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adventure games

Review: A Boy and His Blob

Feb 06 // Brett Makedonski
A Boy and His Blob (Linux, PC, Mac, PS4, PS Vita, Wii, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: WayForward TechnologiesPublisher: Majesco EntertainmentReleased: October 13, 2009 (Wii), January 20, 2016 (Re-released on other platforms)MSRP: $9.99 WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is intentionally vague and that's possibly its best quality. In an opening sequence reminiscent of EarthBound, a child is woken in the middle of the night to a crash outside his window. After a brief bout of exploration, Blob is discovered. From there, it's just adventuring for the sake of adventuring, and saving the world for the sake of saving the world. Blob is billed as the greatest asset, a shapeshifter who can perform about a dozen different functions. For example, Boy feeds Blob a jellybean and Blob turns into an anvil. Or a soccer ball. Or a trampoline. Over the course of 40-some levels, variations of this sequence play out hundreds (maybe thousands) of times as the main function of this puzzle platformer. You wouldn't think it from the game's title, but Blob is actually a tertiary character. If it were named more accurately, this would be called A Boy and His Jellybean Wheel. A disconcerting amount of time is spent in a time-frozen state clumsily navigating a menu of the level's eight-or-so pre-assigned jellybeans. After a jellybean is thrown and Blob (hopefully) performs his duties, it's only a matter of seconds until you're forced to again pull up that menu. That process sucks the life out of A Boy and His Blob. Even though most of the game's levels are notably short, they often feel like arduous endeavors because the pace grinds to a crawl. Puzzle solutions are usually easily identifiable -- in fact, there are often giant signs pointing out the answer -- but their execution is needlessly slow and sluggish. [embed]338372:62152:0[/embed] Making matters worse, there are many many instances when Blob simply won't do what you want. Blob has a tendency to shift shapes just ever-so-slightly not quite where intended. It's annoying at first, but becomes a detriment in later levels. That combined with stiff and unresponsive platforming controls often leads to starting the section over from scratch.  And, that's all when Blob is actually on-screen. It's not uncommon for Blob to be missing altogether, either because it was left behind or it hopped into an abyss. When this happens, the game would like for the balloon jellybean to be tossed, causing Blob to eventually float to your position. Mercifully, however, there's a call button that can just be impatiently pressed over and over until it balloons your way automatically, slowly but surely. What A Boy and His Blob has on its side are intangibles, of sorts. They're plucky attributes that significantly and understatedly enhance a game, but don't necessarily make a game. For instance, there's no denying A Boy and His Blob's innocent aesthetic, unspoken emotion, or charming spirit. Those are the qualities that make the game more tolerable than it would otherwise be. Without much option of anything besides leaning on the NES version's method of using Blob (a non-playable character) as the means of gameplay execution, WayForward's take on A Boy and His Blob is frustratingly imprecise and inaccurate. But, by deviating a bit and adding the jellybean wheel, it killed any momentum and turned the game into a slog. That is truly the worst of both worlds. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
A Boy and His Blob review photo
Blah-b
A Boy and His Blob, a 2009 "re-imagining" of the NES game of the same namesake (and recently re-released on current platforms), is an interesting case study. When does retro game design and a devotion to source material becom...

Undertale photo
Undertale

Indie dev offers support for bringing Undertale to Wii U


The more platforms the better
Feb 05
// Chris Carter
Even though just about any PC can run Undertale, folks are still wanting to play it on consoles. It turns out that a Wii U port just isn't in the cards though for now, as the developer isn't exactly sure how to go about ...
Spooky Space Survival photo
Spooky Space Survival

It's you versus the planet in The Solus Project


Early Access in two weeks
Feb 04
// Jed Whitaker
This new trailer for the sci-fi single-player survival game The Solus Project shows off a lot of new content, and confirms some details that will surely make more than just me happy. Specifically, the developers co...
Minecraft photo
Minecraft

Minecraft is overhauling its website with some new features


Haha, the current site is classic
Feb 04
// Chris Carter
I still remember buying Minecraft in 2009, and the original site really hasn't changed all that much. But Mojang (and thus, Microsoft) has really been making strides since the acquisition, finally releasing the game on W...

