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Half Informed is a concept where we play a gaming title from a fresh save for a total of 30 minutes, once that timer sounds we put the controller down. Half Informed aims to provide you honest opinions during our experience while hoping to shape your decision on whether the game is worth purchasing.
On this episode of Half Informed Ben dives head first into the Destiny 2 BETA.
Oh Perception, how I have longed to put my feelings on you on paper. Where do I begin?
Perception is one of the many entrants into the “chased by a scary person” horror subtype, but as always I was hooked by its unique selling point. That being that this is first person experience with a blind protagonist. Instead of traditional visual perception, Cassie uses echolocation to get around. Just before we dive in, you may be wondering what echolocation is. In simple terms, it involves the use of hearing to determine the surrounding environment.
So let’s talk its use in the game. In theory, you could say the idea is pretty sound, no pun intended. As you walk through the spooky mansion that serves as the setting, things that make sounds give off a “glow”. I’ll give some props to the developers for some cool uses of the idea early on. A cutscene shows a nun impatiently tapping her feet as a pulsing light illuminating her static model. The first we of the enigmatic house, the howling winds show the details and contours of the mansion.
Sadly, the illusion wears thin quickly. Inside the house, there is minimal sound generation, nothing like raging winds to show large swathes of the house. The odd radiator and radio make a bit of noise but mostly you’ll be relying on walking around and making noises with your cane to see around. So yes, the echolocation could have just been a faulty flashlight, mechanics-wise. A bit annoying, especially when you are told the “house is listening”, discouraging you doing an action that lets you see the way forward, under threat of jumpscare.
The main scary element is a malevolent force, known only as “The Presence”. It actually sets a good impression in the first chapter. It messes with you, it gets information out of you, it has no voice of its own and taunts you with your own voice. Truly this is a lovely, creepy introduction to a mysterious entity. It’s worth noting, however, that the horror element is a bit of a paper tiger. The moment that the gameplay, and really the game in its entirety, fell apart for me was about an hour in. After a chilling first encounter, the presence left and still had yet to return. A wave of realisation crashed over me. That is when I first saw Perception for what it truly was: A horror-themed walking simulator.
Now I am a firm fence sitter to the horror walking simulator genre. On one hand, walking simulators have a tendency to do interesting gameplay-story combinations. The developers can program in surreal environments, layer thematic metaphors into impossible hallways and such. Maybe it works counter to the horror, but knowing I don’t have to run from things, makes it easier to take all the wonderful nonsense in. On the other hand, abandoning a tangible villain to attack you, can make you a bit too comfortable. To really bridge that gap the horror stuff has to be constant pressure. Perception falls into the latter category, opting for cheap jumpscares, and creepy dolls, over worthwhile horror. In fact hilariously, when the cute creepy dolls have guns, it’s literally the tensest the game got in my opinion.
Perception, let’s be blunt, fails to create a worthwhile story to justify itself. Protagonist Cassie has dreams about a house in the middle of nowhere, so she goes to the house in the middle of nowhere. She finds it haunted by ghosts, which she tries and help save. Apparently, Cassie doesn’t know that ghosts are the spirits of already dead people. So she must go through the paces, trying to help the long dead corpses, and being constantly surprised when she fails to do so.
Now the obvious problem here is that Cassie may have been an interesting character. There could have been a fantastic little exploration of the difficulties of blindness. The dialogues between Cassie and her protective, concerned boyfriend Serge give a brief insight into this. But the flame of this interesting story is smothered between stupid ghost tales.
Finally, the presentation really fell short of my lofty hopes. In this game, the visuals are based on a representation of a character's perception of the world. I could write pages on how easy it would be to slam dunk horror with this as a premise, but short version, you could so easily screw with a player. Move things around, make some object intentionally confusing or impossible, really the world is your oyster. Perception utilises this by just having stuff appear in front of you suddenly. In no way does the game feel like it uses its own premise to make anything interesting with the horror. Truly this game seems intent on simply putting a nice black and cyan coat of paint on an utterly standard game. Sure, the praise of “there are certain scenes that look cool” still stands. I’ll go further, the idea of changing the entire colour scheme to communicate the Presence’s proximity, and Cassie’s health was striking. But these are mere diamonds in the rough that is this game.
Perception is probably a good argument for why you shouldn’t have too high expectations. I looked at the trailers and legitimately thought “They really don’t have to do a whole lot more to impress me”. It had some cool ideas, but seemingly never had any intent to properly capitalise on them. Sadly, the echolocation, that seemed fun in a trailer, isn’t necessarily fun in a game. Strip the game of its uniqueness and it still feels short of the mark. Even basic expectations, such as this being chased on a fairly regular basis, don’t really come up.
So on the level of the basics disappointing, and regarding the more ambitious ideas, I guess you could say Perception
Has a startling lack of vision
1.5 out of 5
- Uninspired gameplay
- Narrative focuses too heavily on ghost stories
- Presentation doesn’t execute on good ideas
As a franchise, Resident Evil has eluded me for quite some time. As a recent entrant into the horror genre, I only know the prestige of the series. The prestige of tunnel downwards in quality before a reboot sets things straight. Well, the latest reboot is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which returns things to survival horror.
