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Review: Skyhill

Oct 06 // Stephen Turner
Skyhill (PC) Developers: Mandragora Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment Released: October 6, 2015 MSRP: $14.99 One man’s late-night extravagance ends up being his good fortune as Perry Jason’s penthouse suite shields him from a biological attack. Every guest and staff worker is transformed into a bloodthirsty mutant, leaving him the only human left alive. But without supplies and a wife lost to the city, he has no choice but to venture down 100 floors to escape this hotel-turned-house of horrors. Sounds easy, right? If only he wasn't already starving to death and in need of some makeshift weapons. Skyhill has the look of a horror game, but it’s a light RPG/roguelike/survival game at heart. You scavenge for food and items, combine ingredients for better supplies, all the while keeping an eye on your increasing hunger pains. It's not a scary game, especially with the comic book horror presentation, but it does an excellent job of handing the tension over to the player and their decisions. Every new floor is a gamble, every consumable carries short-term and long-term effects, and every push downward has to be thought out in advance. Essentially, Skyhill is about knowing when to hold and when to fold. [embed]313976:60617:0[/embed] Starting off in the VIP Room, which also serves as an upgradable home base, you work your way through each floor to reach the lobby (the end goal). Movement is done through a simple click on a room, but every location depletes a point from the hunger bar. Finding food is always the top priority; without it, movement depletes the health bar instead. Much of Skyhill is spent yo-yoing up and down the eponymous building, collecting random items, taking them back to the VIP room to craft better upgrades, then venturing back down to your last location. It might sound like a chore, but it's actually quite effective at creating an air of desperation; pushing forward due to a lack of supplies or a regained purpose. If you’ve played any survival games before, you’ll know what to expect from Skyhill’s crafting system. The tier system is easy to use, and it always tells you the items you need or already own. But keeping a hold of higher-tier items is a challenge, as you’ll always come across an elevator shaft that needs fixing with a certain item that you just created for something else. The same difficult choices happen with food supplies, too; eat the basics now for a short-term boost, or hold out to make bigger meal later on. It’s always a tough call. Of course, Skyhill wouldn't be a horror game without combat. Due to cramped environments onscreen, the game opts for turned-based attacks and statistics. Each mutant type has 2-3 body parts to attack, but the more damage you can inflict, the less likely you are to hit. Players can level up their stats – damage, speed, dexterity, and accuracy – by gaining XP after every fight. Though, honestly, the RPG elements don't really change up the combat, say, beyond landing more hits, and both end up becoming Skyhill’s weaker elements in the second half. Without an option to dodge (though you can retreat), combat is always tit-for-tat, and whoever gets the best string of hits wins. If there was ever a perfect representation of Skyhill’s negative traits, it would be found in the building itself; a rinse-and-repeat of exploration between two rooms and a stairwell. Skyhill never evolves, even close to the ground floor, preferring instead to throw more mutant attacks in the way. The only reason the final 50 floors are tougher is because they're more of a drain on resources; just more of the same without the breather. Still, Skyhill manages to be a decent stab at survivalist horror; rightfully using certain mechanics to avoid an even lesser game. It’s hard to imagine the combat working in real time due to the tiny spaces, or that if every room were visually more complex, it would lead to some tiresome pixel hunting. In a way, Skyhill is economical in what it does, even if it means being the old double-edged sword. That said, when you get right down to the core of it, see how the elements work in your favour or conspire against you, Skyhill admirably creates this tense game of hubris and courage, one that never lets up until you escape or, far more likely, die. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review photo
'We're on an express elevator to hell!'
100 floors up, countless mutants on the way down, and only one way out of town. No, this isn’t your average council estate in Swansea. This is Skyhill.

Bob's Burgers pinball photo
Bob's Burgers pinball

Bob's Burgers coming to Zen Studios pinball games

I don't see Tina, the best character
Oct 06
// Darren Nakamura
Joining Family Guy in Zen's "Balls of Glory" Pinball Pack is the vastly superior Bob's Burgers. The table is set up on the street outside the titular restaurant, with It's Your Funeral Home & Crematorium next door and Jim...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

Decapitation won't stop the foes in Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

Try something else
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
Geralt of Rivia has found himself opposite all kinds of opponents. Ghouls and beasts and insects and vampires -- the list goes on and on. So, when he's facing boring ol' humans, well, that's about as mundane as his life gets...
Battlefront PC specs photo
Battlefront PC specs

Why the hell does Star Wars Battlefront recommend 16GB of RAM on PC?

