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Review: Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon

Aug 08 // Ben Davis
Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon (PC [reviewed], PS4, Vita, iOS, Android)Developer: Tiger StylePublisher: Tiger StyleRelease Date: August 6, 2015 (PC, iOS) / TBA (PS4, Vita, Android)MSRP: $12.99 Spider is primarily about eating insects and getting high scores. You play as the titular character in a large, seemingly abandoned estate, and come equipped with all of the skills a real spider would have. It can cling to almost any surface, move around very quickly, jump incredible distances, and spin webs to trap prey. Playing as a speedy, acrobatic hunter feels really great, and the controls are very responsive and precise. But on top of the slick web-slinging gameplay, there's also an underlying puzzle game hidden in the recesses of the estate for players who want to delve a bit deeper. The core gameplay is simple enough to learn the basics very quickly. Basically, jump from one surface to another while spinning a web to start building, and try to create geometric shapes which will be filled in automatically once completed. These webs will trap passing insects, which can then be eaten for points and more silk to spin more webs. Eating multiple insects without leaving the web will increase a combo meter, but the combo will reset to zero once the spider touches any other surface. [embed]297461:59879:0[/embed] Gameplay leaves plenty of room to develop new skills and strategies to maximize your score. Combos remain as long as the spider is touching a web, so you can try building multiple webs to jump between to keep the combo going. More points are earned by eating smaller insects first and saving the larger and rarer ones until the combo meter has built up a bit, so figuring out which insects to catch and eat in which order can drastically alter your score. Different insects require different strategies to eat them. Most have to be caught in a web, but some will need to be led into the web somehow and some can only be caught in strong webs. These strong insects might destroy webs that are too weak, releasing any other captured insects in the process. Other insects can only be killed by being tackled, such as hornets and ants. These have a separate combo meter which runs out in ten seconds unless the spider tackles another insect to keep it going. Just jump into them to eat them. No webs necessary! But be careful, because some of them can fight back. Spider also has an interesting time and weather mechanic. The game detects your location and mimics the current time and weather in-game, between four different scenarios (clear day, rainy day, clear night, and rainy night). You can choose to opt out of the location services as well, in which case it just uses the developer's location. It also tracks the current phase of the moon if it's a clear night. The time, weather, and moon phases all affect gameplay in different ways. Certain insects only come out when it's daytime or while it's raining, and some areas can only be accessed during certain weather conditions. Sometimes, the level will feel completely different between night and day. For example, one level in the barn is filled with a normal variety of flying insects during the day, but at night it becomes infested with hornet nests, totally changing the way you play it. My only complaint is that I felt some of the levels could have used more obvious differences between the various time and weather scenarios, but for the most part there was a good variety. Then there are the moon phases, and this is where the underlying puzzle game comes in. While roaming the estate as a spider, you'll come across secret areas and clues pertaining to certain mysteries. Many of these clues can only be found and solved if special requirements are met, such as playing during a new moon or at night while it's raining, although some of them can also be completed whenever. Solving mysteries will unlock more areas to play, and the game cannot be truly beaten until all clues are found and the final mystery is solved. While time traveling and altering weather mechanics is an option for those less patient players, Spider is really meant to be played slowly over a period of time. Try playing at different times of the day to find new stuff. Or if it starts to rain one day, then try to find some time to jump into the game and see what all has changed with the gloomy weather. Once you start finding clues, you can begin to synchronize your gaming schedule with the phases of the moon and plan out certain nights to return to the game to check on something. Eventually, as the month goes on, you'll start to unravel the mysteries of the estate. Or, if you don't care about all that, there's still the incredibly fun web-slinging, insect-catching action to focus on, which should be more than enough to keep you engaged. I'm sure some players will be more involved with achieving high scores and climbing up the leaderboards than trying to solve riddles and look for clues. Either way you choose to play, it's still a great game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Spider review photo
Strong web
I will take any opportunity to play as an animal in a video game. Let me control a dolphin, a wolf, a shark, or even a tiny little mosquito and I'm happy. As you surely already guessed, Rite of the Shrouded Moon puts the...

