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Review: Divide by Sheep

Jul 24 // Darren Nakamura
Divide by Sheep (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Victor Solodilov and Denis NovikovPublisher: tinyBuildReleased: July 2, 2015MSRP: $2.99 (Android, iOS), $4.99 (Mac, PC)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Like many well-designed puzzle games, Divide by Sheep starts out with a simple premise, which it builds upon as the player progresses. Groups of sheep in numbers ranging from one to nine are spread across platforms whose sizes can vary within that same range. Sheep can be moved between adjacent platforms, but if a group size ever exceeds the destination platform size then the excess sheep are thrown into the water and drowned. The goal is to load life rafts with sheep, but only in specified numbers. Too few and the raft won't launch, too many and the raft will spring a leak and sink. Hitting one numerical goal for a level will unlock the next, but mastering a level requires three quotas to be met in a specific order. In the beginning, there isn't a lot to think about. The options for adding and subtracting sheep from a group are small: combine two groups together to increase the number or throw more sheep than a platform can hold to decrease. It might sound complex in writing, but it's an easy concept to pick up after a few minutes of play. [embed]296494:59650:0[/embed] Not far in, Divide by Sheep introduces new elements to use toward the end of filling up life rafts. Fences block movement between adjacent platforms. Dynamite platforms explode and disappear if they have no occupants. Laser fields will slice sheep in half so one divided sheep takes up two spots on a platform. (This is where the name of the game comes in.) The first major change comes with the introduction of wolves. If a wolf and a sheep share the same platform, the wolf will eat the sheep and become so obese it cannot be moved or fed again. Wolves have their own life rafts and the two species can never commingle on rafts. It almost reminds me of the old fox/rabbit/cabbage puzzle; there are constant calculations for when and how to feed the wolves in order to get the right number of animals to safety. A wolf can be fed to completion on half a sheep, so one sheep sent through a laser can feed two wolves. With all of the mechanics put together, there are several ways to add and subtract from groups of sheep and wolves. What I like about the setup is that even though there is often only one three-star solution to a puzzle, there are several different avenues to mentally attack it from. In some levels when the quotas are high, it's important to note exactly how many animals can be safely sacrificed. Others require a different kind of foresight, forcing one initial move since all others would lead to failure. Still more are so complex that a sort of trial-and-error can reveal the path to the best answer. The next big wrinkle comes in the Dark World, where Death finally shows up. He has rafts of his own, and he is collecting souls. It doesn't matter how the animals die; they can be drowned, sliced, eaten, or burned and he will take them. It eventually gets to a point where sheep can do double duty in terms of raft occupancy. The sheep can be cut in half to fill Death's raft, then duct taped back together to fill a sheep raft. That highlights the odd tone of Divide by Sheep. At a glance, it looks like an average cartoony mobile title. The soundtrack is bouncy and upbeat. So the juxtaposition of that G-rated presentation and the graphic slaughter with copious amounts of blood is funny in the same way the fictional cartoon The Itchy & Scratchy Show is. It would be disturbing if it weren't also adorable. Divide by Sheep hits the perfect level of difficulty, where every stage makes me think for at least a few seconds (and often for several minutes), but each one is also small and self-contained enough that persistence and critical thinking can always lead to victory. It has never felt too easy nor have I ever been permanently stumped. It's smart, it's pretty, and it never dwells on any one idea for too long. At its heart is a quality math puzzler, but what makes it shine is the dark comedy found in killing cartoon animals just to satisfy some arbitrary numerical requirements. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Divide by Sheep review photo
Not baaad
Death is lonely. Death wants some company. So naturally he would flood a plain filled with sheep and wolves, then float rafts requiring very specific numbers of dead creature souls at a time. Obviously. Divide by Sheep is a math-based puzzle game and to that end it works well. What makes it noteworthy is the window dressing, a whimsical cartoon presentation of fairly morbid subject matter.

Doom photo
Doom

Doom's Revenant sure has come a long way


New screenshots of Doom (2016)
Jul 24
// Jordan Devore
We're not at QuakeCon 2015, but folks who are can play the new Doom multiplayer. Early impressions have been mostly positive, though it sounds like hands-on opportunities are brief. Oh well. At least we have this cool spooky scary skeleton wallpaper and some screenshots.

