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Day One: Garry's Incident developers censoring criticism


Exploiting YouTube's copyright protection is kind of poopy, guys
Oct 21
// Jim Sterling
Wild Games Studio, the company behind Day One: Garry's Incident, is currently caught up in a controversy surrounding criticism of its game on YouTube. Immensely popular PC game critic John "TotalBiscuit" Bain has accused the ...

Review: Sonic Lost World

Oct 18 // Jim Sterling
Sonic Lost World (Wii U)Developer: Sonic TeamPublisher: SegaReleased: October 28, 2013 (US), October 18, 2013 (EU)MSRP: $49.95 The hardest thing to get used to with Sonic Lost World is the concept of speed not being everything. After years of shifting away from intricate platforming in favor of lengthy, linear race tracks, Sonic Team has reintroduced the idea of speed as a reward rather than a central premise. There are moments where Sonic races along pathways and reaches super speeds, but trying to play most of the game with that "Gotta go fast" mentality will lead to trouble. Learning when to slow down is crucial.  Rather than automatically run at high speeds, players must now use a sprint button, otherwise Sonic will walk at a more leisurely pace. Levels are packed with platforming sections, hidden areas, and other obstacles to create a game far more in line with original 16-bit Sonic titles, even when played from a 3D perspective. In a clear nod to Mario Galaxy, many of the levels consist of disconnected landmasses with their own center of gravity, allowing Sonic to walk the full way around them and shift the camera's perspective. Many of these levels can indeed be raced through in a manner akin to Sonic Adventure or Generations, but to do so would be to miss out on a lot, and sometimes make progress harder. [Watch this space for our official video review -- coming soon!] Sonic also has access to a whole bunch of extra tricks which work surprisingly well. The classic spin dash is back, and the homing attack comes in a jump and kick varieties, with enemies requiring different tactics to beat. Some opponents will need their own projectiles kicked back at them, while others might need to let their guard down before taking a hit. While the homing attacks are still messy at times, and often drag players unwillingly into trouble (thanks to double jumps and attacks sharing one damn button), the added variety in attacks, and the need to switch up tactics, makes combat more interesting than the usual button-mashing seen in other contemporary Sonic games. Some light parkour skills have been added to Sonic's skillset, allowing him to run along walls, automatically flip over small ledges, and perform more intricate walljumps. He can bounce down swiftly, akin to using the bubble powerup in Sonic 3, and he can crouch for reasons I've not yet understood. It takes a short while to get a handle on how everything works, but once you get used to Sonic's initially odd behavior whenever he's sprinting near walls and obstacles, it's surprising just how elegant the parkour actually is -- the fact it's mostly optional and never hamfistedly shoved in the player's face certainly helps! The Whisps from Sonic Colors make their return, and once again bestow unique abilities upon Sonic when utilized. After collecting a Whisp, Sonic can activate it by pressing an icon on the GamePad's touchscreen, and enjoy some sort of gimmick-infused way of navigating a level. For example, the classic blue variation allows players to flick the touchscreen and send Sonic whizzing across a section of level. The orange Whisp turns Sonic into a rocket which can be aimed at new platforms using gyroscopic controls. For those worried about the game becoming nothing but a tech demo, Whisps are surprisingly uncommon and understated in their appearances. In fact, they can often be optional, and their use is not as abrasive as other games with enforced touch/motion controls.  Sonic Lost World most certainly requires some acclimation on the part of the player. In fact, I despised it when I first started, and it wasn't until I got used to the subtle intricacies and replayed a few levels with a fresh perspective that I found myself having a ton of fun with it. Levels mostly work great with the new gameplay, boast excellent setpieces, and use speed as a reward to satisfying effect. Lost World is also pretty damn good as both a 3D and 2D platformer, with the controls and physics shockingly adept at both types of gameplay -- very useful, since some stages shift constantly between the two styles to great effect.  In fact, Lost World has some of the best level design in the entire series, presented with a sense of cohesion and fluidity that Sonic Team has so very rarely displayed any aptitude for. Whether you're zipping along a series of tube-shaped worlds, navigating some tricky sidescrolling sequences, or tackling the Deadly Six in a selection of simple but energetic boss battles, there's a whole lot to love, provided you can get into the new way of playing.  However, this is a Sonic the Hedgehog game, and it seems we can never have one of those without a few massive caveats. For indeed, while Lost World boasts some of Sonic Team's best ever work, it also boasts some of its worst. As usual, problems occur when the game tries to be too clever for its own good and deviate from what is guaranteed to work. So it is that the game is packed full of some gimmicky, poorly designed crap that threatens to tear down all the goodwill earned by its quality moments. Whoever designed the flying levels, for example, ought to be institutionalized, and there are regular sections that see Sonic bouncing awkwardly across tiny clouds with a camera that provides a woefully misleading perspective. While the notable majority of levels are polished and fun, there are unintuitive and sloppily designed ones that consistently threaten to rear their hideous heads. To Sonic Team's credit, it stole something else from recent Mario games -- the ability to skip sections if you fail enough times. After several deaths, a set of wings will appear as a pickup, whisking you to the next checkpoint. It's not necessary for most of the game, but during those sections where awful camera angles or ill-conceived ideas screw over the player, they might present a valid option. Another long-running issue also dampens the overall fun -- the gauche demand for levels to be replayed before new ones will unlock. Lost World keeps a running tally of animals rescued from enemy robots or Eggman pods, and new levels won't unlock until you've collected enough of them. You can get through much of the game without worrying about it, but once you start hitting latter stages, the requirements ramp up and you'll most likely be forced to play through previous stages until you reach the arbitrary score. There's absolutely no reason for it; it's there purely to extend the running time through artificial means. It's fortunate that many levels are good enough to withstand multiple runs, but it's still a tacky and underhanded thing to do.  Lost World, like so many Sonic games, has caused me to yell in anger and give up in frustration. Unlike most of the "modern" installments, however, it's also regularly thrust itself back into my favor with excellent level structuring and excitingly paced action. For every awful segment that fails, there are at least two that succeed. While I have snarled angrily at the game, I've smiled with delight a lot more. I must once again emphasize that the game's new attitude takes some warming up to, but as soon as it clicks with you, it's hard to hate.  It helps that the game is beautiful to look at, carrying nostalgic visuals that blend the modern with the retrospective. Most of the enemy robots are redesigned from the classic Genesis games, while environmental details are culled from some of the best in the series. However, each Badnik or setpiece has been given a significant enough overhaul to become much more than cheap callback fodder, and there are enough original ideas on display to show off exactly how much thought and care went into the aesthetic style. The Deadly Six, Sonic's new antagonists, are wholly representative of this, each one boldly realized and unlike anything the series has shown us before, yet appearing to fit right into the world seamlessly -- certainly a far cry from the dark and brooding creatures the series has so often tried to clumsily shoehorn into Sonic's bright and colorful universe.  The soundtrack, however, is the true star of the show. Featuring a selection of incredible, highly memorable tunes, Lost World's music is highly infectious and once again evokes a sense of nostalgia while remaining wholly original. Whatever they were doing to pull these fine tracks out of the woodwork, they need to keep doing it! Sonic Lost World can wildly swing from brilliant to horrific at the drop of a hat, but when one steps back and takes a look at the whole production, one sees far more to love than hate. Certainly, the nastier elements prevent it from being the truly great installment it could have been, but the experience is good enough to where I would desperately entreat Sonic Team to keep doing what's been started here. Please, no more desperate shifts in tone and level design, no more dramatic new overhauls. On a fundamental level, Lost World absolutely nails it, and does what Sonic should have been doing a long, long time ago.  All it needs is time to refine, and Lost World could become the start of something beautiful. 
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Sonic boon!
While it's still popular to suggest Sonic the Hedgehog hasn't had a decent game in decades, this generation alone has at least shown significant improvements. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was an enjoyable, if controversial game, whil...