That seems excessive
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
The Star Wars Battlefront beta starts in just a couple of days, and everyone's invited; there's no barrier to entry. Well, let me clarify. There's one barrier to entry if you're on PC -- you need to have a rig that'...

MIGS photo

Destructoid partners with MIGS15

Montreal International Game Summit 2015
Oct 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Destructoid is pleased to announce our partnership with the Montréal International Game Summit, the largest professional video game development conference on the Eastern Seaboard. We will be providing coverage from the...
Far Cry Primal photo
Far Cry Primal

Everything we know about Far Cry Primal

Humanity's the underdog
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
Well, that didn't take Ubisoft long, eh? Yesterday's tease via stream lasted only a day before the French publisher couldn't stand the excitement anymore and announced Far Cry Primal. Here's what we've learned since then. Far...
Heroes of the Storm photo
Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm's Medic patch is live, with a host of other changes

Small additions
Oct 06
// Chris Carter
In addition to the all-new StarCraft-based Medic support character, the newest Heroes of the Storm patch brings in a few other quality of life additions. The UI is now re-tooled to provide more information to the player,...
Pokemon photo

These Pokemon Halloween pumpkin stencils are adorable

Printable and free
Oct 06
// Chris Carter
The official Pokemon website is getting in the holiday mood this year, as it has provided Halloween pumpkin stencils for all. The patterns are free -- just head to the site and print them. Some of them are spooky, some aren't (and one, Espurr, is absolutely terrifying). But do the right thing: make at least one Gengar pumpkin. Halloween Pokemon Pumpkin Stencils []
Guitar Hero Live photo
Guitar Hero Live

James Franco and Lenny Kravitz touch butts in Guitar Hero Live trailer

The game launches October 20
Oct 06
// Chris Carter
Activision is pretty good at getting celebrities to do comical commercials, and their latest bit involves James Franco and Lenny Kravitz promoting Guitar Hero Live. It showcases the live crowd aspect, which can boo you if you're doing terrible. Apparently it's terrifying. I had a chance to see Lenny Kravitz live recently, and he's still got it. Also, I got to high-five him, so he's totally cool.

Review: NHL 16

Oct 06 // Brett Makedonski
NHL 16 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: EA CanadaPublisher: EA SportsRelease: September 15, 2015MSRP: $59.99 In a genre plagued by incremental increases, this is NHL 16's greatest offering: An on-ice trainer that goes above and beyond. Hockey is a sport that's notorious for its inaccessibility to newcomers. Putting the biscuit in the basket is easy enough to understand, but where should my forwards be positioned when in the defensive zone? What kind of check should I execute when skating backward toward my goal? This training aid helps refine gameplay on-the-fly. It kind of teaches hockey, but more importantly, it teaches how to play NHL 16. For instance, when skating into the offensive zone, a cone will appear that indicates what part of the shooting lane is open and what part is blocked. A target may show up in the corner of the goal to tell you the smartest place to aim. Or, when playing defense, a box will cordon off part of the ice at your zone. Sticking to this area and covering the man in the box is what you're supposed to do. That's how hockey is played; NHL 16, simulation of hockey as it is, wants you to play it just like hockey. Those are two examples, but this on-ice trainer permeates every second of gameplay until you don't want it to anymore. It's a good thing too. I imagine EA had grown tired of players wildly out of position trying to line up huge hits. That's not how hockey looks, and it's not how a digital representation of the game should look. [embed]314010:60626:0[/embed] To its credit, the trainer doesn't stick to a low-level understanding of hockey. If it detects a seasoned player is at the helm, it'll start to adapt so as to offer more nuanced and advanced suggestions. Basically, everyone has something they can learn from this feature and it's incredibly unintrusive despite constantly being on the screen. It's the best part of NHL 16 because it actually enforces an understanding of doing what you're doing. The rest? Well, it's what NHL 15 should've been. Maybe it's unfair to hearken back to a previous game as a reference point, but fuck it. We make the rules around here. The on-ice product in NHL 16 is again solid and it includes the modes that last year's game should have shipped with. The actual hockey-playing in NHL 16 feels extremely similar to NHL 15. There are surely some physics and AI tweaks making ever-desired strides toward realism, but they feel mostly nominal. The game still plays well outside of the occasional rare physics bug. And this. Whatever the hell that was. With regard to the modes, they were mostly done right this time 'round. Be a Pro allows the simulation of shifts until it's your time to hit the ice again. (Curiously, the coach-assigned goals and ratings often seem off. Like, how do I have two goals and an assist, but a "C" ranking on offense for the game?) Likewise, the EA Sports Hockey League has been largely straightened out. Gone are the days of maxing out player skill through real-world currency. Now, everyone has to define their aptitude via a class of player that they pick. It's a smart design decision for the game's leading cooperative mode -- not to mention a surprisingly ungreedy one. Be a GM rounds out the most interesting modes that NHL 16 has to show. In it, you eschew the skates for a suit and tie. You're in control of an NHL franchise, and it's up to you to trade, manage, and motivate players. Games are simulated via a coach's drawing board where major events become markers like a "G" for a goal scored. The fascinating facet of Be a GM lies within the morale system. It's a bit paper-thin, but NHL 16 asks you to make unique speech decisions for different players. Over time, you learn what motivates your guys. Your star's ego might be too fragile for you to just outright yell at him; you may have to baby him instead. NHL 16 isn't perfect, but it's a substantial improvement over what released last year. Mind you, that's not some sheer brilliance; it's just because of general competence. The NHL franchise seems back on track, and it has even introduced the wonderful on-ice trainer. But, that trainer aside, it's tough to shake the feeling that NHL has just caught up instead of innovating. EA Sports spent this iteration making up ground. It was a necessary move, but not one that instills confidence that the developer has grown comfortable with the generational shift in consoles. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
NHL 16 review photo
Training wheels
In the mandatory initial matchup in NHL 16, I was forced to choose between last year's Stanley Cup Final contenders. I had to back either the Chicago Blackhawks who I very much dislike, or the Tampa Bay Lightning who I am ver...

