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The Binding of Isaac photo
More structure, risk/reward
The Binding of Isaac is one of the kings of procedural generation, but Greed Mode in the upcoming DLC Afterbirth is set to give it a little more structure. Instead of a random layout, each floor has the same plan, with a stor...

Competition photo
Live music, geeks and gaming
Hey, you like video game music right? Let's hope you live in or near the UK, because Video Games Live is going to be coming back to our merry old isles early next year. The video game music concert spectacular will be running...

Review: The Consuming Shadow

Aug 24 // Stephen Turner
The Consuming Shadow (PC) Developer: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw Publisher: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw Released: July 30, 2015MSRP: $9.99 As a lone investigator, you must travel across the UK in a hatchback full of infinite fuel, searching for clues about an invading Elder God and the ritual that will banish them from our world. Starting from the edge of Scotland, you move from town to town (some deadly, some friendly) before arriving in Stonehenge to finish the job. You only have 60 hours before the world ends, so do make those miles count. The Consuming Shadow can best be described as part dungeon crawler, part roguelike travelogue; FTL by way of Call of Cthulhu. It’s a lazy comparison to make, but one quite deserving of a game so transparently stitched together. If you’re expecting anything more than a reskin and a compartmentalization of cannibalized ideas, then The Consuming Shadow will disappoint. To quote Croshaw in the press release: “The graphics aren't the game's strong point: my goal with the game was to create a kind of horror game more akin to literature.” It’s an honest, if somewhat cowardly cop, considering the lack of sympathy that butters his bread. Graphically, it’s supposed to evoke the Commodore and DOS titles of yore, only it looks like Newgrounds Flash game from 2009. [embed]307557:60109:0[/embed] And with that in mind, The Consuming Shadow has to live and die by its own prose. It actually does an excellent job of selling the severity and doubt of each encounter, but it’s also undermined by a lack of procedurally-generated content. The line-by-line variations of the same paragraph quickly turn stale, despite being a solid read. But then, on the flip-side to that, The Consuming Shadow is a purposefully short game. It starts out with a first-person view of your car, which is suitably atmospheric; nothing but motorway signs and a passenger seat full of hastily gathered items. Using a GPS, you have to choose a nearby destination, always being wary of time and distance. Random encounters on the road are a case of risk and reward, but if you don’t have the right equipment, they usually end up being detrimental to your cause. Compared to other roguelikes that offer a fair gamble without the specialist items, The Consuming Shadow’s encounters are almost always stacked against you. Every destination is either a safe haven or a dungeon crawl. The former provides supplies and medical treatment and the latter forms the main crux of the game. Dungeon crawls are where you’ll find clues about each possible invading God and the runic chants needed to banish them; which would be an easy task if not for the scuttling creatures and end-level objectives in your way. Oh, and the fact this where most of The Consuming Shadow’s problems lie. From a third-person landscape perspective, you move through a maze of rooms – be it a house, hospital, warehouse, derelict estate, or park – collecting notes and battling silhouetted enemies. The exploration of an urban environment is a fine horror staple, and it’s a wonderful change from the current crop of first-person jump fests, but all the goodwill is undone by the almost unavoidable attacks and cumbersome controls on a keyboard/mouse setup. Combat is appalling. No witty metaphor or breathless soliloquy, here. It’s appalling. A handgun is always by your side, with three types of limited ammunition, and randomized spells. But between the flaky auto-aim, the minimal field of view and the enemies’ erratic speeds and ranged attacks, combat is a draining experience. Pistol whipping and an exploitation of blind spots turn out to be the key to success, as spells rarely help the cause. While the monsters are varied and left to the imagination, the tactics against them aren’t. I’m pretty sure you're not meant to stand side-by-side with a writhing mass, following it around like a conjoined twin, before pimp-slapping it to death. Since this is a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft, there’s a sanity meter involved. Running away from a problem or encountering a bad decision drains your sanity points, which results in some unnerving hallucinations on the motorway and in the urban mazes. Unfortunately, low sanity also induces an awful QTE event within the decision making. One mistimed click and you’ll blow your head off in a silhouetted suicide. It’s a novelty at first, then a time waster. Every session of The Consuming Shadow is clearly designed for repetition and tailored towards streaming (Croshaw is banking on it for exposure’s sake). Failure is never the end – every game over awards EXP for stat boosts and there are unlockable characters, too – though by the time the needed advantages arrive, it’s far too late in terms of interest. The major problem with The Consuming Shadow is that it’s a bubble-gum experience, especially compared to its peers. When it works, it’s only because of a new discovery. There’s something genuinely thrilling about finding a connection and jotting it down in your table of suspects, before setting off to the next hotspot. But when you enter another procedurally-generated dungeon, it’s a wearisome slog again. The Consuming Shadow is more Frankenstein’s Monster than Eldritch Abomination, shambling along as it does with once fresh parts, dug up from here and there. I can only hope Yahtzee sees the irony the next time he attacks a new game for being old hat or a cut-and-paste job. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review photo
Had more fun in an 8-hour traffic jam
I wasn’t going to mention Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, not initially. But between the infamous handle splashed across the title screen and his pre-emptive comments against certain criticisms in the accompanying pr...

Review: Snakebird

Aug 24 // Ben Davis
Snakebird (PC)Developer: Noumenon GamesPublisher: Noumenon GamesReleased: May 4, 2015MSRP: $6.99 At first glance, Snakebird isn't all that intimidating. It's made to look cute and appealing, with bright colors, simple cartoon graphics, and adorable bird/snake hybrid characters which easily bring to mind more casual games like Angry Birds. But be warned: this is far from a casual experience. On one hand, the cute art style helps by drawing people in and keeping them calm and relaxed while they fail again and again at the puzzles, impaling their adorable snakebirds on spikes and throwing them off of cliffs. But I do worry that the simple graphics might turn some players off to the game too soon. It's definitely not the type of game that it appears to be, but I kind of like that it subverts expectations like that. [embed]307530:60107:0[/embed] The goal of every level is simple: eat all the fruit and get each snakebird into the portal. No snakebird can be left behind, so if one makes it into the portal but the other one can't reach, you might have to start over from the beginning (or at least backtrack a few moves). Eating a piece of fruit increases the snakebird's size by one segment, usually making it easier to navigate certain puzzles. But be careful! Just because a piece of fruit can be reached doesn't mean the puzzle has been solved yet. Most puzzles involve finding the correct path to the fruit, which is not always the most direct path. In fact, the most direct path more often than not will lead to a snakebird getting stuck or dying, but keep in mind that you can easily backtrack in case mistakes are made. If a snakebird dies, the game immediately resets to the last move before death, and you can keep backtracking from there if need be. Once all fruit has been eaten, the portal will open, creating an exit from the level. One of the largest sources of difficulty comes from simply figuring out the physics and abilities of the snakebirds. While there is a tutorial level, it really only covers basic movement and how to open the portal. Everything else is up to the player to figure out, and it's not always obvious. Here are a few mild hints for new players who find themselves getting stuck really early on (possibly even on the second or third levels). Normal physics don't really apply to snakebirds. They always hold their current shape while falling. They can sit on top of floating fruit without eating it. They can push other snakebirds and certain obstacles (or multiple things at once), sometimes even in ways that might not make a whole lot of sense when you think about it. Snakebirds that are pushed will always maintain their current shape. Also, it's usually a good idea to try and figure out what position they will need to end up in to reach the portal, in order to plan out your moves accordingly. Eventually, through trial and error, you'll develop skills and moves that you wouldn't have even dreamed of at the beginning of the game, and you'll start flying through the puzzles, only to get stuck again a little while later on a puzzle which requires a new skill to be discovered. This might leave some players overly frustrated, but options for each level are not endless, so players are bound to figure out a solution as long as they keep trying new things. Snakebird does a good job of keeping things interesting by introducing new mechanics every so often, including the addition of multiple snakebirds in a single level, spikes, movable platforms, and teleportation portals. Each themed area introduces something new, and then there are the special star levels which will test your abilities to the fullest. There are a total of 53 levels, and the difficulty of each level will probably vary from player to player. The map is also non-linear, so beating one level might open up several more to choose from. It took me about 13 hours to beat every level, although I had a particularly tough time figuring out a few of them (a couple that come to mind include level 20 and level 44, both of which took me WAY too long to figure out). Usually, I would have to sit and stare at a difficult level for a while, or even stop playing entirely and just take some time to ponder the level and all of the possibilities, and then come back later with fresh ideas. But the feeling of finally completing a seemingly impossible puzzle after so much failure is just so wonderfully satisfying! Personally, I think Snakebird could have benefited from a few extra features. Including statistics such as the amount of time it took to finish a level or the number of moves used would have added a bit to the replayability. As it is now, once a puzzle is solved, there's really no incentive to go back and try it again. Leaderboards would also be a welcome addition, since I'm sure many players out there figured out way more efficient methods of solving certain puzzles than I did. Snakebird is not for everyone. But for those puzzle-lovers out there seeking the ultimate challenge, definitely give Snakebird a shot. You might be surprised by how often this game will leave you stumped, but that just makes the feeling of overcoming challenges so much sweeter! [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]
Snakebird review photo
Delightfully challenging
Well-designed, challenging puzzle games can be hard to come by these days, but they are out there. Games like Antichamber, English Country Tune, and Splice are a few Steam titles that come to mind for providing particularly h...

Boston police arrest two armed men at Pokemon World Championships

Aug 23 // Kyle MacGregor
Norton and Stumbo were subsequently arrested at a hotel in Saugus, Massachusetts for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition, and other firearm-related charges.  Both men are listed as invitees in the Pokémon Trading Card Game's masters division competition. Kotaku dredged up the following post made by Stumbo on a Facebook group: The Pokémon Company International has made the following statement regarding the matter: "Prior to the event this weekend, our community of players made us aware of a security issue. We gathered information and gave it as soon as possible to the authorities at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center who acted swiftly and spearheaded communication with the Boston Police Department. "Due to quick action, the potential threat was resolved. The Pokémon Company International takes the safety of our fans seriously and will continue to ensure proper security measures are a priority." Keeping Boston Safe: Officers Arrest Two Suspects, Recover Two Firearms after BPD Notified of Online Threats to Pokemon World Championship [Boston Police Department via Kotaku]
PokÚmon  photo
Firearms recovered after alleged threats
At this weekend's Pokémon World Championships in Boston, local police arrested two armed men who allegedly threatened to harm tournament attendees over social media. After catching wind of the threats on Thursday, priv...

