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Ark: Survival Evolved photo
Ark: Survival Evolved

Ark: Survival Evolved hits two million sales

Open the door, get on the floor...
Oct 09
// Joe Parlock
Ark: Survival Evolved has been a bit of a runaway success. Adding dinosaurs to normal survival game mechanics obviously appealed to a lot of people. So many people, in fact, that developer Studio Wildcard has announced on its...
Fungal Asshole photo
Fungal Asshole

Indie dev's angry rant demonstrates the stress after being Kickstarted

Or is it all satire?
Oct 08
// Jed Whitaker
Having never heard of Elysian Shadows -- a 2D RPG that was Kickstarted for PC, mobile, Ouya, and even Dreamcast -- I stumbled across the above video of one of the developers, Falco Girgis, seemingly going off. Apparentl...
Crows Crows Crows photo
Crows Crows Crows

William Pugh announces new studio Crows Crows Crows

Includes composer Grant Kirkhope
Oct 08
// Laura Kate Dale
William Pugh, one half of the development team behind The Stanley Parable, has founded a new game development studio named Crows Crows Crows. The studio, which was revealed via Twitter, plans to announce its first game soon. ...
Aurion photo

African-developed Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan looking for funds on Kickstarter

Developers are from Cameroon
Oct 08
// Joe Parlock
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is an incredibly interesting game. It’s billed as an “African-fantasy action-RPG,” putting a lot of emphasis on combos and combat while also having a setting based on African...

Dust: An Elysian Tail photo
Dust: An Elysian Tail

Dust: An Elysian Tail, a fantastic metroidvania, is coming to iOS

'Very soon'
Oct 07
// Chris Carter
Dust: An Elysian Tail, released originally on XBLA in 2012, is one of my favorite metroidvanias in recent memory. The fact that it was developed by one guy, basically, is still insane to me, given how deep the game is mechani...
Super Meat Boy photo
Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy devs tease a Wii U port

'Wii haven't forgotten about U'
Oct 06
// Brett Makedonski
Super Meat Boy made its way to PlayStation 4 and PS Vita today, but those might not be the last platforms it hits more than five years after its initial release. Team Meat still has its eyes on a Nintendo console. In a s...