How the hell did Galak-Z hide a Gundam for three years?

Jul 24 // Steven Hansen
Let's recap for a second if you haven't been following along. Galak-Z is broken into five seasons each with five episodes. The fifth season will be added in for free post launch. This is one diversion from the typical roguelike set up, in that when you die, you don't start all the way at the beginning of the game, but rather at the beginning of whichever "season" you're on. "One of [Kazdal's] pet peeves with roguelikes" is that playing very beginning segments over and over can get boring, so this blends that death-based need to replay with earned progression. More typically, levels are randomly generated, and you get different fractions of story and dialogue every time. This way you won't hear the same repeated bits death after death, but slowly glean more information until you finally get through the season. The space shooting half we already knew about is not just a twin-stick shooter, either. The ship maps thrusters (and a boost) to the triggers. There's also a backwards thruster so you can shoot and flee, a dodge thruster, and a a barrel roll (square) that juts the ship "toward" you like it's coming out of the screen (and over incoming bullets on the 2D plane). You have your standard weapon and an Itano Circus missile salvo (limited, but you can buy more if you find the shop during levels). [embed]296589:59676:0[/embed] Ok, so the not-Gundam? You can morph the ship into the robot at any time with a smooth, Transformers-like animation and change up the playstyle completely. It has a beam sword, which can be charged for a stronger, wider attack, and a shield that has parry capabilities. Perhaps most fun, though, is the extending claw arm that can grab dangerous space junk and throw it at enemies, or grab enemies themselves, bringing them in close so you can start wailing on them with punches. Keeping the mech locked up this long is impressive. The feature was locked off in the many public shows Galak-Z has been demoed at and no one slipped up about it. Kazdal tells me there were plans for a third, stealth-focused character, initially, but that it made for too many mental hoops in dealing with all the other things that could be happening at any given moment. Galak-Z is smooth, feels great to play, and the mech is a welcomed addition, adding one more layer to the game. There are warring factions you can sometimes pit against each other, environmental hazards to be aware of (and sometimes use to your advantage -- thanks alien trapdoor spider who saved my ass!), and instant shifts between ranged and close-quarters combat. It's tough, gorgeous, encourages exploration (beyond mission goals, there are blueprints for new gear and other upgrades to find), and a ton of fun.
HANDS ON: Galak-Z  photo
Spelunky by way of Macross...and Gundam
We've covered the "Spelunky by way of Macross" space shooting roguelike for a couple of years now and the follow-up from Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-bit is almost here, coming to PS4 August 4 and PC a few months down th...

Red Ash photo
Red Ash

Inafune's Red Ash Kickstarter adds one million dollar PS4 stretch goal


Still hasn't been funded
Jul 24
// Chris Carter
The Red Ash Kickstarter isn't looking so good, but now it has another weapon up its sleeve to vie for your cash -- a console goal. If the campaign nets $1,000,000, the game will make it to PS4 as well as PC. A recent pol...
Adios adderall photo
Adios adderall

No more Adderall abuse for players in one eSports league


ESL bans performance enhancing drugs
Jul 23
// Jed Whitaker
Abusing drugs to enhance performance isn't just a thing that happens in professional sports, but up until now they haven't been tested for in eSports. Coming just a week after professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive&nbs...
Overlord spinoff photo
Overlord spinoff

Codemasters: 'You might be pleasantly surprised' by the new Overlord


It's going to be a hard sell
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
I don't know where I was on April 23, but I missed the first footage of Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Until today, I was under the impression the new game was going to be Overlord III. Damn. Codemasters has a Q&A up on it...
Five Nights 4 photo
Five Nights 4

Five Nights at Freddy's 4 released early


Surprise! But not really!
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
The new and almost certainly not final installment of Five Nights at Freddy's has released a couple of weeks earlier than expected. It's available for $7.99 on Steam. Given the events of the last game, Five Nights at Freddy's...

