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Strategy Games

Review in Progress: Project X Zone 2

Feb 12 // CJ Andriessen
Project X Zone 2 (3DS)Developer: Monolith Software Inc.Publisher: Bandai NamcoRelease: February 16 (US), February 12 (EU, AUS)MSRP: 39.99 I'm more than a dozen hours into Project X Zone 2 and I'm still amazed how many improvements have been made from the last game. Project X Zone, released in 2013, had the misfortune of coming out after the outstanding Fire Emblem: Awakening. When compared side-by-side, it's not hard to argue that Awakening is the better TRPG while Project X Zone mostly coasts by on its fan service appeal. Here we are with sequels to these titles releasing within a week of each other and, while I haven't played Fates yet, I can honestly say there is more to Project X Zone 2 than just its cast.  The biggest improvement you'll find here is the battle system. Unlike the first game, player and enemy turns are now separated so the enemy only moves after you've made your moves. Something about this small change just seems to make the chapters move at a more breezy pace compared to the first game. Yes, chapters are still interrupted halfway with extended bits of story and exposition, but I have yet to reach a chapter in the game that is aggravatingly long. Combat is still all style and timing as you chain together attacks for maximum damage. Time it right and you can increase your damage output. If you have a solo unit assigned to your team or are adjacent to another team, you can call them into the action and significantly increase your attack power if you land a Cross Hit. Unlike the first game, Cross Hits are noticeably more difficult to properly land this time and there are many attacks that can break them. Just throwing a whole bunch of characters on the screen at the same time isn't a guarantee you'll perform a Cross Hit. Now, you have to know your teams and their attacks well. The big new addition to the combat system is the Charge Bonus. If you don't use one of your attacks in a fight, that attack will be charged for your next fight. A charged attacked does more damage and regains more XP than a standard attack. You seem to be limited to three attacks at a time (plus a special attack if you have enough XP), but there is no limit to how many of those three attacks can be the same one. This means I can use the same individual attack three times in a row and save my other two for a Charge Bonus to use in my next fight. Charge Bonuses are rewarded both when you're attacking and when you're countering, which has also seen improvements this game. When the enemy is on the advance, only a full defense (which negates any damage you may take) uses the group XP. Now, regular defense and counters use the character's individual SP. Speaking of counters, I've found them a hell of a lot more useful in this game than the last. You're able to use more of your attacks this time and when countered, the enemy's shield will already be depleted so all of your attacks will do damage. I've defeated more enemies on the defense than when I was the one attacking.   If you're wondering how the story is, know that it's better than the last time around. Yes, there is still a lot of exposition and, yes, every character has to comment at least once in a story segment and, yes, I am missing pervy Frank West and his camera; but everything is much more focused. I don't know if this is the work of the localization team or the original scenario writers of the game, but gone is the disjointed structure of Project X Zone and here is an easy-to-follow storyline that even people who are totally unfamiliar with the series will be able to understand. As someone as stupid as I am, I appreciate the simplicity.  If you're in Europe and plan on picking this up today, know there is an option for paid DLC in the intermission menu between chapters; however I have no idea what it entails as nothing has been available for me to purchase at this point. I will have more on the DLC as well as the improved maps in the game in the full review next week. [This review in progress is based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.]
Project X Zone 2 photo
Another journey through the multi-verse
I just popped an Advil because I'm dealing with some annoying pain right now. It's a pain that starts to sting right in the inside of my elbow as I try to stretch my arm out. I'm not unfamiliar with this pain, in fact we're o...

Warhammer photo
Warhammer

You can rename your dudes in Total War: Warhammer


As seen in this Empire campaign
Feb 11
// Jordan Devore
Creative Assembly is giving us another glimpse at the particulars of Total War: Warhammer. Just like the Greenskins walkthrough before it, this video drops us partway into a campaign, albeit with the Empire. It's seven minute...
Frozen Synapse 2 photo
Frozen Synapse 2

Frozen Synapse 2 announced, going open world


Cryogenic Boogaloo
Feb 11
// Darren Nakamura
Frozen Synapse took turn-based strategy and upended it with simultaneous action, and to this day there isn't much else like it (except maybe the American football-esque offshoot Frozen Cortex). There isn't much to the announc...
First gameplay video photo
First gameplay video

See just how much the gameplay has changed in Valkyria: Azure Revolution


Guess it really ISN'T a strategy game...
Feb 10
// Steven Hansen
It's been clear from the get-go that Valkyria: Azure Revolution is a spinoff from the Valkyria Chronicles series that graced the PS3 and PSP. It is much more anime-y, there are overwrought swords and melee combat, as well as...