Podtoid 303: A Good Amount of Cocaine

Aug 23 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]307560:60110:0[/embed] What We Discussed Darren sings "Rapper's Delight" Bad SyFy movies Should you drink your own urine? What's a good amount of cocaine for a 15 year old? Resident Evil 2 Remake What N64 era games would you like to see remade? Rare Replay Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Volume The Goonies Tales from the Borderlands What animal has the weirdest dick? Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Is lore bad? The future of Metal Gear Pokémon Burmese hacky sack Recent Episodes Podtoid 302: Virtual Reality is the Future Podtoid 301: The Least Interesting Man in the World Podtoid 300: Randy Pitchford's Little Asshole Podtoid 299: Blast Ball Podtoid 298: Tales of E3 and Batman: Arkham Knight  Send any and all questions, tips, and Darren Nakamura fan art to [email protected]
PODTOID photo
The Steve Hansen Show with Steve Hansen
Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or download it here. The Podtoid boys return to discuss the latest video games and sexy turtle-on-roller skate action.

Review: Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Aug 22 // Steven Hansen
Everybody's Gone to Rapture (PS4)Developer: The Chinese RoomPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: August 11, 2015MSRP: $19.99 That technical snafu highlights Raptures biggest problem: it is slow and empty. It is too big. I've lived in San Francisco all my life. It isn't small town England, but I've literally walked it from end to end; it's not huge. And still there are blocks, stores, buildings, entire neighborhoods that I have hardly any connection to, that walking through wouldn't evoke any intimate feeling. The exploratory nature of Gone Home, confined to a single family house and connected with tactile engagement, develops its personal story through telling detail. Rapture, on the other hand, is scaled towards a mysterious apocalypse that has seemingly wiped out all things, including this entire village. It is world-concerning. The "pattern," the frightened townspeople fed lies about "influenza," the bloodied tissues strewn about, the quarantine. And it is stuffed with characters, but you only hear them in snippets, like a radio play, after stumbling on orbs of light (and awkwardly tilting the PS4 controller) or abandoned radios. I, apparently, struggle telling a dozen English voices apart and remembering their names, devoid of context or faces. After triggering enough events to start figuring out who's who, I did appreciate the quality character performances. I clung to these characters' story, too, because it was obvious the mystery of the apocalypse was being withheld. The interpersonal drama of village living, of life lost in war, of forbidden relationships, of difficulties in small, religious community. [embed]305705:60101:0[/embed] But why the long walking between points of interest? Rapture is beautiful, no doubt, but that fidelity and scale means that differing local pubs carry the same hand-written signage and no one seems to have personal affects in their vehicles. The beautiful village is unremarkable to the outsider, and the flitting luminescence of peoples' lives hardly feels grounded in the environment that was meant to have connected them. Snooping through the detritus of peoples' homes should say more. There is a difference between the thematic, profound emptiness of the absence of others and the dull emptiness of a beautiful world that doesn't feel lived-in, though aesthetically consistent. Then we are back to the issues of scale, as the story, which guides you through the waning lives of several characters, loops back to its key ones and back to the science-fiction mystery we've given up on for hours in favor of English infidelity. It almost feels garish to go back to, admitting that the in media res character sketches, the handful of dialogue lines about and around interpersonal drama, are not, in fact, enough. Or at least not obvious enough. The end is the theme extrapolated, turned up. Rapture deals with mature, human subject matter -- failing relationships, aging, death -- with notable verisimilitude before acquiescing to its lurid, fantastical bent. The latter feels disconnected from the initially analog apocalypse and your thoughts on Dear Esther will likely echo off this ornate end. What Rapture does well feels slight. Interwoven character sketches stretched out like clippings of a short story dropped every mile. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rapture review photo
A moment frozen in time
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture wouldn't end. I was lost in the middle of the 1984 English countryside having made my circuit trudging through several connected areas, yet suddenly I was back somewhere in the middle. Without ...

Splatoon's newest map epitomizes the game

Aug 21 // Patrick Hancock
Note: For ranked, I'm currently hovering between B- and B. General Honestly, I think just about any weapon can succeed on Flounder Heights with the correct strategy. Rollers and Inkbrushes will likely have a harder time since they can't ink the walls themselves, but that's what teammates are for! Since it's so large, players seem to lean towards longer-ranged weapons, but that is not the only way to go! My main weapon is the Sploosh-O-Matic, a very short-ranged weapon, and I've been doing just fine. Players really need to adjust their playstyle to their weapon here, probably more than any other map.  Since I use a short-ranged weapon, I use the walls to create sneaky paths and come up from behind. When I switch to something with a longer range, I tend to hang back way more and stick to the standard paths. This is why I think the map epitomizes the game: using your weapon in the best way possible is essential to thrive. For some, that's clinging to walls and taking shortcuts, for others, it's holding a position; every weapon has its place on Flounder Heights. Turf War There is a lot of surface to ink here. Often times, I'll find myself leaving the spawn a minute or two into the game and still have an entire path to coat with fresh ink! Normally I would advise not to bother with inking the spawn, since it will likely get inked over time from people respawning. With Flounder Heights, however, I'm changing my tune. It is very possible for an entire area near the spawn to go un-inked for an entire match, since there's so many other places to be and most people just super jump from spawn after their first death. Sprinklers and Inkstrikes are, as usual, very efficient here, especially with the verticality of it all. A single sprinkler or well-placed Inkstrike might ink three different levels at once, making it much more of a pain to clean up! The high ground in the center of the map is a very strong position to hold. You can see a lot from any given spot up there, but at the same time, there's so many different areas that the enemy can come from. Personally, I'm a fan of taking the middle low ground, then looping back around to come from behind. Tower Control The path for the tower in this mode is pretty straightforward, but can definitely be difficult to stop. After the tower leaves the center, it goes up and over a wall, which can be a big pain when chasing the tower down since the wall itself isn't inkable. Luckily, the tower moves slowly enough that Squidkids can just go down the ramp and cut off the tower. This might be me making things up, but the base of the tower seems larger here. Like, the part that players need to climb up to actually ride the tower. This makes things real difficult for players on the ground level to splat those actually on the tower. Luckily, there's plenty of high places on the map to combat this, but it is interesting.  I've been rolling with the Squiffer for Tower Control, and it hasn't let me down yet. There's definitely plenty of places for Chargers to station themselves and pick off anyone on the tower, though the Squiffer is a more in-your-face kind of Charger.  Splat Zones Despite being such a large map, the two zones in Splat Zones are right next to each other. They are both in the center of the map, separated by a small grate and two archways. Charger weapons and the Heavy Splatling can shoot from one zone to the other. It seems like a strange decision, given such a large map, but it does succeed at creating MASS CHAOS in the center. Killer Wails are especially strong here, since you can hit both zones at once! One bit of advice: don't forget that the grate is....a grate. I've seen plenty of teammates try to avoid getting splatted and just fall right through the grate. It's not a bad idea to head to the center of the map, below the grate, and paint the walls so your teammates can swim right back up afterwards. Oh, and each zone can be taken by a single well-placed Inkstrike. Just keep that in mind! I used the Heavy Splatling primarily in Splat Zones. I loves its range and ability to hold an area. Plus, since it's possible to take a zone with an Inkstrike, I could defend one zone while simultaneously taking the second! While in control of both zones, it's not a bad idea to push forward a bit to paint the opponent's travel routes. Forcing them to repaint those paths can earn you some precious seconds! Rainmaker Again, despite this being such a large map, Rainmaker can be over in the blink of an eye. The path from the Rainmaker's location to the goal is very short. Regardless, 90% of my Rainmaker battles here have been nail-biters. One time my team, with only three people, came within inches of claiming victory. It's moments like those that make me wish I could play with the same people multiple times in a row. Please don't forget that the shield around the Rainmaker pushes you back. Far too many people have been pushed off one of the game's many high buildings trying to burst that shield and getting too close.  I do wish Rainmaker utilized more of the game's many paths. There's really only one way into the final area, which makes it a big chokepoint. There is technically a second route to get there, but it's out of the way and doesn't make much sense to take since the enemy can see where the Rainmaker is at all times. General Map Tips Squid Beakons: These things are made for this map. With so many different paths and plenty of surface area, getting back to a "hot zone" of activity can take quite a while. Put some Beakons in one of the maps nooks and crannies and your team will love you. Echolocator: This already-great ability gets even more use here. Knowing where the enemy is in such a large space is crucial! Likewise... Cold Blooded: Don't let those Echolocator jerks know where you are! Especially useful for those who like to climb around and be sneaky. Bubbles and Krakens: Don't forget that shooting people in Bubbles or in Kraken form will knock them back! If you're on one of the many elevated areas, you don't necessarily have to run!
New Splatoon Map photo
Instant favorite
Splatoon's newest map, Flounder Heights, is amazing. It takes place on top of an apartment complex and is absolutely gigantic. There's so many routes to take at any given time! There is a lot of potential in this map, and it ...