Review: F1 2015

Jul 23 // Brett Makedonski
F1 2015 (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Codemasters BirminghamPublisher: Bandai NamcoMSRP: $54.99 (PC), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One)Released: July 10, 2015 (Europe), July 21, 2015 (North America) Most of F1 2015's missing horsepower comes in the form of features. Only the barest of essentials are to be found, and even those feel further stripped-down. The mode that everyone will get the most mileage out of is a single season of play (either 2014 or 2015). Pick a driver from the pre-set list of real racers, practice, qualify, and race. Repeat 18 more times, and F1 2015's longest goal has been completed. There's no career mode, creation tools, or management simulator present, so season play has to carry a strong sense of progression. Unfortunately, that's almost completely absent apart from watching you and your teammate earn points after each race. There are no contracts to chase or sponsors to keep happy. Your crew assigns goals, but they are absolutely pointless. After they're achieved or failed, they're never spoken of again and they don't affect anything. There isn't even a calendar to keep track of how many races are left; I had to look it up on F1's official site. [embed]296540:59670:0[/embed] Compounding matters is the race length. The shortest possible race in season mode is 25 percent of a real race. This usually works out to about half an hour. If you add in practice and qualifying, it's upward of an hour. That's quite the time commitment to a game that doesn't adequately reward you for playing. It becomes a slog before long. Other modes offer little reprieve from the tedium. Time trial puts you on a track alone. Quick race is a better suit for seeing the different tracks than anything else. Multiplayer is plagued by a litany of bugs -- one of my first races there saw a player finish last by more than 30 seconds only for the game to award him first place by more than a minute, with a best lap time of 457 minutes. This lack of polish isn't isolated to the netcode. F1 2015 is an uninspired-looking game. Driver models are almost offensively bland. Several of the tracks are adorned by blocky, blurry backdrops. Crowds are completely static. The screen tears regularly, which thankfully isn't always easily noticed due to concentrating on racing. There are exceptions to this, though. Codemasters put in care in the most obvious spots -- where it knew players would look for it. Iconic courses in Monaco, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic. The claustrophobic streets of Monaco almost feel like an entirely different game given the attention to detail on all the close-quarters buildings. And, like in real life, it's where F1 is at its most exciting. Strangely, for a title that's supposed to simulate the highest tier of performance racing, F1 2015's cars handle remarkably easily. There's a disconcerting disconnect to the road. The pavement offers little in the way of challenge, as simply steering in the correct direction at full throttle works flawlessly. Brake for those tight corners and then slam the gas back down. It's nowhere near as nuanced as one would expect, and it takes a lot of skill out of what should be the most skilled driving in the world. The saving grace for the driving mechanics -- and I say this without an iota of sarcasm or irony -- is the tire wear. Over the course of a race, the tires degrade to the point of being nearly useless. The turns you once took efficiently suddenly have you pointing in the wrong direction. It adds a sense of tension around the midway point and final laps. You'll know that you have to pit as you're losing time on each circuit, but when's the best time? Have your opponents pitted yet? Can you squeeze out one more lap? Similarly, rain adds a lot to the driving. While it's visually unimpressive, it certainly negates the problem of cars being too easy to steer. All of a sudden, these vehicles might as well be on ice. If it starts pouring, it's paramount to tell the crew to switch to a different style of tire and hit the pits as soon as possible. Otherwise, drivers who have already adjusted will overtake you in no time at all. One last mode in F1 2015 also takes care of the "too easy to drive" issue. Pro Season is the most simulation-like the game has to offer, and it's only for the most hardcore of players. It ramps the difficulty up to the highest degree, turns off all assists, locks the view to cockpit, and sets everything to full length. It's intense. Realistically, only a small percentage of people will care enough to attempt this, and those are the ones dedicated enough to the genre that they have much better offerings with way more options in several other games. But, it's not only those racing enthusiasts who will see F1 2015 as lacking. Everyone who tries it will. Its development was short-sighted, and its appeal is thusly short-lived. This is a game that excels in a very small handful of areas -- imagine how thrilling it is when your tires wear away in Monaco! -- but is mediocre or bad almost everywhere else. As centuries of racing have taught us, no one remembers the guy who finishes toward the back of the pack. That will be F1 2015's legacy: a forgotten one.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
F1 review photo
Caution's out
No matter the length of race chosen, F1 2015 mandates at least one pit stop per outing. When pulling into the pits, control of the car is seized from the player and the steering wheel displays the words "pit limiter." Th...

