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30 Oct 2020

REVIEW: PACER on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
The year is 1995, I am a teenage gamer, I switch on my Playstation, now known as a Playstation 1. I load up a new game called Wipeout. It is a beautiful game, instead of driving cars around a track you are steering futuristic hovercraft like vehicles around insane tracks, the game was pretty much perfect and was one of the reasons for the success of the PS1. Fast forward some 25 years and we have the release of a game called PACER (Previously Formula Fusion), a game that has been in development since 2015, the so called "spiritual successor" to Wipeout, part of the team making PACER actually worked on the original 3 Wipeout games in the 1990s. Can you imagine how excited I was to hear about this game?

I am lucky enough to get a Review Code from R8 Games, I download and start the game, and I am instantly disappointed. So disappointed that I wonder if I am stuck in the Early Access version of the game previously known as Formula Fusion, I even send a screenshot of the main screen to the PR company to see if this is the case. Nope I have the right game.

Right from the start I just feel so let down and disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the game looks great, the tracks are all beautifully rendered, the vehicles all looks smart, on a purely aesthetic level, the game looks like everything you would expect it to be, the problem is everything in between. 

There are AI issues, and these are issues that will be fixed I am sure of that, but this game has been in development for 5 years, these bugs should not need me complaining about to be fixed, they should have been ironed out years ago.

Let me give you an example, in some races you will start the race and before you know it every opponent has disappeared into the distance, even if you race a perfect lap they are gone, then after another lap they suddenly start appearing, and by the end of the race they are either all dead on the track or crawling along at slow speeds. Now this doesn't always happen, I complained about this, and for now it seems that this has been improved, again this game has been in development for 5 years.

The tracks themselves as I have said are gorgeous, but the take away the fancy graphics and these are uninspired tracks, for what is supposed to be a futuristic racer where you are going at breakneck speed, some levels force you to slow down to stupidly slow speeds so that you don't spend half the race just bouncing off the sides of the track one after the other. Other tracks are better in that you get the chance to actually go fast, but then the pretty graphics actually end up becoming confusing and you can't see what the line is, the amount of time I have barrelled head first into a wall purely because the colours of the wall match the colours of the previous part of the track is beyond frustrating. Yes, I know you learn the tracks as you play, but even after learning the track and knowing what was coming up, I still found myself just struggling to see where to position my craft, for what is really not that hard of the part of the track. It is little things like this, track design, that really lets this game down.

What's next, ok career mode, the menu is really confusing and badly designed here, but let's say you figure things out, there is no real direction as to what the career is that you are playing, you start off with a training level, then a F3000 part of the career, where you take part in various races, and because of the various AI issues I mentioned earlier, you will find yourself randomly at a level that no matter how good a racer you are, you will just keep losing, and then purely by what seems like luck, you will pass the level, the elimination level (last person after so many seconds is eliminated) is a perfect example.

And I haven't even gotten to the weapons systems yet, these are so poorly designed that I just didn't bother turning them on for races unless I absolutely had to.
You can modify your craft, add and change weapons, have different load outs etc, but you will look at it once, and then just use default options to race with, as it really doesn't make a difference.

And then there are the air breaks. There is no "right trigger" to accelerate and "left trigger" to break here. Nope, to accelerate you hold down the A button if using a controller, and then your triggers are used to break, which in turn throws your vehicle to the left or right as you approach a corner. This was used on the original Wipeout games, and on them it worked, on this though they just don't quite pull it off. I just found myself either slowing down to much and then accelerating into a wall, or too late, it just doesn't quite feel as intuitive as it should. Maybe I am just too used to normal breaking systems, really the air breaks should work more like a hand break turn does in a normal racer.

The problems with this game are just too many, if this was the early access, then I would probably say how much potential it has, and how it could be the spiritual successor to Wipeout that everyone wants it to be. But for a game that has been in development for so long, to still be so flawed in the absolute basics is disappointing.

The Good
The game is beautiful. 

The Bad
Everything else

Overall
Never have I wanted to love a game as much as this, to say I am disappointed is an understatement.

Maybe I just hoped for too much, maybe I have been so spoiled with games like GRIP that anything that does not reach that level is going to be a disappointment in comparison. Sadly I can only score this game 4/10, and that is only because there is a part of me that hope that there is still time for the game makers to fix these issues, redesign the tracks, fix the AI, and turn this game into everything it should be.

Review by Jon Donnis


DIRT 5 - Launch Trailer | PS4

­čÄ« DIRT 5 - launching November 6 on PlayStation 4, with a FREE upgrade option to PlayStation 5! Pre-order now - https://amzn.to/3kNwEDq

Conquer stunning global locations. Rise to glory in a star-studded story. Tame seven decades of off-road cars. Share the fun online and offline. Design the racing arena of your dreams.

This is DIRT 5. Time to LET LOOSE.

Check out the official launch trailer for DIRT 5, giving you a taste of the amplified racing action on offer in the biggest, boldest DIRT game ever made – from truck racing through Italian marble mines, to ice racing on New York's East River, to the returning Gymkhana events, and so much more.

The trailer also features the voice of Troy Baker, who features in DIRT 5's Career mode as Alex 'AJ' Janicek.

28 Oct 2020

REVIEW: Hammerting (Early Access) on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
"Hammerting is a vertical dwarven mining colony sim with RPG elements."
That is how the game is sold, and it sounds pretty good, you are in charge of a mine, you have control of dwarves, you build, craft and fight. Surely this is Dungeon Keeper for 2020 right? Not quite.

