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Survival Horror

Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2

Dynamic difficulty tuning is coming to Killing Floor 2


Not everyone is happy about that
Feb 09
// Zack Furniss
Killing Floor has a fairly hardcore following: these folks build wikis to know every single damage value in the game, and pore over enemy animations so they can know the best way to take them down. The Hell On Earth difficult...

Review: Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition

Feb 09 // Zack Furniss
Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition (PC [reviewed], PS4, Xbox One)Developer: TechlandPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentReleased: February 9, 2016MSRP: $19.99 The Following doesn't weave into Dying Light's main campaign. To start the expansion, you choose it separately in the main menu. You can drag your character's progress and inventory back and forth between the two campaigns at any time, but you can't just go to a fast travel and warp from one to the other. Once you begin, a short cutscene cuts to the chase: your character, Kyle Crane, has become aware of a route leading out of Harran. In this wild outback area, there's a cult that claims to have found some kind of immunity to the zombie virus. As this would benefit your cadre of survivors, you set out to investigate. The new area, called the Countryside, is huge. Techland claims that it's larger than the entirety of the original game, and I'd agree with that after playing to 100% completion. Since there are numerous open fields, it's not quite as packed as the urban environments in Dying Light proper, but I found this to be welcoming. It's not all open, either: you'll go from farms, to beaches, to graveyards, to caves, to factory areas, so you're constantly being stimulated in a new way. With a larger map, the customizable buggy goes from novelty to necessity rather quickly. Using a new Driver skill tree, which you level up by doing racing competitions, ramming zombies, maintaining top speed, and jumping off of ramps, you'll be able to improve your ride and add gadgets such as electrical pulses and UV lights. Since there are always zombies to squash under your wheels, this tree levels up rapidly. The buggy starts off entertaining, and gets better as you tinker with it. You can craft better tires, brakes, engines, and the like to make it faster and more responsive. I'm a sucker for driving in first-person games as it is, and driving in The Following might be the best incarnation I've played to date. A crossbow has also been added to your arsenal, which is a nice way to take out biters without attracting a horde. There are four different bolt types that you can use: normal, toxic, impact, and stun. I generally stuck to the normal arrows, especially when I snuck around the new Volatile caves. In Dying Light, Volatiles are the creatures that only come out during the night and can kill you within seconds if you aren't paying attention. In The Following, you can go directly to their nests to try to thin out their presence in certain areas. If you go in during the day, the caves will be littered with these bastards, and sneaking through with a crossbow was about the most tense this game can get. Going during the night is the safer bet, but I found it less thrilling when the odds weren't stacked against me. Another welcome addition is the Freaks of Nature, giant versions of the more devious types of infected strewn throughout the Countryside. The game recommends that you only try to fight these jerks with friends in co-op sessions, but if you find their weak point (or bring a really good gun like a cheater [me]), you can take them out solo. They offer special blueprints to create ever-more-vicious weapons. Usually you'll find these Freaks when you're on another mission, and suddenly a health bar will appear on the top of the screen a kick-ass John Carpenter-esque song will start pulsing. As far as the missions and story go, they're handled much better than the original game. This time, Techland is less interested in trying to make you care about certain characters and more interested in getting you to find out more about the cult. Instead of being a scary group of folks that are out to kill you, you're tasked with earning their trust so you can learn their secret. This leads to a mission structure where the side quests must be completed in order to progress in the main story. I didn't have a problem with this, because the side stuff, as before, is generally more intriguing than the actual story. Looking back on it, there aren't many story quests in The Following, but it all feels interwoven in a way that encourages you to scour every last bit of the Countryside. The only quest that I had trouble with was the penultimate one that involves some timed driving, and if you have no health packs, you're sort of fucked. I eventually persevered, but it was frustrating to be locked into the finale and unable to make it easier.  The final mission has some curious implications about the overall plot in Dying Light, but the ending shoots that momentum right through the head. I'm still hoping a sequel comes out of this, but I'm a little confused as to where it would go now. At this point, I must mention a caveat: I found Dying Light to be too easy about halfway through the game, so I played The Following on hard. I usually don't like to blather about the "right" way to play a game, but if you're going to play this expansion, I urge you to play hard mode.  Instead of the usual "enemies do more damage, and you do less" type of difficulty, Techland's version of hard is an improvement in almost every way. Medkits are no longer an instant heal, and instead provide healing over time. If you want to craft something or look at your map, you can't pause the game any more. Survivor sense doesn't show you every little item in every little room, so you have to more carefully observe your environments. If this sounds tedious, I promise that it makes the game both more immersive and more rewarding. Since this is part of the Enhanced Edition, which owners of the base game get for free (minus the expansion), there are a litany of other improvements to be found. There are daily bounties and a new Nightmare difficulty that have been added to rack up tons of experience, which you'll want for the new legendary levels. After maxing out a skill tree, points that would've gone to that tree now go to your legendary rank. You can spend these points on various buffs: 50% more firearm damage, more crossbow damage, better health regen, and other bonuses. There are a total of 250 of these points to earn, and they make you incredibly powerful. You'll earn them pretty slowly unless you play on Nightmare mode. In my 22 hours with The Following, I reached level five. Clearly, I need to jump back in there already. The Following was larger than I expected, and it maintains a high level of quality throughout. Being pared down from the bloat of Dying Light earns it more moment-to-moment excitement, and I greedily consumed it over the weekend. The last few minutes have me pondering the future of what's clearly going to become a franchise, and I'm ready for whatever Techland brings next. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dying Light review photo
It should still be called Far Die
Dying Light surprised the heck out of me last year. While I mostly agree with Chris about the various faults and clichés found within (you can read my thoughts here, from back in my before-Destructoid days), it wa...

