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Review: Subject 13

Jun 29 // Caitlin Cooke
Subject 13 (PC) Developer: Paul Cuisset , Microids Publisher: Gravity Europe SAS Release: May 28, 2015 Subject 13 begins dramatically with your character, Franklin Fargo (yes, that’s his actual name), attempting suicide via driving into a river. As he descends into the water, a mysterious event occurs which transports him into an abandoned research facility inhabited by a strange disembodied robotic voice. Franklin (otherwise known as Subject 13) is encouraged by this entity to use his intellect to solve puzzles and make it out of the compound -- and thus begins the challenge. The gameplay has a nice balance to it, starting off with fairly simple concepts as an introduction but not taking too long to get your mind ticking. Most of the challenges are spin-offs of popular games and brain teasers like Reversi, Minesweeper, sliding puzzles, etc. If you aren’t a fan of these kinds of puzzles -- especially sliders since they make up approximately half of the puzzles -- then this game may not be for you. There’s also a bit of traditional point-and-click detective work along with finding items as you search for ways to make it past obstacles. The game’s inventory allows you to inspect, rotate, and zoom in on any item -- which adds additional complexity to the puzzles, as many of them require you to modify, combine, or inspect items to find solutions. If you get stuck, a hint is available at any time, however I found them to be simple and would often give me information I had already figured out on my own. Contextualized pointers are extremely helpful and help you determine if an object is movable, or requires an item to move forward. When solving more complex puzzles, the game transitions to a clear first-person viewpoint which makes the puzzles easy to work with and simple to back out of with the scroll of a mouse wheel. Luckily, there were only a few moments when I felt puzzle logic or solutions were obtuse and I needed to search for help online. While Subject 13 isn’t extremely long, the pacing is just right in terms of the story. Small plot elements are sprinkled throughout in “testimonies”, recordings from researchers who had lived in the complex. The mysterious voice that guides you throughout the game also occasionally asks questions to which you can respond and in turn receive background info on Franklin. Strange occurrences become more and more frequent as you progress, revealing more of the interesting details of the story. Eerie background music is perfectly stationed throughout, amplifying the mysterious setting. The plot and story elements seemed to borrow heavily from other games (ie Portal and Mass Effect come to mind), however Subject 13 is interesting in its own right. The only real downside to the story was the quality of the dialogue and voice acting -- unfortunately the latter wasn’t very good, and some of the dialogue came off as cheesy. The writing could have also used some proofing, as there were times when the dialogue didn’t match up with the subtitles, or just didn’t quite flow well. However it was a valiant effort for an indie game with only two voice actors. Being a puzzle fanatic, I really enjoyed Subject 13, but I was disappointed with a few elements. For example, sometimes the action wheel where you could view or take an item wouldn’t connect, depending on which angle you were viewing the object from. More than a few times I found that I missed clues because of this. I also felt it was a bit of a let down to make the last puzzle of the game an extremely large, glorified Minesweeper. I was hoping that with the ingenuity of some of the previous puzzles that the game would go out with a bang. That being said, Subject 13 as a whole is thoughtfully challenging. I can see it working really well for casual and hardcore puzzle fans alike as it intermingles timeless puzzles with original concepts. Despite the storyline having some slightly cheesy and generic moments, it was intriguing enough to keep me interested and engaged. Although it doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors in the genre, it’s definitely worth a play if you’re a fan of exploration puzzlers. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Subject 13 review photo
Logic always wins
Point-and-click puzzle adventures set in an abandoned world were always my favorite games to play growing up. There’s something exciting about uncovering the story of a desolate world via solving puzzles -- games like T...

Uncle Jack photo
Uncle Jack

Let We Happy Few's Uncle Jack tuck you into bed tonight


Definitely not creepy
Jun 26
// Darren Nakamura
It's getting late. Have you applied the minty paste to the exposed part of your skeleton? If so, let good old Uncle Jack read you a bedtime story. It will be fun! You won't have nightmares. Probably. One of the neat things a...
Manflesh photo
Manflesh

Want some hairy game devs on your wall? Here's a calendar


I made a game once, just sayin'
Jun 25
// Joe Parlock
Well here’s a calendar that will make you weak at the knees. The Men of Game Development 2016 XTREME EDITION calendar is currently on Kickstarter and is asking for $3000 to get some well-known faces in game development ...
Pillars of Eternity photo
Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity: The White March is set to be one epic expansion


Part one launches this year
Jun 23
// Alessandro Fillari
As one of Obsidian Entertainment's most ambitious titles, Pillars of Eternity earned a lot of respect from fans of the genre. The developers found great success in returning to their roots, and they've got more in store for t...
Shenmue 3 photo
Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 needs $10 million for a true open world


What are we really getting at what cost?
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
Shenmue 3's existence is pretty neat. Its presence on a major publisher's stage show to hock a Kickstarter is less neat, to me. Obviously the $2 million goal (and $3.5 million raised at time of writing) would not be enough fo...