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Podtoid 274: Twilight Reborn


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Oct 17
// Jim Sterling
On this week's Podtoid, the gang opens Boston's best fetish dungeon, Jonathan Holmes preserves the sperm of the greatest living human, Paul Stanley encourages his friends, and stalkers get stalked by stalkers who stalk stalke...

Review: The Stanley Parable

Oct 17 // Jim Sterling
You don't. 
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Don't read any reviews ... except this one!
How do you review a game like The Stanley Parable? To describe any one part of it is to risk its ruination. To detail what it has to say about game design, the illusion of choice, and the psychology of the gamer is to tell yo...

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Oh look, it's time for more Indigo Prophecy! This time around, we get racist in a bookstore (again), we play basketball by watching basketball and pressing buttons, we push a wheelchair, and we play Simon Says while cutscenes have all the fun.  Indigo Prophecy thrills us all. 

Jimquisition: Toxic

Oct 14 // Jim Sterling
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There has been much talk about how the gaming world is too toxic, too negative, too full of anger and rage. Jimquisition argues there might be just the right amount of it. The issue is in how it's used.  Anger is a powerful weapon, but like all powerful things, it must be handled with care. Venom can be harnessed to our benefit, provided we be careful not to let it spill into our own faces.

Squirty Play - Iesabel

Oct 14 // Jim Sterling
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Must stop playing hack n' slash RPGs
For some reason, I keep thinking hack n' slash RPGs will make for a good video. I keep getting it wrong, or at least picking the wrong games. This is Iesabel, a game that somehow got greenlit for Steam, despite it being utterly rubbish.  Check it out. It's not good.

Top Ten Legit Pokemon

Oct 13 // Jim Sterling
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Too legitty to quitty!
With Pokemon X and Y now out for public consumption, you're probably curious as to what the best Pokemon are for your silky pleasures. Fortunately, Jim Sterling is here to drop knowledge bombs in yo' face, and tell which Pokemon are the most legit.  I know lots of things about Pokemon. Let me talk to you about Pokemon.

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Grab a mop and get sloppin'!
Hey there, cool friends! I've got more Indigo Prophecy coming to you, but right now I'm having a go at pulling my own little YouTube channel up by its bootstraps and experimenting with things. What yummy fun! Here, I play Vi...

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This is racist, right?
On today's thrilling adventure into David Cage's mental brainspace, we kick the crap out good friends, we get claustrophobic while trying to do our job, and we get very quiet and guilty when lots and lots of racism happens.  Also, crap stealth and some other things. 