Joe Mad (Darksiders, Battle Chasers) has answered your questions

Oct 06 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]314164:60637:0[/embed] Kevin Bowyer: Wii U version? Loved Darkstalkers II for the Wii U. Joe Mad: It’s not currently in the plan, unfortunately. We are a small team on a tight budget, so we had to be choosy about which consoles to launch on. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen further down the road though. Jesse Johnson: How does he feel about the new apple flavored skittle? I feel it ruined the candy as a whole. I'm a bit pissed really. Joe Mad: I actually really like it (sorry!). I usually buy Darkside Skittles (because I like to pretend it says Darksiders) but for some reason the yellow skittle in the blue ‘Tropical’ bag is one of my favorites. Pineapple I think? ThePich: How does that armor bra on the redhead work?  Joe Mad: I honestly have no idea. Magic, probably! [embed]314164:60638:0[/embed] Dango: Who are these Darksiders that the games are named after? Joe Mad: It was meant to describe the Horsemen, but really encompasses the game as a whole, since even the ‘good’ guys are ‘dark’ characters. You seek the aid of Dead Lords and go on quests for Demons. Angels are corrupt. It’s not your typical ‘save humanity’ hero story! Cosmonstropolis: What's your go-to while pooping? What book are you currently reading?  Joe Mad: Usually, if I’ve forgotten to bring my phone into the bathroom with me, I’ll just grab at whatever’s nearby—shampoo labels, toothpaste, etc. But I’m currently reading The Lies of Locke Lamora and The Black Company. And don’t worry, I always put my phone back in my pocket before I touch anything nasty. Swear! Barry Kelly: With a very ambitious game and what appears to be a very frugal budget and development time, which changes in the industry over the last few years do you most attribute to being able to deliver a project like this? Better experience? A tighter, closer knit team? A more focused and defined game design and scope? Better development tools? etc  Joe Mad: All of the above! Our small team is very experienced, and we’ve all worked together for years. We carefully scoped this game to be manageable for our team size and budget from the onset. You’d be surprised what a small dedicated team can do when it’s a passion project. Alex Heat: Darksiders 3 when? Joe Mad: We get this question a lot. The information is out there, but for those that don’t know, Vigil Games was dissolved when THQ went bankrupt, and Darksiders was sold to Nordic Games. They own it now, and seem very committed to continuing to do great things with the series (Check out the Deathinitive Edition, coming out in October!) We are just as curious/excited as you guys about the possibility of a DS3! It’s out of our hands! [embed]314164:60643:0[/embed] Ahr Ech: Why is the guy from Berserk just standing in the background of that header?   Lex: Same reason why Miss Fortune is in the front maybe? Joe Mad: Heh. Not taking the bait! Keiichi Morisato: What is your favorite Zelda game? Joe Mad: Gameplay wise, Ocarina of Time. Art wise, Windwaker! John Seiler: Are we going to see new collections of the old Battle Chasers book along with new comic stories? I really liked the issue that Adam Warren did and would love to see other writers and artists take a stab at that world. Really, I just miss that world. Joe Mad: Thank you. Yes, I plan on making all the old books available again in physical form. Stay tuned for details! Brandon Dunlap: From what we see from the game play videos there will be 3 active players and everyone else will be reserved, will there be an on the fly swap feature in combat, and why did you choose to go with 3 active characters, and not 4? Joe Mad: There’s more weight to choosing your party makeup when you’re forced to pick 3 (out of 6 available characters). You can switch them out at any point when you’re in town prepping for your adventure. It also speeds up the combat a bit, the pace feels better. And visually, it allows the characters to all be larger on screen. So, lots of reasons! [embed]314164:60639:0[/embed] Adolfo Arredondo: Have you thought about selling Battle Chasers action figures? Cartoonish like Disney Infinity or more detailed? Joe Mad: Yes! There’s no solid plan at the moment, but it’s something we all geek out about, so hopefully we can make it happen before too long! Anthony Griego: Any chance we will see Akimon in the game? He was one of my favorites and I was always bummed he was *spoiler* killed! Joe Mad: Actually, Akiman is very much alive, it was Bengus who we saw get blasted (though there’s no proof he’s actually dead). I will for sure touch on these guys in the books again—as far as the game, we will have to wait and see. Toshiro Miphony: Will Battle Chasers the game be released as timely as Battle Chasers the comic? If so, I can't wait until it's released in 2021. Joe Mad: No, it’ll be on a tighter schedule. Mastersith40: Will Liquid! return to color the comics? Joe Mad: I would really love for this to happen. Both Aron Lusen and Christian Lichtner have gone on to become video game art director rock stars, so they are out of the comics biz these days. But I will use all my powers of persuasion (and guilt!)  to try to lure them back when the time comes… [embed]314164:60640:0[/embed] churchofvirus: Why no physical copy of the game at any backer level? This turns off a large amount of potential backers. Joe Mad: We would really love to do these! We decided against it for Kickstarter since we were strongly cautioned against it by some of our good friends who had large successful KS campaigns. It mainly comes down to (very unpredictable!) shipping costs, production costs, and managing order fulfillment (among other reasons).  Maybe we can make it happen later down the road. I’d love one sitting on my shelf too! Mike Payne: Of your own work, what sticks out in your mind as some of your favorite pieces? what's your least favorite?  Joe Mad: I definitely think my BC era stuff is among my best as far as comics go. I was really happy with the splash art I did recently for Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Sadly, I tend to hate most of my stuff shortly after I do it, so I don’t latch on to specific pieces very often. And of course, I absolutely hate all the older stuff I’ve done, like Excalibur, Deadpool, and a lot of my X-Men stuff (sorry guys!!! ). I was just going through growing pains still as an artist back then, and I only see the bad when I look back on it, never the good! Mike Payne: When you started to bring anime into your style were you ever unsure about it? Did editors ever make you doubt your style choices? Joe Mad: No, actually the editors were very supportive! It was some of the fans who really, really hated it and made me doubt, lol! Specifically on the Uncanny X-men stuff. I’d get comments on the dumb hairstyles, missing nostrils and giant eyes quite often. Back then, we still had fan mail in the form of letters, so I would have these huge piles of hate mail that I eventually stopped going through in order to preserve my sanity! [embed]314164:60642:0[/embed]  Jonathan Holmes: I'd love to see Battle Chasers crossover with other games, like Darksiders, Shovel Knight or maybe Skullgirls. Is it possible? Do you want me to get you in touch with those guys? The Skullgirls team just announced just announed a party based RPG, so it could be a perfect fit.  Joe Mad: Oh man, Shovel Knight rocks. You don’t know how bad we wanted to make a Metroidvania game (cannot wait for Chasm!). An intro would be awesome. I definitely wouldn’t rule out a Darksiders crossover. We are still good friends with those guys (which is why they let us use the Chaoseater in Battle Chasers!) And Indivisible looks fucking gorgeous. I’m backing it for sure.
Battle Chasers photo
Comics, game development, and Skittles
The Battle Chasers: Nightwar Kickstarter is in its final days, and to help celebrate its resounding success, comics legend Joe Mad, creator of Battle Chasers and Darksiders, has answered a boat load of questions from you, the...

