SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION Trailer Shows Gameplay and New Elements Of The Story

, the brand-new title of the SWORD ART ONLINE series releasing this year on October 6, shows glimpses of the battle gameplay and the gloomy atmosphere in which the game’s story is set in in an all new trailer.

All things seem bleak and hopeless for Kirito and friends, but they will not give up! This trailer reveals the Fire Goddess Ignia and the Wind Goddess Aeria, embodied respectively by Lisbeth and Silica, joining the Goddesses Stacia, Solus and Terraria in the fight against Vecta, the God of Darkness.

Battles will get more intense than ever with Transformation Cooperation. Players will be able to command their party members for relentless offensive and solid defensive maneuvers against enemies!

Watch the trailer to get an insight into the original story of SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION and meet the friends and foes who will be crossing Kirito’s path into the Underworld War here:

SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION is set to release on October 6, 2023, for PlayStation®4, PlayStation®5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC via STEAM® 


Article by: Susan N.


Company of Heroes 3 - PC Review

Company of Heroes 3 by Relic Entertainment and publisher SEGA- PC (Steam) review written by Robert 't1ckles' with a copy provided by the publisher.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Company of Heroes 3 is the long-awaited third entry into Relic Entertainment's venerable Company of Heroes franchise. Set against the backdrop of World War II in both Northern Africa and Italy for their respective campaigns and is larger than ever. In addition to its two massive campaigns, there are also four unique multiplayer factions (also usable in co-op) that help bring variety and replayablility to the primary campaigns and various multiplayer matches. CoH3 is an interesting affair and has almost unilaterally split the Company of Heros franchise community in half. While sporting a "Mixed" review on Steam, Sega's Company of Heroes 3 has been received quite as was indicated by the various trailers or independant review scores that are in that 8.5-9/10 range, indicating there's a heathy community of players that are greatly enjoying this latest outing. So, where do my experiences with Company of Heroes 3 land it? Not surprisingly ...

That depends.

This was a difficult review to write- simply put, I didn't like Company of Heroes 3. Now, I imagine you'll probably have a few questions that immediately come to mind after jumping down and looking at the score for the game. Unless I miss my guess, some of those questions will be ...

* Is it a bad game? No. It's actually a solid game with some great mechanics, beautiful art, and some challenging but fair AI to it.

* Is it a buggy game? Less than most, actually, but there are still bugs- that's a natural part game development these days.

* If it's got good writing, engaging gameplay, and is a relatively stable release all-things-considered, then what's the problem.

To start, I'm going to reiterate as the internet can often take things way out of context but ... Company of Heroes 3 is not a bad game. On the contrary, it has all of the trappings for the next standard in small-scale historical RTS titles. Of the CoH franchise, the latest is the most accessible- whether you're an experienced player of the wargame and/or RTS genre or not, Company of Heroes 3 is actually incredibly easy to pick up. A clean, clear tutorial that helps push the campaign's initial story and gives historical background on the campaigns (so you learn stuff, too!). It's also great for those longstanding fans of the franchise that have embraced some of the evolutionary changes that have happened under the hood in an effort to modernize (and retain) for today's gaming audiences. However, there are a subset of veterans like myself that feel things are a bit off with Company of Heroes 3 and up until a recent conversation with Nick here, I hadn't been able to quite put my finger on it, but when I did? Things sort of 'clicked' and my opinion of Relic's latest release in this long-running and beloved franchise, while hasn't totally flipped, it's certainly changed enough that I felt it prudent to heavily edit the relatively sour original review I had for Company of Heroes 3.

What is it that came up that had me rethinking things? I was trying to explain what my "problem" with Company of Heroes 3 was and it hit me like a ton of bunnies; what is that you don't ask? It's the physics. In previous CoH titles, the physics felt real, plodding, and heavy with the weight of war; in Company of Heroes 3, every single infantry group move like kitted-out smooth tacticool-operators in an arcade game. Armor yeets itself (and bodies ... or buildings) all over the battlefield in a manner that really breaks the immersion and stresses my suspension of disbelief. Ergo ... Company of Heroes 3 is a good game, but I do not like it.

The new, arcade-y, and fast-paced style is what I think, a clear indicator of what both Sega and Relic Entertainment are aiming to break into; eSports. Starcraft II's getting a bit long in the tooth and with the current resurgence in the real-time (or "near real-time") tactics/strategy genre, it makes sense for them to strike with a name that's been highly trusted in the RTS genre for nearly 20 years. The downside is that in going for the more arcade-like physics and action, it takes something away from those of us that appreciated the Company of Heroes franchise for the more realistic take on World War II-based RTS titles. As I have zero interest in eSports or the arcade-like action that often comes with that territory (at least, with regard to strategy titles), Company of Heroes 3 just didn't resonate with me.

