewarding Assassin’s title to date. Each sidequest – and there are tons – has a different and interesting storyline, which most are based on real-life instances, legends or myths from the ancient Egyptian era. Many may have players performing simple, and sometimes similar tasks, but all have unique backstories, and plenty of surprises to help ease the gameplay from becoming the same, worn-out cycle of events.

Overview

The massive lands of ancient Egypt sprawl past any other Assassin’s Creed title that has graced the gaming community since its debut in 2007. With a storyline that includes yet another rage-driven protagonist fueled by vengeance and hatred towards Templar forces, the start of the Brotherhood of Assassins is an impressive one. Gorgeous visuals compliment the astounding world of the mysterious Egyptian civilization.

With tiresome gameplay mechanics stripped away and replaced with new and exciting features that show Ubisoft is paying attention to what fans of the series want, Origins gives a lot more than it takes away. The all-new combat system is a delight to master, and gives players a true sense of accomplishment. The crafting and hunting system is an excellent way to continue to strengthen Bayek, on top of the expansive skill tree rewarded through experience points.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Review [Xbox One] – Bold New Heights?

Cast your minds back a few years – not to the Third Age, but instead to 2011 – and you’ll undoubtedly recall the release of a licensed superhero epic going by the pseudonym of Batman: Arkham City. Developed by British studio Rocksteady and published by Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment, the follow-up to 2009’s Game of the Year award-winning Arkham Asylum set itself quite the audacious task, aiming to better its forebear via a larger yet densely detailed open-world, enhanced combat mechanics, a wider array of enemy types and above all a canon-eschewing but captivating core storyline.

An Unenviable Challenge

If this unenviable challenge seems vaguely familiar, then it’s with good reason. Fast forward half a dozen years and we find Monolith Productions – again with WB’s stalwart backing – taking much the same approach with their latest project, and surely hoping to reap similarly copious critical praise to that which Rocksteady received upon succeeding in their endeavours. Just as Arkham City took every element of Asylum which worked – the gratifying Freeflow combat, the fascinating exploration of Batman’s psyche and countless other USPs – and expanded upon them tenfold, so too does Monolith’s second action RPG foray into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien up the ante on every front.

Whereas 2014’s largely acclaimed Shadow of Mordor confined the escapades of its half-Ranger, half-undead Elf protagonist, Talion, to a couple of grimly-lit cities based within the titular region, Shadow of War takes us from Seregost’s snow-capped peaks to the precipice of Mount Doom in Gorgoroth, from Minas Morgul’s sinister cityscape to Núrn’s open forest plains. Whereas Mordor’s intoxicating Nemesis System showed huge signs of potential, War develops this intricate mechanic exponentially, adding dozens upon dozens of extra enemy classes, arenas where victorious Orcs can become spies for your army and seismic fortresses in dire need of new management.

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Elevating The Middle-Earth Saga?

But can this unquestionably ambitious follow-up match City’s next-to-universally renowned success in taking its franchise to bold new heights, elevating the Middle-Earth saga to the video game industry’s Hall of Fame? Not quite, yet one can’t possibly accuse Visceral of resting on their laurels either. For instance, aesthetically speaking, some of the human character models – including that of Talion, along with the courageous soldiers he encounters – appear bland and unfinished in cut-scenes, their facial animations a little undercooked. Yet the open-world regions themselves brim with graphical pizazz, Seregost’s snowfall a mystifying beauty to behold and Mount Doom a pitch-perfect copy of that seen in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film adaptations.

Missions prove equally mixed when it comes to variety and unpredictability. On the one hand, many of the main campaign’s quests prove disappointingly mundane, centring on generic follow-the-AI-leader, stealth antics with none of Metal Gear Solid’s scope for anarchic chaos should the player get spotted or repetitive Nazgul boss battles. On the other, venture off the beaten track and you’ll discover electrifying side ventures such as Balrog showdowns, voyages into Mordor’s past and future via the visions of spider-turned-temptress Shelob or attempts to wrest back control of Middle-Earth’s status quo with its equivalent to Mother Nature (yes, really), to the point where one craves for the core campaign to offer the same level of structural creativity at times.