Lara Croft GO captures the essence of pure Tomb Raider

Aug 08 // Brett Makedonski
Lara Croft GO fits soundly into that latter category by more than just name alone. Despite being a mobile title, it nicely captures the spirit of the very first Tomb Raider games. Donning her classic outfit, Lara works through level after level in search of an artifact. Puzzle-solving and exploration are earmarks, just as they had been all those years ago. However, the mobile format is what makes GO distinct. Rather than continuous action, this game is turn-based which places a greater emphasis on thinking before moving. A rudimentary example might be a pair of snakes that are facing opposite directions. You always have to attack from the side or back, lest they strike and kill you first. There's only one path that allows for the correct order of operations; the others just leave you dead. But, even when Lara Croft GO deals out frustration, it doesn't negate progress. This is the mobile crowd, after all -- a group that might not have the patience to have its time wasted. Checkpoints come frequently and everything is ever-so bite-sized. On a micro-level, the scale of each section is obviously intentional. Routon says that the studio knows who it's developing for. Despite Lara Croft GO allowing for minimal time investments, Square Enix Montreal is seeing a more encouraging trend. "People intend to play for five minutes, and they end up playing for an hour or more," Routon comments. "We tell playtesters they can leave, but they say they want to finish this puzzle first. I guess that's not a bad thing." [embed]297421:59880:0[/embed] It really doesn't come as a surprise that people don't want to put Lara Croft GO down. It elegantly encapsulates what makes Tomb Raider work, and boils it down to its purest form. Swipe, swipe, swiping on the screen is so simple, yet it doesn't feel cheap to lead Lara on an adventure in this fashion. Helping production values are the strong aesthetic and the narrative told only through gameplay details. Although it's in the mobile market, Square Enix Montreal prices its titles more traditionally. GO will be available on August 27, but the cost is unknown right now (Hitman Go released at $4.99). Once invested, this game is fully playable at any speed; there are no energy meters to temper progress. Routon confirmed that there will be microtransactions of some sort, but their nature will be puzzle solutions for those who are struggling. In a wasteland of freemium games, this price model is commendable. More commendable, however, is the way that Square Enix Montreal boldly gets back to the roots of Tomb Raider. Series veterans will rediscover a Lara Croft that they know and love in a format that's undiscovered to them. Fitting, seeing as Tomb Raider should be all about discovery.
Lara Croft GO preview photo
Swipe right
Antoine Routon grinned. "We have people knocking down our door saying 'Can you do our game too?'" Routon's the lead programmer at Square Enix Montreal -- the publisher's studio that's dedicated to mobile titles. Square Enix h...

Camp Pokemon photo
Camp Pokemon

Camp Pokemon, that kid-friendly iOS app, gets an update


For kids...right ::shifty eyes::
Aug 07
// Chris Carter
If you have kids and you want them to chill out for a while, you can try handing them a tablet with Camp Pokemon on it. It's basically an iOS app with various Pokemon-related activities on it, and as of yesterday, it jus...

Review: Angry Birds 2

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Angry Birds 2 (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6])Developer: Rovio EntertainmentPublisher: Rovio EntertainmentRelease Date: July 30, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play Yes, it's still the same concept as before -- you'll take a handful of birds, and with the help of a slingshot, fire them into the path of evil pigs. Just like before, it's still really fun to unwind and fling things around, and actual designs of some of these forts and contraptions hasn't gotten stale. Sure it's mostly mindless, but there's a great degree of skill involved with Angry Birds as well, like identifying specific objects like TNT, and certain degrees of structural integrity to do the most damage. This depth is aided by the fact that like in Angry Birds Star Wars II, you can choose individual birds to use in each level. Levels are much more interesting as you can now approach them multiple ways, not only in terms of figuring out solutions, but different methodologies in which to reach your end goal. It's also a beautiful game, and Rovio has mastered their craft to the point where it has production values much like a fully-fledged Disney experience. I love how bright everything is, and how charming the character designs are even to this day. Now here comes the bad news -- Rovio got greedy. Unfortunately, it has heavily incorporated free-to-play elements into the game in just about every way possible. There's an energy meter, there are in-app-purchases (IAP), and it constantly nags you to connect to Facebook. Let me break it down though so you better understand exactly what went wrong. In terms of energy, players can thankfully continue to play levels without using up your stock of five "hearts," but if you fail a level once, you'll need to use some stock. This is an issue after level 20 or so, as stages become so complex that you'll often need to give them a go a few times. [embed]296952:59745:0[/embed] It also exposes the "multi-tier" format of Angry Birds 2's stage design. In short, each individual world map level can have multiple arenas within it, so if you fail on a later tier, you'll fail the whole thing. It's actually a cool idea in theory, as you have to play conservatively and try to earn more lives constantly, but it all falls apart when you add in an energy scheme. IAP feels wholly unnecessary, as the game charges a ton of "gems" to continue mid-level after failing to come back to life. Gems are earned at a rate of roughly one continue per 45 minutes, lest you opt to buy them. The sad part is that unlike most of the iterations in the past, there's no option for a premium version. Say what you will about the franchise, but Rovio has generally done pretty well in a sea of freemium-fests over the years, providing fans with a way to buy a game outright. But with Angry Birds 2, you'll have to suffer through all of the fixin's that Rovio forced into the game. Angry Birds 2 proves that the Angry formula is still fun, but Rovio isn't doing itself any favors by gating that fun left and right. Angry Birds is supposed to be a series you can just pick up and play, and I have no idea what they were thinking here -- other than "more money."
Angry Birds 2 review photo
I'm the angry one
As I've said a million times in the past, I have no real problem with the original Angry Birds and the initial string of sequels. Yes, it was a derivative of Crush the Castle, but Banjo-Kazooie was a derivative of M...