Corgi gun photo
Corgi gun

Why yes, yes there is a corgi gun in XCOM 2


Thank you based mods
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Shout out to the ravioli-date-owing boo Dalé and shout out to XCOM 2, which, damn, I want to be playing right now and shout out to JonTerp whose mod turns a gun into a cute-ass corgi. It fits fight up there with the th...
Godus Wars photo
Godus Wars

22Cans removes microtransactions from Godus Wars after they made everyone angry


Never mix early access and paid-for DLC
Feb 05
// Joe Parlock
It’s only been a few days since Godus Wars launched on Steam Early Access, and it’s already managed to cause an uproar. As 22Cans’ early access follow-up to the infamously abandoned Godus, Wars has the diffi...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

Look at this XCOM 2 release schedule map while you wait for our review


Prepare yourself, commander
Feb 04
// Zack Furniss
XCOM 2 is almost here! This handy 'lil map will help you determine when you'll be able to start sending your soldiers (that you named after your best buddies, you monster) to their inevitable deaths. I think I've made th...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

XCOM: Long War mod creators are bringing submachine guns, new enemies, and leader abilities to XCOM 2


Available on launch day
Feb 01
// Zack Furniss
Knowing that the creators of  XCOM: Enemy Unknown's Long War mod have been working on new content for the upcoming XCOM 2 launched my anticipation into space. Eurogamer spoke with Firaxis and Long War Studios o...

Nintendo 3DS's spring is an oasis of JRPGs

Jan 26 // Steven Hansen
Project X Zone 2 is full Japanese gaming fan service with appearances by the likes of anyone from Street Fighter's Ryu to Devil May Cry's Dante and Vergil to Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki to SPace Channel 5's Ulala. It's coming to 3DS February 16. Bravely Second: End Layer hits Europe on February 26 and the states on April 15. There are 12 new jobs in this old school JRPG from Square Enix, including Catmancer, a class that trains cats to use enemies' skills (like the past game's Vampire). Another involves throwing cake at people. It also tried to "take the pain out of the grinding" with a "let it ride" system where random battles will flow into one another so you don't have to run back and forth to trigger another. The caveat is that if you finally lose, there goes all the accumulated experience from those battles. It also "might be longer than Bravely Default." Plus, here are some actual lines of dialogue from Bravely Second: End Layer. Note: "Ba'als" is pronounced "balls." Like balls. "She studies Ba'als." "Ba'al buster Magnolia Arch is on the job." "A new Ba'al is headed this way and it's my job to bust it." "It's...it's huge [referring to a Ba'al]." "I'm Magnolia Arch and it's time to bust some Ba'als." The localization team went Ba'als to the wall with this joke. Oh, hey, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow -- yes, the originals -- are coming to the 3DS eShop on February 27? Time to find out how well that game is actually balanced 20 years later. Also to argue over which version's sprites were best. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past are also coming to 3DS in 2016, with Dragon Quest VII coming first. It won't have random battles, instead getting treats like Dragon Quest VIII with enemies on a world map and other additions.
JRPG spring lineup photo
Six within a month
Fire Emblem Fates is just a few weeks away (February 19) and I'll finally have a reason to re-glue my face to my 3DS and play nosy match-maker. But the two versions of Fates are just, uh, two of the JRPGs (and adjacent genres...