However, just as I'm able to recognize that I just didn't enjoy how it felt to be playing Company of Heroes 3, I can say that both campaigns are well written, can last upwards of 30-40 hours, and has some truly breath-taking moments in it. In its defense, CoH3 also provided me with something I wasn't quite expecting (that or as I age, my perspective is changing greatly) ... there were plenty of missions where, as I'm setting up ambushes or trying to take strategic points, emergent gameplay would sneak up on me. There was one mission where I'm holding a choke-point/section of the map and while there was all this other action going on, I had to focus solely on this small section- sure, the more "it's just a game, bro" of you out there will just be like, "yep, that's called micro'ing" which sure, it is. At the time, though, it didn't feel that way because it was the AI and I both acting/reacting in a small-scale dance (one I actually lost until I returned with overwhelming odds). What's interesting is that it made me care for this Band of Brothers that fought and died for this particular chokepoint. I haven't felt like that in an RTS game in a long, long time; it's just a shame that for me personally, it just did not resonate.

Gameplay balance in RTS games are always (and I mean ALWAYS) a constant work in progress, but when it launched, CoH3's balance was a bit rough, but once the feedback started rolling in and small hotfixes started appearing, balance evened itself out to be relatively decent across the board. Outside of the way the new physics in game feel, for me the next weakest link was actually the soundtrack. Where the sound effects, ambient audio, and general in-game chatter are phenomenal (honestly, I LOVE hearing the buildings come down- the rumble it produces on the subwoofer for my 2.1 system is just delicious), I wasn't exactly disappointed by the various musical scores- I just found that it was a distraction more than any sort of aural/orchestral history of things happening on-screen.

In the long run, the biggest struggle I myself ran into with Company of Heroes 3 was in fact, myself. In retro and after about 65 hours in game, I think that what Company of Heroes 3 is for me is that last goodbye. A wonderfully designed, well-made, and objectively good real time strategy game that has evolved to appeal to a new generation of gamers; the more I look back on my time in CoH3, the more I am oddly okay with it. Sure, I had to write, rewrite, then re-score this review a dozen times, hung out until the very end to finalize my thoughts, then fondly retire from a franchise I've spent the better part of two decades playing. This may sound bad, it's not- it's just an old gamer being happy to pass the torch, and am thankful to Relic and Sega for allowing me to do so on such a well-made title.

Here's to you, future Heroes!

Score: 8.5 / 10


Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine - Retro Reflections - TBT

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine by developer Compile Corporation and publisher SEGA—SNES Throwback Thursday retro reflection written by Hamza. 1993.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

One of the many reasons why I love me some puzzle games is because of the ability to cause a chain reaction. Yes, I love chain reactions in what ever game that carries it. There’s something orgasmic about it, something inexplainably seductive about watching many things blow or disappear in a continous succession. Take Boomshinefor example. That game is nothing but12 levels of majestic chain reaction. You do nothing except hope that the reaction you started manages to explode the required bubbles on-screen to progress to the next round. Other such examples are Bangai O-Spirits and Henry Hatsworth. Both on the NDS and both worth checking out.Though Columns on the SNES is my current love for the moment, I believe I can make a big space in my heart for Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – a Genesis “match-and-disappear” classic that’s as long and funny as its title. It is simply too good a game to miss and too addictive to put down under fifteen minutes.

Dr. Robotnik as you all know is the main villain of the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. As one of the few titles not to include the blue blur, Dr. Robotnik takes center stage and stars boldly in his own game in his own spotlight, with no restraints or regrets. On the surface, Mean Bean plays similarly to the other titles in the genre, and you’re instantly forgiven if you were reminded of other identical games. So what if you replace blocks with beans? So what if you eschew specifically-tailored characters for world-wide recognizable ones?

Little do simple-minded people know, and as every able-minded person knows, that these subtle variations make all the difference. If you take the same mentality to (especially) scrollers and platformers, you will notice that no two platform or scrolling games will be the same in design-or-character-wise, but one will undeniably be a doppelganger to the other; whether in terms of the aforementioned or execution or story, that can be discovered and discussed later.

Mean Bean Machine apparently has a story that I couldn’t bother to worry about in the least bit. The gameplay was all I was interested in, and thus directed all my attention to that only. You go head-to-head against a villain character, whose visage with brilliantly animated expressions rests in the middle of the screen. Anytime you see him giving a mischevious grin or smiling like a maniac, you know you’re in trouble and that he’s winning. If he’s frowning or crying or praying, then you’re in the lead and that his “game over” is just around the corner. But there lies a catch. If you decide to lay back and go easy around this time, then there’s a good chance the villain can catch up and turn the tables on you. I’m not sure if this is a genuine game mechanic but I’ve fallen pray to my own over-confidence one too many times, due to the game’s assurance that the enemy is losing and that I’m winning. If it isn’t, then I enjoyed it all the same anyhow.

