Land of the Vikings Preview


Land of the Vikings by developer Laps Games and publisher Iceberg Interactive—PC (Steam) preview written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes


Laps Games delivers a beautiful game in Land of the Vikings, a new relaxing colony builder. You begin the game with a nice fertile plot of land where you can grow crops, set up warehouses, and erect lodging for the people. Unlike most colony-building games that rely on the simple expansion of people, Vikings adds an element of conquest on top of that. While it is not without its flaws, the title has a lot of promise as it progresses through the early access phase of its development.

Gameplay

Like most colony builders, you can expect that it has expansion elements capabilities, resource management, and financial management. However, what makes Vikings unique revolves around two key features: the ability to create an army in search of conquest and surviving the harsh environment while choosing the outcome of conflicts between your people - which will be covered in the next section.
Aside from that, you can explore the surrounding area for the perfect location to settle with different mountains that are rich with resources to plunder. The area will have fertile ground perfect for hunting and foraging. Plus, expanding onto the sea will yield plentiful resources and allow for trade agreements that can boost your civilization.

That said, outside of keeping an eye on storage space, adequate lodging, and total coin on hand, there are other aspects of the game that are interesting. For one thing, you're able to decorate the colony with statues and shrines which actually provide a benefit beyond happiness augments. When adding beautification for your Vikings, placing crates will increase storage space by a small amount while other decorations boost Viking productivity or morale!


Harsh Environments and Viking Conflicts

Without touching on these two elements in great detail, Land of the Vikings has plenty of challenges for you to deal with. The first is the harsh environment colonists endure. People often die from starvation, lack of heat, or homelessness. Specifically, Vikings have to deal with fierce thunderstorms which can burn down buildings at random. You have the option to either rebuild (at the full cost of the original construction) or demolish the building.

This, in itself, is particularly challenging to the gameplay loop as those are expected issues. The part that makes Vikings interesting is the conflict popups between colonists. Often you receive three choices which include kicking a person from the colony, having them compensate the others, or forgiving them. In other cases, you might need to choose between sacrificing animals, donating money, asking villagers to help, or abstaining from a resolution of any kind.

Between the thunderstorms that can halt expansion efforts and the conflicts produced by a growing populace, Land of the Vikings can hold its own among other games in its genre.


UI and Graphics

One of the main gripes I have about Land of the Vikings is UI details that are critical for gameplay. For example, once players build the training facility they need to assign people to train. The issue with the UI is that the building itself doesn't need the resources physically present, nor does it need citizens to transport anything to the building for storage. While the Land of the Vikings removes the micromanaging requirement that is expected, it fails to display how many of your resources are on hand without opening the resource tab. It may be minor to most, but I actually thought this was going to be a fatal flaw.

Another small issue with the Land of the Vikings is the constant need to assign trees to demolish. Unlike other simulation games that allow you to assign specific areas for planting and demolishing trees, this game requires constant micromanagement. Perhaps the only saving grace is that trees regrow quickly and on their own. Having to assign the demolishing of individual trees is painful. Removing one irritating management aspect to replace it with another was not a great decision, in my opinion.

Aside from those problematic UI elements, the graphics and UI design are wonderful. The UI doesn't overly clutter the screen and each popup box can be opened and closed at will. Zooming in on individual buildings will show a great deal of detail on the structures and the people. What is neat about the Land of the Vikings is that most of the colonists don't look too similar to each other! Each character model is unique enough without feeling like they're carbon copies.


Grow Your Viking Colony in the Skill Tree!


As this is the Land of the Vikings, it's no surprise that the skill tree would be shaped like a tree. Each large branch has skills that are divided into the following sections: Trade, Military, and Colony. Any perks gained from the core part of the tree help fortify the colony itself by increasing production, speed boosts, or happiness levels. It will give access to certain buildings required to advance through objectives. One of the branches will boost or unlock the ability to trade with other colonies. The other side covers military building unlocks and upgrades.

Pros

The Land of the Vikings has a fantastic foundation to solidify its place in the colony builder genre. It has a number of handy elements that ensure the colony's survival like clean UI windows, random conflicts to challenge you, and army management. While the addition of conflicts increases the complexity of the game, it is further engaging by obfuscating the skill tree behind a fog of war. You will have to plan accordingly in order to fulfill objectives, which adds to the fun.


Additionally, the Land of the Vikings is a visually stunning game. The weather effects are realistic as they aren't instantaneous. For example, the snow gradually sticks to the ground as the season changes.


Cons

While no game is truly flawless, Land of the Vikings has a few small problems that may need addressing. Other than the items listed previously, another minor issue is the need to micromanage harvesting crops. While I understand that there are certain micromanagement aspects of colony builders that people dislike, requiring players to manually harvest basic crops is a pain in the ass. Why bother assigning people to the building if they can't perform a basic task? Why is it that the training facility no longer requires micromanagement of its supplies where the farming ones need attention? Please make it make sense!

The final issue with Land of the Vikings is the inability to upgrade one house to a better house. In order to get a better house, you must first demolish one building and then erect the better one!

Final Thoughts

Land of Vikings is a great colony builder, despite my minor grievances. It has a solid foundation as a colony builder because it has everything including military conquest. The game is incredibly well-polished and it is a great game to play, even in its early access state!


Anyone interested in the colony builder genre would not be disappointed with this one!


Score: N/A
 


Share:

Terracotta Review


Terracotta by developer Appnormals Team and publishers Freedom Games, plusDSgamesPC (Steam) review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes


Terracotta, ancient stone warriors, or action puzzle game? Why not both? Terracotta is an interesting title with a focus on solving puzzles while alternating between Yin and Yang, the goal to bring balance. Unfortunately, Terracotta doesn't strike a very good balance between concept and implementation.


While I don't normally do this for my reviews, I'm going to put a notice right here: Terracotta, at the time of me writing this, is receiving patches fairly often to fix at least some of the issues I have experienced with it. While I liked the concept and if most of my issues were resolved it wouldn't be a huge deal, but there are currently some game breaking bugs. As such, I can't recommend picking up Terracotta until some time has been given for the developers to fix some of these issues.