Hands-on with Fire Emblem: Fates comes with Maid service

Jan 26 // Steven Hansen
That's not all that's new. There are little touches abound. Phoenix Mode revives dead allies right after the turn, so it's super-casual. There's a first-person view in the battle mode (though if you're anything like me you'll turn the 3D fights off anyways in favor of faster sword-shaking-sprites and falling numbers. "My Castle" mode -- real-time barracks -- is built up with Dragon Vane Points to build shops and daikon gardens and springs, netting you items. You can visit other castles over StreetPass or protect your own in one-on-one battles. There's also local and online multiplayer (with handicaps to account for level discrepancy) for direct battling. The first DLC map will feature Awakening characters and be free. On the pure turn-to-turn side, there are new classes like Butler and Maid whose Live to Serve ability grants them health when they restore an ally. Turrets also litter the battlefield, though they can only be operated by characters with the same affinities (magic users on the Fire Orb, archers on the Ballista). Their range and area of effects are great for weakening oncoming, far off troops, though these weapons won't drop enemies below 1HP. I started out in Conquest's 10th chapter with my big-bosom sister Camilla (she of the famous gif). This is the more challenging of the two with less resources and opportunity to grind. And the scenario was very back-against-the-wall, needing to defend a sea port for 10 turns. Rolling out with a crew you're not familiar with slowed me down at first, but I was handling things pretty ok. Later in the fight the opposing force took advantage of a spot on the field that those with dragon's blood (like the customizable lead Corrin) can activate abilities. In this case, it cleared all the water from the port and allowed full traversal between canals and waterways. Later, in Birthright, I used it to call down a bolt of lightning that reduced high-HP'd, opposing boss Camilla down to 1HP to finish her off easy (in Birthright she's fighting against you). I'm still pretty turned off by the three storyline paths that make for an $80 game, but everything else about Fates feel like smart additions to a solid core. Well, except the protagonist turning into a weird Pokemon-looking dragon for certain attacks. I imagine I'll pick my one canon/point of view and stick with it, though that also might mean waiting for the third Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation.
Fire Emblem preview photo
Waifu wars return to 3DS next month
Fire Emblem Fates has been out in Japan for a while, but I love Awakening's person-story-focused shipping mechanics, which really elevates the game into something consuming, so I messed about in both of the upcoming US versio...

Final Fantasy Tactics photo
Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is coming to Wii U Virtual Console (in Europe)


It starts with a snowball fight
Jan 25
// Zack Furniss
This Thursday, all o' yous who live in Europe will be able to play Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the Wii U Virtual Console. While I infinitely prefer the tone of the original game on PlayStation, I have a few fond memories...
It's heeeeere photo
It's heeeeere

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered coming west with limited first run case


PS4 port coming to Europe, Americas
Jan 25
// Steven Hansen
Hey hey hey, that Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is leaving Japan. The PS4 version of Sega's beloved PS3 turn-based strategy game has been confirmed for release in Europe and the Americas this spring. It'll run you $30 (or $4...
XCOM 2 mods photo
XCOM 2 mods

The creators of XCOM: Long War are making mods for XCOM 2


They'll be available when the game hits
Jan 21
// Jordan Devore
Folks who wanted an even more challenging experience in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within got exactly that in the acclaimed mod, Long War. Nick recently warmed our hearts with news that the mod's creators had formed their ...

