hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

I nuked the God of Lightning in Mayan Death Robots

Mar 08 // Patrick Hancock
Each player chooses one god, each with their own special attacks. The design of these gods is absolutely fantastic, and I found it hard to choose one to stick with based on design alone. Eventually I chose the Sun God, who was basically a nuke with a face who could also launch nukes and regular missiles. In retrospect, I guess that was the only answer. A nuke with a face! My opponent chose the Lightning God, who could also reign down attacks from the heavens. The object of the game isn't to kill each other -- though that certainly helps -- but to destroy the opponent's power source. Each god has four options: two unique attacks, jump, or build. The two attacks vary by god; the Sun God could either launch a Flare, which fired a tracer and then a rocket that came in at an angle. His other attack launched a different tracer, and then the next turn reigned down a massive nuke on top of wherever the tracer landed. Firing these takes some calculations. Aiming uses a power and angle line, similar to the classic Tanks game but without a meter for power. Jumping works in the same way, and is used to maneuver the god into a better position, whether it be to get a better shot or to get out of the way of the opponent's shot. Building allows the player to create terrain within a certain radius of the controlled god. These terrain pieces are placed in Tetris-esque shapes and help to protect the power source or possibly even imprison the enemy god! There's only a certain amount of terrain that can be placed, so it's not like you could just cover the screen in terrain. The most interesting part is the fact that turns happen simultaneously. Each player has a few seconds to choose which option they will perform, and then has a few more seconds to either move the angle and power of the attacks/jump, or to build the terrain. This not only keeps things moving, but also keeps things intense as you watch both sides' actions happen at once.  Every so often, a giant wheel comes up that grants each god a new single-use attack. Though it may seem pertinent to use it immediately, the situation may not call for a Cluster Grenade at that particular moment. Plus, it can be a little predictable to always use the new attack after acquiring it. Never be predictable! There are also Mayan statues and civilians running around and worshiping each god. Killing the opponent's statues and Mayans will grant buffs and can help give the player more options as to what kind of battle plan they execute. Should you go straight for the power source? Or will you go for a slower burn and start to aim for the statues? The whole match moves at a steady pace and there were event times where I was too busy watching the action unfold and totally missed choosing an action (it defaults to the last used action). Players need to be attentive, think quickly, and be unpredictable to be victorious. Mayan Death Robots is a fantastic strategy game that doesn't drag on and keeps up the intensity. The game has already been Greenlit and it is just a matter of time until we see it on Steam.
Mayan Death Robots  photo
Fast paced Worms-like
There's been a lot of games that try to copy the success of titles like Worms or Tanks, but often come off feeling too derivative. "Yeah, it's like Worms, but not quite as good" has definitely left my lips a handful of ...

 photo

Paradise Never brings some Majora's Mask to a revolutionary action RPG


Because it's set during a revolution!
Mar 05
// Patrick Hancock
Kitty Lambda, the developer behind The Real Texas and Paradise Perfect Boat Rescue has just announced his next game: Paradise Never. Taking place on an island colony of France during the Revolution of 2027 (complet...
Dragonball Cortex photo
Dragonball Cortex

Tried to play Frozen Cortex, went Super Saiyan instead


'You're going to love this'
Feb 24
// Patrick Hancock
A little backstory: this video of Frozen Cortex is unedited, and shows off a glitch I encountered while playing a custom game online. After changing a handful of rules, we were left with what you see above, characters t...
Exclusive footage photo
Exclusive footage

Exclusive footage of the 'Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late' naming process


You won't see this shit anywhere else
Feb 20
// Patrick Hancock
Kyle's review of Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late is now up, and we've acquired exclusive footage of the very complicated naming process used. It all makes sense now!
Frozen Cortex photo
Frozen Cortex

Frozen Cortex is releasing soon, so here's a trailer!


Exiting Early Access on February 19
Feb 13
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Cortex, the strategy game dressed up in sports clothing, is coming out soon! Like, really soon apparently. In less than a week, on February 19, Frozen Cortex will come out of the Early Access incubation pod and b...