Ethan Winters receives a message from her wife Mia, instructing him to “stay away”. So naturally, Ethan completely ignores Mia’s desperate plea and makes a beeline for rural Louisiana. Lo and behold, this already bad idea goes sour as Ethan is soon captured by the Bakers. They’re hillbillies, but they also gather ‘round the ol’ family dining table and have a big heaping plate of entrails. Of course, you go through all this hell and pain, just to leave behind the mess you walked into, you freaking idiot.
This plot does really feel like it slots into the combined canon of horror quite well. It has a scary house, with deranged family members, cannibalising the unfortunate souls to wander into their neck of the woods. Hell, the game leaves videotapes of long-dead victims. You heard that right, this game quite literally has “found footage”, and actually uses it to help guide players through the game proper. Similarly, a myriad of documents can be found lying around, which gives a bit more backstory. Thankfully, it also is fairly balanced in its use. The story can easily be played with minimal reading, and the story will still hold up on its own. Suffice to say, this isn’t always the standard it should be.
The story starts off with a sort of immortal slasher horror but acquires more elements as it continues. Later on, we get the Moulded, a stylised take on the traditional zombie. Let’s be spoiler free and say that as the game progresses it runs further and further down the line to full blown body horror monstrosities by games end.
Gameplay also feels very familiar. The core is a first-person survival horror shooter. If you’re like me and just oriented at the finish line, you might struggle. Ammo, weapons, health kits and the like are scattered around, so you’ve got to keep an eye out. The limited portable inventory also means having to make tough decisions between items carried, left behind and shuttled in and out of the limited storage chests.
I’ll just put it out there I love the return of these mechanics. Gaming, especially shooters have introduced some “standard” mechanics that are a bit dismaying. Yes, I understand the logic of regenerating health in some circumstances, but simply put they have no real place in horror. Horror is about frenetic sprinting, hiding, the terror of an approaching enemy, the fear that your cause of death can literally walk around the corner at any time. If all it takes is maintaining a safe distance, a lot of the anxiety is bleached out of the game. In this case, even having the resources to take down future threats is called into question. Even at a boss fight, you can worry about your depleted stock and your manoeuvrability in the face of future encounters. All in all, the gameplay really works in tandem with the story to create this heavy atmosphere.
Resident Evil 7 is constantly figuratively, and sometimes literally, dripping in a dark, rotten feel. The house seems like it could be a real family house, underneath the diseased fluids. The characters look as broken and dishevelled as their backgrounds would indicate. The Moulded and general Body horror is just grotesquely beautiful. Basically, it ticks all the boxes design wise and is pretty graphically impressive by most standards. I should put a little disclaimer here; I haven’t played the PSVR version, so your mileage may vary in that regard.
It may seem this game simply ticks the boxes by my review so far, but I wanted to lay one more praise at Biohazard’s feet. They say variety is the spice of life, and if so, RE7 seems like a nice bowl of human meat chilli. The game is roughly split into chunks with some different mechanics in them. Now generally the game retains focus, but some break off into other types of game. A section in the “party building”, introduces trip mines and an escape room of all things. The villain doesn’t merely hate you; he wants to toy with you. It’s less an oppressive fear driven ride, and more jovial, I suppose. It’s not comedic; it’s more like being trapped by the Joker. Every horror game probably has this kind of level. A new more specific threat to evade, but I think it’s likely a bigger contrast. Not just has the game presented new villain, but a tweak in the tone, menacing but in a sinisterly playful way.
If pressed, Resident Evil does have some rotten corpse fluid to criticise. The game flirts with puzzles but doesn’t exactly make it to the first date, if you catch my drift. Some puzzles are alright, in the dash from one place to the other use inventory items kind of puzzle. Honestly, only one puzzle near the end seemed good enough to bother including if I’m honest. Sure, this is a horror game, but if you’re going to bother putting puzzles in, you should probably put some work into them. You could also say that the Moulded also felt a bit lifeless, ha ha ha.
Resident Evil 7, I feel, is probably the greatest horror game we currently have. Tense and worrying mechanics interplay well with a dark diseased setting, for a horrifying game such as this. Not all the elements are without fault, but the variety of the elements makes up for these flaws. Ultimately we have a dark, disturbing game that takes lots of little elements from various games, and feels like a great little sum of those parts.
5 out of 5
+ Good Story & Presentation
+ Gameplay Works Well with the Other Elements
+ Good Variety in the Story & Gameplay
As a newly minted reviewer and an avid gamer myself, I see the importance in keeping your expectations in check. Being able to take a step back from the pre-rendered oh-so pretty trailers, and be a skeptic. But, then again this is RiME, an indie game hyped for years and from Tequila Works, developers of The Sexy Brutale. It’s a bit of a contentious game to review, so do read through as we cannonball in.
The player character is a young lad, a coloured boy no less, so yay for representation. Anyhow, shipwrecked on an island the little guy must work his way through the various puzzles. In doing so, he comes to understand the nature of the island, its inhabitants and the journey that lies before him.
Such is the pitfalls of talking about a mystery games, it’s pretty hard to talk about the game properly without ruining it. The twist was a pretty interesting case study. Read enough mysteries and you learn to look past the obvious suspects. All this is to say that the ending is so cliché; I actually overlooked it as too obvious.