Review: Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

Jan 20 // Patrick Hancock
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak (PC)Developer: Blackbird InteractivePublisher: Gearbox SoftwareReleased: January 20, 2016MSRP: $49.99 Deserts of Kharak is a prequel to previous titles, and takes place on the desert planet of Kharak (duh). The "primary anomaly" has been detected in the Kharak desert, and Rachel S'jet and company need to head deep into Gaalsian territory to retrieve it. Players who know their lore already know what that anomaly is, but that doesn't detract in any way from the 13-mission campaign. Unlike many other real-time strategy games, the campaign is the main draw in Homeworld. The lore is rich, yet approachable for newcomers. Some of the jargon will be confusing at first, but it doesn't take long to grasp what or who a Kiith is or that Rachel S'jet is not a case of a misplaced apostrophe. The missions themselves are varied. They do a great job of teaching the player the mechanics and introducing new units at a comfortable pace. The best thing about the campaign, which was also true for the originals, is that the player's army stays with them between missions. The units who survive are the same ones that start the next mission. The same goes for resources, too, which makes them very finite. Finishing a mission in good standing goes a long way here, and forces the player to play intelligently. This design also dictates playstyle. When I had heavy losses at the end of a successful mission, I went into the next one with extreme caution. I looked at my current resources and the resources available and actually thought about the most efficient way to spend them. This can be turned off with an option, but in the spirit of the series, you should keep it in tact. [embed]335091:61939:0[/embed] A big problem is the AI. It's not so great. There have been times when I could see my enemies clear as day, and they were just sitting there. Forever. I never bothered with them unless the mission forced me to clear all remaining forces. Other times, the AI simply follows its path until the player puts ground units within range. It is possible to pelt a group of units over and over again with air strikes until they are completely dead, and they will never respond. Scenarios like this are worsened by the fact that the campaign is, overall, fantastic. Cutscenes are gorgeous and often set a threatening atmosphere, only to be followed up by awful AI behavior. Tense moments dissipate pretty quick when a cluster of enemy units is just dancing around a bit in a circle while being attacked from a distance. Despite this, there are some amazing scripted moments throughout the campaign. A cutscene may show a large enemy force heading the player's way, then show the same force in-game. That's when the music kicks in. The music in Deserts of Kharak is nothing short of perfect. It raises the intensity of battles and sets the mood so well that I very much looked forward to the next large-scale battle. In fact, the entire aesthetic is spot-on. Zooming in shows the intricacies of movement for the units -- particularly the wheels of vehicles maneuvering around rough terrain. Once you feel comfortable with how a battle is going, try zooming in nice and close and watching the action. It looks great! I know what you're thinking. "How can it be Homeworld if it's not in space?" Rest assured, this is Homeworld through and through. Remember watching your ships swirl around while attacking other units? The same goes for the smaller units in Deserts of Kharak. That feeling of continuity throughout the campaign as your units stayed persistent? Still there, and in spades. Since the "main base" is also a mobile unit, the feeling of having your own personal convoy is firmly implanted into the design of the game. Having the main base, called a Carrier, as a unit is certainly an interesting mechanic to utilize. It can be quite the powerful unit, too, making the idea to use it offensively enticing. The Carrier has energy that can be routed to different aspects of the ship: defense, self-repair, missiles, and range. All self-explanatory. The player can change these on the fly, though energy is limited by artifacts, which can be collected and returned to increase available energy. The most interesting gameplay mechanic is line of sight. If a unit can't logically see another, it can't fire at it. This makes the terrain of each map incredibly important. Having and holding the high ground can make or break a battle in many cases. The game does a great job of conveying this information to the player. If a unit can't see another, a broken red line appears. While issuing many of the commands, a "blueprint" of the terrain will appear, clearly showing what is high ground and what is not. Terrain also affects unit pathing. Well, it affects one unit's pathing. The Carrier is a large (read: very large) unit, and can't simply drive over hills like the others. It's important to remember that it needs to take the roundabout way, since it'll be the only unit to do so unless otherwise ordered. Just...keep that in mind when playing. Homeworld has always primarily been a single-player experience. That being said, there are AI Skirmish and multiplayer options. The issue is that there are only two races, both of which play similarly. There are also only five maps. Stir these facts together into a pot, and it doesn't yield the greatest competitive experience.  The main competitive mode is artifact retrieval, which tasks both players to fight over artifacts scattered over the map. The objective is to pick one up with a specific unit and bring it to a designated area. It's neat, but the whole multiplayer experience just feels rather shallow. For free-for-all matches of more than two players, deathmatch is the only available option. I've run into a handful of bugs in Deserts of Kharak, and judging from the forums, I'm not the only one. The most annoying, which may not even be a "bug," is that the camera goes to an awful position after every in-game cutscene and needs to be reset. Other than that, there were a couple of cutscene glitches where animations wouldn't play or in-game talk continued while a cinematic was playing. It's also impossible to re-bind the keys, which is hopefully an oversight, not intentional. While the multiplayer is mediocre at best, the campaign more than compensates for fans of the series. All the worries of "it can't be Homeworld if it's not in space!" should be put to rest, because Deserts of Kharak says otherwise. The asking price is a bit steep for those who are just interested in the campaign, since most won't bother to touch multiplayer. That being said, the campaign is well executed for veterans and newbies alike, proving that over a decade without Homeworld is far too long. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] 
Homeworld Review photo
Muad'Kiith
Homeworld is back! What a great sentence to type. After Gearbox Software acquired the rights to the series and released Homeworld Remastered, I figured that would be it. But now Blackbird Interactive, a team made up of franch...

Cheap XCOM photo
Cheap XCOM

$1 XCOM and a whole lot more in Firaxis' Humble Bundle


Get XCOM, Pirates, and Civ for cheap!
Jan 19
// Steven Hansen
Holy shit holy shit holy shit, XCOM 2 is out next month. It's a follow up to the sublime strategy reboot by Firaxis with 2012's XCOM Enemy Unknown, which is one of the highlights of the Firaxis Humble Bundle. You can get it, and prep for saving the world in XCOM 2 for as little as a dollar. $1 or more gets you: XCOM: Enemy UnknownSid Meier's Civilization IIISid Meier's PiratesAce Patrol Bundle
Valkyria: Azure news photo
Valkyria: Azure news

Valkyria: Azure Revolution gets villain, demo breakdown


The evil Maxim...how familiar
Jan 19
// Steven Hansen
I was reviewing our past coverage of Valkyria: Azure Revolution, Sega's PS4 spin off of the Valkyria Chronicles series, and damn, that bust. Straight up distracting. Onto the news. Famitsu has revealed an antagonist to the ga...