Review: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

Feb 10 // Patrick Hancock
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: February 13, 2015MSRP: $39.99  The beauty of the storyline in Monster Hunter games is it constantly feeds directly into what players want to do: kill more monsters. It doesn't force players to do extraneous tasks that detract from the main point of the game. Even when tasked to collect little pieces of rock or plants, monsters inevitably get in the way and need a good slayin'.  This time, much of the plot's focus lays with Gore Magala, a giant black winged monster. This monster is not only tough, but brings with it a Frenzy virus. This blight has an interesting affect on the player; once infected, the virus starts to incubate within the player, represented by a purple bar next to the player's name. If it reaches its full potential, the player loses their regenerative health. If the player does a certain amount of damage to the monster before the virus manifests, they gain a temporary boost. When a monster (not just the Gore) is infected with the Frenzy virus, however, it acts as if it is always in rage mode. Not only is the monster more powerful, but they are also quite wily. Dealing with these monster is no easy feat, even if players have slain the non-frenzied version many times prior. Now, the Gorestoryline will take up a couple dozen hours to get through, but as most Monster Hunter fans are aware, that's just the beginning. Players will move from location to location rather quickly in Ultimate, as their caravan continues to grow alongside the player's reputation. The locations are all varied and will even be altered themselves after specific events, changing the way the player must approach them. It also helps keep things from getting too same-y, keeping monotony at bay. Monsters can still hide out in the transitional part of an area that forces a player into the adjacent area, which prevents the monster from being attacked, but it seems like the monsters move around much more frequently in MH4U to help prevent that. If it does occur, prepare to be frustrated until the monster decides to move out. [embed]287439:57255:0[/embed] The "treadmill" in Ultimate is all about the equipment. Each monster provides materials after death, and those materials can then be forged into weapons and armor that reflect the properties of the monster. Big fiery rock monster? That will yield some high defense, high fire resistant armor! Once that set is complete, it's only a matter of time until the player decides to go for a bigger, better set from a stronger monster.  Quests do vary, but in general, players will be killing a monster and carving it up to reap the rewards. Sometimes players may have to capture the monster instead - wounding it until it is very low on HP and then luring it into a trap device. Other missions consist of bringing back delicate eggs, minerals, or fish in order to make the townspeople happy. Sometimes, a player might just want to head out into an area without any real objective, in order to explore or gather materials, which the game permits. Also available are "expeditions,"which are a randomly-generated series of areas with a random collection of monsters strewn about. These seem to have been included as a way to keep things "fresh" by adding a layer of randomness to the layout, but in reality the expeditions are rather underwhelming as a whole. The pool of areas seems incredibly low and rather uninteresting.  There are no traditional "experience points" within the game, just the experience the player gets themselves as they see themselves get better and better at mastering the mechanics. Often, players may not even notice they are getting better until a boss that gave them so much trouble a few hours ago, is now a minor inconvenience in a fight with a much, much larger monster. With fifteen different weapon categories, players are bound to find one they enjoy using and slowly start to learn the nuances of it. There are two new weapon types in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: the Charge Blade and the Insect Glaive. The Charge Blade utilizes a sword and a shield. "But Patrick," you intrude, "there's already a 'Sword & Shield' option!" That's right! You sure do know your Monster Hunter! What makes the Charge Blade different is it's possible to switch out of sword and shield mode into Giant Axe mode. In Sword and Shield mode the player will build up charges for the Giant Axe mode. Once the charges are full, the sword becomes very ineffective, forcing the player into using the Giant Axe. Then, the player can use the charges to hit with extra power, adding even more damage on to the already powerful swing of a Giant Axe. The versatility of the Charge Blade quickly made it one of my favorite weapon types in the game. Having the power of the Giant Axe with the utility of a shield makes it an ideal weapon, especially for any solo hunters. When forging a Charge Blade, however, it is unclear how much damage Sword will do versus how much damage the Axe will do, since there's only one damage number.  The Insect Glaive is also a very versatile addition. The weapon itself is a long glaive, as the name says. The real star here is the Kinsect, the insect companion. The player can send the Kinsect off in a direction and if it hits a monster, it can be recalled to give the player a bonus to an attribute. Bonuses can be combined and stacked to a point, and the attribute gained depends on where it strikes the monster. The player can also vault into the air, adding a ton of mobility to the weapon. This also helps the player mount the monster, which is another addition to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The Insect Glaive is quick and nimble; vaulting to avoid attacks or deliver big blows feels great and micromanaging the Kinsect's location keeps battles interesting. Being able to mount monsters, riding on their backs and giving them a good stabbing, goes well with one of the game's biggest additions: vertical movement. There is a ton of verticality in this game and incredibly well-designed monsters to take advantage of it. Climbing onto a wall to knock a monster down, only to jump off and deliver a slam-dunk to its head feels absolutely incredible. On the flip side, having to worry about a giant ape butt-slamming its way onto your face is absolutely horrifying.  The camera, however, can have a hard time keeping up. I played this on a standard 3DS, without the analog nub of the "New 3DS," so most camera work was done by pressing the L trigger to focus on either the monster or straight ahead. Minor camera adjustments can be made if players choose to include the digital d-pad on the touch screen, or by using the actual d-pad to rotate the camera, but it is hardly ideal. With how large some of the monsters get, plus the quickness of Frenzied monsters, there will be more than a few times where the player must tame the camera before they can fell the beast. Joining the player is their trusty cat-buddy, the Palico. The player's main Palico can have their appearance completely customized before starting the game. Later on, the Palico's helmet, armor, and weapon can be crafted just like the player's, albeit with different Palico-only materials. These materials are gathered once the player gains access to Sunsnug Isle, the island where Palicos hang out. There is a quick fishing and questing mini-game that can garner rewards used to make new gear for the Palico. They're enjoyable diversions and creating new Palico gear quickly became a priority, considering how much they help in battle. The player can eventually recruit more Palicos from the field to bring to the island, and can soon bring two out into the battles. Of course, playing Monster Hunter online with three other humans is easily one of the best experiences available in videogames. Four people honing their skills with their respective instruments of destruction, united in their goal to take down a gigantic beast. Multiplayer can be done locally or online, and luckily the online experience is rather smooth. Playing with other people in the USA led to no noticeable lag, regardless of the number of players. Even when the host was an entire Atlantic Ocean away, the lag was rather insignificant, though it was noticeable. The lack of voice communication is certainly a bummer, but having full text chat is at least something. All of this is wrapped in the classic Monster Hunter charm. Characters are eccentric, the music is epic, and the monster designs are as amazing as ever. One moment players will be laughing at a line of dialogue, only to have their heart pounding moments later as they narrowly escape a Frenzied monster's devastating blow. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is about mastering a craft and being proud of it. So go ahead, be proud! [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Monster Hunter 4 review photo
Where a monster can fart before killing you
Ah, Monster Hunter. A game that ends up being more of a culture than anything else. These have always been games about community and self-improvement. Getting better isn't measured in some arbitrary number, but how well you c...

Dota 2 tournament photo
Dota 2 tournament

The Dota 2 Asian Championships now has the second highest prize pool in eSports history


Main event is underway now
Feb 06
// Patrick Hancock
The Dota 2 Asian Championships' (DAC) main event is underway now, and currently boasts a prize pool of just under $3,000,000. This brings it to the second highest prize pool ever, behind the 2014 Dota 2 Internationa...