In Terracotta you take on the role of one of the Terracotta warriors. All the Terracotta warriors, except for you, have been cursed, and it's up to you to rescue their spirits. You will need to traverse multiple realms, bringing balance via torches in order to cleanse your fellow warriors. Alternating between the realms of Yin and Yang, discovering new abilities, and mastering different mechanisms are all required to accomplish your goal.

Terracotta is a mashup of two genres: action and puzzle. Sometimes a little more biased towards one genre than the other depending on the level, your primary goal is to balance the torches. Pay attention that I said "balance", not "light them all", although they do all need to be lit to progress. Each level will consist of a number of torches, both unlit and lit. Some are purple, and some will turn blue when you activate them. The number of torches and their current state can be seen at the top of the screen, and are divided between blue and purple. You need to fill all the dots, as well as have an equal number of blue vs. purple, then stand on a specific panel in order to clear a level.



The game is divided up into different elemental paths that constitute the stages, with each stage being further divided into levels. At the beginning of each level you can step on a stone to activate a tree which functions as a checkpoint, and at the end of each stage you will face off against a boss. Levels are generally fairly short if you know what you're doing and don't mess up too often, but can also take a long time for some of the larger ones, especially if you keep screwing up. You do have a health gauge, and taking too much damage means you have to restart the level. The thing to remember here though is that you have no invincibility frames on hit, meaning enemies can combo you to death given the chance.


Thankfully you have a number of abilities at your disposal to help you out! The most important of these is the ability to alternate between the realm of Yin and Yang. While in Yin mode you cannot run, but enemies will be unable to move and mechanisms will pause in their function. You can use this realm to plan out your puzzle solutions, as well as skirt around the enemies that you more than likely don't want to deal with. The realm of Yang is where the mechanisms and enemies are in motion. Enemies will move and attack you, mechanisms will activate, and you move a lot faster.


The next most important ability is channeling Tao. Basically this allows you to activate mechanisms by pumping a bunch of Tao into them during Yin state, and then they will activate upon returning to Yang. Some mechanisms are always active as well. Tao can also be channeled along the ground in Yin mode. Upon returning to Yang, the Tao will create walls which can be used to: redirect arrows, box in enemies, protect yourself from enemies while standing on a pressure switch, or activate certain pattern switches by matching the design.

You only have a limited reserve of Tao, but can recover all of it when needed. Unfortunately, you either recover all of it from where you left it, or none at all. I'll give an example. Let's say you activate two statues that cause wind to blow and dropped a line to deflect an arrow at a switch. If you recover your Tao, it returns the Tao from the two statues and from the wall, meaning you would need to set those up again if they are required for a puzzle but you ran out of Tao while trying to solve it.


As you continue through the game, you will occasionally learn new abilities, such as a short term shield to protect against arrows, or the ability to send out a ghost clone to draw enemy attention. Certain abilities can only be used in certain realms, and most have a limit on them, whether you have a timer on the ability use, and then it enters a cooldown, or if you need to meet a specific requirement before use.



At this point I'd like to give a few… words about the abilities. First off, while they aren't all strictly required to solve the puzzles, most of them are and will be used fairly often in the stage you find them. Also, jumping and dashing are abilities, and they're on that timer I mentioned. Once you jump once, let's say, you then have a limited time to keep jumping. Once the timer runs out, you have to wait for the ability icon to refill before you can jump again. The same holds for the dash.


Now, I'd like to point out how frustrating this is when you put in a series of large blocks you need to jump up, but are forced to stop 5 times on the way up because you have no more jump for the next 3 seconds, or if you're running along a path and go to jump, only to fall off the path because you are currently on cooldown. Add to this that the jump and dash are most likely going to be your main mode of avoiding enemies, that you cannot kill and can only get stunned under specific conditions, and this gets really annoying really fast. The rest of the abilities? Sure, no problem with how they function, but the movement techniques can get you really frustrated.


Thankfully you can upgrade your abilities, either letting you use them more often, or shortening the cooldown between uses. As you roam about each level, you may see these glowing yellow coins. Each one acts as an upgrade point. Putting five points total into an ability will upgrade it. I did however have a few issues with the abilities. Sometimes when entering a new area with an ability to learn, the statue that hands them out wouldn't give me the ability, forcing me to quit to the title screen and then resume in order to unlock the ability.

Also, at one point I suddenly had a very large number of coins in my inventory. Next time I booted up the game, I was back down to my normal number of coins, but had lost two of my abilities. Thankfully they weren't required, just helpful, but it was a little frustrating. On the plus side, the ability statues are at the beginning of a level, usually at the very start of a stage, so it's not too much trouble to quit and come back to reset it, as annoying as it is.



Alright, so I think it's about time we start discussing the, quite frankly, staggering amount of issues I've had with Terracotta while playing. Many of these have probably been patched out as I went, and hopefully the ones that haven't will get resolved soon, but good lord are some of them insanely frustrating. First up is the number of times I managed to softlock, forcing me to either die and restart the level if possible, or quit back to title screen and try again.


This ranged from being unable to cross a bridge for no discernable reason, falling into a pond I could walk on but couldn't leave (which I believe is addressed in the most recent patch I saw), or clipping out of bounds. Occasionally I would also have certain gimmicks just not function until I reset or I would need to activate mechanisms multiple times because they didn't work the first time. Also, sometimes arrows will bounce off your Tao walls the opposite direction to what they should. No idea why, but I found this only happened mostly when the arrow was going straight down, and occasionally while it is going straight up.


The worst issue though has to be in the Thunder area. Basically, every time you finish a level, you screen transition to the next level by walking out the door at the end of the stage. I had the game crash way more times than is even remotely reasonable while trying to load the next level. After level 4, it was about a 1/3 chance of actually loading the level, otherwise it would crash. A 67% average crash rate isn't good, especially when the checkpoints are after the level and at the beginning of the next, meaning you're forced to redo the level and hope it doesn't crash this time.