So, the basic story is that there is a war going on overground, dwarves are working underground to help their allies overground, you start with just a few Dwarves but you can then hire more, you upgrade them, and so on. When you click on the door to the mine, you see a map and are able to choose challenge to accept. This all sounds pretty simple doesn't it, and if it was simple, then I would love this game, the problem is, that it is not simple its overly complicated and confusing.

The first hour of gameplay I was literally trying to figure out how to get a dwarf to just do what I wanted it to do, you see you can't actually tell a dwarf to do a specific task, you have to instead queue up tasks and then the dwarves will decide themselves what to do, the problem is half the time they just seem to stand about idle, or do not go where you need them to, and this is not on purpose either. The game is full of bugs, and because you can't physically tell a dwarf to do something, you will soon get massively frustrated by these bugs.

Another problem with this game is that it is a vertical builder, but you mine into the wall you are looking at, so despite you having what should be a 2D area that you are interacting with, you actually end up with 3 layers, which just adds to the confusion. It also doesn't help that the tutorial to help you start is utterly useless. Remember how I mentioned Dungeon Keeper earlier? Remember how each level you would be eased into things, gathering gold, building, mining and so on, this game just kind of throws you in there.

The layout is also poorly designed, for example I knew that I had to access the inventory, but there is no inventory button anywhere on the screen, after giving up a few times and then emailing the PR person promoting the game, I eventually figured out that each room you build has it's own inventory that is a box to the side of the pop up window when you click on it. 

I can moan about this game for ever but I will stop here, the game is still Early Access, and it has lots of potential, the team who are developing it are quick to reply, they are open to listening and trying to improve the game. There is also a free demo you can play, I advise you to check out the demo, and if you like it and want to stick with it and watch it grow, then go for it. But for me, even if this game was perfect, I don't think it is worth £20. This could be a browser game. Dungeon Keeper it is not.

Such a shame as just the description of the game had me so excited. Maybe after a few months when the bugs are all fixed, and they improve the interface, and make the game more playable, then I might come back and give it another go, but even after trying so hard to enjoy this game and putting a solid 6 hours into playing it, it just doesn't work for me.

But don't take my word on it, download the demo, give it a chance, remember this is early access, and hopefully will improve over the coming months.


25 Oct 2020

REVIEW: Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice on PC Steam (Out Now)

Review by Jon Donnis
It feels like only yesterday that I was reviewing Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Don't Dry on XBOX ONE, but that was actually last month. Well before I knew it I got offered the chance to review the sequel that is out now on PC (Steam) Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice. 

Before I start I will assume you have played Leisure Suit Larry games before, either back in the day (30 years ago) or the more recent incarnations. If not, this is a point and click adventure, you have to solve puzzles, question people, travel around, and all the while enjoy the adult humour of a classic franchise.

Now considering I enjoyed the first game on Xbox, and now I am playing on PC I can comment on which style of play I prefer, console with a controller or mouse and keyboard, and I can happily announce that it is better with a mouse. Sorry console gamers, but point and click games just work better with a mouse and keyboard.

In the first game Larry was trying to collect a high enough "Timber" score to get with his dream woman Faith, in this game Faith has gone missing, Larry is stranded in Cancum, Faith is somewhere in the Kalau'a archipelago and Larry is now using his self made raft to travel between locations as he tries to find his perfect woman. 

One big improvement over the first game is that we have a little diary that keeps track of what you have done and what is needed to do, this helps massively. Gone is the Timber app, but now you have a Blueprint app. The blueprint app is a great addition to the game, for example before you can really travel anywhere you need to build a raft, the blueprint app shows you what you need, and then as you collect things you enter them into the app and if they will do the job then you will create the raft, you will also need to create other things too, a specialist cocktail for example.

Much like the previous game, you have a button to press that will show you everything you can interact with, the rest is upto you, the game can be quite tricky at times, but there are plenty of videos online to help you if you get stuck. The humour is adult, Larry despite looking for his perfect woman Faith, will still try to sleep with every woman he meets.

With over 50 new hand drawn locations to discover and interact with, plenty of old faces as well as new ones to meet, and plenty of riddles and quests to complete, there is plenty to keep you busy for a long time. My advice is always try to figure things out for yourself, never go straight to the walk throughs etc, as they only spoil things and should only be used as a last resort.

The Good
Beautiful hand drawn graphics, excellent and funny adult humour, and fun, if tricky puzzles.

The Bad
If you are a fan of point and click adventures and Leisure Suit Larry, then there is no bad.

Overall
I was a fan of the original games from the 1980's, I thought that Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Don't Dry was worthy of a 8/10, and I think this game is better than the previous one, as such I score Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice an 8½/10

Review by Jon Donnis

Published by Assemble Entertainment and developed by Crazybunch, Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice is now available on Windows PC and Mac via Steam and GOG for £30.99.



22 Oct 2020

Heartfelt Metroidvania Reina & Jericho Will Fight for Love on Switch, PC in Q2 2021

Reina & Jericho, the touching metroidvania from Reclamation Games following a woman's time bending journey to save the love of her life, will break hearts and tantalize minds on Steam for Windows PC and Nintendo Switch in Q2 2021.