The Culling photo
The Culling

The Culling is what a Hunger Games game would be like


Would you survive?
Feb 04
// Vikki Blake
Developer Xaviant has announced Battle Royale-esque The Culling, a new game wherein 16 players battle to the death in a Hunger Games-like island arena.  Just like Hunger Games, you must scavenge for weapons, food, and re...
Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2

New PVP modes and the Sharpshooter perk are coming to Killing Floor 2


Tripwire's first internal livestream
Jan 28
// Zack Furniss
Earlier today, Tripwire Interactive hosted its first livestream on Twitch. After a rough start due to tech issues (changing audio levels, extremely dark camera feed), the team announced upcoming plans and answered player ques...

Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2

Tripwire Interactive is starting to do internal livestreams, bringing bug fixes to Killing Floor 2


Quality of life update
Jan 23
// Zack Furniss
I'm starving for more content in Tripwire Interactive's Killing Floor 2. Over the holiday break, I put a bunch of time into it and have almost maxed out all of my perks. While I'm looking forward to new weapons and classes li...
Rides With Strangers photo
Rides With Strangers

Wanna feel uncomfortable? Look at Rides With Strangers' Kickstarter


People are strange
Jan 18
// Zack Furniss
When I hunt for news, most of what I find doesn't make me bat an eye. Reflect Studios' Rides With Strangers showed me that I wasn't as jaded as I thought. Playing as Elora, a college graduate pursuing her dream job, your...
Dying Light: The Followin photo
Dying Light: The Followin

Here's how bounties work in Dying Light: The Following


Community challenges!
Jan 18
// Zack Furniss
Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition is just around the corner, and Techland has released a video detailing the new Bounty system. There are three types that are unlocked after finishing the main story: Basic Bo...
Outlast 2 photo
Outlast 2

Developer teases what's next for cult horror Outlast 2


But will there be dongs?
Jan 08
// Vikki Blake
Outlast II developer Red Barrels Games has dropped teasers as to what we can expect from the upcoming horror sequel. Replying to fans on Twitter, the developer hinted that the new game will take place "somewhat after" th...
SOMA photo
SOMA

SOMA might be better with this mod that pacifies the creatures of the deep


No more hide 'n seek
Jan 06
// Zack Furniss
The lovely lads and ladies over at Rock Paper Shotgun spotted a nice mod for SOMA that prevents the deep denizens from trying to attack you. It's called The Wuss Mode: Monsters Won't Attack so you can enjoy a sense of sh...