Review: Skyhill

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

Review: Armikrog

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

Indivisible photo

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

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

Dog RPG Home Free funded in five days

Kicks Arfer
Oct 05
// Darren Nakamura
Things have been looking kind of sad over on Kickstarter lately. Aside from the huge names making games like Mighty No. 9, Yooka-Laylee, Bloodstained, and Shenmue 3, it seems like the ratio of successes to failures has i...
Undertale photo

Undertale is the highest rated PC game on Metacritic right now

Beating out Half-Life 2 and BioShock
Oct 05
// Laura Kate Dale
A couple of weeks back Destructoid's very own Ben Davis reviewed Undertale, a very EarthBound-inspired JRPG that melded a unique battle system, non-combat progression options, and a charming narrative to create an incredibly ...
Murder photo

Tokyo cyberpunk adventure Murder is releasing this month

Ghost in the Pixel Art
Oct 05
// Joe Parlock
Peter Moorhead, creator of Stranded, has announced his newest project: Murder, a sci-fi point-and-click inspired by the likes of Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and Gone Home. Set in a cyberpunk Tokyo, the game aims to explore &l...
CubeWorld photo

CubeWorld developer releases a new song for the game

Most substantial update in two years
Oct 05
// Joe Parlock
Wol_lay, the developer of CubeWorld, has released a new song that’ll feature in the game. It’s not the update we’ve been waiting over two years for, but it’s something. He posted Druids of Mana to Sou...
Blacksea Odyssey photo
Blacksea Odyssey

Harpoon enormous space creatures to shreds in Blacksea Odyssey

And rock an epic beard while doing it
Oct 04
// Ben Davis
Developer Blacksea Odyssey recently announced a top-down shoot-'em-up by the same name, in which you can play as a cybernetic old man with a crazy long beard and hunt down giant space creatures with a harpoon. Blacksea Odysse...
Armikrog photo

Sup Holmes gets clayful with Mike and Ed from Pencil Test

Sup Holmes every Sunday at 4pm EST!
Oct 04
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] [Update: Show's over every...
TMNT photo

Spelunky's creator has ideas for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Back to the Sewers
Oct 04
// Jonathan Holmes
It's great to see more an more successful game developers openly share their fan art with us. Snakepixel's concept for a new edition of Wario Land, Konjak's plans for a new Daisy game, Secret Base's aspirations for an of...
Battle Chasers photo
Battle Chasers

The creator of Darksiders and Battle Chasers is ready for your questions

Ask Joe Mad anything
Oct 04
// Jonathan Holmes
The Kickstarter campaign for Battle Chasers: Nightwar is heading into its final days, with about 150 percent of it's funding and a few stretch goals yet to be announced. To celebrate, Joe Madureira, creator of Battle Chasers ...

