PARTYMODE [PAX Australia 2017]

Coming at you live from the Wombat Theatre at PAX Australia 2017 is the debut of PARTYMODE! 12 podcasts from the Australasian Gaming Podcast Network (AGPN) battling it out onstage for glory and bragging rights!

Watch as members of The Alex Kidds, Git Gud, Team Pwnishment & NERDSTRADAMUS fight their way through Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Grabity & Nidhogg 2 to crown the first ever PARTYMODE Champion!

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2017 Teams & Contestants:

The Alex Kidds (Adam // You Game Bro?, Dion // Periodic Table of Awesome, Michael // Reset)

Git Gud (Tegan // Sass Effect, Alex // Kotaku, Wilko // Ultra Super Mega)

Team Pwnishment (Joel // I Speak Giant, Lauren // OK Games, Amy // Leaping Tiger) NERDSTRADAMUS (Brendan // ATEBIT, Jason // Game Hugs, Andrew // A Couple of NPCs)

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Massive thanks must go out to PAX Australia for allowing us the opportunity to showcase Australia's best video game podcasting talent as well as Adam "Pez" Perry and Sam Abraham for putting the panel together and ensuring it ran as smoothly as possible.

Super Blood Hockey [Review]

Oh yeah baby time to let that indie flag fly.

With a goal of making and posting regular reviews, I make a point of checking the indie radar from time to time. So here’s what we turned up today: Super Blood Hockey.

SBH is a pretty transparent, it is a hockey game. The hockey game contains copious amounts of pixelly blood. All that’s left is whether or not it is really that super. So it’s gameplay focused style doesn’t really give room for a story. Unless you count the thrilling love story of your fist making sweet love to someone else’s face of course.

Now if I know one thing about indies, its that there is a real sector for the pixelly graphics market. So SBH feels a bit retro in that sense, and I imagine, in the gameplay also.

The mechanics are actually pretty simple here, but also effective. Standard controls apply, move, shoot, pass, that sort of thing. But, of course, comes the sweet, sweet violence. When you don’t have the puck, you can check anybody, and yes that includes both the ref and your teammates. In fact, through certain conditions (which the game doesn’t really make clear), the hockey game can devolve into a full blown 4 V 4 punch on; Losers being down a player temporarily at the conclusion. A nice little bloody interlude in the game.

It’s good I won all those fights actually, because if you’re trying to win at hockey good freaking luck. Let’s be blunt, I love games, but I ain’t a pro. But even so, even this game seems a bit overboard. I have not been much of a retro gamer, but it definitely feels like that sort of retro difficulty. Starting off the game is fairly simple, but challenging. When shooting, for example, the aiming is controlled by the left stick, same as the movement. This can make aiming tricky as you’re negotiating where you want to take the shot from, and the specific angle you’re after. It’s worth noting that this is surface level, and guides on this game 1) Further reiterate my point that this game is hard if you don’t really know what you’re doing; and 2) Imply some depth to this game I hadn’t seen before. In my time I did feel around some of this stuff. Players of different size, I realised through trial and error, have different constitutions, so to speak. As such some characters can KO some with one shot, whereas others take a few swings. Conversely, smaller characters often have an agility advantage. So even there, we can see a bit of customisation and strategic wiggle room to add to proceedings.

Also, the AI can just stop already. I spent 6 minutes getting that one goal, I don’t appreciate it when you respond with 4 goals in the next minute. It doesn’t ruin the game, but suffice to say it makes me appreciate you can from in-game to main menu to quitting the desktop, because I ain’t standing for those shenanigans. No one thinks you’re cute, we just think you’re being a prick.

Finally let’s just chat about challenge mode. So the challenge mode is basically an exhibition match, but with x. But with 12 V 12, but with you controlling a single player, that sort of thing. Furthermore, victory in a challenge, opens up added customisation to exhibition games. Simply put, for an arcade style game as this, it feels like a good fit. It pushes you try out the game tweaks, and rewards you for your trouble, with new ways to tailor your preferred experience of the game. All in all good work guys.