Review: Tharsis

Jan 11 // Patrick Hancock
Tharsis (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Choice ProvisionsPublisher: Choice ProvisionsMSRP: 14.99Release Date: January 12, 2016 Tharsis puts players in command of a crew en route to Mars where everything possible is going wrong. It sets the tone early in the tutorial by having a crew member straight up die. In fact, every new adventure begins with that crew member dying, which I find morbidly hysterical, especially considering how often I've started new games. In between each "turn" is a small, still-image cutscene that explains a little bit of how the plot is progressing. They play every playthrough, and while they are easy to skip, it's a minor annoyance to constantly be skipping them after every single turn. The plot unfolds as quick as the player is good; the further a player gets, the more story they reveal. Generally, this will be a very slow drip of new information, since it's very fucking difficult. Tharsis is essentially a virtual board game. The objective is to make it to Mars, which is ten weeks away, where each turn is a single week. The thing is, shit goes wrong on the ship every single turn. With the four surviving crew members, players must roll dice to fix the many issues plaguing the ship. I'm talking literal dice rolls here, as in you see the dice roll and bounce off the edges of the screen until they stop. [embed]331702:61810:0[/embed] There are seven sections of the ship, and each of them have a specific purpose. The Med Bay can heal crew members, the greenhouse grows food, and so on. In order to perform these actions, a crew member must be in that area and roll their dice. If that dice roll fits a predetermined requirement, the player can use those dice to complete the action. To grow food, for example, a player needs two or three identical dice. To heal in the Med Bay, a single die of a five or six will do. Eating food will restore dice, which is crucial to survival. Growing food, however, is hard to fit in. The alternative is cannibalism. Dead crew members will soon be available as food, if the player wishes to indulge. Human meat isn't as beneficial as grown food, since it reduces the max health of the crew member by one, but it's more available. Players can even elect to kill crew members in order to get more human meat. A decision like this should carry a lot of emotional baggage with it, but the fact is that it really doesn't. It's terrible to think about, but never quite hits home in an impactful way. Dice can also be put towards research, which will grant players extra actions and saving graces. The research bar can accept six dice - one for each possible result. Each die placed on the bar grants a research point. If at any point the player chooses to use their research for an extra action, like instantly restoring ship health, those points are removed. If the bar is completely filled, the points are kept but the dice are removed. Mechanically, this is a great way to not waste many extra dice that would otherwise be lost. Each crew member also has a specific action they can perform. Performing these actions is similar to the module actions: rolling a die that fits a predetermined requirement allows players to use it for a crew action. All these actions fall in line with the crew member's title: the Doctor heals other members, the Engineer repairs the ship, and so on. Extra crew members can be unlocked by hitting certain goals through every playthrough. These are lofty goals, like eating 300 pieces of human remains, but it is nice to have something to always be working towards, even if it is often unintentionally. These characters aren't necessarily better, as the "better" crew actions really just come down to personal preference. The ship itself is constantly under distress. New events of varying severity show up at the start of each turn, ranging from near-catastrophic to "eh, I'll get to it eventually." Events have "health," and when an event's health is completely repaired, the event is prevented. If an event is present at the end of the turn, its effect will occur until it is taken care of. A player repairs an event by rolling enough dice to reduce its health to zero. If an event has 12 health and a crew member rolls two sixes, great! The event can be taken care of. It doesn't matter how many dice rolls it takes to get rid of the event, just so long as it is gone before the end of the turn.  While rolling to clear an event, certain numbers of the die will have negative status effects associated with them: Stasis, Void, and Injury. If a rolled die matches the Stasis number, that die is frozen and cannot be re-rolled. If the Void number is rolled, that die disappears completely. Rolling the Injury number reduces the crew member's health. To prevent this, a resource called Assist can be gained. If the player has any Assists available, they will be used and nullify any of these status effects.  The problem is that Assists are used automatically, even when it isn't necessary. Let's say that an event only has two health remaining. A crew member might roll two dice: a two and a six. If the two has Stasis attached to it and the player has an Assist, then that Assist will be wasted on that die, since it was going to be used as a two anyway.  