Review: Apotheon

Feb 03 // Patrick Hancock
Apotheon (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: AlientrapPublisher: AlientrapReleased: February 3, 2015MSRP: $14.99Rig: Intel i7-4770k 3.50 GHz, 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU   Apotheon takes players on a journey that will be familiar to anyone who has played through God of War. Zeus is upset with the mortal world and decides to...destroy them. This is where the player, taking the role of Nikandreos, steps in. Under the guidance of Hera, wife of Zeus, Nikandreos begins to unravel the gods of Olympus, one by one. The journey takes the player all over: to the Forest of Artemis, to Poseidon's Sea, to Hades' underworld playground. Each environment has its own unique tone and feel to it which helps cement not only a sense of place, but a sense of wonder as well. Hades in particular made me feel appropriately uneasy, largely due to the amazing atmospheric music and dim lighting. All major roles except for Nikandreos are voice acted, and the actors put on a strong performance throughout. The pacing is exceptional, and perfectly stringing the player along without feeling repetitious. A playthrough will clock in at about seven hours depending on how much exploring is done before the finale. Apotheon promotes exploration as much as a game can. Not only are the benefits almost always worth it, whether it be more potions or a unique weapon, but there are plenty of exploration-based achievements for those who like to achieve achievements. Seriously, after completing the game I don't even have one-third of the achievements. Turns out I suck at exploring... [embed]287100:57142:0[/embed] When not exploring, combat makes up a large portion of Apotheon. There are three categories of weapons: melee, ranged, and throwable. Melee breaks down into axes, clubs, swords, and spears. Ranged is made up of bows & arrows, and sling & stones. Throwables are the bombs, traps, and other miscellaneous items.  Each weapon, whether melee or ranged, behaves in its own way. Long spears take a while to attack, but have a much larger range, allowing the player to stay away from danger. Knives are quick, but obviously have very little range. There are various types of arrows as well, like explosive or multi-shot, that diversify the ranged mechanics. There are also unique weapons with special traits, like a mace that will break shields or arrows that do extra damage from behind.  Nikandreos also wields a shield, but only when not using a bow. Shields can and will be swapped out often, and the size of the shield will vary. When holding the right mouse button the player will block, and the blocking length is entirely dependent on the shield. Shields and weapons all have durability as well, breaking when it hits zero. The player is also host to a range of consumables that will help keep them alive. Nikandreos has both health and armor bars. Incoming damage will remove any armor first before taking away health. Walking over certain items or using the appropriate consumables will increase the player's current health or armor, and it is important to note that it is possible to have an armor or health value higher than the max number. When this occurs, the number will slowly drain until it reaches the max number. Combat is a constant tug-of-war match. Moving back and forth, shielding, stabbing, and rolling are all necessary in order to survive what Apotheon tries to throw at the player. The combat can feel unwieldy at first, but with practice everything begins to click. While there are a few mechanical upgrades, most progress comes from within the player. Slowly getting better at the combat system is easily one of the key aspects of the game, even if the player isn't likely to notice a change until they are suddenly massacring enemies by the dozen. There are two difficulty levels, with a third unlocked after completing the game. Playing on the higher difficulty felt well-balanced. It didn't arbitrarily bump enemies' damage up 1000%, but instead kept it manageable and forced me to play at a higher, but doable, skill level.  Enemy AI is rather good without ever feeling cheap or unfair. Many of the enemies act the same way as the player, with the ability to block, roll, and use varied weapons. The enemy variety is strong, though it does tend to see some repetition towards the end. Players can also face real humans in local multiplayer and try to murder each other in a one-on-one arena mode, which plays out exactly as expected and flourishes thanks to the intricate combat system. The boss fights, however, are easily the star of the show. Each god has its own engaging scenes, and they are not simply "Okay, you've reached me. Let's fight!" Every battle truly stands out from the previous one. The reward for each is always useful, and although there is some linearity to the design, the game offers enough freedom to the player so it does not feel restrictive.  There is a hub world connecting all of the areas the player will travel to in order to deal with the gods, but it's more than just a convenient central location. The Market contains vendors to replenish weapons (even the unique ones!) and consumables, sell new armor, or level-up a specific weapon type. Leveling weapon types increases the speed and attack power, regardless of the type. It would have been nice to see more uniqueness go into each branch of weapons instead of every upgrade being exactly the same, but it is great to be able to specialize in a playstyle. Alongside combat are some platforming sections, which tend to be mediocre. The platforming mechanics are straightforward, with one exception. Jumping into some walls will have Nikandreos cling to them, requiring the player to then jump off to move up or out. This can be finicky at times, but thankfully the game never requires incredible platforming precision to progress. There is an ability later in the game that helps alleviate this, but it is very late in the game.  Yet another mechanic is the ability to craft consumables. As enemies die, they drop crafting items, money, health, or armor that the player can pick up. The player can acquire recipes from various locations to make potions, armor repairs, bombs, and other disposable items. There's no chance of failure and crafting is intuitive. Plus, the game pauses while the crafting menu is up. It is another way to help the player out that is unobtrusive and simple. An obvious draw to Apotheon is its Greek black-figure art style commonly seen on ancient pottery. The aesthetic is incredibly accurate, and looks as if the characters jumped right off a piece of pottery onto the computer screen running at 60 frames per second. Animation is fluid, the exception being when a character turns around since the 2D image simply flips. The game is fully committed to this art style, and when you buy it, there's one thing I want you to do: pause the game, and then move the mouse around the screen. The area around the mouse is illuminated, and shows the wall-like texture that's always on the screen. For a moment,  it legitimately looks like the computer screen is an ancient Greek wall, and it is outstanding. The soundtrack, composed by Marios Aristopoulos, is superb. In fact, I'm bummed there doesn't seem to be a soundtrack version of the game available on Steam, because it would easily be worth the money. (Update: The soundtrack is available on Steam for $6.99!) There are some tracks uploaded to YouTube by Marios himself, so that can help give an idea as to what to expect. The atmosphere created in tandem between the visual style and the music makes Apotheon one of the most captivating and stylish games in recent memory. It's sure to capture the attention of anyone who sees it in action. Thankfully, the game more than backs up its aesthetic prowess with rewarding combat and exploration systems in place. While the combat hardly changes over the course of the adventure, Apotheon asks the player to apply their knowledge in such a wide variety of ways that it constantly feels fresh and exciting. The ancient Greeks valued balance and harmony in their art, and Alientrap has accomplished just that. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Apotheon review photo
Apotheonestly, it's great
Apotheon is the newest game from the developers at Alientrap, the team behind a small game called Capsized. Now personally, I loved Capsized and think it was overlooked by most. It had interesting mechanics and...

Frozen Cortex update photo
Frozen Cortex update

Frozen Cortex gets a single-player-focused update


And finally adds ROBOT HATS!
Feb 02
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Cortex, the sports-esque strategy game from the Frozen Synapse developers, has recently released an Early Access update that focuses almost entirely on the single-player aspect. New modes included in this update are K...
Best @ Tetris photo
Best @ Tetris

A new Tetris Grandmaster has been born


The sixth person ever to achieve it!
Jan 28
// Patrick Hancock
Kevin Birrell, who goes by the alias of KevinDDR, has joined the few, the proud, the Tetris Grandmasters. He is only the sixth person in the world to ever accomplish this feat, which should already give you an idea as to...

