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Xbox One

Review: Layers of Fear

Feb 14 // Jordan Devore
Layers of Fear (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS4 [tested], Xbox One)Developer: Bloober TeamPublisher: Aspyr MediaRelease: February 16, 2016MSRP: $19.99 In the right circumstances, just about any house -- real or virtual, familiar or foreign -- can start to claw at your mind. In the absence of reassuring light and sound, your imagination is given the all-clear to dream up creepy what-if scenarios you know are obviously irrational but just can't seem to shake. Your eyes and ears begin playing tricks on you. That's the sensation Layers of Fear strives to evoke, except in this case, there truly is something sinister lurking in the shadows. Set on a stormy night in a sprawling, unkempt Victorian home, you play as a renowned painter trying to finish his masterpiece in spite of a longstanding creative block. Your wife and child are no longer here, but their presence still lingers. Written correspondence, clippings, and mementos scattered throughout the house offer hints about what the troubled protagonist was like in his personal and professional life before he spiraled into madness. These objects, the latter of which set off snippets of narration, collectively help to fill in the family's mysterious albeit somewhat predictable past. The majority of this psychological horror game is spent walking around, opening doors and drawers, rather than figuring out puzzles or fending off monsters. This is no action-packed adventure, but it's a trip all the same. Your surroundings are always changing -- sometimes right in front of you, but often, impressively, just outside your gaze. And it's seamless. You can shut a door, immediately open it back up, and see a whole different room. Hallways twist and turn infinitely. Your poor bed melts into the floor. Although the experience is set inside a single house, it doesn't feel limited in terms of scale, set pieces, or imagination. For as much as the floor plan enjoys messing with you, it is rarely confusing. Audio cues provide guidance, as do doors that lock and unlock to keep you headed in the right direction. There were a few spots where I wasn't sure where to go or what to do, and one was a sequence that involved finding obscured checkers. That was a bit of a drag. Occasionally, you'll need to dig around for specific items, but there isn't an inventory to manage, and much of the time you merely need to look in a certain direction to trigger scenery changes. You'll hear a distorted child's cry in the distance and, knowing full well that the only thing of importance in the room is a closed chest, you walk towards it. Up close, you can confirm that, yep, the noise is definitely coming from inside. So you open it. Slowly. Carefully. There's a baby doll and oh god why is it violently twisting? It melts into a thick black goo and you move on, hoping beyond hope that a later sequence doesn't involve sentient toys stalking you in the shadows. For me, the tension was front-loaded. Midway through, I had developed a decent understanding of what I was up against, and then everything felt less ominous. Unlike action-horror games, which can induce fear and adrenaline by requiring you to play well to progress, Layers of Fear failed to feel threatening. I was unnerved at times, but never felt a deep sense of dread. Terrifying or not, I was compelled enough to unintentionally complete the game in a single evening. Granted, it's only a couple of hours long, but the pacing proved captivating. The checkpointing isn't particularly generous, so that worked out for the best. Since your surroundings can irreversibly change, it's possible to miss collectibles. This didn't bother me, but for completionists, there will assuredly be some trial and error involved (though it is somewhat alleviated by the chapter select option and overall short length). After the credits, you can start over on the same save file. I got the impression that there is probably an incentive for doing a new-game-plus run, but couldn't find any conclusive answers. Given a choice between playing on PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One, I'd advise against the console versions. This is a game in which you manually open hundreds of doors and cabinets, and those interactions feel far less fluid using a gamepad. Secondly, at least on PS4, the frame rate is disappointing. It was sluggish enough to distract from the spooky atmosphere. Layers of Fear wasn't as frightening as I thought it would be based on early impressions, but I was still entertained by its mind-bending haunted house even when the jump-scares fell flat. [This review is based on a pre-release build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Layers of Fear review photo
It's not all in your head
Layers of Fear has a knack for animating the inanimate. Many of its real-world paintings would appear unsettling even in a well-lit museum on a crowded discount-admission day. (Take, for instance, Goya's Saturn Devouring His ...