Race the Sun photo
Race the Sun

Race the Sun is fantastic, fun, and free today on PC


Can't beat that price
Jul 30
// Brett Makedonski
They say that going solar-powered is a cheap and efficient use of renewable energy. Solar-powered endless runner Race the Sun is the most cost-effective it'll ever be, but for today only. Like the game, it's over when t...
Angry Birds 2 photo
Angry Birds 2

None of the Angry Birds 2 Angry Birds look like happy birds


Flippin' the bird
Jul 30
// Brett Makedonski
Like a story Alfred Hitchcock once told, our fine, feathered friends aren't in a good mood today. The aviary community is up in wings over the launch of Angry Birds 2 on Android and iOS. They're irritated, upset, pissed...
Dropsy photo
Dropsy

Well, I'm no longer afraid of Dropsy the clown


I am scared of whatever that was at 0:35
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
Dropsy is a well-intentioned, upbeat clown who happens to be utterly terrifying. He's misunderstood! Given my fear of grotesque clowns, I've kept my distance, but curiosity got the better of me here. I clicked the trailer. It...
Rhythm Thief photo
Rhythm Thief

Rhythm Thief on iOS is getting shut down this September


It's one of those online-only games
Jul 29
// Chris Carter
Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper is the latest casualty of war in Sega's efforts to purge its mobile catalog for quality concerns. As of today nothing may be purchased within the app, and on September 28, 2015, it will be c...
Cool iOS game photo
Cool iOS game

Prune looks like a must-play for iOS users


No in-app purchases
Jul 24
// Jordan Devore
Every now and then, Twitter throws a wonderful iOS recommendation my way and I'm immediately captivated. Today, it's Joel McDonald's Prune, "a game about the beauty and joy of cultivation." By smartly slicing off a tree's gro...
Fallout Shelter photo
Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter (Death)claws its way to Android in mid-August


Can you survive until then?
Jul 24
// Brett Makedonski
It doesn't quite carry the weight of the "available now on iOS" announcement from E3, but Fallout Shelter will come to Android devices in just under three weeks' time. Bethesda's revealed that it's set for an August 13 l...
Dinofour photo
Dinofour

Dinofour is a really cute take on the Lost Vikings formula


Switch between four dinosaurs
Jul 17
// Chris Carter
Dinofour was brought to my attention this week, and based on the adorable art, I decided to give it a try -- I wasn't disappointed. As a massive fan of Lost Vikings, I immediately took to the gameplay, which sees four dinosau...
Secret of Mana photo
Secret of Mana

The Secret of Mana cast pops up in Rise of Mana!