While I’m talking about clichés, I might as well talk about the gameplay. It is mainly fairly worn-in puzzle types: platforming, switch-operated doors and the like. RiME doesn’t really push any boats out for the puzzle genre, but for the most part it is solid. Similarly, RiME opts for textless tutorial, which I’d argue works well in a very Journey-like manner. An opening area, naturally leads the player to the first task, a group of statues. A beam of light emanates from the other statues needed for the task, an area to try out controls and show off manners of interacting with environments. As much I wish it was not the case, this game is not all light beams and yelling at statues. Despite being a very simple game, it is not always apparent what needs to be done to progress. In some cases, a puzzle was almost solvable, and I’d give up on it. After exploring the solution presents itself: invariably that I didn’t have all the puzzle pieces to begin with. In other cases I meandered around an empty unclimbable room, only to find the way forward by looking it up in confused frustration.
Now I’ve been really critical of the game, but I’m going to give you a real twist here: I actually liked it. The gameplay sure isn’t fantastic when you really consider what’s here, but it’s generally solid and cohesive. It’s probably a bit too far to say that cliché gameplay gives a nostalgic feel, but worst case scenario it’s inoffensive. Consider it a piece of bread to which the story is spread onto.
See I do think the story is cliché, but I’m a fan of the telling. I should probably put it out there; Journey and The Last Guardian fans will probably be into RiME for this reason. It feels like a weird thing to talk about in a game review, but the best part of the game is probably the tone. It’s a oddly specific, perhaps intellectual element, but it really works here. Consider the opening, you are running around a strange island. You yell at glowing statues to release their statue power (or whatever you want to call it). You’re curious, you’re experimental, and you’re filled with wonder and interest in the world. In a later stage, a bird is constantly surveilling you, waiting for a moment to strike. You do not know the path ahead; you must plan ahead and change plans quickly to evade your antagonist. This is tense, anxious, and frenetic as you dash from cover to cover. Whilst shifting tones may derail some games, RiME sticks the landing. Happy moments give weight and meaning to later tragedies. Fear and frustration of evading enemies makes the despair and sense of meaningless all the more sobering.
I also loved the games little gestures. A death scene reflects an aspect of the character and his connection to a mysterious island inhabitant. Guardian helpers wordlessly help the player character, giving a feeling of unspoken companionship. It all adds to the games visual vocabulary, which further bolsters the games strong sense of mystery. Upon the games ending, the truths revealed, the game impresses the meaning of all these little moments. Opening the stage select screen, after the game end, reveals the themes of the various stages. As silly as it sounds, doing so, and learning the direct link between shifting tone of the narrative and the mystery itself was a stupidly elating moment.
Let’s be frank about RiME. By no means is it a perfect game, the mechanics and at time unintuitive level design are drawbacks. Your mileage may vary on those criticisms however. If you’re here for the gameplay, this may not be for you. As I see it, the faults in this game fall into the shadow of a tonally-engaging well-told story. It depends what you search for in a game, but it hits enough of my sweet spots to give a recommendation.
4 out of 5
+ Fantastic use of tone
+ Presentation adds to mystery
- Unoriginal Story reveal and mechanic
It should come to no surprise to absolutely anyone that Sony was my shining star of this years E3. We didn’t receive a new IP, which reasonably bummed a lot of people out, however this years presentation still exceeded my expectations. Not every year is going to be a big one, and it just gives us more to look forward to, to this years PlayStation Experience – which will be on December 9-10 this year!
During the PlayStation pre-show, we were introduced to PlayLink. A new way of play, but turning our smart phones into second-screen like controllers for PlayStation party games. Along with PlayLink, we were given two games to go along with this new feature; Hidden Agenda, and That’s You! Hidden Agenda comes from Supermassive Games; the creators of one of the best, or at least my favourite horror experiences pretty much ever. Hidden Agenda is a co-op thriller that puts you and your friends in the situation of solving a mystery; letting each of you make decisions to either help or sabotage your friends. That’s You! is a much lighter PlayLink game, and is a quiz-based party game that takes advantage of smart phone cameras, and gives you the opportunity to draw all over your friends.
Matterfall is a side-scrolling space platformer shooter that launches on August 16th this year. I don’t really have much to say outside of Matterfall incorporates a lot of things that I love in games, and I’m excited to see how speed runners take to this game, as it was created with them in mind.
Superhot is making its way to PSVR, and is said to offer the same experience as plays on the Oculus as well as the Vive. More and more games are being announced that are pushing my desperation for PSVR.
Undertale is one of those games that I always wanted to play, but never got around to even purchasing; that’s finally going to change as Undertale makes its way to PS4 and PS Vita. Undertale on PS4 is one of the first games of this E3 that I’ve added to my shameful pre-order list. The release on PS4 does come with a small collectors edition, so I’m keen to add it to my collection, and is said to release by the end of 2017.
I’m not going to try and pretend I wasn’t upset that we didn’t see more of The Last of Us Part II at PlayStation’s presentation, but we didn’t see more of Ellie and Joel for a very good reason; Naughty Dog want to focus on Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and I’m glad they made that decision to do so. The Lost Legacy launches in August, which gives me enough time to go back and replay Uncharted, to then end this series on a high note. It’s fairly safe to assume that there will be more of The Last of Us Part II at the PlayStation Experience this December.
Very potentially my Game of the Year (at least second to NieR:Automata), Horizon: Zero Dawn deserves a title no less than “masterpiece”, and while Guerilla Games have mentioned they wanted to work on DLC for Horizon, their announcement of The Frozen Wilds came as a surprise. The continuation of the incredible world that Guerilla has created is exciting, and getting to see more of where Aloy goes next is something to look forward to.