Crossing Souls is a stellar tribute to the 1980s

Jun 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Set in a small town during the summer of 1986, a group of friends stumble across an ancient artifact that allows them to connect with the world of the dead. Interacting with ghosts of former residents, both long-past and recently departed, they begin to learn that things are not what they appear to be in their boring, quiet town. But soon after, they discover that several forces want control of the relic for themselves, and they must evade police, the U.S. government, and other supernatural entities in order to keep it out of their hands. The developers behind Crossing Souls cite '80s films and TV, along with '90s video games like EarthBound and A Link to the Past as their major sources of inspiration. During my half hour with the game, it was clear that this was a love letter to the era. It not only exudes style channeling the playful rebelliousness of E.T. and The Goonies, but also the sense of adventure found in SNES action/adventure titles. Stylistically, it's a charming game featuring VHS-esque distortion during many of the animated cutscenes. And with music from Timecop1983, one of the Internet's more well known Snyth-Pop artists, Crossing Souls pulls those nostalgia strings hard, and it does so in an evocative way. As the group must keep the balance between the world of the living and the dead, they'll have to explore both realms simultaneously. Each of the five friends possess their own strengths, which necessitates switching between them. Some have certain skills for climbing and heavy lifting, while others have access to ranged attacks. While exploring the town, you can freely interact with the folks from both the living and dead realms. It's completely open, and you can uncover side-missions and events that will have you explore the furthest reaches of town. My favorite part of the demo was exploring the town square and seeing ghosts from the past comment about 1980s culture. It was interesting to see the changes between the two. In one world you could be relatively safe in a populated area, but in another you might get swarmed by vengeful ghosts looking to attack anything alive. Also featured in the game will be an Arcade mode. Throughout your adventures, you'll come across mini-games and special encounters that will have you take part in a trial of wits and timing, and after they're completed you can play them again at any time within this mode. During one segment, I had to evade the police on my bike in style very reminiscent of Battletoad's infamous speeder bike sequence. Thankfully, this one was a lot more fun and less stressful. I wonder what else the game has in store. The mini-games were a cool diversion from the core gameplay, and I'm sure most players will find one they'll gravitate to. I wish I could've spent more time with Crossing Souls. I'm a huge admirer of 1980s culture and entertainment, and it hit all the right nostalgic notes. This was totally the type of game any '80s and even '90s kid would want to experience, and it recalled all the cool moments I had playing video games or watching cartoons back then. Fourattic channels that sense of wonder and awe of experiencing something so fresh and charming. I can't wait to see more from this title in the coming months, and with its release next spring, you'll get to re-experience an era of exuberance soon.
Devolver Digital photo
Releasing on PC and Mac in spring
In recent years, Kickstarter has opened the doors for a lot of developers looking to make things happen. It's a real pleasure to see titles that would've never been greenlit by publishers find an audience willing to put up ca...