Review: Among the Sleep

Jan 04 // Caitlin Cooke
Among the Sleep (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: Krillbite StudioPublisher: Krillbite StudioMSRP: $14.99Released: December 8, 2015 (PS4), May 29, 2014 (PC) There is no combat in Among the Sleep; instead the game focuses on atmospheric exploration and simple puzzle solving. Just like being a real toddler, your options are limited to crawling, walking, grabbing, and running -- all of which mimic the slowness and clunkiness that would come with being a small child. Teddy, your beloved stuffed pal, accompanies you through the twisted and strange worlds you encounter in your quest to find mom, occasionally offering advice and kind words. You also have the option to hug Teddy, however, all this really does is provide dim light (and perhaps some comfort). There’s not much to do in terms of gameplay, but it’s less of a problem as there’s always some atmospheric happenstance occurring that keeps you occupied throughout -- whether it’s a creepy wail, a haunted toy moving in the wind, or some other oddity that leaves you with strange feelings (or perhaps an instinct to investigate further). The puzzle aspects aren’t complicated but are tied in well, keeping objectives moving along in a nice way and adding something a little extra that compliments the story. Dynamics switch it up a bit about halfway through the game, with a chapter consisting of a “run and hide” scenario where a mysterious woman chases you for unknown reasons. If she is successful in capturing you, it’s a game over, which seems to be the only way to truly die. In a later level, there is a similarly dark figure in a cloak who stalks about the area, summoned whenever a bottle breaks. At first it's unclear what to do in these situations as running away rarely works, but Teddy often shares hints to help you understand what’s to come. This isn’t your average jump-scare game -- the horror is much more ingrained into the levels and feels more genuine than a lot of games in the genre these days. The atmosphere builds upon slow tension and mystery rather than the thrill of a quick scare, which leaves a sense of dread -- especially considering the fact that you play a defenseless toddler. Ever-so-slight changes to the environment occurred from time to time which made me look and think twice if I thought I saw something different or if the looming suspense was playing tricks on me. Among the Sleep has some interesting level design with elements mixed together to give the areas a dream-like quality, teetering on the edge of fantasy and reality. One level consists of a winding forest full of children’s relics including looming owl sculptures, floating blocks, and an upside-down playhouse. Another takes place within a house that seems normal at first but slowly devolves into a twisted, confusing maze reminiscent of a scene from Labyrinth. Each area is creepy and disturbing in its own right, recalling elements from childhood in a twisted way which sets a disturbing background to the tense gameplay. Where the game really shines is in its inherent symbolism. Among the Sleep is constantly telling a story through its environment, depictions, and props despite there being little understanding of the direction it is taking, and there being little to no dialogue (with the exception of Teddy comforting you from time to time). It’s a work of art in that respect as the decor and slight changes to the environment can go unnoticed, but they all speak to certain aspects of the plot. It’s hard to understand what’s going on and where Among the Sleep is leading, but the lack of clarity in the direction actually enhances the storyline and feeds into the innocent nature of the character. The main elements of the story are tied together extremely quickly, almost abruptly, in the end to form a more complete picture. Multiple conclusions can be drawn as the ending is a bit open-ended, but without spoiling too much, I wasn’t a fan of the overall message it sent. This being said, Among the Sleep does a great job telling a story without being overt in its intentions. Despite the great storytelling mechanics, I can’t help but wish there was a little more to the game. When all was said and done it wrapped up in a handful of hours at most and I was left craving more. It’s especially a let down because the game invents such new ways of thinking about the horror genre, and it left so much to be expanded on. However, I honestly have to applaud the team for delivering a concise and complete story in that amount of time, and one that is so unique to the horror realm at that. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Among the Sleep photo
Don't let the bed bugs bite...
Childhood is a rare state of vulnerability that we only get to experience once in life -- full of bewilderment, innocence, and most of all an uncertainty of the unknown. Among the Sleep takes us back to this state, providin...

Dying Light photo
Dying Light

Dying Light's Legendary Levels aim to keep you playing forever


Until the light (sun) dies
Dec 21
// Zack Furniss
Techland is doing their damnedest to make sure they're on your radar for most improved developer. Most people weren't happy with Dead Island (fun co-op romp, though!), but their continued support of Dying Light and ...
Five Nights at Freddy's photo
Five Nights at Freddy's

I've read the opening of that Five Nights at Freddy's novel and it doesn't suck


'He sees me'
Dec 18
// Vikki Blake
Stuck for a last minute Christmas present? Do you have £2/$3 just burning a hole in your pocket? Here, have some details about the Five Nights at Freddy's tie-in novel. The 464-page novel by the indie horror game's creator Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley tells the tale of Charlie, daughter of the father who runs the homicidal pizzeria. 
The Long Dark photo
The Long Dark

The Long Dark shows off its story ahead of early 2016 launch


'Don't let this new world break you'
Dec 16
// Steven Hansen
I've been interested in The Long Dark, and artsy flourish in the open world survival simulator mold, since it launched on Kickstarter two years ago. It has since been released on Early Access, and even got a major update ear...
Five Nights at Freddy's photo
Five Nights at Freddy's

Here's when you can get that Five Nights at Freddy's book


Well. Maybe
Dec 15
// Vikki Blake
Remember that Five Nights at Freddy's novel we told you about? Well, now we have another tease. And a DATE. It's all very exciting. The teaser image on Five Nights at Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthon's webs...
Killing Floor 2 photo
Killing Floor 2

Tripwire Interactive talks Killing Floor 2 on PS4


It's still coming, they promise
Dec 10
// Zack Furniss
I guess this one slipped by me during PlayStation Experience. Tripwire Interactive is starting to produce videos about Killing Floor 2's PlayStation 4 port. It's still off in the distance, but it's a good sign that they're st...
Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Capcom: 'RE2 will be a full from the ground up remake NOT a remaster'


YAY!
Dec 03
// Vikki Blake
Capcom has confirmed the new Resident Evil 2 will be a "from the ground up remake" and not a remaster. Although the publisher's investor report stated that the game would be a "remastered" version of the classi...