In general I’m pretty over zombie games, but Days Gone continues to pique my interest. Coming from a very “Last of Us” vibe, Days Gone continues to impress by the sheer numbers of zombies it presents to us. The limitless zombie hoards we’ve seen so far looks promising in terms of non-stop action, but the story they’ve set up looks promising as well. What Days Gone has that The Last of Us doesn’t have though, is zombie bears. Zombie bears excites me, zombie dogs does less so, but regardless of what zombified enemies we’ll come across, I look forward to what Days Gone will be.
Honestly, I don’t have much to say about Monster Hunter World outside of “AAAHHH” and I really didn’t expect it. I love what Monster Hunter World has to give, and cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Shadow of the Colossus. The first game shown at this years E3 to bring me to tears. Shadow is getting a full remake on PS4, and I am beyond excited. All assets are being rebuilt, and we’ve been promised an updated way of gameplay; Shadow definitely doesn’t age well when it comes to its core mechanics of how the game plays, so this is an amazing opportunity for everyone who didn’t get the opportunity to play Shadow on PS2 and PS3, to play this masterpiece in a way that should age much better than it did initially.
After their silence since Until Dawn, Supermassive Games really gave us a lot this E3, this time with The Inpatient. A prequel to the aforementioned Until Dawn, The Inpatient is a VR prequel to one of my favourite horror games. Set 60 years prior to the events of Until Dawn, and will get to see what happened to the Sanatorium that so much of the game takes place in.
The more I see of God of War on PS4, the more excited I get. The departure from Greek mythology to Norse appeals to me deep in my core. God of War is expected to release in early 2018, and I cannot wait to own whatever ridiculous collectors edition we get with the game.
Detroit: Become Human is far from a game I’m looking forward to playing, but deserves an honorable mention because it is a game I will be picking up. In a future post I may get to why I dislike David Cage so much, but for now, know that this is a game I don’t want to be cynical about, I want it to be good, I want it to succeed, but David Cage knows how to set up an amazing, incredible story, only to ruin in it in every way.
How great does Spider-Man: Arkham look? Honestly Spider-Man is one of my most anticipated games for 2018, and I am so in love with the game we’ve been presented with so far. Combat is one of the most vital parts of a Spider-Man game, and this is a step up compared to anything we’ve seen before. The tease of Miles Morales at the end of the conference was the perfect farewell to this years PlayStation presentation.
I hoped upon hope that Ubisoft would be revolutionary and game changing (hah) in that they would surprise us all with an optional female protagonist in Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but alas, I was disappointed. Aside from that though, I’m all in all pretty pleased with what Ubisoft presented to us throughout their press conference. Starting off the presentation with Mario Rabbids, a game that while obviously appealing to a lot of people, doesn’t appeal to me – I can appreciate the love that went into it, but honestly just isn’t something I can see myself playing. Ubisoft really started for me at the introduction of their new creepy VR game.
I’m not going to pretend I really have any idea what Transference is, other than that it’s a terrifying VR experience that ‘bridges the world between games and movies’.
I’m a big fan of pretty pirate ladies, but not as big a fan of multiplayer games so I’m truly torn on what I feel about Skull & Bones. While the game can be played on my lonesome, I feel like that just takes a huge part of what the game is about. In a shared open world, Skull & Bones features a large variety of game modes, and an entirely customisable ‘pirate experience’.
It’s not like I’ve ever disliked the Far Cry series, but it’s definitely not a series I’ve been particularly hype about – until Far Cry 5 that is. Outside of the story; leading a resistance group against a fanatic cult, Far Cry 5 features co-op available through the entire campaign, and a customisable character. Everything about Far Cry 5 appeals to me deep in my core.
So we’re finally allowed to be excited about Beyond Good & Evil 2 again, but it’s not quite the game we expected. We don’t really know much about BG&E2 outside of the fact that it’s a prequel, and that I’m unbelievably excited.
ARMS, the new IP from Nintendo, is something fresh and different, combining the DNA of an over the shoulder third person shooter and a fighting game. Nintendo have delivered a unique and extremely fun experience with ARMS.
At the games core lies an extremely deep combat system, with ten characters available, all with their own distinct play styles. ARMS leans more on strategy than button mashing, timing your grabs, blocks and punches are paramount to your success on the battlefield, going out there and spamming attacks saw me taken down rather swiftly. ARMS is all about patience.
On defense you can have your combatant dash left or right to avoid attacks, if you prefer to stand your ground you can bring your fists up to block attacks, it can be punishing and also leaves you open to throws so I would suggest mixing in dashes with static blocks to keep your enemy on their toes.
The control scheme within ARMS is fairly simple, making it an easy game to pick up but harder to master. Being a Nintendo Switch exclusive you have two control choices at your disposal, standard controllers (eg: fixed Joy-Con or the Pro Controller) or if you want to feel like a spring armed Mike Tyson (lisp not included) - the motion enabled Joy-Con would be your choice. The standard control scheme is easier to grasp but the fun lies within the motion controls.
A gripe I have with the controls comes from curling, you see when you throw a punch you can curl them, just like the bullets in the film Wanted. You see when playing via standard controls, movement and curling are both mapped to the left analogue stick, thus not permitting you to do both at the same time. Motion controls come with similar problems, to move you need to tilt both Joy-Cons at the same time to move in a desired direction, if you aren't precise enough your avatar will simply plant their feet in protect, leaving you open to attacks or grapples.