One thing I tend to respect about good indie games is that there’s never a feeling of a certain need to go big or go home. In between the appetiser of a flash game, and the 25 course AAA game, is the space for a lovely little indie meal. Super Blood Hockey has a solid base, limited as it may or may not be, but it truly fills it. It’s fun, it’s retro, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s bloody good hockey.


4 out of 5

+ Simple to learn, Difficult to master gameplay
+ Enough game modes to keep you sticking around
- Computer is pretty difficult, even on easy mode


Lady Layton: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy [Review]

Let’s drop some asterisks at the beginning. {Thanks to Brendan for setting me up with a review copy just wow that’s awesome. Secondly,} this review is aimed at the currently available mobile version of the game, which I played on iOS. Level-5, developers of this title, have said “AndroidiOS or 3DS, it doesn’t matter, you’re going to have the same experience”. Call me a sceptic, but as this game is only $25 on the Apple Store, it is hard to believe that claim. Perhaps some content will be additional DLC or something. Suffice to say, if you’re angling for the 3DS version, maybe add a grain of salt to this review.

I’ll open by laying my Layton fan membership card on the table. Alongside Ace Attorney and Nancy Drew, the Professor Layton series fills one of the spots in my personal mystery puzzle holy trinity. So yeah, I’m kind of a fan.

Let’s dive into the review of Lady Layton, shall we? As a returning fan, let’s discuss the old stuff and the new, which coincidentally lines up with the good and the bad.

For the unfamiliar, puzzles lay at the centre of all Layton games, and the latest iteration is no exception. New characters asking you to prove your worth, uncovering testimony, discovering new evidence, all fall under the purview of yet another puzzle. Even my favourite, “ooh look at [thing] it reminds me of a puzzle” comes back around, just for the sheer lunacy of it. “Why look a dead horse, with all the blood and gore! Oh, the inhumanity! It reminds me of a puzzle!!” Maybe this is me looking through nostalgia goggles, but I really felt like Lady Layton was a little short for puzzles. In previous iterations, there was at least one puzzle so brilliant I had to stand up and take notice. It could be that I’m just better at sussing out the tricks in the puzzle, but I can’t really claim any teasers were particularly memorable. In fact, the only thing I noted was how a handful of puzzles had one of two of the same answers. All in all nothing outstanding, but otherwise it’s on average not bad.

Aesthetically and Thematically, Lady Layton still hits the mark. There’s a little magical realism sprinkled in, what with the tritagonist being a talking dog and all. The art style as always is such a distinctive cartoony take, I mean it’s truly fantastic stuff in this regard.

However, Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary friends, here is the turning point. Let’s get into gripes.

This entry follows a new protagonist, Katrielle Layton, daughter to the great professor Hershel Layton. At the game’s opening, she, along with assistant Ernest Greeves, is opening a detective agency in London. Accosted by a talking dog, to discover his origins, the dog named Sherl O. C. Kholmes (basically all the names are freaking puns in this game) forms the mystery solving trio. Solving murders, finding superhero secret identities, uncovering haunted houses, it’s all just another case for the Lady Layton.

If there’s one thing that jumps out to me from the Layton series, it’s the story. Things start off simply, a death of a friend, a missing inheritance, and balloon from there. Action cutscenes, moustachioed villains, and curiosity after mystery after question arise. Eventually, all the pieces coalesce into a single melancholic, but joyous crescendo. The game is hence broken up into chapters, and returning players are treated to a “previously on…” section to bring players up to speed

Let’s just say Lady Layton throws this to the wayside. It may not be the first time this series has dipped its toes into the mobile space but it feels like it. Replacing the larger story is a series of 12 “cases”. I can see what the developers are going for, they are really trying to fish for some mobile gamers here. Sure, I’ll concede it may be an easier ‘in’ for people new to the series. The problem I have is it does so at the detriment to the game as a whole. The 12 cases, while special in their own right, get devalued when they’re one of a dozen. Hell, compare this to the previous mobile game, Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, and it’s clear, fewer cases and a shorter game, make each case impactful and interesting.