Elite: Dangerous for Xbox One adds new multiplayer mode

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
With its recent launch on Xbox One, Elite: Dangerous has seen immediate success on the console. Boasting over 500,000 active players, the community is very active and passionate about the game. The developers stated that though PC and Xbox One players can't play with one another, the economy and active-narrative within the universe is consistent with shared, which makes the universe feel more alive than ever before.During our presentation, we got to witness the upcoming multiplayer content, the Close Quarters Championship. Taking place in instanced arenas around the known universe, players will be able to take their best ship and compete with others in a variety of different modes ranging from Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch, and a altered take on CTF called "Capture the Datasphere". As they level up and acquire currency, they'll be able to upgrade their multiplayer ship and build it up to be a top dog within the CQC. All upgrades made in CQC will only be available for multiplayer. The developers felt the mechanics and systems within the multiplayer were unique and required an extra boost, and that players can already acquire a massive amount of content within the open universe.Though the content is only set for Xbox One as of now, players on PC can expect to see it sometime later this year. The developers felt that the Xbox community was the best place to test out the new mode, given the existing player community that loves their MP content. Speaking of which, the Xbox One version of Elite has developed quite well. As it's in beta presently, the developers are still working on new features and tweaks to the port. One of the proudest accomplishments they had with the development of the console release was that they were able to place all the mechanics into the controller without watering down the gameplay. The controller utilizes context-sensitive prompts and hold-button options to bring up new options. It's pretty clever, given the scope of the original title.If you're interested in giving Elite: Dangerous a shot, and don't possess a beastly PC to do so, then the Xbox One release is your best shot. Currently on discount, this port retains all the best elements of the game, and might even make it a bit more accessible for those who may have been scared off by the scope of the PC title. And with new content coming to console first, there's plenty incentive to give it a go.
Elite: Dangerous photo
Launches in July, PC later this year
As one of the most well-known Kickstarter titles, Elite: Dangerous has really become a massive and seminal title within the PC community. With an entire universe to explore, built to scale according to the developers, they pr...

Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter ends with over $3.25 million


More like Moola-Baybee
Jun 16
// Darren Nakamura
It was a long journey, but it has come to an end. A month and a half ago, the Banjo-Kazooie-esque 3D platformer showed up on Kickstarter, and it crushed its initial goal of £175,000 on day one, hitting over &p...
Shenmue 3 success photo
Hoping for a Dreamcast stretch goal
One of the bombs dropped last night during Sony's press conference was that Shenmue 3 was coming, if the Kickstarter succeeded. It was a tough journey, but after a harrowing handful of hours, the project managed to ...

Shenmue 3 photo
Hell froze over 3 times tonight
It's already been a heck of a night for games that we never thought we'd see happen -- The Last Guardian, a Final Fantasy 7 remake, and now Shenmue 3 on Kickstarter. Yu Suzuki, creator of Shenmue, Outrun, and many ...

Bloodstained Kickstarter photo
Bloodstained Kickstarter

Bloodstained Kickstarter ends with over $5.7 million pledged


Hit all stretch goals, set records
Jun 12
// Darren Nakamura
It doesn't feel like it has been a month since we were first asked "sword or whip?" or we first heard the term "Igavania," but here we are. Koji Igarashi and company launched the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual ...
Bloodstained: Ritual photo
Bloodstained: Ritual

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night cracks $4.5 million, gets Shovel Knight crossover


He's looking bulky
Jun 12
// Chris Carter
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is sticking it to the man, with $4.5 million raised, making it the most successful game on Kickstarter. But IGA and his team aren't resting on their laurels just yet, as even more conten...
Perception photo
Perception

Perception Kickstarter hits $100K, devs release new 'found footage' teaser


Bluff Witch Project
Jun 12
// Vikki Blake
As the Kickstarter campaign for Perception celebrates hitting $100K, the development team behind the upcoming horror game has released a new "found footage" trailer video. The video -- which will feel familiar in a Blai...
The Bard's Tale IV photo
The Bard's Tale IV

Back The Bard's Tale IV kickstarter, get three Bard games free


Well. If you pay $20+, anyways
Jun 11
// Vikki Blake
Back The Bard's Tale IV's Kickstarter Campaign with $20 or more of your hard-earned cash, and you'll secure yourself the "free incentive" of the first three games in the series for free. That's full versions of The ...
Yooka-Laylee music photo
Yooka-Laylee music

Yooka-Laylee teaser track sounds straight out of Banjo-Kazooie


Glacier World
Jun 10
// Jordan Devore
Ooh, this is nice. Composer Grant Kirkhope shared the unfinished track for Yooka-Laylee's ice world, and it sounds right at home for a game that leverages fond memories of Rare's glory days. The crowdfunding drive has smashe...
Hi-Rez photo
Hi-Rez

Hi-Rez tried to be funny on Kickstarter


Let's all shuffle awkwardly away
Jun 10
// Joe Parlock
[Update #3: A Hi-Rez employee who wishes to remain anonymous confirmed that Andrew Sexton is part of the Hi-Rez marketing team and also provided us with the following comment: "There are a number of employees that haven...
Diluvion Kickstarter photo
Diluvion Kickstarter