Keep in mind that 67% crash rate is the average, not the worst. Some of the stages I made it through to the next on the first try. One took me 7 runs before the next level loaded. This only happens in the Thunder area, but seriously needs to be addressed. After the first few times I nearly dropped the game right there, but I'm nothing if not stubborn, so at least I can confirm for you guys, at least at the time I'm writing this, this is a very serious issue.

Other than the glitches and crashes, there are a few other complaints with the implementation. First up, the game is sort of 2D isometric, and…off-corner isometric? This would be all fine if more objects had shadows to help gauge depth, but they don't which makes a lot of jumps and arrow puzzles. A little frustrating when you think you're setting it up properly, only to be a few millimeters off, forcing you to redo the setup for the whole puzzle. A few arrow shadows could do wonders, or at least a line on the ground indicating where the arrow really is.



Thankfully you get used to it as you keep playing, but it's still a bit frustrating. The end panels for the stages also have a much smaller hitbox than is probably reasonable. No, seriously, the amount of times I died to a boss because I kept running over the panel but not activating it? Guargh. Other than that, I feel like some of the switches on the ground no longer have indicators while in Yin mode. I feel like they used to show as grey or black placeholders to show you where they were, but they don't anymore? That could just be me though.


Considering that the music and art direction are actually quite good, it's sad to see many of Terracotta's good points overshadowed by the bugs and glitches. The puzzles are all unique and I felt they were nicely planned out. The stage themes are well portrayed and the puzzles make good use of the themes. The puzzles also get you progressively more used to the abilities you've just received, as well as making use of previous abilities to keep them fresh in your mind. Honestly, given some more time and a few more patches, I think Terracotta could be a really great title, if not a little frustrating at times.


Overall, it's really difficult to recommend Terracotta at the moment. While the puzzles and mechanics are well conceived, the package as a whole has too many issues between game crashes and softlocks, only made manageable through frequent checkpoints at level starts.


Terracotta has wonderful potential that just isn't being realized as it is now. Perhaps in a month or two, and some more patching, Terracotta could be a game that really shines through, but not in its current state.


Score: 5 / 10


Updated Summary (December 12, 2022)


After the most recent patch release, patch 1.0.9 I believe, almost all of my major concerns with Terracotta have been resolved.


I tried to replicate my softlocks and was unable to, the game ran smoother than I remember, and checkpoints have been added into stages so you will no longer cry at losing a lot of progress in the longer or tougher stages. Furthermore, anything I had previously lost has returned to its initial point, including skills, and I was able to get them again.


I'm really glad to see the developers take such an active and quick response to the issues noted. With the adjustments, I would now consider Terracotta an 8.5 / 10.


Share:

Watch ArcheAge 2's Debut Trailer for PC and Consoles!


Amsterdam, The Netherlands — November 18, 2022
| Kakao Games and XLGAMES are excited to share the first look at their eagerly anticipated MMO sequel, ArcheAge 2.

Making its debut at this year’s G-Star Global Game Exhibition in Busan, South Korea, attendees were treated to a beautiful cinematic trailer, introducing the next chapter in the ArcheAge saga, coming soon to PC and consoles.

Capturing what fans love about the popular MMO, this thrilling first look at its sequel introduces a bold new adventure as players rediscover Auroria. This vast continent has been reimagined for a new generation of ArcheAge players; whether by land, air, or sea, you’ll fight foes - both new and old - as you look to settle within these untamed lands. Giving fans a tantalizing taste of what’s to come, ArcheAge veterans will notice plenty of reminiscent nods to the original game.

Following its success, and relaunching in 2019 as ArcheAge: Unchained, the team at XLGAMES has promised an ambitious follow-up that is currently expected to launch in 2024. ArcheAge 2 will evolve and expand the immersive, player-driven sandbox experience fans have continued to enjoy for almost a decade, with an exciting new story to tell.

Powered by Unreal Engine 5, the sequel promises fierce action-packed combat brought to life with AAA-tier visuals. Beyond battles, XLGAMES is also expanding fan-favorite features as CEO, Jake Song, explains:

“In ArcheAge 2, we intend to enhance the trading system so that the players are able to do trade runs either alone, in teams, or in raids.”

“Another popular feature of ArcheAge 1 was the housing feature. We plan on improving it by adding more customizations, allowing players to live in towns with their friends, and even creating their own towns with their guild members.”

ArcheAge 2 furthers the legacy of XLGAMES’ original ground-breaking MMORPG, defined by its seamless sandbox worlds where players can claim their own territory, wage wars, and directly influence the in-game economy. Since its launch, ArcheAge has amassed more than 20 million registered users across 64 countries including North America, Europe, Japan, and China.

For more information on ArcheAge, please visit the official site. You can also follow ArcheAge on Discord, Twitter, and Instagram.

About ArcheAge

ArcheAge is a highly-lauded MMORPG developed by XLGAMES, featuring deep customization of skills and experiences across the mystical land of Erenor. Launched in 2013, ArcheAge has gone on to become a mainstay in the world of MMOs. ArcheAge: Unchained was released in 2019 for North America/Europe.

About Kakao Games

Founded in 2016, KakaoGames is a leading publisher of online and mobile games, responsible for releasing titles including Pearl Abyss' Black Desert Online (serviced in North America and Europe until early 2021), KRAFTON’s PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (serviced in Korea), MMORPG Elyon, ArcheAge, Survival MOBA Eternal Return (service in North America, Europe, and Oceania), Kong Studios' Guardian Tales (serviced in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania), and Moonlight Sculptor (serviced in North America and Europe).

About XLGAMES

XLGAMES was established in 2003 by Jake Song, the developer behind the classic MMORPG, Lineage. In 2006, it developed XL1, an online racing game, and in 2013, the online MMORPG ArcheAge, currently in service worldwide. In 2019, Moonlight Sculptor was released in Korea, based on the light novel The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor, successfully reiterated into a mobile game. Moonlight Sculptor was released globally in 2021. XLGAMES has a vision of linking the beginning and the end of RPG games, and hopes to achieve its mission of enriching lives through its games.

Article by: Susan N.

