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Telltale Storytime photo
Telltale Storytime

Telltale founders discuss the studio's evolution at PAX East 2015


2700 people in the Main Theater will remember that
Mar 06
// Darren Nakamura
At PAX East's big opening panel, Telltale Games co-founders Dan Connors and Kevin Bruner talked about how Telltale came into being. They began by following the storytelling path through the ages, from telling stories around a...
FFXIV photo
FFXIV

Square Enix is streaming its Final Fantasy XIV expansion PAX East panel


More Heavensward info
Mar 05
// Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV's Heavensward expansion is coming this year, with a host of new classes, dungeons, and changes. On March 7, Square Enix will share more information about what's to come as part of the PAX East festiviti...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

I fear for my fingers after seeing Amplitude in action


Playable at PAX East booth #4224
Mar 02
// Jordan Devore
Harmonix is reviving Amplitude this summer and, if recent rumors hold up, Activison might bring back Guitar Hero. The lows of the rhythm genre are real low, but I'm ready for that high again. Going into this weekend's PAX Ea...
Necropolis photo
Necropolis

Harebrained Schemes' new adventure has shark men


Swing by Necropolis at PAX East
Feb 27
// Jordan Devore
"A third-person action game with shark men? Okay, I'll let them know." I ever so foolishly forgot that Shadowrun Returns maker Harebrained Schemes has Necropolis, "a game of brutal combat and survival," in its pipeline. The ...
Announcement trailer photo
Announcement trailer

Masquerada is a very pretty Baldur's Gate-style RPG


Banner Saga levels of isometric, 2D goodness
Feb 26
// Steven Hansen
Leading with the Dragon Age comparison probably would've gotten more eyes on this these days, huh? The Baldur's Gate reference point just makes the most sense, though, especially with the isometric view. And there are plenty...
Liege trailer photo
Liege trailer

Liege is like chess, but with more face-stabbery


It's looking badass in this new GDC/PAX East trailer
Feb 25
// Rob Morrow
Coda Games' sole developer John Rhee just uploaded a revealing new pre-expo teaser for his Kickstarter-funded SRPG trilogy, Liege. In it, we get to see the most recent gameplay footage of the elegant, turn-based/tactica...
Indie Megabooth photo
Indie Megabooth

Indie Megabooth is the place to be at PAX East


Say hi to Holmes and crew when you're in Boston
Feb 23
// Jordan Devore
"Dad By The Sword is a game about YOUR DAD running around in jorts and slaying Anti-Dads with a claymore. Experience a unique First Person Swordplay experience as you try not to get killed by leaping hot dog monsters. Out...
PAX East photo
PAX East

Developer Giant Spacekat exits PAX East due to threats


Remember when we played games?
Feb 18
// Robert Summa
The embarrassment caused by a certain faction of the gaming space continues to make things terrible for just about everyone. Because some keyboard warriors refuse to see reason and behave with basic human decency, developer G...

