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Hack n Slash

Doujin Games photo
Doujin Games

Croixleur Sigma hacks and slashes onto Steam in late April


YISSSSSS!
Mar 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Croixleur Sigma is tentatively scheduled for an April 25 release on Steam, Nyu media announced today. The lovely doujin hack-and-slash initially hit western shores early last year, but has since been outfitted with a myriad o...

Review: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition

Mar 29 // Chris Carter
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition (PS3 [Non-"Complete"], PS4 [reviewed], Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Tecmo Koei Released: March 25, 2014MSRP: $39.99 (PS3) / $59.99 (PS4) / $39.99 (Vita) Just to be clear, the PS4 and Vita versions of the game are labeled the Complete Edition because you're getting the base Dynasty Warriors 8 experience combined with the new Xtreme Legends expansion. With the PS3 version you'll have to upgrade, but at a cheaper cost. Got it? Good! In terms of new content, you're getting a storyline featuring Lu Bu, a Challenge Mode, a new difficulty (Ultimate), an extended Ambition Mode, some gameplay tweaks, and five new characters. Lu Bu's campaign is very brief, weighing in at around three hours or so, but nearly every battle is enjoyable, and his moveset in general is a blast to play, with moves that include amazing Dragon Ball Z-style electric choke-slams. The new characters are all welcome additions as well, bringing up the total count to 82 -- ensuring that there's something for everyone. As was the case with Dynasty Warriors 8 vanilla, Omega Force has made a concerted effort to ease up on clones, and nearly every single fighter has a unique set of moves and weapon-set. My personal favorites are Fa Zheng and Chen Gong (who merely orders people to do his bidding), which both feel wholly unique to the franchise, while still fitting the (wacky) universe. [embed]272305:53138:0[/embed] If you're so inclined you can use the new Weapon Fusion system to boost equipment as well as bring along a second weapon. It's a small concession that strengthens the roster even further, as you can customize them to your style of play -- albeit at a price, involving lots of grinding and continued play. This is the deepest game in the Dynasty Warriors series yet, as the elemental counters of each weapon are taken further down the rabbit hole with even more choices. Challenge Mode is basically built for hardcore fans, adding in bonus levels that task you with fulfilling certain objectives like killing as many enemies as you can. These sport online leaderboards, which is the real draw for those who want to show that they're the best damn warrior around. For most players though they'll lose their allure after a few playthroughs, so don't expect much. The new difficulty isn't anything to write home about as well, since the game was particularly well balanced from the get-go -- this is basically just a way for people to mess around with the extended level cap (now 150). Finally, new "What-if?" scenarios are unlocked, and with the Complete Edition in tow that has the core game inherently built-in, you'll have access to around 100 hours of content -- which makes this particularly appealing if you haven't picked up Dynasty Warriors 8. For the purposes of this review I was able to test out the PS4 version of the game, and I'm pleased to say that it handles quite well. Although there are still a few minor hitches here and there, I didn't really encounter any noticeable slowdown, and the PS4 is capable of showing more soldiers on-screen than ever before. It's not a graphical overhaul in the slightest (there's a weird filter in place, as well as the franchise's standard fog effect), but what really matters is that the engine doesn't feel limited and gameplay isn't compromised. There's also the ability to take advantage of Cross-Save features between the PS3 and Vita, and if you had the PS3 version of Dynasty Warriors 8 you can transfer in your save file to the PS4. If you haven't played a Dynasty Warriors game in a long while, picking up Xtreme Legends on your shiny new PS4 isn't a bad idea. It doesn't offer up anything mind-blowing that demands the attention of casual fans, but as a complete package it's a wonderful entry point.
Dynasty Warriors review photo
Feel free to pursue it
I still remember the first time I ever laid eyes on a Dynasty Warriors game. It was a cold winter afternoon in 2000, and for whatever reason, one lone copy of Dynasty Warriors 2 was calling my name at a local Blockbuster...