Share:

Twin-Stick Crowdpleaser 'The Crackpet Show' Sinks Its Teeth Into the Switch and PC via Steam December 15

Tbilisi, Georgia, November 23, 2022 — Get ready to make a name for yourself in the most bizarre TV show ever aired! Publisher Ravenage Games and Developer Vixa Games have announced that gory rogue-lite shoot-em-up The Crackpet Show will launch December 15 for Switch and PC via Steam. Choose from a roster of mutated animals and compete in a violent TV show to earn precious likes, sweet sponsorships, and celebrity status. The full launch of The Crackpet Show will feature a new game mode called Endless, a full campaign with a final boss, jazz funk tunes perfect for any well-intentioned killing spree, and a new main theme created by Jerome Rossen - the original composer of Happy Tree Friends!

In The Crackpet Show’s new Endless Mode, contestants will choose their beast, select a class and dive paws-first into never-ending slaughter with wave after wave of enemies and bosses to disembowel. Keep your eyes on your loadout, perks, and special items. Clean out rooms, find the build that best suits your playstyle, and climb the leaderboard to claim your fame. Want to enlist the help of accomplices? Four players can team up via couch co-op or remote play functionality for the ultimate muppet massacre.

Every cult classic TV show needs a good theme song. Thankfully, Jerome Rossen, composer behind every single note in every single episode of the totally kid-friendly Happy Tree Friends, has composed the main theme of The Crackpet Show. The tune perfectly compliments the new in-game jazz funk tracks that make homicide a delight.

"It’s been super fun writing theme music for The Crackpet Show,” says Jerome. “The characters are hilarious. You pick your favorite one, then try to blow everyone else to bits! The gameplay is cool. In a way, it picks up where the Happy Tree Friends left off!”

The Crackpet Show on Switch and PC via Steam will also feature a full campaign with new skins for characters, refreshed minibosses, new decorations and room layouts, new guns, new perks, and a final episode with a final boss you’ll never see coming. We hope you visited the vet recently. An epic, bloody fight for likes and fame awaits!

Switch owners can expect to enjoy the same power trip-inducing experience as their friends on PC. Play together with only one console at home or on the go! Paint the corners of your handheld’s screen deep red as you blast away foes and become the most admired animal mutant the world has ever known. We recommend giving couch co-op a whirl with friends (or a nice stranger, if you can find one). Endless mode is especially fun - just don’t assault anyone in real life when you die early.

“We’ve introduced a ton of incredible content for The Crackpet Show’s biggest fans during the game’s Steam Early Access period, including new playable animal mutants, incredibly brutal guns, loads of new items and perks, a slot machine with beautiful dope skins, new rooms and layouts, new episodes with unique bosses, and much more,” says Robert Fijałkowski, PR/Marketing Manager at Vixa Games. “The Crackpet Show’s full launch on PC and Switch will mark an incredible milestone for our team and community. We can’t wait to unshackle this hysterical mad world on December 15.”

Key Features:

     Rogue-lite Shoot-em-up Showdown - Play around with scores of enemies, weapons, perks, and items in randomized map layouts with randomized drops. Cut your teeth against carnivorous bosses that’ll test your ability to think on your feet.

     The Bloodiest and Most Bizarre TV Show On Air - Your favorite cute and colorful gore cartoons are brought to life! Don’t miss your opportunity to turn a pink rabbit into a harbinger of death.

     Enjoy Solo or With Friends - Play the game alone or have some friends join you. Strategize, fool around, and steal your friends’ items and power-ups. Become famous while having fun!

The Crackpet Show will fully unleash its mayhem December 15 on Switch and PC via Steam. To keep up to date with the latest information on the title, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to us on YouTube, follow us on Instagram, join our Discord, and wishlist the game on Steam.


Article by: Susan N.

Share:

Gungrave G.O.R.E Review



Gungrave G.O.R.E. by developer IGGYMOB and publishers Plaion and Prime MatterMicrosoft Xbox Series X|S review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


Gungrave G.O.R.E. isn’t really a bad game. The problem is that it’s not really a good one either. It’s more style over substance. There is plenty of relatively mindless action to be had here, and for those who are looking for heavy action similar to what you’d find in arcades in years past, Gungrave G.O.R.E. delivers that pretty well by and large.

For those unfamiliar with the Gungrave series, it’s based on an anime that follows protagonist Brandon Heat who has the mantle Gunslinger of Resurrection. It’s very much meant to put you in control of a tough-as-nails sort of anti-hero who is taking on waves of enemies because of… reasons. I mean, there’s a bit of a story here, but it’s super thin. Maybe if I had greater familiarity with the anime (I know next to nothing about it), or the prior games (I actually enjoyed the VR titles – their presentation in virtual reality gave it a certain extra ‘umph’ visually at least), so I’m not overly invested in the characters or world. And though the game says you don’t need to be familiar with the overall backstory to understand what’s going on before playing this game (due to a recap at the start), and I’d generally agree with that statement, it might have helped me feel a bit more invested in the happenings.


It doesn’t help that our protagonist really only has a few lines throughout. The focus is really on the action here, as evidenced by “Kick Their Ass” at the start of each level. There’s no beating around the bush here, and really – maybe that’s for the best as that puts the focus on what Gungrave G.O.R.E. does do best – deliver loads of fast-paced action that certainly has its rewarding moments. It's just that when I put the controller down, there wasn't anything all that memorable about the game outside of a few of those moments either.

It’s easy to just say that you’re supposed to go out and tear your opponents to shreds, but Gungrave G.O.R.E. deserves some credit for building in mechanics that really do try to push that. Gameplay is really not about defense. There are some jumping / dodging / diving mechanics at play here, but even those often feel like they’re a lead-in to attacks. The shooting has a sort of baked in aim-assist that helps you zero in on targets, and there’s a combo system at the core of the gameplay that is there as a way of encouraging constant forward moment. Even if there aren’t enemies on the screen, you want to shoot nearby environmental objects to keep those strings going.