Each of the ten characters has three sets of ARMS available to them, they have different pros and cons, and don't have to be paired. Should you choose to assign a missile launcher to one arm and a slow, yet high damage dealing variant to your other arm, you can. ARMS allows you to mix and match, creating a play style of your choosing. Combining unique abilities such as Ninjara's invisibility, Ribbon Girl's double jump or Master Mummy's regeneration make for a varied and forever changing experience on the battlefield. Bare in mind you need a lot of coin to purchase the various character related ARMS.
Throughout the game, you earn coins which can be cashed-in for time extensions in a mini-game where you knock down stationary targets. Upon mini-game completion you unlock new weaponry, sadly it's a random drop - both of arm and for what character said arm is linked to. This equates to an extensive amount of coin grinding in Grand Prix mode.
Grand Prix sees you select one of ten characters, facing off against the other nine in a series of best of three matches, it's a simple concept which is sadly void of narrative, fleshing out their characters would have gone a long way, especially when you compare the slew of current fighters out in the market.
The graphical styling of ARMS is a huge positive, it fits right in with the rest of the Nintendo stable with its vibrant colours and characters big on look and personality. Levels within the game are just as distinctive, Twintelle's Cinema Deux mixes in cars for cover, Ribbon Ring looks like your school's seasonal dance providing elevated platforms for hiding or vantage. Kid Cobra's Snake Park was my favourite arena in the game, scattered throughout are spinning discs, which can be used to fly around the map quickly, either in pursuit or in avoidance.
If Grand Prix isn't your thing there are several other modes available, target practice is probably one to avoid. V-Ball is Nintendo's take on volleyball, Hoops (an improvement on V-Ball) is a basketball mode where you need to grab your rival on the court and fire them through a hoop for points. There are also 2-2 and four way dance options available, these focus more on chaos and less on strategy, punches fly from every direction, forcing you to go the route of button masher, rather than tactician.
You will need to complete one run through of the Grand Prix mode before you can access online ranked match ups, I found the servers to be stable, with no major latency noticed during my battles. With scheduled tournaments already in the works courtesy of Nintendo, ARMS looks to be a title that could have some serious staying power.
ARMS isn't your typical fighting game, standing alone amongst a sea of 2D fighters, it does so proudly, wearing it's quirkiness like a badge of honor.
3.75 out of 5
+ Diverse & Fun Roster
+ Surprising Amount of Depth & Customisation
+ Unique Look & Feel
- Gets Repetitive
ARMS WAS REVIEWED USING A RETAIL DOWNLOAD KEY PROVIDED BY NINTENDO
Bethesda was brief, it was fast and to the point, and while not the biggest press conference, it definitely wasn’t disappointing. A new Elder Scrolls or new IP would have been nice, but after that brief 40 minute conference, I’m pretty happy with what we got.
Doom VFR. Fallout 4 VR was also announced, but honestly I care much more about Doom than I do Fallout. I’m so prepared for the motion sickness that comes with Doom in VR, and how absolutely terrifying this will be. Doom VFR will release in 2017.
Dishonored 2 was one of the best games of 2016, I’m so keen for the return of Dishonored 1’s Billie Lurk and Daud in Death of the Outsider. The Dishonored world is one of my favourites so honestly I’d have been pretty happy with any kind of Dishonored announcement today. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is set to release September 15.
Skyrim has finally been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch, and I was pretty certain it wasn’t going to be something I’d want, but my mind quickly changed with the use of the Breath of the Wild Link Amiibo to give the player character Link’s outfit.
I was leading the hype train for The Evil Within so hard, only for the game to be a monumental disappointment. The announcement of The Evil Within 2 has me torn; the trailer was incredible, and the story looks promising. I want more than anything for The Evil Within 2 to live up to its announcement trailer, but I’m going to try and not get too excited for it. The Evil Within 2 releases on Friday the 13th of October. So spooky.
Definitely the highlight of Bethesda’s press conference was this Nazi punching masterpiece. Wolfenstein II’s trailer ended on a magical high note of your pregnant wife stabbing a nazi, while you trip on acid, and if that’s not enough to pique your interest, we also get to experience the same extremely satisfying combat of its predecessors. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will release on October 27.
We should all know that while I’m a huge fan of PC gaming, Microsoft lacks appeal for me when it comes to the Xbox. This year’s press conference led off with a decent start, with the reveal of the Xbox One X – a name I’m also not particularly a fan of. I’m not here to talk about the console, because frankly while 4K is cool, and amazing, and all of that stuff, I think there are better things to focus on for the time being. The games are why I sat through this conference, and I’m really pleased with the outcome. Minimal, if any at all talk of sports, and racing, and there weren’t even many games I zoned out on. Unfortunately, even with how amazing some of these games appear to be, I’m still just not going to go run out to buy an Xbox One.
I love me some first person horror, and Metro: Exodus is the next step forward from Metro: Last Light. Changing pace, Exodus takes the game above ground, and will see a year in change of seasons as the game progresses. Metro: Exodus will release in 2018.