Manage an ornate submarine in the open world of Diluvion


2D and 3D gameplay
Jun 10
// Darren Nakamura
Sure, big name Kickstarters like Bloodstained and Yooka-Laylee are in the spotlight right now with their campaigns winding down having made millions of dollars. But don't forget that there are others out there looking for th...
1st Bloodstained footage photo
1st Bloodstained footage

Watch IGA play Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night


Creator shows off debut gameplay footage
Jun 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Well, here's something you don't see too often. Koji Igarashi and Inti Creates have let us peer into their world, sharing the first (albeit very early and off-screen) footage of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night in...
Bloodstained Vita photo
Bloodstained Vita

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will get a PS Vita version


By the same team doing the Wii U port
Jun 06
// Darren Nakamura
Back when Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night hit its Wii U stretch goal a week ago, it also revealed that for an additional half million dollars it would come to the PlayStation Vita. I was pretty sure it would hit that b...
IGA the vampire murderer photo
IGA the vampire murderer

Igarashi is the world's greatest vampire hunter


Whip it good, with Mega64
Jun 05
// Jed Whitaker
Mega64 has partnered with the father of Castlevania, Koji Igarashi, to craft a brutal tale of vampire murder to help promote Iga's Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Kickstarter. Currently Bloodstained is just shy of the...
Bard's Tale trailer photo
Bard's Tale trailer

The Bard's Tale IV makes good use of Unreal Engine 4


First-person exploration!
Jun 04
// Jordan Devore
Oh, good. When inXile launched its Kickstarter for The Bard's Tale IV earlier this week, there wasn't much to go on in terms of actual game footage or assets. Here's an in-engine look at the hopeful dungeon crawler which, at...
We Happy Few Kickstarter photo
We Happy Few Kickstarter

Compulsion's We Happy Few Kickstarter is live


Pre-alpha access to higher backers
Jun 04
// Darren Nakamura
We Happy Few grabbed us with its announcement trailer, but it wasn't until PAX East this year that I got to run through an early build. I had to literally run, because the crazed inhabitants of Wellington Wells kept chasing ...

Stonehearth is out now on Steam Early Access

Jun 03 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]293233:58798:0[/embed] Like many other crowdfunded projects, Stonehearth began as a passion project, but it soon grew into something more. Working on the game in their spare time, the developers eventually were able to attract major interest from their Kickstarter campaign, which snowballed from there. With its release on Steam Early Access, Radiant Entertainment's Tom Cannon (also the co-founder of the Evo Championship Series) spoke about Stonehearth's inception and its growth into what it is now. "We started the game as a passion project. We had jobs in Silicon Valley that weren't really personally satisfying because we're hardcore gamers, so we did the Kickstarter back in 2013 to see if the idea we thought was cool," he said. "And the Kickstarter went well, and then we could make the game, but we had to pitch the game to our friends, which got them on board as well -- expanding the team. We spent two years making out prototype, which we showed in the Kickstarter video, and turned it into an actual game." In similar vein to the notoriously tricky and complex Dwarf Fortress, Stonehearth tasks players with creating their own unique civilizations in a procedurally-generated landscape from the ground up. Starting with just a few settlers, all randomized with their own personalities and skills, you'll soon be foraging for supplies and using tools to craft shelters and other necessities in order to survive. As you mine nearby mountains, bring in new settlers, build roads, raise your castle, and amass gold, your population will thrive and expand in unique ways. But as you build your civilization, you'll soon catch the interest of the local goblins who've got their own place in the dirt, and they may not take kindly to seeing outsiders take up residence in the same plot of land. The goblins serve as a necessary evil, as they not only serve to be your major obstacle from thriving, but they're also an opposing force that builds alongside your civilization. While in some cases you can simply negotiate terms for peace, resulting in trading of goods or paying them off to leave you in peace, other times you'll have no choice but to confront them head on. Among your settlers are those who've got the prowess to fight the goblins, but bare in mind not everyone has the courage to do so, and they could run away at the very sight of even a lowly goblin. Picking the right troops is just as important as collecting gold or building an installation, as losing a battle can have dire consequences. Though I mentioned it was similar to Dwarf Fortress, don't fret. The folks at Radiant wanted to emulate its complexity and depth found but ultimately sought to make Stonehearth easier to get into. Less daunting. Don't think of this as Dwarf Fortress with training wheels, though. Stonehearth definitely retains the hardcore focus and depth found in other sim titles. A neat trick Radiant employs to make things interesting is the A.I. director, which analyzes your behavior and throws in challenges based on your current pace of play. PC titles that take advantage of work created by fans are commonplace, and the team wanted to ensure players had access to the same tools it used to create the game to build their own additions and tweaks to Stonehearth. As an example, Cannon showed off one of the more humorous mods from fans, which reskined the game to look like a Candy Land tie-in. Trees turned to lollipops, and the ground textures looked as though they were caked in frosting. While most mods will add simple user interface and gameplay changes, many seek to alter the aesthetic and overall experience, and it's encouraging to see that the developers are so supportive. "We're incredibly mod friendly, so we love mods," said Cannon while showing off the Candy Land mod. "Our approach to mods is that all of our file formats are just open text files, and we have a modding forum to talk with others, if that's what you want to do. We give our modders all the tools they need to build the game, we want there to be tons and tons of mods because we love seeing what people do with the game." I was impressed with the level of complexity found in Stonehearth. The developers do a great job showing life and action happen during the creation of your kingdom, and I felt that the voxel aesthetic adds a lot to the charm. Though I'm not too into the sim genre, I was pretty taken with the gameplay in Stonehearth. One of the most satisfying aspects of these titles is seeing your hard work result in a functioning and healthy society that cannot only expand and thrive, but do so without you regularly needing to intervene. I'm interested in seeing where Radiant Entertainment's title goes from here. Games such as this need a passionate community to flourish, and given the already extensive mod support in place, it looks like Stonehearth will have a bright future. It's currently the #1 seller on Steam's Early Access page. I'm quite looking forward to seeing the follow-up to the Candy Land mod. Given time, I'm sure the fans will come up with something crazier than that! Stonehearth [Steam Early Access]
Stonehearth photo
3D Dot Civilization Builder
It's incredible to see how Kickstarter has given rise to so many titles. Sure, there's the heavy hitters like Broken Age, Wasteland 2, and Pillars of Eternity, but there are many others that came out of nowhere to leave such ...

