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The Silent Hill Retrospective: Origins

Nov 21 // Stephen Turner
Origins is, without being too harsh, a Xerox of the original. The big picture is always in frame, but many of the details, what made the original Silent Hill so special, are faded. Familiar faces fulfill their established roles, locations are revisited and remixed, and the journey from the outskirts of town to the middle of nowhere seems oddly comforting. It's Silent Hill re-told by fans; a closeness that robs Origins of an outsider perspective and player alienation. Narratively speaking, Silent Hill's success was down to its "one-and-done" attitude. For all the weirdness on display, its character motives were clear and the important historical aspects were found on every street corner; allowing us to fill in the blanks with little conjecture. Origins, as the name suggests, fills it in for us at the expense of brevity and credibility, as all those detours into exposition and connections actually harm the original's acts of desperation and improvisation. Be honest: Do you need to know exactly how a baby girl ends up at the side of the road in Silent Hill? Isn’t it more tragic and disturbing when the Masons stumble upon her, and letting our imaginations run wild? That's the major narrative flaw of all prequels, though. They can only embellish, not establish. Silent Hill never needed Travis Grady. While he’s actually a likable protagonist, and his profession as a trucker is quite metaphorical (motel suicides and freeway escapism go hand-in-hand), his story is, sadly, just an excuse for new gameplay ideas and player agency. Origins is Alessa Gillespie’s story, from the house fire to the rear view mirror. One passes into lore, the other is just a footnote, but both vie for your attention in an act of narrative dominance. Unsurprisingly, it seeps into every scene between Travis and Alessa, as he struggles with her manipulations, before succumbing to the role of catalyst. To its credit, Origins made good on its use of mise-en-scene when it comes to giving Travis definition. The various locations were grandiose, gothic, and theatrical - each one a conspiratory labyrinth beyond the understanding of a small blue collar man - with only the Riverside Motel being intimate and claustrophobic for the sake of acceptance and heroism. For a character dragged along by established events, Travis' only form of control is through the use of mirrors, now portals to The Otherworld and back again. Though it reinforced his strength to rebel against the ruling class of Silent Hill, the act also dampened its most foreign aspect. The Otherworld (here, a fire-damaged mess until the familiar rust-and-blood takes hold) was no longer this conceptual tour-de-force that made the audience endure for its narrative riches. Now it was a tourist attraction, one that could be appraised at the flip of a switch. Though their appearances are little more than novelty, seeing Silent Hill's cast all young and fresh faced left us with a wistful yearning, not unlike finding old snapshots of family and friends. Dahlia Gillespie was a white-trash brunette, while Dr. Kaufmann looked a little more dashing without the spare tires. Sure, their stories were already told, but if Origins couldn't escape the past, at least it would have fun reveling in nostalgia. Most affecting, though entirely arbitrary, is Lisa Garland. Instead of being seen through the eyes of a child, we see the drug addict once alluded to in her diary. At the motel, that sound of her having sex in a nearby room perfectly deconstructs the naïve adoration of her fanbase, bonding them to an equally heartbroken Travis in the process. Personally, it's one of the better parts of Origins, a subtle, real-time moment that Climax would refine in every one of Shattered Memories' car journeys. From then on, a grittier, gut-punch characterisation would permeate all of the Westernised Silent Hill games. Origins isn't an awful game, nor is it a stellar one. It simply exists. There's always a shallow memory waiting to strike, deep in the mist, lost to the shadows. Psycho-sexual images roam the halls, lumbering beats loosely touch upon its protagonist's travels, nurses make their return and substitutes like The Butcher step in for missing icons. Origins works best at conjuring up warm feelings when revisiting Central Silent Hill, left to your own devices and Akira Yamaoka's bite-sized score (which is more of throwback, than throwaway). But for every right, it's bound by a necessary wrong. Personally, that's what make the game so middle-of-road, rather than outright terrible. But it's impossible to ignore the fact Origins was meant to reboot the series with a fresh set of eyes, and sell a few PSPs in the meantime. Instead, it only served to strengthen the trepidation in its fanbase. Silent Hill would go through a difficult time, of which much is still up for debate, before Konami gave up on this outsourcing malarkey. From Origins to Downpour, as much as they tried new ideas, they were always reliant on what the fans liked to sell as many copies as they could in the face of dwindling interest. And who knows if P.T./Silent Hills will get that resurrection it deserves. But no matter what happens, just like Travis Grady, Origins will always remain the little guy in the big burning house, almost consumed by the flames of the past.
Silent Hill photo
'You all left that girl to burn!'
Silent Hill: Origins opened with an outsider saving a little girl from a house fire. But when you look back on its place in the series, it meant so much more than a simple rescue. Travis Grady had problems of his own, but the...