Review: Dementium Remastered

Dec 02 // Jed Whitaker
Dementium Remastered (3DS)Developer: Renegade KidPublisher: Renegade KidMSRP: $14.99Released: December 03, 2015 First things first, if you were hoping this would fill the hole in your heart that is Silent Hills, it won't. If anything Dementium Remastered is like a combination of all the bad parts of the Silent Hill games with repetitive enemies, copy pasted environments, and dull combat, only way worse. They could have called this Dementium: Spooky Hallways or Dementia: Have I Been Here Before? and they wouldn't have been wrong. While wandering through these repetitive hallways, you'll be tasked with using either the ABXY buttons or the stylus to aim your guns and melee weapons. I opted to use mostly the stylus even though holding the 3DS with one hand caused a bit of cramping during my playtime, as buttons just didn't provide the precision needed. Enemies just come right for you and can easily be warded off without much thought, making me question which was more brainless: the AI or the combat? Considering you can run past most all enemies, I'd probably lean towards them. Enemies consist of your standard fair of zombies, worms, flies and screaming tongue-waggling decapitated heads (Hey Kids, WANT TO DIE!?) which are the creepiest of the bunch, but after seeing them all numerous times they lose their fear factor. A few boss battles take place throughout the game, two of which get repeated. Bosses flash red when attacked and are invincible during this time, making boss fights tedious running backwards and attacking for the most part.  [embed]323292:61337:0[/embed] There are a few different guns to find through the short stumble through the dark, but they never really come in handy apart from worms and bosses. About a third of the way through the game you can backtrack a bit to unlock a melee weapon that does the job for everything else.  As far as the remastering for the 3DS without having played the original all I can say is I shut off the 3D almost instantly. Due to the game being so dark when not carrying the flashlight it messed with my eyes more than it helped add any depth. Renegade Kid have also stated there are some other tweaks like save points, and enemies don't respawn anymore, something that surely would have made me rage quit the original had I played it.  If you're hoping for a story at all, you'll be disappointed. The opening just drops you right into a mental ward without much of any information, and barely anything gets revealed throughout the story. The ending was the rotten cherry on top that just screams directly into your face "find out what happens next in the sequel." No thanks. Fuck that. That is two and a half hours of my life I'll never get back. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: November 20, 2015 Superbeat: Xonic (Vita, PS TV)Developer: NurijoyPublisher: PM Studios, Atlus & ActtilMSRP: $39.99Released: November 10, 2015 Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)Developer: Spike ChunsoftPublisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: November 20, 2015 [embed]323292:61337:0[/embed]
Review Dementium Remaster photo
Better off dead
Dementium was originally pitched by Renegade Kid to Konami as a proof of concept for a Silent Hill game on the Nintendo DS. Konami turned them down and thus we ended up with Dementium: The Ward on the DS instea...