Zelda photo
Zelda

Nintendo confirms new Zelda: Twilight Princess HD details


Nice
Feb 04
// Chris Carter
In addition to the officially confirmed amiibo dungeon for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Nintendo has shared a few new features for the game this morning. As well as inventory management, the GamePad can also be ...
Life is phone cases photo
Life is phone cases

Someone get me this Life is Strange phone case


It's hella sweet
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
The last time I got a new phone, the Verizon rep asked me if I'd like to trade in my old phone for credit toward accessories -- specifically a case for it. I politely declined and she was shocked. "You mean you don't want a c...
Teens are cray photo
Teens are cray

Catch teens skinny dipping in this playthrough of Firewatch's first day


While they set off fireworks
Feb 02
// Jed Whitaker
Not only did we find out today that the soon-to-be-released Firewatch is going to cost $19.99, but now we have our first full playthrough of day one in the game thanks to PlayStation Access.  Personally, I'm even m...
Firewatch photo
Firewatch

Firewatch hits PS4, Steam next week for $20


There's a little discount
Feb 02
// Jordan Devore
February got here in a hurry, and that means Firewatch isn't far off. Campo Santo's first-person, wilderness-set mystery game is coming to PlayStation 4, Linux, Mac, and Windows on February 9, 2016. It's going to be $19.99, n...

Like solving puzzles with little to no help? INFRA might be for you

Feb 01 // Jed Whitaker
Long story short, some rich guy bought up a lot of businesses in town and financially bankrupted them and is in cahoots with the local government, or so I gathered in my time with the game. While I enjoyed a lot of what I played in INFRA, I also found that it isn't a game for me. So instead of doing a full numbered review, these are my impressions for those of you who would surely love it. Most of your time in INFRA will be spent solving puzzles involving buttons, levers, and even some platforming. When those things work, they work great, but other times it can almost feel like you're glitching the game. For example, at one point I came across a saw mill and couldn't find a way through it. I did, however, find some crates that were able to be picked up and stacked, so I did just that to get on the roof and jump across to continue the game. Was this the solution the developers had intended or had I just "cheated" my way forward? I have no idea. "I have no idea" is a great way to describe many of the puzzles. I like to think of myself as a person of some intelligence, yet many times I felt I was just randomly pressing buttons or levers till I stumbled across the solution. Other times I'd piece together tidbits of information found on stationary or posters nearby to give me an idea of how to complete a puzzle, but most of the time there was no hand holding, for better or worse.  INFRA runs on the Source engine, but it makes good use of it; crumbling buildings, murky water, vibrant caves, and green foliage stand out while not being wholly impressive. For an indie title from a team that no one has ever heard of, it gets the job done and didn't make me want to tear my eyeballs out. If anything the graphics not being top of the line and striving to be realistic help set the tone of a city falling apart. I had hoped for a story driven mystery, but the story presented suffered heavily from a shoddy localization with bad grammar abound. On top of that, INFRA has some of the most unintentionally funny and awkward voice acting I've heard in a game. Upon starting the game, you'll be greeted with a boardroom where your boss is going over assignments with you and coworkers, and everyone is fully voiced in a scene that I'd call the video game equivalent of The Room as seen below. That is a both a compliment and a complaint by the way. If the original trailer hadn't had such wonderful voice work that got me to play the game in the first place, I wouldn't be writing this, but I also kind of love how awful it is.  [embed]336879:62074:0[/embed] After six hours, I got to the point that I felt I couldn't be bothered with stumbling through any more puzzles by chance. I don't think INFRA is a bad game by any means, just not one that I'm not ready for. It made me question whether or not I'm stupid or if some of the puzzles just didn't make sense, but it was often enjoyable. If you're looking for an interesting take on the first-person adventure puzzle game that will make you scratch your head, this is for you. Otherwise, maybe wait for a sale.  INFRA launched on Steam with the first part of the game available now, and the second part to be released later this year for free. Judging by the very positive Steam reviews, you'll get between 12 and 15 hours out of what is currently released for $15.  [embed]336879:62074:0[/embed]
INFRA IMPRessions photo
Voice acting equivalent of The Room
Some games just hand out answers to puzzles -- if you can even call them that -- with numbers or solutions written nearby. While the first-person adventure INFRA does this a bit, it certainly isn't holding your hand most...