XCOM 2 Muton photo
XCOM 2 Muton

XCOM 2 Muton is borrowing Marcus Fenix's Lancer


Unofficially
Jul 23
// Darren Nakamura
2K Games and Firaxis just released a couple screenshots for the new Mutons in the upcoming XCOM 2, and something jumps out right away. Is that a chainsaw bayonet? Granted, it's not like anybody could "own" the idea of attachi...
Gears of War photo
Gears of War

Gears of War has more weapon skins to sell us


You can pre-load the game on Xbox One
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
I don't think I ever bought a weapon skin for Gears of War 3, but plenty of folks did. Good job, old me -- you were prone to buying stuff like that in those days but you held strong. Anyway, the skins are back for Gears of Wa...
Fallout collection photo
Fallout collection

Bethesda's Fallout Anthology comes in a mini-nuke


It's $49.99
Jul 23
// Jordan Devore
While you probably already own most of the Fallout games on PC given how routinely they're discounted, here's a cool thing out of QuakeCon 2015. Bethesda is packaging Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3 Game of the...
The Talos Principle photo
The Talos Principle

The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna is out now


Watch the launch trailer
Jul 23
// Darren Nakamura
The more time passes since playing The Talos Principle, the more I think it's going to end up on my personal games of the year list. Releasing late last year, it just missed the cut to be considered for 2014, so it will be g...
Arkham easter egg photo
Arkham easter egg

Batman: Arkham Knight has a Halloween-themed Easter egg


'Spoilers,' I guess
Jul 23
// Steven Hansen
I came home to my pal Kenny playing Batman: Arkham Knight. Unfortunately for him (and me), he spent most of this time doing the Cloudburst, stealth-tank fight, and swearing. I'm actually second-hand mad at the game all over ...
Rise of the Tomb Raider photo
Xbox console exclusivity lasts one year
Rise of the Tomb Raider will be shedding its Xbox exclusivity next year, coming to PC sometime in early 2016 and PlayStation 4 later on during the holidays, Square Enix just announced. The title is currently planned for a November 10, 2015 launch on Xbox One and Xbox 360, which gives Microsoft a full year before Lara Croft's latest adventure winds up on a competing console.

In Japan photo
In Japan

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a 25GB download


Also, bloody Quiet tits
Jul 23
// Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain popped up on the Japanese PlayStation Store and weighs in at 25.1GB on PS4. On PS3, it is a svelte 11.7GB. There numbers can vary by region (the addition of localization files, like those recently scrounged out of ICO) and platform (it's coming to PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360), but here's a decent ballpark. Also, new poster below.
Call of Duty photo
Call of Duty

Dates revealed for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3's multiplayer beta


Starts next month
Jul 23
// Chris Carter
Activision has revealed the dates for the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 beta, which the PS4 platform will be getting first. It will run on August 19 until August 23 for PS4 users, then August 26 through the 30th for...
Life is Strange photo
Life is Strange

Life is Strange Episode Four will debut on July 28


One more episode to go
Jul 23
// Chris Carter
Square Enix has revealed the release date for the fourth episode of Life is Strange, titled Dark Room-- July 28. The above video is a teaser of sorts, but it does contain spoilers, so be warned. The episode is allegedly taki...
Drive photo
Drive

Techland's zombie free run Dying Light is getting...cars?