Review: Fingered

Aug 21 // Nic Rowen
Fingered (PC)Developer: Edmund McMillen and James IdPublisher: Edmund McMillen and James IdRelease Date: August 18, 2015MSRP: $1.87 Fingered, is a deduction game made by Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac) and his frequent collaborator James Id. Which means its a messed up deduction game. Fingered casts you as a detective/executioner determined to clean up this city by taking the shaky, confused, half-contradictory descriptions of criminals from a bunch of weirdo busybodies and fingering somebody with them (in the accusatory sense of the word). Find the person who fits the description best, put them in the chair, and throw the switch on them yourself. Give due process the finger. You start with a line-up of scumbags and shady characters. They all look guilty of something. Look at them, shuffling nervously under a flickering light, holding tiny number cards in front of them like flimsy shields. Who could it be? You can practically smell the flop sweat, the fear.   You go over the witness's clues again confirming the most important facts, what they know they know. The suspect is definitely a heavyset man, so you can let the skinny-boys go. He was probably wearing something hippy-ish (what counts as a hippy these days? Does the witness mean “hipster?”) He's maaaybe kind of a jock? (a fat hippy jock? The hell does that look like?) You do your best to ignore the “um's” and “er's” of indecision, the inherent haziness of memory. It's only a man's life on the line. NBD, right? Try to knock this out before lunch, it's nachos and wings in the cafeteria today -- finger food. One by one you winnow it down, until there’s just two suspects left. They both fit the profile, they're both so similar. But there is at least one big difference between them, one is going to go home while the other will never breath free air again. Which one is up to you. Pick one. Damn one. FINGER one. Whoops, wrong guy.   You get one freebie in Fingered. Sending a single innocent man to the chair will be swept under the rug, but fry up a second one and it's time to turn over your badge and finger gun. This is the likely outcome for most games of Fingered, there are 21 randomized cases to close (the suspects and clues are different each time out) and its so easy to finger the wrong guy. Especially since each witness throws their own curve ball into the mix. Negative Nancy describes everything in loopy double-negatives to trip you up. Bigot Barney has some obvious prejudices you should probably factor in before taking his testimony at face value. And forget about the non-human witnesses, those guys just don't get it at all. After about the tenth criminal, your job gets significantly harder. The witnesses clues get more confusing while external pressures like time-limits and vision obscuring accidents hinder your investigative efforts. The line-up of bizarre, procedurally generated suspects grows longer and stranger. It will take a sharp, quick eye to spot out the telltale details to make your case. It wouldn't be a game by Edmund McMillen if he didn't slide in a few cheeky references to some of his other games. Eagle eyed detectives will spot the occasional guest star or celebrity cameo in the line-up ranging from Meat Boy himself, to other more vilified characters like Charles Manson and Phil Fish. Always a pleasure to finger a familiar face. It would be easy to write Fingered off as weird for the sake of weird. It has a bizarre premise and is presented with the kind of perpetually adolescent gross-out art style of a lot of McMillen's games. It's scored with positively hypnotic jazz and narrated by a guy who sounds like the protagonist of Dragnet strung out on painkillers. It IS weird. But, it's also darkly subversive. A gallows humor take on a kind of justice that really did imprison and execute a lot of innocent people based on dubious descriptions and contrived conjecture. It's not belabored, but there is a bit of a message behind the poop jokes and easy double entendres. It's smarter than you might think at first glance. The randomized criminals and clues combined with the idiosyncrasies of the various witnesses can result in some tricky logic puzzles, line-ups that will leave you stumped. But it never seems unfair. Despite the randomized nature of the game, the perp always seems obvious in retrospect and it never feels like the game is cheating (except possibly the last witness, but it's a joke I won't spoil). Fingered is a pinky-sized bit of fun. It's not hard to get everything you need from the game in a single night of sleuthing, but at the bargain price of $1.87, it feels worth it. A wonderfully weird, smart little game for less than the price of a cup of coffee: you could call it steal or five-fingered discount if that kind of wordplay tickled you. Really though, in all sincerity, I think you should get Fingered.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.] 
Fingered review photo
Up to my knuckles in justice
Up until very recently, eyewitness testimony was the single most persuasive form of testimony a jury could hear. If someone could stand up in court, jab their accusing little finger at a suspect and say they definitely (well,...

Azure Striker photo
With Japanese voices!
Azure Striker Gunvolt was a fantastic platformer, and now it's headed to PC. You'll be able to snag it on August 28 for $14.99, and it'll come with a few extras, most notably the ability to toggle Japanese voices, which...

Review: RymdResa

Aug 20 // Conrad Zimmerman
RymdResa (Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: MorgondagPublisher: MorgondagRelease Date: August 20, 2015MSRP: $11.99 RymdResa tells a story of humanity seeking new life for itself in the cosmos, told in three parts. As the game begins, Earth has been destroyed by an asteroid and the player is an explorer roaming a seemingly limitless, procedurally generated universe in search of a planet to colonize and ensure mankind's survival. Successive chapters have the player collecting resources and undertaking a larger journey to a separate universe, each expanding the gameplay with different mechanics and challenges. Early on, the game is about survival and that survival feels very much at risk. This is when RymdResa is at its most entertaining. Launched into space with the only most basic of ships, the player must conserve and protect their resources while traveling to nine sectors or they will die, lost and forgotten. Resources, in this case, means fuel, which doesn't deplete over time of its own accord, only used when the ship's thrusters are employed. Other things you encounter in space do affect your resource count, however. Collisions, mines and attacks from passing ships to can cause a considerable loss, and that's likely to happen quite a bit due to some design aspects working together to make it very difficult to understand how fast your ship is moving and predict collisions. The empty space environment provides little visual context to give that information to the player and a narrow, never changing view distance from the ship makes it such that when objects appear on the screen, they are as likely to fly right into you before a reaction is even possible as creep into the frame. [embed]307050:60067:0[/embed] Frustrating as this is (and it truly is), it also does reinforce the fragility of the player's situation and forces them to take it slow, further dragging out the empty gaps and feeding into the game's overlying thematic tone of helpless melancholy. RymdResa is not subtle about what the game wants the player to feel. Cutscene narration preceding chapters and diary pods produced within them ooze nostalgic regret and longing, delivered by a distant, electronically distorted voice that sounds more like a morose robot than a human. This first chapter in which the player is at their weakest captures that spirit most effectively, but it fades with time and progress. Even the most disastrous attempt to complete a voyage is rewarded in some ways. Players earn skill points with experience levels that can improve the efficiency of resource collection, provide the ability to interact with more environmental objects and help ships to perform better, and these levels carry over across all missions once earned. Spacepoints are constantly being added and subtracted, acting as a form of currency that can be spent to launch voyages with the game's seven other ships, and items to outfit those ships are carried in a general inventory accessible at all times. With these systems, by the time the player makes it through the first chapter and on to the second, they're probably pretty far along in their experience development (which caps out at 40 levels). And, suddenly, the stakes are pretty much gone. A seemingly constant accumulation of items to customize ships begins to provide all manner of attribute bonuses (introducing a whole different problem of inventory maintenance within a system desperate for sorting tools and a constant need to sell off useless junk to make room), so that while you're never invincible, it sure can feel that way. It soon becomes the default to quit a voyage out of a sense of not having anything to do rather than because of a failure to accomplish something. Chapters after the first have objectives which can be approached in a non-linear fashion and incremental progress an ultimately unsuccessful mission accomplishes is retained, removing all sense of urgency. What happens in them isn't all that interesting either, as the player collects "materials" (like resources, but green and serving no function outside of the second chapter's main objective) and faces down inscrutable guardians in a series of two-choice dialogue events where it's rarely clear that there is a right or wrong answer, but you're punished for choosing the wrong one anyway. Vast as the explorable region of the game is, which uses a grid-based system of sectors to indicate player location (the number of which may well be limitless and impossible to chart due to procedural generation), there isn't much one can reliably do within all of that space. In some ways, exploration off the beaten path is thoroughly discouraged despite the many opportunities presented. Teleporters dotted seemingly at random will send you off to a far flung sector, but what's to do once you're there? Drift back through possibly many hundreds of sectors, the vast majority of which will have nothing in them or wander off in some other random direction and hope maybe you come across anything of interest that way. I never have, and it's clear that there's more to this game that I have not experienced. A collection of "Research Notes" is referenced with a menu and there's a whole mechanic designed around using them to craft... something. I've never found one and wouldn't know where to start looking for them. Some people are going to dig into this game, absorb its extremely passive gameplay and have a curiosity which leads them to discover these things that I have not. I'm sure of that. If ambiguity and self-directed discovery are aspects of games you appreciate when they exist, and can handle one where you'll spend most of your time not doing anything, you're the audience RymdResa is looking for. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
RymdResa Review photo
The big empty
"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitchhiker's Guide ...

Nintendo Download: 3D Gunstar Heroes

Aug 20 // Chris Carter
If you missed last week's edition, here it is. As for what I'm getting, I'll stick with 3D Gunstar Heroes. For those who are interested, sales are going on for both the Wii U and 3DS.  
Nintendo Download photo
Also, Advance Wars 2
We're only a few weeks away from the launch of Super Mario Maker, but for now we'll have to make due with the eShop. This week, the Wii U is getting Crab Cakes Rescue, Factotum, Mortar Melon, Woah Dave!, The Bridge, and ...

Secret Ponchos: Most Wanted is an improvement on the original release

Aug 20 // Chris Carter
The long road to Most Wanted started a few months after the original hit the PS4, notably by way of the PS+ program. Mapara and his team started working on a complete overhaul in the game, and development culminated when he took his preview build to EVO this year. "They don't hold their punches, in a good way," Mapara said. He noted how most of the attendees aren't interesting in visuals or artistic elements, but how the game plays, if your hitboxes are correct, and other technical aspects. "We always intended on having our game be catered to hardcore players, so this kind of feedback was perfect," he said. The entire experience is re-balanced around 3v3 fights to have a perfect mix of chaos and skill -- "4v4 was a little too hectic," stated Mapara. Improving Secret Ponchos is a two-layer strategy -- support features, and content. In terms of the former, Mapara mused on how they quickly shifted their philosophy after launch, saying, "We learned so much about the game at launch. This is new territory for an indie team, making a heavily online game. So we tried to base our system off of bigger games like TF2, and we learned that the model doesn't really work for us. For instance Call of Duty has millions of players at all times. We need to make our game work even if there's only 100 people playing." As a result, they've made matchmaking easier, merging lobbies together while allowing a rookie and ranked option. In terms of content, there will be 10 characters, five of which who weren't present in the PS4's launch, and four new maps. One of the new additions is "Gunman," who is described as the "[Street Fighter's Dan] of the game. He's a dumb cop who was kicked out of his town, and still thinks he's the law. After going hands-on with him it's clear that he's a support version of the Killer character, complete with a six-shooter, and the ability to mark enemies with a defense-lowering target. The Mad Trapper is another cool newcomer, who is literally all about traps and a massive amount of range. He's incredibly technical, as he has a low health pool, and can manually hide traps, luring players into all sorts of situations. Although she has been playable before I also had the chance to check out the reworked Wolf, who is one of my favorite arena shooter characters in recent memory. She's all about crits and precision, which grant her extra damage for subsequent shots, and shots right after she dodge-rolls. She also runs faster with her knife out, and can pounce on enemies, slashing them on the ground. Also included in the game is Gordo, a minigun toting maniac, and an unnamed character who wields two tomahawks. I was actually influenced to level them all up individual as well, as there's a new progression system in Most Wanted that ties into Steam achievements, and rewards players with in-game cash and content. Other additions include a tutorial, a more improved rookie matchmaking queue, AI bots, and a new mode called "Protect the Posse Leader" (think Gears of Wars' VIP). Secret Ponchos: Most Wanted will arrive on September 29 on Steam for $14.99. Much like what happened to Rovio with Awesomenauts' shift over to Steam, PS4 updates hinge on the success of the PC version. It's great to see a developer continue to support a game months down the line, and Mapara and his team seem to be incredibly invested in it.
Secret Ponchos preview photo
Coming to Steam on September 29
Back in December, I reviewed Secret Ponchos. It was a pretty interesting online arena shooter, and I saw a ton of potential in it that hadn't yet been tapped, mostly due to a lack of content. When Switchblade Monkeys' Yo...