Review: Pokemon X and Y

Oct 11 // Jim Sterling
Pokemon X and Y (3DS)Developer: GameFreakPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 12, 2013MSRP: $39.99 You know the Beedrill by now. You're a young boy or girl, and you set out from your crummy little town to seize adventure and become a Pokemon master. After choosing one of three starter Pokemon -- Chespin, Fennekin, or Froakie -- you move from town to town, battling Gym Leaders to claim their badges, encountering a team of criminal ne'er-do-wells, filling up the Pokedex for a friendly professor, and naturally doing what you can to catch 'em all.  X and Y does absolutely nothing to change up the structure of the adventure. You'll use HM moves like Cut and Surf to unlock new paths of travel, you'll wake up a sleeping Snorlax with a Pokeflute, and you'll have regular battles with rivals (though this time they're actually friends of yours rather than a long arrogant nemesis). The only major change to the story structure comes in the form of a sub-narrative concerning Mega Evolutions, one of the game's newer features, but it's really just ancillary stuff used to sell the concept.  If you were looking for a totally fresh adventure to shake up the narrative, you're likely going to be very disappointed the moment you discover your first tree-based roadblock and realize it's the same old thing. Of course, many would argue you're doing Pokemon wrong if a compelling new story is something you play for.  Indeed, the comfortably familiar drips off everything in X and Y, which will likely come as a welcome surprise to those fans worried the game might change too much. While battles look more dynamic than ever, thanks to a gorgeous new graphical style that fully animates your battling beasts, the turn-based, rock-paper-scissors style combat is back with a vengeance. Pokemon still learn new moves as they level up, are still limited to four moves, still come in a variety of types with strengths and weaknesses, and still evolve into new, more powerful forms. There is a fresh Fairy-type Pokemon, designed to give Dragons something to be afraid of, but that's about it.  None of this really needed to be changed, however. The joy of Pokemon has always been in the acquiring of more monsters by beating them down and capturing them in little balls, in training your favorites to build a team of six treasured animals, and in feeling evermore powerful as your mutant buddies pound down the competition. While much of the freshness of X and Y comes from its aesthetic overhauls, that's really all that was required. And they're incredibly wonderful aesthetic overhauls! As already noted, battles look truly alive thanks to the fully 3D visuals. While the Pokemon still stand in their own little spots and never come into direct contact, one can easily suspend disbelief and get drawn into the fight. Each of the 'Mons' many attacks are uniquely animated, and often take advantage of the 3DS' visual trickery to create some eye-popping little setpieces. Getting to see Bulbasaur whip at the opposition with its little vine arms, or watching as the Water Dance move casts down an enveloping rainstorm offers a gleeful delight that makes this old cynical reviewer feel like an idiotic child again.  Mega Evolutions provide some limited new discoveries, adding a fourth evolutionary tier to a number of Pokemon. During the course of the story, players pick up a Mega Ring which, when used on a valid Pokemon holding its own special item, allows that monster to temporarily evolve into a new and powerful form. The visual changes aren't dramatic (Mega Venasaur, for example, just gets bigger and sprouts more plants off its body), but the creatures themselves get a good stat boost and the transformations themselves are visually stunning.  It's not the new look, nor the Mega Evolutions, that really makes X and Y worth your time, however. The game's biggest drawback is also its biggest strength -- no, it hasn't changed much beyond what we first saw in 1998, but the simple joy of catching monsters, seeing the world, and getting stronger feels as endearing as it always has. It helps that the brand new creatures introduced for X and Y are also some of the best designed in the series (Froakie's evolutions are utterly beautiful), and those Pokemon included from past games are typically the coolest ones. I always felt later Pokemon games struggled with the designs of the monsters, and things got too contrived and stupid. X and Y brings back a real sense of creativity in the monster department -- and I don't think the keyring one looks that bad either! This, for me, has always been the true highlight of the game -- encountering ever more wondrous looking creatures and making them yours. X and Y absolutely delivers in that regard.  The visual improvements extend to the overworld as well, with travels outside of battle using shifting camera perspectives, eight-directional movement, and a richer amount of detail to make a more absorbing world than we've seen in the series to date. Moving around with the analog nub is a little awkward, especially when you get the roller blades and start sliding all over the map, but traveling feels swifter and less cumbersome than it does in previous installments, while caves and other special locations often play around with the camera to constantly draw players closer to the action. You can also customize your character with jackets, pants, hats, and accessories, as well as pick a limited number of hairstyles and eye colors to get more personal.  One gameplay improvement comes in the form of a more streamlined structure that ups the pace and makes the world more convenient to navigate. You gain useful things like your starter Pokemon, EXP Share, and the bicycle far more quickly, because what's the point of delaying the inevitable? Some may claim the game is easier than before, but there's always been a constantly widening gap between the player and the A.I., and that seems to be the same way it's always been. Just because the game's been streamlined and made more accessible, doesn't mean it's any less "hardcore".  Things aren't quite as elegant as they could be. Having to go through the usual repeated dialog when healing at a Pokemon Center, and needing to navigate a whole ocean of menus to find simple items, are a hassle that only get more dreary as the adventure continues. It's never totally unbearable, but one grows tired of going through the motions after extended play periods.  X and Y uses the game's second screen to toss in a few minigame features as well. A Super Training simulator can be accessed which employs a simple little shooting game to gain extra stat boosts, and you can tap on punching bags to further enhance your chosen creature's abilities. Super Training is also a way of getting around the previously impregnable Effort Value system, something I personally appreciate, though hardcore fans may not. There's also a little virtual pet addition, which lets you stroke your favorite Pokemon, feed it treats, and play silly touch-based minigames. Nothing here is truly exciting, but it makes for a fun little distraction when you need a break from the constant catching and grinding.  Game Freak has worked hard to streamline the online functions, and while the game's not quite up and running in this regard at the time of writing, we know how it'll work. The Player Search System allows one to trade and battle players conveniently, without the need for unwieldy friend codes, while O-powers are used in battle against human opponents to boost the powers of one's Pokemon. If you're feeling narcissistic, you can also make and show off videos of your beautiful living possessions. Everyone must see the trophies you have forced to do your bidding. Forever. X and Y's soundtrack is utterly lovely, by the way. The little jingles that play while random trainers challenge you to fights always raise a smile, the battle themes are all energetic, and the quieter tunes are legitimately beautiful. Probably my favorite soundtrack since the original releases! Many will tell you that Pokemon X and Y totally shakes up the stale old Pokemon foundation, but they are simply dazzled by the bright lights and flashing images. This isn't a problem though, because some of us love the "stale" old Pokemon foundation, and we're happy to get it looking as good as it's ever looked. I want to walk around in grass and toss my balls in a magic dog's face, and that's exactly what I get from X and Y. That I get it with beautifully animated combat and gorgeous, vivid colors just totally seals the deal.  Nobody has demonstrated they can do Pokemon better than Pokemon can. X and Y does everything it needs to remain relevant, to prove why it's the top of its field, and if that's not good enough for you, there's nothing Ekans say to change your mind.
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Froakie dokie!
Certain game series can get away without making significant changes to their formula -- in fact, there are some that would risk infuriating their fans if they did alter too much. Games like The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter...

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My theory of a Deadman CD collection
In this thrilling installment of Indigo Prophecy, we drink water, play the guitar, punch a bag, play the guitar, and listen to more Theory of a Deadman. The fun literally never ends. It will never end. The fun is literally going on forever.  It's gonna move!