As bosses
Jul 13
// Chris Carter
Ok, so I kind of want to try Rise of Mana now, despite the fact that it looks like a cheap mobile knockoff. Evidently as part of a special event with the Vita version of the game in Japan, the original Secret of Mana&nbs...
Fallout photo
Fallout

Fallout Shelter gets a patch that fixes baby-making issues


Gotta repopulate the Earth I guess
Jul 10
// Chris Carter
I still go back to Fallout Shelter every so often in a casual capacity (it's mobile, am I right, yuck yuck), and one of the things I've noticed is that it takes a long time to make a baby, which can severely impact the p...
Rhythm of Fighters photo
Rhythm of Fighters

Download SNK's The Rhythm of Fighters before it's delisted


Disappearing July 15, 2015
Jul 10
// Jordan Devore
We've got less than a week to download The Rhythm of Figthers - SNK Original Sound Collection before SNK Playmore removes the game from the Apple App Store and Google Play. The company thanked fans for their support but did n...
Red Game photo
Red Game

'Red Game Without a Great Name' looks interesting


That art style is the new go-to though
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
Yep, you heard that right -- the title of this project is actually Red Game Without a Great Name. It's being developed by IFun4All, and is coming to iOS this summer. The concept involves a mechanical bird that deli...
Nintendo mobile games photo
Nintendo mobile games

Nintendo will put out five mobile games by April 2017


One of which is releasing this year
Jul 08
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo's collaboration with Japanese mobile giant DeNA will result in one game by the end of 2015 and four more titles leading up to April 2017, according to DeNA West CEO Shintaro Asako. "Nintendo has by far the best gamin...
Rayman Adventures photo
Rayman Adventures

Too bad Rayman Adventures is skipping consoles


There's free movement, at least
Jul 07
// Jordan Devore
Ubisoft has another Rayman in the works for smartphones and tablets. It's pretty! Almost as pretty as Rayman Legends which, despite being phenomenal, not enough folks played. This time, players will be able to move freely th...
Fallout Shelter photo
Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter expected to vault to Android devices next month


Sooner than later, please
Jul 03
// Brett Makedonski
Paranoid Android owners don't have to worry too much longer about when Fallout Shelter will come to their devices. If all goes according to plan, the keep-people-unradiated-and-happy-and-unkilled-by-Radroaches simulator ...
Nintendo mobile photo
Nintendo mobile

Nintendo opens up about pricing mobile games


'Please understand'
Jul 02
// Jordan Devore
Nintendo is getting into the mobile games space with its partner, DeNA, who will help with the "service side of things." Responding to an investor question about how games will be sold, CEO Satoru Iwata explained that, first ...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

A Fallout 4 character is now in Fallout Shelter


Preston Garvey
Jul 01
// Chris Carter
In an interesting turn of events, Bethesda seemingly thought it would use Fallout Shelter to promote the upcoming Fallout 4, but the former has already done very well for itself. Either way though you're getting a hefty amoun...
Pokemon Shuffle photo
Pokemon Shuffle

Pokemon Shuffle is (Rapi)dashing over to mobile devices


Can you Diglett?
Jun 29
// Brett Makedonski
You know the Beedrill by now: Popular games usually come to multiple platforms. It's especially true when those games are laden with microtransactions designed to wring Whiscash out of the player. It'd be Oddish if that ...