Driven by revenge, love, and loss, Reina emerges from the ruins of a crumbling nation to rescue Jericho. Without power, status, or money, Reina must challenge a dangerous despot seeking to secure his reign of terror with a coveted ancient artifact that manipulates cause and effect. Jericho's life is on the line, and Reina must fight her way through a mysterious fortress where she will face her greatest fears over and over again.

Fight for the future as Reina and Jericho's young heroine, then double back to the past to right any wrongs. Gather new power-ups that synergize with one another to enhance Reina's fighting ability, and unravel the traps laid out against Reina to create the perfect chain of cause and effect. Slice through enemies as Reina faces off against bosses wielding supernatural artifacts and the well-armed henchmen of a failing state.

Multiple endings leave Jericho's fate in the player's hands. Through Reina's regret and rage, evaluate what paths lead to dead ends before revisiting the past to start another. Unravel the mystery of Jericho's disappearance, learn who to trust along the way, and discover who can be saved and who must die for Jericho to be saved.

Three ways to adventure provide endless replayability as Reina and Jericho features a gripping Story Mode, a specialized Speedrun mode, and a built-in Randomizer option that scrambles rooms, items and beyond to create a unique adventure every time. An emotive soundtrack featuring touching live recordings paints the painful tale of Reina and Jericho, highlighted by stylized environments, intense gameplay, and a story that transcends time.

"Metroidvania games are among my favorites, and I'm taking my chance to add my contribution to the genre," said Dave Wightman, Reclamation Games Founder and CEO. "Powerful stories will always be king for me, and that's what I'm seeking to do here. We want to create an intense, action-packed platformer that never forgets its narrative and centers that element."

Reina & Jericho will be available on Nintendo Switch and Steam for Windows PC for $19.99 in Q2 2021. It will support English language text.



21 Oct 2020

Die by the Blade Kickstarter Campaign Storms Through the First Week

Publisher Grindstone and developers Triple Hill Interactive and Toko Midori today announced that the Kickstarter campaign for the highly anticipated one-hit-kill sword fighting game Die by the Blade hit over 50% of its funding milestone in 5 days.  

The Kickstarter campaign is an important part of the Die by the Blade journey as it aims to engage with fans and build an active community to support the ongoing development of this exciting project.

To celebrate this important milestone, the team has released a short gameplay trailer to give fans a taste of the tense gameplay experience they can expect when the game launches next year.

There are many pledge levels with fantastic game inspired rewards available where fans can get involved, become backers and in turn help shape the future of this highly anticipated, spiritual successor to some of the best classic sword fighting games ever released.

The money raised through Kickstarter will be used to expand on the current gameplay experience with higher quality animations using motion capture technology, expand the character roster and add in even more weapons. If the campaign hits the stretch goals, then additional exciting content could be added like ranged weapons and different combat styles.

Support Indie game makers!

20 Oct 2020

Monster Sanctuary to break free from Early Access and land on PC and consoles on 8th December

Team17 and Moi Rai Games have today announced that monster taming, Metroidvania, role-playing game, Monster Sanctuary, is exiting Steam Early Access and will launch on PC on 8th December. The game will also launch simultaneously that day on PlayStation® 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch™. As the youngest heir of an ancient bloodline of Monster Keepers, players set out to follow in their ancestors' footsteps, all the while unpicking a mystery that threatens the long-standing peace between humans and monsters.

During its year in Early Access, Monster Sanctuary has expanded with a series of significant updates that broaden its fantastical world, such as the introduction of player vs player gameplay, and new areas to explore: the volcanic Magma Chamber, the claustrophobic Underworld, and the mechanical Mystical Workshop. Each has expanded on the menagerie of monsters available for players to track down and tame, and added new gameplay opportunities to explore.

The full launch of Monster Sanctuary in December will introduce further content for players to experience as they embark on their epic adventure, including the Abandoned Tower as an entirely new game area, as well as an additional secret area. 14 new monsters will also be joining the roster, alongside optional endgame Champions; Ultimate abilities for monsters above level 40; unique equipment; and further balancing changes.
 

Key Features:

*Overcome and collect beasts: Creatures great and small are available to collect and battle, and can be upgraded via deep skill trees
*Become the best Monster Keeper: A mysterious force threatens the peace between monsters and humans, and players will unravel these secrets through the story
*Battle in tactical 3v3 combat: Player rosters of monsters can fight AI or other players in a turn-based 3v3 system, using elemental attacks and combos to devastating effect
*Discover a deep Metroidvania world: From the depths of the Underworld to the heights of the Snowy Peaks, there is plenty to explore, and hidden areas to uncover using monster skills
*Items and gear aplenty: Players will find a plethora of useful items on their journey, which may even open new avenues of navigation.

17 Oct 2020

REVIEW: Two Parsecs From Earth on Xbox One

Review by Jon Donnis
You play as Robot Z3-L1, catchy name right! You have crash landed on a planet called Dimidium, you are injured, and you need to find a way to fix your space ship so you can go home. As soon as you start you will realise that this game is beautifully drawn, absolutely stunning, you will also quickly realise that this game has been made by people with a sense of humour, you will learn this as soon as you try to jump, or die, or anything. 

As you explore your surroundings straight away you will find out that everything wants to kill you, and you are going to need to be very precise in how you play.