Review: Toukiden: The Age of Demons

Mar 27 // Kyle MacGregor
Toukiden: The Age of Demons (PlayStation Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease:  February 11, 2014MSRP: $39.99  Toukiden takes place in a world where the last vestiges of humanity hang by a thread. Beset upon by an endless horde of demonic Oni, embattled villages depend on warriors called Slayers to repel the tide of monstrosities that constantly crash at their gates. As a Slayer, players will venture into the corrupted lands beyond their borders to cull a particular number of a particular type of demon. Then it's time to collect their remains and use the spoils to craft new weapons and armor before pursuing the next bounty. And that's basically it. With little in the way of frills, Toukiden takes that tried-and-tested Monster Hunter formula and, um, well, it certainly sticks to the blueprint. That's for sure. The story and setting are perhaps the most unique aspects of the experience. It's just a shame that it's all so terribly bleak. Toukiden's world is cheerless, eschewing the vivid natural environments and amusements like the talking cats that its inspiration employs, for dreary landscapes and oppressive situations where things always seem to be going from bad to worse. Sadly, the characters are rigid and prosaic, offering precious little comic relief to a world that so desperately needs it. [embed]271663:53150:0[/embed] The gameplay makes up for most of the title's shortcomings, and should win over fans of the genre with its familiar structure and solid combat. Once you take a mission, players are whisked away to an array of arenas populated with enemies. From there it's a basic hack-and-slash where teams of up to four Slayers grind through waves of smaller foes and occasionally tackle larger creatures. Missions are typically short and well suited for portable play, though more powerful Oni may test some players' patience. Boss fights are repetitious affairs where larger demons must be carved up one limb at a time. These baddies possess excessive amounts of health and take what seems like forever to take down. These events seem to drag on and on, before the frustration climaxes in a moment of relief as the tired affair comes to a close. Adding insult to injury, these encounters lack variety, as boss types are recycled over and over again. In the heat of battle players will need to lower their guards in order to purify the corpses of slaughtered demons, which yield the materials necessary to craft new weapons and armor. While the game supports both local and online multiplayer, allied characters are surprisingly competent at taking out enemies and watching the player's back while one is otherwise indisposed. And should you fall in battle they're rarely too far off to help you back to your feet so you can rejoin the fight. In terms of weaponry, there's a myriad of blades, bows, and other implements of death to play with -- like the chained sickle. On top of standard attacks, Slayers can equip the tools of their trade with Mitama, souls of fallen heroes that offer different combat bonuses and abilities. Much of the game's appeal comes from equipment progression and kitting your character out with new and more powerful gear. Beyond that, though, Toukiden lacks variety and nuance. The objective never changes. It's all demon slaying and equipment crafting all the time. Which is fine. But by never straying from the beaten path, it does little to differentiate itself from its competitors or step out from Monster Hunter's shadow. Those starving for that type of experience would do well to give Toukiden a go. It's a good bit of fun and certainly a pretty experience that might well satiate your desire to kill and collect for a few dozen hours, especially if you play with friends. Just don't go in expecting anything particularly great or revolutionary. If you're going to steal, steal from the best. And that's precisely what Toukiden's done, for better or for worse. It's a very competent Monster Hunter clone, but, by adhering so rigidly to that winning formula, it lacks an identity of its own. That's not to say that this is a bad game, far from it, but it isn't a great one either. It just doesn't do enough to separate itself from the crowd or demand your attention. A touch of color, a few diversions, and some fresh ideas could really have gone a long way to making Toukiden something special. As is, it's merely pretty okay.
Toukiden review photo
Off-brand Monster Hunter
Originality is a pretty hard thing to come by, and ideas don't just materialize out of thin air. They're a patchwork of experiences lifted from our surroundings, filtered, and diffused back out into the world. Many of us hide...

Review: The Witch and the Hundred Knight

Mar 24 // Chris Carter
The Witch and the Hundred Knight (PS3)Developer: Nippon Ichi SoftwarePublisher: Nippon Ichi SoftwareRelease: March 25, 2014Price: $49.99 Witch may have one of the most confusing titles in recent memory, but when you break it down, it's not so bad. The game stars the Witch Metallia ("Metallica" in Japan), as she attempts to wreak havoc on the world by summoning the "Hundred Knight" that's you) -- one of the most powerful familiars of all time. The problem is, this "legendary" creature starts off as nothing more than a cute little helmet with arms and legs, leading to an interesting dichotomy between Hundred's adorable nature and Metallia's fiery damnation. Metallia herself is one of the most absurd "protagonists" NIS has created to date, as you're not really supposed to find her likable. In fact, she's more than downright evil, as she often times assaults her victims in ways that some may find unsettling (seriously). It's a really weird juxtaposition to NIS's typical stable of evil characters (especially Disgaea), which are usually more talk than action, with most of the evil done off-screen or merely described in an extended monologue. Nevertheless, you'll have to live as Metallia's servant, and serving her every whim time and time again is basically how the story plays out throughout the adventure. She's lived in the swamp all her life, and since she's too lazy and stubborn to leave it, you'll have to do her bidding, then periodically report back with your findings and loot. So, it's your job to maim, kill, destroy, and ransack as many villages as possible -- fun! In theory, at least. [embed]272062:53012:0[/embed] Most of the action will be done straight hack-and-slash style -- no turn-based cycles here. The Hundred Knight can move around just like an adventurer in a Diablo game, top-down view and all. Our hero has the ability to attack and defend, but the former discipline quickly becomes a complicated affair with combo weapons, counter strategies, and enemy diversity. It's an interesting design that transcends the typical genre conventions. For instance, hammers are perfect for single encounters, and spears are great for crowd control -- so combining the two into a combo that leads with a spear and mixes into a hammer could be a great way to thin out some ranks. Add in hundreds of nuanced weapons, more attack types, and a cavalcade of items to buy, and you're in menu-scrolling heaven. Then there's the GigaCal meter, which puts a cap on how long you can stay out in the wild by linking your actions to a timer. It makes sense in that you're constantly worrying about how far you can go, and thus need to play cautiously, but in the end it just causes needless frustration, and messes up the pacing considerably. There are ways around it like using certain items or consuming foes, but this mostly just delays the inevitable. There really isn't much to Witch and the Hundred Knight, as you're basically going to be doing the same pattern over and over, fighting menial enemies as you make your way to the boss, followed by a lengthy cutscene. While it's always interesting to see what's going to happen next, the fact of the matter is the scenes themselves often go on for way too long (sometimes 20 minutes or more), and will have you reaching for the fast-forward button on more than one occasion. It's strange how uneven the action portion of this action-RPG can really feel, and some paring down of cutscenes would have been a good place to start. Combat is also fairly repetitive when you break it down. While the macro-level equipment trappings of typical NIS RPGs are here in all their glory, the Knight is limited in what he can actually do, and it leads to a lot of dull moments. Hacking up enemies is fun enough, but it's not often that you'll face anything worthy of your skills outside of the few and far between boss characters. If you enjoy crazy stories that constantly top themselves and deep action-RPG conventions that others find frustrating, you'll enjoy The Witch and the Hundred Knight. But with a lot of small adjustments, it really could have been a great gateway into the world of complicated isometric titles.
Witch review photo
Harvester of Sorrow
Nippon Ichi Software is one hell of a developer. One day they could be lighting the world on fire with one of the most celebrated games in a genre (Disgaea), and the next, they could be milking a franchise into oblivion (Disg...