Fans of the genre know the drill to “match-and-disappear” games; or as I like to call them “Now you see them... ha, ha, ha... Now you don’t”. Anyway, your aim is to combine a set number of blocks to make them disappear and possibly, start a chain reaction, and in general rake up high points and survive longer than your opponent. In this game, the blocks are replaced by beans and fall in pairs vertically. You have to combine 4 or more beans of the same color to make them successfully disappear. You can only change the position of one bean according to your, er, taste. When the cute little anthropomorphic beans meet their colored match, they link themselves together, forming a living chain. Somehow this all sounded better in my head, yet now it seems as if I’m writing a synopsis of a rascist prison film.

Continuing on with the gameplay, if one’s screen fills up completely with beans, they lose. When one causes a big enough chain reaction, the disappeared beans become refugee beans, or “has-beans”, and start falling on the other’s screen. These refugee beans act as flaks, and instead of shielding you from enemy fire, they prevent you from achieving your M.A.D. goal. They cannot be taken out in the normal way. The only way to do that is to match up four adjacent beans, and any nearby refugee bean will disappear along with it. Apart from making you rework your strategy or improvise, refugee beans really only obstruct a perfectly good game.

And one game can go from five to ten minutes easily, even more in the harder levels. Ten minutes equals to almost nine-to-fourteen chain reactions and I can live with that. But don’t let the time scare you; if you’re experienced enough, it might end early for you. The game, I mean!

In conclusion, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine didn’t quite give me a craving for beans but it did re-ignite my love for puzzle games, and you can bet I’ll be playing more of them in this year... and the year next... and the year third!

Note: Screenshots from all platforms that were available at the time can be found here at Moby Games.

Score: 9 / 10


Pirates Outlaws PS4 Review

Pirates Outlaws by developer Fabled Game and publisher Bitworks—Sony PlayStation 4 Review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time:  4 minutes.

There’s something of a new gaming niche over the last few years, with roguelike and deck building mechanics that has really resonated with me. Like a lot of people, Slay the Spire was one of the early entries into this growing genre, and Pirates Outlaws has a lot of that same addictive DNA, even if it isn’t necessarily charting a path to undiscovered lands.

Fundamentally, the first thing that came to mind as I played Pirates Outlaws, was how similar it was to Slay the Spire. Right off of the bat, you’re scrolling a map vertically, choosing which direction to take at branching paths that could lead to general combat, elite enemies, markets and upgrade opportunities for your cards. Playing the game, there’s some strong parallels to Slay the Spire’s structure as well. There are a couple of different types of attacks - melee and ranged. However, while ranged cards tend to be stronger, they also require ammunition, which is a resource card you will need to draw to use them. However, ammunition is not needed for melee attacks or when you are blocking to try and absorb incoming damage. There’s a similar flow to the combat that runs smoothly by and large.

However, this is not to say that this is a reskinned Slay the Spire clone. For starters, there is a lot more content here. While ‘more’ doesn’t always mean better, in this case I thoroughly enjoyed chasing these particular carrots. There are hundreds of cards and relics, there’s over a dozen different heroes, tons of bosses and unlockables and a trio of game modes. I suppose one could quibble that this creates a bit of grinding to see all there is to see, but the overall formula’s an addicting one that made it entirely too easy for me to go: just one more run.

Famous last words that are usually followed up by at least a few more runs.

This is a credit to how the combat itself is structured. Matches are challenging (especially boss ones), but most of the battles you encounter are pretty quick affairs. You are going to lose, and lose a lot – after all, it is a roguelike. But the progression makes for more interesting strategic options as more and more of the game’s layers become available. There’s really nothing of note here narratively speaking. You’re not saving the world or anything like that, and the focus seems to be more on whimsy than seriousness with the seafaring theme.

For me at least, the highlight was experimentation. There’s enough different characters and types of cards out there that there was almost always some level of tweaking I was doing between runs, it seemed like. I never really ran into an overpowered strategy, though I definitely gravitated towards some forms of deck building than others. There’s different locations you can sail, providing greater challenges and improved rewards and thus the overall gameplay loop is established.

Some of the characters and deck combinations are focused on defense, others are focused on ranged combat. There’s plenty of options for melee, and yet others incorporate buff and debuff mechanics. These are all pretty standard fare for this genre, but it’s done well. And given the large number of available cards and characters, there’s a lot of different flavors of gameplay to experiment with.

While the majority of what I’ve gone over has been pretty positive, there are a handful of smaller concerns worth noting. The audio is pretty repetitive and the visuals are nothing special. The overall presentation just feels pretty minimal – but in looking the game’s history up (I didn’t know much of anything about it prior to this console release), it was a mobile game at one point, so the barebones presentation tracks. Also, a bit of a story wouldn’t have hurt – I like narratives and while this overall theme of breezy and fun keeps things moving, a goal other than ‘discover new things’ would have been appreciated. Lastly, Pirates Outlaws is a pretty accessible overall roguelike, but with so much content baked in, it can feel just a smidge unfocused. While I enjoyed doing multiple runs in a row, I do wonder what the longevity of this title will be for me. Right now it’s an addicting way to kill twenty minutes in small bursts, but will I be playing it in a couple of months? Hard to say, but my guess is probably not.