Even the block is more of a deflection – and it’s certainly flashy in that it’s swinging a coffin around. That coffin serves as both a deflection tool for things like incoming missiles and also your melee attacks. These sort of non-stop action mechanics, when melded with really linear levels keeps the action pretty relentless. In fact, the level designs while they look cool by and large, and some of them have slightly unique aspects to them, just don’t offer much else. There’s a handful of small detours you can take that are fairly meaningless outside of looking for more enemies to pummel. There’s no collectibles or hidden rewards tucked into nooks and crannies. It really is just a game built around constantly shooting at things that are also continually shooting at you. I think most of the levels were knocked out in about a dozen minutes or less.


There are nearly a few dozen stages though, which does help add to the amount of time playing you have here, but there’s really just not a lot of depth to them. By about one-third of the way through Gungrave G.O.R.E., I kind of felt like I had seen the majority of what the enemies had to offer. Sure, later stages might change some colors or add a small modification to what I had seen before, but there’s not a ton of variety to be had. Which leads to later stages mostly consisting of fighting the same guys you have been, just more of their most annoying forms. It doesn’t help that our protagonist is a very slow character, and he feels a bit out of sorts when matched against quicker characters – especially when they come in clusters in a somewhat tight space.

The game’s special attacks are pretty entertaining though. I mentioned smacking enemies with a coffin as a melee attack, and the execution moves and special attacks / Demolition Shots feel weighty and are rewarding when you get to use them. That helps, especially when you find some of the more annoying enemies out there (in particular there are these massive guys near the end that blot out a lot of the screens visibility, or these shield-toting characters that just sort of break up the otherwise natural flow of combat). These enemies frustrate more than they challenge half the time.

Summary

Gungrave G.O.R.E. feels like one of those games that would have felt right at home in an arcade years ago. The action’s borderline unrelenting, and some of the cheaper, more annoying hordes of characters almost feel like they were made for eating someone’s quarters.


Characters look interesting and creative early on, but like the gameplay become repetitive fairly early into things, which is a shame since there are a lot of beautifully realized if linear environments that feel more like they are meant to be ‘gotten through’ instead of enjoyed and explored.

Gungrave G.O.R.E. has some rewarding moments here and there, but it’s a relatively average game that is likely only to appeal to hardcore fans of action games of the source material.


Score: 6 / 10


Share:

Third-Person Platform Fighter ‘Divine Knockout’ Launches Cross-Platform on December 6



Alpharetta, Georgia USA - 22 November 2022: Red Beard Games® and publisher Hi-Rez® have announced their new third-person platform brawler Divine Knockout (DKO) will launch on PC, PlayStation and Xbox on December 6. The Founders Edition (including the full game, 8 Gods, cosmetics and a special bonus for SMITE) will be available along with the Ultimate Edition, unlocking even more Gods and cosmetics.

Set in a vibrant stylised world of gods and mythology, Divine Knockout is gaming’s first third-person platform fighter. Hurl boulders as Hercules, swing Excalibur as King Arthur, or wield Mjolnir as Thor. Best of all: You can unleash each god’s devastating abilities at the push of a button.

Get a fresh perspective in the first gameplay trailer.


Inspired by classic 2D brawlers, DKO shifts the combat to third-person 3D - bringing us right into the heart of the action. Players damage enemies to make them vulnerable, then knock them out of the arena with a mighty blow!

Each arena features a different deadly mechanic that players must master to win. Some maps crumble over time, while others feature tricky traps.

DKO launches with full cross-play and cross-progression on all platforms.

This means that from December 6, for all game modes - including Knockout, King of the Hill, Coin Blitz and Oddball - all DKO players will be able to play with their friends on any platform, plus have their progress and purchases transferred to wherever they are.

DKO is a world of expressive characters and destructible environments. Whether duelling 1v1 and 2v2 or experiencing 3v3 Arcade mode adventures across different maps and game modes, DKO is full of hype moments, impactful abilities, big ultimates, play-making moves and close calls. It’s a blast as a party game, and a competitive sweat-fest!”.

 --Alexandre Grimonpont, Executive Producer at Red Beard Games.

“We wanted everyone - no matter their skill level - to be able to hop in and play Each god in DKO has a unique move set, with each ability mapped to a single button. Players can unleash devastating abilities with one press; no confusing combos required. DKO is all about timing, positioning and moment-to-moment choices – not button complexity. Hurl boulders as Hercules, unleash the might of Excalibur and wield Mjolnir with ease”.

--Alex Cantatore, VP of Publishing.

DKO is currently in Closed Alpha testing (apply here) and is available to wishlist via Steam, Epic Games Store and PlayStation. The game launches worldwide across all these platforms on December 6.

For all the latest information and assets for DKO, please visit:

About Red Beard Games:

Red Beard Games is a development studio under the Hi-Rez banner, based in Brighton, UK. Consisting of a multicultural team of senior developers from Sony, Microsoft, Ninja Theory, Jagex, Ubisoft, Codemasters, Carbine Studios, ArenaNet, and Hi-Rez Studios, this team of talented and passionate developers is bringing years of games-as-a-service experience to their first title, Divine Knockout. For more information about Red Beard Games please visit www.redbeardgames.com.

About Hi-Rez Studios:

Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Hi-Rez is an industry-leading video game publisher and developer at the forefront of the free-to-play, games-as-a-service industry. Hi-Rez’s games have been played by more than 100 million people worldwide across PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. With three games regularly among the Top 10 free-to-play games on Steam, Hi-Rez is one of the few Western developers to have successfully launched multiple, multi-platform games as a service titles to a large audience. Having won multiple awards and accolades for innovation and technology, Hi-Rez has also been recognised for its company culture, leadership and diversity as an employer. For more information on Hi-Rez, visit www.hirez.com.


Article by:  Susan N.

Share:

Top Video Game Logos Part 2

Continuing on with Part 2 of our Top video game logos Gaming Thoughts series, here are the next ten entries from Hamza right after a short re-introduction of what this list contains.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


One thing I believe I should clear before commencing: the title of this list is very vague. Now, a logo by definition is a graphic icon used to identify something, anything, whatever. It is usually the first visual identity you notice of a brand, business, or organization, and the basic types range from symbol, word mark, letter mark, emblem, or any interesting combination of the four.