Danganronpa photo
Danganronpa

Danganronpa coming to Steam February 18, with trading cards


$29.99
Feb 01
// Chris Carter
Spike Chunsoft has just sent over word of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc's PC release date -- February 18. It'll be coming by way of Steam, and is priced at $29.99, with a 20% discount at launch, and a soundtrack. Addi...
Star Mazer photo
Star Mazer

Create your own '80s anime adventure in Starr Mazer


Wall-to-wall shower scenes for me
Jan 31
// Nic Rowen
I used to skip Sunday school every weekend I could to watch poorly localized episodes of Tekkaman and Robotech and hang out in my pajamas. I loved them, but even at the time something seemed off about them, stilted ...
Sunless Sea photo
Sunless Sea

Sunless Sea celebrates submarines with a free Steam weekend


Sorry, zubmarines
Jan 28
// Darren Nakamura
Sunless Sea is one of those games I wanted to check out last year but never got around to. I guess I should have, because it showed up on a couple of our personal game of the year lists. This weekend, I have even less of an e...
Zack & Wiki photo
Zack & Wiki

Zack & Wiki is launching on Wii U today in the US


Finally
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
Third-party support was off the chain on the Wii for a while, and that includes the amazing Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros’ Treasure from Capcom. I mean truly, I can't say enough awesome things about this game...
Consortium: The Tower photo
Consortium: The Tower

'Deus Ex combined with Die Hard' is probably a stretch, Consortium


Sci-fi talkie mystery hopes for sequel
Jan 19
// Steven Hansen
Consortium is back with a Kickstarter campaign for Consortium: The Tower, a follow up to the 2014 original. In my review I said, "It's a little rough -- with the most recent patch, I didn't experience any bugs, though some...
Minecraft photo
Minecraft

Minecraft: Story Mode wanders to Wii U this Thursday


Just the first episode to start
Jan 18
// Jordan Devore
Four episodes down, one to go. That's if, like Darren, you're playing Minecraft: Story Mode on something other than Wii U. For that port, you'll have to wait a few more days. The first episode, The Order of the Stone, release...
Dragon's Dogma photo
Dragon's Dogma

I'm surprised Dragon's Dogma runs as smooth as it does on PC


Out now
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
I'm falling in love with Dragon's Dogma all over again with the PC port. It's not just the fact that it fixes the framerate issues of the console original, but the fact that the updated visuals make everything look new ...
The Witness photo
The Witness

The Witness is coming to Xbox One too, according to the ESRB


Due next week on PC and PS4
Jan 18
// Chris Carter
Development for The Witness began back in 2008, and now, we're finally going to see the game in action next week when it launches on PC and PS4. But wait! According to the ESRB, it's coming out on Xbox One as well at some poi...

