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Bloodborne photo
Bloodborne

Badass blacksmiths make Bloodborne's iconic Saw Cleaver


Cleaver? I...
Feb 08
// Brett Makedonski
Bloodborne's rife with unique weapons, almost all of them fitting the criteria of being interesting enough to warrant a real-life adaption. But, the Saw Cleaver edges out the rest this time and is the one that's actually mad...

Review: Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia

Feb 08 // Chris Carter
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia (PC, PS4, Xbox One [reviewed]) Developer: Climax StudiosPublisher: UbisoftReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $9.99 I was never really a fan of the modern settings in Assassin's Creed -- at least, the action sequences, because the walking simulator IT department bits from Black Flag on were cool -- but that doesn't mean they can't be done. As such, I was keen on seeing what Climax Studios could do with a tale set in 1918, this time shadowing assassin Nikolai Oreov and the quest for a Bolshevik artifact. The pulp animation cinematics are stunning, but the showstopping elements end there. The cast is simply not memorable, including Nikolai, who is doing "one last job" before he abandons the Assassins and finds a new life for his family elsewhere. It's a good hook but Russia never fully sells it, particularly given the underplayed performances. I don't need a charismatic, wisecracking Nolan North per se, just something to connect with. Russia also desperately wants you to know that "he's old," which should be meaningful, but we got a better angle on that storyline with Ezio in later core games anyway. That feeling of familiarity permeates throughout some of the other elements of the game. The Schlinder's List-esque monochrome and red aesthetics looked dope at first, but started to wear after a few levels. Outside of the blazing red and orange sky, a lot of the areas look too similar, even if it serves to differentiate all of the interaction zones (all those hidden little hovels). Though it does have the added benefit of cordoning off secret areas by purposefully not brightening them, which is rad. [embed]339981:62172:0[/embed] Beyond that, you can expect more of the same compared to the past entries in the trilogy, which is to say great things. The 2D switch-off works wonderfully. The controls are so responsive, and the tools available are not only effective, but succeed in not overwhelming the player. I love that you can approach levels with either a gung-ho or pacifist style, or anything in between, and the running slide assassination ability is still just as satisfying. Unique to Russia, yanking off grates Arkham style with a winch and using phones to distract guards is silly, but it works when juxtaposed to the serious art style. I'm a bit torn on the gunplay however, because while the art of sniping does technically fit the quiet nature of the universe, it wasn't done in such a way that elevates it beyond an arcadey shooting gallery. There are a few sequences where distraction is key, like a mini-puzzle of sorts, but in most cases you're just blasting away at folks until no one is left standing. With six challenges to do (just like India) and a New Game+ option, Assassin's Creed Chronicles: Russia has plenty to offer for a bite-sized package, but it fails to live up to the bar set by its predecessors. The loud and powerful styles of China and India simply trump the final piece of the pie, which goes out with a muted rebel yell. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Assassin's Creed review photo
Once more, with guns
Assassin's Creed Chronicles had a nice thing going on with China and India, delivering some of the classic stealth action the series is known for with a striking new art style and a shift to 2D action. Now Ubisoft i...

Mad Catz photo
Mad Catz

Three Mad Catz executives resign prior to tomorrow's earnings report


Probably not a great sign
Feb 08
// Brett Makedonski
Mad Catz is going through a tumultuous shake-up at a time that isn't likely to inspire confidence from investors. On February 9 (tomorrow), Mad Catz will publish its third-quarter 2016 fiscal results. In the lead-up to that, ...
N++ photo
N++

Precision platformer N++ headed to Steam


And possibly other places
Feb 08
// Jordan Devore
N++ released last year as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and, considering how dang good it was and how much of a following its predecessors N and N+ had, not nearly enough people played it. Hopefully that'll change this year when ...
Google VR photo
Google VR

Google will reportedly release a Gear VR competitor this year


And it won't be cardboard
Feb 08
// Brett Makedonski
The past four years have been VR hype-dominated, but if you were really pressed to pin one as The Year of VR, I suppose it would be 2016. That's when most of these machines leave their comfy nests and beta states, and they ac...
Mega Man photo
Mega Man