JRPGs photo

PS Vita RPG Ray Gigant heads west next spring

Playable at PlayStation Experience
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
PlayStation Vita dungeon crawler Ray Gigant is coming to North America and Europe next spring. The role-playing game comes from Operation Abyss and Demon Gaze studio Experience, and while it was published by Bandai Namco in ...

Review: Mayan Death Robots

Nov 21 // Patrick Hancock
Mayan Death Robots (PC)Developer: Sileni StudiosPublisher: SOEDESCO PublishingReleased: November 20, 2015MSRP: $14.99  Mayan Death Robots pits two giant robots against each other as a television sport for other robots, I suppose, to watch. Each season of this television show chooses a new planet, and it just so happens that this season is on Earth around the 1500s. The premise is loose and really only serves to usher the player from one mission to the next, but it's definitely cute. Mayan Death Robots is a 1v1 match that plays out similar to the classic Worms games. Players pick one of the eight unique robots and are then plopped into a battlefield. The objective of each game is to destroy the opponent's Core, which is a small box somewhere behind them. In the way, however, is plenty of terrain as well as the enemy robot. Each robot has two types of attacks, the ability to jump, and the ability to create new terrain. That last bit is interesting; each player can create terrain in the form of Tetris blocks anywhere within a certain radius of their robot, as long as it's not floating mid-air. This allows some interesting defensive play in a game that would otherwise be entirely offensive. There's a limit to the amount of blocks, and using it consecutively yields less and less blocks. [embed]321771:61215:0[/embed] Turns happen simultaneously and publicly. There's a short time period to choose an action, then another time period to aim said action, then both players' actions happen at once. However, knowing what an opponent is going to do doesn't mean it can be stopped. If a player sees their opponent shooting straight at the core, that shot will go off. Shooting the ground beneath them or the robot itself won't affect anything since both shots are fired at once. Tiny pixelated Mayans roam about on each player's side, worshiping the giant robot from the sky. Killing the enemy's Mayans will grant a bonus to the explosion size of the player, but it's rarely worth it to fire specifically at Mayans; it is usually just an added benefit of firing at something else. Mayans will also attack the enemy robot if they stand nearby. This is legitimately useful, since they are constantly doing damage while the turn timer is ticking down, and it prevents the opponent from jumping right next to the Core and blowing it to bits. Every so often, an item wheel will spin and award both players randomly selected items. These items are one-time use, but provide some variety to the gameplay that can start to feel tedious after long play sessions. The game incentivizes the player to use the item quickly, since they are lost upon death. If a player is dead when the wheel spins, they do not receive the item. The core gameplay is great. Playing against another human can lead to intense back-and-forth matches. Multiplayer supports two players locally (no online) with either gamepads or the keyboard. It's a nice feature that both players can use the keyboard, since not everyone has controllers for their PC. An odd omission is the total lack of mouse support, even in menus. In a game that focuses on aiming precise shots, it would have been a boon to be able to use the mouse. Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect is that players are forced to unlock the playable robots and the more interesting items. Of the ten robots available, six are unlocked from the start and the rest are acquired through the campaign. While I understand the necessity to give the player a feeling of progression, those who buy the game and just want to play with a friend will be disappointed. Luckily, the campaign can be played through with a buddy. All of the robots feel different from each other, despite the only difference being their two attacks. Some of them have special properties, like having their attacks become more powerful the longer they are in the air, or being able to shoot through certain terrain. While they feel unique, all robots play very similarly: get into a position that your attacks benefit from, and shoot away. Each match has the potential to be an intense back-and-forth or a complete slog; it all depends on the players (or AI) involved. The campaign is set up as a series of over 30 "episodes." There is no tutorial, but players will likely pick up the mechanics quickly. Occasionally, these episodes will modify the standard gameplay by adding stage hazards. These hazards tend to be either incredibly annoying or completely useless. Only rarely do they affect gameplay in a unique, interesting way. There is also an occasional stage boss, which removes the cores from the map and asks both players to destroy the monster. This is great, if you're playing with another human. Cooperating with the AI is downright awful. You see, the boss has to be "summoned" by performing certain actions on the map, but the AI doesn't give a shit. The AI is more concerned with destroying the player's core, making it a huge pain to even get the boss to appear most of the time. If the match ends before the boss is summoned, the player must restart the level. The bosses each have their own mechanics, which are very hit or miss. Some bosses, like the map modifiers, are more annoying than they are worth. Plus, after defeating a boss, the cores come back and the match continues like normal. It's a strange cooperative-to-competitive swing that just feels random. Other than the boss levels, there is no way to lose a level while playing the campaign. Sure, the AI can win, but it doesn't matter, the player progresses to the next stage anyway. This makes sense if two humans are playing each other, since one will always win, but not when playing solo. There's no incentive for a single player to all. There are no rankings, stars, or scores to do better in, there's no leaderboards, nothing. A solo player could go through each level and lose, as long as they summon the boss in the boss levels, and progress through the entire campaign and unlock everything.  There's also a Versus mode which is as straightforward as they come. Players can only compete on the modified maps by going through the campaign and selecting that specific episode to play on, but it would have been great to be able to choose these modifiers from a list in Versus mode, potentially mixing and matching some to create some zany situations. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort exists. Versus is as vanilla as it gets. Despite my enjoyment of the game mechanically, I cannot recommend Mayan Death Robots to anyone looking for a worthwhile single-player experience. For those wanting another entertaining local multiplayer game, however, it provides some unique strategic gameplay. It likely won't keep players enthralled for hours on end, but serves as a great addition to any local-multiplayer library.
Mayan Death Robots review photo
Maybe they're friendly death robots...
I really enjoyed my time with Mayan Death Robots at PAX East this year. My buddy and I played a few matches and left anticipating its eventual release. Now that it is released, I was excited to jump in and see the final ...