The paradox of selling The Beginner's Guide

Oct 03 // Darren Nakamura
When the game begins, writer and narrator Davey Wreden talks about a person he used to know named Coda. He builds a history between them: they met at a game jam, Wreden was fascinated by Coda's games, this one particular game was the first Wreden saw though it isn't the first presented to us, and so on. He inserts little details about the relationship, like how they used to argue about whether games need to be playable to be meaningful. Given the mundane setup, there's no reason not to take Wreden at his word. He speaks directly to us, letting us know our role. We are people playing a collection of art games, and he is our guide through it all. Everything fits as a nonfiction work. As we play further, we see the games get darker in tone. Coda crafts inescapable prisons. He has players destroy the machine that produces his ideas. He creates game worlds with obstacles that are impassable without altering the code. Not only that, but the time between each "release" increases. In the beginning, Coda's games have only a few weeks between them. Toward the end, he is spending months. Wreden takes notice, and he worries about his friend. At this point, I was a little worried myself. So Wreden went on to show Coda's games to others, thinking the validation of hearing how good his stuff is might work him out of his funk. This sets in motion the climactic sequence, a game built specifically for Wreden. After some grueling tasks only surmountable through attrition or reprogramming, we come to a hallway filled with messages. They are the first explicit thoughts we get from Coda, after a whole game of supposing from themes and symbolism. And the message is clear: Davey, stop trying to analyze me and stop showing my games off as if they were yours to share. This sequence hit me hard. "Oh god," I thought, "I've been wading through this guy's personal space this whole time without his permission." I felt like I just took part in something terrible. I felt a chill run down my body. I felt awful. Wreden addresses the irony himself, in his increasingly distraught voice over. By releasing The Beginner's Guide, he's doing the exact opposite of what Coda wanted, and he's a terrible person for it, but he just can't get it out of his mind and he needs help finding Coda, to find out what makes him tick. It was here I went back through other details I hadn't previously given much thought. In the original email chain Davey Wreden sent to Destructoid, he made it clear William Pugh, his collaborator on The Stanley Parable, was not involved in this project. At the time I shrugged it off as an unimportant piece of information for my purposes. Looking back on it, it only gave more credence to the whole narrative; Wreden wanted to leave Pugh out of this, making sure everybody knows he alone had done a very bad thing. But then I thought about one thing: the price. Wreden is selling The Beginner's Guide for 10 dollars. He took a collection of somebody else's games, which include a game about not sharing his games, and is selling it for profit. That's just unthinkable. Suddenly, the illusion popped. I had been taken for a ride. Coda is not real. He never was. Herein lies the paradox. As a complete narrative package, The Beginner's Guide had me fooled. I was so emotionally invested in the history and events because it felt so real. I felt genuine regret over my actions affecting a real person in this world. But the entire history surrounding Coda is a fabrication. It has to be. Wreden crafted a fiction so convincing I was sad and angry. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Isn't that worth 10 bucks? For me, there's no question. Of course it is. But the fact it costs anything pulls back the curtain on it. Would the experience be even more powerful if it were free? I think so. I would probably still think Coda is real if it weren't for this detail. The Beginner's Guide is easily worth the price, but it would be worth even more if it cost nothing.
The Beginner's Guide photo
Or, I'm sorry if you're real, Coda
The Beginner's Guide released a couple days ago, and it made me feel stuff. If you are not averse to having feelings, you might want to play it. More importantly, if you have not yet played it, you probably don't want to cont...

Super Meat Boy composer refuses to license the original soundtrack for PS4, Vita release

Oct 03 // Kyle MacGregor
"You may also know that I did not do the soundtrack for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth," (another game created by Team Meat's Edmund McMillen) Baranowsky adds. "I made a decision a couple years ago to end my working relationship with them for many reasons that don’t really need to be listed here. I apologize for any disappointment this may cause my fans." Contrary to any rumors, Baranowsky maintains his broken relationship with Team Meat doesn't stem from creative differences, saying only "I didn't feel like the license fee and exposure through PSN they offered was enough to make me seriously consider accepting the deal. I decided to decline their offer. I wish them and the new artists the best of luck with the game." To replace the original soundtrack, Team Meat hired several musicians, including Ridiculon (The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth), David “Scattle” Scatliffe (Hotline Miami), and Laura Shigihara (Plants vs. Zombies). "That’s a pretty slick roster of artists," says Refenes. "We were lucky enough that they were all friends of ours and fans of Super Meat Boy. Their passion and love for the game can be heard in the work they put into making the game sound amazing. We’re honored to have them on the team for this version of Super Meat Boy." You can listen to a sample of the new score (Ridiculon's Hell Boss theme) right here. Super Meat Boy debuts on PSN Tuesday, October 6, free of charge to PS Plus subscribers.
Danny B no longer works with Team Meat
Super Meat Boy is finally coming to Sony platforms next week, but the game PlayStation owners will experience is slightly different than the one that launched on Xbox 360 and PC in 2010. Writing on Team Meat's official b...