Mega Man EXE's 15th anniversary celebration looks fun


In Japan, of course
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Over in Japan, lots of little events are held for almost every major gaming franchise. They're pretty much all awesome despite how intimate they are, and that's definitely the case with the Mega Man EXE 15th anniversary....
Street Fighter V photo
Street Fighter V

Necali goes full creeper in newest Street Fighter V CG trailer


Launch is near
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Chun-Li laces up, Ken fixes his hair, Ryu gazes longingly at the sky, and Necali is creepy as all getup in the new CG trailer for Street Fighter V. I'm not a fan of the animation outside of that hand-drawn effect that the gam...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

This Mirelurk war in Fallout 4 does its best Starship Troopers impression


Mods away
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
More Fallout 4 machinima and mods are steadily pouring out from the community, some of which are better than anything the core game is offering. Rather than just throw a bunch of creatures into an arena and let things pl...
Clueless Gamer photo
Clueless Gamer

Clueless Gamer returns with guests for Doom


Last video was Fallout 4
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Conan O'Brien hasn't had a Clueless Gamer video in a few months (that was Fallout 4 back in November), but he's back to promote Doom, and have a fun time doing it. NFL players Josh Norman and Von Miller join his antics, ...
Onimusha photo
Onimusha

Red Alert: Onimusha revival 'discussion phases' are happening at Capcom


Go on
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
According to Yoshinori Ono at Capcom, they are looking to potentially "revisit the series" at some point. Sure we've had the life-supportish PC and PS3 Onimusha Soul, but nothing significant has come out of this franchis...