Review: You Must Build A Boat

Jun 29 // Conrad Zimmerman
You Must Build a Boat (Android, iOS, PC) Developer: EightyEightGames Publisher: EightyEightGames MSRP: $2.99 (Android, iOS) / $4.99 (PC)Released: June 4, 2015 You must build a boat, and that's all there is to it. Building a boat means assembling a crew. Assembling a crew means exploring dungeons located at points along the river, which is what you'll spend pretty much all your time in the game doing. When attempting dungeon exploration, the player is presented with a view of their character running left to right through a tunnel. On the run, they'll be stopped by obstacles. Being stopped doesn't prevent the background from moving, and the character is dragged back to the left as long as they aren't running. Enemy obstacles push the player back faster by attacking. If they fall off the left edge of the screen, the run is over. Rather than engaging directly to surmount obstacles, the action is represented through puzzle gameplay. On the most basic level, the play will be instantly familiar to anyone who has experienced a "Match-3" game before. The player moves tiles to create matching lines of three or more. Upon making a match, the connected tiles disappear, tiles above fall into the newly created space, and new tiles drop in to replace those lost. Each of the seven basic types of tiles produces a different effect when cleared. Some are directly used to pass obstacles and progress further, and their effects are wasted when cleared with nothing to use them on. Some have a chance to add special tiles to the grid, which provide one-time use effects when clicked. Others provide no immediate benefit but serve as resources back on the boat, not to mention occupying valuable real estate within the puzzle better served by more urgently needed tiles. Clearing groups of more than three tiles at a time multiplies the effectiveness of the tiles. In YMBAB, tiles are moved as entire rows and columns, wrapping around the edges of the grid. This particular method of movement is a bit more interesting than, say, simply switching the positions of two neighboring tiles. It could have an impact on strategy by allowing a tile at the bottom of the grid to move to the top and drop down to pair more easily with others, or anticipating groupings on opposing sides. That is assuming that you had time to actually think about the actions being taken, which is almost never the case. The near-constant pressure of needing to find a relevant match to clear an obstacle just doesn't allow for it. It does, however, offer a lot of opportunities to create matches once the player gets accustomed to visualizing the whole board and eliminates the risk of a situation where no combinations can be made. The game's tutorial makes it all look so easy. But once you're past the introductory runs which demonstrate how the different tiles work and the game no longer gives you a moment to look at what you're doing, there's no letting up. Speed becomes essential and there's no substitute for it. Intense, yes, but also exhausting. Dungeons are endless but increase their difficulty at regular intervals. Each new difficulty level reached provides a helpful opportunity to restore lost ground on the map while adding a new effect to tweak dungeon elements. Enemies may receive a boost in damage, chests become more difficult to open, or greater financial rewards could be bestowed, among other curses and boons. To reach new dungeons, specific objectives (assigned prior to entering) must be accomplished, with each adding some element to the construction of the boat when successful. Success has less to do with strategy than instinct, luck, and persistence. In attempting specific objectives, it's possible to have some forethought (a vendor added a few dungeons in allows for some adjustment of tile probabilities), but the player is always at the game's mercy to some extent. That said, it isn't cruel either. YMBAB only ever rewards the player for playing it, each run earning additional resources to spend on upgrades that make subsequent runs easier, making progress inexorable as long as the will to play persists. Back on the boat between runs, the player may purchase upgrades to attack and shield tiles, monsters captured in the dungeons can be trained to provide additional bonuses, and acquired crew members offer other benefits. The short round length and simple, lizard-brain gameplay makes it ideal for either the commute or the commode. Dedicating more attention to it than that may prove to be a bit tedious (not least because of the simple, repetitive music) and the design lends itself far better to touch controls for mobile devices than a mouse, so your better bet is to grab it on the phone and take it with you places. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
You Must Build A Boat photo
I mean, if you feel like it
The premise of You Must Build A Boat is simple, but unexplained. In order to travel up a river, you must build a boat. The why is, seemingly, irrelevant.

Apple photo
Apple

Apple's removed all games with Confederate flags


Regardless of context
Jun 25
// Brett Makedonski
In the wake of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, the social rift in the United States is again glaringly apparent. Hatred and racism are at the forefront of this tragedy, but issues such as gun ownership and histori...