No one is surprised that Assassin’s Creed: Origins was announced today; the game looks incredible, it looks fun, it looks like a huge step forward for Assassin’s Creed, but for me it’s a huge step backwards. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate gave us the option to play as a female (spoilers, actually two!), and that made the game my favourite in the series. I’m not demanding a female only protagonist, but the exclusion of a female once again from the series is disappointing. To have given us that option, and then taken it away hurts a lot. It’s so rare that I’m unhappy with a lack of female protagonists; it’s something I usually never care about, but Syndicate was so incredible, and Origins looks incredible – I just don’t think I’m going to be giving it much thought. Ubisoft figured out how to animate females, and then forgot, apparently.
Anime Souls! Wait, no… Code Vein. Coming from Bandai Namco is a post-apocalyptic vampire future dystopia that looks like all of of my dreams come true. Code Vein is a co-op RPG, with almost character action/hack-and-slash style combat. Coming to PS4, XB1, and PC in 2018, I’m super keen for Anime Souls.
It’s the 1930s style of Cuphead that appeals to me more than anything; releasing on September 29, Cuphead is a run and gun platformer with one of the best game aesthetics I have ever seen. Cuphead will be playable on PC and XB1.
If you missed out on my thoughts on Life is Strange, you can check that out here. If you know my thoughts on Life is Strange, then it shouldn’t really be a surprise that I’m pretty keen on a prequel. This isn’t the Life is Strange 2 we were expecting; LiS 2 is still in production by Dontnod – Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a three episode prequel from Deck Nine, and as the title states, explores what happened before the storm. We’ll finally get more Rachel Amber, and I’m hopeful I won’t be let down in the same ways that I was from the first game. Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s first episode will release on August 31 on PS4, XB1, and PC
Surprise! It’s more Anthem! I spoke about my hype for Anthem briefly yesterday, and today we were blessed with a look at the gameplay. What definitely feels like the next step up from Mass Effect: Andromeda, Anthem gives us customisable exo-suits, jet packs, and co-op, but we also have the option to play on our own. Because of the multiplayer aspect of the game, there’s concern about what kind of story we can expect; it’s a Bioware game after all, and Bioware tells incredible stories. Time will tell, and I guess it’s best to wait for more information on the narrative of Anthem before falling entirely in love with it, but Bioware remains to be a company I have faith in.
E3 is off to a pretty decent start with EA Play giving us a few titles to care about. Typically, we see a lot of sports, and other things I don’t really care about too much, but we were also given a peek into Bioware’s new IP, and a few other treats that are making me feel good about EAs time to come. Janina Gavankar stole the show for me; in her Elhoffer dress, and the emotion coming through in her voice talking about Star Wars – I hope EA will pick her up for future press conferences.
I don’t think anyone needs yet another person talking about EA Sports, or Battlefield 1 – while this time round Battlefield definitely piqued my interest, it still just means very little to me. What really captured me was the introduction of A Way Out, from the same creators as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. A co-op only game built upon an incredible concept of its predecessor. In no way is this a negative comment, but when I look at A Way Out, I just see Uncharted 4 if we had the opportunity to play co-op. Our protagonists look similar to both Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan in their own weird ways, the cinematic game-play presented to us was just screaming Uncharted vibes, and one character shouting “Oh crap!” in a similar way to Nathan Drake’s “Oh shit!”. This isn’t a bad thing, but the comparisons are undeniable. If anything this excites me more; in the hopes that the humour, and general story is as incredible as a Naughty Dog game. What’s interesting in A Way Out is that there’s no single player option. I’ve long awaited the return of couch co-op, and hopefully this is the beginning of a new era of cooperative games.
When EA announced Star Wars: Battlefront II at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year, I was blown away; more so by the fact that we’re presented with a female protagonist front and center. Janina Gavankar not only got to present for Battlefront II, but she’s also leading as the protagonist herself; Idin Versio. We’ve seen impressive, enthralling game-play that takes all the flaws from Battlefront I, and turns it into a truly impressive environment, and world. Battlefront II having it’s own campaign, as well as split-screen co-op is a huge leap forward for what we received in Battlefront I, and we have been promised free content after the game releases. I’m so excited to dive back into the Star Wars universe once again.
Anthem. Bioware presented us with their new IP today, and it’s hard to judge from such a short trailer, but I have faith in whatever Bioware will give us. All I wanted from this new IP is more space; completely unrelated to Mass Effect, I just really enjoy games in space. Anthem’s marketing seems to be tied with Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, and we’ll get to see more of the game tomorrow at Microsoft’s Press Conference at 7:00am AEST. The trailer we received didn’t tell us much, but it appears to be set far in the future, in a world that is constantly changing. The impending threat appears beyond the wall and throws some serious Attack on Titan vibes. I have faith in what Bioware will give us next, and look forward to knowing more about the world of Anthem.
Rakuen, simply put, is an interesting game. It’s been a big year, so I’m not surprised it got smothered under the current crop of AAA games. I reviewed To the Moon a while ago, and to summarise was a little disappointed. Whilst it had a good story, the gameplay left a lot to be desired. So I went into Rakuen hoping that creator Laura Shigihara (known for doing work on To the Moon) would push the little “RPG-style Walking Simulator” genre forward.
Rakuen is a bit of a picture book fable. I know I shouldn’t compare it as such, but Rakuen reminds me a lot of Legend of Zelda, in particular, The Minish Cap.