Review: Legend of Grimrock 2

Jan 15 // Patrick Hancock
Legend of Grimrock 2 (PC)Developer: Almost Human GamesPublisher: Almost Human GamesReleased: October 15, 2014MSRP: $23.99 Legend of Grimrock 2 takes the players to an outside location for much of the game. The player's characters get shipwrecked on an island and soon begin to find mysterious notes from someone who has clearly been preparing for his moment. There are still plenty of dungeon moments, as many times players will travel underground for hours at a time. These segments are reminiscent of the first Grimrock, and also have the side effect of making the player really appreciate the outdoor areas even more when they're juxtaposed back to back. There is something special about leaving an underground dungeon and taking in the sights. Speaking of sights, Grimrock 2 looks great. The underground environment does give a lot of déjà vu, with the walls and floors being a little too familiar. Certain enemy types also return, but there are enough new ones, even early on, to prevent the game from feeling exactly like the previous one. Other areas are perhaps too big, because the frame rate takes a noticeable dip at times. The music is likewise amazing, and one of the hardest parts of the game is loading up a save, because it means that the main menu music ends. Part of the beauty of Grimrock 2 is that it is focused entirely on the core gameplay, which is as strong as ever. Battles play out largely in the same way as in the first game; the party has two members up front who can melee attack and two in the back who have to rely on ranged attacks. Incoming damage will hurt any member facing that direction, so getting hit in the back will hurt the player's back two party members, for example. Melee attacks can now be held in order to perform a special move, and plenty of new spells have been added. The player will create their ship-wrecked party of four, now with more options for character classes and race. The only meaningful addition is the Farmer class, who levels up by eating food and not from fighting enemies. Seriously, that's how the class works. My advice? Create a Farmer. All throughout, my Farmer was easily my highest-level character, and was pretty much unfair at times. Chomp chomp! [embed]286024:56915:0[/embed] The enemies as a whole are smarter -- to a point. The strategy of "circle-strafing" remains necessary, but now enemies catch on and are better are dealing with the tactic. Don't misunderstand though, circle-strafing is still imperative to surviving many of the game's encounters. Standing in front of an enemy and trying to win through brute force will often end in defeat, even if three more enemies don't surprise you and come at your sides and AUGH WHERE DID THOSE ARCHERS COME FROM?! Boss fights are varied, but can also vary in quality. Something truly impressive is the in-game presence of certain characters. There will be times when the player turns a corner only to see...something at the end of it. And then, it moves! And disappears! The fact that the game doesn't have to remove the player's control for a cutscene to present these moments is key. Combat often gets into a beautiful rhythm of clicks and swiping gestures that truly feels fluid and dynamic. Stab, swing, fire, stab, shoot, swing, ice, shoot stab, swing! All while at the same time moving around the party with the other hand to weave in and out of attacks. It's like conducting a beautiful symphony. Until the aforementioned three more enemies show up and it turns into a hysteria of blind panic. But those moments are enjoyable in their own right. The other huge aspect of Grimrock 2 is the puzzles. Developer Almost Human nails the difficulty of puzzle design flawlessly. This is the kind of game you can play away from the PC; I've solved certain puzzles while commuting to work, because they do nothing but occupy my mind constantly. Certain puzzles are almost impossibly difficult, however most of them are optional with incredible rewards for all the hard work. Some will have small text "hints" on nearby signs, but many times they are in riddles or a straight-up decipherable code. Players also acquire a shovel early on in the game to dig for goodies in the dirt. However I completely forgot this existed for most of the game outside of the first area, unless a sign reminded me in some way. Chances are, I missed out on a lot of hidden treasure chests! Steam Workshop support is also included, allowing players to make and share their own adventures and dungeons with others. The first game had a wonderful community, and so far the second installment seems to have taken up that torch just fine. As if the game wasn't already packed with brilliant content, having Workshop support ensures that, given the right ideas, people will continue to play and love Grimrock 2 for a very long time. Legend of Grimrock 2 will consume your mind in many ways. The puzzles will slowly tear away at your brain until they are solved, and the amount of focus needed for just about every combat encounter is through the roof. Grimrock 2 can forever be referenced as a "perfect sequel." It doesn't go nuts adding idea after idea to make things more convoluted, but instead refines what already made the experience amazing while expanding those ideas noticeably enough.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Grimrock 2 Review! photo
The perfect sequel
The first Legend of Grimrock was damn near perfect. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, it put a fresh new face on the dungeon-crawling genre. It was a game that didn't forget its roots yet also didn't forget that we live in a different time. It's no surprise, then, that the sequel is absolutely stunning.

Frozen Synapse iPhone photo
Frozen Synapse iPhone

Devs take note: THIS is how you do a press release


Also, Frozen Synapse is now on iPhones
Jan 08
// Patrick Hancock
Frozen Synapse was a brilliant game when it released on PC in 2011. Its brilliance has since been ported to the iPad and now, the iPhone. To celebrate, the game is on sale on Steam! It's easy to recommend to anyone who ...
PC Port: MGSV photo
PC Port: MGSV

PC Port Report: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes


Smooth like Big Boss' skin-tight suit
Jan 01
// Patrick Hancock
It's hard to know what a PC port of a Metal Gear Solid game will look like in 2014. Revengeance had a decent port, but that was done by Platinum. The last Metal Gear game to hit our Home Computers was over a de...