Review: Read Only Memories

Oct 02 // Ben Davis
Read Only Memories (PC [reviewed], Mac, Linux)Developer: MidBossPublisher: MidBossReleased: October 6, 2015MSRP: $9.99 The story of Read Only Memories begins with the appearance of a peculiar robot named Turing, who breaks into the player character's apartment after their creator, Hayden, was mysteriously kidnapped. Turing decides that the player character, who is a journalist and a friend of Hayden's, is the most statistically likely to be able to help them. Thus begins the search for Hayden in the technologically advanced, cyberpunk-inspired city of Neo-San Francisco in 2064. In this futuristic setting, scientists have discovered many new ways of enhancing the human body through cybernetics as well as genetic modification, meaning it's common to see people with robotic limbs, blue skin, rabbit ears, and other such bizarre enhancements walking around as if it's completely normal. Not to mention the ROMs, robots like Turing, which are just as commonplace and are on the verge of becoming sapient, able to think and feel as humans do. As expected, anti-hybrid and -cybernetic groups such as the Human Revolution have begun to pop up warning people of the dangers of such technologies. [embed]313479:60589:0[/embed] During the player's search for Hayden, they will meet a colorful cast of strange and interesting characters and be asked to participate in some rather shady activities, sneaking around the law in an attempt to learn secrets and uncover truths. Some characters can be trusted while other cannot, but they're all able to provide leads, information, and other helpful things if the player can successfully persuade them. The gameplay largely consists of your typical point-and-click adventure mechanics, nothing really new here but it works just fine. People and objects can be interacted with by looking, touching, talking, or using an item. Interacting with the same thing multiple times might yield different results, so sometimes it's a good idea to look at, touch, or talk to someone or something more than once. There's also a wide variety of items at the player's disposal, which can be picked up and used in certain situations. There is no item combining to be done, however, and pixel hunting is not a problem since anything that can be interacted with will be highlighted by mousing over it, so many of the more annoying adventure game elements were left alone. Much of the gameplay centers around conversations and choosing dialogue options, but there are plenty of puzzle-solving sections as well. These include direct puzzles, such as looking at a map and closing off intersections in order to divert a cab back to the player, as well as more indirect puzzles like trying to find the right item to gain access to a house or figuring out how to coerce someone into giving up information. None of the puzzles are too obtuse, and some of them are rather forgiving if the player messes up at first. The story features several branching paths and alternate endings, depending on how the player chooses to interact with characters and how successful they are at figuring out puzzles. It's possible to befriend or make enemies with several of the characters, so try and decide who will be the most helpful and choose the appropriate responses. Breaking the law and causing mischief seem to be unavoidable, but how it's done is up to the player. As most of Read Only Memories involves reading text, I found the writing to be entertaining and engaging, if overly-technical at times. They did a great job of giving every character a thorough backstory, making each of them interesting and relatable with their own quirks and behaviors. I particularly enjoyed Turing's fondness for painting and the player character's strange obsession with plants. There were, however, a few groan-worthy references and an occasionally disappointing lack of variety in dialogue options. Read Only Memories originally set out to do one thing: foster the inclusion of diverse characters, especially those of the LGBT persuasion. Thankfully, the end product is much more than just that. The characters' sexualities and gender identities, which include plenty of gay and straight, trans- and cis-gendered individuals, are revealed in a natural way or left up to the player's imagination. Meanwhile, we have a story built around mystery and intrigue, with topics of crime, technology, and politics taking the forefront of the discussion in the lives of these characters who just happen to be a certain way. Personally, I felt the LGBT themes were handled appropriately and naturally without being too heavy-handed, but I'm sure some will disagree with me. I would recommend Read Only Memories to anyone who enjoys point-and-click adventure games, as it's an excellent addition to the genre, borrowing many of its key elements while ditching some of the more obnoxious ones. It's also a great choice for anyone who is looking for more diversity in their video games, as it does a wonderful job of promoting inclusion without making it the sole focus. Plus, there's an awesome, adorable little robot friend to hang out with, and who doesn't want that? [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Read Only Memories review photo
Cyberpunk chic
MidBoss, the team behind the LGBT-centric gaming convention, GaymerX, has been having quite a successful time lately. After reaching its Kickstarter funding goals at the end of 2013, the team has been hard at work creating it...