Superhot is more of a turn-based puzzle RTS than an FPS

Aug 19 // Laura Kate Dale
As someone who sucks at first-person shooters due to their twitch reaction nature, this focus on a slower, almost puzzle-based approach to combat really suited me. I got to feel like the potential to be a badass gun-wielding VR murderer was truly within me. One of the aspects of the game I had managed to stay completely oblivious to before playing Superhot was the narrative and plot presentation. Everything is presented to you as being part of a hacked video game that seems to be taking over people's minds and devouring some innate part of them. The creepy glitch aesthetic of the presentation, alongside the slow build of a maddening descent into complicity really gave a creepy weight to the gameplay systems at hand. I was in control of the gameplay, but I was certainly not in control of the plot. That juxtaposition was really interesting and something I had no idea Superhot was planning to throw at me. My biggest take away from finally getting my hands on Superhot was simply that it seems to be living up to the potential that it's early, eye-catching trailers promised. The gameplay system is polished, level design is tightly refined and the narrative presentation around that core is intriguing and uniquely presented. Superhot looked cool in trailers, and the chunk of time I've spent with it reassures me that this is going to be something special when it launches.
Superhot preview photo
Take it slow and steady
Superhot has been the talk of the town ever since it was first shown off to the world. A first person shooter where the action slows to a near stop unless you're currently moving, the game's visual style and odd momentum are ...

Thirsty, hungry, and crappy in ARK: Survival Evolved

Aug 18 // Nic Rowen
There are tons of survival games to choose from these days, but I downloaded ARK: Survival Evolved almost entirely on the promise of weaponized dinosaurs. If I was going to go down this road, I would do it in style -- on the back of a giant, heavily armed lizard -- and indulge all of my Dino-Rider fantasies. The fact that ARK's character creator is busted and will let you roll up with a nightmarish mutant of disproportionate body parts and bizarre growths is just the icing on the cake. I never read any instructions or watched any tutorials; I went in completely blind. My survivor woke up on a sandy beach as God and Studio Wildcard intended – confused, nearly naked, and shivering. I don't know much about these games, but I do know that they all boil down to collecting resources and building things with them. I start picking up stones on the beach, slightly disappointed that I can't seem to pick up any of the glittering sea shells scattered around. My survivor almost immediately shits himself, somewhat spoiling the moment. But hey, bonus, I can pick up the turd! I can't collect sea shells, but I do start a catalog of dookie samples. I come across a flock of dodo birds on the beach. They're dumb as bricks and don't seem to react to my presence in any way. I punch them and punch them, but only succeed in rendering them unconscious. I savage the flock until I'm standing over a pile of comatose birds and have somehow learned how to write notes and sew pants in the process. This is caveman education at its finest. Soon my pockets are heavy with stones, the beach is awash with pulverized birds, and my survivor is complaining. In fact, complaining seems to be all he does. I never knew the raw nature of primitive man was so whiny. During the day he complains that he's too hot. At night, the big sulky baby is too cold. And he's hungry, and thirsty. I'm starting to worry that Child Services is going to come and take my caveman away. A series of icons depicting sweltering fires and frigid ice cubes, along with unending penalties to my stamina let me know what a terrible job I'm doing of keeping him alive. I stuff some narcoberries I've picked off the local plants down his gullet, hoping the natural sedatives will fill his belly and put him to sleep for the night letting him doze through the cold. But he just staggers around in a haze for a bit, stamina lower than ever. It's time to engage with the crafting system before I get arrested for criminal neglect. As a species we are tool users, after all. It's time to take advantage of that. Looking at what I have available to make, it seems like building a pickaxe would be a good start. I'd need stone (check), thatch (nope), and wood (na-da). Can't I just make it with narcoberries? I still have plenty of those. I waste a good 20 minutes wandering around a small forest looking for loose sticks to collect, thinking they'd be like the stones on the beach. I can't find any and the, "I can't get wood" jokes got old about 19 minutes ago. I punch a tree out of frustration. Gouts of blood spray from my hand and a piece of wood lands in my inventory. Oh, so it's like that, huh? I punch trees until my knuckles are bloody and broken and I've managed to pick enough splinters out of my hand to fashion a crude pickaxe. Then I get into the holy guts of these games – hitting shit to build more shit. I hit rocks with smaller rocks until they give me the other kind of rocks I'm looking for. Then I use those rocks to hit other rocks more efficiently. I make hatchets, spears, a shirt to cover my misshapen body. Caveman essentials. Is this really all there is to life? We've lost a generation of gamers to this? I suppose the closest comparison to ARK would be Rust, which also throws you into the wild with nothing and expects you to build up from stone-aged flint spears and hemp pants to assault rifles and flak jackets. But ARK has a different vibe. You're a caveman sure, but there is a pulsating metal jewel embedded in your arm. You have a number and, ominously, a projected survival expectation based on your performance. You're tagged and tracked like an animal, which begs the question of who exactly is doing the monitoring. At night, pillars of light and energy reach into the heavens. High-tech obelisks stand alone in the middle of miles and miles of untamed jungle and roaming packs of dinosaurs. Clearly something is going on here. If there is a concrete storyline, I haven't picked up the thread yet. I'm sure it exists out there in wikis and forum posts scattered around the net, but I don't want to seek it out that way. I want to know what my survivor knows and live in that reality. And right now, it's all just sci-fi mystery and terrible giant lizards that look like they could snap me up as a light snack without even thinking about it. It's terrifying and fascinating, and truth be told, I kind of like keeping it vague. My mind wanders while I play. Are we all futuristic criminals banished to an otherworldly penal colony? A kind of Space-Australia complete with raptors and megalodons? Are the inhabitants of the island subjects of some kind of twisted social experiment? Or is it somewhere in-between? Like the '60s British classic The Prisoner? Do I need to be careful of Rovers if I try and leave the island? The best moments I have in the early hours of ARK are moments of transgression. Moments that I'm not particularly proud of. Players are given unfettered freedom to do what they like in ARK, and somewhat predictably, most people like to be jerks -- myself included. I came across a player's unguarded camp once and looted everything that wasn't nailed down. I even stole the charcoal from his fire, blackening my hands and soul with the theft. I stumbled on an unconscious player, half hidden under a rocky outcrop. I knew I should just leave him alone, but I hovered over him, freshly made spear in hand. I mean, I should probably take a chance to test it out right? It's just good survival. He wasn't the last. Like the old lady from Mad Max, I killed everyone I ever met out there. Or at least I tried to. My belligerent, mutant caveman would shake his spear and charge at everyone, no matter how unclear the actual threat they posed or how hopelessly outmatched he was. Maybe it speaks to some deep-seated trust issues of mine, but I never saw the point in playing nice with the other neanderthals. Better to go down spitting and stabbing than take a chance. I know I should probably reach out, join a tribe, engage with others. Maybe find someone with skills I don't have and combine our efforts to mutual benefit. You know, like our ancestors did. I know we could work together to make this land livable, to build a life. But, it's a matter of motivations. I didn't come here to make the world a better place. I came here to strap machine guns on a T-Rex. I came to trample, shoot, and devour anything that stood in my way. I came to make the world a distinctly worse place. I die a lot. I die of malnutrition and deprivation. I die from giant mosquitoes and their toxic stings. I die from dinosaurs I don't even know the name of. Each time, I respawn in some new random location with nothing in my inventory, right back to the raw state of nature. But I keep the knowledge and skills I've accumulated and it's easier and easier to rebuild with every attempt. Well, except for that one time I respawned right next to a saber-toothed tiger and had to play hide-and-go-seek with it on a pile of rocks for a good ten minutes before it finally got on top of me. It's hard out there for a sci-fi caveman. I still haven't yoked and tamed a dinosaur. My dreams of loading up a T-Rex with cannons and missiles and riding it around like some prehistoric Metal Gear haven't come to fruition, and I don't think they will anytime soon. It just takes too long to level up, to learn the skills you need to tame a thunder lizard, or stitch an appropriately intimidating saddle to ride on (I'm thinking skulls, but I'm open to rows upon rows of claws and teeth). It's even more effort to make a pen to keep a three-story tall dinosaur in and gather enough food to prevent it from turning on you. Then of course there's the long, painfully slow journey towards making gunpowder. I'd have to mine for raw metal and build a furnace to stamp out just a simple blunderbuss, never mind a high caliber mini-gun (as a consolation, I just recently discovered slingshot technology). It's too much for any one would-be warlord to do on their own. It really would take a village. A savage, bloodthirsty village. But I think I saw it. I glimpsed the abyss, the way one would get sucked down into these sorts of games and never come back. At the end of my third or fourth night of playing, after hours of exploration deep into the island, I realized that I didn't want to die and start over again. It was late, I was tired, but I couldn't go to sleep and just leave my caveman to die in the wilderness like I had at the end of previous sessions. I found a nice spot secluded in the trees and laid down a simple foundation and a campfire. It was a simple hut. Four walls, a door, a roof, and just enough room for a sleeping bag if you stood outside and dithered the placement just right, but it was home. I had enough wood in the fire to last all night, a bounty of meat to feast on, and full waterskins. My caveman was looking sharp too, fully dressed, new shoes, a backpack full of extra spears -- this was a person who was going to make it. My mind immediately unspooled reams of future designs. A bigger house, wood and stone structures, spikes for defense. If I built near a river I could make a simple plumbing system, grow my own patch of berry bushes, maybe tame a few dodo birds for pets (or food, the line is blurry for cavemen). I could make my survivor more comfortable, I could provide more for him, and he'd be okay, protected and safe. I went from Kull the Conqueror to Mr. Nanny in the space of one night. It was the same feeling I used to get from placing all of my action figures in their proper boxes or play-sets when I was a child. It reminded me of an article I once read explaining why people get screwy sometimes and start adopting all the neighborhood stray cats or obsessively outfit their backyard with squirrel feeders and multiple kinds of birdhouses. It's that fleeting feeling of control, of finally, actually taking care of all of a creature's needs (inanimate toy, video caveman, or small wild animal). To be able to give something the kind of security and finality that is outside of your control and impossible to provide in your own life. I think back to what it was like in grade school; All the uncertainty, the nasty and brutish classmates that made those formative years a gauntlet of survival. I used games to escape from that setting, but it was all about hopping into other worlds, being a tourist. I wonder how much more time I would have spent in any one of those worlds if they let me build with the same degree of granularity a game like ARK or Minecraft does. I always assumed the appeal of survival games was the trolling, of ruining the fun for other players. Or failing that, the creativity of playing around with the tools. While I'm sure those things are the reason some players come to these games, I think the reason they stay is more simple than that. Maybe it's just the pleasure of building a home, of having something to come back to. Maybe it's time I learn to play nice with the other neanderthals.
Ark experiences photo
Out of my Comfort Zone #01
[Out of my Comfort Zone is a new series where I try to combat complacency in my gaming habits by trying different genres and tackling challenges I might otherwise never attempt. In this debut entry, I try my hand at a surviva...

