Review

Review: Night in the Woods

Game: Night in the Woods

Developer: Infinite Fall

Publisher: Finji

Platform(s): Windows(reviewed), MacOS, Linux, PlayStation 4

Release Date: February 21st, 2017

$19.99

Night in the Woods is an adventure game with an all too familiar Kick Starter story back in October of 2013 the game from Alec Holowka, and Scott Benson quickly met its goal, and after two smaller supplemental games many people, myself included have been eagerly awaiting its release. That day finally came early this week, and I have to say I’m pleased with the end result.  maxresdefault

Night in the Woods is a narrative-heavy adventure game that follows Mae Borowski, a twenty-year-old anthropomorphic cat and recent college dropout returning to her hometown of Possum Springs. The base focus of gameplay revolves around exploring the town and interacting with its residents. You’ll have a lot of text to go through and not a whole lot of action to speak of. However, I think Night in the Woods beautiful art and the slight presence of 2D platforming elements help keep it from being lumped in with all of those “walking simulators” that I tend to shy away from.

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Story of my life

 

In addition to Mae, the main cast is mostly composed of Mae’s parents, her aunt a local policewoman charmingly referred to as “Aunt Mallcop” and Mae’s three close friends. Bea, convince an emotionally distant alligator, Gregg, a fox and convenience store clerk with a tendency for less than legal activities and Gregg’s boyfriend Angus, a tech savvy Bear with a pretty neat hat.

As I’ve said above the gameplay of Night in the Woods isn’t terribly deep. Walk around and explore Possum Springs make discoveries and talk to folks, all of which Mae will chronicle in her notebook. The real beauty of Night in the Woods comes in both its art and storytelling. The beautiful character designs od Scott Benson pop on colorful backgrounds that bring a cute charm and frame a surprisingly dark narrative. In addition, the soundtrack handled by Alec Holowka himself is some phenomenal work.

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Super pretty art

 

What initially seems like the story of a college dropout coming to terms with a world that moved on without her turns into a story about murder and secret societies. While these grander themes are important, it’s how Night in the Woods handles relationships and heavy themes like mental illness and abuse that really stand out. They also add a certain depth of replayability.

This replay value come through the small choices Night in the Woods presents the player with. These options are on less of a grand scale than say a galaxy-altering decision you make in Mass Effect and boil down to more of who you hang out with more often. If you’re closer with Bea than Gregg, then you’ll see a more developed character arc from that person.

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Also the story of my life

 

Night in the Woods is a cleverly written game that was clearly made by a team with a story to tell. While the gameplay is simple, it’s engaging in a way that is tough to describe, and the story paces itself in a way that keeps you all in through the roughly eight to ten-hour ride. It has room for replayability and cute charm all it’s own at twenty dollars it’s a steal that I gladly would’ve paid a full sixty for.

Score: 10 out of 10

 

 

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News

Target leaked the sequel to Shadow of Mordor

Although Warner Bros. has yet to announce a sequel to Shadow of Mordor we now know it exists thanks to Target. mbtqbe5xaudosr9v4ya2

The game is called Shadow of War, and as of right now you can still gawk at it on Target’s website despite no announcement being made.

For now, we can assume that’s what Warner Bros. big March 8th announcement is about and get excited to take another stab at the nemesis system, also thanks, Target.

 

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Review

Review: Candleman

Game: Candleman

Developer: Spotlight Interactive

Publisher: E-Home Development Entertainment

Platform(s): Xbox One

Release Date: February 1st, 2017

Price: $14.99

It’s dark, you can hardly see the hand in front of your face as you move through the hull of an old ship you hear the sound of metal walkways clank beneath your feet. You have only a small bit of light to guide your way so use it sparingly. You’re playing Candleman, the puzzle platformer from Spotlight Interactive. Candleman will platform his way through environments with a pretty unique change, it’s dark as all hell, and you only have ten seconds of light per level, you’re literally burning yourself down. You’ll also have to light other candles along the way as you progress.candleman-candle-man-main-dropbox

Candleman is the titular character of this adventure, and the little guy looks like he’s straight out of a Pixar film. Candleman is on a journey to visit a lighthouse he saw from the ship where he begins his adventure. With any luck he’ll learn how to shine as bright as the lighthouse in question, then again, maybe not this story seems rather gloomy.

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those forest levels pop with color

 

As Candleman you’ll platform your way across nine chapters each ranging from about three to five levels apiece, lighting candles along the way. You only have ten seconds of pure light to burn yourself, but you’ll want to save this when you can for lighting the candles strewn throughout the levels which serve as sort of collectibles and some merely as checkpoints. You won’t have to rely on Candleman’s wick as your only source of light, most levels have environmental effects to help as well, whether those be lightning strikes, glowing polyps, or luminescent platforms.

