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Steel Strider photo
Steel Strider

Doujin spin on Turrican, Contra coming to Steam


Steel Strider blasts off this fall
Aug 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Chances are you're unfamiliar with Astro Port, which is equal parts understandable and unfortunate. Japanese independent studios don't get lavished with attention (something we're trying to change), and Astro Port's wares are...
PuniTy photo
PuniTy

You can play the Silent Hills teaser P.T. on PC now, sort of


Remade P.T. in Unity for PC
Jul 31
// Jed Whitaker
Konami may have pulled P.T. from PlayStation Network and canceled Silent Hills, but that hasn't stopped Farhan Qureshi from recreating the playable teaser in Unity for PC and releasing it for free. Qureshi is self-descri...
Hue photo
Hue

Hue uses color to solve its puzzle platforming


ROY G BIV
Jul 31
// Darren Nakamura
Making objects disappear and reappear at depending on visibility has been done before, but Hue multiplies that idea by a factor of four. Instead of it being a simple light/dark dichotomy, backgrounds in Hue can be one of eigh...

Review: The Swindle

Jul 31 // Zack Furniss
The Swindle (PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)Developer: Size Five GamesPublisher: Curve DigitalRelease Date: July 28, 2015 (PC, PS3, PS4, Vita) / July 31 (Xbox One) / TBD (Wii U)MSRP: $14.99 I'll be honest, this review didn't come out on release day because I couldn't beat the fucking game in time. The Swindle starts off simply enough: the robotic police force that defends all of that sweet future funding projects a light in front of them indicating their line of sight. If you take a second to observe most obstacles and enemies, chances are you'll understand how they'll react in any given situation. That's the beauty of Size Five Games' newest creation: through its hand-drawn art and deft understanding of visual cues, a glance at your surroundings is usually enough to convey all of the information regardless of your location. With a general lack of tutorials, it's appreciated that there was a strong knowledge of mise-en-scène (ha! I've justified taking that one directing class now) involved in The Swindle's creation. A successful robbery goes as follows: from a side-scrolling perspective, your scoundrel will arrive at a procedurally-generated location ripe for the plucking. With a combination of climbing, sneaking, and watching, you just might be able to walk away with a considerable sum of money. Small vaults/chests/containers are strewn about, but aren't worth much. Computers (which are hacked through deliciously tense QTEs) are where you'll want to focus your efforts, as they offer the best payday. If you're spotted, you run the risk of dying and losing your character, though your purchased abilities are universal. The police will send increasingly deadly forces at you, but you can still get away if you reach your escape pod without dying. For the first 40 days or so, I felt like I was building a slow, subtle mastery over my surroundings. Though I started by robbing the poor to work my way up, the ramshackle security systems were enough to keep me vigilant. The intricacies of wall-climbing became more familiar to me, and various upgrades to my thieves expanded the possible approaches available at each newly-generated building. I watched many of these swindlers embrace sweet death via bullets, failed hacking attempts on explosives, and oh-so-many plunges off of tiled roofs. Each time, a new one rose with a new outfit and name: Lafeyette Weedbruiser lasted six successful heists before a wheelchair-clad robot shot her down from a magnificent double-jump. I eventually earned enough money to move onto the warehouse districts and the mansions. Each area was progressively more difficult but offered more lucrative lucre. I bought bombs, money-accruing bugs, and the ability to hack doors and security systems, feeling as though the Devil's Basilisk would be mine with days to spare. It wasn't until I purchased the right to try to pilfer from the casinos and banks that I hit an iron wall of challenge. Instead of skulking into buildings with multiple access points and hacking easily-reached computers for big bucks, I was relegated to picking up chump change and scrambling back to my escape pod before the tenacious security bots spotted me during one of my many slip-ups. The titular swindle is actually the final stage, where you attempt to steal the AI device. You need to be prepared for the big event by having the right tools and upgraded thieves, but you also need to pay for entry. Saving up £400,000 is already hard enough; however, failure requires you to pay the whole amount for each successive attempt. Since you'll be spending your hard-earned money on necessary upgrades like teleportation, triple-jumps, and being able to stop in the middle of a wall slide (seriously, buy this), that buy-in price makes an already difficult game feel ludicrously unfair. There are ways to buy extra days towards the end, but the price goes up each time. That's the game over screen, which I saw at the end of multiple attempts at all 100 days. I'm not one to balk at a challenge, but the finite lives combined with the money requirement of the last level feel like an artificial attempt to gate willing players away from the ending. I have no doubt that somebody is on Twitch at this very moment, controlling The Swindle with Donkey Konga drums ghosting through the final stage, but the vast majority of players will mostly find the latter half of the game frustrating. I think it's telling that most of the coverage I've read has only shown screenshots of the first few stages.  There's also the weird bloom effect that permeates some of your jaunt through London. While it makes sense to have your vision obscured when the alarms are blaring and the lights are flashing red, occasionally the screen is bloomed beyond belief and you can't discern the minutiae on the screen. I've committed almost-perfect crimes, hacking security systems and clearing out guards, only to land on an explosive I could barely see. Get used to seeing starbursts of paper money explode from your fresh corpses for the slightest of transgressions. The collision on spike pits also is a bit wonky, and I've died a fair few times just for standing close to one. Depending on the kind of player you are, you might just start finding exploits to accelerate your progress. I'm not all that ashamed to admit that I took advantage of bugs, which seem to go against the whole risk/reward theme of The Swindle. If you get close to a computer, you can place a bug that will siphon cash to your account at a rate of £/second. This goes directly to your account, so you can avoid having to run back to the escape pod to keep whatever you earn. The thrill of sneaking off with a sack full of cash is somewhat diminished when you can place a bunch of bugs and wait by the exit, but I found myself relying on this method in order to actually reach the Devil's Basilisk. Since hacking is accomplished via directional QTEs, you can just spin the stick in a circle without punishment (unless it's a mine, which will explode upon an incorrect input). I only did this once out of curiosity, but it feels like an unnoticed exploit. Hacking is my favorite part of the game, so I couldn't cheat myself out of that experience without feeling like a sad sack. For the record, I played on a gamepad, which was much more comfortable than the keyboard layout. The Swindle is nowhere near an entirely negative experience. It's a festival of moments, of anecdotes filled with failures and smiles. I found myself holding my breath as I hacked a computer with just enough time to dodge three heavy guards coming my way, jumped over two electricity traps, clung to a wall to let a patrol pass, and bombed myself a new escape route. These pockets of perfection kept me hooked, and made me boot up The Swindle again and again in order to preserve this world of rogues. That, and my dedication to you guys. Now, the Devil's Basilisk is for all of us to share. You're goddamned welcome. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
The Swindle photo
Steal shit, get hit
A band of thieves in Steampunk Victorian London has been tasked with preventing Scotland Yard's creation of the ultimate surveillance device: The Devil's Basilisk. If they fail to swindle said device in 100 days (read: lives)...