The first time you play you will slowly be able to learn abilities, but you are given a choice each time, meaning that to explore different areas and experience different abilities you will have to start the game again in the future and make different choices, for example early on you will need to choose between a double jump ability or a dash ability. The dash ability will enable you to reach areas that the double jump can't reach and vice versa. This is a really interesting idea and I found myself creating a new game in a different file, just so I could experience both from the get go. Basically this means there are 8 ways to finish the game depending on the choice of abilities you make.

There is also a great sound track that also adapts to your choices as you play.


The Good
Stunning graphics, great soundtrack and a nice little unique game play gimmick, and you will need to complete the game a fair few times if you want those all important Achievements.

The Bad
The game is tough, probably tougher than it needs to be, but I guess that is part of the challenge.

Summary
A fun 2D platformer, with a nice gimmick that really does work.
I score this game a solid 7/10


Two Parsecs From Earth is out now and priced for 7.99 $ / € for all platforms.

Review by Jon Donnis


Craftlands Workshoppe - The Funny Indie Capitalist RPG Trading Adventure Game

Early Thoughts by Jon Donnis

I have played the early access of Craftlands Workshoppe, this game has a long way to go, but I think the game makers understand this, and it does seem that they are listening to input from players. There is potential here, you find yourself as the new owner of a "dilapidated workshoppe" and your job is to build it up and make it successful, you will need to unlock blue prints, learn recipes, collect resources, and craft everything you need. You will buy and sell and hopefully eventually you will become a big success.

I think the camera angles need to be improved, and the control system, just doesn't feel right, although you can adjust a few things, it really needs to be a fully 3D environment with the camera able to view from all sides. The map could also do with being improved.

Like I said this is early access, play it yourself and make sure to let the game makers know your thoughts and ideas for it to be improved.

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OUT NOW! ON STEAM EARLY ACCESS

Does your job description include anything about depressed demigods and skeletons with short memories? Ours neither. But things work differently when you accept a job offer on an island in the clouds. Shoppe Keep and Shoppe Keep 2 Lead Developer Arvydas ┼Żemaitis invites you to sacrifice even more of your social life in his most otherworldly adventure yet. Join the 350,000 players already sold on the series' sideways look at business sims.

Craft Your Way to the Top
A hastily scribbled note on Allcraft's door means you're now the proud owner of a dilapidated workshoppe. You know you're going to have to up your alchemy, cookery and blacksmith skills to get the sad old place back on its feet. But why does that creepy old guy seem so keen for you to make a success of it?

*Unlock the tools of your trade, find the resources you need and follow recipes and blueprints to produce potent potions, gleaming weapons and delicious food.
*Use your crafting skills to contribute to larger orders in asynchronous multiplayer gameplay – and reap the rewards!
*Improve your skills with cauldron, furnace and anvil to uncover the curious secrets of the weird-and-wonderful island cluster you now call home.

Sell Your Wares
It's all very well knowing how to craft items but your wares won't make you money gathering dust on your workshoppe floor. Luckily your slightly creepy acquaintances seem to want to help you out. Your own personal air skip? They're either unusually generous or they want something in return. Time will tell.

*Gain the correct permits to turn your rundown store into a thriving emporium.
*Advertise your creations and train up apprentice crafters to keep shoppers flooding through the doors.
*Keep an eye on the popularity of your products and ensure your workshoppe's fully stocked with them when the Customer Air Skip docks or shoppers will be heading away empty handed.

Master Your Crafts
The more you explore these outlandish islands, the more you realise things aren't as they appear. Becoming a master of three noble crafts and making a success of the workshoppe Allcraft kindly bequeathed you seemed like a worthy goal. But...it's starting to feel like your achievements are merely part of a much bigger story.

*Get to know a motley crew of wacky characters who will help you complete your adventure.
*Master every recipe and build every blueprint to fashion a key that unlocks an unknown realm.
*Oh, and did we mention you can also pet a dog? What do you get for it? Nothing but their unconditional love. Why, what did you expect?

REVIEW: Doodle God: Evolution - Xbox One

Review by Jon Donnis
Doodle God: Evolution is a tile matching game, you start off by combining 4 elements, air, water, fire and earth, as you combine them you create new elements, you combine those with each other and so on. Thats the game.

There are different puzzles and modes which have you trying to get to a certain evolutionary outcome by combining tiles in specific ways, there is also Doodle Farm, where you have to create animals.

I am not sure what else to say, this is a tile matching game, there is no real intelligence to it, some things that you match make no sense when you consider what they create, for example water + glass = ice. There are some nice animations, as you create things they appear on a globe. It is all very pretty.

This is a mobile game that they have put on consoles and it just does not work.
Console games you want to play for more than a few minutes, mobile games are designed often so you play for a few minutes and then come back to the next time you have a few minutes to kill.

The Good
The graphics are pretty

The Bad
This is not a game you will spend any time on, even the gamer points are not working for me.

Summary
This is a tile matching game, if you enjoy such games and are happy to spend time sat in front of your TV trying to endlessly match tiles, then this is the game for you, but for me, I just found nothing in it. Sorry, this is a mobile game not a console game. 1/10

Review by Jon Donnis
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Available for purchase on the PlayStation/Xbox stores (priced £10/€10/$10), Doodle God: Evolution offers an improved version of the much-loved puzzler Doodle God bundled with Doodle Farm too!