Review: Fallout Shelter

Jun 15 // Chris Carter
Fallout Shelter (Android, iOS [reviewed])Developer: Bethesda Game StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksMSRP: Free-to-playRelease Date: June 14, 2015 (iOS) / TBA (Android) The gist is that you'll basically need to build your first vault from scratch, with a power source, a water treatment plant, and a cafeteria to serve food as a baseline. As you play the game, more citizens will line up outside of your vault, ready to suit up and get placed into a new room. As time passes, said NPCs will work and earn you resources, which can be gained by tapping on the location -- simple stuff that I'm sure you've seen before. Other than a few nuances like the ability to place male and female NPCs in a living space and potentially create children or ship off inhabitants to scour the wasteland off-screen, that's it. It's a lot like SimTower, or its mobile successor, Tiny Tower. Tapping is the name of the game. Unlike many games though, Fallout Shelter actually forces you to keep up with your resources. If you don't power your vault enough, rooms will shut down. If you don't keep your NPCs fed, they will lose health and productivity. A low water resource will cause your citizens to become irradiated, and so on. Your personal hamster-wheel involves completing objectives and upgrading rooms to earn caps, which in turn allow you to build more rooms to take in more inhabitants, which unlocks more advanced buildings. It's all pretty straightforward, but sometimes objectives are a bit broken, as you'll need to re-do things you may have already completed (specifically in the case of equipping an NPC with a certain item in my game). The entire process is enhanced by the fact that visually, Fallout Shelter is far more impressive than most resource-management games on the market. I love how when you double-tap on a particular room it does this 3D-like zoom, which looks great when juxtaposed to the cartoony art style of the vault inhabitants.  It's very easy to click on everything, and although the scrolling sensitivity could use some tweaking, the game as a whole is responsive. During its E3 conference last night, Bethesda noted that it didn't have any underhanded sales tactics with Fallout Shelter, as it was playable offline "without energy meters." Now, that's technically true (it works in airplane mode), but you will have to wait to earn more caps from rooms to actually do anything substantial with your vault other than look at it. What's actually cool about Shelter is that you can "hurry up" activities by taking a chance rather than spending premium currency (like every other game on the market) -- the catch is that room might explode or cause an "incident," which may kill off citizens or spread to other rooms. These can involve things like fires, or even radroach infestations. In the latter case, I had just equipped my mess hall officer with a handgun, which she used to fight off said roaches. It's a nice risk-reward feature that you don't see often. For a game like this the pacing is decent, as most early-game resources take one to three minutes to earn. It's slow though for sure in terms of earning caps and building new rooms in the long-term, as Fallout Shelter is an experience that's meant to be played over time -- so much so that many of you may give up on it after all the waiting involved. There are optional microtransactions however in the form of "lunchboxes," which range from $0.99 per box to $19.99 for 40 of them. You'll earn "Shelter Cards" for your trouble, one of which is guaranteed to grant you a rare item "or better." For the purposes of science (and this review) I purchased one, which granted me a stimpack, a 10mm pistol, 100 caps, and a sturdy piece of battle armor. All of these items aren't particularly game-breaking, and you can earn a few lunchboxes yourself by completing objectives. Faster world progress hinges on earning lots of 500 cap boxes on a whim, so I see the obvious slot machine draw here that Bethesda is going for. Fallout Shelter is a pretty inoffensive mobile resource management game. While it could have exploited fans at every turn like EA tried to do with Dungeon Keeper, it's actually a nice little way to spend an afternoon while you wait for Fallout 4 to come out in November. Just don't expect anything particularly exciting, as it is slightly skewed towards enticing you to spend money on it -- lest you wait to enjoy it in short spurts. [This review is based on a retail build of the free-to-play game. $0.99 of in-app-purchases were made by the reviewer.]
Fallout Shelter review photo
Free-to-tunnel-snake
Last night at Bethesda's press conference, we got our first surprise of E3 2015: a brand new mobile game set in the Fallout universe called Fallout Shelter. It looked innocent enough, hearkening back to classics like XCOM as ...

Hearthstone photo
Hearthstone

Blizzard is teasing something new for Hearthstone


A new mode?
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Hearthstone is still a great way to spend an afternoon in my household. I really dig the mobile port, and the newest Blackrock expansion is superb. Even if I haven't played in weeks, it's incredibly easy to jump bac...
Veecaloid photo
Veecaloid

WayForward alumni made a mobile game about a shapeshifting Magical Girl pop idol


It misses the mark though, sadly
Jun 09
// Chris Carter
Veecaloid Pop is out this week on iOS devices, and the level of commitment you'll need for it is described as "Flappy Bird-esque." That's about on point, as the only commands on-screen are "tap" and "drag." The object of...
Disney Infinity Star Wars photo
Check and check
If you're making a Star Wars game with pilotable ships, I'm going to want to zip around Hoth in a snowspeeder and tie knots around some AT-ATs. I'll also want to shoot down a bunch of TIE Fighters on my path to destroy the De...

Donut County is a feel-good physics toy with flashes of Katamari Damacy

May 26 // Jordan Devore
Creator Ben Esposito describes his game as a "whimsical physics toy," and that's apt. A racoon chucks donuts from an airship and also rides a scooter, sometimes. Objects and animals topple when you trip them (and you will trip them). Puzzles feel organic, not forced. [embed]292754:58669:0[/embed] Early on, you'll discover that consuming fire and corn will cause popcorn to shoot back out of the hole (which you can then eat, obviously). Later, nabbing two rabbits results in lil babies spilling out of the pit. Another level involves interrupting an ant picnic with fireworks. The more I played, the more I didn't want to stop. The hungry hole is one of those mechanics that instantly makes sense but never seems to lose its energy or appeal. It just feels right. I wish I could've beaten the whole game in one sitting, right then and there, but this was only a preview. Donut County wont be ready for PC, Mac, and iOS until later this year. I'll be waiting. [embed]292754:58668:0[/embed]
Donut County photo
Unwinding: The Video Game
In Katamari Damacy, you roll up stuff. Small stuff, to start. Then cars, ships, buildings, mountains and, eventually, entire worlds. In Donut County, you slide an insatiable hole around to help it eat anything it can fit inside its maw. The more the hole consumes, the bigger it becomes. Where does it end up? How big can the hole grow? I'm not sure. But damn do I want to find out.