Koei Tecmo photo
Koei Tecmo

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus coming to PlayStation Vita in January

With lots of new content
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is coming to PlayStation Vita in North America on January 19 and Europe the very next day, Koei Tecmo has announced. The role-playing game originally came out on PlayS...
EDF photo

Two Earth Defense Force games deploy Dec. 8

Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
XSEED Games is serving up a double-shot of bug-killing action on December 8, simultaneously putting out both Earth Defense Force 4.1 and Earth Defense Force 2 in North America. EDF 4.1, an expansion on last year's Earth ...
Final Fantasy photo
Final Fantasy

Hahahaha: Tidus shows his stuff in Dissidia Final Fantasy arcade

Sorry, 'Tee-dus'
Nov 21
// Chris Carter
Tidus (Teedus) is kind of an awkward protagonist. X was the first fully-voiced Final Fantasy game, and Square really tried to force in some strange subplots and scenes meant to evoke emotion -- instead, they ended ...
Doujin bundle photo
Doujin bundle

Humble Weekly brings back the Japanese indies

Good variety
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
The doujin scene isn't my usual beat, but Astebreed is cool as hell and I like sharing deals whenever possible. As such, hey, you may want to take a look at this Japan-centric Humble Weekly Bundle. No rush! You've got several...
amiibo photo
The Trinity shortage was a year ago
It's crazy to think that exactly one year ago today, I was hopping from store to store to pick up the first ever wave of amiibo. While characters like Mario were extremely easy to find, I distinctly noticed that even though I...