This issue comes up quite often, and is nothing but frustrating. Sometimes, two status effects will happen at once, one of which is clearly non-consequential, and the Assist will be wasted on the status effect the player doesn't care about. Knowing that Assists are automatic forces players to think about which astronaut they send to which module, but having the game completely take over an important resource eliminates too much player agency. While changing this would remove one element of strategy, it would add another that would alleviate a lot of frustration. It often feels that Tharsis relies too much on dice rolls. Overcoming intense obstacles often doesn't result in a feeling of accomplishment and pride, but one of happenstance and luck. It's likely intentional, to give the player the feeling that the situation is never really under control, but it's frustrating enough to destroy one's interest in trying again. That's not to say that the player has no impact on the results. There are very important decisions the player must make in order to help the crew survive. The order in which crew members go to tackle an event can change the impact of the turn. Sending in a Specialist first, who gets an extra re-roll, has a better chance of bringing down an events health than anyone else. Doing so can allow other members to have free dice available, which can in turn let them use their special ability to heal other members, repair the ship, or grow food. Dice are Tharsis' biggest resource, and mismanaging them will end the game very quickly. As I continued to play, I noticed just how important dice placement can be. Ideally, the player never wastes a die. Between crew abilities, module actions, event repair, and research, the player should be able to find a place for every single die, luck providing.  There's also the matter of using research abilities wisely. These can be used at almost any time, and they have saved my butt more than once. Evaluating the situation as a whole is crucial; it can be better to use research and crew abilities to repair a ship's health instead of getting rid of events. It's a short-term solution, but sometimes that's all you need. In between turns the player is forced to choose between different crew members' ideas. These often have positive and negative effects to them. One might add a piece of food but take away one health from every crew member, for example. There are little blurbs to go along with these decisions, but the written words make little to no sense in conjunction with the effects. This widens the disconnect between any attachment to the crew members and serves to remind the players that this is just a game. Not taking a crew member's idea can result in a loss of sanity for that crew member. As the sanity bar increases (which means they are losing sanity), their ideas will become worse and worse. Other events, like cannibalism and receiving injuries, also serve to increase the sanity bar. A playthrough ends when either no crew members are left or the ship's health is depleted. Early on, runs will likely last under ten minutes. As the player understands more and begins to utilize their resources a little better, runs will get slightly longer. A completed run will take approximately 30 minutes, depending on how much time was spent thinking. There's also a hard mode. But fuck that. Visually, it all looks pretty wonderful. Information is displayed clearly to the player and everything on the user interface is easy to understand while not being cluttered. Stasis and Void are displayed as two very similar colors, however, which makes it hard for colorblind players to notice the difference. The cutscenes are drawn while the game itself uses 3D models. The faces of crew members are a bit bleh, but while looking at the ship itself, all else is forgiven. There's a lot of small touches that both hurt and help. The cutscenes are always the same, and it becomes annoying to have to skip the cutscenes in between every turn. On the other hand, the narrator will be male or female, depending on which commander the player has. The popup that explains what crew idea choices are also pops up every single playthrough, which is another slight annoyance. Looking around the interiors, however, shows a strong attention to detail that really helps the ship come alive. Tharsis is a good way to spend 10-30 minutes to see what happens on the next journey. It's a very harsh battle against the unknown, and can be utterly soul-crushing. Perhaps too soul-crushing, actually. Players will, at times, feel so defeated and useless that playing again seems pointless. And maybe that's the point, considering the circumstances. I wouldn't recommend to marathon Tharsis in an attempt to complete its journey, but instead to boot it up every once in a while and hope for the best. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tharsis Review photo
God damn, Mark Watney had it easy
Space is dangerous, everyone. If you weren't aware of this, just play Tharsis. If you wanna feel sad and hopeless, just play Tharsis. If you're known for always getting great dice rolls at tabletop night, definitely play Thar...