Review: Firewatch

Feb 08 // Steven Hansen
Firewatch (PS4, PC [reviewed])Developer: Campo SantoPublisher: Panic Inc., Campo SantoReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 Henry is sad. Why else retreat to the woods of Wyoming to become a fire lookout? It starts in Colorado when Henry, plastered, tries to hit on a woman at a bar. She feels so bad for him she gives him a pity date that turns into a relationship. These bits are done purely with text and music, interspersed by full three dimensional segments of Henry walking out of an elevator into a parking garage and getting into his beat up, fire-engine red pickup. Not unlike Kentucky Route Zero, a high mark in the adventure game genre, Firewatch opens with opportunities for the player to partially define Henry's character. When your girlfriend Julia wants a dog, do you accept the beagle she falls in love with, or insist you get a German shepherd (for protection)? When she asks about children, do you ask her to wait? These choices are not superficial; they are real-life important. More than affecting the outcome of that relationship (you already know he is escaping to the Wyoming woods by the mid-80s), they take on personal meaning in how you sharpen elements of Henry's character.  Mixing these text-adventure-style segments with Henry's dutiful trek into the woods makes them more poignant because you already know how it ends. Badly. Yes. But with a surprising complication. Julia, by then Henry's wife, comes down with early onset Alzheimer's. I didn't expect to be hit that hard by two white text options, but the decision to keep minding her around the house 24/7 or put her in a home was not easy -- and I don't even know what she looks like. While Julia and the relationship are defined in broad strokes, the choice doesn't feel as abstract as choosing to save a character and let another die in The Walking Dead, for example. These are familiar, real-world issues. As Henry settles into his role as lookout, ascending his tower after an eight mile hike, he is met by the voice of Delilah, his boss, who communicates with him via walkie-talkie. This makes up the bulk of the gameplay: walking around, chatting with Delilah via radio. It is a welcomed evolution of the stationary choice-based dialogue trees (you use the triggers so you can walk, talk, and probably even chew gum at the same time). Their conversations are natural thanks to strong dialogue matched by each character's voice performance. Delilah's constant cursing and groan-inducing puns are met by Henry stammering "p-p-p-panties" on the way to keep those aforementioned nude teens from setting off any more fireworks in light of the extreme fire warning. The chemistry is natural as they alternate jabbing back and forth and opening up with one another, though still I found it difficult to bring up my abandoned wife the first few times opportunity arose. Silence is a viable dialogue option. Henry, though, is not just defined through player-guided dialogue. Everything about the production furthers his character. He is not a camera on wheels. You see shorts-clad legs when you look down or his large, meaty hands as he exerts himself clambering up a one meter lip. He is human, average, and the animation work reinforces that. Firewatch is filthy with telling details like these. Some pieces just add flavor (in the confiscated bundle of bottle rockets, one is called the Screaming Wife, and all have original artwork), but it all works towards a cohesive tone. [embed]339920:62167:0[/embed] Art director Olly Moss' color palette is not just pretty to look at. The exaggerated hues work towards the overall tone, from the warm oranges to vivid, dark evenings, while the stylized look is readable, moving away from obfuscating photorealism. I rarely got lost in the unfamiliar woods (though there is a paper map Henry physically pulls up and scribbles notes on). The area is designed and the story paced with just enough backtracking to breed familiarity with the territory, while the relative isolation still leaves it frightening, especially as the story moves away from potential drama-cum-romcom into a thriller.  Most impressive is the thematic cohesion. Firewatch is broadly about guilt, which metastasizes here as isolation-induced paranoia when things turn frightening. After day one on the job Henry comes back to his tower to find the place smashed into. The teens, maybe? Or that silhouette of a hiker spotted on the way back home? While Henry has Delilah on the radio, isolation is what drove him into the woods, perpetuating a cycle of guilt leading to self-imposed loneliness shared by the major characters. The same nagging doubt, decision-questioning, and fear is externalized in the second act as outside forces appear to be stalking Henry and monitoring the conversations between him and Delilah. At which point, incidentally, their carefree, innocent flirting now seems lurid. Something to be ashamed of for the still-married Henry. Let's not forget guilt, internalized anger that can lead to isolation. Ambient sound design shines brightest here, as everything from the weirdly strong rattle of a chain link fence to scurrying in the distance invokes fear -- especially after Henry is sucker punched unconscious on the way to do some fishing. It was here for me Firewatch accessed fear on a Hitchcockian level. No monsters. Only one encounter with some kind of assailant. Still the surveillance, the mystery, the vulnerability and the isolation left me wandering around always checking my six rather than frolicking through gorgeous woods. Music, art, and dialogue quickly established the forest familiar, giving me nostalgia flashes of camping as a kid and first stepping out of the car, dwarfed by redwoods, twigs crunching underfoot. Then that comfort is stripped away. The analog inputs (pulling up the walkie-talkie or map, spinning the same "1234" tumblers to unlock every single park lock box with Henry's paws) combined with unique animation and believable voice work help ground Firewatch, which manages both restraint and maturity in its story without ever going full mumblecore "walking simulator." The warmth of the budding relationship between two voices with natural chemistry is undercut by harsher realities and the drawn out segments of feeling stalked and vulnerable are legitimately stressful. The result is a tight, taut human tale well worth the trek.
Firewatch, with me! photo
A watched fire never kills you
The drunk, nude teens bathing in the lake at sunset summed up Firewatch neatly: "you're just some sad man out in the woods." Kids always know just where to cut. If you could translate the insult quadrant of their brains you'd...

Shantae: Risky's Revenge photo
Shantae: Risky's Revenge

Shantae: Risky's Revenge Director's Cut is finally coming to Wii U soon


Great news
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
According to WayForward, Shantae: Risky's Revenge Director's Cut might hit Wii U soon. The game has moved into the submissions phase in both Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe, and the publisher expects everything to ...
Journey to the West photo
Journey to the West

Minecraft just got Journey to the West skins


For Pocket Edition and Windows 10
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
To celebrate the Year of the Monkey, Mojang just dropped some Journey to the West skins for the Pocket Edition and Windows 10 versions of Minecraft. "Red Boy" and "Guanyin" are free, but the rest (Princess Iron Fan, Lord Hund...
Fire Emblem Fates photo
Fire Emblem Fates