Virtual Reality photo
Virtual Reality

Samsung's $99 Gear VR headset out now in US

International release to follow
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Oculus and Samsung's $99 Gear VR headset is now available in the United States. The attractive price point comes with one caveat: the device is only compatible with this year's line of Samsung smartphones (the Galaxy Not...
MIDA Multi-Tool photo
MIDA Multi-Tool

Hold up: The MIDA Multi-Tool is coming back to Destiny

Nov 21
// Chris Carter
When Destiny made the jump to "Year 2" with The Taken King, a number of Exotics didn't make it along for the ride. A huge one is the Gjallarhorn, a notoriously unbalanced rocket launcher that nearly every raid group...
Gravity Rush photo
Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush jumps to PS4 sooner than expected

Now coming on February 2
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Gravity Rush Remastered will now launch on February 2, 2016 across Europe and North America, according to PlayStation Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment's Nick Accordino. The PlayStation 4 version was initially ...
DestrUKtoid photo

DestrUKtoid Episode 27 - TIME TO DIE

Nov 21
// Laura Kate Dale
The UK, it exists and Destructoid now has writers there. Great British Pounds. Eastenders. Steptoe and Son. The Destructoid UK Podcast (DestrUKtoid). This week UK Editor Laura Dale is joined by Joe Parlock and Vikki Blake to talk about lies, microtransactions, Star Wars and emulation. Have a listen on iTunes or direct download.
Attack on Titan PS4 photo
Attack on Titan PS4

That new Attack on Titan game freaks me out

There can be no survivors
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
It's not like I was going to sleep tonight, anyway, Attack on Titan. A handful of audio-less gameplay clips from Koei Tecmo's upcoming PS4, PS3, and PS Vita action game have surfaced on the official Japanese site. Lots of zooming around, slashing titan flesh. A couple of the videos are more mundane and feature the protagonists chatting with one another. Let's not focus on the mundane.
Nintendo photo

Story of Seasons hits EU, AUS, NZ in January

Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Story of Seasons, the farming simulation formerly known as Harvest Moon, is sprouting in Europe on January 8 and across Australia and New Zealand the following day, Nintendo just announced. For more on the game please check out our review and recent interview with XSEED's Ken Berry.
XCOM 2 gallery photo
XCOM 2 gallery

XCOM 2 looks quite nice outdoors

Can't take my eyes off of you
Nov 20
// Jordan Devore
Sometimes, I just want to look at the world of XCOM free of distraction. It's quite pleasant, in fact, when you aren't obsessively worrying about the many ways in which your squad can and likely will perish. Or how your never...
Steam sales photo
Steam sales

The next big Steam sales will have more stable discounts

So long, daily and flash deals
Nov 20
// Jordan Devore
Valve is tweaking the way it handles major sales on Steam -- at least the next pair. The upcoming autumn sale (November 25 - December 1) and winter sale (December 22 - January 4) will not feature the limited-time daily deals ...
Anchors in the Drift photo
Anchors in the Drift

Second Fig crowdfunding campaign Anchors in the Drift failed to meet its goal

Only made about 21 percent
Nov 20
// Darren Nakamura
I was ready to eat crow at the very beginning of the Anchors in the Drift crowdfunding campaign. After wondering aloud if the general public would get behind paying sizable chunks of money for a free-to-play game, it opened s...
Undertale who? photo
Undertale who?