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Podtoid 273: Julia Child's Ghost Penis


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Oct 10
// Jim Sterling
Danny Baranowsky is in the house, back with the Podtoid gang by popular demand. The game composer is on hand to talk about Jonathan going face-down-ass-up, Conrad pottering about in the garden, and Julia Child scaring childre...
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Living my pawn's life
I fiddle with the temperature knob and get murderous as I play Quantic Dream's true classic, Indigo Prophecy. Laugh along as we murder people in bathrooms, interrogate distraught women, and listen to music about women doin' ya wrong. Oh Theory of a Deadman. You scallywags!

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Gamers: The Official Picture


This is basically what they are
Oct 09
// Jim Sterling
Screenshot taken of the comment section of BF4Central.com, in a post about the upcoming Battlefield 4 Battle Packs.  As you can see, it manages to capture absolutely everything about the modern gamer in just two short statements.
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Best tutorial ever ... except kind of not
There probably won't be any more Legends of Dawn, because the game crashed while I was recording and took all the video with it. Buggy game, that is! Fortunately, we have a different legend for you, with Legends of Aethereus!  Enjoy the world's most thorough tutorial, and let's kill some Definitely-Not-Orcs!

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
You were promised an episode on season passes, in the wake of Jimquisition complaining about downloadable content. There is a season for all things, and that season has come to pass. Here is a nice little bit of shouting on why season passes are ridiculous, and why it would behoove you to pass up on the bloody things.

Review: Beyond: Two Souls

Oct 08 // Jim Sterling
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)Developer: Quantic DreamPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: October 8, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Beyond: Two Souls, is about a girl called Jodie, played by Ellen Page, which is important to note as Jodie is also every character Ellen Page is typecast into playing. She screams, and is sarcastic, and does that half-smile thing, and that's more or less all there is to her personality. She also has more personality than almost every character combined, including the criminally misused Willem Dafoe, crammed as he is into the role of Jodie's dreary paranormal doctor/caretaker, Nathan Dawkins.  Dawkins has charge of Jodie because she possesses dangerous powers -- or rather, the invisible creature inextricably linked to her does. Jodie is bound to an otherworldly being called Aiden, over which she has limited control. He is unwieldy, fiercely protective of her, and is the reason Jodie spends most of her life in a laboratory, under constant surveillance.  While Beyond has a cast of archetypal and terminally uninteresting characters, it has to be said the writing is noticeably better than it was in Heavy Rain. Dialog is slightly more believable, scenes are less awkward, and there are fewer glaring plot holes or embarrassing pseudoscience. However, the story is presented awfully, in a nonlinear fashion contrived to evoke the movies of Godard, Altman, or Tarantino. [embed]263180:50813:0[/embed] There's nothing wrong with the use of disrupted narrative, but it's a technique that requires more care than Beyond even comes to close to providing. One moment, Jodie's a child in a secret lab, the next she's a homeless adult, then a teenager, then a child again, then a member of the CIA. The narrative breaks seem arbitrary and deliver nothing of value to the actual story. Disjointed and only vaguely connected sequences occur without adequate lead-in, and regularly deliver moments that would have had far greater impact had they been presented in a linear story, where the appropriate amount of pacing and build could be achieved. Instead, we're supposed to deeply care about characters who have been barely introduced, while following at least three stories, and a handful of non sequiturs, that have very little to do with each other.  Even worse, the application of the nonlinear narrative comes off as a lazy excuse to put Jodie in situations without having to adequately explain them, which gives the entire game a fractured, pointless atmosphere. Indeed, there seems no real point at all in having broken up the story, other than to mimic those films Quantic Dream perpetually crawls in the shadow of. As such, an attempt to look clever has come across as little more than clumsy pretentiousness.  This is to say nothing of Beyond's total lack of character development. Its frequent time hopping does little to help the fact that there's nobody to root for, and even less to remember. One character, for example, is introduced in an early scene as a cold, unlikable hardass, right before we skip to Jodie falling in love with him years later. She tells us -- through Aiden -- that he's so funny, and great to be around, but we never see any evidence of this. The best he becomes is a generic love interest with no distinguishing features. If we have to be told what a character's personality is, without the character ever exhibiting a single trait pertaining to its verbal description, the writing has failed completely.  Admittedly, there are some decent scenes, but those are mostly thanks to tried and tested narrative tropes seen dozens of times before. The scene in which Jodie is bullied at a party before Aiden wreaks violent revenge is stylishly done, but it's nothing Carrie didn't do better. Likewise, Jodie's barely meaningful adventure in the Navajo Desert is Beyond's best sequence of events, but it leans heavily on well-worn and practically gauche Native American stereotypes to make it work.  