Unravel photo
Unravel

Adorable yarn adventure Unravel releasing in early 2016


I want him to live in my pocket
Jul 31
// Laura Kate Dale
Without a doubt, the star of E3 this year was Yarny, the adorable woolen hero of EA's upcoming faux indie release Unravel. He's just so gosh damn adorable, as is his nervously cute creator who we met at E3. For those of you j...
Prison Architect photo
Prison Architect

Prison Architect is going to full release this October


And you've got TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME
Jul 31
// Joe Parlock
Prison Architect is bloody brilliant, and it isn’t even done yet. It’s a Tycoon-style management sim with a firmly tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and it’s been in early access for almost three whole years...
Tangiers photo
Tangiers

Tangiers is what happens when stealth meets horror


Concrete hell
Jul 30
// Jordan Devore
Tangiers is said to be a surreal stealth game with a hint of horror, and the latest trailer checks out. It doesn't seem outright scary, but the world, characters, and sound design sure are uncomfortable. Like a voice in the b...
Race the Sun photo
Race the Sun

Race the Sun is fantastic, fun, and free today on PC


Can't beat that price
Jul 30
// Brett Makedonski
They say that going solar-powered is a cheap and efficient use of renewable energy. Solar-powered endless runner Race the Sun is the most cost-effective it'll ever be, but for today only. Like the game, it's over when t...
Flywrench photo
Flywrench

Flywrench is flapping its way to Steam


From the makers of Nidhogg
Jul 30
// Jordan Devore
I know Flywrench more for its cameo in Super Meat Boy than its own game. You too? Let's be pals. Messhof is retooling Flywrench for a release on Steam (Windows, Mac) "in a month" and I'm so down for the Daedelus-curated sound...
Roll Playing Game photo
Roll Playing Game