Killing Floor 2's Return of the Patriarch update is worth the wait

Dec 01 // Zack Furniss
Killing Floor 2 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4)Developer: Tripwire InteractivePublisher: Tripwire Interactive Release date: April 21, 2015 (Steam Early Access)MSRP: $29.99 I wish I had a video to show you, but I ran into problem after problem when it came to recording my time with Return of the Patriarch. If I can iron out those problems in the coming days, I'll upload some footage of a playthrough on Suicidal difficulty. In terms of perk balance and weapon damage, keep in mind that everything I describe here is in regards to solo play on Suicidal. In the first Killing Floor, the Sharpshooter perk used both long-range weapons (rifles, a crossbow) and dual pistols, utilizing highly-damaging headshots to kill the bigger Zeds. In the sequel, dual pistols have found their home in a new perk: Gunslinger. This is a natural transition since Sharpshooter had entirely too many guns and dual-wielding is nuanced enough for it's own perk. Having two separate handfuls of metal feels more fleshed out in Killing Floor 2, and the class's perk skills lend it a few different styles of play. The first perk skill choice is between moving faster while aiming down the sights (with reduced weapon sway) and faster weapon switch transitions. I generally opted for the second one, since once you get the feel for shooting without iron sights, you start to ignore them. Next, you have a choice between 20% more damage for Gunslinger weapons or a headshot multiplier. This largely determines your playstyle but both seem completely viable so far. Choosing the headshot multiplier is about careful selection of targets, running far enough away to find some breathing room and determine which melon to burst first. Each headshot fills an increment on a bar that appears on the screen, and a sound effect plays, intensifying with each Zed you shoot in the head. Once you reach seven headshots, a triumphant noise happens with each additional popped skull that is supremely satisfying every time. It sounds annoying when I describe it, but it doesn't feel that way in action. Each consecutive headshot adds 5% to your damage, capping off at 75%, but if you miss a shot beyond seven, it'll go back to seven. If you miss again, it'll go down one increment with each shot. I initially thought that one missed shot would bring the counter to zero, but I much prefer this system. Get ready to hate the invisible Stalkers when they block one of your perfectly lined up shots. Using the flat damage increase is much more reliable, but not quite as fun as the multiplier. Pulling off consecutive headshots and then being rewarded with an ultra-powerful damage bonus against a Scrake feels skillful and makes Gunslinger more unique. Flat damage is a sure thing, and I'd be lying my ass off if I said I didn't enjoy sprinting away and then unleashing a hail of bullets while the Zeds charged me on Hell on Earth difficulty. I'm not yet sure which perk skill high level players will choose yet, since they both have their uses. I'm glad to see choices that aren't as clear cut as past perks. Back to the other perk skills! The third tier is faster reloading or the ability to penetrate an additional Zed with every bullet. This is another hard choice, even though I would have thought reloading would be the way to go. All Gunslinger guns already pass through bodies into the monster behind them, and since Zeds tend to stack up behind one another, extra penetration helps you clear out hordes rather quickly. My feelings on this are clouded by the fact that in the build I was playing, you could reload cancel immediately after one of your two guns was reloaded. If that's patched out by the time the update is live, increased reload speed will probably be the overwhelmingly popular choice. I reached level 16, so those are the only skills I was able to try first-hand. Fourth tier is between increased stumble chance when shooting chests or increased knockdown chance when shooting sprinting Zeds in the legs. The fifth tier is limitless firing without reloading/ the ability to fire as fast as you want in Zed time (slow motion to those unfamiliar). I'd probably choose the second option for both of those, but I won't know until I play with them. Passive abilities include bullet resistance, weapon damage, move speed, and recoil reduction. You probably want to know about those sweet, sweet guns you'll be firing (I promise I'm only a gun nut when it comes to Killing Floor). The starting weapons are a pair of 1858 revolvers, nail bombs (fun for close-quarters!), and a bowie knife. While the 1858s seem a tad weak at low level, once you acclimate to their penetration, they can be effective. In a cool little touch, if you drop one of them, your free hand will fan the hammer and your rate of fire will increase. I came up with a fun little trick: when you activate Zed time, toss one gun up into the air, fan the hammer to neutralize the oncoming threat, catch the gun, and continue blasting. You will feel like a big ol' badass. Even though the 1858s can be fun, I almost always sell them immediately to get the M1911s. Their combination of speed, capacity, and stopping power make them my favorite Gunslinger weapon to use. Darting around and launching lead with these 'lil fuckers is some of the most fun I've had with the game so far. Though they aren't as powerful as the higher tier weapons, they're prone to knocking down Zeds. There were numerous occasions where I thought I had killed something, but I had simply knocked it on its ass.  Next up are the Desert Eagles. Now we're getting to the bigguns, and that's reflected in their damage potential. With the Desert Eagles, you can feel how powerful they are with both the small ring of fire that appears with every shot and the THOOOM sound effect that happens with each click. Using these, you have a chance against both Scrakes and Fleshpounds (especially with that headshot multiplier!).  