I've managed to go a long while before mentioning any gameplay, and one gets the feeling Quantic Dream would like it that way. Essentially following in Heavy Rain's footsteps, Beyond is another spiritual successor to Dragon's Lair, with even less agency and some awkward controls thrown in for good measure. As Jodie, interactions are restricted mostly to walking around, opening doors, engaging in restrictive conversations, and indulging in the occasional quick-time-event sequence. For much of this, the player's input is almost entirely optional. QTE action sequences can be completed without needing to even pick up the controller, as Jodie will survive all encounters if you fail every single button prompt. She'll get hurt a bit, and the story might have a slight temporary diversion, but that's about it. Even dialog, if you don't choose a response, will eventually play itself out.  As with Heavy Rain, the potential for thrilling chase sequences and action scenes is mercilessly dashed against the rocks in favor of an experience so arrogant, it cannot bear to throw up a barrier between you and its allegedly brilliant story. Once you cotton on to the fact that your personal input is almost meaningless, and the impact of your inaction is frivolous, your only real incentive for "playing" is to humor the game, and it does indeed feel like you're patronizing it when you decide to play along with the fantasy of player agency. Nowhere is this more typified than one sequence in which I could choose to speak up in order to stop something bad happening to another character ... and I didn't say a word. It didn't really matter if the bad thing happened (there was only a cosmetic change) and I simply didn't care about the bland, superficial plot vehicle whose lifeless idea of life was in my hands.  There's no tension, no sense of investment, no pleasure to be derived from getting personally involved. Just a plodding, methodical march towards the game's warbling conclusion.  At almost any time, you can switch to Aiden with a press of the Triangle button, but like with everything in this game, any sense of choice and freedom is a mere illusion. As Aiden, you may move through walls, knock objects around, and possess or choke characters, but his skills all amount to one big waste of potential. You only need to be Aiden when the game specifically tells you (or forces you) to be him, and you only interact with the tiny handful of objects available -- all helpfully labeled with bright blue dots. If, for example, Jodie is under siege by a SWAT Team, you can only possess one or two of the arbitrarily predetermined targets, as each scene has a specific way in which it wants to be played. This, of course, opens up a few plot holes, when you start wondering why Aiden only seems to possess certain characters, and why Aiden can only knock over a few objects, and seems to forget these useful powers when the plot decides to invent a sense of threat out of whole cloth.  It's also not very enjoyable to play as Aiden, despite what promise he has. The floating controls are awkward, sluggish, and disorienting, while the way in which you interact with the world -- holding down buttons and moving the analog sticks about -- is ungainly and alienating. It shouldn't feel boring or bumbling to be a wrathful poltergeist, but Aiden manages to be both. In fact, he may not even be the wrathful vandal he's portrayed as. After five minutes in the steering wheel, one could reasonably assume he's just drunk.  There's really not much else to say about the way the game plays. Whatever it tries to throw at you -- whether you're avoiding beastly entities from the cringingly named Infraworld, taking cover to shoot at terrorists because of reasons, or delivering a baby in an abandoned building, you're really just performing the same somber actions, pulling analog sticks and pressing buttons when commanded like some Pavlovian experiment gone wrong. This is not a game to be played, it's an instructional video to be followed, in order to further unlock a story that isn't very good, a story spat at the viewer in shattered, tattered pieces.  Visually, Two Souls is okay to look at. Yes, the uncanny valley faces are impressive on a technical level, but the frequent texture pop-in and robotic bodily animations swiftly defecate on the magic. The game is prone to brief freezing, and loading times are fairly dreadful. Environments are bland, and overall the visual quality fails to stand out in this day and age. Still, if you're curious to know what Ellen Page would look like with every hairstyle ever, you'll find yourself adequately sated.  At least the soundtrack is beautiful, and it does a good job of making certain scenes more compelling than they'd otherwise be, while the acting is a huge step up from Heavy Rain. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe do fantastically, given the mediocrity they have to work with, while the supporting cast is fairly solid too. It's a shame much of the dialog still makes me want to cover my eyes and scrunch my eyes up tight, but at least the delivery is convincing enough.  For all the complaints that can be leveled at Beyond -- and they can be leveled in feckless abundance -- the overwhelming problem with it is that it's just plain boring. Like a sociopath, Beyond: Two Souls knows how to act like it has a heart, while providing nothing of the emotional depth required to connect with an audience. Its characters can smile, and cry, and tell us they're feeling all of these feelings, but their paper-thin presentation and the frequent narrative dead ends prevent any of their pantomime from becoming too convincing. And that's all Beyond: Two Souls is -- a pantomime. A childish play at being a meaningful journey, a vapid illusion of passion and poignancy. Nothing but a pantomime.  A perishingly dull pantomime. 
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Show a little soul
It's hard to divorce David Cage, the public figure, from the games Quantic Dream makes. He is, after all, a man who put himself in Indigo Prophecy's tutorial, immortalized as the movie director he's always dreamed of being. T...