16 Oct 2020

Gorgeous High-Speed SHMUP Puzzler Galacide Coming to Consoles

Fun-loving independent game development studio, Puny Human, has announced that their genre-mashing SHMUP-Puzzler Galacide releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on October 23! Currently enjoying a "positive" rating on Steam, Galacide takes the tight controls and speed of a SHMUP game and combines it with a match-3 puzzle system. Players journey across the galaxy battling hordes of enemy ships while simultaneously using their puzzle-solving skills to tunnel through the ever-advancing Bitwall.

It's up to you to stop the Alien invasion! Galacide requires players to walk a fine line between maneuvering through legions of enemy spacecraft and using their puzzle-cracking ability to keep the increasing mass of deadly alien technology at bay. Players must pair quick-moving skill to dodge attacks and eliminate enemies, with wits to solve puzzles, or suffer the deadly Bitwall! Bad guys will drop pieces of coloured scrap that players can fire at the Bitwall to match 4 or more same-coloured blocks and to create a path to advance through. A precise mix of speed, skill, and good old fashioned quick-thinking is the key to success and the safety of the galaxy!

Galacide comes equipped with a bevy of different game modes sure to please even the most particular of gamers. Jump into some solo-action with the Campaign mode to discover the source of the invasion and shoot your way to the finish line, or grab some buddies and team-up with 4-player local co-op. Once you've saved the universe and mastered the skills, try out the Endless Play mode and see how long you can last. For those pacifists out there, Puny Human has also kindly provided a violence-free Puzzle Mode, allowing players to relax their trigger fingers and focus on the brainier side of things.
 

Key Features:  
*Shoot Ships, Solve Puzzles: Engage in blistering SHMUP-style action, blasting enemies and dodging incoming fire, while using clever tactics to tunnel through the encroaching Bitwall
*Four Classes of Ship: Choose from the balanced Mining Ship, the tough-as-nails Freighter, the speedy, experimental Phase Ship, or the ferociously powerful Military Ship
*Never Tell Me the Odds: Employ lightning-fast reflexes to safely guide your vessel through a variety of sci-fi locales, including asteroid fields, planets, mining depots, and junkyards
*Go it Alone or Bring the Squad: Galacide features several solo modes, like Campaign, Endless Play, and Puzzle Play, or players can grab a few friends and enjoy 4 Player Co-op
*Galacide is currently available on Steam and is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on October 23.


Open the doors to the Nightmare Realm as Crown Trick launches today

Team17 and NExT Studios have today launched adventure RPG roguelike, Crown Trick, for PC and Nintendo Switch™, in which players join protagonist Elle on a perilous journey through the procedurally-generated dungeons of the Nightmare Realm. Featuring an eye-catching, hand-painted visual style, Crown Trick introduces a unique turn-based, synchronous mechanic where foes and traps only move when Elle does. Strategic thinking is key to overcoming and escaping the dangerous labyrinthine dungeon of the Nightmare Realm.

A clear strategy is key to successfully overcoming the Nightmare Realm, whether exploring its many rooms and corridors, or fighting some of the 100 monsters that players may encounter on their deadly run. Crown Trick’s synchronous gameplay means players have the choice to stop and assess the situation at any time, setting the dungeon in motion only when they move. Players can also use skills, Familiars, and weapons, and combine them in a multitude of ways for devastating results, while the procedurally generated dungeons ensure each run is unique and engaging.

Crown Trick key features:

Engaging strategic gameplay: Monsters and traps move only when the player moves; carefully thought out strategies are key to escaping the labyrinthine dungeon

Fight how you want: Create and develop a unique combat style with 40+ active skills, 60+ passive abilities, 30+ usable items, and 170+ special relics, all of which create different ways to cut through enemy encounters

Learn from enemies: Gather elite ‘Familiar’ skills by overcoming enemies ready to unleash on others deeper in the dungeon

Different dungeons every time: The procedurally generated maze ensures players have unique experiences every time they enter the Nightmare Realm.

15 Oct 2020

REVIEW: Double Pug Switch on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Double Pug Switch may very well be the hardest game I have ever played. As the official blurb for this game states "prepare to fail".

This is a side scrolling 2D precision platformer. And your character is a Pug called Otis. The general story is that there was an accident in your owner's (The Professor) lab, and you and a cat called Whiskers have been sucked into an alternative dimension. Your job is to find Whiskers and save him, mainly from himself.

So as I mentioned earlier this is a precision platformer, and as such you only control two aspects of your character, when he jumps and when he swaps to another dimension. This means that as soon as a level starts your pug is running, and as he runs you have to make sure he jumps to avoid obstacles or else he dies, but sometimes there is no where to go, so you press another button and you change to a slightly different dimension whereby some platforms exist in both dimensions but some only exist in one or the other. 


I know it sounds a bit confusing but it really isn't. You only have to worry about pressing two buttons. And as I said earlier, prepare to fail. You will die a lot. In fact that is in many ways part of the game, the action is so fast that sometimes you need to die a few times, just so you learn the timing to get past the level. And all the while you will be trying to pick up gold coins.

And just when you think you get the hang of things you will pick up a jump boost that hurtles you up high and far, or perhaps a speed up boost making everything even harder, and just when things couldn't get any crazier, you will pick up a miniaturization boost and suddenly you are teeny tiny.

There are 4 different "universes" with 8 levels in each one, as you play you collect coins that allow you to buy hats for your Pug. There are 40 different hats to unlock.

And of course you will end up having to try to get past Whiskers in the "boss battles".


The Good
The graphics are cute, the controls are simple, this is one of those games you can just pick up and play, and where as you may have spent an hour stuck on a level the day before, you will pick it up and pass the same level first time. It's one of those types of games.