Hollow Knight could be the next surprise indie hit

Such style. Much metroidvania. Wow.
Nov 20
// Jed Whitaker
The metroidvania-esque Hollow Knight took the Internet by storm yesterday, making it to the front page of reddit at least twice, and it could potentially be the next surprise indie hit following Undertale's recent succe...
The Binding of Isaac photo
The Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth coming to PS4, but other platforms unlikely

'Outlook NOT good'
Nov 20
// Ben Davis
Afterbirth, the expansion to The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, was released last month for PC users. Owners of Rebirth on other platforms have since been left waiting, but according to a tweet yesterday from Edmund McMillen, the...
Deals photo

$299.99 Xbox One confirmed for Black Friday by Microsoft

Select bundles get the $300 treatment
Nov 20
// Dealzon
To sway even more gamers into its side of the world, Microsoft has confirmed that for the Black Friday period next week, you'll be able to find select Xbox One bundles at the $299.99 price point at even more retailers. What's...
Big HotS sale photo
Big HotS sale

Heroes of the Storm is throwing a 50% off sale next week

That includes heroes, skins, and mounts
Nov 20
// Jordan Devore
Hey, big spender. You may want to hold off on making any purchases in Heroes of the Storm over the next few days. Blizzard is about to throw a fairly substantial Black Friday sale. From November 24 to December 8, the game's s...
Fallout 4 cut weapon photo
Fallout 4 cut weapon

Cut Fallout 4 weapon resurrected by modder

Harpoons thrust into the sky
Nov 20
// Nic Rowen
From the murky brine of cut content and dummied out items, modder xxdeathknight72xx has returned to the surface with a most intriguing treasure. A curious harpoon gun that never made it into the game proper. The harpoon gun ...
Xbox photo

Xbox's Black Friday sale is live, here are all the deals

Silver accounts have to wait a bit
Nov 20
// Brett Makedonski
The biggest shopping day of the year starts one week before the biggest shopping day of the year. Some retailers have already begun with the Black Friday consumerism, Amazon probably being the most notable example. Xbox falls...

Does it matter if Link is a boy or a girl?