Call of Duty: Black Ops III feels familiar, but the beta maps are great so far

Aug 18 // Chris Carter
[embed]306570:60036:0[/embed] The first thing I noticed about Black Ops III is the addition of specialists -- a clear nod to other class-based games like Team Fortress 2. Here, you'll be able to choose between nine different "characters," all with unique names, a special weapon, and an ability. For instance, "Ruin," a Berserker-like, has short-range gravity spikes and a speed boost, and the sneaky "Outrider" sports a bow and extra vision. Don't fret though, as you can still fully customize your killstreaks, loadout, and abilities just like the previous games -- the characters are merely a template. In terms of the beta, the following playlists were available -- Team Deathmatch, Demolition, Kill Confirmed, Hardpoint, Capture the Flag, and Search and Destroy. The vast majority of players flocked to the former, and I have to say, I had a blast. The maps are just so varied this time around, especially "Hunted," my personal favorite. It's an outdoor map set at a resort-like location, with caves, underwater paths, and plenty of variety. It really highlights how far the series has come in terms of sound direction, because with headphones, all of the ambient sound effects are top notch. In terms of movement, Black Ops III feels like a more grounded Advanced Warfare. While you can double-jump you can't airdash, and players won't be zipping around quite as much, in favor of a more methodical playstyle. All in all, I'm not crazy about the multiplayer so far, but I'm happy with how it's turned out if the rest of the maps are as vibrant as the ones included in the beta. The beta officially starts tomorrow for PS4 users, and next week for Xbox One and PC gamers.
Call of Duty: Black Ops I photo
Check out some gameplay
Call of Duty: Black Ops III runs the risk of falling into the trappings of some of the previous bad games in the series, but as always, I have faith in Treyarch, the best developer in the franchise's history. Even if the...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo

Aug 18 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: August 18, 2015 (Mac, PC, PS3, PS4)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] Things were looking bad for Fiona and Rhys at the end of the third episode. Sure, Gortys found her first upgrade and the path to the Vault of the Traveler became clearer, but newcomer Vallory had the group pretty well pinned under her thumb by the end. Complicating matters was the revelation that the final Gortys upgrade isn't even on Pandora; it's up on Hyperion's moon base Helios. For a series known for fast travel between exotic locations and featuring interstellar travel as part of its lore, it's easy to forget just how infrequently anybody takes a trip off Pandora. Usually, denizens of the wasteland are stuck there. And so the first act of this episode involves the non-negligible task of actually getting from Pandora to Helios. The group grows as August and Vallory's henchmen ride along to ensure Rhys and Fiona don't try anything funny and Scooter hops in as the on-board mechanic. It's a pretty motley crew, well deserving of the '80s rock credits sequence rocket launch montage. [embed]306135:60017:0[/embed] Telltale continues to demonstrate its comedic mastery with Tales from the Borderlands. One of the funniest parts comes from a totally visual gag within the launch montage. It elicited more laughs with no words than some comedy games do with thousands. The written jokes here are on point too. Each of the characters brings something different. Gortys remains a highlight through the whole ordeal, even if she has fewer lines than she did in the previous episode. Fiona's sarcasm hits just the right notes. Handsome Jack is about as likable as a murderous psychopath can be. The plan that comes together even allows players to act like total assholes without having to feel too bad about it. The trip to Helios also allows for one of the most bizarre scenes in recent memory. Without spoiling too much: it's a classic Telltale quick-time event action sequence, but it involves a horde of Hyperion accountants and a lot of mouth-made sound effects. It isn't all laughs. The series has had its serious moments in the past, but Escape Plan Bravo will cement Tales into the overall Borderlands lore. It is no longer a side story on Pandora. It feels like its own proper entry in the timeline, with real effects on the world Gearbox built. It's a stark contrast with Telltale's other current series Game of Thrones. While the events in that series are important to the Telltale-designed protagonists, they aren't important to anybody else in that world. Telltale's characters and story in Tales from the Borderlands are important to Borderlands as a whole. I have to imagine there is at least a modicum of trepidation when handing over a franchise to another developer, but if Gearbox had any fears that Telltale wouldn't do right by Borderlands, those fears would be unfounded. If anything, it feels like Gearbox needs to hire the Telltale writers to consult on Borderlands 3. Escape Plan Bravo solidifies Tales as a must-play series for those interested in the Borderlands universe. I cannot wait for the last episode, The Vault of the Traveler. There is so much to resolve: Vallory, Handsome Jack, Vaughn, Gortys, the masked man, Felix, the vault. I'm stressing out just thinking about it all. There isn't much more to say without spoiling the best episode of Tales from the Borderlands yet. I laughed. I cried. I haven't been able to say that about a Borderlands game since Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, or about a Telltale game since the first season of The Walking Dead. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Borderlands review photo
Encore! Encore!
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Tales ...

You don't need a GamePad to play ZombiU

Aug 18 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]306573:60033:0[/embed] Still, it's not anywhere near a deal-breaker. The Xbox One controller and DualShock 4 are serviceable in their one-button press menu summoning. It all just requires a little bit more care. Honestly, if you're playing Zombi carelessly, menu navigation is the least of your concerns. There are some other slight drawbacks in the Xbox One version of Zombi. Textures and character models seem a bit outdated, which can be expected from a game that launched before current consoles released. Also, the frame-rate tends to dip when action gets too thick. Those annoyances are nothing too detrimental to Zombi, though. The captivating environment and the unique survivor-after-survivor gameplay easily overshadow the flaws. And, we shouldn't view the switch from GamePad to regular controllers as a downgrade; we should view it as a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to experience everything Zombi has to offer.
Zombi impressions photo
Well, just 'Zombi' now
To date, ZombiU has been one of the best (and only) non-Nintendo published Wii U exclusives. It has turned into something of a cult classic, as many have praised the way that it felt more like a survival game and resiste...

Rocket League cars photo
And why isn't it the Merc?
Rocket League is the new hotness. The newest update added in some new cosmetic items, and I'm sure most of you have been playing around with the new toys. The new cars, Takumi and Dominus, are easily the most used at the...

So you thought localization was easy

Aug 17 // Kyle MacGregor
Translation is usually what we think about when localization is brought up, as if the process of bringing a game from one region to another were little more difficult than running the script through Google Translate and calling it a day. No. Again, it's way more complicated than that. Translation isn't a quick and easy thing. There are cultural references, idioms, and turns of phrase that just don't, well, translate. But even once the herculean task of converting a mountain of text into a language your target audience can understand is finished, the job is far from over. Just go take a peek at XSEED Games' blog, where localization consultant Jessica Chavez recently discussed the state of affairs surrounding The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky SC, a role-playing game for PSP and PC that the studio has been working on for... God knows how long. There are reasons for that, of course. And I'm not going to get into all of them here out of respect for the parties involved. But chief among them is the fact that Trails in the Sky is a massive game. To illustrate that point, Chavez recalled trying to pull up a document containing the game's full text on her computer, only to have the machine buckle and blue-screen under the weight of the file. Quality assurance sounds like a total headache, too. Even once you cram all those words into the game, the battle is far from over. For example, you are then likely to get problems like this: In addition to randomly inflating words and spacing issues (that sometimes require the localization team to rework entire lines of dialogue) there's all sorts of other bugs that need to be addressed, like glowing doorways to nowhere, whatever is going on in this .gif, and disappearing scenery. And that's just the fun stuff that Chavez decided to share. I'm sure there are other untold horrors. Every game is unique, with its own problems and challenges, all of which can make the process more difficult, lengthy, or just not commercially viable for the publisher or development team. In December 2012, Capcom's then-senior vice president Christian Svensson told fans why the company wouldn't be localizing the gorgeous PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS shooter E.X. Troopers as "all of the text is 'hard coded' as actual art. The text isn't just standard 'text' that could be swapped relatively easily. To localize a release, one would have to redo a ton of art in the game." More recently, Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki said that while he would love to bring his latest project, a rhythm game called IA/VT Colorful, to western markets, it just wasn't feasible due to all the rights involved with the music. According to XSEED's Tom Lipschultz, the royalties involved with licensing would have bloated the game's budget and made it unmanageable.  So maybe the next time you're about to curse a company's name and hammer out an angry comment here or elsewhere on the Internet when word breaks that a game you really wanted was delayed or isn't coming here, stop and think. Maybe there's a good reason behind the decision. That all said, God fucking dammit, Sega! Bring over Valkyria Chronicles 3 already, you monsters!
Localization photo
Yeah, no
I think we're all guilty of underestimating just how difficult a process localization really is. There are reasons why some games never make it out of Japan. We rarely hear exactly why, but it's probably more complicated than some executive at Nintendo wanting to rain on your parade.

Review: Beyond Eyes

Aug 17 // Jed Whitaker
Beyond Eyes (PC, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Tiger & SquidPublisher: Team17Release Date: August 4, 2015 (Xbox One), August 11, 2015 (PC)MSRP: $14.99 Rae is a young girl playing with some friends and fireworks when something goes wrong, causing sparks to fly into her eyes and permanently blind her. Her friends move on with their lives, leaving her alone with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company that summer, until a friendly neighborhood cat shows up. Rae quickly befriends this cat and names it Nani. It comes and goes as it pleases and eventually just stops showing up, prompting Rae to journey outside of her home to try to find her feline friend. It really is never explained how little or much Rae can see, though I was lead to believe she could see a very short distance around her due to the way the graphics paint themselves in as Rae moves. You can be considered legally blind -- in the United States at least -- and still be able to partially see, so perhaps she is in that murky area?  As Rae slowly walks the world will paint itself in around her in an extremely beautiful water color-esque way, which I'd imagine is a visual representation of how Rae sees the world or at the very least perceives it. As birds chirp, dogs bark and other sounds are heard, Rae visualizes them, providing clues as to where to walk. [embed]305547:60010:0[/embed] Walking is really all there is to Beyond Eyes, with maybe three or so presses of an action button: better known as a walking simulator. At one point a young girl tosses her ball out of reach and asks Rae to find it, which really is kind of an asshole thing to do to someone who is clearly at the very least visually impaired. Rae walks around with her hands out at times so she can feel for objects that she may collide with, so it isn't exactly hard to figure out that she is blind. It isn't like there is a whole lot of story in Beyond Eyes either, it could be summed up as "Girl gets blinded, girl befriends cat, girl searches for cat after it stops visiting." The whole thing was over for me in an hour and a half, though I missed most of the achievements that are seemingly just there to encourage more exploration thus extending play time.  There really just needed to be more of everything: more story, more to do, and more reasons to do it. With such a beautiful art style and such a unique character Beyond Eyes had a chance to be something really special but instead it just feels like walking past a beautiful painting, as it is over in the blink of an eye. You'd be better off visiting your local art gallery than spending full price on this, so give it a pass until it eventually drops in price. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Beyond Eyes photo
Blindly searching for pussy
If you know me, you know I yearn for diversity in games and new experiences in general, which is why I jumped at the chance to review Beyond Eyes. It has people of color, the main character is blind, and the art style is beautiful. I just wish the devs would have done more, all this wasted potential.