Roll Playing Game gets the ball rolling this fall


And other ball-related puns
Jul 30
// Darren Nakamura
We might just be in a new renaissance of "roll the ball to the goal" games right now. Super Impossible Road showed us the benefits of breaking the rules. Polyball took it to a trippy otherworld. Now we have word about Roll Pl...
Hard West photo
Hard West

Hard West playable at gamescom and PAX Prime, releasing this fall


Kanye and Kim's second child
Jul 30
// Darren Nakamura
Hard West did enough to impress Kickstarter backers last year, with its bloody Old West theme and its tactical combat. Good news for fans: it's looking like this one won't be languishing in development limbo like so many othe...
Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Team17 is publishing Yooka-Laylee


Considering physical release too
Jul 30
// Laura Kate Dale
Yooka-Laylee, the Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor that did incredibly well on Kickstarter a few months back, is apparently getting published by Team17. Best known for the Worms series, it has also been publishing indie titl...
MANOS: Director's Cut photo
MANOS: Director's Cut

MANOS: Director's Cut is a game adaptation of a 50-year-old film


I bet this game had a bigger budget
Jul 30
// Joe Parlock
Do you remember the hit 1966 film Manos: The Hands of Fate? No? The movie was made because of a bet by Harold P. Warren, a guy who sold fertiliser and had no prior film-making experience, on a budget of only $19,000. Unbeliev...
Yes, really photo
Yes, really

The NES just got a brand new competitive shooter


Star Versus the next big NES eSport? Nah
Jul 29
// Jed Whitaker
The Nintendo Entertainment System's last officially licensed title released in December of 1994 (name that game!), but that hasn't stopped chiptune artist and now homebrew NES game dev Dustin Long from releasing a new title....
FNAF dev is a nice guy photo
FNAF dev is a nice guy

Five Nights at Freddy's dev delivers motivational speech


Five Nights and seven bears ago...
Jul 29
// Jed Whitaker
Love it or hate it, the Five Nights at Freddy's series is a roaring success, and is surely raking in even more cash after the recently released fourth game. Developer Scott Cawthon has taken to the Steam Community forums to answer the haters and inspire his fans. 
Iconoclasts photo
Iconoclasts

Iconoclasts finally gets a release announcement: Steam and Sony systems in 2016


Also drops the 'the' from its name
Jul 29
// Darren Nakamura
We have had our eyes on The Iconoclasts for a while now. It started development in 2010, and we have covered whispers of updates sporadically since then, including a rad mecha-worm boss fight using rail transport last year. G...
FNAFs director photo
FNAFs director

Five Nights at Freddy's film has a director


Gil Kenan, director of Monster House
Jul 29
// Jed Whitaker
The Five Nights at Freddy's film adaption just got a director in Gil Kenan. Kenan directed the Oscar-nominated film Monster House, kid-friendly action-adventure flick City of Ember, and the recent remake of the horr...
Dropsy photo
Dropsy

Well, I'm no longer afraid of Dropsy the clown


I am scared of whatever that was at 0:35
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
Dropsy is a well-intentioned, upbeat clown who happens to be utterly terrifying. He's misunderstood! Given my fear of grotesque clowns, I've kept my distance, but curiosity got the better of me here. I clicked the trailer. It...
N++ photo
N++

N++ has one hell of a stylish launch trailer


Out now on PS4
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
I'm thrilled and terrified to dig into N++. Darren and I have been reminiscing about the cooperative levels in its predecessor, N+, so pain is fresh on my mind. These games are brutal but fair and so satisfying. If you're new...