Patrick Hancock's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 31 // Patrick Hancock
Games I did not play enough of or at all oh god I'm so sorry: Bayonetta 2, Captain Toad, Hyrule Warriors, The Talos Principle, Shovel Knight, Super Time Force, Alien: Isolation, This War of Mine 1. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U Well, this isn't really a surprise. I've been a hardcore Smash Bros. fan ever since that fateful day I discovered that there were advanced techniques in Melee. I LOVE highly competitive game with high skill ceilings, and Melee fit the bill! When Brawl came out, most of my friends and I were in college, and the online wasn't too stellar, and so it didn't see as much playtime.  But with Smash 4, we play all the damn time! The online is really good, the core mechanics are wonderful, and we can have up to 8 players! With the best roster in the series, Smash 4 is my favorite Super Smash Bros. game to date. I really do miss Fox's "Shine Spike," but I've learned to love all that is currently in Smash 4.  2. Sportsfriends (+TENNNES + Get on Top) First of all, since I backed Sportsfriends on Kickstarter, I received Get on Top and TENNNES as part of the package, so I'm including them in this spot. Sportsfriends is such an amazing collection of local multiplayer games that I don't even know where to begin. Hokra is a minimalist sports game that boils competition down to it's more pure form and runs with it. Super Pole Riders seems like it has wonky controls at first, but they're actually easy to master, which then leads to some really amazing (and hilarious) rounds! BariBariBall is my least favorite of the bunch, but still puts an exciting twist on what would otherwise be a fighting game.  And then there's Johann Sebastian Joust. While I can't play this on my Windows computer (not that I'd have the controllers to anyway), I have played JS Joust at E3 before. Playing (and even winning, once!) Joust is easily one of the most memorable moments in my gaming career. It's a game with no rules, and all fun. Whenever you have a chance to, PLAY IT! 2. Towerfall Ascension (a tie!) I can't in good faith call Towerfall better or worse than Sportsfriends, since I consider them of the same, amazing ilk: that of the local multiplayer party bash. Towerfall is an incredible game. It has singleplayer components that really scratch an itch, and is one of the best multiplayer games ever created. Every game is exciting and intense, or hilariously quick. The first night I introduced Towerfall: Ascension to my local multiplayer night, it dominated the entire night. People who started the night getting no kills and stomped on round after round were eventually winning rounds with confidence. It doesn't take long to "get" how to play Towerfall, which is a large part of its beauty.  3. Valiant Hearts: The Great War As a history teacher and videogame lover, I am obligated to put this game high on my list. Plus, it's a flippin' amazing game! Easily the best World War I game available, because it truly does give a sense of dread and hopelessness that came with "The Great War." It's strongest aspect is the fact that it's a war game without being a shooter. Plus, it has a dog and dogs are the best. 4. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Maybe it's because Murdered: Soul Suspect came out earlier and was literally the worst game I've played all year, but Ethan Carter blew me away. It's a mystery game that actually involves the player, with an ending that isn't complete bullshit (I'm looking at you Heavy Rain). Placing events in order takes critical thinking and has a sense of accomplishment to it that many games lack. It's realistic at times, bizarre at others, and always completely gorgeous. 5. 1001 Spikes 1001 Spikes is one of the most well-designed games I have ever played. It is a game about learning and execution. The player is constantly learning throughout the entirety of the game, even the bonus levels! Each stage introduces something to the player, even if it's a small idea. The result is that the player constantly feels a sense of skill progression, which leads to more confidence to take on the harder levels. I really can't say enough about how perfectly 1001 Spikes' design is. 6. Kentucky Route Zero Act III Anyone who has played through Act III of Kentucky Route Zero knows exactly why this is on my list. And to them I'll just say: wasn't that part AMAZING?! 7. Legend of Grimrock 2 A perfect sequel. Grimrock 2 takes everything that made the first game amazing, brought it up a notch, and put it in a beautiful new world with intensely hard puzzles. The fact that I can bring a Farmer with me on my adventure, and then to have him be the HIGHEST LEVEL CHARACTER is simply amazing. 8. Divinity: Original Sin Any game where my buddy tells me "make sure you talk to the dog!" is a game worthy of making a GOTY list. Especially when I respond "you know I already did!" 9. Jazzpunk So I just finished Jazzpunk yesterday, and I am completely blown away. Everything about Jazzpunk oozes style and uniqueness. From the moment I picked stuff off a guy's face until I was spinning records in a penthouse suite, I loved every single moment of Jazzpunk. If I had more time to process it all, this game would likely be higher on this list, but for now, I just need to give it a mention. This is a game, like The Real Texas or FEZ, that will stick in my mind forever. 10. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor I hate open-world games, which is a strong testament to how great Mordor really is. The beginning kind of just throws the player out there with a vague sense of what to do, and lets them go nuts. Soon after descending from the starting tower I came across a group of orcs. "No biggie," I say to myself. Well, wouldn't you know it, two named orcs show up and kick my ass. Seeking them, alongside many others, out in order to murder them in the most gruesome ways possible is one of my favorite ~*memories*~ from 2014. This is the kind of emergent gameplay I can get behind! 11. Dragon Age: Inquisition Hooray! Another Dragon Age game worthy of the title! While the "Tactical View" leaves a bit to be desired, Inquisition is a great PC RPG. It starts off a little slow, with characters I'm not a big fan of and very MMO-esque quests, but soon picks up into a Dragon Age game I can easily recommend to anyone. 12. Mercenary Kings Apparently I'm one of the few people who enjoyed Mercenary Kings? At least, according to Metacritic I'm one of the few "critics" who enjoyed it. Mercenary Kings really is likeMonster Hunter mixed with Metal Slug, though people don't seem to appreciate revisiting the same locales. People easily dismiss this as "lazy" or "uninspired," but just like Dota 2, the map is a character that needs to be understood and learned.  Learning how the map is structured and how the enemies move and attack is crucial to success in Mercenary Kings. Sure, maybe they're revisited a little too much, but as someone who's spent countless hours in Monster Hunter over the years, I can appreciate the design decision behind it. Plus, it looks freaking beautiful! Mobile Games I Actually Enjoy Playing from 2014 Monument Valley It's not overly complex, it doesn't make me wrack my brain, but Monument Valley is an experience that is worth having a million times over. It is relaxing and it is interesting, two qualities that don't come up too often on the mobile side of things. The musicality of the game really makes it stand out from everything else. Threes I think I may have spent more time defending Threes than actually playing it this year. Threes is a wonderfully deep game, rewarding players who plan their next move and punishing those or swipe all willy-nilly, unlike the cheap knock-off 2048. This is the game that launched 1,000 clones. Crossy Road An endless Frogger doesn't really sound all too appealing, but Crossy Road proves that it is. It's free, but the "BUY STUFF" can certainly get annoying at times, althoughit's too intrusive. Plus, every 6 hours it gives me free coins to use and entices me to play a few more rounds, which I always do. I just gotta collect all the characters! Desert Golfing Leigh Alexander said words about Desert Golfing way better than I can say words about Desert Golfing. I'll just say that I got three hole-in-ones in a row, had no fanfare, and I flippin' loved it. Top Three Games from past years I'm still playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf Let me update you on Tobytown. I finally got Queenie to move out; her personality just wasn't appreciated here. It took MONTHS of ignoring, but she finally got the hint. Now I have some awesome new villagers like Ribbot and Lucky! Also, Axel has been wearing the shirt I designed for months now! I figured he'd take it off pretty quick, but me and him are homies now because of his excellent fashion taste. My town is in a good spot, but I still need some Public Works Projects that aren't yet suggested!  Team Fortress 2 Every update brings me back. New game modes, new movies, new weapons, NEW HATS, everything is still appealing to me. The recent Demoman changes are a perfect way to bring the class in line with the others. Running around with a Loch 'n' Load doesn't feel useless now, and in fact it might be my new favorite way to play Demoman!  Dota 2 Yup, my game of the forever. I'll take any chance I can get to talk about Dota 2. Constant balance changes that shake up the meta is what I live for. The new Lifestealer is definitely intruiging, but I am sad that Ogre Magi (aka Ogre Magoo) was hit hard with nerfs. This is a game that keeps on giving and even when I don't feel like playing, I can always simply watch. Dota 2 isn't going away any time soon, and that makes me incredibly happy.
Hancock's GOTY picks photo
Year of the local multiplayer
What a magical year this was! It's hard coming up with a GOTY list, especially if you force yourself to pick only 10. That's why I didn't, I picked as many as I needed to! It's thirteen; I picked thirteen games.  There w...

Dota 2 6.83 photo
Dota 2 6.83

Dota 2 gets a 'Shifting Snows' winter update and a balance patch


Hancock: Posting about -> Dota 2
Dec 18
// Patrick Hancock
Frostivus is not coming this year, but that doesn't mean Dota 2 goes stale! While there may not be a big gameplay event, we've got some big gameplay changes taking place. Lifestealer takes a lot of the focus in this upda...
Taylor Swift rulez photo
Taylor Swift rulez

Best song of 2014 gets a Dota 2 parody


Yeah, I said it
Dec 13
// Patrick Hancock
While you're sitting there, not admitting that you love Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off," why not get down to this. Sick. Beat? Seriously though, this is an amazing parody of a catchy song for all Dota 2 fans.
SanctuaryRPG photo
SanctuaryRPG

SanctuaryRPG is now out on Steam Early Access


Best $5 you can spend today
Dec 13
// Patrick Hancock
SanctuaryRPG, which has been available on itch.io for some time, has now made its way to Steam as SanctuaryRPG: Black Edition. It's an ASCII RPG with an approachable, yet intricate and rewarding battle system and light-h...