In the end, Pirates Outlaws is a really good example of the roguelike / deckbuilding genre, without doing anything too risky. The gameplay is brisk, there’s a ton to find and do and it’s even a bit more accessible than some of the other titles in this genre that I’ve played. Admittedly, the production values are a bit lacking, especially when you consider the visuals and the lack of narrative. Pirates Outlaws is a fun game that has an addictive quality to it, especially at the very beginning.

Score: 7 / 10


Our Favorite Games Through the Years - Part 5 - Gaming Thoughts

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes.

As those of you who have been reading these posts so far, this is all about what appealed to us personally. That doesn’t mean it was the most technically advanced title, the one with the best story or any other singular metric that reviewers look for in a title. We simply enjoyed them for whatever reasons.


Xbox: Halo: Combat Evolved

There were a lot of skeptics about Microsoft's new home console being successful (not while in the midst of a Nintendo v. Sony console competition), and adding to that skepticism was the doubt about the viability of a story-driven first-person shooter on anything other than a PC. Microsoft's original Xbox console along with Halo: Combat Evolved laid those concerns to rest.

That doesn't explain why it's on this list, though ... Sure, Halo: CE was a good game, but given all of the amazing games that you can find on Microsoft's maiden voyage into home consoles ... I chose the most obvious? Seems shallow.

Except it's not, not at first glance at least. By the time that Halo: CE released, my brother (to whom I am very close) had graduated from the US Air Force Academy and moved to the other side of the country and I took it hard. When he came home for Christmas that year, he did so with some Xboxes in tow. That entire holiday vacation, he and I played Halo: CE non-stop... first on normal, then on heroic, then finally on legendary. To me, Halo: CE is more than just a damn-fine shooty-shooty-bang-bang space marine game ... It's an entire universe that I got to first experience with one of my biggest role models.

It's hard for much to stand up against that...


PlayStation 2: Final Fantasy XII

For all of the absolutely amazing games on the PlayStation 2, I went with one that's both head-scratching and understandable at the same time. Final Fantasy XII was a weird beast of a title. Building it's combat and party system off of the long-running Final Fantasy XI MMORPG combat mechanics and paring it with a highly customizable Gambit system which allowed you to micromanage a companion AI. I personally enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed Final Fantasy VII's Materia system, though I couldn't care less for the initial FFXII leveling board/license system; to me it felt like an evolution to the Jobs system (which was later expanded upon in the Remaster so the North American version matched the more robust and just plain better, EU/International version) and that was okay with me at the time. 

Where Final Fantasy XII trumps all other titles on the platform, it actually occupies this space for a very different reason than one would expect... See, I wasn't able to play FFXII until well after launch, and the opportunity arose for me to pick up an affordable PS2 just before my daughter was born. The one game I picked up for it? Final Fantasy XII. I spent my parental leave/vacation time with her in my arms while I played FFXII from start to finish. To me, it's far, far more than just a video game ... it's a precious memory that I will cherish for the rest of my days.


PlayStation 2: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

It took a while to figure out what to put here… By this time, I had finally really started to work and could afford, put that in quotations as these games were my paychecks… the games that I wanted to play. Xenosaga Part 1, .Hack//, .Hack//G.U., Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and so, so much more.

But above all of those, Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia Trilogy, and especially the first, had me coming back again and again and again. The platforming mechanics, the wall running, the puzzle solving, maybe not as stellar by today’s standards but this at the time set the bar and without it? No Assassin’s Creed.

PlayStation Portable: Ys Seven

Here was another platform that had some great titles however Ys Seven is king here. Not only is it a great title, it brought the Ys Series back and without it? There would be no Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, Ys IX: Monstrum Nox or upcoming Ys X: Nordics. Falcom brought back our red haired adventure Adol and I was so happy to continue his adventures as prior to that the most that I had been able to play was Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim which there was zero regret on picking that up off of the used game shelf at an EB Games all those years ago. The Canadian equivalent at the time before they eventually rebranded into just GameStop to match the US.

Xbox: Fable

The original Xbox in some ways is a slim pick for me if only because I didn’t get an Xbox until AFTER I got an Xbox 360. I know, it’s weird. That said, I played a lot of Xbox with friends, Dead of Alive 6, Halo, and Fable.

Fable was another one of those open world do whatever you want titles that chipped away at my hesitancy to get into it. I like my linear story with some open spaces, FFX and FFXIII are prime examples, but in this case, as nothing more than a Chicken Chaser, it was up to me to figure out… everything. What did I want to do? Did I want to get buff? Play with magic? Stay agile and nimble? Do all of the above? The world was my oyster and I’ve gone back to it plenty of times over the years.