For the sake of removing a layer of stress from my mind, I decided to take all logo types into account - so expect iconic typography, abstract symbols, aesthetically pleasing pictograms, and the like. This list covers only the logos that represent either a single video game or an entire franchise at large (ex: Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy), though there's no "one-game-per-franchise" rule here. Often long running franchises implement tweaks here and there to accommodate with the times and as such, variations have also been taken into account.

So without further ado, here's the next part of the list:

11. Syberia


The logo employs a crisp slanted cursive typography. It feels personal, like a hand-written note from a diary. Some versions of the logo also include the signature, B. Sokal, at the bottom (referring to the creator of the series, Benoit Sokal).

I find this highly interesting, as the primary objective of the first game revolves around hunting down an elusive heir to an automaton company for his signature. Along the way several aspects of Kate Walker‘s personal life interject her journey, making her grow and mature as a person.

If there’s one logo that flawlessly captures the themes of the game, it has to be this one.

12. Minecraft


I love it when logos mirror the visual aesthetic of the game (see Unrest).

Minecraft is no exception: the logo is a minimal take on the blocky visuals of the game, even sneakily adding a Creeper in there.

The 3D perspective hints at there being more to the game than just surface-level exploration.

13. The Evil Within


Sharp. Angular. Pointy. Lethal. You could seriously take out someone’s eye with this. In fact, on the cover it actually appears to be doing just that!

This logo reminds me of the logos of so-called ‘video nasty‘ flicks of the 70’s. Not surprising, really, seeing how the game borrows obvious influence from the more popular films from the genre, like Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween.

Isolated from the cover or not, the logo is vintage horror.

14. BMX XXX


I literally got nothing to say about this one. It’s just the game’s title written in large, blocky letters. The subtle grunge texture helps.

Sometimes simplicity triumphs!

15. The Crew


As a graphic designer myself, I’ve always been fond of this particular style of the letter “E”.

When used correctly in the appropriate context, the so-called “geometric E” helps greatly in elevating the design to ‘cool’ status. Indeed, the entire typography is given the geometric treatment and then slanted forwards; reflecting the high-octane nature of the game.

The Crew: Wild Run features a brilliant orange brush typography for the subtitle. Despite my not having played any installment from the series yet, I at once got the impression that this game (expansion pack, to be precise) features off-road and eclectic line-up of vehicles.

Yup.

16. BroForce


The logo is so steeped in masculinity and satire, it’s vulgar.

An overt parody of the hyper-masculine action hero scene of the 80’s and early 90’s, the logo in particular – consisting of a muscle-bound eagle and typeface reminiscent of G.I. Joe (Hauser, if you’re interested… though for this one the best bet is ITC Machine Std) – is a comically perfect representation of the world seen through an American lens.

It is dipped in the flavor of shameless and I love it.

17. Manhunt


If you grew up any time before the 2000’s, you’d instantly recognize what the logo is.

For those of you who don’t, it’s the game title written on top of a tape recorder. Manhunt‘s unique style is reminiscent of the VHS aesthetic and harkens back to the good ol’ days of ‘video nasties‘ of the 70’s and 80’s.
In fact, one of the more infamous characters from the Manhunt universe, Piggsy, is seemingly inspired by a character from the 1980 movie, Motel Hell.

18. Metro 2033


Metro 2033 is a post-apocalyptic experience in which you traverse the vast and complex inter-connected Moscow Metro.

The beautiful, bold ‘Metro’ typography reflects this: each letter blends into each other, thus connecting, fittingly, like a metro. The ‘2033‘ harkens to the spartan, brutalist constructivism design movement which originated in Russia; leaving no room for doubt as to where the game is set.

19. Unrest


Unrest is a gorgeous-looking RPG made by an Indian company that takes place in Ancient India. It is only natural that the logo should reflect the theme.

Though written in English, the title borrows the unique style from the Sanskrit language and even includes a native translation below it. The flowing robe behind the text is a nice touch to the royal, ancient feel of the logo.

20. Splatterhouse


The logos of the first 3 Splatterhouse games are bloody awesome… literally.

Every letter is made up of thick dripping blood, giving off that quintessential horror look.

The 2010 reboot takes this aesthetic to the extreme and exaggerates the blood splatter. Even the typography is given a facelift: gone is the comic style lettering; replaced with violent, razor sharp letters that feel as though angrily slashed.

I’m also a fan of when designers replace certain letters of the logo with an element pertaining to the context, without losing readability: in this case, the iconic Terror Mask (or Hell Mask) substitutes the letter ‘O’.

Check back next week for part 3 of Top Video Game Logos!
 

Share:

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened Featured at the 2022 Golden Joystick Awards with New Trailer



Trailer features new gameplay footage, how much playtime to expect and a small update from the team in Ukraine.

22 November 2022 - Kyiv, Ukraine + Dublin, Ireland | Ukrainian developer Frogwares have been given a featured video spot at the 2022 Golden Joystick Awards.

The video is a summary explainer of what the game is about and how the team are coping with development as the war in Ukraine moves into its 10th month.

 

The recent weeks have been really tough on the team mentally with all the missile and suicide drone strikes hitting Kyiv. So it was a nice bit of respite to find out our game will be featured in this year's Golden Joystick Awards. Much thanks to them for giving our team a moment of happiness and pride in this chaos.
--Sergiy Oganesyan, Head of Publishing, Frogwares

About the game:


Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is a Cthulhu meets Sherlock Holmes detective horror adventure. The game acts as a continuation of young Sherlock’s story with Holmes and Watson undertaking their first major case together. An Eldritch god-obsessed cult is making moves in the shadows to bring about a world-altering prophecy and it’s up to the young detective duo to thwart their plans. This is a creative take on what horror-filled and reality-breaking events could have met our heroes at such a crucial point in their lives to go on and shape them into the characters we all know they become. Delve into the trauma and fear that cements their friendship for good and the revelations that break Sherlock’s mind to create the flawed and haunted genius he is destined to be. Originally released in 2006, The Awakened is a full remake and substantial rewrite being rebuilt and redesigned from the ground up to run in Unreal Engine 4.