Dungeon Defenders II is shaping up nicely on both PS4 and PC

Jan 28 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]286809:57064:0[/embed] At PAX South I had the chance to check out the four player cooperative role-playing tower defense title. Okay, it might not fit nicely into a traditional genre, but it ends up making sense when you play it. Even for complete newcomers to the series, it works -- it just takes a bit longer than expected. Playing on the one PlayStation 4 build at the kiosk, the developers walked me through an introductory five-wave map of Dungeon Defenders II that proved to be challenging yet manageable. Eschewing the role of squire, wizard, and monk, I opted to play as a huntress, as I figured her bow would (hopefully) make for some interesting cross-map headshots. After setting down a smattering of traps to guard each lane, I initiated the action. Baddie after baddie swarmed the core I was assigned to protect. Damn. It took some brute force, but I eventually whittled their numbers done to nothing. Turns out that the pre-combat planning may be just as (or more) important than the actual fighting. Throughout the remaining four rounds, I set increasingly elaborate traps, combined them with my weapon's elemental buff, and made better use of the environment. It sort of clicked, and I got to imagining what playing as a full team might be like -- everyone wreaking havoc, causing even more bright swathes of color to fly across the already radiant screen. That was all before I got into the RPG elements of Dungeon Defenders II. I saw a fair amount of loot and currency dropped, but didn't have much of a chance to grasp how they could be set in motion to ensure constant progression. But, assuming it's as personal as customization in RPGs tends to be, it's easy to see how it'd be especially easy to get attached to the advancement of a particular character. Where Dungeon Defenders II's uncertainty lies is within the finer tuning of the PS4 adaption. While the action handled nicely enough, the button combinations for certain moves and trap placement felt cumbersome at times. Also, the menus sported a mouse cursor controlled by the analog stick (a feature which will presumably be swapped out for something more traditional and fluid). All that made a bit more sense when Trendy told me where its priorities were with Dungeon Defenders II. This one, unlike its predecessor, was build with mouse and keyboard in mind. Porting that all over to a controller scheme is a challenge that the developers accepted as a trade-off for making sure the PC version is ideal. While not many have tried their hand at the PS4, plenty have played it already on PC. At the Dungeon Defenders booth, an excited frenzy broke out as a team of players made it to wave five on nightmare mode. Everyone tending to the kiosk was beside themselves as this was the furthest anyone at the show had made it. I wondered if that were something truly special. I inquired as to whether the Early Access players had made it that far. Yeah, they had. Of course they had. In fact, they were doing things that were surprising the developers. After a very rudimentary go at Dungeon Defenders II, I can't help but think that if it's those players that are helping shape the game, it's probably in pretty good hands.
Dungeon Defenders II photo
The PC version's ahead by a light-year, though
Trendy Entertainment has already bestowed Dungeon Defenders II upon its most invested fans. In fact, they've had it for more than a month now. "Invested" is the only way to describe those people -- both financially and m...

Knight Squad was the most fun I had at PAX South

Jan 28 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]286807:57063:0[/embed] Like any party game worth its salt, Knight Squad forces you into a good-natured competitive flurry for a few minutes at a time. And, when any given round is over, everyone will want to immediately start a new one. It's easy to pick up and difficult to put down. Boasting eight-player action, Knight Squad either pits everyone against one another separates them into four person teams. There are eight game modes -- a few vaguely innovative, most classics everyone knows and loves. The likes of team and free-for-all capture the flag are present, and were maybe the biggest hits all weekend. For my money, working as a team to push a giant soccer ball while fighting off the other side was the most enjoyable. Honestly though, it didn't really matter which mode was played, as all players were fully into every round. Littering the battlefield are power-ups that constantly regenerate. Some are a bit more passive like boots to increase speed, or a sword to give a tiny bit more reach. Others were brazenly in-your-face like a kamikaze bomb and a lightning rod that shot streaks across the screen. Whatever your method, Knight Squads brisk-paced action ensures you won't remain dedicated to it for too long. Deaths come at a quick clip, and that power-up you really liked suddenly isn't yours anymore. No worries, some other combination will manifest itself this time -- oops, you're dead again. Oh well, right back into the fray. Despite being surrounded by seven other players, I flexed my Knight Squad prowess immediately. You see, I had a bit of an unfair advantage. I played it at PAX Prime during an impromptu play session at an indie showcase. When I got an email from the developers asking to book a PAX South appointment, I didn't have to wonder what kind of coverage I'd get out of it. I just wanted to play again. That's why, of all the bookings at PAX South, Knight Squad was the only one I insisted Kyle accompany me on. For the life of him, he couldn't understand why. Admittedly, it doesn't look like much at first. Once we had one round under our belts, we didn't want to leave. It's the kind of game that just grabs you and never lets go until the party's over. We stayed and kept playing, damn the ever-increasing mess of people behind us. It's unknown if that magic will transfer over to an online crowd. It's unlikely that many will be able to accommodate eight players in their living room, so online is where most will see Knight Squad in full force. While the game's Early Access right now, the first online version should go live sometime this week. The final retail build is scheduled to release sometime around late March on PC and Xbox One. For ID@Xbox parity clause reasons, Chainsawesome will start thinking about other platforms (likely PS4 and Wii U) at a later date. Whenever it comes to your platform of choice, there's a good time awaiting you. It's a dose of Bomberman, a dash of Gauntlet, and a whole heaping of trash-talking your friends. That is, until you inevitably get shanked in retribution. Alas, that's the circle of life in Knight Squad.
Knight Squad preview photo
And it wasn't even close
If you were to take booths' popularity at PAX South and plot them on a heat map, most of the obvious candidates would stick out. Twitch would be red hot, as it constantly had a flurry of people swarming to watch their favorit...