Destiny photo
Destiny

Bungie admits drop rate for Destiny's new event item is too low


So free Ghost shells for everyone!
Feb 13
// Kyle MacGregor
This week in Destiny, Bungie is hosting a special event to celebrate Valentine's Day. It's called Crimson Doubles and involves pairing up with a partner for some competitive multiplayer. A potential prize waiting for players ...
ARK: Poop Evolved photo
ARK: Poop Evolved

Dung beetles, split-screen, and more added to ARK: Survival Evolved for Xbox One


Shit rollers with your shitty friends
Feb 12
// Jed Whitaker
I'm convinced that ARK: Survival Evolved is secretly all about poop, especially after today's patch for the Xbox One version that adds giant dung beetles. The update also enables split-screen so you can collect turd...
Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Just kidding, these are the REAL Quantum Break PC requirements


Tricked ya!
Feb 12
// Brett Makedonski
Show of hands: Who thought when Remedy revealed the PC requirements for Quantum Break yesterday, that those were the real requirements? Fools. All of you. How could you be so gullible? This is what you'll actually need to run Quantum Break on Windows 10:

Ubisoft photo
Ubisoft

Ubisoft: Xbox One owners spend more than PS4 owners


Explains why they're still on board
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
While just about every publisher who is making a shooter is flocking to the PS4 (the new home of shooters, according to Sony), Ubisoft is staying the course with The Division, which had an extra day of lead time with the beta...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

Fallout 4 DLC news coming soon, Survival mode is getting overhauled


How about console framerate fixes
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
After Bethesda decided to charge for the Fallout 4 Season Pass mystery box, fans have become understandably antsy -- especially since a lot of story-based bits in the core game were lacking (people are finally coming aro...
Fallout 4 photo
Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is looking better on consoles


New patch increases draw distance
Feb 12
// Laura Kate Dale
While Fallout 4 on consoles is certainly not a terrible-looking game, it's undeniable that it is lagging a little behind the visual quality of the PC release. Frame rate and resolution problems still have some catching up to do, but this new patch brings the console draw distances more inline with the PC version running on high.
Microsoft photo
Microsoft

Xbox will make cross buy/cross save 'a platform feature'


It's about time!
Feb 12
// Vikki Blake
Quantum Break’s cross-buy and cross-save functionality will become a Xbox feature, says Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Replying to fans on Twitter, Spencer said that there were plans to make it a platform feature, as it would...
Dying Light photo
Dying Light

You need a spare $10M to buy the Dying Light Spotlight Edition


I'll buy two, you guys
Feb 12
// Vikki Blake
So what does that $10 million get you? You’ll get a speaking role in Dying Light: The Movie, with professional acting lessons provided by Roger Craig Smith (Ezio in Assassin’s Creed, in case you were wondering). ...
Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Ice Man arses about in this Quantum Break trailer


Seriously, just run for god sake
Feb 12
// Joe Parlock
Yesterday we heard that former Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break will be getting a simultaneous launch on PC and Xbox One on April 5. What better way to celebrate that than with a live-action trailer that shows sweet FA?...
Dead Island photo
Dead Island

Good lord, not another Dead Island


I'm afraid so
Feb 12
// Kyle MacGregor
It's impressive how much Deep Silver has milked the Dead Island name over the past five years. You know, considering a trailer, of all things, is the zombie franchise's claim to fame. So it comes as no surprise that the publi...
Hell's Kitchen 2 photo
Hell's Kitchen 2

Overcooked is a cooperative cooking game on LSD


Cook in space and during an earthquake
Feb 11
// Jed Whitaker
While it isn't the Hell's Kitchen game I've always dreamed of, Overcooked has me interested. Looks like you can cook with three other friends in various kitchens while dealing with earthquakes, melting ice, space, ...
Homefront beta footage photo
Homefront beta footage

Here's what the closed beta for Homefront: The Revolution looks like


It's...okay?
Feb 11
// Chris Carter
After experiencing utter disappointment with the first Homefront I expected nothing less than the same crushing feeling playing the Revolution closed beta (which kicked off today on Xbox One). But to my surpris...
The Division photo
The Division

Ubisoft has some awfully lofty expectations for The Division's launch


The beta did exceedingly well
Feb 11
// Brett Makedonski
Ubisoft released its most recent earnings report this morning. As is customary during those sort of things, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot talked to investors about the company's past and predicted its future. Tom ...
Jordan approved this photo
Jordan approved this