Customize your Corrin before Fire Emblem Fates launches


Just some small tweaks
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
When Fire Emblem Fates launches next week (finally) you'll have a few options to choose from when creating your avatar. It's not a whole lot, but it's enough to differentiate your Corrin for when other players stop by yo...
Hitman photo
Hitman

The Hitman beta starts this week, get a quick look at it


Oh that Agent 47
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Hit "don't call it a reboot" Man is set to arrive in March (but not fully, since it's episodic -- gaming!), but before then you can get a taste of the beta. It drops on February 12 on PS4, and PC on February 19. Sorry Xbox On...
THIS ISN'T A JOKE ON-LINE photo
THIS ISN'T A JOKE ON-LINE

BREAKING: Stanley Parable dev promises new 'MMO with poetry mechanics'


BREAKING NEWS THAT IS REAL, NOT A JOKE
Feb 08
// Steven Hansen
Responding to recent reports of Titanfall 2's promises for a single-player component that is "science meets magic," co-creator of The Stanley Parable and director of Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and the Terribly Cursed Emerald: ...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

A few more popular titles are coming to Xbox One via backward compatibility


Leaked recently
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Due to a mistakenly flipped switch, Red Dead Redemption was made available as a backward compatible game on Xbox One, and subsequently pulled, followed by an apology from Microsoft. But it wasn't the only one leaked -- j...
Dark Souls III photo
Dark Souls III

Come watch Dark Souls III's opening cinematic


Scholars of the First Spoiler
Feb 08
// Joe Parlock
Bandai Namco and From Software have released the opening cinematic of Dark Souls III. Be warned, though, as it obviously contains massive spoilers for both the story and, presumably, at least some of the bosses. They're ver...
Pokken photo
Pokken

'All' amiibo figures will work with Pokken Tournament


Puttin' those toys to work
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
According to an official listing from Nintendo's website, "all" amiibo figures will be compatible with Pokkén Tournament for Wii U, and will unlock "in-game items" upon use. While we've known that using the Shadow Mewt...

Review: Unravel

Feb 08 // Caitlin Cooke
Unravel (PC, Xbox One, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Coldwood InteractivePublisher: Electronic ArtsReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 Unravel’s story begins with an elderly woman making her way up to bed as Yarny, the game’s darling protagonist made from red yarn, comes to life downstairs. His adventure begins just outside of the cottage, roaming through the garden and into the beyond in search of lost memories made by the family that once inhabited the house, unraveling himself along the way. Yarny is able to roam freely throughout the cottage, a landing area for the ten chapters in the game which are accessed through framed pictures. Each photo transports our hero to the area it was taken where he encounters fragments of lost family memories, pictures frozen in time. At the end of each chapter he places the memories into a photo album that starts to come to life, weaving pictures into a story. [embed]339641:62166:0[/embed] To capture all the memories you guide Yarny through various terrain and strategize on how to make it past obstacles without unraveling him too much, as he only has limited amounts of yarn before reaching another spool. At first the game throws a lot of yarn techniques and mechanics at you quickly, but with time they start to become second nature. Coming up with clever solutions using environmental props along with grappling, swinging, climbing, rappelling, and tying knots for points of resistance are key to making it through. The yarn puzzles are fairly easy to figure out without being too simple -- each task is fairly small and broken up, not requiring long chains of thought but at the same time being challenging enough to feel rewarded when making it through. There were a few areas I was stuck on for longer than I’d like, but for the most part I found them to be fun and clever. Surprisingly, the levels never felt repetitive and the game was kept fresh by experimenting with the yarn’s mechanics in new environments. Outside influences also give a bit of flavor, requiring additional thought behind the puzzles -- for example, landslides, animal chases, and active machinery all play additional parts to the game beyond the yarn. Because the yarn is finite and will stop unraveling if you use too much, being cautious with solutions is critical to making it past obstacles. Yarny will get visibly distressed and emaciated if you pull too far away -- but don’t worry, you won’t kill him, he just won’t stretch any farther. If you find yourself in a particular bind (literal or no) you are able to reset back to the last save point by holding the down button. This is an extremely useful and necessary feature as it is quite possible to accidentally get yourself in an unsolvable situation. Spools act as save points along with providing the additional thread, and are fairly regular throughout the levels, however there are some small stretches that can wear thin if you’re not careful and make too many mistakes. Unravel as a whole is a whimsical and endearing adventure, pulling you further into the atmosphere through the intricate textures and bright effects. In one of my favorite levels you make your way through a snowy farm, rolling pine cones to make snowballs. The environment was so realistically captured and joyful that I felt I was right there with Yarny rolling around in the snow. Textures and light within the environment are slightly exaggerated, but in that magical way that makes fond memories stand out brighter. Everything from a log to a puddle comes to life beyond what’s contained in reality, almost like watching the most beautiful sceneries replay in your head. There’s a certain sadness to the experience that I can’t quite explain, perhaps lost nostalgia and a lingering familial longing that tugs at the heartstrings. It’s not necessarily "sad" or depressing in the traditional sense, but a thoughtful tale that brings forth various emotions throughout that will vary depending on the player’s personal history and connection to the story. These emotions are certainly drawn out even further by the sepia tones and lovely violin accompaniment, along with the self-discovering nature of the game. Unravel cherishes the best moments in life while recognizing the hard battles we sometimes face as families, all wrapped up within delightful gameplay and stunning scenery. The atmosphere is so compelling that I couldn’t help but feel like a piece of my own story was wrapped up in the game with the rest of the photo album. It’s rare but a special thing when a game manages to impart a story that touches strings deep in the heart, and Unravel manages to meet and exceed this feat. Get ready to have all the feels. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Unravel review photo
Simply beautiful
At first glance Unravel feels akin to LittleBigPlanet with its adorably miniature yarn-clad mascot, but don’t let it fool you. It’s a heartfelt story with little communication beyond imprinted memories, woven with...