Borderlands Pre-Sequel photo
Borderlands Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel's new downloadable character is out this Tuesday


Gearbox hints about the upcoming story DLC too
Jan 25
// Darren Nakamura
The inaugural PAX South is wrapping up today, and Gearbox's panel just ended. We heard about the plans with Homeworld earlier, but the studio's cash cow for the past several years has been the Borderlands series, so of course...

You might be tempted to call Ronin 'Kill Bill: the Videogame'

Jan 24 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]286521:56979:0[/embed] It's that emergence of two conflicting styles that makes Ronin so satisfying. In the three-stage demo I played, I was tasked with working my way through buildings, hacking terminals, and eventually assassinating a target. Outfitted with a target marker outlining where any particular leap would transplant me, I hopped across levels and climbed up walls. Easy enough, no real threat there. However, when running across the increasing number of guards patrolling the secured area, that's when the turn-based action took a front seat. As soon as an enemy sees you, Ronin immediately switches formats. As a laser sight trains on you, you're given a ton of options and an endless amount of time to determine the best approach to the situation. An early encounter had me jumping to the ceiling of a room to dodge a single shot. On the next turn, the guard's focus followed me, so it required jumping back down the ground so that he shot high. Repeat until close enough to dispatch him with a melee kill. In the event that no guards in a room saw me (which happened often because sticking to the shadows is the way to go), real-time could be employed to stealthily sneak up on them one at a time. But, once spotted, it was back to the challenge of figuring out what sequence of jumps and kills would result in simply living past the encounter. That's not to say that Ronin funnels the player into two distinctly different combat approaches. At any time, a button press will switch the action to the other method. If you'd rather take a stab at brute-forcing your way through a section, go ahead. Although, chances are you won't make it very far. The method may feel new, but the reason for the madness will probably come with a twinge of familiarity. In a lot of ways, Ronin is kind of Kill Bill: the Videogame. It follows a helmet-clad, motorcycle-suited protagonist on a quest for revenge. Bloodshed is the only acceptable method, as she tries to infiltrate complexes and assassinate the leaders who wronged her. Then, at the end of each level, she gets away on a slick, souped-up bike. Even though it cribs from Tarantino fairly heavily, Ronin is still an absolute joy to play. A Devolver representative who hadn't played much presented the game to me, and we essentially figured out the last stage together. It was like a chess match against the enemies where we had to think three steps ahead at all time. Many deaths occurred, but we eventually got through all of the hairy situations. I was playing, but it honestly may have been just as enjoyable in his shoes -- helping outline the strategy turn by turn but not executing. The culmination of all of that was an appointment that ran over on time, but felt like it passed by in a breeze. I simply lost myself playing Ronin. I think that might be the case for a lot of people when they get to try it first-hand. It's so much more clever than it initially looks, and you'll consume yourself with trying to figure it out. And to think that its exposure was almost limited to a few who tried it at a game jam.
Ronin preview photo
But it's so much more than that
Devolver Digital has a penchant for picking up clever game jam submissions and giving them a chance to grow into fully-realized titles. Titan Souls is a fine example, and it would have never had any exposure outside of t...