Review: Tengami

Nov 17 // Patrick Hancock
Tengami (Wii U [reviewed], iOS)Developer: NyamyamPublisher: NyamyamRelease Date: November 13, 2014 (Wii U)MSRP: $9.99 (Wii U), $4.99 (iOS) Tengami is one of those games that perfectly blends together its gameplay and its aesthetic. In fact, it's the aesthetic that actually determines the gameplay. The entire game has a paper-thin look, from the main character to all of the environments. When the main character turns, he's paper thin and everything has a static yet lively sense to it. The gameplay also runs with this idea, as most of the player interaction involves moving or folding paper to create new landscapes an solve puzzles. All of the gameplay happens on the Wii U GamePad, meaning Tengami is best suited for off-TV play. Everything also displays on the TV, but since players have to look where they're tapping, it's impossible to watch the TV and play. It's great if others want to help solve the puzzles, but the puzzles don't really need help solving. Moving around is done by tapping where you want the main character to walk to. And I mean walk. The game has a deliberately slow pace, which isn't too much of an issue except when players want to roam around to explore and find hidden Miiverse stamps, or get stuck on a puzzle and wander aimlessly. Most of the time players will tap on their destination and enjoy the sights and sounds while their character moseys on over. However, it can be a bit of a pain when the destination is far away, since players can only tap to the edge of the screen. What ends up happening is a constant tapping of the edge to continuously create new waypoints, which is tedious.  [embed]283903:56349:0[/embed] Other than moving around, the main mechanic is solving a variety of puzzles. These puzzles often revolve around interacting with pieces of the environment to create a new path or get a required item. Other times the puzzles require the player to truly be observant of the surroundings in a way that is unique to Tengami. The game always shows the player where they can touch in order to push and pull pieces of the puzzle, but it is up to the player to figure out what to do with them. There's only one puzzle that really requires critical thinking, which is unfortunate since it's the one puzzle that left me satisfied. Hints are also available for those who get stuck. There's only one hint for each puzzle, and it pretty much tells players exactly what to do. My advice would be to use hints as a very last resort!  The aesthetic is what really shines. The paper-thin look of everything gives it a crisp and vibrant feel, while the absolutely fantastic soundtrack calms and soothes the eardrums. Everything has a feudal Japanese theme to it, with plenty of cherry blossoms and temples. I even learned some kanji from playing! Tengami is clearly a game that is meant to be a relaxing and enjoyable time. The main character walks slowly. The music is extremely smooth and calming. And there's only one puzzle that will likely wrack anyone's brain. It's also a bit short, taking about two hours to complete, and it's worth noting that the Wii U version is $5 more than the iOS version, with the only addition seemingly the Miiverse stamps scattered around. Tengami is a decent way to spend an afternoon, but it left me wanting more than what was there. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Tengami review photo
Pull-a pull-a pull-a
Tengami has been out on iOS devices for quite some time but has now finally made its debut on Wii U. I think it's great that the Wii U has the perfect setup for iOS games to make a pretty seamless transition thanks to th...

Super Smash Bros. is the most fun I've had fighting online

Nov 13 // Patrick Hancock
Prior to Smash Bros. for 3DS online, this was my favorite online fighting moment, courtesy of Super Street Fighter IV (I'm venusaurus): [embed]283767:56309:0[/embed] Not only did I meet another Hakan player online, but THAT ENDING!! Still one of the most epic moments in my competitive lifespan. These memorable moments were very few and far between, however. Playing Smash Bros. online provides me with at least one highlight in each session. Something either badass or goofy always seems to happen. Whether I'm kicking someone's butt or getting my own handed to me, everyone is down for a rematch. The game doesn't publicly display any sort of ranking or win/loss ratio, so no one really cares about losing. It's all about getting better. Imagine that: playing a game of skill to get better at it and not inflate some arbitrary number! Here's some of my highlights so far: THE BADASS Sometimes you just have those badass moments in Smash; a clutch kill, an incredible meteor spike, whatever it may be.  [embed]283767:56306:0[/embed] I love weird characters. I have Villager, Game & Watch, Wii Fit Trainer, and Wario all in my main rotation. Some people don't know how to handle things like Villager's Tree. Most people know to avoid the chop down, but plenty of people fall for the old "plant'n'grow" technique I'm using here. I particularly love this GIF because of how perfect the timing worked. One second later and Pikachu would have Skull Bashed me and probably killed me, because this guy was really good as Pikachu. Not pictured: the millions of times I tried to Pocket and use Thunder. [embed]283767:56307:0[/embed] This Ike was pissing me off. This is probably our seventh match together. He won the first five in a row, and then I started winning. I figured him out, simple as that. He only had about three tactics that he rotated between, so it wasn't too hard. The problem is that Ike hits so hard you barely have time to figure him out in a single match! So anyway, I captured this moment as Samus because I felt so cool doing it. Most people's early impressions of Samus are not that good, but I still love playing her. I know this GIF isn't an actual combo, but it sure felt like one! Spike into the ground, then up smash as he tries to land an attack from above. GOTCHA! THE GOOFY The other times, you come across someone, even in For Glory Mode, who just wants to goof around! [embed]283767:56305:0[/embed] The above sequence legitimately happened in a For Glory match. This Wario (Username: Wariuzzo) was one of the best players I've ever faced in Smash. In fact, we're actually 3DS friends now! I found his username on Smashboards.com and sent him a message and boom! Now we're friends for life. This was our fifth match or so together, so I was accustomed to how he played. However, I had an early death that was my own fault. Since Peach is probably my best character, I got really sad. But then Wariuzzo jumped off the side himself! When we both respawned we taunted for a bit, and eventually he was farting on me. Only in Smash Bros. [embed]283767:56312:0[/embed] I'm not sure if this is goofy or badass. This was, up to and after this point, a completely serious match between myself (Game & Watch) and this stranger (Samus) in For Glory. The uhh, the GIF speaks for itself here. I'm honestly impressed. [embed]283767:56313:0[/embed] This was once again in a For Glory match. It's a short story: Pac-Man and Kirby have always been friends. Ever since they met as children in school, their similar shapes formed a natural bond. Even when the humanoid characters started to pick on them, their bond only became stronger due to their shared spherical nature. They trained together every day to get stronger and stronger. Kirby would practice with his weapons while Pac-Man would throw around pellets, hydrants, and even fruit. Pac-Man even let Kirby throw around fruit sometimes! One day the boys were practicing with each other when a wicked hunger overcame Kirby. Being the bearer of many fruits, Pac-Man naturally offered him some, to which Kirby graciously accepted. However, things did not go as planned! When Pac-Man send the fruit Kirby's way, it bonked him right on the noggin'! "Oh no!" shouted Pac-Man, as Kirby plummeted down into the abyss. Pac-Man walked over to the edge, hoping to see Kirby somehow hanging on. But when he peered over the edge, there was no Kirby to be found. It was just then that Pac-Man heard a cute little noise, like some sort of puffball crouching over and over again. It was Kirby! His best bud had returned! Pac-Man jumped for joy at the sight of his friend in front of him, and they were happy. Also we dicked around like this until Sudden Death and the asshole killed me with a forward smash. And just because, I'll leave you with an intense match between my friend Justin (Mega Man) and me (Villager). He's really one of the only good Mega Man players I've ever fought against.  [embed]283767:56311:0[/embed] FYI I've gotten much better at Villager since. I use his tilts now!
Smash Bros. online photo
Best community or bestest community?
I love fighting games. Well, I love pretty much all competitive games, but fighting games are some of the most satisfying. Pulling off combos (or kombos), discovering new "tech," and watching the metagame develop are all supe...