3DM photo
3DM

Pirating group 3DM had an internal meeting, decided 'not to crack for a year'


To see the impact
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
After an "internal meeting," piracy group 3DM (the same group that couldn't crack Just Cause 3) has decided that it will not crack any single-player games "for a year," so that it can "look at the situation in a year's t...
RPG photo
RPG

Return to PopoloCrois out in Europe next week


Australia and New Zealand too!
Feb 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, the role-playing game about shrinking down to microscopic size and fighting it out with tiny monsters corrupting the soil, is launching in Europe, Australia, and New Zealan...
The Division photo
The Division

Ubisoft deliberately keeping PC version of The Division 'in check' with consoles


PCMR 4EVA
Feb 08
// Vikki Blake
[Update: Ubisoft has released the following statement regarding the PC version: "It has come to our attention that a comment from one of our team members has been perceived by some members of the community to imply the...
Capcom photo
Capcom

Capcom has some sweet Ace Attorney booze


No objections here
Feb 07
// Kyle MacGregor
Are you in the market for some tasty Ace Attorney-brand hooch? Well then, buddy, look no further. Capcom has you covered with fine rice wine and some regular-ass grape stuff plastered with Ace Attorney characters on the ...
Madden photo
Madden

Madden backed the Panthers to buck the Broncos (and was wrong)


Roaring back
Feb 07
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Well, Madden was wrong. Contrary to EA's simulation, the Denver Broncos prevailed in Super Bowl 50, winning over the Carolina Panthers by a score of 24 to 10. Also, it seems EA has removed the video. Maybe the folks ...
Battalion 1944 photo
Battalion 1944

Is it about time to revive the WW2 shooter?