Review: Jotun

Jan 17 // Jed Whitaker
Jotun (PC)Developer: Thunder Lotus GamesPublisher: Thunder Lotus GamesMSRP: $14.99Release Date: September 29, 2015 Thora just died an inglorious death and she must now prove herself by battling jotun, giant elementals based on Norse mythology, to enter Valhalla. Along her adventure, players will learn the story of Thora's life, all spoken beautifully in her native tongue with subtitles. Easily one of the strongest and well done female characters I've encountered in a long time, Thora isn't rail-thin, sexualized, or disrespectful of her foes as she cuts them down.  Each level consists of three sections, two of which can be entered and exited at will. These sections each contain a rune that when collected opens up a third area where you'll be battling the jotun. If you're hoping to slay tons of enemies in each level, you may be disappointed, as Jotun focuses on the journey and atmosphere, rather than combat. Most of the time you'll be checking your map and exploring to discover statutes that confer the powers of the gods, health upgrades, and, of course, runes. [embed]333479:61894:0[/embed] A lack of combat isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the levels are drawn beautifully and are well designed. Also, Jotun has some of the best sound design I've heard in an indie game in some time; you'll hear birds chirping, branches crackling, and snow blowing, all while a beautifully-orchestrated soundtrack plays in the background. More so than any other game I've palyed, this attention to detail makes for an atmosphere that sells the "journeying through purgatory all by your lonesome" aesthetic.  If you're hungry for a fight, don't fret, as each level ends with a battle of a gigantic jotun. Jotuns are so large the camera has to pan to the point Thora looks like an ant by comparison. While each battle consists of chopping away at the feet of each jotun with your trusty axe, they all feel different enough to stay fresh. That said, the strategy for taking on each jotun is similar: avoid attacks, look for an opening, attack, rinse, lather, repeat. As there are only six jotun in total to conquer, the formula never gets stale.  Battling these gigantic foes are easily the best part of the game, as each one is hand drawn with an animation style reminiscent of Don Bluth's work from Dragon's Lair. The jotun are as beautiful as they are terrifying.  The difficulty scales well throughout the adventure, as the levels leading up to boss battles ensure each of the game's mechanics is understood and well utilized. The first level requires players to use heavy attacks to bushwhack through a forest level, a skill that is later required to defeat that stage's jotun battle. Another area involves climbing a gigantic tree while a huge bird periodically swoops down at Thora, requiring players to time dodge rolls, which of course is used in the ensuing battle with another jotun.  If you're looking for something laid back, beautifully drawn, and well orchestrated with some intense, but not overly difficult, boss battles, then Jotun is easy to recommend. It's a magical ride that I'm sure I'll revisit from time to time in the future. Even though the whole experience only lasts just over five hours, it is five solid hours. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Tharsis (PC [reviewed], PS4)Developer: Choice ProvisionsPublisher: Choice ProvisionsMSRP: 14.99Release Date: January 12, 2016
Review: Jotun photo
The opposite of a foot fetish
The response to my review of Freedom Planet was pretty positive, as was the suggestion that I'd be reviewing some older Steam games we may have looked over, so here we are. Jotun slipped us by here at Destructoid when it released late last year, but I'm here to remedy that. This is little game with big heart, big style, even bigger enemies, and strong female lead to boot.