Rounding out the collection is the .500 "Zed Collector," a pistol-sized cannon. These are ungodly strong, to the point where shooting a weaker Zed causes it to outright explode. I am not ashamed to admit that I cackled each time a Crawler became a meat tornado due to one of my shots. Fleshpounds are rendered toothless when you surprise them with a pair of these. Even bosses go down quickly when you have something this strong. Speaking of bosses... Yay! The Patriarch is back! Though he is without mustache, it's good to see the old original boss back and "with some new tricks." His new form is hideous, and while I initially didn't care for him being so thick (why is everything thicker in Killing Floor 2?), it's grown on me as much as his mutations have grown on him. Fighting him is fairly similar to how it was in the first game: he'll use his gatling gun and rocket launcher whenever you try to flee, cloak to sneak up on you, and his disgusting chest-protrusion will latch onto you and pull you close. He can use his rockets to flush you out of cover, and the ensuing smoke trails are as beautiful as they are dangerous. Fighting him as the Gunslinger can be rough, since his hump over his head makes headshots more difficult to pull off. I've taken him down on Suicidal, and he was a tough but fair endeavor. I'm not sure how it'll be with a full squad, but I look forward to a meaty challenge. Since both the Patriarch and Hans Volter have an equal chance of spawning, teams will have to be prepared for anything. This is a welcome shake to the formula, and I think everyone's going to like coming up with new tactics instead of dealing with Hans' three phase fight ad nauseam. The only disappointment regarding the Patriarch fight is that his theme (Abandon All) has been replaced with a new, faster-paced song. It's blasphemous to say, but I actually really like the new song and think it fits the theme of a quicker, more brutal boss fight.  Two new maps bring unexpected changes to Killing Floor 2. Farmhouse is a tiny tiny tiny close-quarters map: a two-story house and barn surrounded by a cornfield makes for the perfect little skirmish. Since the area is so small, you're forced to be more mobile than previous maps, and you'll spend most of your time kiting around the yard. Since enemies can spawn in the cornfield, nowhere is completely safe, and it's a welcomely unwelcome feeling. Barricaded windows on both the house and barn can be destroyed to provide vantage points for picking off Zeds from above, giving you plenty of ways to re-enact your favorite horror films. Black Forest is the other new map, and it's much larger. It's a brightly-lit forest where there are remnants of train tracks and an old bar, and a Horzine train recently crashed nearby. Rushing rivers cascade through the wreckage, and it's all very scenic. As waves progress, the sun goes down, reducing visibility. The bar has walls that can be destroyed by way of gunfire or overzealous Zeds, which startled the crap out of me the first time. It's hard to feel safe when even walls can't protect you. When I asked the developers if they planned to have day/night cycles and semi-destructible environments in future levels, they said that nothing was currently planned, but it's a definite possibility. Even though that last map gets fairly dark, you'll now be equipped with a flashlight no matter what weapon you have in your hands. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet, since flashlight attachments used to be an integral part of weapon selection. It's definitely convenient to always be able to see in dark levels (looking at you, catacombs), but it remains to be seen whether this'll be a good change in the long run.  Another welcome change is that the collectibles hidden in each level are now much less of a pain in the ass. Instead of having to find all of them, you only have to find ten per level. They still only unlock achievements, but it's more enjoyable when you don't have to scour maps for every little collectible. Plus, the new maps have themed items: little dolls in Farmhouse (a reference to the Toy Maker mod in the first game) and little Clot Mother chunks in Black Forest. There are a host of other changes in this update as well. Audio has been re-balanced and there are more sliders to customize your sound experience. The Fleshpound supposedly has new sounds, but I wasn't able to hear them all that well (I've been having speaker problems, so this is probably on my end). Berserker has been re-balanced as well, with Fortitude giving only 75 more health instead of 100, and Smash being less ridiculous, lessening the 100% bonus to hard hits going down to 25%. The main menu has also been changed to make room for the shop tab, where you can buy either costume sets for Hayato, Mr. Foster, and Constable Briar or decryption keys to unlock crates. As far as the item drops go, they're earned at the end of a battle in the results screen, so players won't sprint away and abandon their team to get a shiny new gun skin. In my 10 or so hours with the update, I've unlocked 7 gun skins and one cosmetic item. Of course, drop rates are probably different in the build I played than the one will go public, but it's still worth mentioning. I don't think the system was fully implemented yet as I didn't see any mention of conditions (such as battle-scarred or field-tested). One new character also makes his debut in this update. Oisten Jaegerhorn, a big burly Swede, is a member of a Metallica tribute band called "Metalbika." Most of his little comments involve his being in a metal band, such as saying the Siren has a bad singing voice. He's especially fun when he picks up dual revolvers and says stuff like "IT TAKES A VIKING TO HOLD TWO OF THESE" in his booming, enthusiastic voice. All-in-all, this is a hefty update that fuels my ever-burning interest to blow up Zeds in new ways. The Patriarch makes the formula less predictable, the new concepts in the maps introduce fresh ideas, and Tripwire stills knows how to make good guns go boom. The incoming map and mod support will bring even more to the plate, but I wasn't able to see them in action. I'm curious to see how the community will react to the Gunslinger, as right now, it's kind of amazing at everything. It's a trash-killing boss-murdering machine with just the right amount of friction behind every pull of the trigger. I hope that every other class gets brought up to this level, instead of Gunslinger getting nerfed.  But then again, I haven't tried Hell on Earth difficulty with a full squad. I hope to play with you all soon (couple of weeks maybe?) when the update comes out.
Killing Floor 2 photo
It takes a Viking to handle TWO OF THESE
Last week, Tripwire Interactive came under scrutiny when they introduced cosmetic microtransactions to Killing Floor 2. Many people who had purchased the Steam Early Access title felt that this showed Tripwire's true money-gr...