Heart & Slash photo
Heart & Slash

Heart & Slash looks like a grand old time


I can't get enough beat 'em ups
Mar 03
// Chris Carter
Heart & Slash is currently very close to its Kickstarter goal, and for good reason -- it looks like a pretty entertaining beat 'em up. The game takes place in a future where humans are no longer around, and instead, mach...
Valhalla Knights 3 Gold photo
Valhalla Knights 3 Gold

WTF: This is one of the weirdest Japanese trailers ever


Oh my gold!
Feb 22
// Wesley Ruscher
I have no idea what's going on in this trailer for the recently released, Japanese and PS Vita only, Valhalla Knights 3 Gold, but I have to say I'm mildly entertained. Well more entertained than I was when I reviewed th...
Sacred 3 photo
Sacred 3

Sacred 3 is coming to the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 this year


Expect it in the summer
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Deep Silver has announced that Sacred 3 is on its way to the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 platforms this summer. As always, it'll feature co-op hack and slash gameplay, and lots of dungeon crawling, as well as offline and onli...
Deep Down photo
Deep Down

Deep Down will not have playable female characters


New information on Capcom's PS4 RPG comes to light
Feb 16
// Wesley Ruscher
Capcom's Deep Down has been on many gamer's radar since it was first announced back at the system's unveiling. As Sony's latest console edges closer and closer to its Japanese this month, so does new information regarding the...
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Drakengard 3 comes out on May 20 in North America


Look at all the stupid pre-order crap
Feb 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Square Enix has announced that Drakengard 3 will be arriving on May 20, 2014 in North America for the PlayStation 3. Along with the release date they've announced a really convoluted pre-order system. Pre-order between today...