Review: Blues and Bullets - Episode 1

Jul 29 // Laura Kate Dale
Blues and Bullets - Episode 1 (Xbox One, PC [Reviewed])Developer: A Crowd of MonstersPublisher: A Crowd of MonstersReleased: July 23, 2015MSRP: $4.99Rig: Intel Core i5-4690K @ 3.5 GHz, with 8GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, Windows 8 64-bit The first episode of Blues and Bullets does a really good job of setting up an incredibly creepy mystery right off the bat. A child locked in an underground cell, a creepy scraping sound that chills the bones, and an attempt to escape an inhuman beast. The opening minutes of the game are decidedly unsettling and, when juxtaposed with the ensuing grounded crime noir elements, really serve to give a narrative hook to work toward.  From there, we jump straight into some of the more mixed elements of Blues and Bullets' design. The initial noir crime elements of the game are painfully slow. From the walk speed which never increases above an infuriating crawl to the automatic camera whose angles often won't allow you to see where you're heading, you'll spend a lot of time guessing which way to go, being wrong, and having to achingly slowly trek back until you find where you're going. On the topic of speed, the dialogue in the game, while well written and performed, is also poorly paced. While the characters' lines are delivered well, there are often awkward gaps between lines of speech, or between a sentence and a reply. While the dialogue is well written, these pacing issues really detract from the flow of tension-filled scenes. [embed]296832:59723:0[/embed] The combination of awkward camera, dreadfully low walking speed, and stilted dialogue pacing made the first half of the narrative at times a chore to play, in spite of how much I wanted to enjoy it. That was a huge barrier, and one that would have turned me off if I were playing this for pleasure. Still, there were things in the opening act of Blues and Bullets that were pretty noteworthy, namely the inclusion of third-person shooter segments. The inclusion of sections that required ducking between cover, taking shots, switching out weapons, and planning an assault on a heavily guarded mob boss's home were particularly enjoyable. It's nice to see a point-and-click adventure game have more of these traditional gameplay elements, even if the aiming was, once again, painfully slow. While the black and white aesthetic of the world is generally striking, I was shocked at how poorly the game ran on a  decent spec gaming PC. For a game as visibly indie as Blues and Bullets, my PC frequently chugged, stuttered and flickered far more than I would have expected. In short, the PC version is horribly optimized. At this point, around half way through Blues and Bullets first episode, I was about ready to give up. Then, it finally started to catch my interest with a visually captivating, highly abstracted visual design segment. Narration became paired with giant looming words jutting from the ground, the word "hell" came accompanied by walls of flame and discussions of gunshots game paired with third person shooter sections darting back and forth between giant letters for cover. Suddenly, Blues and Bullets was doing something visually arresting. It didn't last long, but it caught my attention far better than the general tones of grey the world had been painted in. Following this, the narrative finally picked up by introducing a handful of those creepy occult horror themes from the introduction of the game. Walking around deathly slow is boring. Walking slowly around a room with a gruesomely mutilated human corpse feels far more tonally appropriate. Ultimately, Blues and Bullets shows a lot of promise, but this first episode alone is very hard to recommend. In its latter half it really starts to shine, with third person gameplay, creepy crime solving, and an intriguing cast of characters. It's just a shame so much of the early game was so painful to get through. The first episode ended on a truly gripping exchange that sold me on trying the second episode, but the first episode in a vacuum is at times more painful to play through that any new IP can afford to be. Definitely keep an eye on Blues and Bullets. If Episode 2 can start off with the same pacing and tone that Episode 1 ended on, we might have a really strong point and click adventure series on our hands. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Blues and Bullets photo
A mix of fantastic and insufferable
Blues and Bullets is a crime noir episodic adventure game that jumps back and forth between artistically stunning and unplayably dreary more times than I care to count. Over the course of a few short hours the first episode h...

Severed delay photo
Severed delay

DrinkBox's Severed is being delayed past summer


A few new screenshots to show off
Jul 29
// Darren Nakamura
Guacamelee! was rad and DrinkBox Studios' next project Severed has a lot of the same stuff going for it, despite existing in an entirely different genre. It has that same sharp cartoon art style and it doesn't shy away from s...
Armello photo
Armello

Armello's got two new characters, ready for full release on September 1


Fur-nal Fant-fur-sy Tactics
Jul 29
// Joe Parlock
Armello, a game that Dale North described as “Magic the Gathering meets Final Fantasy Tactics”, is finally graduating from Early Access on September 1 in all its Redwall-esque glory. Along with the news of the fin...
Ouya photo
Ouya

Update: Razer/Ouya deal means no money for indies, devs encouraged to not talk to press


Free the Games fund goes kaput?
Jul 28
// Mike Cosimano
[Update: In a call with Polygon, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan confirmed that the company would be looking into fulfilling the contracts made by Ouya. "We are going to try and make good on this fund and give these developers an opt...
Alphabear mad libs photo
Alphabear mad libs

Some of the best Alphabear mad libs out there


It's what's for dinner
Jul 28
// Darren Nakamura
Alphabear has been out for a few weeks now, but we haven't done much talking about it since its release. That's a dang shame, because it might just be one of my favorite games of 2015. On its surface it's just a word game, bu...
Freedom Planet photo
Freedom Planet

Freedom Planet's coming to the Wii U on August 3


Not as much like Sonic as people think
Jul 28
// Joe Parlock
Galaxy Trail's fantastic Freedom Planet is coming to Wii U on August 3, according to the Nintendo eShop page. No price has currently been announced, but the game costs £10.99/$14.99 on PC. We’ve been told for...