Sadly Fable 2 and Fable 3 just couldn’t carry that same magic…


PlayStation 2: Trapt

Oof, the PS2 choice was extremely difficult for me. There are so many amazing PS2 games I could list off. It's where I started my over 2000 hours in the Monster Hunter franchise, it had some great RPGs like .hack, as well as one of my top 3 favorite game series of all time: Xenosaga. Now, while I would usually espouse Xenosaga as my favourite game, that's only because people look at me weird for liking Trapt. While both Xenosaga Episode 1 and Trapt are probably tied for my favorite game of all time, I'm listing Trapt here as my favorite due to just how... I don't know, weirdly fulfilling it feels? An entry in the Deception franchise, marketed as Kagerou 2: Dark Illusion in Japan, Trapt is a game about, well, essentially murdering people with different Indiana Jones style traps you set up in the mansion you're hiding out in. With three main and rather distinct different endings, some really cool trap configurations and implementations, as well as one of my favorite cut-ins in a game ever: the Man-Eating Music Box. Trapt is...definitely clunky and by no means perfect. The subtitles are iffy for sure, and the plot can be difficult to follow. It's also gratuitously violent, but I love it all the same.

Xbox: Black Stone: Magic and Steel

Alright, time for the weirdest entry in my listing: Black Stone: Magic and Steel. This game is sort of a Gauntlet Legends rip-off but done really poorly. The game is objectively pretty bad. But you know what? It's got memories and hours of fun(?) spent with friends. This is a game that's my favorite Xbox title you should probably never play.

Nintendo DS: Knights in Nightmare

I'm pretty sure some of the other reviewers are gonna give me weird looks for this one, but Knights in the Nightmare is my Nintendo DS pick for my favorite game. It's...horribly complicated, both theoretically from a gameplay perspective and from a storyline perspective. It's an eldritch mash up of turn-based strategy, RPG, real-time strategy, and bullet hell. Sound weird? It is, but hey, I've got a thing for games that try and redefine a genre or to create their own. Knights in the Nightmare was rough, it had an insanely long tutorial, and a steep learning curve. But you know what? The sheer uniqueness of the entire experience is what drew me in. Hands down this is my favorite DS title, even beating out others of my personal favorites like Luminous Arc and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.


Sony PlayStation 2: Final Fantasy X

This was another really tough one. There were so many games, from Romance of the Three Kingdoms X, to Tekken titles to the endless hours of Madden my buddy Landon and I played. Still, I’d be remiss in not putting Final Fantasy X at the top of this list. Why? Because I was late to the PS2 party, but one of my best friends was heading out of town for a couple of weeks and loaned me his, with his copy of Final Fantasy X. It was love at first site with that fantastic opening sequence (Auron was the man), the pounding rock music and gorgeous visuals that still make up one of my favorite video gaming scenes of all time. I was about 2/3 of the way through that game when my buddy came back and wanted his system back. My wife, her aunt and my dad teamed up to buy me a PS2 with my own copy of Final Fantasy X that year for Christmas and it’s still my sentimental favorite of the series.

Microsoft Xbox: SoulCalibur II

This was my introduction to what would become one of my favorite fighting franchises of all-time. Seriously – Soul Calibur IV was my first review back when I started this site up (posted on 11/13/2009). This series has stuck with me over the years, and with good reason. It was not the first time I had played a 1-on-1 fighter with weapons (I believe that honor goes to Samurai Showdown), but the speed, graphics and music made this a memorable title indeed, as my buddies and I would play this on one TV on Sundays, while watching NFL games on the other TV right next to it. Ah, the college years…

Sony PlayStation Portable: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Having taken years off from playing handheld gaming systems, the PSP was revolutionary to me. The number of console-quality games on it was mind-boggling, and I played a ton of them. Almost all of my favorites though, where of the Final Fantasy variety. Between Tactics, Dissidia and some of the remakes, there were plenty to choose from. However, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII connected with me on a slightly different level. Likely in large part due to my affinity for the original Final Fantasy VII, but when the ending came to pass, even though I had sunk so many hours into the game, I felt like it was over too soon.

 Article by RobertPierre-YvesRichard, and Nick


The Last Spell - PC Review

The Last Spell by developer Ishtar Games and publishers The Arcade Crew, DANGEN Entertainment, Gamera Game, DotEmuPC (Steam) review written by Hayden with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

There is a steady stream of AAA games on the market that try to wow you with how smooth and realistic their graphics are, how jiggly their physics models are, how perfect the flouncing of their title character’s hair is - and in doing so hope you overlook how bland and mediocre and stale-as-last-week’s-leftovers their mechanics and plot is. The Last Spell isn’t that. There are no fancy graphics here to hide behind, no Hollywood A-list voice actors to pin a plot on. The Last Spell makes its stand on its gameplay, and it does it well. Graphically, Last Spell would feel at home among early isometric strategy games from decades ago, but don’t let appearances deceive - this is absolutely a game that understands modern game design trends and meets players where they are today.