Simplified Narrative Approach

Indeed, while we’re on the subject of the campaign, the eagle-eyed readers among you might’ve noticed that this reviewer hasn’t dedicated much time to War’s narrative as of yet. Suffice to say that in the wake of having forged a new Ring as the credits rolled last time around, Talion wastes little time – barring a frustratingly inconsequential detour to meet Shelob early on – kick-starting a Mordor-wide resistance to Sauron’s rule, rallying hundreds of possessed Orcs to his side in order to take back each of the realm’s lofty fortresses before overthrowing the Dark Lord once and for all. Now, that might sound like a premise for the ages, particularly to the Tolkien avids here, but unfortunately said plot receives scarce attention throughout War, largely taking a back-seat while you influence the foes of each region, topple its Overlord, rinse and repeat for hours on end.

This simplified narrative approach – or indeed the obvious constraints placed upon Monolith by having War take place within reaching distance of The Fellowship of the Ring – wouldn’t matter so much if the script at least dedicated more time to fleshing out the supporting characters like Gondorian soldiers Idril and Baranor, returning fan favourite Gollum (whose needless cameo barely registers), or even the head Orcs whom Talion possesses like the hilarious Bruz. Instead, those looking to see their relationships with the similarly soulless – no pun intended – Talion developed had best look to the aforementioned side missions for further meat. Acts III and IV reveal how our hero’s antics factor into the events of LOTR, in what frankly comes off as one of the most ridiculous fan faction-esque retcons in recent memory, but little else of note actually happens to any of War’s ‘key’ players, protagonistic and antagonistic alike.

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A Dense Open-World

Perhaps story depth isn’t what many fans hoped for here, though, with War’s main draw of course being its overhauled Nemesis System. If LOTR fanatics want to immerse themselves in Middle-Earth, then here lies the most substantial means by which to do so, with the contrasting Orc cultures, fortress defences, enemy weaknesses, tribe dynamics and Warchief challenges of each region providing more than enough of an excuse to plunge hundreds and hundreds of hours into this sprawling RPG’s rich world and become its eventual commander-in-chief. For reasons we shan’t spoil, there’s ample incentive to become an expert in these minutiae by Act IV, where further conflicts mounting in each of your conquered domains put that knowledge fiercely to the test.

With Shadow of War, then, Monolith have largely fulfilled their lofty goals, delivering a dense open-world filled with aesthetic and enemy variety as well as numerous opportunities for total immersion via its staggering Nemesis system and engaging array of side quests. That said, whether its immense strengths on a technical and replayability level are enough to compensate for the disappointing lack of focus paid to crafting a layered fantasy storyline, or multi-faceted characters worthy of Tolkien lore, will depend on what you look for first and foremost out of your gaming experiences; personally, this reviewer could’ve done with more of the latter in order for the second and likely final Middle-Earth outing to stand a chance of topping his Game of the Year shortlist.

It would appear, then, that one developer cannot simply walk into Mordor without struggling to balance the competing elements which they bring along for the ride. Nevertheless, if Shadow of War’s promising improvements upon Mordor’s already potent gameplay formula are any indication of what’s next for Monolith as a studio, then should they choose to return to the world of men, corruptive Rings and cave trolls in the near future, the LOTR franchise’s Arkham City equivalent could lie just around the corner.

Post-apocalyptic RPG, ELEX, gets a launch trailer – “The world’s a playground”

Developer Piranha Bytes has released one last trailer for their RPG ELEX before its release into the gaming wild tomorrow.

In ELEX, players choose to join three different factions – from there they can shape the fate of the planet of Magalan with their decisions.

The action role-playing game is set in a post-apocalyptic world, or as the developers state: “where magic meets mechs”.

From swords and axes to bows, crossbows and harpoons, ELEX offers a large selection of weaponry. Once you’ve picked a weapon, you need to find a companion, choose a faction and change the world. Are you up for this epic task?