Soma photo
Soma

It's a Sup Holmes for pigs with Soma co-creator Thomas Grip


Sup Holmes every Sunday at 2:30pm EST!
Nov 29
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] [Update: Show's over every...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: Origins

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

Current gen RE6 photo
Current gen RE6

Resident Evil 6 re-release on PS4, Xbox One seems imminent


Korean rating board classification
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
Want to feel old? Resident Evil 6 (PS3, 360, PC) is three years old. The last mainline Resident Evil received a pretty mixed reception and the only new entry planned for next year's 20th anniversary year is the multiplayer sh...
Zombi photo
Zombi

Huh, Zombi is headed to retail in Europe


PC, PS4, Xbox One in January
Nov 17
// Jordan Devore
Ubisoft is bringing Zombi to retail in Europe on January 21, 2016. The horror game debuted on Wii U years ago as ZombiU, and only recently dropped the "U" for a digital-only release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Strange...
RE Revelations photo
RE Revelations

Go download the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 for free


Or don't, I'm not working on commission
Nov 17
// Brett Makedonski
Let's have a Big Fantastic Tuesday Giveaway Extravaganza. The prize is the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2. The winner is you! Well, not you, PC player; you are a loser in this isolated situation. Microsoft and S...
Silent Hills photo
Silent Hills

Norman Reedus says Silent Hills still 'needs to happen'


'HOLY BALLS'
Nov 17
// Vikki Blake
If you're still salty over the cancellation of Silent Hills, you are not alone. Norman Reedus - who's likeness was used in the (terrifying) Silent Hills interactive teaser P.T. -- is still "super bummed" about the whole thing, but recently told IGN he "[has] faith" that he, producer Hideo Kojima and horror legend Guillermo del Toro "can do something else".
Friday the 13th The Game photo
Friday the 13th The Game

Watch the first in-game footage of Friday the 13th The Game


'Sneak Peak'
Nov 16
// Vikki Blake
To celebrate hitting its Kickstarter success, Gun Media - the team behind upcoming horror Friday the 13th The Game - has released a "RARE glimpse" of the work-in-progress game. "This is a RARE glimpse into a game development ...
Friday the 13th photo
Friday the 13th

That Friday the 13th game cleared its $700,000 Kickstarter goal


With only two and a half days to spare
Nov 11
// Chris Carter
I'm pretty sure everyone expected this, but the Friday the 13th game has cleared its Kickstarter goal of $700,000, with only a few days to spare -- something tells me it won't reach the $5.5 million mark for its stretch goals...
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Alien: Isolation

A modder has taken the Alien out of Alien: Isolation


And I bet it's still fantastic
Nov 09
// Brett Makedonski
The first time I played Alien: Isolation, I was at developer Creative Assembly's studio in Horsham, England. The game hadn't been announced yet and we were the first non-Sega people to see it. There was the briefest of introd...
PS4 photo
PS4

Korean horror game White Day looks fantastic


Coming to PlayStation VR
Nov 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at a Sony Computer Entertainment media event in South Korea, a local studio Roi Games showed off an impressive-looking PlayStation VR project by the name of White Day. It appears to be a remake of White Day: A Laby...
Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Pre-order Resident Evil Origins Collection to unlock new costumes in-game


Stupid sexy Billy
Nov 03
// Alissa McAloon
Resident Evil Origins Collection isn't out until next year, but purchasing it before its January 19 release date adds a bit of eye candy into the mix. Pre-ordering the HD collection now will unlock new costumes for Resident E...