Apparently so
Feb 07
// Kyle MacGregor
Years ago, World War II shooters were everywhere. Then the bubble burst. Activision, EA, and all the pretenders trained their sights on more contemporary settings, quickling transitioning series like Call of Duty, Medal of Ho...
Crash photo
Crash

Great googly moogly Sony is teasing Crash Bandicoot again


Sony loves its remasters
Feb 07
// Chris Carter
Sony is really getting comfortable this generation with its remasters, and for a long while people have been expecting something Crash-related on PS4. Every year or so it comes back and says "we'd love to revive Crash" o...
Kickfail photo
Kickfail

Honest Kickstarter details exactly how it'll waste your money (Fauxclusive)


See how every penny is mismanaged
Feb 07
// CJ Andriessen
Following allegations of behind-the-scenes financial misconduct with the crowdfunded Ant Simulator game, the team behind a newly-launched Kickstarter campaign is now promising complete transparency with how it will ...

What's so great about Undertale and The Witness?

Feb 07 // Ben Davis
That's unusual though, right? It seems like a new phenomenon. I don't usually come across games where I can't discuss some of the core mechanics without ruining it for others. The Witness creator Jonathan Blow made a point to warn prospective buyers that some reviews were full of spoilers, and I can definitely understand why he did. On the other side of the coin, in Destructoid's review of the game, Brett Makedonski was noticeably vague and short on details, and I know exactly why he wrote it that way. When I wrote my Undertale review, I had to dance around the parts of the game that excited me most. But Undertale and The Witness can't be the only games like this. While trying to think of other examples, the first that came to mind was Frog Fractions. Now, that's kind of an extreme example for a number of reasons, but I think the point still stands. If you've completed Frog Fractions, think about how you might describe the experience to someone who hasn't played it. It would be a challenge. You would likely have to convince them to try it without saying anything about it other than, "You're a frog, and you eat bugs to make fractions. Just play it!" Admittedly, Frog Fractions is a little different than Undertale and The Witness. There are many interesting aspects of those games one could discuss without giving everything away. But at best, I can imagine only being able to describe what sounds like an average to above-average video game. And then someone would (understandably) ask, “Well that all sounds okay, but what exactly makes it so special?" And that's a question you couldn't answer, even if you really wanted to, with anything other other than "Just believe me." It's even more onerous to justify the high praise to players who actually completed Undertale or The Witness, and somehow missed their hidden strengths. This could easily happen with either game. Even though I managed to discover Undertale's most unique element before even leaving the tutorial area, I've spoken to other players who had no idea what I was talking about, or had only noticed it in the game's final few boss battles. It's much more apparent once you start a second playthrough, but a lot of people that didn't get it the first time around probably wouldn't have much interest in playing the game again, so they might never know about it. In The Witness, I still hadn't discovered the coolest thing the game has to offer before the end. Brett actually had to nudge me in the right direction, and, when I finally found it, I was blown away. I was actually surprised I hadn't figured it out myself somewhere along the way, as it seems like something I should have noticed at one point or another, even if by accident. But it's certainly no surprise that, once again, many players will never stumble upon it. Some might argue this is bad design. 'Why hide an experience's greatest strengths to such a degree that some players might never find it?' you might ask. However, I've come to believe the reason these games leave such an impact on players is precisely because these secrets can be difficult to find. Undertale and The Witness start off as great games (or average, or bad, whatever your view), until something unexpected happens that elevates them to another level. And suddenly they might have you thinking, "Whoa, what?! This changes everything!' and make you want to excitedly tell everyone about how amazing they are before realizing, "Wait, maybe it's best to let them discover this on their own." If I've had a conversation with someone about Undertale or The Witness and it seemed as though I was deliberately vague or leaving out information, this is exactly why. I want to talk about them so badly, but at the same time, I know I shouldn't and it kills me. They really are amazing experiences, but unfortunately you'll just have to take my word for it!
Spoilers photo
It's a secret!
In the last few months, two games were released that I feel might be among my favorite games of all time, Undertale and The Witness. But what exactly makes them two of the greatest gaming experiences I've had in recent m...

Visage photo
Visage

Visage is attempting to expand on P.T. at a much deeper level


The Zackest game there ever was
Feb 07
// Zack Furniss
If you want to get Zack Furniss's attention, mentioning Phantasmagoria, Silent Hill, and P.T. while having a Babadook-lookin' homie in your game is sure bet. SadSquare Studios is attempting to crowdfund Vi...

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