Article by: Susan N.

Share:

Lover Pretend Review


Lover Pretend by developers Otomate, Idea Factory and publisher Aksys GamesNintendo Switch review written by Natasha with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes


Show of hands: who's up for a little romance in their life? Well, I can't promise you a real life experience, but I can promise you a comedic adventure that will keep your heart pumping with the fuzzies, because who doesn't like to be thrown into a cliché scenario of playing pretend girlfriend with your best friend or a college classmate? How 'bout a scandalous supermodel? No? Then let's throw in an up-coming star? Whatever appeases your appetite I'm sure one of our lovely bachelors are up to the task.

As cliché as it may seem we still crave the obvious drama that will unfold. So grab that pen and paper, because I'm about to give you some pointers.


The Script

Lover Pretend follows the story of a college student named Chiyuki Ueda, who is an aspiring screen writer following in her late mother's footsteps, but she has another hidden agenda. Chiyuki wishes to discover who her father is. Never having met him, she believes her father is someone who worked on a movie her mother helped screen write in her youth. When an opportunity arises to be involved in a future production that is directed by the same man that directed her mother's movie, Chiyuki jumps head first at the occasion. The problem? Most of the people working on the movie have had some type of close relation or connection to her mother. Will Chiyuki finally find the answer she is looking for, or will she be swept up in an undeniable romance where everyone wants her to play the 'Pretend' girlfriend!?

The Actors

Kazuma Kamikubo

  • Childhood Friend
  • Forget-me-Not
  • Lover of Fried Chicken

Kazuma Kamikubo is a hair stylist and the main character's childhood friend. He's been supporting her dream since junior high and has evidently had a crush on her just as long. Totally the kind of guy you can depend on, he does have a klutzy side and will tend to put you in an embarrassing situation. He can get a little possessive and overly protective, but he means well. If you're looking for a guy with crazy stylish red hair, ready to cuddle and is super supportive then this dork is for you.

Harumi Makino

  • Abroad Snob
  • Sweet Squishy Tsun-Tsun
  • Sparkly Eyed Dreamer

Harumi Makino is the director's son who gets roped in to helping at the actors camp. A bit of an introvert he tends to keep to himself and is mostly antisocial to people he's not comfortable with. But one day you walk in on him geeking out over some anime merch. Embarrassed, he asks you to keep it a secret, especially from his father. Sometime after camp, he bucks up enough courage to ask you out on a site pilgrimage, visiting multiple different destinations featured in his favourite animes. Never having anyone one else to open up to about his passion, you'll discover how this shy and inexperienced guy is nothing more then a sweet cinnamon roll who wishes to direct anime someday.

Yukito Sena

  • Sir Tease-alot
  • King of Ministagram
  • Hotter when Wet

Yukito Sena is one of Japan's hottest models and just so happens to be the son of the producer who worked on 'Pretend to Love' (the movie Chiyuki's mom wrote). This hot blooded heart-throb will say just about every cheesy line in the book to have ladies fawn at his feet, but not Chiyuki. Intrigued by her dismissive attitude he pursues her in order to see what makes her tick. He's both incredibly driven and observant of people around him, even if he plays it off as someone aloof, but don't let that fool you. He loves to tease you and will always try to take you out on dates.

Riku Nishijima

  • Child Star
  • Mr. Slime
  • Hot Trash

Riku Nishijima is the son of famous actor Yosuke Nishijima and also played a small role in 'Pretend to Love' back when he was young. As a hot and talented actor, everyone expects him to achieve perfection, but Chiyuki seems to think that acting isn't really what he dreams for. He comes off as nice and reserved, but people can change into their true selves behind locked doors. Maybe having Chiyuki around could brew up the greatest scandal of his career yet.


Pretend Time

As you play through the story the game will have moments where Chiyuki will have to play along and 'Pretend' to be something she's not. This is where 'Pretend Time' comes in. A small rapid Q & A that will change the course of your affection level with your partner.


There are three types of grades you can acquire: Bad, Success and Complete. Bad results are for those who got 0-1 answers correct, Success is between 2-4, and Complete is answering all 5 questions correctly. If you find that you got something wrong and wish to retry, you can. The mini event will throw you a 'Save' option prompt just before you start, because once you start you can't retry in the middle of the event, you'll have to wait until after it's over to access your load screen.


I found this interaction to be a unique take on gaining love points towards your possible lover, where as most Otome games tend to just have random Q & A's or choice selections pop up during crucial moments in character routes.

Behind the Scenes

If you're interested in getting to know the characters a little better you can access the Album in the main menu, which will lead you into a section where you can look back on photo events, movie cut-scenes, music, ending list (multiple endings), the dictionary (words that are highlighted as important within the story), profiles and back-stage close ups.


The back stage section allows you to view additional scenes that weren't in the main story. Kinda like extra content and back stories between certain groups of characters. It's a nice little touch which can usually lead to comedic scenes or serious insight.


End Credits

To conclude, Lover Pretend really was a journey about a girl who ends up pretending to be someone's girlfriend. Some scenarios of how certain characters become a pretend couple are understandable, while others were... questionable. Like bro, WHAT!?


With the main character being quite flavourful and able to go with the flow (bless her understanding heart) towards everyone's wacky request, this Rom-Com comes out quite enjoyable. I'm giving this game my rating of 8 out of 10, for continuing to bring cliché scenarios back to light.


Score: 8 / 10

Share:

TOP-DOWN 2D PIXEL PULVERIZER NECROBOUNCER BRINGS DUNGEON CLUB CRAWLS TO PC VIA STEAM ON DECEMBER 8



Tbilisi, Georgia, November 15, 2022 — Publisher Ravenage Games and one-man Developer Alchemy Sheep have announced that procedurally generated, pixel-pummeling dungeon crawler NecroBouncer will launch December 8 on PC via Steam. A free prologue with all of the game’s relics and its first two levels is available now. NecroBouncer will include Twitch integration at launch, allowing stream audiences to spawn minions and help or hinder their favorite content creators during a broadcast. With the holidays around the corner, it’s the perfect cocktail of crazy to prepare you for your drunk aunt’s yuletide ramblings!