Backwards Man, the Backwards Man, four games added to Xbox backward compatibility plan


The New Citizen Kane
Feb 11
// Brett Makedonski
Remember Freddy Got Fingered? Damn, that movie was great. "Daddy, would you like some sausage? Daddy, would you like some sausa-ges?" I sing that every time my roommate's cooking breakfast food. Classic. This film is a godda...
Rocket League photo
Rocket League

You can now play Rocket League in Halo 5


Map is cleverly named 'Rocket League'
Feb 11
// Chris Carter
[Disclaimer/reminder: the Destructoid flag is available to download in Rocket League.] Rocket League is still the rage in some circles, but it isn't coming to Xbox One until next week. That hasn't stopped the community from c...
The Wild Eight photo
The Wild Eight

The Wild Eight looks like Don't Starve with eight players


Puzzles and RPG elements
Feb 11
// Chris Carter
A new survival game is on the way, and this time it will pit eight people against the Alaskan wilderness. It's called The Wild Eight, and will focus on survival first and foremost, purposefully playing down the horror element...
Quantum Break photo
Also Alan Wake is coming to Xbox One
Ever since it was announced, I’ve always been majorly jealous of Xbox One owners for having Quantum Break all to themselves. I adored Alan Wake, so having to miss out on Remedy’s next game has been a bit of a bumm...

Titanfall 2 photo
Titanfall 2

Is Titanfall 2 coming sooner than we think?


Toy line will release in 2016...
Feb 11
// Vikki Blake
A toy manufacturer release schedule suggests Titanfall 2 may release in 2016. Although Electronic Arts had yet to confirm a release date for the sequel beyond a vague "before March 2017," toy company MacFarlane announced...
Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Meet Yooka-Laylee's newest character, Kartos


'The god of ore'
Feb 10
// Jordan Devore
I'm not sure how many more ex-Rare staffers can pile onto the Yooka-Laylee team, but there's room for at least a couple more. Playtonic went on a little hiring spree for its first birthday, adding environmental artist Damien ...

Don't even bother booting up Destiny for the Crimson Days event

Feb 10 // Chris Carter
Readers have asked when I plan on hanging up Destiny, and I think that time is this week. Nearly all of my raiding group wasn't feeling up to playing, and some, after dabbling in Crimson Days, quit in disgust. Yes, I'm being dramatic -- this is a video game about shooting various aliens with little to no in-game backstories (why didn't they take David Cross' material!)-- but that's just the reality. Destiny is a very good game that's just handled poorly. Let's take a look at what Crimson Days entails. The Tower is decorated with cute Valentine imagery, which is fun for a few minutes until you realize that it's not nearly as in-depth as the previous Festival of the Lost event, despite twice the hype and buildup. Then there's two free basic-level emotes, and a handful of limited edition™ premium ones you can net for roughly $5. The cherry on top is a PVP mode called "Crimson Doubles," which pits two Guardians against another team of two, and then powers-up one member if the other dies (which is not actually beneficial if you play Bladedancer because it ruins your invisible effect -- oops!). Okay, great! So how long does the fun last? Around 30 minutes. That's mostly because Crimson Doubles feels like a repackaged mode that's existed since the game's launch. After 15 or so games I have yet to see a Ghost (much less a 320 Ghost), which is the sole draw of the event for hardcore players. If Doubles were more fun, I'd be inclined to play it a bit to get my elusive Ghost, but since I'd likely have to grind it out for days on end to even see a viable drop,I'm just going to Jerry Seinfeld my way out of the situation now. Even casual fans have been noting how much of a letdown Crimson Doubles is, because regular old Crucible gear is interspersed with the rewards. It's kind of like spending your afternoon doing Nightfalls at a Light Level of 315 to get a set of 305 Ghosts. This albeit limited survey suggests that getting a 320 Ghost is subject to a less than 1/500 chance. The kicker? There's no matchmaking. Wait, what? Yep, due to some technical reason beyond Bungie's control, there is no matchmaking for this two-person, opposite of "massive" event (for those of you who insist the game is an MMO for some reason, despite the largest activity only supporting six players). Because the community is so great, and so passionate, they actually did a lot of Bungie's work for them and created their own fun Tinder-like matchmaking system. Like all of the good matchmaking platforms (DestinyLFG, /r/fireteams), they are unofficial. To add insult to injury, the slightly different Ghosts and the reskinned PVP event is only available for one week. After that, it's back to thinking about how you want to break up with the game. Did Bungie not make enough money to fund real DLC yet? AAA development really isn't sustainable if that's true, and the "10-year plan" for the series is looking rather bleak unless big changes happen on top. It's crazy when you remember how much momentum Taken King had just a few months back.
Destiny photo
Broken Valentines
When Bungie announced the Crimson Days event for Destiny, my heart sunk a bit. I mean the notion is nice, but really, we all know that the Tower makeover is basically just an excuse to sell more microtransactions. "But you can pay for the [insert popular meme here] Drake Dance." Should I just...uninstall it now, or?