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Skittlers!
In what is easily my favorite Now Bloody Playing to date, I battle Skittlers and meet the best voice actors in the world, all with Legends of Dawn! I had a blast with this one, and you can expect to see much more of it in future. Way too much of it. 

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Podtoid 272: Horses Are Watching A Toy Masturbate


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Oct 03
// Jim Sterling
On this week's Podtoid, Jonathan Holmes finally breaks bad, but not before he runs the sexiest dog hotel you ever did see! Elsewhere, Willem Dafoe goes to Heaven and meets a saucy Dolly Parton, while MANY OTHER THINGS HAPPEN!...
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Rhymedown Spectacular: Cabin Fever


The brains behind Jimquisition and Zero Punctuation get lyrical
Oct 02
// Jim Sterling
Oh look, more bloody poems for your damn eyeholes.  You are totally allowed to look at this video by clicking on it and watching it until completion. It's okay, I won't mind. I won't tell.
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You've got wang
Here's some Shadow Warrior to tide you over while our review is in the works. I go stab stuff up, look for glowing statues, and watch rabbits having sex. All in a day's work for this Stan Bush enthusiast!  We might do more of this one. Depends how much y'all like it. 

Review: Rain

Oct 01 // Jim Sterling
Rain (PS3)Developer: PlayStation CAMP, AcquirePublisher: SonyReleased: October 1, 2013MSRP: $14.99 Rain is the story of a little boy who accidentally becomes invisible. More than that, the town that once was so familiar is shrouded in darkness, assailed by a downpour of rain, and plagued by mysterious beasts intent on doing him harm. Visible only when the rainfall covers his body, he comes into a contact with a similarly afflicted girl, and together they must try to find their way through the storm and avoid the sinister forces out to get them.  PlayStation CAMP's tale is a simple one, but it's delivered with a subtlety and poignance that manages to hit the right note, whether it aims to make you sad or delighted. With no voice acting to speak of, the narrative unfolds by way of text placed stylishly around the game's world, something I always appreciate in a game, but one that can prove just a touch distracting during the more platform-oriented sections. Nevertheless, it's a pleasingly presented, thoughtfully told story that ends on a most enamoring note.  Drawing from platformers, stealth, and puzzle games, Rain smartly turns its central conceit into a variety of interesting ideas, never dwelling on one neat trick for long. The unnamed boy cannot fight back against the beasts that stalk him, but he is only visible to the creatures when standing directly in rain. The most common way of avoiding peril, therefore, is to sneak past by walking underneath roofing, canvas, and anything else that provides shelter from the water. Of course, since the boy is invisible in such circumstance, spatial awareness (and an eye on wet footprints) is crucial to ensure one knows where they're going.  New twists on this idea are dripped into the adventure as time progresses. Creatures themselves start wandering, invisible and deadly, in sheltered areas. Large puddles can give the boy's position away, while mud clings to him and renders him visible in any condition. Some monsters must be lured away from passages by noise, or huge passive creatures may be walked under for moving cover. Worst of all, the lurching Unknown is constantly in pursuit, and his regular harassment makes for some surprisingly frightening sequences.  When the boy and the girl unite, they'll need to cooperate to progress. Rain doesn't go out of its way to be too inventive here, with a whole bunch of block puzzles, boosting to higher ledges, and mutual opening of gates providing some standard environmental hindrances. Despite the relatively unimaginative puzzles, however, it's a unique pleasure to watch the two invisible friends interact with and help each other.  Rain excels at providing moments of serenity punctuated harshly by jarringly sad or scary occurrences. When the game's calming music is playing, and the children are padding through the drumming of the rain, it's hard not to smile. Such elegant sequences are, however, tinged with fear of the Unknown rearing its misshapen head, or soured by the evocatively animated sadness and confusion of the silent heroes. Bittersweet is a word best reserved for experiences such as this.  While Rain is a largely pleasant experience, some blemishes dampen the adventure in less literal ways. Controls are a little finicky, with the boy sometimes either feeling not responsive enough for his jumps, or too responsive and twitching off a ledge or away from an interactive object. A few of the chase and stealth sequences are overly reliant on trial and error too, albeit without it being as smartly woven into the design à la something like Limbo. There's nothing that will ever keep you stumped for more than a minute or two, but sometimes the game suffers from making you try to predict what the developers were thinking.  It's also a shame that, for all its clever little tricks, none of Rain's ideas quite feel as fleshed out as they could have been. The first time you see just a mudstained pair of feet clomp in a roofed corridor, it's a joy. However, such unique spins on the central premise are showcased once or twice, and never really given much time to shine or reach their potential. Some of the simpler uses of Rain's gimmicks seem to exist purely to showcase how clever the whole idea is, and make you look at the cool visual style. While it is, indeed, cool, it can be frustrating to think about how shallow the use of these ideas are, when juxtaposed against the possibilities.  I will also say that, as much as I found the Unknown to be an intimidating enemy, the sheer number of times he pops up to spook the player tends to have a diminishing effect over the course of the game. By the end of it, he's come back more times than Jason Voorhees, and he starts to make eyes roll rather than close up tight. Still, he's very unsettling for the first half of the game.  Nevertheless, Rain is a pleasure, and its visuals are indeed sublime. Aside from the general enjoyment one gets from the weather and invisibility effects, the profound animation is what really makes Rain as gorgeous as it is. The way the children slide on rain-slicked tiles, or cover their faces from the incoming water make them feel incredibly alive, giving them a sense of believability and sympathy that most photorealistic, Hollywood-acted games would kill to achieve.  The art design is impeccable, too, most notably with the monsters. Abstract, and yet unnervingly familiar, the vaguely formed beasts that hound the player are wonderfully designed to resemble common animals while maintaining an alien and utterly cold form. It's an effective style, that works well against the great, dreary, yet hauntingly pretty background.  Rain is not quite the model of refinement that some of its PlayStation Network peers have been, but it's an overwhelmingly amiable, effectively cultivated little adventure. Calming and scary, amusing and sorrowful, Rain is a game that jogs calmly through a gamut of emotions, rather than sprints headlong into mood whiplash, and it's incredibly difficult to ever dislike it, even during its twitchier moments. Rain is, above all, a most balmy experience.  Also, it's nice to see the PS3 finally getting a rain-themed exclusive with a good story.
Rain review photo
Hydroeclectic
Sony has a stable of impressive top-tier game franchises -- Uncharted, Killzone, God of War, the kind of blockbuster productions every console needs to open eyelids among the mainstream users. I, however, will remember Sony's...

Jimquisition: Vertigo

Sep 30 // Jim Sterling
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Let's look for a playable woman protagonist in a videogame that doesn't rely on the same pool of restrictive stereotypes as every other playable woman protagonist. To do this, let's look at a fighting game from 1994. That one about the dinosaurs. Yes, that one. Because I damn well sure can't find many better example. Folks, be prepared ... to RAGE.

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So stupid
People keep talking about Cookie Clicker like it's the most amazing game yet, but don't get it. I don't get it. I don't get it. I don't get it. Click.

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Turkey buzzard vulture
Oh look, it's Neverending Nightmares, that creepy looking adventure game Jonathan talked about the other day. It's only got a few hours left on its Kickstarter, and this video probably won't help it. We can only cross our fingers! Anyway, I played the demo. You can watch me play it, if you want. 

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I am sad now
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death is funny, gloriously shameless, and solid in the action department. It is also, unfortunately, kind of broken in unforgivable ways, and if you get caught in its terrible traps, you could ruin your entire game.  I wish I could just be showing off how much fun this game is. I can't though. Now I'm sad in my face. 

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Podtoid 271: Tingle's Tiny Tadger


Podtoid hits the Destructoid frontpage every Thursday!
Sep 26
// Jim Sterling
It is an experimental new Podtoid, as this week we recorded the questions segment live! Yes, the question part of the show was broadcast online and we answered queries in REAL TIME! It went of surprisingly well, too.  El...