As an ode to old-school hack and slashers, NecroBouncer tasks players with taking on scores of irresponsible imps and overthrowing the naughty nightclub kingpins that run the show. Abilities and inventory carry over when you die, so don’t worry if you’ve had a little too much to drink (like that aunt of yours).

Create the build that best suits your playstyle with a near-infinite of items and relics. Sway to the beat and show off your style via a variety of different outfits with special attributes. Enlist the help of the loveable NecroCat and not-as-cute Bartender, but only when they have the time.

“NecroBouncer is based in part on my own life, as I live in an actual Slovenian dungeon,” says Andraž Oražem, Founder of one-man Developer Alchemy Sheep. “I’m not much of a party person, but I do know how to cook up a great game. And a mean bowl of cereal. I can’t wait for players to try it out for themselves soon! Unfortunately, my cereal will not be included.”

Key Features

  • A near-infinite pool of relics and their cursed counterparts
  • Hardcore boss battles
  • Unique rooms that demand unique strategies
  • Old-school pixel graphics
  • Tunes that’ll make anyone bop

NecroBouncer will launch for PC via Steam on December 8. The game’s free prologue is available now on Steam. To keep up to date with the latest information on?the title, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, join our Reddit, join our Discord, visit our website, and wishlist the game on Steam.

About Ravenage Games

Ravenage Games was founded by a team united by one trait: substantial developer relations experience. The publisher believes that In this industry, decisions must be clear and lightning-fast to build trusting relationships with game creators and deliver quality products. For more information, please visit https://ravenage.games/.

About Alchemy Sheep

Alchemy Sheep is a Slovenian independent games studio created by Andraž Oražem. Game development embodies all of Andraž’s passions. Pixel art and out-of-the-box ideas are his ingredients. For more information, please visit https://alchemysheep.com/.

Article by: Susan N.

Share:

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Review


Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana by developer Nihon Falcom and publisher NIS America Inc.Sony PlayStation 5 Review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes


This is basically a touched-up port of the original game that released about half a decade ago, but it’s the best version of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA available. The lack of new features might not provide enough reason for someone who already played this title previously to return to it, unless they (like myself) were just tremendous fans of the game. If you somehow missed this action-RPG before? There is a lot to appreciate.

The tale is a relatively standard one, at least initially, but enjoyable nonetheless due in large part to an interesting cast of characters in an large, beautiful world. We get introduced to Adol and company shortly before their ship becomes wrecked on a mysterious island. From there, the story turns from one of simple survival to building something more and a story that continues to grow more interesting the longer you follow it.

In terms of what is different in this release? It basically boils down to slightly more polished visuals that make good use of the PlayStation 5 hardware to smooth out the framerate and make the visuals pop. You get better draw distances and animations than the original – and while it is a pretty game, it is worth noting that this is a port and it does look just a bit older than some more recent titles on the same hardware.


Additionally, it’s worth noting that when Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA first released, it’s somewhat rough localization had been a topic of concern. That was patched over time – so this version of it comes with those patches already baked in from the start. There’s some cosmetic DLC thrown into this package for good measure. Toss in some very limited load times compared to the prior iterations of the game, and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is the same title at its core that was released before – but this is the best version of it.

One aspect of the presentation that is unchanged from my recollection is the soundtrack, but that’s a good thing. The music in Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is fantastic (really, that’s something of a theme with the Ys series in general), with a decent variety of sound effects to compliment the overall gameplay as well. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is an action-RPG, with different party members having basic attacks, dodging, jumping and unique skills. Swapping between characters helps you find and take advantage of enemy weaknesses as you build up to ultimate attacks that are generally quite fun to watch. It’s not the most original recipe in the genre, but it’s implemented about as well as any action-RPG out there.

Much of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA is a pretty traditional action-RPG game, but one of the more entertaining mechanics is the lightweight simulation aspect of Castaway Village. During your adventures, you will encounter other people with various skills and stories that can be added to your village. There’s a fantastic sense of progression that sees you pulling together a group of ragtag survivors into a village that grows and even thrives over time, opening up other gameplay and progression elements. These can lead to interactions ranging from presents being given to Adol to more detailed worldbuilding. Additionally, there are periods of time where the village comes under attack and it creates a sort of lightweight strategy mini-game.


Beyond the combat and the establishment of villages, there’s some other gameplay elements that have become more common to the genre – but just feel well-done here as well. Crafting, fishing, cooking and more add pleasant distractions from the core gameplay with small rewards that make the time spent feel worthwhile to your progression. This mixes nicely with the exploration aspect of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA and helps the game’s pacing. Another fun deviation in gameplay is the titular Dana who gets unlocked and has her own adventures that feel different from Adol’s. They’re not necessarily as engaging personally, but it keeps the pacing fresh throughout.

One small quibble with this latest package is that the game is completely standalone. Given that Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA has been out for nearly six years now on a handful of different platforms (PC, Vita, Switch (Review), PS4 (Review) off of the top of my head) – the lack of save importing is a somewhat peculiar feature omission here. It feels like the fantastic PS5 controller’s features (especially the trigger feedback) could have been leveraged here as well.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA was a fantastic action-RPG when it first released. Those core gameplay elements are still highly enjoyable today. The PlayStation 5 version of this title is easily the best of the bunch, pulling in all of the patches and DLC while leveraging the hardware to provide the best visual experience yet. That being said, it is an older game and the graphics do reflect that to some degree – after all, it was designed for a different generation of systems.


Summary

If you have already spent dozens of hours with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA on a previous release, there might not be enough new here to bring you back – though the price point is attractive.
If you missed Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA before though and enjoy the genre? Do yourself a favor and pick this one up on PlayStation 5 – it’s excellent despite its age.


Score: 8.5 / 10




Share:

Random posts

Our Streamers

Susan "Jagtress" N.

S.M. Carrière

Louis aka Esefine

Marc L. aka Froztea_

Pierre-Yves aka WrathOf314


Affiliates

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Coffee available.

Blog Archive

Labels