'Future content additions'
Jul 23
// Steven Hansen
The official Dying Light YouTube uploaded this look back on the first six months of post-release support Techland and Warner Bros. gave Dying Light through its season pass and occasional free update. It's been a huge success...
Fish Fight photo
Fish Fight

Educate yourself on Hemingway while arm wrestling a fish


This would have helped so much in school
Jul 23
// Laura Kate Dale
The Old Man and The Sea is a 1950's novel from renowned author Ernest Hemingway about excessive hyper masculinity and an unflinching determination to achieve success rather than accept futility in tough times. Having gone 84 ...
Pro Evolution Soccer photo
Pro Evolution Soccer

PES 2016 will run at 1080p on Xbox One


PES 2015 was 720p
Jul 23
// Vikki Blake
Konami has confirmed that Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 will run at 1080p on Xbox One. Despite its predecessor PES 2015 running at 1080p on PlayStation 4 last year, its Xbox One sibling could only muster 720p.  Now, it ...
Rocket League gif photo
Rocket League gif

This might be the best/worst goal in Rocket League


That's it, I'm downloading the game
Jul 22
// Jordan Devore
Rocket League is inescapable. Everywhere I look, people are praising the game, a fusion of soccer and cars, for being accessible, rewarding, and endlessly entertaining. I have resisted. I'm not much of a gearhead, and the cl...
Skiffy photo
Skiffy

Lords of the Fallen dev is working on sci-fi RPG The Surge


The surge is working
Jul 22
// Steven Hansen
The Surge is working on Lords of the Fallen co-developer Deck13. Wait, I mixed that up. The sci-fi themed, "visceral hardcore RPG with innovative new combat mechanics" will be at gamescom next month courtesy of publisher Focu...
Gears of War photo
Gears of War

PC players will have to wait a bit for Gears of War: Ultimate Edition


No exact date given
Jul 22
// Brett Makedonski
It was only a month ago that The Coalition boss Rod Fergusson took the floor at the PC Gaming show at E3 to announce that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition would release on Windows 10. That's still true, but it wo...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

Shani from the original Witcher will likely appear in Witcher 3's Hearts of Stone DLC


More details starting to come out
Jul 22
// Chris Carter
Fans of the original Witcher will remember Shani, a friend of Geralt who missed out on the adventures of the second game. Based on this newly minted DLC listing for the Witcher 3 expansions, it looks like she's back. The stor...
League of Legends photo
League of Legends

League of Legends' massive patch 5.14 is out


Gangplank rework and more
Jul 22
// Chris Carter
Riot Games has updated League of Legends into patch 5.14, which brings about a number of small fixes and some larger adjustments. The biggest changes are easily the Gangplank and Miss Fortune reworks, as well as the UI o...
MGO photo
MGO

Metal Gear Online gear customization doesn't affect stats


Though it affects visibility
Jul 22
// Steven Hansen
I've already played two days worth of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It's good stuff. Anyone attending gamescom in a couple weeks will be able to play it, too, in the first public hands-on. All well and good. But Metal...
Dead Island HD photo
Dead Island HD

Dead Island: Definitive Edition listed by South African retailer


PC, Xbox One, PS4
Jul 22
// Steven Hansen
What happens when you have nothing to show at E3, delay Dead Island 2, and then fire the developer of Dead Island 2? HD remake! HD remake! South African retailer Loot.co.za listed (now removed) Dead Island: Definitive Edition for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It would certainly make sense while Deep Silver figures out how to get Dead Island 2 and silly ass Homefront into 2016. via @lifelower
Tusks photo
Tusks

Grrrrrrr, time to date some hot and manly orcs


Got to love some burly man chest
Jul 22
// Laura Kate Dale
As many of you who regularly read the Destructoid front page will know, I do love myself a good dating sim. Strong writing, unique dating options I don't normally have and the chance to understand what true love between a hom...
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt photo
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Latest The Witcher 3 free DLC brings new finishing animations


FINISH HIM, GERALT!
Jul 22
// Vikki Blake
CD Projekt Red has revealed that this week's free The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt DLC will boast new finishing moves for leading man, Geralt. The announcement tweet gave little away other than a small, pictorial teaser of what'...
Vermintide photo
Vermintide

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide gameplay video decimates Skaven


Real time... weapon changing
Jul 22
// Joe Parlock
IGN have released a video for the upcoming Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide (doesn’t that name just roll off the tongue?), showing interviews with the developers at FatShark, as well as some snippets of gameplay...

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