Review: Niko: Through The Dream

Jul 27 // Jed Whitaker
Niko: Through The Dream (PC)Developer: Studio Paint Publisher: Studio Paint MSRP: $9.99Released: July 10, 2015  A girl named Niko wearing wild face paint visits the grave of a passed loved one. She lays down and drifts asleep, when a tiny cute black creature with big bright white eyes sneaks into her mind and influences her dreams; or at least that is how I interpreted the opening pencil-drawn anime cinematic of Niko. The story is told subtly from then on via drawings found in-game and a post-credits cinematic, most of which lets you interpret it as you will instead of outright telling you what you just experienced, something I wish more games did.  Niko's minimalistic style makes beautiful use of the Unreal Engine. Most early levels are white and almost canvas-like other than shadows and a few a colorful pieces, and later on things get a bit more dark and eery. The soundtrack evolves alongside levels, starting bright and charming and eventually becoming chilling and tense. Rarely do game soundtracks feel so on point with what is on the screen and as memorable as Niko's, especially for a team's first game. Each level of Niko features a unique puzzle based on colors, shapes, platforming and even sounds. Most puzzles can be solved without much fuss, particularly for observant players as clues are usually hidden somewhere not far from the puzzles themselves. I'd be here all day if I described each type of puzzle, so just know the variety is enough to keep the whole adventure interesting.  [embed]296684:59697:0[/embed] Platforming puzzles aren't frequent, but when they do occur be ready to die a few times. Luckily, the checkpoints are really frequent and loading them is instantaneous, keeping frustration near non-existent. Niko aims to provide an enjoyable experience over one that tests your skills, and it certainly delivers. Nothing ever felt too difficult. Puzzles are mostly easy to figure out once you've got the logic down, though one of hardest puzzles is a platforming section where you turn into a ball. In ball form, the control scheme is vastly different: the view is top down, and if you're using a gamepad, the left stick moves the ball while the right stick decides the trajectory. Once I finally mastered the controls, I was able to finish the puzzles without much fuss, but it felt out of place in an otherwise beautifully-crafted game. Along the journey a few different characters come into contact with Niko such as cute black fuzzballs with eyes, and a giant white-masked black figure, both of which would feel right at home in a Studio Ghibli film. There is no dialogue in-game, but rest assured the characters are anything but flat. Over the course of the story, you'll see the masked figure evolve and convey emotions all without a single word of speech.  Niko only takes around five hours to complete, but those hours are time well spent. Completionists can seek out hidden collectable teddy bears that unlock Steam achievements, and a few other secrets along the way that will help extend the playtime a bit. The bears are often hidden behind some of the more difficult and rewarding puzzles, or just out of sight.  Beautiful levels with equally beautiful story, characters, and music come together to form one amazing puzzle adventure. Niko: Through The Dream is easily one of the best first-person puzzle games I've played, and a strong contender for my game of the year. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Niko Review photo
When Portal met Ghibli
First-person puzzle adventure gaming was reinvigorated with the release of Portal, and the genre has since become one of my favorites. The surreal Antichamber showed us how to think outside the box. The Unfinished Swan&n...

OlliOlli 2 photo
OlliOlli 2

OlliOlli 2 [skateboard trick]s its way to PC this summer


We can't nail when it'll land
Jul 27
// Brett Makedonski
Up until this point, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood has only shown off its sick tricks on PlayStation platforms. Impressive as they may be, developer Roll7 will soon prove the game has more up its sleeve than just PS4 a...
Energy Hook photo
Energy Hook

Grappling hook Tony Hawk-like Energy Hook coming to early access on August 13


I'm the king of the swingers oooh
Jul 27
// Joe Parlock
I love grappling hooks. I don’t need a roof over my head, or a warm meal, or a loving boyfriend with whom I feel I can tell anything; all I need in life to be happy is a sick-as-fuck grappling hook, a big city, and a d...
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Chatting about the ESRB's penis problems and Sweden's free game dev camp


Sup Holmes every Sunday at 4pm EST!
Jul 26
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Good news, everyone! We've...
Xeodrifter photo
Xeodrifter

Xeodrifter has more room to breathe on Wii U


No frills port, no complaints
Jul 26
// Jonathan Holmes
Xeodrifter stands among a proud line of games we recommended to Metroid fans who were disappointed with the idea Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and now it's coming to Wii U next week. It's yet another game to hit the c...

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