The Bad
Not sure if it can be classed as a bad thing when it is part of the game, but this game is tough, and it is frustrating, but with that does come a feeling of accomplishment when you finally pass a level.

Summary
A nice little, simple, clean platformer, that will make you pull your hair out in frustration, but you will keep coming back over and over to try to beat it.
I score this game 8/10

Out on all formats on 22nd October.

SQUARE ENIX LAUNCHES KINGDOM HEARTS MELODY OF MEMORY PLAYABLE DEMO TODAY

 Square Enix Ltd., and Disney today announced the launch of a demo for the upcoming rhythm action game, KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory, an all-new riff on the wildly popular KINGDOM HEARTS series that has sold more than 33 million units worldwide. The demo, which challenges players to battle through six tracks alongside Sora, Donald and Goofy, gives players a taste of what's to come when KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory releases on November 13. The demo can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation®Store and Microsoft Store.

In the full version of KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory, players will battle to the rhythm of the game's soundtrack on their own or with friends as they collect and master over 140 songs from the Kingdom Hearts series, including favorites like "Destiny Islands," "Hand in Hand," "Working Together" and more from the game's legendary composer Yoko Shimomura. Players will experience the magic of musical exploration by traversing through beautiful worlds and embarking on rhythm-fueled battles to defeat tough bosses as they strive to achieve top ranks.  

Players of the Nintendo Switch™ version can also enjoy a Free-for-All battle mode with up to seven other players via local play. Through three different play styles, gamers of all ages can choose their level of challenge depending on whether they want to enjoy the songs and adventure without complicated controls or showcase their skills with complex combos to put on the ultimate performance. This celebration of music and adventure marks the KINGDOM HEARTS series' first appearance on the Nintendo Switch.

KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory will launch for the Nintendo Switch™ system, the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One X, on November 13, 2020. Pre-orders are available now from the SQUARE ENIX store, the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation®Store, Microsoft Store and other select retailers. Those who purchase for the PlayStation®4 system from the PlayStation®Store for a limited time by December 31st, 2020 will also receive the KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory theme.


14 Oct 2020

REVIEW: Re-Turn - One Way Trip - on PC (Steam)

Review By Jon Donnis
I was asked to review Re-Turn - One Way Trip and provided a code by Renaissance PR.

This is a side scrolling 2D Puzzle Adventure Horror Game, you play as a girl called Saki, you are apparently camping with some friends, and when you wake up in the middle of the night, your friends have disappeared, and you have to find out what the hell is going on.

The controls are super simple and this is an easy to play game, this is not a platforming game as such, so you won't be jumping to avoid enemies etc, instead you will move around methodically, collecting items and trying to solve puzzles which then allow you to progress through the game.

As you play the game, the action is mixed in with beautifully drawn cut scenes.

As you move around you will see a magnifying glass icon appear if you are near to something that can be interacted with, that may be a child's drawing, or a knife, or all manner of items that you may need to continue the game. After some wondering around you will find an old abandoned train, and once you go inside, this is where the game really starts, and you will spend most of your time in the train.

Since this is a horror game, despite the cute 2D graphics, there are adult elements here, and once in the train you will have to not only solve puzzles but also deal with suddenly finding yourself in a different time line, a time when the train is full of passengers and staff. So as you play you will move between the past and the present, all the while trying to find your missing friends as well as understand how the train came to be abandoned.

The puzzles themselves aren't that hard and much of the time to progress you just need to walk back and forth looking for the magnifying glass icon to appear so you can examine an item. Some of the puzzles are a bit tricky, and one time I simply couldn't figure out how to open a lock, and I think I just got lucky in the end, instead of using any true puzzle solving skills.

The Good
The 2D pixel art graphics are perfectly fine, but the true star of the show is the sound track, it really does help build tension, I found playing with headphones on was the best option. The game will also easily run on pretty much any computer, so no worries about having a fancy graphics card.

The Bad
The game itself is relatively easy, but you will find yourself walking backwards and forwards a lot, not really achieving anything as you try to find the next clue, this can feel a bit tedious at times. There is also only one save point in the game, that is on the train. 

Summary
A simple game that does deliver some good horror elements. I score this game 7/10

Review By Jon Donnis

Releasing first on Steam for PC and Xbox One, Re:Turn will launch on 14th October priced at £9.99 / $11.99 / €9.99. The game will also be coming to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in the coming weeks.

13 Oct 2020

Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice is Coming Soon, Now with a New Launch Date


It's been said that good things come to those who wait, and while there is nothing worse than a premature...release date...Assemble Entertainment has announced that a little more time is needed to give grease-stained heartthrob Larry Laffer a fighting chance to find his one true love. 

Publisher Assemble and developer CrazyBunch today announced a new launch date of Friday, 23rd October, 2020, for Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice. 

Launching on Windows PC via Steam and GOG, the point-and-click adventure will see Larry Laffer take on some of the most precarious situations yet — all in the name of love!