Review: Soul Fjord

Jan 28 // Darren Nakamura
Soul Fjord (Ouya)Developer: Airtight GamesPublisher: Airtight GamesRelease: January 28, 2014MSRP: Free, with microtransactions To start on a positive note, the strange hybrid setting is fantastic. It seems like a completely random combination, but mixing '70s soul with Norse mythology is just silly enough to work. It helps that it is supported by some genuinely funny writing, where equippable items have Scandinavian-sounding names and descriptions, but are often just rudimentary bludgeoning tools like stop signs or keg hammers. Heck, there was a loading screen or two that made me laugh, just imagining this Shaft-like figure giving advice for surviving the trip up Yggdrasil. For the most part, the presentation is pretty decent as well. Character art is sharp, animations are smooth, and the funk soundtrack that changes from level to level is sufficiently funky. There are effects that reproduce the visual artifacts found in 1970s films, and while they fit the theme well enough, they do start to wear thin after a few sessions. [embed]269579:52358:0[/embed] In theory, Soul Fjord could be fun to play. Jones has two basic attacks and a block, and when he hits enemies, numbers pop out of them until they die. The unique element of combat here is that players can deal (or block) significantly more damage when attacking (or defending) to the beat of the music than if they were to mash buttons. One problem that arises is in the choice of the funk soundtrack. Regardless of what the music is doing, attacks are augmented when performed on the downbeats. By the nature of the genre, the music is very often syncopated; it specifically emphasizes notes in between the beats during certain sections. What results in these cases is rhythm gameplay that relies more heavily on the visual cues than the audio cues. Thankfully, this is not the case for every song in the game, but it is a huge design misstep with those songs that produce this effect. The other big issue with the combat, even when the music has a heavy beat to follow, is that it is often slow and dull. Enemies will only attack on the beat, and early in the game their attacks are so infrequent that it is better to ignore blocking entirely and always go for the kill. Each weapon has two unique combos, so carrying around one weapon for a while means pressing the same sequences of buttons, over and over. Getting to the combat is also a pretty trite affair. Enter a room. Kill all of the enemies. Go to the next room. Repeat. There are a few points of interest that can be found randomly, like rooms filled with spike traps or altars to the gods, but the procedural generation of levels is often squandered on areas with slightly different shapes that all play identically to one another. Soul Fjord is a free-to-play game, and it comes with all of the trappings of that model, for better or for worse. As a game with roguelike elements, players do not keep items from one play to the next, unless those items are "Soul Bound." Items that are randomly dropped or purchased with in-game gold can be manually Soul Bound by spending platinum records, Soul Fjord's premium currency. Treasure chests can also be opened for a few records, and any items found in this manner are automatically Soul Bound. Some modicum of persistence in games that otherwise adhere to the roguelike tenet of permanent death is fine, and has even been done quite well in games like Risk of Rain or Desktop Dungeons. It just feels a little strange in Soul Fjord that the persistence is optional and tied to spending real money to maintain it. It feels especially strange in a hack-and-slash game to find a rare weapon or piece of armor but only be able to use it once without paying extra. However, the impression one gets of the Soul Bound system is heavily dependent on perspective. Rather than thinking of Soul Fjord as a Diablo-style loot fest that is hindered by mandatory microtransactions, if it is viewed instead as a roguelike that is enhanced with persistence through optional microtransactions, then it stings a bit less. Indeed, the game can be played and theoretically completed without spending a penny on it. That said, it would still require most players several playthroughs to gain the skill necessary to make it through to the end without starting with the most awesome weapons, and the gameplay is just not entertaining enough to support more than one or two runs. Though there are only nine levels, and each lasts between five and fifteen minutes, Soul Fjord was already repetitive and boring by the end of the second attempt. Soul Fjord started with a good idea, and even has a few redeeming qualities, but in the end, it is just too dull to be enjoyable for longer than a few minutes. The free-to-play aspects don't ruin the experience, but they don't particularly help it either. If nothing else, Ouya owners should probably give this a try since it costs nothing upfront, but this is not the system savior that we have been hoping for.
Soul Fjord review photo
Fjorgettable
Ouya users have not had a lot to be excited about for a while now. Excepting a few titles like Towerfall, there is not much worth owning on the microconsole, and especially few games that are not available elsewhere. As one o...

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Mighty Quest For Epic Loot open beta arrives February 25


Will also mark the debut of fourth playable character
Jan 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot is finally set to enter open beta starting February 25. The free-to-play hack and slash game is kind of like a crossover between Diablo and Dungeon Keeper, letting you hunt for treasures across ...
Doujin Games photo
Doujin Games

Croixleur Σ hits Comiket this week, Steam in early 2014


New trailer showcases latest enhancements to doujin hack-and-slasher
Dec 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Croixleur Σ is launching this week at Comiket 85 in Tokyo, Japan. An updated version of the doujin action game that found its way to western shores earlier this year, the title boasts a variety of improvements, in...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Drakengard 3 gets lengthy new trailer for Japanese launch


Available now for your importing pleasure
Dec 21
// Kyle MacGregor
If Sony is going to make good on its promise of ten year life cycle for the PlayStation 3, it's going to need a little help from games (like Drakengard 3) that continue to trickle out for the venerable system in a ...
DYNASTY ZELDA photo
What is this I don't even
Nintendo has lost its mind. (In a good way. I think.) During this morning's Nintendo Direct presentation, company president Satoru Iwata revealed a collaboration with Tecmo Koei tentatively called Hyrule Warriors. The working title looks to combine Dynasty Warriors' hack and slash formula with The Legend of Zelda's universe. Weird! It's coming to Wii U sometime in 2014.

Diablo III photo
Diablo III

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls closed beta is now underway


Crusader clicking commences
Dec 14
// Wesley Ruscher
The closed beta for the first Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, has officially gone live for PC player's of Blizzard click n' slash role-playing extravaganza. If you've opted in for the beta, and are eager to try out the...