Thematically, Last Spell presents the player with a devastated world trying to survive magic-as-weapon-of-mass-destruction gone wrong. The player takes control of various isolated hamlets in turn, fighting not to win overall at each location, but simply to survive. Well, at least to survive long enough for those mages that have survived to cast their contribution to the eponymous “last spell” - an attempt to avert magical catastrophe by removing magic itself from the world. This sets us up for a turn-based game where the player alternately fights off ever-growing waves of monsters and hastily slaps together defenses and infrastructure to resist the incursions. Once a given area’s contribution to the Last Spell has been successfully cast, the player jumps to the next settlement, providing a perfect reason for the game to strip away the beefed-up economy and defenders that you’ve just finished with since you’re making a large geographic jump. While the game uses an extended introduction sequence to build the world around the player, there are additional pieces of the story unlocked between each settlement, and sometimes even between each wave of monsters.

Outside of combat, The Last Spell provides an opportunity to build defenses, infrastructure that will benefit the player in future build phases, and upgrade the heroes that will be used in the combat phase of the game. Balancing gold production for equipment purchases, building materials for infrastructure, and civilian workers to run everything, the player needs to act strategically. While it is always tempting to try to upgrade a hero now instead of later, spending the resources this turn might mean you need to forgo a building upgrade that would have a far greater impact in the future. Of course, putting off those upgrades to your heroes might mean that you don’t get a “next build phase” if you get overrun by the monstrous horde in combat…

Combat in The Last Spell is turn-based, with monsters approaching the player’s settlement from one or more directions that are clearly indicated during the start-of-combat setup time. Movement is grid based, with the encroaching enemies moving fairly predictably towards the core of the settlement where the settlement’s mage(s) are working on their enchantment. The player will have a team of heroes available across various melee, ranged and magical specializations that have to thwart the attack, buying one more day of life for everyone in town.

It’s an easy premise to grasp, but inevitably it’s not that simple. The enemies approach from within a deadly mist that surrounds the settlement, and over time that mist creeps closer to the settlement itself. Coupled with more monsters, stronger monsters, faster monsters, flying monsters, additional attack directions, and the occasional boss monster with special mechanics, this is not a cakewalk. Once you realize that you have 5 heroes under your control, three directions that monsters are spawning in, and upwards of 40 monsters on the field to deal with and more about to appear when you hit ‘end turn’, the pressure really starts to amp up. Further driving this is that if any of those monsters make it inside the settlement, your people will start to panic.  Too many scared people losing faith in your ability to protect them, and your post-battle rewards drop. Those rewards are often the very materials you’re going to need in the following non-combat phase, so you really start to realize that if you can’t keep them safe, the townsfolk won’t help you!

To aid replayability and let the masochistic players among us thrive, The Last Spell both carries progress towards equipment/achievement unlocks between runs (win or lose) and lets the player customize elements of difficulty. Within a limited number of slots available, the player can aid (or impair) the abilities of their heroes before starting at a given settlement, with additional options on how to modify conditions being unlocked through play. Yes, as mentioned before you can actually make it more difficult through this system, although with the existing difficulty posed by the oncoming hordes I would personally look askance at anyone who thought that was actually a ‘fun’ idea!

Overall, The Last Spell is a really well built tactical turn-based battle game. Cloaked in graphics reminiscent of something out of the late 90’s or early 2000’s, The Last Spell is clearly confident that it needs no pretty faces or Ultra-HD resolution art assets, and with good reason. This is a solid game with a clear premise, intuitive interface and a good balance between giving the player time to think and putting the pressure on through the tactical situations they face. Retailing at $32.50 CDN at the time of review, The Last Spell clocks in at just under half the price of blockbuster AAA titles, and claims to offer over 40 hours of gameplay in its campaign - which is more than some of those same AAA titles can deliver! A solid 9/10, The Last Spell obviously knew what it aimed to deliver, and cleanly hit that mark.

Score: 9 / 10


CATAN - Console Edition Review

CATAN - Console Edition by developer Nomad Games and publisher Dovetail Games GamesSony PlayStation 5 review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes.

I like board games but have no one to play them with so when a digital version of a game comes out I like to try them out as I wouldn't be able to otherwise. Catan is one that I have seen a lot about but never got to play until now. For anyone who doesn't know what Catan is, it is a game about gathering, trading resources, and then building with them.

Having never played the game before I started with the tutorial which gave me a little understanding of the game, but it really could have done a better job of explaining the game. I didn't know what I was doing until I played about five games. One thing that got me was in the tutorial it said I can place my two settlements and roads where I wanted but while playing the game it would automatically place them. This was fixed by a patch but it should have been there the day it was released. After all it was what was taught in the tutorial.

After learning the basics I jumped right into a single-player game. There are two modes, quick play where everything from what character you are to AI opponents are picked randomly. The other mode lets you set up a game letting you pick who you want to be, who the AI opponents are, and what board setup you want. The board setup may be only for those that have the DLC at the moment though I am not sure if there are any other boards other than default in the base game. Since I started before the update after rolling to see who goes first (which is another thing the game does automatically), it picked where to place my settlements and roads the game started.