Review: Nvidia Shield

Sep 25 // Jim Sterling
Nvidia Shield Manufacturer: NvidiaReleased: August 29, 2013MSRP: $299.00 The first thing you'll notice about the Shield is how it refuses to compromise on the things handheld gaming systems most commonly acquiesce. This is a big lump of plastic -- it can just about fit in the pocket, but you'll look like you've got the world's worst thigh tumor. It's chunky, and possessed of not inconsiderable weight, but that's because it's a screen sat atop a full-fledged, console-level controller. There's very little difference between it and an Xbox 360 controller, with its full-size, clickable dual analog sticks, face buttons, bumpers and triggers on the shoulder, and D-pad. The center of the controller also features a large button to access Tegra Zone, a back button, a start button, an Android home button, and a button to bring up volume controls. The obvious downside to having a full-on controller as a handheld is that you're, well, carrying a full-on controller around with you. The upside, however, is you've also got the most game-capable handheld system ever made, able to do things other systems simply can't.  [embed]262335:50645:0[/embed] Where it's taken the PlayStation Vita over a year to get one first-person shooter to get it right, and even then it has to compromise, the Shield launches with a rock-solid alternative right out of the gate, one that doesn't have to skimp on functionality in the least. While Dead Trigger isn't exactly the most impressive shooter ever made, it's nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable to be able to play a handheld FPS that actually feels like a real FPS, rather than a developer's noble approximation. Games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Bard's Tale are all simply better here than they are on other Android devices, making the Shield a viable choice for those who want to try some of the souped-up Android releases, but aren't into the idea of touchscreens.  This is also where the Shield humiliates its closest comparative system, the Ouya. Like Ouya, the Shield is a dedicated gaming system that gives you physical controls for Android-powered games. Unlike the Ouya, the Shield's native controller is responsive, the system itself is incredibly powerful, games feel like they belong on it, and the system is overall just more pleasant to use. The Shield also has full access to the Google Play store, with a real Android OS that can run any app. Of course, games not designed specifically for Shield controls are awkward to run on a touchscreen with a great hunk of plastic hanging off it, but the fact it has the option to access so much more than the Ouya makes it a superior alternative.  Comfortable in the hands and capable of running games at their highest settings, Shield is a lot of fun to play around with -- and this is not taking into account its ability to run a range of emulators for old games that you totally already have the physical copies of.  So far, my only real complaint with the physical design of the thing is the D-pad. The Shield really did elect to imitate the Xbox 360 controller in every way possible, including a rather dreadful and imprecise directional disc-thing. For the most part, it's not too much of a problem to deal with, but it can make twitchy platform games more of a hassle than they should be, and it certainly doesn't make playing something like A Link to the Past any easier.  Android games specifically designed for the Shield are thinner on the ground, and while more Tegra-powered games are appearing on the Shield Store, it's going to need a lot more support. There are already some solid titles worth getting, with the aforementioned Dead Trigger, Vice City, and Bard's Tale all good choices, but there's a very real risk at this stage that the game's library could suddenly dry up. I hope it doesn't happen, but it's not uncommon for a handheld system to become a software wasteland in a short span of time.  As well as the physical controls, the Shield's screen supports multitouch, and you can even use the right stick as a mouse, bringing up a cursor for menu and web browsing. The left stick acts as a traditional console controller would, meaning you have three methods of input and can interact with the system as you would a console, PC, or smartphone.  The screen itself is a five-inch display that flips up and rocks a 1280x720 resolution. On top of such a large controller, it feels comparatively flimsy, but it's all solidly built stuff. Games, naturally, look pretty damn good on the screen, and it does a more than adequate job of showcasing the Tegra-4 titles it was built to support. Audio is where I was really impressed, however. The two front-facing speakers are situated neatly above the face buttons and D-pad, and are capable of blasting out some damn loud sound. Handheld systems typically fail when it comes to providing sufficient audio, but these speakers are frankly incredible.  Another plus point is the battery life. Up to 20 hours of life can be gotten out of the system when streaming content from a PC, with a fair few hours of regular use available too. I want to say you'll get at least five hours from the thing if you're running games from the device itself, and altogether I found this machine working far longer than any comparable device.  As well as utilizing a full Android OS, the Shield also run's Nvidia's own little playground, TegraZone. Here, you get quick access to your Shield game library, as well the Shield Store, which collects those Google Play games customized specifically for Shield controls. Not all of these games are as elegant as they could be -- some confusingly utilizing touch-only menus or requiring a full recustomization of the buttons (looking at you, Shadowgun Deadzone) -- and some of them are straight-up garbage. Still, the titles worth getting are really worth getting.  TegraZone's biggest feature, however, is its "PC Games" section, allowing users to stream games from their PC directly to the system using Steam. The feature is still in beta, something Nvidia warns users about with good reason. While a fantastic idea, it is currently unreliable, as well as a complete pain to set up. To even get a game to work, it requires diddling around on your PC first. You'll need to make sure everything is updated, download TegraZone to your computer, run your desired games at least once, ensure you've a fast enough wi-fi router, and potentially fiddle with your Firewall and DPI settings. Even when you have everything in order, sometimes messages can pop up on your PC that interrupt streaming, or the connection could terminate for unknown and seemingly arbitrary reasons.  The beta status also limits the amount of games that currently work, and even among the ones that do, only a few work very well. Sleeping Dogs, for example, puts a mouse cursor in the center of the screen while it streams, and an attempt to move it using the Shield's touchscreen will disable all controller input. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is just laggy, and suddenly stopped working completely after only two successful attempts to get it running. Also, the less said about Half-Life 2, the better.  However, all complaints aside, when the planets align and the thing actually works as intended, it's seriously impressive stuff. BioShock Infinite runs pleasantly, with only vaguely perceptible controller lag, while Borderlands 2 is almost perfect. If it weren't for the mouse cursor issue, Sleeping Dogs would also be triumphant, looking lovely on the Shield's screen and running at an impressively silky pace. When everything comes together smoothly, there's definitely a magical quality to the process.  A lot of critics have been down on the Nvidia Shield, but I honestly don't know why people have been so harsh. Games look great and run superbly, the controller is big but beautifully functional, and its wide range of features makes it superior to dedicated systems like the PS Vita in several ways. It delivers on several of the Ouya's promises better than the Ouya ever did, and while the PC streaming is still highly problematic, it at least works, and one would hope its post-beta performance is far better. Of course, it has to be said that it's an expensive little toy, with an asking price of $299, and that's really going to be the dealbreaker for a lot of people. For an Android system with an unsure future and no guarantee of continued software support, three hundred bucks is going to be too rich a gamble for most. As a piece of hardware, I feel the Shield fully justifies its asking price, but these days it's so much less about the hardware, and more what you can do with it. That said, having full access to Google Play, and its range of emulators (most of which work with the physical control options) severely opens up what the Shield can do beyond its "official" uses.  The Shield's biggest feature needs to get itself out of beta soon, and it will need a lot more Tegra-powered games under its belt before it can be a real competitor. However, the device is quickly becoming one of my favorite handheld gaming systems to date, and as a generally big fan of portable gaming, that says a lot. It was never going to appeal to everybody, but to the right buyer, the Shield may be the perfect handheld.  You've just got to be the really, really niche type of buyer it's gunning for. 
Nvidia Shield review photo
Come back with your shield, or come back on it
[Disclosure: Nvidia has provided Destructoid with a number of computers for PC game review purposes in the past. If you feel that may make our reviews of any of their products "biased" or "paid off," you are welcome to.] The ...