Review: Til Morning's Light

May 21 // Chris Carter
Til Morning's Light (Android, Fire OS, iOS [reviewed])Developer: WayForwardPublisher: Amazon Game StudiosReleased: May 21, 2015MSRP: $6.99 At the start of the tale, Til Morning's Light feels like it's going to be a typical teenage adventure, with two "popular" girls and an outcast -- otherwise known as our hero, Erica. After being made fun of as a potential fan fiction writer, she's pushed into an abandoned mansion, and the door is boarded up behind her. Those are some pretty sick bullies! It gets even sicker when she realizes that the mansion isn't abandoned after all, and is actually inhabited by ghosts and gross insect-like creatures. Cue the Luigi's Mansion parallels. Armed with only a flashlight out of the gate, Erica will roam about, discovering the secrets of the mansion, filling in various bits and pieces as she goes. She'll go about this by wandering around, which is accomplished by simply holding the screen and moving towards a direction, or tapping where you want to go. Whatever feelings you may have towards touch controls, let me just say, they work wonderfully here. In fact, the entire game is filled with fairly inoffensive touch gimmicks, like rotating pieces of paper around to find more hints (a la Resident Evil), or flicking the screen to search pantries and the like. The whole affair is built upon a really fun atmosphere, as the characters (ghosts, mostly) you meet all have personality, and for the most part, are likable. Their personalities lack depth and the character building is pretty light fare, but it feels more akin to a Saturday morning cartoon, which a lot of potential players will dig. Erica jokes about there being a lot of keys to sift through though, but there's plenty of truth to it. You'll embark upon plenty of fetch quests, with a healthy mix of box puzzles (evoking more Resident Evil parallels) and basic problem-solving. For instance, one old-timey picture has a timestamp on it, which clues you in to the placement of the hour, minute, and second-hands on a nearby clock. If you find yourself stumped, you can pick up coins along the way, which can purchase hints, as well as items from an in-game store. Combat is another big part of the game, taking place on a rhythm-like stage. It's a lot like Elite Beat Agents (but less engaging), starting off with timed taps on the screen, then swipes, and so on. I like the idea in theory, but there's a lot of enemies to fight in the game, and since the battle system isn't super deep, it can occasionally feel tedious. It can get really tough even early on, and as the game states after booting it up, you'll probably want to use headphones. While the mansion isn't exactly open-ended and tends to be a tad too linear at times, you eventually will make your way to more interesting areas -- like the greenhouse wing, which features plenty of holes to dig up for hidden items. It's at this point in the adventure that you'll also unlock the Spectral Phone, which can spot hidden spirits in the wild, with 20 in all to find. That's about as deep as the exploration-angle gets, but it thankfully never gets to the point where it's straight-up dull. Think of a wheel with only one or two spokes on it, and you'll have an idea of what to expect. Til Morning's Light never really goes the full mile with any of its concepts, but they all mesh well together and the presentation is enjoyable enough. I don't think it's going to make headlines or change the horror game in any way, but it's a fun way to spend an afternoon and another respectable showing for Amazon's game division. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Til Morning's Light photo
Nancy Drew meets Luigi's Mansion
WayForward has stuck to doing what it does best -- platformers -- for most of its career. But every so often it branches off and does something a bit different, like Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and now, Til Morning's Light. As an odd mix of Luigi's Mansion filled with rhythm-based combat, it mostly works.

Sega photo
Sega

Sega reveals list of mobile games pulled for quality concerns


No longer a mystery
May 18
// Chris Carter
Earlier this month Sega let us know that they would be pulling a number of games from the Android and iOS marketplaces for "quality concerns." Now we know exactly what those games are. While you can get a full look at the lis...

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