Star Wars photo
Star Wars

Star Wars Battlefront is handing out double XP this weekend


Anyone still play this?
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
I only jump onto Star Wars Battlefront every so often with friends as it got stale pretty fast, but for those of you who still play, there's a double XP event this weekend. This is because the community managed to complete ov...
Tough, but fair photo
Tough, but fair

Hitman minimum PC requirements shouldn't kill you


Nor should the recommended
Feb 10
// Steven Hansen
The new Hitman boasts bigger crowds than most games, but it has some of the more reasonable minimum (and recommended, actually) required specs that I've seen in a while, according to the Steam page: Minimum: OS: OS 64-bit Wi...
Dead: Michonne photo
Dead: Michonne

Telltale's Walking Dead: Michonne launches this month


And monthly after that
Feb 10
// Chris Carter
After months of waiting, Telltale has finally decided to unveil the premier date for The Walking Dead: Michonne. It'll drop on February 23 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One -- as usual, the iOS and Android versions are ...
The Flame in the Flood photo
The Flame in the Flood

Everything is out to kill you in The Flame in the Flood


The wilderness is not your friend
Feb 10
// Ben Davis
After a successful Kickstarter campaign a couple years back, The Molasses Flood is set to release its first game, The Flame in the Flood, later this month. The team, comprised of industry veterans who have worked on AAA games...