Kickstarter photo
Kickstarter

inXile Entertainment launches Kickstarter for The Bard's Tale IV


Going for the hat trick
Jun 02
// Alessandro Fillari
Just when you thought Kickstarter had plateaued, there comes another campaign set to reignite the fire for crowdfunded game development. After the successes of other titles such as Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained from different...
Greed Monger photo
Greed Monger

Developers offer their games to Greed Monger backers


Greed Monger ran off pre-made platform
Jun 01
// Joe Parlock
Last week on Destructoid we reported on the colossal failure that was Greed Monger. Cancelled after three years of development and $100,000 raised via crowdfunding, those who pledged to the game would no longer be receiving t...
Bloodstained Wii U photo
Bloodstained Wii U

Bloodstained hits Wii U stretch goal, Vita stretch goal revealed


I'm interested in this
May 30
// Darren Nakamura
Though the Kickstarter page for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night still lists the current total at under $3 million, a recent backer update revealed that adding in non-Kickstarter PayPal funding brings it up to that mark. So ...
Greed Monger photo
Greed Monger

Greed Monger cancelled after raising $100k


Another in a long line of KS failures
May 29
// Joe Parlock
Here’s a fun game dev fact for you: making an MMO is a long, hard, and expensive task that will generally end in failure and misery for everyone involved. If huge companies like BioWare can screw it up, it’s proba...
Synth photo
Synth

We could use more racing games like Power Drive 2000


Synth
May 28
// Steven Hansen
Racing games have flattened. There are still kart racers and there are still realistic racers (with mild middle ground for realistic-looking arcade racers, like Forza Horizon) and that's it. Why? Where are the horse racers a...
Bloodstained photo
Bloodstained

Deep Silver is most likely publishing Bloodstained


It'd fall in line with Mighty No. 9
May 28
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Doug Wolf, the attorney of record, called us back and confirmed that he filed the trademark on behalf of Koch Media. It looks like this rumor pans out, although Deep Silver has yet to respond.] When Koji Igarash...
Pokemon photo
Pokemon

'To Be the Very Best' follows real Pokemon trainers


Team Rocket steals all their 3DSes
May 28
// Joe Parlock
I’ve never paid much attention to the confusing world of competitive Pokémon. EV training, natures, actually caring about a Pokémon's stats... it all confuses me. However, a documentary currently on Kickst...

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