PC Port Inquisition photo
PC Port Inquisition

PC Port Report: Dragon Age: Inquisition


How does Varric's chest hair look on PC?
Nov 11
// Patrick Hancock
The third installment in the Dragon Age franchise is finally here. If you're like me, you are cautiously optimistic with this one after playing Dragon Age II. I'm more of a tactical player, and felt that I was left in th...
TF2 bumper cars photo
TF2 bumper cars

Team Fortress 2 is getting bumper cars


Because at this point why not
Oct 29
// Patrick Hancock
Just the other day I was curious as to what Team Fortress 2 would do for Halloween this year. In fact, the TF2 event is one of the reasons why Halloween is my favorite holiday! Well the update, detailed here, h...
else Heart.Break() photo
else Heart.Break()

First else Heart.Break() trailer reminds me it exists


[insert crummy computer science joke here]
Oct 22
// Patrick Hancock
Everyone remembers else Heart.Break(), right? Of course you do, because it was on my "Top 30 indies to look out for in 2013" list! There was very little information on the game at that point, and apparently I thought it woul...
 photo

THEY CHANGED THE DOTA 2 MAP


Nothing is sacred
Sep 23
// Patrick Hancock
A new Dota 2 update hit today, and THEY CHANGED EVERYTHING. Two runes. New rune. THE MAP IS DIFFERENT. Reworked Heroes. Chen can take over Ancients. Something happened to Riki, I'm not sure what exactly? THE MAP IS DIFFERENT. Did I mention that they changed the map and added a rune? 
Battlegrounds Day 2 photo
Battlegrounds Day 2

The final four duke it out today at Red Bull Battlegrounds


I hope you like Terran
Sep 21
// Patrick Hancock
Yesterday was some of the most intense StarCraft II play that I have ever seen. First of all, if you missed it, you should watch the recording on Red Bull's site. Secondly, the rest of this post does contain spoiler...
Red Bull StarCraft II photo
Red Bull StarCraft II

The Red Bull Battlegrounds StarCraft II grand finals are live!


Some of the biggest names in SC2 are competing
Sep 20
// Patrick Hancock
Man, it feels pretty good to talk about StarCraft II esports again. I've been way more focused on Dota 2 recently and it's nice to go back to what helped get me into the scene. Anyway, the grand finals for the Red B...

Review: Divinity: Original Sin

Sep 08 // Patrick Hancock
Divinity: Original Sin (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Larian Studios Publisher: Larian StudiosMSRP: $39.99Release Date: June 30, 2014  You kick off Divinity by creating two separate characters, which includes their appearance and character classes. These two avatars then become the stars of the plot and require a bit of actual role-playing. It is possible to control the dialogue options of both characters or set the second character to answer things on their own. When the player answers for both, they can control what type of personality each character has by deciding how they respond to certain situations. Depending on dialogue responses, characters will acquire certain traits. For example, if a character decides a civilian should be harshly punished for something, they might receive the Heartless trait. If the second character is making their own decisions, they may disagree with the player on how to handle a certain situation. If that is the case, an actual rock-paper-scissors match begins between the two. Each victory rewards the winner with a certain amount of points, and the first to 10 points wins the argument. Players can add stat points to increase how many points they get with each victory, making the mini-game easier to win.  When creating characters, players choose from a wealth of character classes that focus on or blend together magic, strength, and stealthy skills and traits. However, just picking a class does not lock a character in to anything. If a player creates a character focused entirely on dealing heavy damage with melee weapons, but then wants to transition into a magic-focused playstyle, they can do so. It's all a matter of allocating skill and stat points upon leveling up, and there is a ton of customization. Each character really is a blank canvas, and players can eventually hire henchmen to take the place of the two other party members to have essentially four blank canvases in the party.  Of course, other party members will also join the player's party to add some flavor to both the plot and gameplay. In many old RPGs, it's the ensemble of characters and their interactions that really captivate players and keep them interested. Unfortunately, Divinity: Original Sin has some rather weak character personalities, which points to the game's lackluster dialogue writing. These characters don't stand out as much as the Minsc and Mortes of the past and are rather forgettable in the long run. [embed]280687:55575:0[/embed] Some of the NPC characters and their respective are quite memorable, at least. As players explore the opening town, they are bound to find a handful of colorful characters that do a wonderful job of setting the tone for the entire game. So while players might not remember the characters they controlled, they will likely remember the dog at the cemetery or the clam on the beach! The plot itself is more on the lighthearted side, which is a theme that persists throughout all the game's aspects. There are certainly some serious and even dark moments, but they always seem to have an extra twinge of humor or color. It's a nice and relaxed plot that never tries to do too much, but does build a gradually bigger sense of scale and urgency as the player progresses. Again, some of the weaker writing tends to shine through, but the plot overall is serviceable. The humor aspect should not be understated. There are some genuinely funny moments written into the game and even more hilarity when playing cooperatively with friends. Hearing your buddy say "oh, uhh, I think I just pissed off every pirate within 100 yards" and then walking over to them only to join a massive pirate slaughter is not something any other game is going to offer.  Gameplay takes place in true turn-based fashion. The order of the turns is determined by speed stats and is displayed to the player during battles. From there, it is up to the player to eliminate all enemies in order to progress. The biggest mechanic at play during battles in Original Sin is the use of the environment to deal out damage and status effects. See those enemies standing in a puddle of blood? Zap the blood with some electricity to hopefully stun all of them! Oh crap, that blood actually led a trail right to your warrior and she's also stunned!  I've actually had this exact situation happen to me many times. It is hard to tell the exact borders of certain puddles, and who exactly is actually standing in it. However, this could be due to my colorblindness affecting me during the nighttime battles, making it harder to see where the puddle ends and the dark ground begins, Other examples include blowing up oil barrels to create large explosions, or even using a spell to cause it to rain, and then freezing the wet enemies solid. It is of the utmost importance to utilize these environmental strategies while in battle, especially in tough battles. In some cases, being crafty with the elements turns what should be a difficult battle into a breeze. It can also make battles feel repetitive, but only if the player chooses to approach each battle in one specific way. Diversifying battle strategies is achievable to a degree, and is bound to happen as players acquire new skills. There's plenty of loot to pick up, use, sell, and craft in Divinity: Original Sin. Everything has a certain amount of weight, but since it is possible to split everything between the four characters, that's hardly ever an issue. Inventory management is a bit of an issue, however, especially for those who tend to pick up everything they see, whether it's a potato or a greatsword. Everything takes up a single square, and that inventory fills of quickly, making it a real hassle to find something in particular. There are various sorting options to help, but they can only do so much. The game features a skippable "tutorial dungeon" that goes over some of the basics of combat, but that's about it in the form of a traditional tutorial. Although Divinity ignores explicitly stating things like how to craft or even put up quest markers on where to do, this doesn't mean that the game does a poor job teaching the player things. In fact, Divinity: Original Sin is easily one of the best learning experiences of recent memory. Crafting recipes are found within the world and written out like a journal. When a player reads it, even if they are unaware crafting is in the game, the player will naturally try to combine ingredients that the recipe mentions and voila! Crafting is discovered. This is essentially how the game treats everything: in-game hints towards objectives or mechanics are given, and then the onus is on the players to actually figure them out. It's great not to have a game force-feed players the mechanics and instead let them discover things on their own. However one mechanic in particular, sneaking, isn't explained very well (or at all) and as such I have no idea how to successfully pickpocket someone without getting caught... As for the difficulty, Divinity: Original Sin will allow players to travel anywhere, but players shouldn't be surprised when they run into a group of enemies that are a few levels higher than them. If that's the case, the options are: put your gameface on and fight or hightail it out of there and come back later. Fighting more powerful enemies is doable, considering the first real victory I had in the game was against enemies two levels higher than me, but it is an extreme challenge. This also means, however, that is is extremely rewarding to accomplish. Divinity: Original Sin also includes multiplayer for two players total. The second player takes over the second created character of the host player, and it's impossible for a player to bring their own character into someone else's game. While this may seem annoying, it helps keep the roleplaying aspect in check and also prevents two players of wildly different levels from playing together. The second player can only, by default, control that one character in battle, but it is possible to have them control one AI character as well, it's just really confusing and obtuse to do so, so not everything always works smoothly in multiplayer. The game has a delightful art style which helps solidify the lighthearted tone set by the plot and writing. When walking around town it is hard not to notice how bright everything is, which helps give a real sense of liveliness to the town. Likewise, the music both in and out of battle is great; it isn’t overpowering but is certainly noticeable and always feels appropriate.  Divinity: Original Sin is an amazing RPG experience. It falls a bit flat on characterization and writing on occasion, but nails just about everything else. It does a great job of compelling players to roleplay their on-screen characters, putting the "RP" back into RPG. This is a game that any fan of the genre will adore, and is sure to suck in new players and teach them what the genre is all about. It's a love letter, and deserves to be loved back.
Divinity: OS review! photo
Always talk to the animals
Remember the first "western RPG" that really made an impression on you? Maybe it was Baldur's Gate, maybe it was Planescape: Torment, or maybe it was Dragon Age: Origins. Regardless, you love that game. It might have fla...