The level design is varied enough for the number of levels contained within the game. Candleman will travel through a ship, a forest, and of course the lighthouse. I found the forest section, in particular, the most interesting, luminescent plants made for beautiful environments and the way some spine covered plants reacted to light made for some unique platforming.

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fire bad

 

Candleman is a beautiful looking Xbox One exclusive that is over before its mechanics have a chance to feel stale. The game will more than likely take between four and six hours to complete depending on your skill level. Candle man is a fun but not particularly challenging platformer. If a short experience is worth fifteen dollars to you, Candleman is available now for download on the Xbox One marketplace.

Score: 6 out of 10

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News

$10,000 lot of lost SNES games have been recovered

Last week I wrote an article about Byuu, an amateur game archivist who was attempting to preserve every game on the SNES. His plan to do so involved borrowing games from a collector overseas dumping them and then returning them. Byuu declared his plan dead when a shipment containing nearly $10,000 worth of games was lost by USPS. It’s been nearly a month but thanks to the internet those games have been recovered safe and sound.sness

It seemed to Byuu that any hopes of the carts being recovered were gone, so much so that he had launched a go fund me page to reimburse the collector. He plans to refund the money to all donators. A higher up over at USPS contacted Byuu and was able to locate his package based on description. It would appear machinery ripped off the label.

So the preservation project is back on although Byuu won’t be relying on shipping carts anymore. Instead, he’s launched a Patreon in an attempt to purchase the 300 remaining SNES games he needs.

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News

Nintendo Switch will have no Virtual Console at launch

While disappointed I can’t say I’m surprised, the Virtual Console will not be live when the Nintendo Switch launches on March 3rd.

“Virtual Console games will not be available on Nintendo Switch at launch, we will share more information in the future.” Said Nintendo in a press release earlier today.download

It really is a shame, I was hopeful that the vast number of classic titles available on the Wii U VC could help fill the light offerings of the Switch launch, but I suppose we’ll just have to hope Nintendo gets things together sooner rather than later.

Nintendo made a few smaller announcements in the same release. Shovel Knight and Fast RMX will launch on March 3rd with the Switch. They also noted that you’ll  be able to transfer funds from one Nintendo device to another once your Switch is linked up with your Nintendo account and all that. I’m sure that’ll be absurdly confusing.

 

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Review

Review: Psychonauts In The Rhombus Of Ruin

Game: Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin

Developer: Double Fine Productions

Publisher: Double Fine Productions

Platform(s): PlayStation 4(PSVR)

Release Date: February 21st, 2017

Price: $19.99

It’s been twelve years since Psychonauts the zany platformer about a Raz a young boy with psychic abilities attending a summer camp to become a psychic spy or “Psychonaut” was released by Double Fine. Psychonauts 2 was announced by creator Tim Schaefer and launched with a Fig campaign in order to crowd fund a portion of its development costs. The crowdfunding campaign was a success, and we’re set to see Psychonauts proper sequel sometime in 2018. In the meantime, however, the PlayStation VR exclusive Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin sets picks up where the original game left off and sets the stage for Psychonauts 2.

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Secret bases and such

 

Rhombus of Ruin picks up where Psychonauts left off, and I mean exactly where it left off. You start off aboard the camp jet on your way to rescue Truman from unclear captors. Obviously having played the original game will make you appreciate this experience a whole lot more bit it isn’t entirely necessary and can serve as a good introduction point for those hoping to play Psychonauts 2. It’s also a great a fun reason to whip it your PSVR, gotta justify that purchase somehow.

This Psychonauts VR experience works and looks pretty great. Entering the beautifully animated Tim Burton-esque world Psychonauts is both gorgeous and fun. You play as Raz from a first person perspective although you never move. To make progress through the environment Raz can use his Psychic abilities to enter the viewpoints of other living creatures. In the first section of the game, you’ll jump between the perspectives of Lilie, Sasha and other familiar Psychonauts characters to learn about Raz’s abilities including telekinesis you can use to move objects, pyrokinesis for burning anything in your path and psyblasts to really bring the hurt.

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The underwater environments look gorgeous in VR

 

The bulk of the gameplay involves moving through the perspectives of different guards and fish where Raz, his Psychonaut Companions, and Truman are being held.You’ll have to shift perspectives a lot of the time by using fish to get from point to point and free your companions of hallucinations brought on by poisoning from a crystal known as Psyrilium that causes sickness in Psychics.As you free your allies, you’ll be one step closer to regaining all of Raz’s abilities and finding the culprits behind Truman’s kidnapping.