Hands-on: I like the new Hitman, and its episodic model

Feb 10 // Steven Hansen
[embed]339955:62169:0[/embed] Okay, so, that out of the way, yep, the Prologue does take you back 20 years to 47's entrance into the ICA (like a pimp, but for murderers) and first meeting with his British-accented handler out in some Siberian-looking snowy wilds. The amount of story there, besides peoples' surprise at 47's murder prowess, is minimal, and it's mostly about setting up training missions to help get people acquainted with the Hitman style. And they're actually really cool because instead of virtual reality or whatever, the missions are actual, constructed sets. For instance, there is a yacht infiltration, but the boat is landlocked and there are blue tarps around it on the floor representing water (all the people, too, are, I suppose, ICA staff acting a part -- not sure where the secret organization finds dozens of extras, but, whatever). Beyond that cool touch, they are legitimate Hitman-style missions, closer in size to older entries. The boat adventure tasks you with killing "The Sparrow," a legendary thief half-heartedly trying to go clean, while introducing distraction techniques, disguises, acquired weaponry/items. Various costumes will grant you access to various parts of the ship -- security will keep you from walking straight on, but you can go around, choke out a maintenance worker, and work your way into the ship's underbelly and up towards the waitstaff, then clobber one of those fools. And maybe then just take up position at the bar and pour The Sparrow's lady a drink laced with poison. Me, I snuck into the room where he was doing business and shot both him and his associate in the head. Second bit in the prologue involves a Soviet defector whom I was able to kill by disguising myself as a mechanic and fiddling with the ejector seat he was meant to test per safety rules in the jet he was making his escape on. Shot his ass right through the roof and walked slowly away while everyone freaked out. I keyed onto the option because Hitman will offer some guidance in the form of Opportunities. Generally, you'll overhear some dialogue (if you stop and listen at the right place, right time) that hints at a murder solution (or towards a murder solution, i.e. letting you know where a target will be and when). If you decide to track that opportunity, it leaves breadcrumbs to the next bit in the form of UI markers on the map. Hitman purists, however, can turn them off completely, and there's no shortage of ways to do a murder, especially when it really opens up with the first mission, Showstopper, which takes place in an enormous mansion in Paris during a fashion show. One fun solution in Paris (also offered as an opportunity): the German model headlining the show looks quite a bit like 'ol McFurrowed-Brow, hint hint, wink wink. There are two targets here, a power couple in the fashion world secretly dealing undercover operator names to highest builder on the sly. The fashion show is huge, brimming with several hundred NPCs, from reporters to wait staff to models to socialites, while the dual targets encourage you to do something cool and stealthy (so as to not raise alarms and get into a firefight before you can take out the second). In addition to Prologue and Paris, the initial $15 (or $60 if you're a gambling man) also opens up Contracts, player-made hits using the same sandbox, as introduced in Absolution. The feature was something of an afterthought in the latter but ended up hugely successful, played by over 40% of players. One cool addition is the Elusive Targets, which appear for a limited time (in real-world hours) and only afford you one shot at making the assassination, like real life. Your success or lack thereof is tracked in your profile. They'll be much harder to suss out, too, requiring some detective work (eavesdropping, etc). These high stakes missions could end up a surprise high point. There are also developer-designed Escalation missions. The first -- again, set in the same Paris sandbox with the story-mode targets still present -- required me to kill a certain, new NPC with a saber (which you can only acquire in a certain area). From there, difficulty ramps up as parameters are added. The next rendition requires killing the same man with a saber, but also hiding the body within 90 seconds after the kill. And as you can see we're getting into the realm of replay and re-use. Player-made Contracts and Escalation missions are effectively the same as the lone story mission, but with different goals. If all you want is to keep fulfilling tasks until the game is over, Hitman's set up might not be for you. But I think the series works best as a creative sandbox you have fun and experiment with, which is why the $10 release structure for new areas makes sense for me, so long as the new areas are varied enough in their killing options and layouts. I enjoyed skulking about the Paris level for a few hours and there are still experiments I'd like to try -- not to mention that I never did finish the mission with finesse (I always cocked up by the second hit for a noisy kill, subsequent firefight, and inelegant escape). That you can test the waters with the first $15 episode -- if you don't like it, you're unlikely to like any more areas -- is an alright option as far as I'm concerned.
Hitman hands-on photo
Hands-on Ste-view
Have you ever wondered just how Cueball McFurrowed-Brow became the famously good killing man of the Hitman series' glory years? Of fucking course not, which is why the need to string Hitman: Absolution together into some S&am...

Rocket League photo
Rocket League

Rocket League comes to Xbox One next week with bonuses


Three DLC packs included
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
As promised, Rocket League is coming to Xbox One soon. Developer Psyonix plans to self-publish its darling soccer-with-cars multiplayer game on Wednesday, February 17 for $19.99. I'm thrilled for a new audience to discover if...
Screencheat photo
Screencheat

Illusive multiplayer shooter Screencheat hits PS4, Xbox One in March


No party fouls
Feb 09
// Jordan Devore
Following its PC release of Screencheat last year, Samurai Punk is bringing the unconventional first-person multiplayer shooter to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on March 1, 2016. It'll launch at $14.99. In the game, players are...
It exists photo
It exists

Crimson Singles is Tinder, but for Destiny


Swipe right on their initiative
Feb 09
// Steven Hansen
Five days ago a user on the Destiny reddit page suggested, "Someone should make a Tinder app for Crimson Doubles." Over the weekend, that become a reality as reddit's sjmorrow and sicemsam teamed up over three days to make Cr...
Gigantic photo
Gigantic

Gigantic developer Motiga announces layoffs


The game is still in closed beta
Feb 09
// Mike Cosimano
Just over two months after its most recent layoff announcement, Gigantic developer Motiga has announced another round of redundancies. Motiga CEO Chris Chung made the announcement on the site's official blog earlier toda...

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