Rash in Killer Instinct is a cameo done with love

Aug 17 // Patrick Hancock
What I love: Rash plays like he's ripped right out of Battletoads. He can grow ram horns and headbutt his opponent, turn into a wrecking ball, kick with a giant spiky boot, and even call in the infamous speeder bike. While these sounds completely ridiculous, it never feels out of place or strange. I mean, this is a game with robo-dinosaurs and flame cats. Rash has a ton of mobility around the stage. He can zip around the screen using his tongue, though it won't do any damage if it hits the opponent. An added benefit to the tongue is that it will eat projectiles, which in turn helps Rash build meter! The wrecking ball move can also be used to get around the stage, making Rash able to zip and zoop around the screen to keep the opponent on their toes.  My favorite moment so far has been against an Orchid. We were both very low on health, so she starts spamming her fire cats across the stage. Since Rash doesn't have a projectile, I just decided to keep eating hers. Eventually she ran out of Instinct and I was able to use the Shadow version of the Wrecking Ball to seal my victory! The animations and sound prove that this isn't just some ham-fisted nostalgia-fueled cameo done for the money. It's clear that a lot of care was taken when re-creating Rash for the modern era. Going back and forth between Rare Replay's Battletoads and Killer Instinct's Rash is way too seamless. Players can even button mash while fighting to perform a combo, though this isn't super useful. [embed]297480:60011:0[/embed] What needs to change before he's finished: The biggest thing that irks me about Rash is that he only has one linker move, Battering Ram. Every other character has more than that and I expect Rash to by March as well. Rash's trailer seems to have a second linker in the form of a traditional Russian dance, so perhaps we'll see that come March. Other pieces are missing as well, like an actual Ultra, but that's a given for his final version. His throw demonstrated in the reveal trailer has Rash picking up the enemy and moving with them, just like in the original Battletoads, but this is not implemented in the current version.  Rash feels like a great addition to the Killer Instinct cast. If this is how all future cameos are done, then I am all for adding in more. I have a feeling I'm going to go through some intense withdrawal between September and Match without having Rash on the roster.
Rash in Killer Instinct photo
Just give him like, one more linker?
Battletoads is an interesting entity. It's really hard, and everyone knows it. It garnered a big following long after its release and has become more and more infamous over time. Then, the characters appeared in Shovel K...

What if Bonk were cool?

Aug 16 // Jonathan Holmes
In the meantime, we're left to wonder what could have been had Bonk managed to stay alive into 2015. John-Charles Holmes, producer of the new Rhythm Heaven fan magazine Rhythm Zinegoku (featuring art from yours truly and former Dtoid writers Colette Bennett and Ashley Davis), has one possible answer to this question. While this might not be the evolution that many would hope to see for our top heavy caveman hero, I wouldn't be too surprised to see today's Konami take him in this direction. 
Bonk photo
Would he be Zonk?
Out of all the frustrating decisions Konami's made in the past few years, its shelving of the Bonk series hurt me the most. For those who don't know, Bonk was the first "radical" console wars rival to Mario, pre-dating Sonic ...

Gallery: Our favorite cosplay from Comiket 88

Aug 16 // Kyle MacGregor
[Images via なんだかおもしろい, @M_Schmitt1, @7thpolaris, @Buffy_0926]
Comiket cosplay photo
Show us yours!
This weekend in Tokyo, roughly 550,000 people attended Comiket (Comic Market, if you're nasty), a biannual event where independent creators sell games, manga, and other items directly to the fans. It's also a hot spot for the...

Experience Points .22: Tomb Raider

Aug 15 // Ben Davis
T. Rex doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt One of my most memorable gaming moments was seeing the T. Rex in Tomb Raider for the first time. Keep in mind, this was actually the very first 3D video game world I was exposed to. So that, coupled with the fact that I was very young at the time, helped to make the T. Rex a very mind-blowing experience for me. Here's the scenario: As an eight-year-old exploring a three-dimensional cavern for the first time ever, pretty much everything in Tomb Raider seemed incredible to me. Running around, dodging traps, solving puzzles, and shooting at bats, wolves, and even frighteningly powerful bears, I was having an amazing time. Then I get to the Lost Valley, the third level in the game, and things take a surprising turn. Lara climbs up a high wall and drops down into a curiously lush jungle environment, very different from the rocky caves I was used to. A bunch of skeletons litter the ground, and there are some rather large, bird-like footprints all over the place. What could have possibly made these prints? Suddenly, the sound of something large can be heard coming directly towards Lara, and out of nowhere a huge red creature shrieks and lunges at her. It happened so fast that all I could think was, "What the heck is that thing?!" as I jumped around like crazy and desperately fired my pistols. Finally it died, and I was able to take a closer look at the corpse to find out, oh my god, it's a freaking raptor! At that point, dinosaurs were definitely the last thing I expected to see in this game. From then on, I explored the jungle area very cautiously. Soon after dispatching a couple more raptors, Lara approaches a broken bridge high above her. I was moving very slowly towards the bridge, looking up to try and see if there was anything up there, when suddenly the battle music started and the ground began to shake. I stopped dead in my tracks as an enormous T. Rex burst out of the shadows and quickly bounded towards Lara. My heart skipped a beat and I slammed the pause button and nearly fell off of the ottoman I was sitting on! A T. Rex? I have to fight a freaking T. Rex? How in the world? After mentally preparing for several seconds, I got ready to attempt to take down the dinosaur and pressed the start button to resume playing. The T. Rex immediately ran up to Lara, grabbed her in its jaws, thrashed her about, and slammed her limp body onto the ground. Welp. That sure was fast. Eventually, I figured out an effective, if rather cheap, method of killing the big dino, but that moment of seeing it for the first time will forever remain one of my fondest memories in gaming. The wrath of the gods My favorite level in Tomb Raider would easily be St. Francis' Folly. It's the first level of the Greece section, and introduces lions, gorillas, and crocodiles into the mix of enemies. But what makes this level so fun and memorable is the extremely tall, enormous room which leads to four other rooms labeled Thor, Atlas, Neptune, and Damocles. While it's admittedly strange that they included the Norse god Thor and the Roman god Neptune in this Greek ruin (they later changed the names to Hephaestus and Poseidon in Tomb Raider: Anniversary), we'll just look past that for now. These four rooms are some of the coolest areas of the game. They're all themed around the mythological figures they're named for, and they're all quite deadly. Thor's room is decked out with a ball of electricity that shoots lightning bolts onto random floor tiles which Lara must carefully avoid, as well as a gigantic hammer which falls in an attempt to crush her if she wanders beneath it. Atlas' room traps Lara in a narrow corridor with a deadly boulder, which is meant to symbolize the sky that Atlas held upon his shoulders. Neptune's room has a frighteningly deep pool of water which sucks Lara down to the bottom and won't let her back up until she finds a hidden lever. Finally, Damocles' room is rigged with a bunch of huge swords dangling from the ceiling, which fall as Lara tries to leave and even home in on her a bit in an attempt to slice her up. I always enjoyed the creativity that went into making this level. The traps based on mythological figures were a really neat idea and really well implemented, even if they mixed up some of their mythologies. It added a lot to the wonder of the game's world, and even inspired me to research some Greek and Roman gods as a young kid to try and figure out what the names meant. Levels like this are what Tomb Raider is all about. The temptation of the Sphinx This one is a little specific. It's more of a small ritual that I personally enjoy doing every time I play Tomb Raider, even though it's probably not a part of everyone else's experience with the game. But it's also possible that I'm not the only person that does this! Lara actually has two different kinds of jumps in Tomb Raider: a normal jump and a swan dive. The latter is basically just a fancy jump that's probably only meant to be performed around water. Except Lara can do a swan dive anywhere, and one of my favorite things to do is take advantage of this and have her perform swan dives in some of the most ridiculous locations. Sure, she usually breaks her neck, but at least she looks damn good doing it! When I first learned that Lara could do swan dives, I was pulling them off all over the place. I swan dived into every pool of water. I swan dived from the top of the waterfall in the Lost Valley. I even swan dived from the top of the really tall room in St. Francis' Folly (Sorry, Lara!). Then Lara made her way to Egypt, and found herself in the Sanctuary of the Scion. Eventually, she exited into a big, open room with a gigantic Sphinx statue. I took one look at the Sphinx, towering way above Lara's head, and immediately thought, "I have to do a swan dive off that Sphinx." I made that my primary goal as I navigated around the room in an attempt to climb on top of the huge statue's head. Finally, I arrived at the top. I stood there for awhile, surveying the massive, open room around me and the ground far below. Then I pulled off the most glorious swan dive imaginable as Lara silently plummeted to her death in the sand at the Sphinx's feet. It was awesome. Now, whenever I replay Tomb Raider or Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I make it a ritual to perform a swan dive off the top of the Sphinx whenever I arrive at the Sanctuary of the Scion. I wonder if anyone else does the same thing... Home sweet home One of the best parts of any Tomb Raider game is getting to explore Lara Croft's mansion. In many games in the series, including the first, the mansion acts as a tutorial level. It's completely optional to play, and even the tutorial sections of the mansion are optional as well. When Lara enters certain rooms, including a gym, a room with a tumbling mat, a room full of boxes, and a swimming pool, she'll announce to the player all the different moves she can perform and which controls to use. The player can either follow her advice or choose to just keep moving and ignore her if they want, and continue to explore freely. It's actually one of the best ways to include a non-intrusive tutorial that I can think of. Unfortunately, there's not too much to do in the first game's mansion other than tutorials. The second game introduces a bunch of neat little secrets to discover, hidden rooms to find, and a crazy old butler to mess around with and lock in the freezer (he's a hoot), all staples of Lara Croft's awesome home. It's still pretty neat to run around the mansion in the original game though too. Goldfinger This may sound weird, but one of my favorite parts of Tomb Raider is actually one of the death animations. The Tomb Raider series is known for having some pretty gruesome deaths. Even in the first game, I sometimes felt really bad about dying because of Lara's death animations and sound effects. Seeing her thrash about while drowning, hearing the horrible popping and squelching sounds when she falls onto spikes, and watching her get torn apart and tossed around by the T. Rex and the final boss... man, Lara had a rough time. But there's one death animation that had me literally laugh out loud due to how absurd it is. When Lara travels to Greece, she eventually finds herself in an area called Palace Midas. There's a puzzle in this level wherein Lara must collect a few gold bars, except the only things to be found nearby are lead bars. Perhaps there is some way to turn the lead into gold? Those who are familiar with the story of King Midas know that he was said to have the power to turn anything into gold merely by touching it. And wouldn't you know it, there just so happens to be a giant statue of King Midas in the palace, with one of his hands severed and lying on the ground. Obviously, the key to solving the puzzle is to place the lead bars onto the statue's broken hand, which then turns them to gold. But... does the hand turn other things to gold as well? Lara's curiosity gets the better of her as she jumps up onto the hand and, lo and behold, her body parts slowly transform into solid gold as she dies a horrible, yet totally glamorous death. I believe the first time I witnessed this death animation it was completely by accident. I walked into the room, saw the hand lying there, and thought, "I should jump on that hand!" The death that followed took me completely by surprise, but as I sat there looking dumbfounded at the continue screen, I slowly started to piece together what had happened. "Oh! King Midas, duh!" Afterwards, I had a really good laugh, and then promptly went back to the statue room to watch the death animation all over again. Horror in hiding Tomb Raider is one of those games where nobody seems to realize how terrifying and bizarre it is until they actually play it all the way through. It's kind of like Ecco the Dolphin in this regard. For the majority of the game, the locations and enemies remain relatively normal. Lara makes her way through caves and ruins, fighting against the sorts of enemies you might expect to find there, such as bats, wolves, bears, lions, and crocodiles. Occasionally, she'll also encounter some unexpected things such as dinosaurs, but even those aren't too disturbing. But everything changes once Lara reaches the end of the Tomb of Tihocan. The entrance to the tomb is decorated with two statues of centaurs. They don't actually do anything other than look intimidating, so she leaves to navigate the area to find a lever to open the door of the tomb. But as she begins to enter the tomb, the two statues unexpectedly spring to life and attack. And not only do they do that, but their stony exteriors crack open to reveal a truly grotesque sight of what looks like a skinless creature with muscle and bone clearly exposed to the elements. It's horrible, and the first time I played this level it scared the crap out of me! But the horror doesn't stop there. After the Tomb of Tihocan, Lara makes her way into Egypt, and of course the place is crawling with mummies. But these aren't ordinary mummies. You might expect mummies to be slow, lumbering, yet powerful monsters, but the mummies in Tomb Raider are anything but slow! These things freaking run and jump all over the place, making an awful shrieking sound the entire time as they're thrashing at Lara. Their movements are so sudden that they somehow manage to startle me every single time I encounter one. Finally, Lara discovers the lost civilization of Atlantis, which is not nearly as wondrous as you might expect. It's actually pretty nightmarish. The place is crawling with creatures like the centaurs from before, with exposed muscle and bone. Not only that, but the walls, floors, and ceilings are all pulsating and throbbing like the entire place is alive, as if Lara is walking through some massive creature's body. It's extremely unsettling, and very far off from the relatively normal caves that began the whole adventure. And then there's the final boss... I'm fairly sure nobody expected to find something so grossly horrifying from a game like Tomb Raider, but I love how unpredictable it is. Past Experience Points Level 1: .01 - .20 .21: Katamari Damacy
Tomb Raider photo
I'm sorry, I only play for sport
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Review: Goat Simulator (PS4)