The Silent Hill Retrospective: The Room

Oct 31 // Stephen Turner
Though the town of Silent Hill was the series' stalwart, it was beginning to feel stale; a terrifying place in danger of being your favourite holiday destination. It was time to move on, put roots in new places, and we found one in the form of South Ashfield. Where the eponymous town excited us with a cautionary network of alleyways and dead commerce, South Ashfield was far more narrow and alive in design; a downtown apartment building on a busy intersection, all oblivious to the horrors of Room 302. SH4: The Room is a modern ghost story at heart, assimilating the usual Eastern commentary on social estrangement and visceral Western horror. It’s Rear Window and Ringu by way of House of Leaves or The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (and most notably, Coin Locker Babies). Worlds expand and contract, panopticon prisons take urban shapes, and ponderous social angst weighs heavily between the mod cons. Though Henry Townshend finds a way out of his apartment through a hole in the bathroom wall, escape is always an illusion, a false hope, and we buy into that through the contrast of a washed-out, lifeless Room 302 with the colourful and abstract worlds on the other side of the portal; not quite reality, not quite The Otherworld, but a misty recollection of both. For Henry, real hope is found in the people around him, usually just a locked doorway out of reach. Compared to Silent Hill 3's minimal cast, here, we find a microcosm of downtown life – party girls and nerds, old men who should be retired, bullies, and sweet social butterflies - while the rest are strangers tucked away in tiny shoeboxes across the street. Most aren’t destined for anything more than the 21 Sacraments, a ritualistic killing spree conducted by Walter Sullivan, but they're also refreshingly lacking in riddles and dreamspeak. Their everyday exchanges and daily routines make them real people rather than purpose built characters; which makes their inevitable deaths all the more disturbing. Voyeurism is SH4: The Room’s greatest strength, feeding and preying on our own inquisitive nature, producing horror and fascination through the flip of a coin. Information is doled out in piecemeal, letting us play the amateur sleuth on South Ashfield Height's tenants, before coming to the morbid realisation that this exactly what our captor (and the game itself) wants. And throughout it all, our intentions are never questioned when we linger on a subject longer than necessary; especially with Henry's neighbour, Eileen Galvin. “I don’t know if you’re a detective or a pervert,” wondered Laura Dern in Blue Velvet; a line perfectly apt for our machinations. When Henry and Eileen finally meet in St. Jerome's Hospital, she's a "broken doll", an image of sex and death in a plaster cast and party dress. The eroticism on display is meant to be simultaneously wanton and repulsive; a painful looking reminder of our obsession and regret. When Eileen struggles to keep up, or when Henry has to find new paths for her, the emotional attachment overrides the chore. Unlike Maria, Eileen never quietly shadows Henry on their journey. She fights back, decipher clues, and lends a comforting voice. Their companionship is constantly threatened by the presence of Room 302, as Henry is forced to leave her behind, and what was once a place of sanctuary becomes less inviting as time goes on. And the switch between needing Room 302 to Eileen becomes increasingly prominent in the second half, when the possessions and exorcisms get out of hand. [embed]317761:60935:0[/embed] The human connection ensures Henry and Eileen's survival. Between them, they quickly gain the one thing Walter Sullivan has always yearned for. His deplorable acts are underlined with abandonment issues and sinister adoption, asking the audience if its either down to nature or nuture. Walter's killings are brutal and inhumane, so divorced from his childhood that he's split into two forms. Though they want the same thing, both child and adult Walter are at odds with each other - the child being a manifestation of memory and guilt that the adult refuses, much like Locane Twins' murders, to acknowledge. As king of his own Otherworld, an inanimate space becomes a living being through the projection of self and a change within language. It's as much as a denial as the human form Walter takes, leaving everyone else to slither or stutter and peel away from the walls of his warped memories, unable to connect unless it's through white-noise and death. But despite this unique, abstract take on disconnection and projection, SH4: The Room is undermined by some questionable design choices. The emphasis on relentless, unstoppable enemies forces the player to miss out on details, the constant backtracking to Room 302 creates the slowest of start, an ill-thought out limited inventory, an arguably dull protagonist (though that's more the fault of an early lack of interaction), and most erroneous of all, a repeat of locations in the second half. Though it pains this retrospective to say this, with SH4: The Room being a personal second favourite, it's the perfect example of how video game narratives can live and die by gameplay itself. Still, when SH4: The Room works, it does so by tapping into a free flow of subconscious fears and moving on from the comforts of Silent Hill's clichés. No radio warnings, not even a single flashlight, but the Otherworld was still out there, still finding ways to reach relatives of former victims, still bleeding from the rotten core and into new corners. The idea was finally less about another physical world and more of our own human flaws writ large, all scored by Akira Yamaoka's best work. Most of it all, it made downtown life a little bit frightening again. Though it would be the last of the "Team Silent" games, it would also be the last time, for a very long time, that Japanese horror games would be this bewildering and confessional. SH4: The Room casted an assimilated eye and frustrated mind, not to mention the most violent of hands, on our deepest social anxieties. And yet, Silent Hill in its final Eastern form left us on a happy note, with Henry and Eileen joking about finding a new place, under a blinding sunlight. A human connection. After so many years of bittersweetness, you couldn't ask for a nicer send-off from the darkest of video games.
Silent Hill photo
'Did you find your mommy?'
What makes the difference between houses and homes? Is it the space itself or the people inhabiting them? Is it down to the memories we create for ourselves or the aged familiarity of the spaces around us? And if a room is in...


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