PS4 photo

Metal Gear Online PS4 release trolled by ancient PSN update procedures

Par for the course
Oct 06
// Chris Carter
One of the chief problems I have with the PS4 is the way the storefront (and subsequently, the release of most games) works. Not only has the latest patch mucked up the UI for the PS Store to include more clicks to get what y...

Review: Armikrog

Oct 06 // Caitlin Cooke
Armikrog (PC)Developer: Pencil Test StudiosPublisher: Versus EvilReleased: September 30, 2015MSRP: $29.99 The game opens with a spectacular bang, showcasing an animated sequence of our hero Tommynaut and his sidekick Beak Beak crash landing into Armikrog, a strange complex on planet Spiro 5. Within its walls there are puzzles to explore, secrets to unlock, and history to discover as Tommy and Beak Beak make their way through the desolate alien buildings full of various oddities to find a way home. From the onset Armikrog contains the charming, silly humor you’d expect from a TenNapel game, and of course throwback themes that reference The Neverhood. Gameplay rests on your ability to explore and figure things out on your own, moving from room to room collecting items that will come into play later. The age-old point-and-click rule of thumb “click on literally everything” especially rings true as each area contains various puzzles which you (hopefully) put together to make it through to the next building in the complex. There’s not much life to Armikrog save for a few adorable fuzzy blocks, raptor-like creatures on wheels, and alien octopi who speak in a strange tongue – but it’s up to you to figure out why. A statue of a wise-looking man appears in different rooms from time to time and talks to you in a whimsical manner imparting general advice, but that’s about the most interaction you’ll have besides chatting with Beak Beak. Just like being in The Neverhood, for the most part, you’re on your own. At any given time you can switch between controlling Tommy and Beak Beak with a simple click. Beak Beak’s abilities allow him to fit into small doors and occasionally fly around which prove useful when finding various items, however that’s generally the extent of the dual-character system. Tommy doesn’t really have any special abilities going for him (besides being the protagonist, if that counts). It’s fairly obvious when you need to use Tommy vs. Beak Beak, like when a button needs to be pressed or stood on, but the tricky part is understanding the order of when these things need to happen as contextual clues are virtually non-existent. The gameplay mechanics are quite simple since there’s not much to the action besides clicking on things and moving from room to room, however it’s the complication of the controls which may throw players off. Old-school game logic is very much prevalent – I often took an extremely long time to figure something out only to realize I wasn’t in the exact spot for it to trigger. There were also moments when the opposite was true, and actions were far too fluid – like a traveling cart that can send you flying in various directions if you’re not careful. Puzzles range from straightforward to insanely obtuse, and there were a few interesting ones in between that hit the sweet spot. I particularly enjoyed a music-based puzzle that popped up from time to time which had me placing little adorable nursery toys in a certain order. For the most part, puzzles rely on your ability to keep track of certain themes and recall various symbols and patterns throughout your journey. Unless you want to rely on GameFAQs, keeping a notebook and pen handy are pretty much key. Armikrog didn’t hold my hand and indicate what I’d done right or wrong, so blindly guessing and forging through by clicking around was a common strategy. I found myself backtracking through rooms multiple times to see if I had missed anything, but more often than not I just had a general misunderstanding or difficulty navigating puzzles. Some puzzles have a distinct or unclear order to them that won't register if done incorrectly. I also had trouble with certain color-specific puzzles – some feature yellow and orange, or blue and purple pieces that I found to be nearly indistinguishable from each other. Those who have a hard time with colors may have difficulty getting through these puzzles as well. The lack of an inventory, although a callback to The Neverhood, was still something sorely needed. After picking up an item, Tommy puts it into his stomach, and it’s never to be seen again save for when you click on the correct place on the screen. I would often forget which items were on hand, making it hard to connect the dots when the time came. There were also a few outdated choices