Key Features of Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice Include:

Explore the Kalaua'a archipelago with all its mysterious and magnificent islands — featuring over 50 beautifully hand-drawn locations

Meet over 40 new and old friends from Wet Dreams Don't Dry and chat up some fresh new feminine friends

Help Larry solve difficult and exciting (and slightly erotic) new riddles and complete quests, providing him with a truly happy ending

Published by Assemble Entertainment and developed by Crazybunch, Leisure Suit Larry - Wet Dreams Dry Twice will launch on Windows PC and Mac via Steam and GoG on 23rd October 2020, for £30.99 GBP. Additionally, Assemble Entertainment has teamed up with ShareTheMeal to launch a Save the World edition of the game. Every purchase guarantees two meals for hungry children around the world. The Save the World Edition is £38.99 GBP, though both editions can be preordered with a limited-time 20% discount. To learn more, please visit the official site http://larrysmansion.com


12 Oct 2020

Hammerting - Trailer - "Control the destiny of the dwarves"

Hammerting tasks players with managing their very own dwarven mining colony. With a cast of colourful dwarves, all with their own individual traits, abilities, and equipment, the colony must work tirelessly in its attempt to aid the Overworld in the fight against evil. Crafting, building, and exploring are the cornerstones to a dwarf's day to day life and finding the quickest (and safest) way down a mine shaft – and to all of the shiny, shiny loot - will be vital in the clans overall success.


Key Features

Control the destiny of the dwarves: As the colony grows active management of the dwarves, including the friendships they make and their morale, will be key to helping the war effort

Design and create the ultimate base: Bore and upgrade a variety of rooms, from forges and sculpting studios to taverns and auxiliary functions and help the colony craft the ultimate base

Help with the war effort: Build and upgrade a variety of items through a deep levelling system

Discover valuable materials to quarry: Venture into the bowels of the mountainside & face increasingly perilous situations

11 Oct 2020

REVIEW - ‘BPM: Bullets Per Minute’ on PC (Steam)


Review by Jon Donnis
BPM: Bullets Per Minute is a rhythm First Person Shooter, yes I have never heard of such a thing before either.

So what do you get if you cross a dungeon based FPS with a heavy rock sound track? You get BPM.
The main gimmick of the game, and what sets it apart from other similar dungeon based FPS, of which there are a few, is that everything you do, whether that is firing your weapon, jumping, dodging an enemy, you try to do it to the beat of the music that is playing, if you shoot on a beat, then that shot is more powerful. Get the jist?

Each dungeon is randomly generated, and are chock full of monsters, each more bizarre than the last, the end game is to kill everyone and take out the boss, and all to a wonderful rock soundtrack that literally will help or hinder your abilities. Of course there is a setting that allows you to enable auto beat matching, but that seems a bit pointless when that is the main gimmick of the game.


There are 7 bosses and then a final boss to beat, there are lots of weapons to collect, abilities to gain, and so on. You play as one of 5 choosable characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.


The Good

An interesting gimmick for what is a tired genre, does make it interesting. The music is great.

The Bad
As seems to often by the case, the controls could be better, when designing any game, if you don't get the controls perfect, everything else suffers. I was also not a fan of the graphics. I understand that they are going for a certain style here, but I found the graphics to be bland and uninspiring.

Summary
If Dungeon based FPS are your thing, and you want a different challenges to what you are used to, then I am sure you will enjoy this game. Personally I come to any game as a newbie, I look at the game as if I have never played this type of game before, and I decide how much it grabs me, and unfortunately this game to me is lacking.

I score BPM: Bullets Per Minute a 6/10

Review By Jon Donnis

BPM: Bullets Per Minute it out now on Steam for PC, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions following later.


9 Oct 2020

Early Access Preview: DRIFT21 on PC (Steam)

Preview by Jon Donnis
DRIFT21 is currently available on early access, as you would expect this game is all about drifting, you start off in your own drift racing car, as you drift you get points and the more points the better you do.

New tracks and cars are being released, and the latest update introduced the longest course of the entire EBISU complex. The EBISU West course, also known as Nishi, is over 2100 meters in length with long straights and demanding, fast corners. 

More new additions
New Time Attack challenges - designed specifically for Ebisu West and KuruKuru Land
New Solo Run challenges - designed specifically for Ebisu West and KuruKuru Land

There will also be various fixes and updates to the game that have been reported by the community to enhance the player's driving experience. As part of the ongoing Early Access development roadmap, ECC Games S.A is working with the community to gather feedback on all aspects of the gameplay and content to ensure that DRIFT21 continues to lead the way in the drift racing simulation genre.

DRIFT21 is available to purchase on the Steam Early Access program now for $24.99/£22.49/€24.99.

Store link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/520950/DRIFT21/

REVIEW: Griefhelm on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
I was kindly sent a review code by Renaissance PR

Griefhelm is a tactical dueling game set during medieval times, so no laser guns people, just big swords and shields.
Unlike your typical beat em up, there is no 100 hit combo, or coming back after being hit 50 times, Griefhelm takes a realistic approach in that a few hits and you are dead, and the same with your enemies. They attack you, you deflect or defend their blows and when you see an opening you take your chance to strike.

This is a 2D fighting game, but with very striking graphics, the backgrounds are beautiful and the characters look great. You progress through the game by choosing different routes on a map, different locations will give different benefits, you have 5 "lives" and no saves as such, in other words you cant keep trying to beat an opponent by loading up a save point. And yes you can kill an opponent with just one hit. You have three ways of attacking, low, mid and high attacks. If using a gamepad, as I did, you use the right stick to choose your attack, but this position will also decide how you will defend, if you match the attack of your opponent with your defensive position you will parry their attack which allows you to then go in for the kill.