ELEX is out for PC, PS4 and Xbox One digitally and at retail in mere hours.

Antiquia Lost Review – A familiar fantasy RPG [PS4]

Antiquia Lost shows off its deep roots from the early years of the Final Fantasy saga, but deep down the game sits quietly with a mold of its own identity. Powerful and heroic characters mixed with emotionally charming plot lines and dialogue, Antiquia Lost brings a surprise nostalgic experience to the broad circle of traditional RPG titles.

Deep Roots

Starting the game in the small town of Crysta Village, you take control of Bine – a red-haired demon hunter engaged in the beginnings of a warm and exciting adventure. With the help of his mysterious power and newly acquired friends, you’ll dive deep into the fantasy world full of intriguing towns and villages, dungeons, as well as plenty of turn-based battles along the way.

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Bine and his cast of powerful allies are full of interesting and eventful dialogue moments in the charming story.

Lunaria and Safira hail from the goo-like people of the Ruta tribe, Jade – an elder of the cat-like species from the Eeth tribe and the protagonist Bine is home to the Fai tribe. Each represents one of the three elements being Earth, Fire and Water. The peaceful tribe lives in harmony with one another in the vibrant world of Antiquia Lost, until important figures from all over the lands begin to disappear. Venturing to the Capital City with your trusted group of friends, you’ll begin to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearances that are taking place.

The battle system is set up in a traditional turn-based RPG format, only now with a few enhancements and quirks that help keep the game original. Each character in your party is capable of common physical attacks with whatever weapon is equipped, and of course various magic spells ranging from fire attacks, healing water abilities to ancient powers and the unique Brave Arts ability. Random enemy encounters occur throughout the sprawling world map, rewarding the player with experience points, useful items and equipment and tasty gems which act as Lunaria’s special method of leveling up.

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Many different physical and magical abilities are crucial in defeating the monsters found throughout the world.

New or Robust?

The storyline in Antiquia Lost doesn’t offer anything new or robust coming out of the stale isometric RPG genre, but creates a wonderful cast of friends and dialogue to keep fans of cheesy narrative lines and fantasy tales playing throughout the campaign. Talking with your party members during down time in between quests will give you the opportunity to either boost your status with each individual – or lose trust – based on the response you choose in dialogue selection areas. Paying attention to each ally’s personality will give subtle hints as to which direction to take the conversations.

Traveling from town-to-town, each small village has a number of villagers, some with additional side quests to add to the playability. Traversing back through previous areas in search of a lost item, piece of equipment or even a stray sheep, more often will result in ending these side quests with a powerful demon fight to cap off your short journey. Once you’ve fully explored the current village or dungeon to your desire, the option to move along with the story remains in your trusty quest log for quick ease of use.

As your party members battle their way through waves of enemies, gaining vital experience and gems to help build the power of their abilities and other attributes, enemy encounters become increasingly more difficult, featuring various forms of every monsters. Color-coded by specific strengths and weaknesses, some monsters require unique weapons to be defeated, while others just require more persistence and strength.

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Boss battles require careful strategy and powerful skills to defeat the monstrous enemies.

Antiquia Lost Review

Using your attacks and defenses to your advantage is crucial, such as strategically using multiple-hit skills to strike down every enemy in specific rows and columns. These techniques prove useful against large mobs of enemies that out-number your party.

A large variety of supporting items are also present, curing status ailments, healing items and various fruits to help boost important stats in your characters. These fruits can be grown in potted soil kept in your inventory. After obtaining seeds labeled for specific skills – i.e. strength, vitality, speed, attack , defense etc. – as well as other rare items, you’ll plant them in one of the desired planting pots located in the inventory menu. After the timer ticks down, the fruits are ready to be harvested and saved for a time in need to help sway the tide of battle in your favor.

You can find Antiquia Lost available now on the PS4/Vita on the PS Store, mobile devices on the App Store and Google Play, and Steam.