The best and worst games of the week - Racing Royalty

Dec 07 // Wesley Ruscher
Senran Kagura Burst (3DS eShop)Developer: Marvelous AQLPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: November 14, 2013MSRP: $29.99 Senran Kagura Burst has a lot going for it. It's often times quite charming, the 2D illustrations are very well done, the almost-all girl world they exist in offers a nice fantasy for those that are sick of the male-dominated game industry, combos are fun to pull off despite their simplicity, and the character designs are pretty expressive (sexually and otherwise). All that is held back by the fact that the low-budget graphics, distracting breast-obsession, and overall lack of actual game design. There's potential for this series to be more than sex and combos, but so far, that's all it has going for it. It's cheap, sweet candy with little nutritional value that might make you sick after a while.  Read the full Senran Kagura Burst review Desktop Dungeons (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: QCF DesignPublisher: QCF DesignReleased: November 7, 2013MSRP: $14.99 All in all, the full release of Desktop Dungeons is great. QCF Design had a fantastic core game built years ago, and it holds up today, especially with the added bells and whistles. Despite its generic title, there really is nothing else like the dungeon-puzzling found here. Rather than being satisfied with the simple, unique game that it was, the developers went above and beyond adding polish, resulting in a game that is truly remarkable. Read the full Desktop Dungeons review Rainblood Chronicles: Mirage (PC)Developer: S-GamePublisher: OR1GO GamesRelease Date: November 11, 2013MSRP: $14.99 Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage probably isn't going to stick with you as a cherished experience, but it's a competently designed combo slasher with a fair bit going for it. Players who like their 2D hack n' slash combat fast and accurate should be satisfied. Read the full Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage review Tiny Brains (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360)Developer: Spearhead GamesPublisher: 505 GamesRelease Date: December 3, 2013 (PS4) / TBA (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $19.99 Although its core campaign is far too short, the game is a blast with other players, and the wide variety of challenges should keep you playing for hours. Despite the fact that my time with these tiny adora-creepy critters was rather brief, I'd love to see them again in a sequel someday. Read the full Tiny Brains review FORCED (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux)Developer: BetaDwarfPublisher: BetaDwarfRelease Date: October 24, 2013MSRP: $14.99 FORCED isn't the biggest game on the PC, but it's not trying to be. Rather, it tries to be a fun co-op experience -- a goal that it accomplishes quite well. Grab the four-pack off Steam, grab three friends, and play FORCED for the weekend. It's a one-trick pony, but it's a good trick indeed. Read the full FORCED review Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers (PS3, available through PSN only)Developer: DimpsPublisher: Namco BandaiRelease Date: November 26, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is a decent tribute to anime series that never caught much attention this side of the Pacific. The fighting is pretty looking, but very barebones; the music is catchy, but repetitive; and all the extra modes while solid, don’t do much to make this title truly stand out. Fans of the Naruto: Shippuden and the Dragon Ball Z fighters will feel unfulfilled, but for loyalists of Saint Seiya, Brave Soldiers offers just enough fanfare to make this worth the time. Read the full Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers review Gran Turismo 6 (PS3)Developer: Polyphony DigitalPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentRelease Date: December 6, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Gran Turismo 6 isn't perfect, but it's still the best videogame out there for driving enthusiasts. It's what Gran Turismo 5 should have been. It needs work in the AI and damage modeling departments, and that next-gen visual upgrade can't come soon enough. Still, GT6 is a game that I expect I'll happily play for years to come, or at least until Polyphony Digital brings the next one out. Its charms run so deep that I’m just as happy chugging around the track at 86 MPH in a family van as I would be in the most expensive exotic racer.  Read the full Gran Turismo 6 review Killer Instinct Arcade FightStick Tournament Edition 2 Feenix 2014 Nascita Gaming Mouse
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Review Round-up: Week ending 12/7
Oh December! You are by far my favorite month of the year, and not just because it's Christmas and my birthday. Your winter slumber in the games department allows me the leisure of checking my backlog list twice and knocking ...

Free photo
Free

PS Mobile titles Gun Commando, Mononoke Slashdown go free


Download these for your PS Vita
Dec 05
// Jordan Devore
As Chris told us, Sony is giving away ten PlayStation Mobile games for free this holiday season. The current pair of titles is an old-school first-person shooter called Gun Commando and a 2D hack-and-slash romp named Mononoke...