Review: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

Jan 15 // Ben Davis
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human (PC)Developer: YCJYPublisher: YCJYReleased: January 19, 2016MSRP: $9.99 The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human tells the story of the last surviving human being, thrown into an unknown year in the distant future via a wormhole. All that is left of our civilization on Earth has been entirely submerged under the ocean. Crumbling cities, broken machines, and other remnants of human civilization are still present, slowly decaying in the sea. The world is now thriving with sea life, as huge fish swim about the dilapidated structures and aquatic plants grow out of control. The only clue about what happened in the past are holo-tapes containing the last recorded information of humanity from the year 3016. This is not a story of hope. As the last one left, you have no way of repopulating the world. Humans had their time, and it's over now. The only thing left to do is try and figure out what happened and live out the rest of your days attempting to make the most out of your present situation. [embed]334534:61880:0[/embed] The player character passes the time aboard a submarine, exploring the serene ocean depths, floating among the thriving sea life, and looking out at remnants of the past. There seems to be very little danger in the surrounding waters; groups of angry giant clams here and there, some pipes spilling out corrosive gases, a few floating sea mines, but for the most part it's smooth sailing. That is, until the last human encounters The Worm. Much like Shadow of the Colossus, there are very few threats in the world of The Aquatic Adventure aside from the bosses. The game compensates by making every boss fight unique, challenging, and memorable. Conquering these massive sea beasts will require puzzle-solving skills, strategy, quick reflexes, and most of all perseverance. The submarine will most likely be destroyed many times before a boss will finally be defeated, but with enough observation and planning, any obstacle can be overcome. Thankfully, the submarine's abilities will take some of the edge off of the difficulty of boss fights. A damaged hull will slowly repair itself automatically over time, so as long as the sub stays out of danger long enough, it can come back full force in the heat of battle. Upgrades can also be found scattered throughout the sea, offering new weapons, tools, improvements to the hull, and more. So if a player is having a particularly rough time with a certain boss, a little exploration might result in better equipment to make the fight a bit easier. There are eleven boss fights in total, but most of them can be fought in any order the player chooses. In the vein of Metroid, new areas can be opened up with upgraded equipment. Every time a new item is acquired, it's usually a good idea to fully explore the map to figure out all possible options for progress and decide which boss to take on next. Although there are a few instances where the player does not have a choice, and the only option for escaping is to fight their way out. The real heart of The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human comes from the graphics. While the thought of exploring a large map with very few threats may seem uneventful, I almost didn't even notice most of the time due to the entrancing sprite art covering every inch of the map. The environments and sea life are so detailed and well animated that they seem to come to life in movement. Everything looks painstakingly hand drawn, with personality oozing out of every object. I had to spend a few moments in each new area just admiring everything around me, from the tangles of seaweed and peaceful (yet sometimes startling) sea creatures to the ruined edifices and malfunctioning electronics. While it looks beautiful even in screenshots, I honestly don't think still images do this game the justice it deserves. To add to the whole charming ambiance, the wonderful electronic soundtrack helped to capture the beauty and strangeness of an underwater world, while also ramping up the tension during boss encounters. Other visual effects added to the charm as well, like how the screen slightly tilts depending on the direction the submarine is moving, the subtle flickering of text to indicate it's being viewed on a monitor of some kind, and what looks like handwritten text which appears upon arrival to a new area. All of these little details add up to give The Aquatic Adventure its own unique flair. If I could offer suggestions for improvement, I do think there needs to be more map functionality. Especially for a game where backtracking is important, it would have been nice for certain obstacles to be highlighted on the map, like green lines to indicate vines which need to be chopped or grey bars to specify doors that can be opened. Of course, obstacles leading to secret areas can be kept hidden from the map, so that only the keenest explorers will find them. I might have also liked a manual save option, for those instances where I was killed by a part of the environment, requiring me to navigate large parts of the map all over again to get back to where I left off, although the fast-travel system did help with that somewhat. Lastly, I did encounter a few annoying bugs while playing, but thankfully they were fixed very quickly. I really enjoyed my time with The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human. It may be a bit on the short side, especially for players who are able to take down the bosses with relative ease, although most players are probably looking at about six to seven hours of playtime. But in that short amount of time, it manages to pack a satisfying amount of action, tranquility, and exploration into a concise, captivating adventure. Just don't be afraid to dive too deep into the ocean depths, no matter what horrors might lurk in the dark abysses below. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Aquatic Adventure review photo
Steve Zissou will outlive us all
Unlike many others out there, underwater environments tend to be some of my favorite areas in video games. So when something like The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human comes along which takes place entirely underwater, I ca...

Adventure photo
Adventure

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is now on iOS, Android


Not your typical adventure
Jan 14
// Jordan Devore
"I have no mouth, and I must scream" isn't just a profoundly cool phrase. It's the name of Harlan Ellison's short story (read it here!) about a malicious computer who endlessly tortures the world's few surviving humans. Ther...
Life is Strange photo
Life is Strange

Square Enix's Life is Strange-inspired #EverydayHeroes campaign helps anti-bullying charity


Share your stories in the hashtag
Jan 14
// Joe Parlock
Life is Strange, for the few problems it has, doesn’t shy away from dealing with some intensely personal and dark topics. Playing as a teenage girl in a residential school, one of those topics is, inevitably, bullying....
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

CD Projekt Red denies existence of The Witcher 3: Enhanced Edition


Seen at multiple retailers
Jan 10
// Chris Carter
The Witcher 3 -- am I right, guys?That's basically all you need to say before a back-patting ceremony ensues, congratulating one another for playing Geralt's latest adventure. It's pretty damn good, and with all of the sales ...
Longest Night photo
Longest Night

Longest Night is a nice little tease for Night in the Woods


It's been updated with new writing
Jan 06
// Jordan Devore
While combing through the wasteland that is my pre-holiday-break email, I happened upon a link to Infinite Fall and Finji's Longest Night from our beloved gift-giver Jonathan Holmes. I'm glad I did! This is a short lead-in ...