Cave Story photo
Cave Story

Cave Story 2 folder spotted on Nicalis desktop at PAX South


Could mean nothing, or it could mean everything
Jan 24
// Jonathan Holmes
PAX South is going on right now, and two of our most honey-loving sugarbears are in the fray as we speak, lapping up all that sweet golden joy. One of the games they're set to check out is Nicalis's Castle in the Darkness, a ...
Twitch at PAX South photo
Twitch at PAX South

Not going to PAX South? Here's the next best thing


Twitch has your back
Jan 21
// Brett Makedonski
San Antonio, Texas will be the epicenter of the gaming world this weekend as thousands descend upon the city for the first incarnation of PAX South. No one really knows how it'll go. Maybe it'll mark the beginning of the thir...
Nintendo at PAX South photo
Nintendo at PAX South

Majora's Mask 3D and New 3DS XL playable at PAX South


Also Super Smash Bros., for those living in the past
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
The New Nintendo 3DS XL is the current hot commodity for Nintendo fans, with special edition units selling out. For those who are not so keen on ordering one before playing, an opportunity to get some hands-on time is coming ...
PAX East photo
PAX East

Heads up! PAX East badges are on sale right now


If you're too late, just stare at this picture for a while
Nov 12
// Jordan Devore
Passes for PAX East are on sale! Get in here while you still can. The show takes place at the Boston Convention Center the weekend of Friday, March 6, 2015. Tickets are $45 for a single-day badge and $95 for a three-day badge. Scalpers be damned. I've never made it out to Boston, but I'd like to go, one day. The weather that time of year, though!
 photo
...And we're just getting around to posting this now.
Our pal Mike Cosimano (who, in all seriousness rivals Jonathan Holmes when it comes to kindness and all-around positivity) was our video editing man at PAX Prime earlier this month. I made sure he got a chance to check out s...

Bloodborne photo
Bloodborne

Only 20 people beat the Bloodborne demo at PAX


40 at Tokyo Game Show
Sep 23
// Jordan Devore
Leading into Tokyo Game Show, Bloodborne producer Masaaki Yamagiwa issued a challenge of sorts to players hoping to best the demo. He and Sony marketing manager Yasuhiro Kitao have since shared the results, as reported by Dua...
BioWare photo
Wizards with skinny ties
BioWare had my attention with those live-action teasers building up to Shadow Realms, but I've not kept up with the four-versus-one "modern" fantasy role-playing game since it was proper unveiled. If you're in a similar boat...

Adventure Time Game Wizard has a pretty cool level editor

Sep 11 // Abel Girmay
So the level editor sound cool, huh? Unfortunately, the rest of the game drops the ball. Adventure Time Game Wizard is a platformer with awful controls, and a platformer with awful controls cannot carry itself very far. Out of all the different ways we've seen platformers played on a touch display, Game Wizard opts for a virtual d-pad setup. Simple commands, like switching directions, felt needlessly janky. Didn't matter whether I slid my finger over the d-pad or tapped it -- there was a noticeable pause in the time between hitting a new directional button, making the experience frustrating when going through the story mode. You can just imagine how unforgiving it can feel when playing on amateur fan-made levels. I like Adventure Time and would really dig a good game based off the show, so it hurts that this handles the way it does. Despite the rather ingenious level editor, Game Wizard is just par for the course for licensed games.
Adventure Time photo
But terrible platforming
There's a new game coming out based on everybody's favorite television show, Adventure Time! You know what that means right? Go on and grab your friends, because we're going to some very distant la---actually, you might want ...