Review: The Beginner's Guide

Oct 01 // Darren Nakamura
The Beginner's Guide (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Everything Unlimited LtdPublisher: Everything Unlimited LtdReleased: October 1, 2015MSRP: $9.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit The Beginner's Guide opens on a de_dust-like Counter-Strike map with Wreden narrating. It isn't Wreden narrating to save money on a voice actor or Wreden narrating the in-game story. Davey Wreden is narrating as Davey Wreden, telling a story about his personal life. He was once friends with another game designer named Coda. Ever since meeting at a game jam, he had been fascinated with Coda's work. Most of the games are short, five to ten-minute affairs involving walking and philosophical musing. All were built in Source, but the art styles vary. Coda never released his games publicly, but Wreden hounded him to play each one upon completion. What we play through is Coda's entire body of work, presented chronologically. All the while, Wreden offers insight about game design, from the nuts and bolts of the tools used to the deeper symbolism of a particular segment, whether it was intentional or unintentional. [embed]313130:60582:0[/embed] Unlike a lot of these narrative-focused games, which allow the player to passively experience the story, absorbing or ignoring as much as desired, it's the kind of experience that demands intellectual engagement. I mean that literally; Wreden explicitly asks the player to send him critical analysis, providing an email address toward that end. There is exactly one puzzle in The Beginner's Guide, and it is repeated a few times. It involves two doors and solving it requires an irreversible step. When solved, the entrance is sealed and the exit is open, providing only one possible path: forward. Wreden's interpretation of this puzzle involves a symbolic closure of the past, marking something as "complete" and putting it out of mind. While I was playing through, my mind went to thoughts about having to take risks in order to progress and the idea of finding comfort in familiar things.  The structure provides a strange sense of immersion only a few games can manage. I am not the avatar of the character in these environments navigating through them; I am the guy sitting at his computer, playing a game while another guy talks to me about it. The story being told is a history that took place in the real world, and together we are piecing together the deeper meaning behind these weird art games. The roundabout immersion is ironic in a way. Normally making it clear the player is just someone playing a game adds a layer of disconnect. Since the reality matches with the premise in The Beginner's Guide, it actually drew me into the meta-narrative even more closely. I realized about halfway through just how emotionally invested I had become. I found myself marveling at Coda's creations just as Wreden had done before me. I spent time reading every note posted in one section even after being told I didn't have to. I wanted to understand the person who made these just as much as Wreden. I was grateful for his aid when it came to surpassing the intentionally frustrating or impossible barriers. I had to see it through to the end. And then, just as my emotional investment hit its peak, the revelatory climax rolls in. Maybe Coda isn't the enigma Wreden paints him as. Maybe he just wants to be left alone. Wait, maybe he wouldn't want me playing his games. Maybe I'm violating his personal space by participating. Maybe I'm an asshole for doing things against someone else's wishes. Maybe I'm a bigger asshole for writing a whole review about it. My involvement as just the guy sitting at his computer playing a game is non-negligible at this point. I've been thinking about this game a lot for the past 36 hours. It demanded I think about it, at first only superficially, but later more substantively. I mulled over a lot of questions when I should have been sleeping. I continued thinking right when I woke up. I think I dreamed about it in between. I won't spoil with the explicit questions here, but I'm sure we will be talking more frankly soon. On the surface, The Beginner's Guide is a game about game design and critical analysis. Digging deeper, it provides a window into the mind of a man I might not have fully understood otherwise. It does all of this in a way only a video game could. More than anything else, it has caused me a lot of introspection, a feat few games ever achieve. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Beginner's Guide review photo
Start here
The Stanley Parable is famous for its fourth wall-breaking narrative, taking the maligned "walking simulator" genre and showing how effective it can be in the hands of a capable designer. When writer Davey Wreden surprise-ann...

Unbox photo

I like the look of this 3D platformer about, uh, boxes

Self-delivering cardboard boxes
Sep 30
// Jordan Devore
If we can be bread, we can be anything. Looks like sentient boxes are next. I don't pay much attention to what's happening on Steam Greenlight these days, but the occasional game still rises from the depths and onto my radar....
Home Free Kickstarter photo
Home Free Kickstarter

Control an abandoned dog in the city in action-RPG Home Free

Control your tears watching the video
Sep 30
// Darren Nakamura
The first few moments of the Kickstarter trailer for Home Free bring up sad memories of the Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark," which I apparently cannot even read the Wikipedia entry for without getting misty-eyed. Dogs, man. ...
Freedom Planet photo
Freedom Planet

Freedom Planet finally has a new Wii U release date

This week
Sep 30
// Chris Carter
Freedom Planet has had a rocky porting process to say the least. Just before launch recently, developer Galaxy Trial caught a major bug, and delayed the release a few times to an unspecified date. Now, we know that the g...
Twisted Pixel photo
Twisted Pixel