Aug 15 // Mike Cosimano
Goat Simulator (Android, iOS, PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Coffee Stain StudiosPublisher: Coffee Stain StudiosRelease Date: April 1, 2014 (PC) / September 16, 2015 (Android/iOS) / April 17, 2015 (Xbox One/360) / August 11, 2015 (PS3/PS4)MSRP: $9.99 (PC/PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One / $4.99 (Android/iOS) When you start Goat Simulator, the game's four-legged protagonist is dropped into an ordinary town and tasked with jumping over a fence. It's a clever subversion of standard game tutorials, and it will be the last time I use the word 'clever' in this review. From there, the game provides the player with little challenges, like pressing the 'Baa' button or running on a wall for a certain period of time. These challenges help boost your score, much like almost everything else in the game. Licking people is worth a handful of points, for example. There are unique things to do in the world -- like finding EDM musician deadmau5 and licking him -- that earn both points and an achievement on your platform of choice. The achievement list can be a help if you're looking for things to do, but some are so obtuse that you're better off trying to explore the world. Herein lies Goat Simulator's Achilles' Heel -- it plays like trash. This is ostensibly part of the game's larger gag, there's even a button dedicated to entering a ragdoll state. But the game tries to have it both ways. Collectibles litter the map (including a handful you need for achievements) and some of them would be challenging to acquire in a superior title. Feats of skill in a game with frustrating controls are certainly impressive, but that doesn't make the struggle any fun. There are a bunch of modifiers, some of which are fun to play with for approximately ten minutes. The jetpack is chuckle-worthy and the VR modifier is an unyielding nightmare straight out of a PG-rated Hellraiser. It is also worth seeing. I used the modifiers as ripcords throughout my playthrough -- when things got too dull, I would hit the jetpack button and watch as the goat flew around in slow-motion. It wasn't hilarious, but it was something to break up my numerous attempts at nailing the manual challenge. (You can perform 'manuals' by flicking the stick back and forth and then trying to balance the goat on its front legs. It's awful) [embed]305553:59993:0[/embed] The game's core joke is difficult to criticize because humor is subjective; one man's guffaw is another man's blank stare. I have a vivid memory of watching Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom in a packed theater and being the only person laughing along. The jokes I found so tickling absolutely failed to play with the rest of the audience. And that's fine! I can sit here telling you that Goat Simulator is just not that amusing for the rest of my life, and that won't register with half of my audience. However, I cannot imagine the people who "get" Goat Simulator will be okay with paying for the experience. Not to keep coming back to movies (comedy games are something of a rarity, so I have to look outwards) but I wouldn't spend full price on a film that gives away its best jokes in the trailer, no matter how funny those jokes were. I played the game on PS4, where it costs $10. That is unconscionable. If one were so inclined, Goat Simulator could go on forever. It's a playground, not a series of objectives, and no high score can hide that. But it's not worth an hour of your time, let alone days. The game has two areas and lacks both the MMO and Zombie DLC. There's just so little to do and even less that's worth doing. Even if the price was right (and that price is free, regardless of platform) Goat Simulator is not worth playing. It's a game designed for YouTube, not the average consumer. Reward this shrewd business decision by not buying this game and just watching some clips online instead.
Goat Simulator review photo
Baa-ring
There's something to be said for games that revolve around a single joke. If you've wrung every possible guffaw out of a game within the first half-hour, you can just close it and move on with your life. In theory, Goat ...

Obscure Video Games: Zettai Zetsumei Dangerous Jiisan DS

Aug 15 // Obscure Video Games
Now while the objective of each mini-game is usually obvious, the reason you are doing them rarely is. So I asked Grandpa for some explanation, and here's what he said: "When you go for a walk, always bring along a bag of dog poo in case a homeless person asks you for food." "Grandpa's inner thigh is feeling very sore today. Could you be a good boy and massage it for me?" "The roaches aren't screaming; they just have built-up air in their shells." "Stop being a pussy; this is how real men bowl." "We're taking a trip to the moon today, but I need you to fill up the gas tank." "Grandpa's gonna get you some ice cream like he promised, but first he needs a visit to the little boys' room." [embed]297486:59891:0[/embed] This is just the tip of the old man's iceberg; there are a lot more mini-games here every bit as crazy as these. So go ahead and touch your Grandpa. You might like it more than you think.
Obscure Video Games photo
Good Touch and Bad Touch
For some reason, when I first heard the name Grandpa Danger, my mind immediately went to "stranger danger," a phrase parents teach their children in order to avoid pedophiles. Thankfully, Grandpa doesn't touch any youngsters ...

Destructoid's eight great games from gamescom 2015

Aug 14 // Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain I didn't see shit with respect to The Phantom Pain at gamescom because I already played the damn thing for 14 hours months ago and there wasn't going to be anything too new compared to E3. Just more cut trailers and word that you can Looney Tunes-style kidnap soldiers from other players' bases. Bless this game. Roughly two more weeks.  (-Steven) Rise of the Tomb Raider Lara Croft's up to her usual shenanigans in Rise of the Tomb Raider. You know the drill by now: traverse dangerous terrain, avoid deadly traps, brutally murder everyone she encounters. Somehow, it doesn't feel old yet. Actually, it's still pretty damn fantastic.  Rise of the Tomb Raider steadily throws challenge after challenge at the player, usually with impeccable style. It's the slow-motion "act quick or Lara's definitely dead" moments that stick with you, but don't underestimate the times when you stand still for a minute and try to pick apart the next puzzle. This game leans heavily on the framework established in 2013's Tomb Raider, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's a bad thing. More of that is perfectly welcome. In our gamescom showing, Lara traded her flairs for glowsticks but the rest of the flashy demo proved that this girl definitely still has flair. (-Brett) Dark Souls 3 There is fear of Souls fatigue and completely sane fear this Dark Souls 3 is easy garbage for casuals, but From Software's tough-but-fair macabre fantasy world remains alluring all the same. I have high hopes for new settings and genres, but once more into a bonfire and flask-filled world of nightmare creatures isn't a bad way to spend some time. (-Steven) Scalebound While Scalebound looks like Platinum's most mainstream-appealing game yet, what with it being an open-world RPG with a vaguely fantasy setting, I'm confident in Hideki Kamiya's ability to bring the weird and inject some life into this Dragonheart successor. Even if it doesn't get too off the rails, it is a completely gorgeous game, with action principles that extend beyond Platinum's typical style (though terms like "open world" and "weapon degradation" do spook the "I like shorter games" side of me). But I'm still pretty sure at some point we're going to be riding that dragon real-time through the completely modern city streets of Drew's world. (-Steven) Hellblade As early a showing as it was, Hellblade has all the right ideas. It's all going to come down to execution. Taking the parlor trick that is hallucination sequences in games and making them "real," because the game takes place in Senua's point of view and her vivid visions are her reality, is a great way of blending theme and form. It gives you a good excuse for a moody third-person action game, too. If Ninja Theory can continue to do Enslaved and Heavenly Sword style stuff on a smaller scale, that will be a win against the homogenization of the industry. (-Steven) We Happy Few First comes credit for cutting this brilliant, unsettling trailer. Then comes credit to me for finally figuring out what the hell this game is. Basically it is an open-world survival sim not unlike Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Everyone is on their happy pills, keeping them in line; you are not on your happy pills and want to make your way off crazy person island. The world is randomly generated each time, but there are five distinct areas to get through, story characters to encounter en route to freedom, and so on. And those faces are still intimidating. (-Steven) Mirror's Edge Catalyst I generally wouldn't feel comfortable making this sort of bold statement after seeing a game in preview form, but here goes: No one who loved Mirror's Edge will be disappointed by the gameplay in Mirror's Edge Catalyst. With some hands-off and hands-on time under my belt, at least that much seems very obvious. The reason is that Catalyst's open-world free-running feels absolutely fantastic. An EA DICE representative gave a tightly-rehearsed presentation and said the word "fluid" about fifty times, and with good reason too. The developer put seamless movement at the forefront when creating this game, and it shows. Everything is fluid. Running across the City of Glass is a treat, not a chore -- that's exactly how Mirror's Edge should be. (-Brett) Kingdom This way my surprise game out of gamescom and I am in love. It takes the complexity of sprawling empire-building games like Civilization and distills them down to one button press. As King or Queen on your high horse, you gallop left or right to expand your kingdom. You do this by dropping coins from your purse. Drop a coin in front of a wandering vagrant and they become a loyal subject. Drop two coins in front of the arrow shop and it will produce a bow that an unemployed subject can pick up to become an archer, who then hunts to add funds back to the national treasury and defends the kingdom during the night cycle as horrible monsters attack. Resource management, strategy, expansion all simplified, easily readable, and supported by a lovely art style and fanastic music. Can't wait to play it again. (-Steven)
Best games of gamescom photo
All the winners, in no particular order
Another year, another gamescom. The show wrapped up last weekend and both Brett and I are safely home in the United States of America, clutching out guns and dystopian healthcare, but we've loosed out iron grip just long enou...