Titan Souls is my PAX Prime 2014 game of show

Sep 11 // Abel Girmay
There are no real enemies or objectives outside of taking down the bosses that inhabit the world. After a short introduction to the controls, I was immediately thrust into an overworld pitting me against four bosses, taking on each at my own leisure. The bosses themselves are incredibly simple to understand, and monumentally challenging to beat. Each requires just one hit to their weak spot to kill. Getting that spot exposed is another matter -- every boss comes with its own system of defenses. One boss, a massive ice cube, immediately hones in on you, and proceeds to slide around the temple until your guts paint its hallowed halls. To get to the fleshy one-hit center, I needed to lure the cube over to one of four pressure switches, each activating a torch that would melt the ice once I managed to get my arrow to catch its fire. [embed]276694:55601:0[/embed] [Gameplay courtesy of RedPandaGamer.] Like the bosses, the mechanics in Titan Souls are similarly minimal. There is a button to roll, a button to shoot your arrow, and the same button to shoot will send your arrow flying back to you. Lets talk about that last part. In Titan Souls, you only have one arrow to shoot, and it is your only means of attack. As you can imagine, this makes timing and managing you shot very important, but the game takes it bit further by making a mechanic out of your limited ammo. Say you miss your initial shot; you can summon your arrow back, hitting anything it touches on its the way back to you. This skill was especially useful during one of the early bosses, a giant gelatinous blob that required multiple hits to whittle down to the fleshy one-hit-kill heart. For all of the challenge that the game offers, it's worth mentioning that I was never frustrated with the game. Maybe that speaks to how well it communicates its objective. By my first or second death, I understood exactly what it was that I was doing wrong, or needed to do better. Everything else was a matter of execution. Whenever you die in Titan Souls, you will know that it is only because you are not good enough, and that's fine. With the gameplay feeling so tight and responsive, and every boss being one or two hits away from defeat, I found myself willing to try things over and experiment with new tactics until I'd finally taken down a boss. Honorable mention goes to the music as well. Whenever I found myself slipping into frustration, its soft, mellow tunes would snap me back to sanity. When I got up to finish with Titan Souls, I noticed one gentleman working the booth was keeping tally of all my deaths and kills. After seeing my 30+ deaths to take down four bosses, I asked the man at what point in the game this demo took place in. He turned to me, smiled, and said this was just the tutorial. I am really damn excited to see what the rest of Titan Souls has in store.
Titan Souls preview photo
The beauty of simplicity
Confession time: I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to the indie game scene. I love me some Nidhogg, Samurai Gunn, and Crawl, but it's not uncommon for me to have only heard about these games just before release or late...

Nicalis photo
Let's get down to business
After checking out The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth at PAX Prime, I spent a decent chunk of time with another upcoming Nicalis project, Castle in the Darkness. It's a challenging platform-adventure PC game that feels all too app...