Twisted Pixel is independent again, no longer owned by Microsoft

New platforms are a definite possibility
Sep 30
// Brett Makedonski
Indie darling Twisted Pixel -- known for games such as 'Splosion Man, Comic Jumper, and The Maw -- didn't quite fit the "indie" bill over the past few years. That's because in 2011, the Austin, Texas-based team became a ...
BattleTech photo

BattleTech Kickstarter begins, immediately secures funding for 'stage 1'

Turn-based stompy robots live again
Sep 29
// Nic Rowen
[Correction: Contrary to what I reported earlier, Harebrained Schemes did not fund the initial $250K goal of basic funding on its Kickstarter. All of those funds came from backers. Harebrained has invested $1 million into the...

Review: PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist

Sep 29 // Jed Whitaker
PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6S Plus])Developer: Outerminds Inc.Publisher: Outerminds Inc.Released: September 24, 2015MSRP: $4.99 PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist caught me off guard with its production values and gameplay. At first, I was expecting a half-assed cash-in on PewDiePie and the other co-starring YouTubers' popularity, but instead I found a fully voice-acted platformer reminiscent of such classics as DuckTales and the more recent Shovel Knight. Yeah, I can't believe I just typed those words either. Using the left side of the screen as a virtual joystick that spawns wherever your finger first touches and the right side of the screen as a jump button, you'll help PewDiePie and friends hunt down the evil barrel king that stole all his fans, aka bros. Going from left to right while jumping on enemies to kill them isn't revolutionary, but the ease and precision of the controls are. I've played many touch screen games and this is the first that felt like it nailed translating traditional controls; deaths felt like my own fault and jumping between platforms surrounded by certain death was smooth as butter. Each level adds something new, such as jumping from moving cars and rhinos, to a side-scrolling space shooter, to levels where you must avoid enemies for a set amount of time in a small area until help arrives. Help is provided by other popular YouTubers like Markplier and Jacksepticeye, whom voice themselves.  [embed]312909:60547:0[/embed] These other YouTubers can then be unlocked, and each have their own unlockable abilities as well that can be equipped two at a time -- one attack and one defense. Abilities have a cooldown timer that is replenished by killing enemies or digging through piles of debris found throughout stages. This debris also grants coins and/or health power-ups and sometimes a collectible patch, of which there are many. Attack abilities are mostly useless; I found jumping on enemies' heads to be easier than waiting on them to walk through a pug's fart cloud. Defensive abilities fair a bit better. One of them grants you three hearts of health every so often, which can be useful for boss fights and the more difficult levels. All abilities and characters are unlocked in a store using in-game currency that's earned by killing enemies, found throughout the level, and awarded at the end of levels based on performance and difficulty. Speaking of difficulty, there are four options to choose from, the default being easy mode. I tried a few levels on hard, the second lowest difficulty, and found them to live up to that label, adding more enemies that hit a bit harder. For the purpose of this review, I played most levels on the default easy difficulty, which proved challenging at times.  My only qualms with the game in general are that it seemed like not enough coins could be earned to unlock everything by the end (likely to entice players to go through the harder difficulties), that I had to watch cute pugs die, and that some characters used stereotypical gender signifiers. As you go through the levels as PewDiePie, you're joined by his two adorable pugs who will sacrifice their pugly lives instead of letting their owner take the last hit. Upon this sacrifice, they gib into little puppy chunks, and give a heartbreaking yelp. While this drove me to be more careful, it was disturbing. As for the gender signifiers, there are some barrels that are pink and give birth to smaller barrels upon death, and a rhino wearing lipstick -- a minor complaint but nothing I'll lose sleep over. While I didn't get any of the references or inside jokes like why PewDiePie is being attacked by barrels, or the copious amount of ducks and exploding cows, I could appreciate that it was something zany his fans will surely love. For those wanting a solid mobile platformer, consider dropping the five bucks on PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist, as it has a kickass chiptune soundtrack, colorful levels, and tight touchscreen platforming. If you're a PewDiePie fan, then making the purchase is a no-brainer. The game took me a just over a couple of hours to complete, though completionists will be able to get a lot more mileage out of it. My time and money were well spent, and it almost made me want to watch a PewDiePie video. Almost. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Review: PewDiePie: LotB photo
*Yelling and farting sounds here*
Anyone who frequents YouTube knows who PewDiePie is, but if you don't, he is an over-the-top let's player that parents don't get and kids love, as well as the most-subscribed person on YouTube. And now he has his own game.&nb...