Even when you ignore its delivery, the story is nothing to write home about. In fact, reminds me of mediocre anime. Most of the plot is spent pottering around with the case, leaving no space for continuity or a story running through. Technically, there are connections, but bare minimum “oh that lady from the other case” connections. It’s fair, I suppose, to say that Lady Layton has a big ending, but I’m not sure how much I can praise them for this. See, the other thing with mediocre is, shall we say, Sudden Finale Syndrome. The light cheerful plot caves into a melodrama out of nowhere. In the case of the game, the final case is some stupid Saw-but-you-pay-with-your-money-not-your-life trash (side note: a mysterious terrifying villain threatening to donate money to charity is hilarious in a not flattering way). Furthermore, no continuity means no lead up with a bit of consequence. Firstly, a great legendary fortune just bloody appears just to prop up some stakes. Secondly, the game ends on probably the most left-field twist that is pulled completely from nowhere. Seriously a general allusion to the character doing literally anything vaguely suspicious would have been nice, and simply put the evidence involved, I mean it felt like a self-parody at that point.

OK, so it goes without saying Lady Layton, isn’t going to get Game of the Year. The simple truth is I don’t like this game as much as I wanted. I understand what Level-5 is trying to do, bring in more fans into the franchise. If all else fails it showcases the style, and the puzzles fairly well. But of course, I am a fan of the series. I hope more people can fall in love with the series as I have, but I feel in this instance I have to love Layton a little less.


3.75 out of 5

+ Puzzles are still fairly good, despite no stand outs
+ Aesthetically and thematically solid
- 12 cases diminishes the story telling


ATEBIT Weekly Update

Happy Monday you sexy sons o' guns! It’s your favourite here to give you the rundown on what’s going on in the Atebit Nation this week!

 

The Hungry Gamers - Ep#078

Did you know that Super Mario wasn’t a plumber anymore? Me either, but it happened last week. You may not have realised because you were too busy playing Destiny 2, like the THG crew.

This week Brendan, Ally and I deep dive into Activision’s latest title, Hearthstone nerfs, Stephen King’s It, South Park: FBW’s new racist difficulty mechanic (it’s incredible) and the crew decide to launch a new Podcast.

 

Conscription: Destiny 2 - ATEBIT NATION Clan

We’re drafting all able-bodied men and women to join the ATEBIT NATION Clan for Destiny 2 on PSN. Earn bonus XP and rewards for joining and help us to make our clan the greatest clan in the galaxy.

Stay tuned for Raid and Strike schedules.

 

AudioTechnica ATH-PG1 Giveaway

Thanks to our buddies at Audio Technica we’re giving away gaming headsets; one a month, every month for as long as we have to until the whole world is kitted out with these bad boys. 

Go to this page and enter!

 

OzHadou Nationals ‘15 - Sep 15-17

OHN’15 is finally upon us people. If you think you’re halfway-decent with your main in Tekken 7, SFV, GG Xrd, Smash Melee or Wii then get on a plane to Sydney, pick up the sticks and prove it. There are also another 30 games being run over the course of the three days, so there'll be plenty to do. Go to http://ohn.ozhadou.net to find out more. 

I’ll be there, murking dogs in Tekken 7 and stealing the glory. I’ve never been to a Hilton before, it might be too nice for me. Will definitely have to half-inch something on the way out.

 

That’s all for another week folks. Take care and take care of those around you. Stay hungry.

SaleemTD

 

 

Win an Audio technica Gaming Headset!

ATH-PG1.jpg

Thanks to our friends at Audio Technica we are giving away a set of ATH-PG1 headphones every single month to one lucky citizen of the Atebit Nation. To go into the running, you need to like or follow one of the links below. Each like/follow is a single entry and you can have four entries in total. 

Notes: 

1. Monthly draws close on the last day of the month. 
2. Winners will be announced on the first episode of The Hungry Gamers each month
3. Entries rollover into the following month, so don't worry if your number isn't called the first time! 

Agents of Mayhem [Giveaway]

Greetings ATEBIT Nation!! With thanks to our friends over at Deep Silver we are giving away several digital copies of Agents of Mayhem on both Playstation 4 AND Xbox One. To be in the running simply fill out the below form letting us know who you would like to see in the Agents of Mayhem universe and why?