After two straight hours of Fortnite, I'm a fan

Sep 10 // Jordan Devore
The setup here is that the "world has gone through some shit," according to lead animator Matt Russell. Where there are storms, there are monsters, and there's been a hell of a lot of storms lately. But you aren't surviving in this ravaged world -- you're actually thriving in it. For our demo, my four-person group got to play through a few levels, each of which started us off in a procedurally-generated landscape. One had a farm, another, an abandoned town. In every case, the mission was simple: break everything in sight for resources, at least initially. Cars, brick walls, trees, treasure chests -- you name it, we smashed it out of existence. Essentially all but the terrain itself can be harvested. This tends to be a rather mundane activity in games, but I liked it here thanks to a mechanic in which weak-point notifications appear on objects at random while you're smacking them. For as simple of a solution as it is, it just feels right, and there's the added benefit of keeping your items around longer since durability is a concern. [embed]280965:55591:0[/embed] All of this resource gathering is crucial for crafting weapons and laying down defensive structures, but I'll get to that later. We had our pick of three classes: the commando, ninja, and constructor. These are geared toward shooting, melee, and building, respectively, but all of the classes can use any weapon or make any type of building -- they just aren't proficient at everything. The key differences come about through inherent skills (and those added by way of skill tree upgrades) which make certain classes better suited to, say, wielding a sword. In the case of the constructor, he's the only character who can upgrade structures to their max level. Our crew ended up with three ninjas and a constructor and while that wasn't a total disaster, it's probably best that you roll with a more well-rounded group. That said, the ninja was a blast given his double-jump ability and lightning-quick sword swings -- much more fun in practice than he's looked in some of the recent Fortnite trailers, that's for sure. After finding enough gear and resources in the environment, the time came to prepare for defense. One level had us searching for a blue sphere, which was connected to the storms -- we needed to close it. After placing a device on said sphere, we could then build around it. Monsters will come out of the woodwork to prevent you from messing with their storms, but not until you activate the closure gadget, leaving plenty of time to get your fort situated. We threw down floors, walls, staircases, traps, and more to keep the mutants away. The construction aspect of Fortnite is one of those things that's best experienced yourself -- words don't do it enough justice -- but I will say it's among the most intuitive I've seen. Pieces snap together simply, and creating doors and windows is as easy as punching out holes in an existing wall. This is all meant to be fast enough that it's feasible to continue building even when you're in the chaos of an all-out assault on your defenses. And Fortnite will get chaotic. While there were a couple variations on the mission type I just described, everything we played inevitably involved defending something or other from the monsters. This started out easy when it was only basic foes, but things spiraled out of control once giants, beehive-headed mutants, and tank-like enemies who could throw smaller monsters started showing up. Even with four people on your team, it still feels like you're running damage control, scraping to get by. I'm afraid to think of how challenging later levels will surely get. In a world where paid alphas are an everyday occurrence, I'm surprised Epic isn't putting Fortnite out in front of more people -- it's loads of fun, even in its current state. Still, there's plenty of important stuff we weren't shown, from the overarching Home Base features to how monetization will be handled. It's a good sign that after playing for two hours I didn't want to stop, but if this game is going to be the long-running hit that Epic hopes it'll be, it's for the best that the company takes its time to get everything right. So far so good on that front.
Fortnite preview photo
Epic Games has been off building something great
When Epic first announced Fortnite, I was on board based on the premise of defending player-made forts from monsters. But that was a couple of years ago. Things change. My interest had been waning up until recently, when I go...

You’ll play Skullduggery greedily, whether fast or slow

Sep 10 // Brett Makedonski
Two things are certain in this world -- death and taxes. Skullduggery staunchly enforces the idea that even in the former, the latter’s still an inevitability. Dammit, maybe Wes Snipes was onto something, even if he’s spending some time in the clink as a result. Skullduggery’s titular skull (maybe he has a name; let’s call him Johnny Rotten because that sounds punk rock as H-E-double hockey sticks) is out to collect taxes in the afterlife, and even the post-alive like to keep what’s rightfully theirs. Rock, flag, eagle, and all. That’s where the flicking comes into play. Well, actually, that’s the whole game (pay attention!) Three-quarters action with maybe one-quarter puzzler dashed in, Skullduggery requires the player to constantly send Rotten flying through levels in search of more and more to claim in the name of the undead IRS. Each level features three artifacts that typically aren’t completely obvious as to where they are, and judging by my time with the demo, will get continually more difficult -- both with regard to skill required to obtain, and cleverness with which they’re hidden. The artifacts, just like the three objectives presented in each level, aren’t necessary for advancement, however. They’re just there for a sense of fulfillment. (Have you been the best little tax collector you can be? By the way, Rotten -- working for the man isn’t very punk rock.) Just getting through the levels might prove challenging at times; definitely in the instance of the boss that I encountered. Facing a skull about 30 times the size of my suddenly harmless-looking Rotten (so many skulls, it’s like an Affliction shirt up in here!) I was given no choice but to run away. Run away quickly, that is. This is where one of Skullyduggery’s more nuanced and handy mechanics come into play. While in the air, you can tap and hold the screen to slow down time considerably, giving temporary faux-pause to more selectively line up your next move. For a game that’s seemingly centered on the premise of speed and greed, this facet significantly changes the approach you’ll take to Skullduggery, as you now find yourself seamlessly shifting between quick and slow play. Given more time to analyze any given situation, the wise decision’s just a well-placed flick ahead, but gah, there’s more gold in that offshoot, and I can definitely snag it quick before this giant skull smashes me, right? Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. But you’ll probably try. That’s because Skullduggery makes everything look so easy, so attainable -- even when crushing defeat is imminent. Who knows what damned you to an eternity of tax collecting, but your greed just damned you to the welcome mat of the after-afterlife. Change your fortunes by playing it slow and carefully considering your flicks next time. Things might work out better that way. But, whatever happens, never stop flicking.
Skullduggery preview photo
Turns out tax collectin’ is more fun than tax payin’
Flick, flick, flick. That’s all you’ll be doing in Skullduggery. Flicking to collect treasure. Flicking to outrun bosses. Flicking to line up stealthy headshots on unsuspecting enemies. You can play the game howe...