The story follows a boy in hospital, who goes on adventures with his mother, respectively referred to as “Boy” and “Mother”. This is where I’d joke, “What’s his father called? Dad?” but yeah they kind of do that. Anyway, the lonely child loves being told the fantastical story of Rakuen. Returning from a hunt, a young warrior returns to find his tribe vanished, fleeing to the floating island of Rakuen. He seeks the help of Morizora, the forest guardian, who upon completing his trials, grants him passage on his flying ship. Just like the warrior, Boy and Mother must quest to Morizora’s forest, in pursuit of his wish. But things are not well in the forest, and the boy must confront his demons, and the demons of his fellow patients to get his wish.
Purely, looking at the narrative, Rakuen is pretty much a slam dunk. Each character has some kind of relationship issues that lay at their centre. But relationships can come in all forms, and as such, I want to commend the creators on laying out quite a diverse set of stories here. Unfortunately, this game is not purely narrative, and with that let’s dive into the gameplay.
In a general sense, Rakuen has taken some lessons from To the Moon. The latter game, simply put spent a large chunk of its plot saturated by fetch quests. Plot reasons for needing repetitive similar fetch quests were garbage and ultimately made a great narrative game into a shamble. So, Rakuen definitely is an improvement. Generally speaking, the game will do the standard inventory puzzle gameplay, and yes this means there are fetch quests. I’d argue, however, the Rakuen earns its right to use it, simply by virtue of its variety. Finding materials for a blacksmith, colourful characters to help with missions and searching for codes is done in the upbeat fashion thanks to the framing narrative. The highlight for me is, and this is not an exaggeration, the mission where you, a child in a bowtie, serve tea to formally dressed anthropomorphic flower buds, to gain information regarding a food stolen from a kitchen. No, seriously you are a fancy child tea-serving detective in a fantasy land I mean it’s hard to say too many bad things about that.
And yet, let’s say some bad things about Rakuen. The most obvious criticism to level at Rakuen is the conflict between gameplay and story. A recurring sequence is flashback scenes, intercut with escape room style puzzles. Now, the academic in me will give some credit, for the juxtaposition of a happy past, stained by tragedy, and grim present. It highlights how far characters have diverged from their once happy past. In practice, the discrepancy is rather jarring, an almost audible clunk between story and game scenes. This also leaves the tone oscillating between creepy and cute which stops working in the game’s favour rather quickly. Sure these are somewhat brief, but they show up about seven times in a three-hour game. Furthermore, when you lose your puzzle solving momentum, you get the issues plus the mild frustration from following a train of logic.
The presentation here also does wonders. There is a diverse cast of characters creepy and cute, formal and punk kids, good stuff. But really I want to talk about the audio on offer. I would do a disservice to not mention the fantastic music from Rakuen’s creator, the great Laura Shigihara. If she sounds familiar, Laura has composed music for Plants VS Zombies, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and, the previously mentioned, To the Moon. Great theme tunes are one thing, but Shigihara places music front and centre. Each individual story is punctuated with a song, from one (or more!) characters, a lovely treat to sum up the melancholic struggles faced by characters. Sorry for the pun, but the songs truly hit a crescendo in the game's later stages. In all honesty, I may buy the soundtrack, something I have only done with one other game. It’s just that spot-on, cute and emotional, but produced simply but effectively to great effect.
Let’s get something straight Rakuen is not a perfect game. It learned some lessons from To the Moon. It really improved this whole indie RPG Maker-style of game, but I hope the envelope can be pushed even further. As it stands Rakuen, still deserves my admiration. It isn’t the biggest game, and it may not be picked up by many, but that makes its successes all the more impressive.
4 out of 5
+ Lovely Storybook-like Tale
+ Generally Good Simple Puzzles
+ Amazing Music
- Conflicting Gameplay with Story, at Times
Half Informed is a concept where we play a gaming title from a fresh save for a total of 30 minutes, once that timer sounds we put the controller down. Half Informed aims to provide you honest opinions during our experience while hoping to shape your decision on whether the game is worth purchasing.
On this episode of Half Informed Saleem (aka The Six Percenter) attempts to become the King of Iron Fist Tournament, punching and kicking his way to greatness in Tekken 7. Does he achieve greatness? Tune in to find out...
DISCLAIMER: This Half Informed episode goes for much longer than the usual 30 minutes and also cuts several scenes together as Saleem loves Tekken 7 just that much.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year; nothing gets me more excited than E3, and the inevitable tears that come as gamers are celebrated and celebrating the new releases to come. I don’t remember an E3 where I haven’t cried at the announcement of a game, looking at you Zelda, or those really emotional videos that thank the community for being who they are. It’s pathetic, I know. With this wonderful time of the year comes the expectations and hopes of games to be announced, so here’s my list of games I hope to see, and think we’ll see (even if I’m not particularly happy about it).
It should be no surprise to no surprise that The Last of Us Part II is the shining star of my list. Naughty Dogs announcement trailer for the sequel to my favourite game (there, I said it) was phenomenal. I was honestly quite content at the ending of Joel and Ellie’s story, but I cannot deny that I’m excited to see what’s in store for us this time round. Naughty Dog couldn’t disappoint even if they tried, and I’m excited to see exactly where this story takes us. I feel like it’s safe to assume that this time round the main game-play focus will be on Ellie, and I’m fully prepared to cry at any trailer presented to us this year.