Entries close September 3rd at 12.00pm AEST.

Name *
Name
Preferred Platform *

Splatoon 2 [Review]

Nintendo has long been a game company that relies heavily on their original IPs as opposed to third party games for their consoles. Usually when someone remembers a classic game on a Nintendo console, it’s usually one of the exclusives Nintendo has. Zelda, Mario, Kirby, all of those are iconic brands with several games that are considered to be iconic for how fun, memorable, and charming they were. A couple of years ago, Nintendo finally took another risk with an entirely new IP about a bunch of squids. This wouldn’t seem too strange, except it was meant to be played as an online multiplayer shooter. Nintendo. Doing an online game. With elements of third-person shooting games.

What sort of timeline are we living in? Well, joke’s on us, because even though it came out on one of their less popular consoles, the Wii U, the first Splatoon game was a hit with critics and players alike, with everyone praising it for its charming looks, fun gameplay, and memorable style. I myself never really got the chance to play it, so when Splatoon 2 was announced for the Nintendo Switch, you know I had to get my hands on it. I got to participate in the pre-release Splatfest, a recurring battle that splits players into two factions based on a “Which is better?” question, and it just got me more excited to play the full release version of Splatoon 2.

And by God, it was certainly worth the wait. 

Splatoon 2 is one of the must-have titles available on the Nintendo Switch. I genuinely think it should be in every Switch owner’s library. Even if you’re not typically a fan of third person shooters, I implore you to give this game a try. It has a very enjoyable single-player mode that will help you learn some tricks to use in the multiplayer mode, and the multiplayer games themselves are incredibly fun and addictive, though they do make some questionable choices that I’ll address later.

Let me start this off by saying that this game looks amazing. It’s extremely bright, vibrant, and colorful in all the right places, with little details thrown in to make the world of Splatoon 2 stand out even more. Your central hub is a city square known as “Inkopolis Square”, and you use that to get around the various shops and access the different game modes available. There’s even a little DDR-styled minigame you can access that not only lets you listen to the fantastically fun and bouncy soundtrack, but also break your thumbs in frustration because you can’t keep up with the stupid beat of the songs. Aside from that, you can jump between the shops by accessing the menu if you don’t want to bother walking around or get lost easily. It’s a nice little feature that I enjoyed, as I constantly forgot where the shirt shop was.

I do have to say I was a little bothered by how I couldn’t switch off the motion controls for the tutorial section that the game makes you start out with, but once you reach the main square you’re allowed to fiddle with it to your heart’s content. I’m very glad they’re not mandatory. The options also allow you to lock the ink colors if you’re partially color-blind, which is a very nice addition. It’s little touches like this that make up the reasons I ended up loving this game.

In the singleplayer mode, you play as a nameless Inkling (the name of the squidkid race present in Splatoon) who is tasked with rescuing the Great Zapfish from the evil Octarian menace. It’s once again not meant to convey a great story, it’s just a setup meant to get you to play through twenty-eight levels where you splat, jump, and squid your way through to save smaller zapfishes. I say “squid your way”, because one of the main mechanics of the game is your ability to freely switch between Kid and Squid forms. Kid form lets you use weapons, jump around, move, etc. Squid form lets you swim around in the ink you threw around, climb up walls, and just generally helps you maneuver yourself into better positions to take out whoever is trying to take you out. You move faster on your own ink, but slow down and take damage over time if you’re on the enemy’s ink. You can cover their ink with your weapon, and they can cover yours, so it’s beneficial to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to which color is surrounding you at that time.

The campaign isn’t very difficult, though there are some platforming moments that I remember getting frustrated with, mostly because I wanted to get all of the collectibles and was very impatient at the time. One thing I will admit I feel torn about is the way they implemented the different weapon types into the campaign. On the one hand, you actually got to use the several different weapons that Splatoon has to offer. From a “charger” weapon that acts like a sniper rifle, to a giant paint-roller that excels in everything related to close combat, the variety in the weapons is very impressive. Compared to the way they just forced you to only use one weapon throughout the entirety of the campaign in the first game, this was such an improvement. However, every level forces you to use that one weapon, no matter how much you hate it.