Trust me hack and slash won't work here outside of the first level. You can't luck your way through this game, there is a specific way to attack and defend and for you to progress you have to follow that way. And this means a steep learning curve.


There are multiple weapons to collect, each are different, but are controlled in basically the same way.

As you play through the story you will encounter different styles of fight, from one on one, to "tug of war" which has nothing to do with pulling a rope, you beat opponents and get closer to their side of the screen and once you have beaten enough you will win that level, you will lose if they push you back far enough. There is also a horde mode, and of course you will have your fair share of bosses to beat.

There is also multiplayer mode, but I have not been able to play that.

The Good
Graphically impressive.

The Bad
I was hoping for more of a medieval beatem up, so for me this game was a bit limited in what it offered.

Summary
Just didn't quite offer enough for me as a whole, and although it tries to add longevity with different weapons, armour and so on, it just wasn't quite enough.
I score this game 5/10




REVIEW: The Survivalists on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
I was sent a review code by the good people at Team17.

The Survivalists has you shipwrecked as you play on procedurally generated islands, you control a character whereby you explore, craft and even train monkeys to help you survive. 

You start off adrift on a raft, you crash into your island, and start off collecting pebbles to make your first tool, you use this tool to break rocks and cut trees, this helps you gather more pebbles and wood, you find berries to eat and before you know it you are well on your way.

Whether you are collecting items to help you build new tools which you can then use to build shelters or if you are growing crops to eat. The Monkey Mimic system is the key as you will train monkeys to help you do all of these tasks. Up to 20 monkeys can be used, and you get them to copy you as you do a task, then you get another money to copy you doing something else and so on.

You can play single player, or with up to 4 other players with the objective being to help you all stay alive and grow your area.
But there is more to this game than just creating a camp and food, you can also explore the island, find wild animals, mythical creatures and other interesting things to keep you playing. You will find temples and vaults, so there really are things to find if you are willing to look far enough.

And just when you think you are in charge and know what is up, your camp will get invaded by angry orc creatures. So you can understand this won't be an easy challenge to survive.

The Good
The game is colourful, there is plenty to do and does have longevity.

The Bad
The controls are not the best, either on a gamepad or keyboard, the controls just seem poor, and unless you are willing to stick with the game you might find yourself being put off by them. I also had an issue with the save game system, for me it simply did not work. I am sure this is just an early bug though and will be fixed soon enough.

Summary
A cutesy game with plenty of longevity, but not a game I think suits my liking. If you liked The Escapists of which this game shares a proverbial universe, then you will enjoy this. I score the The Survivalists a fair 6/10

8 Oct 2020

Explore a Lonely Earth in The Uncertain: Light at the End, Launching Today for PC

The Uncertain: Light at the End is a story-driven third-person sci-fi adventure set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been replaced by machines. A young girl named Emily must survive as a lone outcast and unravel the mystery behind humanity's disappearance, travelling through the abandoned world while pursued by the same machines which once served humankind.

Game Features

Welcome to a lonely Earth. Jump into an all-new and original story, in a world inexplicably abandoned by humans and dominated by robots.
Discover deep lore and embedded storytelling. Learn about the past and present of a machine-dominated Earth world through exploration and interaction.
Explore an abandoned world. Guide Emily through an empty and lonely city, filled with intricate details and hints at life before the disaster.
Solve entirely unique puzzles. Every puzzle in The Uncertain: Light at the End is a unique challenge with unique mechanics.
Lose yourself in Emily's world. Immersive audio and a rich cinematic score bring The Uncertain's lonely world to life.
Created by independent developer New Game Order (formerly ComonGames), The Uncertain: Light at the End presents an all-new adventure set in the universe established by 2016's The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day, which has achieved more than 1,000 reviews and a Very Positive rating from the Steam community.

The Uncertain: Light at the End is available today on Steam and GOG for $14.99 (£11.39, €12.49)


Two Parsecs From Earth crash landing onto consoles and Steam!

Robot Z3-L1's ship has crash landed on an inhospitable planet called Dimidium filled with alien landscapes and hostile surroundings. To escape and return home, Z3-L1 must gather clues, gain powers and discover artifacts needed to fix a space ship.

Explore the planet in this Metroidvania-style exploration game where the environment is your enemy!

Like a super-intelligent space robot, Two Parsecs From Earth gameplay is remarkable interactive and adaptive to you! Choose 3 abilities during the exploration and experience your adventure in 8 different ways according to your own decisions, accompanied by music that adapts to your abilities choices.

Once the adventure is over, you have the opportunity to do it again differently in the unique "New game+" mode integrated into the story!

Features:
2D Metroidvania style platform exploration
Choose between 3x2 abilities, but a choice disable another ability until the end of the game.
8 ways to finish the game depending on abilities choices.
Music that adapts to your abilities choices.
New game + to gain others abilities and reach 100%.
Two Parsecs From Earth will be priced for 7.99 $ / € for all platforms.

It will launch on:
PS4: October 14th
Xbox One: October 15th
Nintendo Switch (NA & EU): October 16th
Steam: October 16th (Steam Page)
It will arrive later on in Japan region for PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

7 Oct 2020

PS5 Teardown: An up-close and personal look at the console hardware

 


Your first look at PS5's internal components* that will power the next generation of amazing games.

*Do not try this at home. Risk of exposure to laser radiation, electric shock, or other injury. Disassembling your PS5 console will invalidate your manufacturer’s guarantee.