Review: Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage

Dec 02 // Conrad Zimmerman
Rainblood Chronicles: Mirage (PC)Developer: S-GamePublisher: OR1GO GamesRelease Date: November 11, 2013MSRP: $14.99 Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage gives the appearance of being just one facet of a larger idea, set in a world which extends far beyond the conflict players participate in. The Martial Realm has a pretty extensive framework, with various organizations combating one another for control of the world. It has a lot going for it, drawing on the Wuxia tradition, combining the common pre-modern Chinese backdrop with an element of science fiction and blending them in a way that feels natural. Unfortunately, the narrative is a bit hollow and has a tendency to fling around names and places too casually, as if expecting the player to already have intimate knowledge of the world based solely on loading screen tooltips. Additionally, subtitles in the earlier portions of the game are a bit rough, leaving a poor first impression though they seem to improve as the story continues. Background information filling in the blanks can be uncovered in the environments in the many hidden chests and secret areas, unlocking bits of flavor text accessed from within the game's hub area. These are generally well-written and interesting, but making sense of what's going on in the story necessitates collecting most of them to put the pieces together. A treat for the completionist, but less dedicated players will likely find themselves engaged in a bit of head scratching. [embed]266765:51634:0[/embed] Combat is fast and controls simply, with commands for light and heavy attacks, an ultra attack tied to a meter, jumping, activating a character's special ability, and switching characters. The game plays well with keyboard and mouse but having a gamepad is highly recommended. Combos are easy to perform with the two-button design and get more interesting with the application of the pair's unique abilities. Soul and Shang both fight with swords and that's where the similarity between their skills ends. Soul is a very simple, straightforward character, with an eight-directional dodge move providing counterattack opportunities when timed to avoid strikes. Shang is a more technical fighter, able to create energy swords which provide a defense to incoming attack and can be unleashed in a torrent of attacks on enemies. He takes a bit more getting used to and a bit of a methodical approach but is capable of racking up a ton of fast hits for combos. It's not necessary to become well versed in both play styles to finish the story mode, but the benefits of doing so are considerable. Soul and Shang don't share experience rewards from slain enemies, necessary to buy new skills, so favoring one may put the other at a disadvantage should it become necessary to switch. And by switching between the two characters, massive combos can be built and maintained for longer, rewarded by in-game currency used to purchase and upgrade combat skills and equipable accessories which provide passive benefits to health, damage, and more. Up to four of these accessories can be used by each character at a time, opening a vast wealth of options and strategies for making the most of Soul and Shang's abilities. A fine system, though time consuming. Gathering enough resources to buy upgrades is quite slow at the start, particularly if you're struggling to build up a solid combo, and it can feel as though progress simply isn't happening fast enough. Once the ball gets rolling and upgrades make combat easier, the rewards start coming in at a steady pace but a good bit of grinding is still necessary to unlock the full range of abilities and items. Three difficulty settings are available at the start, with a fourth unlocked by completing the story once, and these represent a very broad range of challenge. Higher settings increase enemy health and damage, and makes them generally faster and more aggressive. At its easiest, Mirage is practically a walk in the park and it's possible to become effectively invincible with the right accessories. The most challenging will completely wipe the floor with the unprepared, especially in the late game with enemies capable of keeping the player juggled while eating away most of their health. Thankfully, the game features very frequent checkpoints to prevent lost progress and there's even a consumable item available which allows for an instant revival if a sequence proves too difficult to complete in one go. This range of difficulty is flexible enough for a casual or inexperienced player while still offering a considerable challenge to those of great skill. Enemy variety is a real strength. New types of opponents continue to appear throughout the length of the story, each bringing with it another complication for combat. These include ranged attackers and elite units which summon an endless supply of minions while providing them stat bonuses, and picking which targets to focus on first can be crucial. They're also very cool to look at with elegant details and distinct animations. This extends to the boss encounters as well, each stage featuring a mid-stage miniboss and a final challenge at the conclusion. Nearly all of these are satisfying, difficult fights, and while one or two of the minibosses fall a bit on the tedious side, they're forgivable exceptions. Finishing the story unlocks an additional two modes, so there's still more you can do if you haven't tired of the combat yet. There's a "Boss Rush" mode, which provides a nice way to package the more memorable moments from the campaign, and an "Endless Tower" with room after room filled with different enemy groupings of progressively harder difficulty. Both of these modes can also be attempted with a second player, allowing Soul and Shang to be wreaking havoc onscreen simultaneously, while a dueling mode rounds out the multiplayer offerings. Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage probably isn't going to stick with you as a cherished experience, but it's a competently designed combo slasher with a fair bit going for it. Players who like their 2D hack n' slash combat fast and accurate should be satisfied.
Rain Blood Chronicles photo
Hard fought, harder plot
Through the course of eight stages, Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage tells the story of two swordsmen, Soul and Shang. Recent recruits of an assassin order known as "Cabal," they seek answers to the mystery of their disappeared mentor, Jade, lost on a mission against a domineering power in the Martial Realm. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened.  

Vanillaware photo
Vanillaware

Muramasa Rebirth transports DLC westward early next year


Meow
Nov 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Muramasa Rebirth's long-awaited Genroku Legends downloadable add-ons will finally make their way to North America in early 2014, Aksys Games has announced. The supplementary content for Vanillaware's PlayStation Vita action ...
Techland photo
Techland

Hellraid won't be ready in time for release this year


Techland is going for the when-it's-done approach
Oct 30
// Jordan Devore
Between Hellraid and Dying Light, it's the former Techland game I'm more curious about. (I'm burned out on the developer's zombie titles. Can you blame me?) While this does rather blatantly look like a project from the people...
Ryse: Son of Rome photo
Ryse: Son of Rome

Ryse trailer promises as much blood as you can handle


Salute your new centurion
Oct 18
// Brett Makedonski
You know what next-generation console launch title hasn't been delayed? Ryse: Son of Rome. That one's truckin' right along as expected. Microsoft released a new story trailer today in case you need some context for your cont...