The Banner Saga photo
The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga feels at home on PS4


Barring a couple of control confusions
Jan 11
// Zack Furniss
Kyle plunged into the icy depths of The Banner Saga almost, aw jeez, exactly two years ago. Somehow I never took that same jump, even though vikings, strategy RPGs, and Oregon Trail all put together in a neat little box is My Kinda Thing. Now that it's on consoles, I've finally taken a stab at leading too many people too far across a land that's much too wide on PS4.
Valkyria PS4 photo
Valkyria PS4

Valkyria Chronicles Remaster screens hot and fresh out the kitchen


Coming to PS4 next month in Japan
Jan 10
// Steven Hansen
You know who didn't shank a gimme field goal wide left? Sega, with new screenshots for Valkyria Chronicles Remaster, the PS4 port for the beloved turn-based strategy game. Sega had an easy task, especially after the nice PC r...
Homeworld photo
Homeworld

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak has a cool land-based aircraft carrier


I'm calling it the Kharaktopus
Jan 08
// Darren Nakamura
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is set to come out in less than two weeks on January 20. Maybe you want to watch a trailer for the story before you kharak open your wallet. Maybe I only signed up to write this story because I wa...
XCOM Long War photo
XCOM Long War

The XCOM: Long War mod team is making its own game


End of a long road
Dec 29
// Nic Rowen
I always love it when the creators of a great mod strike out and make their own thing. That's exactly what the minds behind the excellent XCOM mod, Long War, are doing. The team, now branded under the cheeky name of Long War ...
Valkyria Chronicles photo
Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles Remaster looks great in its debut trailer


But we already knew it would!
Dec 25
// Ben Davis
Sega released the debut trailer for Valkyria Chronicles Remaster, set to arrive on PS4 in Japan on February 10. The original was already gorgeous on PS3, so it's no wonder that it will look even better on PS4. Valkyria Chroni...
Banner Saga photo
Banner Saga

Sony acknowledges Vita, saves Banner Saga Vita port


It's a Christmas miracle
Dec 24
// Chris Carter
While Sony is busy blaming everyone but themselves for the failure of the Vita, they basically took it and shot it behind the barn. There's almost nothing coming out for it from Sony, and as I've noted in the past, Atlus is a...
Who let you name this? photo
Who let you name this?

Original Homeworld devs back with prequel tale Deserts of Kharak


Out January 20, 2016
Dec 16
// Steven Hansen
Following up on its early 2015 Homeworld Remastered Collection, Gearbox is publishing developer Blackbird Interactive's new Homeworld tale, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak. The "prequel from some of the original creators of&nbs...
Console Banner Saga dated photo
Console Banner Saga dated

Banner Saga Vita on hold over porting studio's closure


Console ports dated for next month
Dec 16
// Steven Hansen
The Banner Saga is coming to PS4 and Xbox One after all. While both the follow up, The Banner Saga 2, and the console ports of the first game have missed their 2015 release windows, the port is slated to come to PS4 and Xbox ...
The Last Remnant photo
The Last Remnant

The Last Remnant lives on in portable form thanks to the Cloud


Remember this game?
Dec 14
// Chris Carter
Square Enix develops so many games, it's hard to keep up. I try my best though, and I distinctly remember The Last Remnant, and despite its lackluster elements, the title screen is still burned in my memory. If you live in Ja...
Tharsis photo
Tharsis

I ate a crew member in Tharsis, it wasn't a big deal or anything


Dice rolls and human rolls (on bread)
Dec 11
// Zack Furniss
I hadn't been keeping up with Choice Provisions' Tharsis, so I had no idea what to expect when Steven assigned me to preview it at PlayStation Experience. As soon as the developer who was leading me through said it was a...

Giveaway: SteamWorld Heist

Dec 10 // Mike Martin
Contest photo
Win one of five copies!
Did you play SteamWorld Dig? No? Well, you damn well should have. Fantastic game. Don't make the same mistake with its sequel: SteamWorld Heist. Thankfully, the awesome folks at Image & Form have made it a little easier f...

The Walking Dead photo
The Walking Dead

Telltale's Walking Dead characters are here for a limited time in Road to Survival


Through January 31
Dec 10
// Darren Nakamura
I tried out The Walking Dead: Road to Survival briefly. For me, the strategy combat was too shallow and the settlement aspect was too much like Farmville with zombies to hold my interest. Maybe you're different, though! Maybe...
XCOM 2 photo
XCOM 2

$20 Season Pass confirmed for XCOM 2


Hmmm
Dec 10
// Chris Carter
Since XCOM 2 is a AAA game that exists, it is getting a Season Pass. This one, though, is a lot easy to swallow than the vast majority of publisher's "Mystery Passes" that I loathe so much. 2K Games is calling it the "Re...

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