To win a game you have to get ten victory points. Each settlement and city you have gives you points so when the game starts every player has two points already. You can get more points by having the longest road and largest army and by having certain development cards you can get by spending resources. You gain the resources of lumber, brick, wool, grain, and ore by having a settlement located next to a hex with a certain type of resource. When anyone rolls the number on the hex, say its eight and someone rolls the two dice and they are a four and a four you and anyone else with a settlement next to the hex will get that resource. Having a city next to one will give you even more of that resource. The only number that will not appear on any of the hexes is seven. If you or an opponent rolls a seven you get to move the robber who will steal one resource from a player who has a settlement on the hex you moved him to and they will no longer earn that resource until the robber is moved again.

Once you have enough resources you can use them to build new settlements which nets you one victory point of VP. Upgrade a settlement into a city which again gives you another VP, and build a road so you can build settlements near other hexes so you can get more resources which gives you VP for having the longest road. 

Lastly, you can get a development card you can use on your next turn. Development cards have a range of things they can do like give you an extra VP that you hold until you have 9 points and then you can win. Other cards are knight cards that you can play and let you move the robber and once you have three you will get VP for having the largest army. You can lose this however if someone gets a bigger army than you. There are a few other cards you can play too, but I will leave them for players to find out.

During your turn, you can roll the dice for resources, build or get a development card, use development cards, and trade. Trading lets you trade with the other players. You pick what resources you want and what you will give in return. Sometimes you will have to give more than you will get back in return for another player to agree to a trade. If none of the players want to trade you can use maritime trade which lets you trade four resources for one other. If you have a settlement near a boat you can lower the number you will have to give.

Now the game says that each of the AI players will play differently but I never saw this. They all seem to play the same way. So if your looking for a good single-player game this may not be for you. You can play online with friends or random players or locally with people in the same room as you. For local to work, you will need to download an app to a phone or tablet so that the other players can not see your resources and cards. I would recommend playing with friends mostly as it is the most fun option.

The graphics are okay and get the job done for a digital board game, but they could have been better. The music all sounds like they got from a royalty-free music website. The sound effects are decent though and work for the game. The characters not having any voices does make playing single-player a bit boring. You can unlock new dice by doing challenges, but only by playing online and nothing for single-player. There are a few that are not even added yet. They say coming soon and I am guessing that means in an update.

Overall Catan is a fun game if you have some friends around and you don't want to pull a real board game out. It does make things easier. However, if you're looking for a single-player game, this may not have enough to it to keep you hooked for long. The price is also a bit high for a game with so little to it. $10 would have been a much better price for what you get. Only get this game if you are a fan of Catan and plan to play online or with friends. And even then it might be better just to get the psychical board game.

Score: 6 / 10

New Trailer For Sherlock Holmes The Awakened by Frogwares

23 March, 2023 - Kyiv, Ukraine + Dublin, Ireland |Ukrainian developer Frogwares has released a new trailer ahead of the release of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened. In this Sherlock meets Cthulhu horror adventure, a young Sherlock Holmes and John Watson undertake a chilling and psyche-shattering case that will forever bond and scar the duo. The trailer therefore puts a spotlight on this new, expanded take on the Holmes and Watson relationship.

“One of the biggest changes we made narrative wise in this remake is how the young Holmes and Watson relationship plays out. It’s our creative take on what horrors the two could have encountered in their first major case that would then go on to solidify their famous bond. And so we’ve given much more of a spotlight to Watson here than before. He has a totally unique story-line compared to the original game, he is playable in parts of the game, and the new ending is very much influenced by him as much as by Sherlock. Since Sherlock is dealing with Eldritch gods, monsters, cults and the questioning of his very existence, Watson often acts as an anchor to stop Sherlock drifting too far into insanity. But we couldn’t just have it feel like Watson is this one-dimensional safety net with no character or flaws of his own. So this new version of the story is as much about them as two people as it is about unfathomable Lovecraftian monstrosities.” - Antonina Melnykova, Lead Narrative Designer Sherlock Holmes The Awakened will be coming out on April 11, 2023 on PC, PS4, PS5, XB1, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.
Article by: Susan N.

Strategic Mind 5 Soon On PC, Xbox, and PlayStation!

Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty - the fifth installment of the saga is coming to Xbox, PlayStation soon after Steam.

Warsaw, Poland | March 22nd, 2023
- Klabater announces the fifth Strategic Mind installment, Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty, will be available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 soon after its PC release announced for 2023. Starni Games signed another porting and publishing agreement with the Polish publisher.

We are excited to deliver the entire Strategic Mind saga to PlayStation and Xbox war games fans thanks to the joint efforts of Klabater and Starni Games teams - said Ihor Tymoshenko, CEO of Starni Games. Being war history passionates and game developers, it is our fulfillment to share the history of WWII and allowing to dive into strategic thinking through our games. We are happy to see there is a niche on various platforms that continuously enjoys every other installment added to the saga - added Ihor Tymoshenko.

Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty is a history-driven turn-based strategy game set in WW2. Players will lead the scarce Finnish forces through the armed operations of the Winter War, Continuation War, and Lapland War, opposing the so-called Red Menace forces.