Review: Valhalla Knights 3

Oct 17 // Wesley Ruscher
Valhalla Knights 3 (PS Vita) Developer: K2 LLC Publisher: XSEED Games Released: October 15, 2013 MSRP: $39.99 Flockheart’s treasure, a fabled item able to grant its user any wish, is rumored to be somewhere in the vicinity of Carceron prison; a once-flourishing castle that has been retrofitted to house the decrepit fallouts of a post war-torn Beigen Empire. As a person with a clouded agenda, you enter the prison to learn the whereabouts of Flockheart’s treasure before the emperor can seize control of it and resume his conquest of the neighboring countries. Like the Final Fantasy series, story of previous entries is irrelevant to enjoy Valhalla Knights 3. In fact story is pretty irrelevant throughout the crux of the main narrative. Spending the entirety of an RPG as a prisoner is a neat little twist on the typical “jail scenes scenario” that comprise other games of the genre, but any creativity that could of come from this is squandered with poor pacing. What is there merely serves as a justifiable reason to play in the game’s world. Before being thrust into the shady underbelly of Carceron prison, players are treated with an adequate character creator. Four races are present from the start: Human, Elf, Halfling, and Dwarf -- each of which possesses various attribute bonuses over other races -- with more races unlocked over the course of the adventure like the Beast race. Additionally, males and females differ in attributes amongst each species. For example, female humans have less vitality than their male counterparts, but make up for it with higher skill or dexterity attributes. [embed]263691:50961:0[/embed] Once a race is chosen, six job classes are presented initially -- ranging from the jack-of-all-trades prisoner class, to mages and priests, to the in-your-face-melee archetypes like the fighter and akatoki (sort of like the monk from Diablo III). In total 20 jobs are available, with the additional classes earned through quests or from fallen enemies. You can tailor every character’s looks to your liking, selecting from limited hair styles; eye shapes; and in the case of females, adjusting their cup sizes to embarrassing proportions. While Valhalla Knights 3 tries to embrace more mature content than your typical RPG, it unfortunately handles it with the maturity of an adolescent boy verging on puberty. This is apparent from practically the onset of the game. As you push through the opening moments of entering Carceron prison, it doesn’t take long for the rough and detestable side of humanity lurking in the depths to rear its head. Two men approach, barking orders and demanding respect like a scene out of Oz. Showing who's boss, they quickly murder two of the inmates and kidnap a female for good measure. Carceron is a coed facility. Men fight for dominance and “most” women are subjugated to nothing more than convenient items at their disposals -- which is affirmed mere moments later when you find the kidnapped women happily working as a sort of “escort” in one of Carceron’s shops. As you spend time shopping in the main hub of Carceron prison buying supplies, taking on side quests, and expanding your roster it’s hard not to feel the grime the world casts. Divided into two zones, the slums and light district (or rather red-light district), players will run between each to better situate themselves for the grind ahead. The slum area provides those starting out an inexpensive way to sell and purchase basic items and take on additional side quests without having to shell out any personal funds. The light district though is where the premium items lie, but also where they come with a cost. Before you can even begin to use any of the amenities provided in this zone, an escort needs to be contracted.  They range in price (the more expensive the girl, the better the goods), but along with a more robust catalog these scantily clad women can be groped and kissed in what the game calls “sexy time.” Watch the NSFW trailer for a better idea of just how “sexy time” plays out, but be warned you might feel as dirty as I did playing it by the end. Typically I’m the last person to be offended by perverted connotations in a videogame. Bouncy boobs, lust-crazy pet dragons... you know, the typical anime-induced fan service found prevalent in more “mature” Japanese videogames usually just rolls off of me. But there is something extra degrading with Valhalla Knights' “sexy time” mini-game that, for a lack of better term, rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the fact that Halfling escorts look like they are twelve or perhaps it’s just the subservient comments like “It gives me such pleasure” that they girls bashfully giggle out. I felt dirty and ashamed having to poke and try to kiss underage looking girls to potentially earn better items. Luckily, for the most part, the poking and prodding mini-game can be avoided. It saddens me though as it just seems like aimless attempt to distract players from the tedium the main portion of the game ultimately serves up. It’s unfortunate that Valhalla Knights 3 has to add an unnecessary level of sexual situations to add to the maturity. Its world is already dark and depressing and serves as a generally interesting location for the meat of the experience: seven-on-seven real-time battles. Venturing outside of the prison, the surrounding area of Carceron is full of monsters and other rival prison gangs to hack n’ slash to your heart’s content while you explore caves and sweeping fields. It’s weird to be able to freely roam around the surrounding landscape of a prison without a guard to obtrude one’s way, but who am I to argue with such freedom. As you press forward with the game’s main story or look to pad your coin purse and armory from the spoils of side missions be prepared to grind. I started my trek as a fighter (they can pretty much wield any melee weapon, which is awesome) and had an easy time alongside my starting party smiting lowly rabbits and the prison’s surrounding enemies. As I ran through the first few quests with no problems (all of which had one-star difficulties assigned to them) I felt pretty confident that the game’s first two-star mission would be as easy. Boy was I wrong. Death can come swift and without warning since enemies can spike in strength with no inclination and leave you depleted financially if you don’t save often in preparation. Upon death you are left with two options: reload your last save or return to Carceron and pay to have your fallen companions resurrected. In the early part of the game death halts much of your progression and forces you to take on certain quests ad nauseam in order to build a suitable bankroll to help pay for untimely deaths (in addition to the gear and party members  you’re going to need). I have no problem with grinding -- it’s sort of a guilty pleasure of mine -- but I don’t expect to have to do it so heavily every time I want to push a little further in the story. Combat is the game’s real highlight. Fighting is fairly straightforward, with simple timed button presses ushering out deadly combos and (depending on class) a button for parrying or blocking. It falls more along the chaos of the Dynasty Warriors series when all things are at their optimum, as you’ll most likely be lost in the middle of your companions while you avoid damage and dish out your best attacks, and similarly is a blast when all things are going your way. During hard-fought battles, a boost can be triggered that greatly increases the speed and power of your team’s attacks and creates some truly awesome spectaculars. Building a well-balanced team is the key to success throughout. I wish the game did a better job explaining, in the beginning, the importance of filling up your roster every time you're allowed an additional member. Perhaps it was my fault, but Valhalla Knights 3 leaves much for the player to discover. For example, each party member you recruit -- either through the story, character creator, or from hiring patrons -- has their own distinct personality trait that affects their behavior when fighting. Prudent companions tend to be better healers and shy ones are best for the back lines. What I enjoyed most about the game’s combat system is the flexibility it lends to players of all types. I began my adventure as a fighter, but thanks to the ability to directly control any teammate on the fly (as well as guide their skill-tree progression) there was never a need to change my main character’s class or start over with a different job. With a party of seven, you’ll essentially have a wide variety of classes to play with during any battle. You’re never locked down to single archetype over the course of the game when you have the opportunity to switch to any style in your party you’re feeling at the moment. For a game that can be quite a grind at times, this little nuance can really help keep things fresh when they begin to tire. Valhalla Knights 3 also offers ad-hoc and multiplayer distractions. However, at the time of the review I have yet to be able to find a match online. In the end, as much as I enjoy Valhalla Knights 3’s combat I wish the rest of the game was more engaging. Story plays second fiddle to everything you do -- since it is constantly put on standby to grind to a level worthy of progression -- and the “sexy time” mini-game and depictions of women are obnoxious and downright offensive. The game’s poor direction (I ran around much of the first 8-10 hours with a limited party and a character sporting nothing more than a loin cloth with gauntlets) makes it a hard pill to swallow for those who are looking for an accessible role-playing game on the go. For fans of the series or hardcore lovers of the genre though, while still rough around the edges, Valhalla Knights 3 does offer the occasional moment of bliss.
 PS Vita photo
Sexy time does not equal fun time
Valhalla Knights 3 is dark and seedy. Its world congested with miscreants, lowlifes, and criminals; its landscape drab, dreary, and rundown. It borrows the unforgiving brutality of Dark Souls; the backbreaking grind found in ...