Nov 20 // Jonathan Holmes
[Art by  Kuvshinov-Ilya] To its credit, Nintendo has done an admirable job of concocting a way to help fans to imagine Link as both a specific person and an abstract concept at the same time. He's actually not always named Link. You, the player, choose his name before starting each of his games. He also never speaks, further solidifying him as non-character who's only purpose is to act as doorway for the player into the game world. Yet, by leaning hard on both the reincarnation myth and the use of multiple timelines, Nintendo has managed to shape Link into a series of individual characters in the minds of many. In doing so, it has squelched most of complaints the character/non-character used to attract, though it took them a little while to get there. Many fans were outraged when the Wind Waker radically changed who Link was and how he was drawn. A lot of these fans had become extremely attached to a singular idea of who Link was and how he should look. This new Link broke from those ideas, causing their suspension of disbelief to break along with it. It's no surprise then that it was fans who originally came up with the theory that the Zelda series takes place over multiple timelines. They were clearly more invested in believing that Link was real than Nintendo was. Strangely enough, it looks like a lot of those diehard fans are also against the idea of Link ever being a woman. Their devotion to their head canon feels similar to how some Catholics hold tight to their traditional gender divisions. Just a few days ago, a diehard Zelda fan was telling me that making Link a woman would be "pointless," and if someone wants to play a game starring a woman, that there are plenty of other choices out there. I pushed back with the idea that what's pointless to them may mean a lot to someone else. To counter that obvious point, they put on their best empathy-face and said that the Zelda series should not have to bend to the preferences of fans. It's the exactly line of thinking I've heard from well meaning but overly dogmatic Catholics over the years, who advise folks who want to bear confession to a female priest to simply abandon Catholicism in favor of Unitarian Universalism or some other wacky new faith.  [Art by Liart] Nintendo itself has been relatively inconsistent in explaining if Link has to be a man or not. The director of the recently released Triforce Heroes said for that game's story, it wouldn't fit the mythology for the leads to be women. So that's one answer. On the other hand, Eiji Aonuma, producer of the Zelda series as a whole, has never ruled out that we'd get a woman iteration of Link someday, stating that he was going to wait and see how the playable women characters in Hyrule Warriors were received before making that decision. I'm guessing the fact that Hyrule Warriors sold pretty darn well is one of the reasons Linkle went from being a rejected concept sketch to a full-blown character (who may or may not be a reincarnation of Link). In the absence of official word from Nintendo, fans have created their own schema around the question of Link's inherent maleness, just as they they created the split-timeline long before it was adopted as canon. The one I hear the most is that Zelda must always be a woman (because it's the Legend of Zelda, not the Legend of Zeldo) and therefore Link must be a man, as the potential for heterosexual romance between the two leads is a key part of the Zelda's legend. Of course, Nintendo has never explicitly stated any of that. Why would it? As a company that wants to appeal to as many potential customers as possible, it'd have little reason to insult its queer fans or cut itself off from the option of a female Link someday. Linkle is clearly a move towards testing those waters, though it won't likely jump all the way in until it is sure it will be profitable. It's a direction it has been publicly headed in for a while, driven in no small part by the stats showing how women are becoming a larger and larger part of Nintendo's customer base.  It's arguable that the company has been moving towards giving players the option to chose the gender of the green clad Hylian hero for years now.  [embed]321406:61194:0[/embed] It wouldn't even be the first time, technically. Some of the Satellaview Legand of Zelda games allowed for players to chose the gender of their character. So does every modern Fire Emblem, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing game, as will Xenoblade Chronicles X when it's released outside of Japan next month. It's not just in the RPGs either. Nintendo's latest hit character, the Inkling, also comes in boy or girl shapes. In fact, the vast majority of Nintendo's Wii U titles allow you to play as a woman some or all of the time. It could be that the publisher finally noticed that Monster Hunter, Mass Effect, Fallout 4 (the potentially biggest entertainment release of the year) and countless other modern Action-RPGs have let the player decide the gender of their "link" to the game world without suffering any loss in sales. Maybe they are on the cusp of allowing today's Legend of Zelda players to do the same.  That said, it's clear that many people would be upset if Nintendo began providing players with that level of choice. Ironically, a lot of these players are also harshly critical of Nintendo for not keeping up with the times when it comes to cross-buy purchases across consoles games and other consumer friendly practices. What we demand out of our game publishers says a lot about us, and will eventually determine what those publishers end up producing. My guess is that like everything with business, the question of how much Link's gender matters will be answered not in some political debate, but in dollar signs. 
Linkle photo
Linkle: The new Samus or a next Waluigi?
Linkle's debut as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors Legends seems to mean something big to a lot of people, but I guess that's par for course. Regardless of how long it's been since you actually played a Legend of Zelda...

Bombshell photo

Bombshell, that female Duke Nukem riff, is coming in January on PC

And consoles later
Nov 20
// Chris Carter
We haven't heard a whole lot out of 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment in regards to Bombshell, but now we know when it's expected to drop -- January 29, 2016. That's what the date is for PC at least, as the console iter...

Friday Night Fights - Destroy the Rebel scum!

Game with the Dtoid Community!
Nov 20
// Mike Martin
I got to play Battlefront at my brothers... It is not the best... It may not even hold a candle to the old ones (2 ftw!). Holy fuck though. The sound, the feel and the looks? Damn. I might have to take this brain-dead, hunk o...
SMT X FE photo

Bask in the glory of more Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem weirdness

Love those costumes
Nov 20
// Chris Carter
More Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem (Genei Ibun Roku #FE in Japan) weirdness awaits. This time, admist the peppered-in combat sequences, there's a commercial for soda, lots of fantastic costumes, and even some anime c...
Dark Souls III photo
Says creator Miyazaki
From Software's Hidetaka Miyazaki has some sad news for fans of the Souls series -- the upcoming Dark Souls III might be it. Speaking to GameSpot, Miyazaki states, "I don't think it'd be the right choice to continue...