A story from the legends, but in real history.

Watch the original Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty Gameplay Trailer from the official Starni Games YouTube channel

   Game name:

  •         Strategic Mind: Spirit of Liberty

   Release dates:

  •         Xbox: TBA
  •         PlayStation: TBA
  •         PC: 2023, WISHLIST NOW


  •         Consoles: Klabater
  •         PC: Starni Games   

    Previous installments:

Strategic Mind
series is a (hi)story-driven turn-based strategy set in the WW2 period. It offers refined wargame mechanics, story-rich gameplay, and modern 3D graphics. Strategic Mind games are famous for their distinction between sticking to historical events and so-called "what-if" scenarios giving players an unconventional approach to narrative.

Main Features:

  •     Experience heroic struggle and make tough choices.
  •     Play two campaigns: historical and “what if”.
  •     Immerse yourself into the (hi)story-driven gameplay.
  •     Create and grow the army of your own design, thanks to faithfully recreated historical units an upgradable models.
  •     Train your troops and choose equipment, while combining units, and acquiring diverse supplies.
  •     Manage your Headquarters between the operations and get promotions and awards increasing your Command points.
  •     Use elaborate combat mechanics to overcome any foe.
  •     Utilize the most advanced supply and infrastructure system in the genre.


Klabater is an indie game developer and publisher established in 2017, in Poland. With a catalog of 25+ games published on PC and consoles, the studio aspires to be a recognized and acclaimed porting and publishing partner for indie game developers.


Article by: Susan N.


Andre Agassi Tennis - Retro Reflections - TBT

Andre Agassi Tennis by developer TecMagik and publisher Lance Investments—SEGA Game Gear Throwback Thursday retro reflection written by Hamza. 1992.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes.

Why are tennis video games sharply divided into very good and very bad? Why is there no in-between? Why can’t one pick a game, play it and say “hmm, this game was good, but adequate.” I guess this is true for all sports games, and maybe this is why I don’t enjoy them as much. Sure, once in a while they impress me, like the excellent Mario Tennis on the GBC and Tennis on the 2600; but at other times they infuriate me to no end, like Andre Agassi Tennis did on the Game Gear.

A video game featuring a recognizable sportsman’s name in the title has been done to death, and while most become everyday household names, like Tony Hawk, the unfortunate others never cross from real life to digital that successfully, and are thus known for real-life achievements only. Considered as one of the greatest tennis players alive, Agassi before his retirement was known for his charisma and energy. This game is the complete opposite of that.

I was introduced to this game by YouTube’s only worthy video-game reviewer, Stan Burdman, the funniest Jew since Mel Brooks. He is known for his dead-on, accurate reviews and constant swearing and shouting, which has kinda softened down a bit in his latest reviews. Watching him play this game made me think this guy is being harsh and unfair. It was only when I played a few minutes of the GG port, which is similar to the Genesis one that was reviewed by Stan, that I now stand fully by him in calling Andre Agassi Tennis as simply one of the worst sports games ever made. It’s too awful that it’s unreal.

The picture of the famed player on the menu is the first sign of doom, and probably the game’s most worrying feature. Is it just me or does he resemble Jazz Jackrabbit? The intrepreting from real life to pixels was a job very badly done. Since the Game Gear is a handheld and naturally has a smaller screen than the TV that the Genesis is hooked into, the screen is not static. It moves in accordance to the ball. To put it this way, the camera moves more than the players and the ball combined. Mario Tennis on the GBC adopted the same feature but Camelot – the developers – executed it exceptionally brilliant and thus resulted in an exciting and rewarding gameplay, despite its non-realistic approach. Come on, a baby going one-on-one with an ape? Anyway I digress -Agassi Tennis should have at-least gotten the camera right, maybe top-down view or something, because the camera moves in a blocky fashion that bogs down the already unexciting gameplay.

Fluidity is something this game has a fear of, because everything, from the clapping to the player movements to the serve, is robotic and horrendous. Let’s say I want to move left. Now I’d expect my player to take one step to the left, right? Well, with that expectation in mind, imagine the horror when the player took nearly three steps to the left in the most robotic fashion ever possible. It’s as if he’s suffering from rheumatism. The stiff movements, ugly camerawork, uninspired gameplay and total lack of genuine excitement all make up for one really bad sports game that doesn’t fulfill its basic requirements correctly.

The music, in heavy contrast, is actually hearable. Honestly, I think its more suitable in any Atari 2600 title than a Game Gear one. It has in it a loose-funky atmosphere with faint touches of goth-music and RPG-scores. Very unusual, considering the genre of the game.

Anyway, in conclusion, Andre Agassi Tennis is easily one of the worst sports games I’ve played due to its failure to meet the basic requirements and expectations like, you know, real authentic gameplay. This game sucks! and don’t be telling me otherwise...

Note: Screenshots from all platforms that were available at the time can be found here at Moby Games.

Score: 2 / 10


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