Doujinsoft photo
Doujinsoft

Nyu Media unveils new wave of Japanese indies coming West


Fighters, and shooters, and brawlers! Oh my!
Oct 14
// Kyle MacGregor
The next wave of Japanese indie games is on its way to the West. Doujinsoft publisher Nyu Media has tipped its hand, revealing five titles across three genres in its Winter and Spring 2014 lineup. Yatagarasu Attack on Ca...
God Eater 2 photo
God Eater 2

Namco Bandai vaunts God Eater 2 opening anime


PlayStation Vita and PSP action RPG drops in Japan next month
Oct 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Namco Bandai has released the opening cinematic for God Eater 2, courtesy of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED animation studio Ufotable. It's incredibly stylish and beautifully rendered, so I'm sure it'll look just stunning on t...
Doujin Games photo
Doujin Games

Doujin hack-and-slash Croixleur coming to Steam in 2014


Steam Edition includes an extensive array of new content
Oct 11
// Kyle MacGregor
Croixleur is coming to Steam in early 2014 and will feature a myriad of new features unseen in the initial release, Destructoid learned today during an interview with Nyu Media founder Seon King. Developed by Japanese in...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Drakengard 3 flying to North America, Europe in 2014


Square Enix announces localization for PlayStation 3 action role-playing game
Oct 09
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: We've added a new gallery of screenshots. Check 'em out!] Drakengard 3 is hacking and slashing its way to North America in 2014, Square Enix has announced. Developed by Deadly Premonition studio Access Gam...
Dragon's Crown photo
Dragon's Crown

Dragon's Crown gets cross-platform play in Japan


Play between your PS3 and Vita
Oct 09
// Chris Carter
[Update: Atlus has informed Destructoid that North America will be getting this update as well.] If you own a Japanese copy of Dragon's Crown on either platform, you can grab a patch today that adds cross-platform play, allow...
Warriors Orochi 3 photo
Warriors Orochi 3

Warriors Orochi 3 gets a brand new Vita-centric trailer


Also known as Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate
Sep 25
// Chris Carter
I had to do a triple-take on this one. Internationally, the game is known as Warriors Orochi 3, but in Japan, it's called Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate. Whatever the case may be, the game has a brand new trailer showing of its Vit...
 photo

Mighty Quest for Epic Loot gets a playable female


And she has a GIANT axe
Sep 10
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a free-to-play dungeon raiding game where you loot castles and create castles of your own to challenge other players. The game is in open beta, and up till today featured three playable chara...
Ryse: Son of Rome photo
Ryse: Son of Rome

Crytek upped Ryse's AI difficulty to offset QTEs


Now it just takes longer to get to the quicktime events
Aug 28
// Brett Makedonski
Ryse hasn't exactly been perceived as the Xbox One's darling as Microsoft had hoped, and Crytek seems aware of the criticisms. After the game's less than warm reception at E3, the developers took steps to alter the most ...

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