Review: Alien Rage

Sep 25 // Jim Sterling
Alien Rage (PC)Developer: CI GamesPublisher: CI GamesReleased: September 24, 2013 (NA), October 4, 2013 (EU)MSRP: $19.99 The true name for this game is Alien Rage - Unlimited. I don't know what is supposed to be very "unlimited" about it, and frankly, I don't care. I have more important things to think about. I'd sooner think about a single plastic button, sat in a room that nobody's entered for fifty-six years, than think about why Alien Rage is supposedly so lacking in limits.  It is, of course, an ironic title at best, for Alien Rage is limited in every conceivable way. It's limited by the constrained adolescent imagination that concocted its paper-thin story and undistinguished universe. It's limited by its own confusion as to whether it's a classic run-and-gun arcade game or a more ponderous cover-based shooter. It most certainly limits the player, reducing him or her to a pool of guns that feel similar to each other, giving them the hit points of a creampuff, and constructing tedious corridors full of identical, monotonous, brainless combat encounters.  As I said, the game is torn between wanting to join Hard Reset or Bulletstorm in the "classic throwback" arcade set, and kowtowing to modern sensibilities concerning cover, iron sights, and methodical firefights. The result is a game in which cover systems exist for enemies, but not for the player, in which the "hero" is so weak he can barely take a few shots, but if he decides to crouch behind a wall, the enemies will bumrush him and shoot the generic bald bastard to bits. It's a game in which the shotgun is useless, for getting too close to the enemy is instant death, and iron sights are a miserable prospect, since the mindless opponents skitter about so damn much. Alien Rage so desperately wants to be "hardcore", too. It's pitiful in its grasping attempts to convince you of how "hardcore" it is. It makes you almost want to humor it. Oh, Alien Rage, your core is so hard, baby, you're so challenging, you're so old school! Where games such as Hard Reset actually understands the kind of smart design that goes into crafting a nostalgic, hectic, rewardingly challenging shooter, Alien Rage naively believes tossing tons of mindless enemies at the player is a close approximation to well-designed game difficulty. It's not. It's just adding to the confusing, confused mess that is this schizophrenic experience.  One would at least hope that a game so wildly meandering would at least be mildly surprising at times. It is not. It's just dreary corridor after dreary corridor of visually uninteresting aliens, blasting away at you with all the subtlety of a fork to the anus. You can easily see it going for a Serious Sam avenue of relentless combat, but it's actually quite tricky to balance that kind of persistent onslaught against the propensity to grow tiresome. In a game this graceless, the balance is missed by several generous miles.  This is all before we get to Alien Rage's most vile crime -- the animation. Whether reloading, running, opening a door, or tapping on a keypad, Alien Rage's camera attempts "realistic" movements to such an extreme, swaying, serpentine degree that you're either going to get motion sickness or a migraine -- most likely both. My eyes ached within moments of kicking up this woozy adventure, and I have no idea how the lost souls working on the thing were able to keep up development without vomiting into a gigantic vat.  There is multiplayer, an option that proves more enjoyable than the campaign, if only for the fact that the awful pendulating animations are taken out. This seems to imply the developer knew how offputting and unhelpful the motion sway actually is, but insisted it be retained for solo mode. In any case, the game is easier on the eye when shared online, though the gameplay is of the stock, mid-nineties variety available in dozens of equally uninspired games. You run around plain arenas, shooting at opponents with very little in the way of visual or audio feedback. It's a disconnected, alienating experience. It's not terrible. It's just kind of there, like a chair nobody sits on.  The true tragedy of it all, however, is that when you cut through the glitches, the mediocrity, the sensation of standing on a fragile boat, and the design's lack of commitment, one can actually find a quasi-competent first-person shooter attempting to happen. When it's not breaking itself for no reason, Alien Rage does work. The shooting actually has some weight to it, the arcade-like scoring system is a nice touch, and for the first few minutes, I really thought a potential sleeper hit was on the cards. Only when CI Games is allowed to showcase the true depths of its ineptitude, does the mask of potential fall ignobly away.  It may not sound like it from the well of anger this game has quite rightly opened up inside me, but there really is a good game trying to happen. With competent design decisions backing it up, the fundamentals of Alien Rage could make for something genuinely entertaining. Unfortunately, the only entertainment Alien Rage has given me was in the writing of this review. It's usually a saddening thing, to have to trounce a game so utterly, but in this case, I felt I deserved a treat.  To make the joke about Alien Rage inspiring actual rage is an obvious, unambitious, and relatively lame decision. I can't think of any decision more befitting this pointless little product. 
Alien Rage photo
They got the 'rage' part right
I didn't get very far into Alien Rage, I'm going to admit that right off the bat. It was not, however, for the want of trying. There are parts in Alien Rage where the game decides that working properly is for losers, so it do...


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