in terms of the interface – the manual save/load function is ancient, the cursor is plain without indicating what can be interacted with and how, to name a few. I believe Armikrog aimed to be specifically old school in this sense, but it was a tad frustrating. Whether these choices were intentionally nostalgic or not, it got in the way of actual gameplay. Armikrog could use a bit more tightening in general. Subtitles were inaccurate to the point that it was fun for me just to turn them on and see what dialogue was meant to be in the game originally. However, the biggest offender was the bugginess around puzzles. At some points, they wouldn’t trigger correctly – for example after feeding a bug to Beak Beak (which is meant to trigger his flying abilities), he just sat there staring at me instead. There was also one point when he became stuck in his flying state, unable to move or trigger anything. Saving often is necessary to prevent situations like this. On the brighter side, the environments are stunning and truly make the game come to life in a way that was hard to achieve back in The Neverhood days. Graphics are crisp and vibrant, animations are smooth, and the environment is full of quirky textures like fuzz and moss that make it pop. The clay is of course the hallmark style of the game, and sometimes I found myself getting lost looking thinking how long it took someone to mold that particular scene. Music by Terry Scott Taylor was wonderfully quirky, but I wish there were more of it throughout. It was especially noticeable when working on a puzzle for a long time, as a single song would play and stop for a long period of time, then pick back up again later at a random interval. Similarly, despite the voice acting being top notch, I also noticed that sound clips would fade in and out when Tommy or Beak Beak were meant to speak – subtitles would appear but nothing would come out of their mouths. Armikrog’s story is simple and charming, even though the pacing is a tad rushed for my tastes. Besides the opening sequence, there’s not much to the plot until the very end. I was hoping for more substance, or even more silly vignettes to keep me company – but perhaps I’m being selfish considering how long it takes to animate one of those sequences. Overall, I appreciated the atmosphere and especially one of the very last puzzles, which I felt was one of the more creative things I’d ever experienced in a game. Armikrog does not surpass The Neverhood, but just like a successor to any celebrated piece of media, that would have been an impossible task. However, it does contain a unique charm in its own right which fans of The Neverhood or other old-school point-and-click adventures will especially appreciate. Those followers will likely forgive its faults for a taste of nostalgia, but others new to this realm may find it too outdated and unpolished.
Armikrog review photo
Claymation heaven
I still have my original copy of The Neverhood, bestowed upon me when my family bought our first Gateway computer in the mid-'90s. I was in complete awe over the challengingly silly puzzles, phenomenal claymation, and the ecl...

Darksiders 2 photo
Darksiders 2

Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition will launch later this month

Oct 06
// Chris Carter
It may have a goofy ass name, but Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition is very much a real remake, and it will launch on October 27 for $29.99 on PS4 and Xbox One. All of the previous DLC will be included and has been inte...
MGS V photo

You can now buy 'base insurance' in MGS V

Yep, it'll cost real money
Oct 06
// Laura Kate Dale
Forward Operating Bases in Metal Gear Solid V are centers of operation you can set up around the world. These bases can be acquired using in-game premium currency, but it takes an awful lot of it to do anything. Realistically...
Law junk photo
Law junk

Every video game delayed in the UK (Fauxclusive)

Damn you consumer protections!
Oct 06
// CJ Andriessen
Following the enactment of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which guarantees a refund for any digital video game purchase if they are found to be faulty, not as described or not a quality product; every video game publisher an...
Evolve photo

Evolve Ultimate Edition spotted on Amazon

Coming out November 3, 2015, apparently
Oct 06
// Vikki Blake
Another day, another (accidental?) reveal of a game on an online retail store.  Twitterer Wario64 spotted listings for Evolve Ultimate Edition on Amazon. The game -- retailing for $60 on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 -- is slated to release on November 3, 2015.
Pokemon photo

Update: 'Hi I'm being sued by Pokemon'