Super Meat Boy dev: Fingered is how I got back into game design

Aug 14 // Chris Carter
Destructoid: So what have you been up to lately?Edmund McMillen: Just actually got back into more full time dev work, after a six or more month break I took to get my personal life back in working order and prepare for my wife's first upcoming release "tiny daughter: the reality!"The past few months I've spent getting the Isaac expansion design fleshed out, regrouping with Tommy on Super Meat Boy and purging out this finger game with James.James Id: I gave up real world responsibilities to make a game that will inevitably make everyone ask "Where's Mewgenics?" In addition, I've been filming myself naked for the release video, working 24 hours in the editing bay and with bug fixes. I won't know what to do with myself once this is all released.What compelled you to create Fingered? It looks pretty out there, and by out there I mean rad.Id: Edmund had mentioned that he had this game idea, and I kind of jumped at the opportunity. I've been playing a lot with creative coding and generative design, so once I heard the idea I knew exactly how to implement it. So I latched onto Edmund like a dog in heat, and pumped this thing out. As we were making it, I think we started seeing how weirdly satirical it was getting. So I guess the premise of the game just grew on the design. McMillen: I literally hadn't worked or thought much about game design for the first time in 13 or more years... I had fucking lived, eaten, and breathed game design for a very large part of my life and it was hard to get away from it or take a much needed break without feeling utterly worthless in the process. but I had some pretty horrible family stuff happen to me that forced me out of it and also forced me to get my priorities straight, so I totally got away for a while.Fingered was how i got my feet back in the water, it was a small game I made with a friend that was being made purely because we wanted to "have fun making a weird ass video game." It was a very refreshing way to jump back into game design for me, its nice to get back to why I started making games and kinda enjoy that feeling again.Also, it's going to win all the awards and get me mad bitches!Id: I guarantee there's going to be some angry women, sure... but it's not right for Edmund to call them that. I apologize for him and will whip myself for penance.What's the reasoning behind the really low price point of $1.87?McMillen: Its a small game... closer to an app or one of my larger flash games from before Super Meat Boy, so a low price point felt appropriate.Id: I want to be poor forever. I hate rich people. Edmund, I hate you! Bernie Sanders 2016!!! McMillen: Fuck the police! [embed]305504:59979:0[/embed]Sell us on Fingered. What's the single coolest part of the project?Id: The game makes you question characteristics and stereotypes. Not in a "we're gonna change the world" way. More like "wait... what does a person who is ____ look like?" I've played the game with people where they are almost deconstructing how they judge people just to win a round. I didn't expect it at all, but I guess that's what you get when you have a pretty decent idea for a game.McMillen: The random generation is pretty awesome, and I drew a lot of bullshit and when randomized you literally get a billion very different looking people.. that aspect is quite fun for me. I'd say the best selling point though is just to say we ripped off Guess Who and phoned it in... it's Papers, Please wrapped in a giant bloody American flag covered in hamburger grease with a smaller Confederate Flag stitched to it just slightly out of eye shot. Tell us a bit about yourself James, and how you came up with the idea of these surreal trailers for your games.Id: I don't know how to sum myself up, so let me outline my schedule tonight: I'm going to watch a movie called Max: Mon Amour. I heard it's a movie about a woman who cheats on her husband with a chimpanzee. I'm going to watch it, half inebriated, occasionally stopping it to listen to Art of Noise, or King Missile... something that reminds me that there's stuff I still like. I'm bound to shit myself silly due to the stress of releasing this game, so I'm most likely going to get a few hundred pages through Clash of Kings. This process is making me miss my fiancé though. I'm glued to this chair as she watches 90210 or plays Rebirth. I'm hoping the game does relatively well so I can make a movie that no one would want to watch, but I'll be happy if I can make rent. I also really want to make out with the few legal age fans I have.The trailers are just things that come to me mostly. Edmund will usually have an idea, but I'll try to subvert it into something bonkers. I grew up on psychotronic-type television and movies, and music videos. Oh god the music videos! So there's this itch I have to scratch with every video I do. I'm lucky that Edmund is sweet enough to support it, because I really don't think anyone would ever ask for what I'd make... strange to say since I quit my day job to make video games and videos!Oh, my night just started with listening to Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real". I wasn't expecting that...McMillen: Truth be told, James was a troll on my website's forums back in 2000. He annoyed me then and still does now...Id: Edmund, when is Isaac 2 going to come out? When is Super Meat Boy Forever? Is there going to be additional Isaac DLC. Gish? Aether? Time Fuck? What about Mewgenics? Why are you distracting yourself with these shitty games when all we want is Mewgenics. GIVE US FUCKING MEWGENICS OR I'M GOING TO SET MYSELF ON FIRE IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE! IT'LL BE YOUR CHILD'S FIRST MEMORY EDMUND, SO RELEASE IT NOW!!!! Do you feel like you still have time for as many side projects as you'd like after hitting it big over the past few years?McMillen: I have time for whatever the fuck I feel like working on whenever the fuck I wanna do it, that was the true independent freedom I was working towards for all these years and it feels good to make something that embodies that.I'll always probably have one or two larger projects going, but honestly who knows what my life will be like when my daughter is born. What's next for the Isaac franchise?McMillen: Afterbirth will be coming out in the next month or two, we should be announcing the release date in a week or so. Afterbirth is a mega update to the game that should add a good 200+ more hours to most peoples games and adds a great deal of new and interesting ways to play/things to do.After that I'm honestly not sure, the community has expressed interest in a fully supported level/chapter editor, so there is a chance that once Afterbirth is released Nicalis and I may start working on a mini expansion that adds something along those lines as well as a few more items/playable characters. But I think it's safe to say that if we add any more substantial content to it, it may as well be in the form of a sequel than DLC.Speaking of Isaac, how would you compare its success to Super Meat Boy?McMillen: At this point Isaac is easily my most successful game, beyond the fact that the original sold three million copies and Rebirth crossed the one million mark recently on Steam alone. Rebirth is also my first game I've released on all current gen systems including handhelds and I think that's pretty damn amazing.That said, Super Meat Boy and Isaac are very different games, I'm sure if Super Meat Boy were a randomly generated game with more luck based aspects that you could play for hundreds of hours it would probably be a lot more successful than Isaac. How are Super Meat Boy Forever and Mew-Genics coming along? Any targeted release window in mind? McMillen: Super Meat Boy Forever is back in development again and is my primary project at this point now that Afterbirth is basically complete on my end and Fingered is [almost] out. Mew is on hold till after Forever is out, the only target release is "when its done."Id: Please buy Fingered, I just want to make it through September.
Team Meat interview photo
Things get weird (awesome)
I recently caught up with Edmund McMillen of Team Meat, who is working with frequent collaborator James Id on Fingered, a small project that's launching next week. We ended up talking about Isaac, what Team Meat is up to currently, future timelines for existing and potential projects, and a whole lot more.

Turns out I'm still in love with Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

Aug 13 // Brett Makedonski
Yet, the controls -- a scheme that's supposed to represent the bond between the siblings -- is as ineffective as ever. Again, I never got a consistent feel for how to operate the two in tandem. Everything would be fine for a moment until one veered into the wall, meaning I'd have to stop controlling one to focus on another and the whole harmony was ruined. I've felt this way the entire time, but it's such a testament to the rest of Brothers that a central mechanic can be this broken, yet the game is still superb. Brothers' relative ease softens the blow, but the vast majority of titles in this situation would be immediately relegated to a mediocre score and a short-lived legacy. Brothers has far exceeded that fate. With regard to improvements in this version, I'm not sure there are many. If memory serves correctly, I believe this re-release has a deeper palette of hues. Everything seems richer in color which enhances the experience. More notably, the Xbox One and PS4 re-release includes director's commentary, the soundtrack, and a gallery of concept art. Inessentials, but a nice addition for some people. [embed]305002:59971:0[/embed] The rub here is that nothing in the re-release is far and away better than the versions on legacy consoles or PC. That's sort of how it goes with games that launched later in the last-gen life-cycle -- there's a fair parity across those versions. Brothers doesn't feel like a game you need to play on current consoles. This investment is better reserved for those who missed it the first time 'round, or those who have a burning desire to shell out extra money in hopes that it encourages more titles like this to be made. For more in-depth analysis of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, read my review from the summer of 2013. If you need help with the game's Achievements or Trophies, check out my guide.
Brothers impressions photo
Impressions of the re-release
I may not have picked it up in two years, but I still remember every second of Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons. It's just that kind of game. It leaves you in a more fragile mindset than when you started. I don't care if that so...


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