Review: Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place

Jan 05 // Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: December 22, 2015 (Mac, PC)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 Where the first two episodes in the season induced apathy, this one causes ambivalence. It's a fine distinction: I was struggling to care about Jesse and his friends at first; now I care enough but find myself disappointed with the final result. For every beat Minecraft: Story Mode hits well, it stumbles once or twice. On the one hand, the more deliberate progression of this episode can be a good thing. It opens up the gameplay to include actual (albeit easy) puzzles along with the standard dialogue trees and quick-time events. Also, without lulls in the action, it could be bombastic to the point of grating. If it's always high energy, then it's all the same. On the other hand, the plodding of the first half of this episode is as dull as can be. There's a horse travel montage near the beginning illustrating just how far it is to get to the Farlands, and protagonist Jesse has the option of the classic whine "Are we there yet?" Even with the cuts of the montage, I felt the same. I get it; it's far. Let's move on. [embed]327542:61558:0[/embed] Once the action finally does pick up at the end, it still treads a questionable path. The full story about The Order of the Stone is revealed, and it plays out as foreshadowed. It's always a little awkward when a story treats something like an earth-shattering reveal when most would see it coming from the hints in previous episodes. Perhaps if I had led the life Jesse did, it would have been more impactful. Then, almost as if checking off all the Telltale boxes, we get another character death. This loss feels more important than the one in the third episode, since it's a likable character. Death in children's entertainment is nothing new (see: Bambi, The Land Before Time, Transformers [1986]), but it generally comes with a purpose. While we'll have to wait for the fifth episode, my sneaking suspicion is the only reason this death was written in was a cynical attempt at eliciting emotion. The really strange part of the whole scene is that in the middle of the mourning (when I have a full pout on my face), Story Mode lets loose a visual gag referencing the source material. Admittedly, it's probably the funniest thing in the whole episode -- so few of the jokes are worth even a chuckle -- but it feels wrong to have it punctuate the rest of the sad scene so bluntly. With the Wither Storm properly defeated, Jesse and the gang are proclaimed to be the new Order of the Stone, and A Block and a Hard Place ends with the vague promise of new adventures coming in the next episode. Unless it's tightly written and self-contained, I'm not interested. More likely, the last episode will open up a can of worms that won't get resolved until Season Two. This episode could very well be considered the finale for the first season. It wraps up the Wither Storm saga, it answers the questions about the Order of the Stone, and it delivers a semi-happy, hopeful ending for the crew. If only it did that without an utterly boring first half and the clumsy insertion of mandatory Telltale story elements, it might have also been a good ending. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Minecraft review photo
Denouement-craft
What a weird episode. After the high energy of The Last Place You Look, this one slows down the action shortly into it, and it doesn't really pick back up until the very end, which feels like the end of a season. But then, th...

Minecraft screenshots photo
Minecraft screenshots

A cartload of Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 screenshots


Better late than never
Jan 04
// Darren Nakamura
Vacation travel kept me from being able to get to the latest episode in Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode right away. I just finished it, and as always, I had my finger on the screenshot button the whole way through. Mayb...
Thimbleweed Park photo
Thimbleweed Park

You can help the creator of Monkey Island test his new game's...voicemail?


He won't pay your phone bill, though
Dec 28
// Zack Furniss
Ron Gilbert, the writer and director of Secret on Monkey Island, is teaming up with Gary Winnick, the art director of the LucasArts games of yore, to create Thimbleweed Park. The Kickstarter began last year, and one of the ba...
Below photo
Below

Capybara Games' Below delayed into 2016


More news in the new year
Dec 20
// Kyle MacGregor
With just a couple weeks remaining the year, Below is not going to hit its previously announced 2015 release window, developer Capybara Games has confirmed with Game Informer. "Below is indeed coming in 2016," Capy'...
Firewatch video photo
Firewatch video

Fyrst look at more beautiful Firewatch fyytage


Fun with thumbnails!
Dec 18
// Steven Hansen
I wrote about Firewatch's topless teens, meaty hands, and mystery way, way back at the beginning of this year (wanna feel old!?). The gorgeous, narrative driven game from artist Olly Moss, Mark of the Ninja designer&nbs...
Minecraft: Story Mode photo
Minecraft: Story Mode

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 4 trailer gathers the Order of the Stone


For the 'Wither Storm Finale'
Dec 17
// Darren Nakamura
Minecraft: Story Mode: A Block and a Hard Place is gearing up to release next week, so today we get the requisite launch trailer for it. This episode is promised to be the "Wither Storm Finale," with the last episode in the s...