For example, in a previous level you could have breezed through it using the Dual Splatties, a sort of dual pistol rapid-fire short range weapon that I really enjoyed using, but then the next level would force you to use the frustratingly slow Charger weapon that I just can’t bring myself to enjoy. I’m not really much of a sniper person to begin with anyways, so it just felt annoying to have to adjust to a weapon I wouldn’t really pick in the multiplayer mode anyways. And that’s what the single player really is all about: preparing you to dive into the real meat of the game, which is the beautifully done multiplayer mode.

In the multiplayer section, you have four different types of games you can play. There’s the casual Turf War, where the goal of the game is to ink more of the current map with your colored ink than the other team. The team with the most ground covered at the end wins. Pretty simple, and it’s just a fun, casual way to enjoy the game and rank up. Once you hit level 10, you can start doing competitive battles where the rules change on a set schedule. One day it could be a capture the flag sort of game, the next it could be a “push the payload” situation. These battles are ranked, starting you at the C- rank and giving you the chance to climb all the way up to S+ I believe. I haven’t spent much time with this yet, but from what I’ve experienced it is fun to blast your way through in a more strategic manner. There’s a “League Battle” mode that you can play when you reach Level 25, but I haven’t gotten there just yet. If there’s one thing I have to complain about with these modes is that I don’t really feel like the matchmaking system is very fair, at least for the casual mode. I was Level 6 or 7 at the time, but I was being put against teams that had their lowest member at Level 17. It felt like it was a crapshoot on whether or not the match would be fair or completely one-sided.

Finally, there’s the enigmatic, frustrating, extremely fun game mode known as “Salmon Run”. This game mode takes you and three other players and pits you in a cooperative horde mode against creatures known as Salmonids. Your job is to collect a certain amount of Golden Power Eggs from the tougher Boss Salmonids while using pre-chosen weapons provided at random. At the start of each wave, you’re assigned one of four random weapons, and you have to work together to survive the salmonids and collect the eggs. If your entire team is killed or you fail to collect enough eggs, the game is over, and you lose a bit of your Salmon Run ranking. Yes, there’s a ranking for Salmon Run, but it really only applies to how much experience you get for the in-game rewards.

I call it frustrating because even though I adore this game mode and how it encourages teamwork, it does have a few issues. It feels like the difficulty can be extremely random at times, with some Boss Salmonids being much tougher to beat than others, and the way the maps can actually change during the match. For example, some maps have a low tide and high tide, giving you either more map room to work with, or so little that it feels like it’s way too easy to get cornered and separated from your team. It’d make more sense if this happened later in the match, but it can happen at seemingly any moment. Or maybe that was just my luck kicking in. 

And then there’s the weirdest thing about Salmon Run: It’s not always available to play. For some reason or another, this game is on a schedule, being available some days and shut down on others.

To give yourself an edge in the multiplayer modes (aside from Salmon Run), you can actually buy clothes and accessories that come with passive bonuses, such as giving you damage resistance, faster moving or better swim speed. These little bonuses can make all the difference, and if you really like the way a particular piece of clothing looks but not the bonuses, you can add or reroll certain bonuses on the item until you’re happy with both how you look and how it helps you play. It’s a neat little system that allows you to make your own unique Inkling.

If there’s one thing to take away from this review, it’s that Splatoon 2 is an essential title for anyone’s Nintendo Switch library. It’s one of the reasons to own a Switch, and with more free content on the way, I don’t have an inkling of an idea as to why you shouldn’t own one of Nintendo’s best new games.


SPLATOON 2 WAS REVIEWED USING A RETAIL NINTENDO SWITCH DOWNLOAD KEY PROVIDED BY NINTENDO

Destiny 2 [Half Informed]

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.
 

Perception [Review]

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


Resident Evil VII: Biohazard [Review]

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


RiME [Review]

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


Sony [E3 2017]

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.

Ubisoft [E3 2017]

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 [Review]

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 [E3 2017]

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.

Microsoft [E3 2017]

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.