Hideo Kojima is my favourite person when it comes to anything related to video games; he created one of my favourite game series, and in general is just the most phenomenally interesting human, I cannot help but adore him. Kojima’s latest venture into ‘what on earth is this?’ is Death Stranding. A game that no one really knows anything about except for Kojima himself. I can’t tell you anything about what’s going on, all I know is that I’m excited. Whatever Kojima throws at me, I will embrace, and I feel like it’s certain we’ll see more of Death Stranding at E3. I’m not expecting a release date anytime soon, but I’d settle on seeing more naked Norman Reedus, if I’m being completely honest.
Spider-Man is far and easy my favourite Marvel superhero, but I’ve never held any interest in Spider-Man game until now. Marvel and Insomniac Games have teamed up to give us some incredible introductory trailers, and game-play that looks above and beyond what we’ve seen before. We’ve been promised an experienced Peter Parker, so I can only hope we don’t have to sit through his origin story yet again.
God. Of. War. I’ve always enjoyed God of War, but the series departure from Greek mythology to Norse mythology has piqued my interest more than anything. The venture into Nordic gods is explained as a geographical border; we’re no longer in Greece, but in Norway – but Kratos isn’t a Viking. God of War has pushed its way up my list, because the game is set in a time before the gods had abandoned us, and monsters still roamed the earth.
I’m one of those “Final Fantasy VII is the best Final Fantasy” girls, so it should really come as no surprise that the FF7 remake is an absolute priority for me in “games to cry about” at this years E3. I can only hope that along with the inevitable delay, and an unannounced release date, that we’ll get to see more of how the game plays, what changes have been made, and more look at my first video game crush ever, Cloud Strife. We already know that turn-based combat is long gone, and while I don’t want anything open world, I can only hope that VII will play similarly to XV.
When EA announced Star Wars Battlefront II at the Star Wars Celebration this year, I was absolutely blown away. Between a female header character, and a campaign that looks legitimately interesting, I’m excited. We already have a release date, but I’m expecting we’ll get to see more of Battlefront II at EA Play.
I don’t believe we’ll be seeing Bloodborne II, at least not any time soon, but I can dream. The rumours flying around that Bloodborne II will be the big reveal at Sony’s Press Conference are everywhere; we’ve seen leaks that may or may not be fake, and as much as I want them to be real, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Venturing deeper into Bloodborne and its lore would be incredible, and I’d really love to be wrong about it not being announced.
Sony has also made a statement that we can expect more Japanese games to come to E3 this year, and if it’s anything like the Japanese releases we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing already this year (NieR:Automata, Persona 5 etc) then whatever Japanese games showcased at Sony’s Press Conference this year will be mind-blowing.
I have a dream, and that dream is Bayonetta 3. Platinum Games have confirmed that they’re developing a game for the Nintendo Switch, and I’m hoping beyond hope that it’ll be another Bayonetta title. I’d settle for Bayonetta 1+2 being re-released on the Switch, because not everyone got to experience the masterpiece that is Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U. With the success of the Switch, more people would get to experience this incredible series, and more than anything I would love to see Bayonetta in any way, shape, or form, at E3.
It’s about the right time for another Tomb Raider game to be announced; the Tomb Raider reboot was released in 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider released initially in 2015, and with the success of Rise of the Tomb Raider on PS4, I feel like it’s safe to say that we should be expecting another entry to the Tomb Raider reboot franchise sometime soon. This isn’t so much as a prediction, but is a very deep hope, as Rise of the Tomb Raider is an extraordinary game, and Lara Croft deserves another addition to her story.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has been delayed to 2018, but in most, if not all cases, delays are a good thing, and this is no exception. So we don’t have a set release date, but fingers crossed for a new trailer, and a bit more insight about what has changed since its predecessor.
There has been a lot of talk about The Evil Within 2, and while there’s definitely some intrigue in it for me, I was all in all disappointed with The Evil Within, and feel no need for a continuation of that story. I was directing that hype train like there’s no tomorrow, and the game fell flat for me. The Evil Within 2 is pretty much confirmed at this point, and I can only hope that the story will be redeemed in this sequel.
I’m feeling a certain level of hype for Far Cry 5, which I’ve never really felt before. We’ll also have more information about Assassins Creed: Origins – Egyptian assassins sounds cool, but I’m only really going to be interested if we have another optional female playable character. Ubisoft made such a step forward with Syndicate and playing as Evie Frye, and taking away that option just seems like such a stupid step backwards that it could be damaging.
This list will be updated as more rumours come to light, or I remember more games that I’m desperate for a sequel to.
What are you most looking forward to at E3 this year? Let me know in the comments below!
Not content with fighting for pride, Ally and Brendan raise the stakes but combining Injustice 2 with a side of Russian Roulette - where the winner spins the Beanboozled "Wheel of Doom" after every loss and is forced to eat horrible, horrible things...well they're just jelly beans but the flavours are kinda gross.
Invading your ears for a record sixty fifth time, Ally, Brendan and Sam unite amid the hype of Destiny 2 making it's way to PC thanks to Blizzard.
They also talk about:
- Player Unknowns Battlegrounds
- Alien: Covenant, where does it stack up in the franchise?
- The Alien & Predator universes, the good & bad of it all
- Get Out, one of the best films of 2017
- Ubisoft confirming 4 AAA titles within the current fiscal year
- The Witcher getting it's own Netflix series
- Tom Hardy being cast as Venom in the 2018 film
- The Adelaide Crows purchasing Legacy eSports
- Leaked anniversary content for Overwatch
*Plus lots, lots more!!
Shout out to our iTunes listener of the week - The mysterious Cameron!!