Review: Laserlife

Sep 29 // Ben Davis
Laserlife (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Choice ProvisionsPublisher: Choice ProvisionsReleased: September 22, 2015 (PC, PS4), TBA (Xbox One)MSRP: $14.99 Laserlife tells the story of an astronaut who died out in space, whose body drifts aimlessly along with the wreckage of a space ship. The body is discovered by "future intelligences who have no concept of humankind" as they delve into the astronaut's subconscious to extract memories in an attempt to learn of the skeleton's history and how this human ended up dead in outer space. Players control the future extraterrestrial entity in the form of two lasers. Each laser is controlled separately with the analog sticks, and they can both reach any part of the screen. Movement is very fluid and the lasers feel great to control as they spin and dance effortlessly around the screen. Each level consists of four stages. During the first stage, Memory Molecule Collection, players must move into position and press the trigger buttons at the right moment to collect memory molecules. Later levels introduce molecules which must be held in position as well as ones which must be moved to a new position. An insufficient amount of molecules collected during the first stage will reset the level, but this was never a problem for me while playing on normal difficulty. [embed]313018:60553:0[/embed] The second stage, Memory Harmonization, involves moving into position in order to hit targets. The hit boxes for the targets seem to be smaller than they are for memory molecules, so movements need to be slightly more precise, although the targets turn green once the lasers are in the correct position. These were the most difficult stages for me personally, even though they just involve moving around without having to time button presses. The final two stages are the easiest. During the Warp Phase, players must avoid colliding with red barriers, or mental blocks, by moving towards the openings. Finally, the Memory Materialization stage finishes out the level with the player moving the analog sticks as quickly as possible until the bar at the top of the screen has depleted. Once all of this has been completed, the memory will be fully extracted and appear as a physical manifestation of a significant object from the astronaut's life. If players find that the game is too challenging, or too easy, there are a few difficulty settings to choose from which will increase or decrease the amount of obstacles to deal with. There are also leaderboards to browse, with separate leaderboards for each difficulty, if that's something that interests you. Music is obviously a huge part of any rhythm game, and the soundtrack could easily make or break the game. Laserlife's soundtrack is very chill and atmospheric, which fits perfectly with the outer space setting. It's best to play this game with headphones in order to really focus on the music. I felt the soundtrack could have been a bit more varied at times, however, since all of the songs are very spacey and sometimes started to sound a bit similar after a while. Maybe they could have had some tracks that fit more with the theme of some of the memories, like a lullaby for the childhood memories, or even mixed in more spoken parts. One of my favorite tracks was used towards the end of the game, which had mission control voices being played over the music. I felt that was an idea they could have experimented with a bit more, because it worked really well for that one level. Unlike the Bit.Trip games, the sound effects from collecting memories and hitting targets don't really add much to the music itself, which was slightly disappointing. Obstacles are arranged so that they match up to the music of course, but interacting with them merely makes a dull sound which is often barely audible against the soundtrack. Having more robust sound effects might have helped make the soundtrack pop a bit more, and it would also be easier for the player to tell when they missed something. Laserlife has a lot of big ideas and an interesting premise. I love the concept of extraterrestrial life coming into contact with a human skeleton adrift in space, and trying to learn something about the strange creature's origins. The grand themes of human existence and the persistence of memory are ideas that I would like to see more games try to tackle. In this case, however, I found the overall experience to be a little underwhelming. It's fun for a short rhythm game, but with only 12 levels, it felt like Laserlife never really got a chance to fully explore the broad topics it brought to the table. [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Laserlife review photo
Drifting through space
Choice Provisions is best known for the excellent rhythm-based series, Bit.Trip, a saga spanning six games (and one spin-off) which abstractly dealt with themes about a man's journey through life. The studio has been toying w...

The Beginner's Guide photo
The Beginner's Guide

The Stanley Parable writer's new game releases this week

The Beginner's Guide
Sep 29
// Darren Nakamura
Normally, what we have here would hardly be worth a post. All we have are a handful of weird screenshots, a barren teaser website, and the following description: The Beginner's Guide is a narrative video game ...

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