Review: Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Aug 30 // Patrick Hancock
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (3DS)Developer: Capcom, Level-5Publisher: NintendoRelease Date: August 29, 2014MSRP:  $29.99 The story revolves around the main characters from each game: Professor Layton, Apprentice Luke, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright, and Spiritual Medium Maya Fey. It doesn't take long for these characters to meet up in a town called Labyrinthia, a town on no map and completely run by one person: the Storyteller. It's also a town that seems to be caught in the past: knights keep order and there's no modern technology to speak of. The Storyteller is exactly that: the one who pens the "story" for the town of Labyrinthia. However, the town has been having some major issues with magic-using witches in the past years, and everything seems to be coming to a head just as the four protagonists enter the scene.  The characters of Labyrinthia deserve a very special mention. There are numerous characters that easily steal the spotlight during the courtroom scenes, which is largely due to the fantastic writing. The game's tone ranges from incredibly serious to downright hysterical while hitting every note in between. Characters come to life, scenes nail the correct tones, and the unpredictable story itself all come from the brilliant writing throughout.  Gameplay is divided into two distinct sections: puzzle solving while navigating the town and court cases. The former will be familiar to anyone who has played a Professor Layton game in the past, and the latter familiar to Ace Attorney players. The major issue here is that they almost never blend together. Instead they act like oil and water, with each section being completely separate from the other. It is important to note, however, that despite this lack of congruence, the game does not feel disjointed, largely due to the character interactions between the two sets of protagonists. There is a moment towards the end of the game where the two gameplay types cease to act like oil and water and instead act like peanut butter and chocolate. Needless to say, this moment is nothing short of pure gameplay bliss and one of the most memorable moments of the entire game.  The Layton-inspired puzzles are various logic puzzles. For players unfamiliar with the games, these puzzles often require a decent amount of brainpower and/or trial and error to solve correctly, and the objective of each puzzle is different. The difficulty of these puzzles is widely inconsistent, as some of the final puzzles are laughably simple.  Some puzzles are required to progress, while others are included simply for players who want to try more puzzles. The context for these "extra" puzzles is always absurd, in an endearing way. Meeting someone on the street and having them challenge the player to a puzzle just because is absolutely ridiculous and perfect. The story puzzles are always given context and make a remarkable amount of sense within that context, making them feel very real. [embed]280424:55505:0[/embed] As for the Ace Attorney-inspired court cases, players will listen to witnesses tell their testimony, and then have a chance to point out any inconsistencies or contradictions they can find. Players can "Press" the witness, which involves Phoenix Wright asking for more clarification on a specific statement. Players can also Present information to the court, which will bring up a key piece of evidence to hopefully point out a flaw in a witness' testimony.  This time around, there can be more than one person on the witness stand at a time. This allows for a slightly different mechanic of asking two witnesses about the same topic. While pressing a witness, another witness may make a sound if they hear something funky. At that point, the player can move to that witness and ask why they had a reaction to what was said. It's a decent mechanic that lends itself to a little bit of repetition, since the original witness' testimony will be cut short when moving to another witness, and to hear the entire testimony players will have to press the original witness again. Hint Coins can be found while exploring the town and can be utilized in both the Layton-style puzzles and the Ace Attorney-esque courtroom scenes. During the logic puzzles, Hint Coins will slowly reveal more of the solution, until finally telling the player "alright fine here's the answer," essentially. In the courtroom, Hint Coins can be used when a player has no clue what to do next. The game will then let the player know who to Press or Present to, and when presenting, Hint Coins will remove certain incorrect options from the evidence to narrow it down for the player. The game's visual style and technical capabilities are wonderful. The town of Labyrinthia truly does feel alive with vibrant characters while maintaining a sense of a seedy underbelly and something very sinister lurking around. There are some moments in the game where the framerate becomes noticeably terrible. This is often when there are many animated characters on the screen, and happens whether the 3D slider is on or off. Speaking of which, the stereoscopic 3D presentation is great and is easily the best way to experience the game. The music and sound effects from each game make an appearance, but much of the music is new to go with the "Middle Ages" theme of the town of Labyrinthia. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is two great tastes that taste great together, even if they don't congeal together until the finale. But wow, what a finale it is! The framerate issues are very unfortunate and the new Ace Attorney mechanics can make the game a bit repetitive, but with over 20 hours of well-written content, this is a game who will please fans of either series, and will delight anyone who is a fan of both series. This game is also a great entry point for either series, since it offers a glimpse into both without heavily favoring one or the other.
Layton vs Wright review photo
Gentlemanly and Objectiony
You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate!  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are great. Personally, my favorite part is the edge, as long as you still get a little bit of peanut butter along ...

Techies omg  photo
Techies omg

Techies officially coming to Dota 2 next week


'Time to find a new hobby'
Aug 30
// Patrick Hancock
Techies, the explosive and suicidal Dota 2 Hero, is finally coming to the game next week, as detailed in the latest Dota 2 blog update. I've never played Techies in DOTA, but here's what I've gathered so far: Techie...
Dota 2 MMR video! photo
Introducing Dota 2 benchwarMMR!
Believe it or not, in all my time spent in Dota 2, I've never played a single solo matchmaking game. I've played plenty of team games, but the anxiety that comes with playing alone with strangers gets to me while playing Dot...







Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
What is the meaning of life, and do you have any more pizza rolls?
You may remix all content on this site under Creative Commons with Attribution
- Living the dream, Since 2006 -