Rhombus of Ruin isn’t terribly long. It is at its core another VR experience. I beat the entire thing in one roughly three-hour sitting. The puzzles, while fun aren’t terribly taxing and mostly revolve around snapping Sasha and the others of their Psyrilium induced hallucinations. One such puzzle involves rescuing Coach Oleander from a dance party.

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Oh, hey coach

 

The VR environments are rendered smoothly although I found myself craning my neck a whole lot in order to target my next psychic jump. In addition that all too familiar “out of play area” VR message would pop up, this might simply be the consequence of me attempting to take in the environment, though.

Rhombus of Ruin is a fun well put together VR experience and a great time for fans who’ve been waiting years for more Psychonauts. It may not resonate with people unfamiliar with the series. For those people, things like Batman and Job Simulator are more satisfying VR experiences. It may not be terribly long, but it’s a small taste of a world I have a lot of love for and has me more excited than ever for Psychonauts 2, I hope we can make it to 2018.

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see you in 2018

 

Score: 7 out of 10

 

 

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Review

Review: Splasher

Game: Splasher

Developer: Splashteam

Publisher: Plug In Digital

Platform(s): PC(reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Release Date: February 7th, 2017(PC) Spring 2017(console)

Price: 14:99

The first game from indie developer Splashteam launched on Steam, PSN, and the Xbox Marketplace earlier this month. While it hasn’t been getting an insane amount of attention, a quick look for the game over on Giantbomb.com caught my eye. In Splasher, the style of Splatoon meets the precise and frantic platforming of Super Meat Boy.

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Dumb fleshy robots

 

Selling someone on Splasher is relatively easy. Do you like super fast and fluid platforming, a kickass soundtrack and characters eerily similar to the inklings of Splatoon? If all of that sounds good Splasher is for you. In Splasher you play as a purple haired boy only referred to as “Splasher.” You’ll platform your way through the Ink Corp facility saving employees along the way all in the hopes of catching a mad doctor who appears to just be making some freaky fleshy robot monsters. The plot isn’t clear but dammit this thing has style!

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What purpose could all these buzz saws serve in an ink factory?

 

Super tight precision platforming makes Splasher a joy to play for hours, every move feels deliberate, and new elements added as you progress make sections both more challenging and more satisfying to conquer. Above I compared Splasher to Super Meat Boy which feels right with some fundamental differences. Like in Meat Boy you’ll bounce off walls dodging saw blades and enemies as well as other hazards, however, unlike Meat Boy you have a weapon of sorts at your disposal. Early on you’ll be given a waterpack you can use to shoot enemies, hit switches and clear ink that gives you trouble. Two ink types pink which makes you stick to surfaces and yellow which makes you bounce off are vital to solving Splasher’s puzzles. Later in the game, the ability to fire these ink types from your pack in addition to water make for some amazing fast-paced puzzles. As these puzzles are a whole lot of trial and error the super fast respawn times, as well as the thoughtful checkpoint placement help, keep things flowing.

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Really lasers?

 

In between levels you’ll enter a hub world to explore. It’s not much to look at, but from here you’ll access every stage and be able to switch over to time trial mode which can become a quick obsession. You may also notice an area that is gated off. In each stage, you’ll encounter factory workers to save. Each worker you rescue gets you one letter eventually spelling out splash. If you’ve scored a high enough point total of 700 for defeating enemies and clearing paint by the end of the level, you’ll rescue a final worker with an exclamation point. You’ll need to save at least 60 of these guys to reach the last level, don’t sweat it too much though I achieved this number naturally without trying too hard.

Splasher’s art pops with color and personality. It seems minimalist and a whole lot like something you might seem out of  The Behemoth( creators of Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid). You can also grab the soundtrack which is pretty great on Steam for an additional four dollars. Little sound effects like the record scratch effect on death also lend themselves to make the soundtrack more enjoyable.

Splashers biggest problems lie in some control mix-ups. Once you have every ink type, it’s easy to get caught up and fire the wrong shot causing an easy death. While this is far from a huge issue, it can get rather frustrating on longer sessions. Splasher’s length also leaves a bit to be desired. I finished the whole thing in about five hours, while fifteen dollars isn’t terribly expensive you can get more bang for your buck in other titles. I also wish Splasher were just a bit harder. Some levels took me a bit to get through, but it never reached the insanely challenging level that Super Meat Boy does.

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Pink ink makes you stick to surfaces

 

Splasher is pretty great looking and super fun indie title from Splashteam. If super fast platformers are their game, I hope a sequel is in their thoughts. While Splasher isn’t perfect it is polished and a whole lot of fun to play. You can pick it up now on Steam and on PS4 and Xbox One in the spring.

Score: 8 out of 10

 

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