Neverending Nightmares is eerily evocative, and set for release on September 26

Sep 09 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]280897:55588:0[/embed] Neverending Nightmares is aims to make players feel vulnerable and anxious. You play as Adam, a young man who awakens from a disturbing dream and finds himself in a place that is not so familiar. Think Richard Linklater's Waking Life, except as a pure horror title. Every time Adam wakes from his dream, his environment gets progressively worse. Is it a dream? Or is he having extreme delusions in his waking life? Players will have to navigate the ever-changing environments to discover the truth, and ultimately find how this all ties into our disturbed central character. Much like other psychological titles that play with perspective, the horror seen in the game is a reflection of the main character's psyche and deteriorating mental state. And this was not only for the purposes of narrative and design, but also a form of therapy for Neverending Nightmares' creator Matt Gilgenbach, who suffered from mental illnesses. "The original idea was from Matt Gilgenbach, and he wanted to get the player of the game to feel the same kind of mental struggles that he is still dealing with today," said lead artist Joe Grabowski. "The anxiety that players go through, not knowing what's around the corner, or when you have the candle you're still encompassed by the darkness -- so that's definitely the kind of story want to push through. We want bring the subject of mental illnesses to the forefront." The sense of dread in Neverending Nightmares is palpable, and you never feel quite safe at all during the game. This feeling is made stronger by the fact that Adam has no weapons to fight back against enemies. In some cases, you'll have to run or hide in closets to avoid instant death. You're constantly vulnerable, and you'll have to use your wits and reflexes stay a step ahead of your foes. Gilgenbach wanted to make the visuals evoke classic 20th century horror fiction, while using color as a little as possible. "Our art style in general was inspired by Edward Gorey, so we looked at that early on for the game," said Grabowski. "We're able to have the black and white aesthetic, but also things in color for the purposes of gameplay." As you can see in the trailer and screenshots, color is used to emphasize horror while also highlighting special items that can be interacted with. In many ways, it felt like I was walking through one of those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books -- you know, the ones with the disturbing illustrations that ended up being more frightening than the stories themselves. I felt that same kind of unease when playing through this game. It was unsettling. But of course, that's the point. It's pretty amazing to see that such a horror title would be a form of therapy for some, but also a means of shock for others. Neverending Nightmares channels dread and terror quite well, and if it can hit the same nerve that struck me as a child, they've certainly got something special in store for players come release on the 26th.
Neverending Nightmares photo
Survival horror has never felt so grim
It's certainly an exciting time to be an independent game developer. With the rise of Kickstarter allowing anyone with the knowledge, the skills, and an idea to find support, we're seeing a larger breadth of games come out th...

PAX panel photo
Laughter is the best cheat code
We decided for this year's PAX Prime panel, we would let our very own Max Scoville just do whatever dumb garbage he wanted to come up with. The result was: "Videogames Are Stupid: The Inherit Silliness of the Medium." Enjoy ...