Review: King's Quest: Rubble Without a Cause

Dec 17 // Chris Carter
King’s Quest: Rubble Without a Cause (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: The Odd GentlemenPublisher: Sierra EntertainmentReleased: December 16, 2015MSRP: $9.99 per episode / $40 for the "Complete Collection" [No major spoilers are mentioned for the current episode, although events of previous episodes will inevitably be discussed.] Rubble picks up some time after the first tale, after Graham has become king. He's still the same lovable old rascal, but right from the get-go you can see the toll that his new responsibility has taken on him. Graham is chipper and the tone is still light starting out, but you can tell that the developers are slowly easing us into a more serious method of storytelling. Without spoiling too much, Graham and a few members of his kingdom have been taken hostage by goblins, who reside in an underground kingdom. Given his height, he's been tasked with a few daily chores, which allows him access to the tunnels, while the others are forced to rot in prison cells. As you can imagine, a few familiar faces return, but you'll get to meet a few new characters as well. What I love about this setup is that it feels connected to the first episode, but also maintains its own identity. You get to see Graham's relationship with other characters grow in a meaningful way -- even with many of his adversaries. While the goblins can't talk, the animations are incredibly expressive (just like Graham) and full of life. For example, upon entering the dungeon, Graham is exhausted, walking around in a hilariously lethargic manner. After gaining his strength back his state will alter, as will the captives over time. The animation team really deserves a shoutout here, as they deserve to have a long career ahead of them. [embed]326509:61517:0[/embed] In a stark contrast to the first episode, Rubble takes a decidedly more old school approach. You're basically given a giant playground to roam around in, which is gated off by Graham's own "strength meter." It's here that the aforementioned kingly choices will come in, as you'll need to juggle the needs of three prisoners in addition to your own. If you eat -- you can explore more of the cave -- but you'll risk having a member of your kingdom starve. It's such a small, almost gamey thing (it even has heart meters), but since I already had an emotional attachment with these characters, it worked. I was legitimately stressed out (in a good way) trying to keep everyone happy, while constantly divining solutions to secrets in my head. You'll need to keep your wits about you too, as a few puzzles even had me writing down a few in-game events on paper. Again, it's far more detailed than any Telltale game, without getting resorting to "pixel-hunting" and overly frustrating cryptic solutions. Also, if you didn't enjoy the action sequences in the last episode, they're basically non-existent here. The art style is still stunning, and that Don Bluth feel is intact. The goblin's caves also feel unique compared to the mostly above-ground setting of the first episode, and the scale is grand without being too overwhelming. Layout-wise, there's basically a few giant wheels with several spokes -- it's enough where it will be helpful to remember rooms off-hand. In terms of quality of life updates, the entire package gained a skip button in this latest update, which is incredibly useful for repeating dialogue or events. I haven't really noticed much carry-over from the previous tale, but choices made in Rubble that will impact future episodes are somewhat evident -- plus, there's a meta-narrative teased at the end. Second parts tend to be troublesome for episodic series, as they often feel like transitional stories that merely set the table for what's to come. But with King's Quest: Rubble Without a Cause, characters are growing right before our eyes with a subtle and effective tonal shift. The Odd Gentlemen also nailed the script, as it feels like a standalone episode that's also connected to the episodic format as a whole. We still have three tales to go, but for now, I'm feeling pretty good about King's Quest. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
King's Quest review photo
I really can wait to be king
The first episode of the newly minted King's Quest series really took me by surprise. While I had been loosely following it for years, I never expected it to be one of my favorite games of the year. The cast, the animati...


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