Lawyers demanded $4K from Pokemon fan
Oct 06
// Vikki Blake
[Update: Since yesterday when we ran this story, The Pokemon Company has apparently retracted its offer of a $4,000 settlement before it could be paid, in lieu of negative press generated by the defendant. Jones' lawyer is at...
The Elder Scrolls Online photo
The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online: Orsinium brings in the Orcs

We got the green, we got the tusks
Oct 06
// Joe Parlock
You know what every single game ever needs? More orcs. The Last of Orcs, The Beginner’s Orc, Orcs Must Not At All Die for There to Be More Orcs, if there’s any game that doesn’t have enough orcs, it can be ...
Ghost Trick photo
Ghost Trick

Ghost Trick's been pulled from iOS completely, even for those who bought it

How do we make 'to P.T.' a verb?
Oct 06
// Joe Parlock
Uh-oh, this is starting to become a trend. First the iOS port of BioShock was removed from the iOS app store and users’ purchase histories, meaning they couldn’t even download the game if they’d paid for it....
Metal Gear Online photo
Metal Gear Online

Metal Gear Online starts tonight (if we're lucky)

I'd expect problems
Oct 05
// Jordan Devore
Konami plans to launch Metal Gear Online on consoles at 12:00am Pacific on October 6, 2015. You staying up? Know that there will probably be issues, and that it's operating on a "rolling timeline window." In other words, laun...
Splatoon photo

Splatoon launches free web app SplatNet

They didn't forget about us!
Oct 05
// Jordan Devore
It's been a bit of a wait, but Nintendo has localized SplatNet at last. The Splatoon web app lets you see which maps are coming up next in the rotation, look over your loadout and stats, and peek at what your friends are up t...
Colbertoid photo

Colbert is giving his audience an earful of The Legend of Zelda

Symphony of the Goddesses on Oct. 13
Oct 05
// CJ Andriessen
I have been to two performances of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. The first was at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles for one of the three premier performances. The second time was this past summer at the Wa...
Dead Star photo
Dead Star

The developers of ReCore sure are keeping busy

Armature announces Dead Star
Oct 05
// Jordan Devore
Dead Star is a top-down space combat game in development at Armature, the Austin studio formed by some key folks who worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption under Retro Studios. It has ten-on-ten multiplayer with dogfights, out...
Destiny photo

Microtransactions are coming to Destiny, but so are 18 new emotes

Shake what the Traveler gave ya
Oct 05
// Alissa McAloon
The Special Order vendor Tess Everis is returning to Destiny, and bringing 18 new emotes with her. The downside? You won't be able to buy the new dances with Glimmer, Destiny's in-game currency. Instead, players will need to ...
Bloggers Wanted photo
Bloggers Wanted

Bloggers Wanted: They call me spooky

Don't be afraid...
Oct 05
// Pixie The Fairy
October is a rarity among months in gaming. Often, you can't really think of a good game to pair with Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, but you can certainly think of games for Halloween. It's a time we turn our thoughts to ...
Indivisible photo

Skullgirls dev's metroidvania RPG Indivisible is looking pretty dang good

Up on Indiegogo, with a playable demo
Oct 05
// Darren Nakamura
Back in July we got a barebones announcement that Skullgirls developer Lab Zero Games has been working on a role-playing game called Indivisible and that it would begin a crowdfunding campaign for it late in September. It's ...
Driveclub photo

It's the last day to nab Driveclub PS Plus Edition

Might as well
Oct 05
// Jordan Devore
Hey, PlayStation Plus members! This is the last day to download the extended trial version of Driveclub before Sony pulls the offer. Add it to your account now before you forget. Driveclub PS Plus Edition comes with 13 tracks...
SMT IV Final photo
SMT IV Final

Shin Megami Tensei IV Final isn't a repeat

Don't be fooled by the name
Oct 05
// Jordan Devore
Atlus has been building to something Shin Megami Tensei related with a countdown. Thanks to Famitsu, we now know it's a new 3DS game, not rehash, called Shin Megami Tensei IV Final. It's expected to release February 10, 2016 ...
Elite controller photo
Elite controller

Goodness gracious, the Xbox One Elite Controller can do a lot

It really goes whole hog
Oct 05
// Brett Makedonski
The Xbox One Elite Controller was unveiled at E3, and it was kind of the sleeper-hit of Microsoft's showcase. The likes of game announcements and backward compatibility got the most attention, but damn -- that controlle...
Ubisoft photo

Ubisoft has a mystery stream going to tease its next project

'Survival is timeless'
Oct 05
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Looks like we have our answer and it's Far Cry Primal.] What's Ubisoft working on next? Our only indication is this quick loop of a hieroglyph depicting a man holding a spear and bow. It's likely one of those fancy ...

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