SoundSelf with Oculus Rift is the ultimate trip

Sep 08 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]280557:55545:0[/embed] The creation of SoundSelf was done not only out of a desire to create a different kind of audio-visual experience with VR, but was also an experiment in spirituality and understanding the practice of tapping into the player's trance state. Initially, he was concerned about finding outside interest for such a bizarre title, and opted to learn C++ and make the game himself. Fortunately, he found another developer willing to take this bizarre ride with him and expanded upon the game's scope. "After two and a half years of working on it, this is our first vertical slice," said Robin Arnott, while recounting the history of SoundSelf. "And that's because that took so much experimentation and trial and error to even find the thing that works about it. We're not building off thirty years of successful and failed experiments like first person shooters are." Before my session with the game, they brought us into their tent on the show floor where we sat on cozy pillows and drank warm tea. This prep period was to relax players, as SoundSelf doesn't use a traditional control setup. With the Oculus Rift headset, players manipulate the experience with the sound of their voice using only a microphone. Once I laid back on the floor and put on the headset, the word 'chant' appeared on the screen, prompting players to hum to themselves. Doing so would engage the experience, and with the headset, you can look around in real-time and see the experience change as you react to it with your voice. But before you think of this as some pretentious turbo-indie game that claims "you're the controller!", I can tell you that this title actually lives up to that potential. Granted, this is very much like a ride, to put it simply. But that's actually the point. Ultimately, Arnott wanted to create an experiment that would tap into a player's trance-like state while they're engaged in a videogame. "SoundSelf for me was me trying to understand perception, and what perception means for self...by trying to hack it. By poking at it, and seeing what it does to people's brains, I'm coming to terms with and understanding my own brain and my existence as a perceptual being." During my time with the game, I definitely got the sense that the creator wanted to try something a bit different. While I was reacting to the SoundSelf, I noticed that it was altering the visuals and audio of the game. I giggled to myself a couple times during the demo, and the game would pick up the noise from my throat microphone and alter the experience in real-time. I cannot stress enough that pictures and even video do not do it justice. Seeing the visuals move around dynamically was akin to looking through a morphing kaleidoscope with a mind of its own. One major influence that Arnott wasn't shy about sharing was the Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In it, an astronaut travels through a near endless pathway of psychedelic lights and sounds to reach a destination that would bring about his rebirth. In many ways, the creator of SoundSelf hopes to recapture that same sense of wonder. "The Star Child sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey is a sequence of reinvention of self," said Arnott. "And Kubrick did that with twenty minutes of [EXCITED GESTURES and GIBBERISH], because he wanted to put you in that experience of subjective transformation, and I think SoundSelf is an experience of transformation." The comparison to 2001 was very accurate and quite apt. While many games strive to be like movies, not many can actually recreate the same sense of awe while at the same time being true to themselves. This title manages to let players experience their own personal trip through the stars, dynamically created by their own senses and rhythmic pitch. By and large, this was the most experimental game I played at PAX. It was also just a demo showing the vertical slice -- the final release will likely be a bit more comprehensive. In many ways, and I mean this in the best way, it felt like a palette cleanser. I was exhausted coming into SoundSelf, but left lighter and in a better mood coming out of it. It was therapeutic, which is something I don't say too often about games. And I honestly can't think of a better compliment than that.
SoundSelf photo
Creator Robin Arnott talks about this VR trek through vibrant sights and sounds
It's no secret that gaming conventions are fertile ground for developers to try out their new creations. Back in April, Jonathan Holmes got the chance to check out SoundSelf with Robin Arnott, the creator of the unorthodox ho...

PAX Prime 2014 Photos photo
PAX Prime 2014 Photos

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[embed]280750:55574:0[/embed]
Fortified photo
Hands-on with an early build
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