Review: Renowned Explorers: International Society

Nov 20 // Darren Nakamura
Renowned Explorers: International Society (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Abbey GamesPublisher: Abbey GamesReleased: September 2, 2015MSRP: $19.99Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit In Renowned Explorers, the goal is to become a particularly renowned explorer among the group known as the Renowned Explorers. This is achieved by going on expeditions, recovering valuable treasures, making scientific discoveries, and navigating combat situations. Basically, an expedition is separated into two parts: resolving text-based events while traveling between nodes on a map and tactical combat on a modified hex grid. Both sections have elements of procedural generation, so there's always a sense of exploring the semi-unknown, even on an expedition to the same location as a previous run. Area maps are covered in fog of war, with only the nearest nodes visible. Combat arenas will vary the layout of obstacles, choke points, and healing zones. [embed]321138:61123:0[/embed] Indeed, Renowned Explorers is a "roguelite," meant to be played multiple times in order to truly master it. Herein lies one of the biggest hurdles I had to get over in order to enjoy it. For a game meant to be played again and again, it just takes way too long. A single run consists of five expeditions, and each expedition can take 30 to 45 minutes depending on how many encounters there are. It took me days to get through my first run because of the time commitment. This does speed up with experience, because combat becomes much faster after learning the ins and outs of it. Even so, expeditions easily last 20 minutes or more, so it's not the kind of "just one more" experience a roguelite needs to really grab somebody. This is exacerbated by the planning phase that occurs in between expeditions. Here, players spend the resources gathered during the previous expedition to purchase improved gear, recruit followers, and perform research. This is easily the densest part of Renowned Explorers for a new player. Every resource is connected to another in some way, and the game takes a laissez-faire approach; it presents a bevy of options and lets the player sort out what to do with them. Navigating the nooks and crannies of the planning phase can be exhausting at first, which makes the thought of taking on a new expedition right away seem that much more unreasonable. By far, my biggest disappointment starting off was with the combat system. It advertises multiple ways to resolve encounters; an explorer can be aggressive with physical attacks, be devious with insults and threats, or be friendly with encouragement. The three styles have a rock-paper-scissors relationship, so an aggressive approach is advantageous against a friendly enemy for instance. The problem with it is that each form of "attack" draws from the same "hit point" meter, which represents a foe's willingness to keep fighting. You could punch an enemy until he has only a sliver of health remaining, then finish him off by encouraging him to believe in your cause. Fighting and talking don't feel like they function differently. The battle system is hardly different than a simple three-element magic system at first. Only after really digging in did I spot the nuance. Some encounters will provide different rewards depending on how they are resolved. More importantly, it's the asymmetry in the rock-paper-scissors system that makes it interesting. Aggressive attack damage is a function of physical power, where devious and friendly attack damage comes from speech power, so an orator might have a stronger pair of scissors than he has a rock, so to speak. Within the speech powers, there is asymmetry as well. In general, devious skills cause debuffs while friendly skills cause buffs -- on friends and enemies alike. So while the current mood might call for a friendly attack, it is still necessary to weigh the risk of increasing the enemy's attack power in return. The point is: the combat system is deeper than it initially lets on, but it takes some effort for a player to really understand that. That basically describes Renowned Explorers: International Society on the whole. It features a set of deep systems with complex mechanics and relationships, but it places most of the burden on the player to discover it. I'll admit, I disliked it until it all fell into place and revealed itself for what it is. I'm not chomping at the bit to keep playing, but I am curious to delve deeper. Different combinations of explorers can beget different tactics both in and out of battle. That thought alone is enough to keep me from uninstalling it.
Renowned Explorers review photo
A lot to dig into
I'm glad I stuck Renowned Explorers out. For the first couple hours it was kind of a slog. Not exactly bad, but dense, unwieldy, and unexciting. I would finish an expedition and quit, not wanting to get back to it until days ...

Republique photo

Republique is coming to the PS4 in physical form

Episodes 4 and 5 still aren't out
Nov 20
// Chris Carter
Republique is such a weird project. It was released on iOS in December of 2013, as an episodic series spanning five chapters. Episode 4 and 5 still have not been released to this day, but the franchise made the jump to PC, an...

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