Remember those paintings that hung on the walls of haunted houses in Scooby Doo? The ones with the holes cut in the eyes, so the bad guy lurking in the wall could watch the gang as they tiptoed around, trying to solve the mystery? Well upcoming horror titles Lunacy: Saint Rhodes will be watching you as you attempt to solve the mystery in its haunted house, but unfortunately for you, this game seems to be a bit smarter than a Scooby Doo villain.
Developed by Lazarus Studio, Lunacy: Saint Rhodes is a first person horror game that follows the player as they return to their childhood home, the scene of some grisly murders. While the player investigates the house (and the surrounding town of Saint Rhodes), an advanced AI, known as “The Author” will watch the actions the player takes, and change the course of the game responsively. The idea is that whenever you are playing, The Author is watching and altering the game world, so no two playthroughs will be the same.
The game was something of a hit when an early demo was streamed on itch.io, and the dev team has been working since then to improve the experience. While Lunacy: Saint Rhodes is not expected until 2019, players can wishlist the game now by visiting Lunacy’s official Steam page.
Not two months ago, I went to the reveal event for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 at the Jet Center in Los Angeles. I remember that I had a lot of fun. The presentation was appropriately bombastic, and the minute-to-minute gameplay was fast and exciting. Coming off the heels of Call of Duty: WWII just last fall, I had finally learned what made the series' multiplayer so great for so many people. Sure, I disliked all other aspects of the game, but I contracted the sweet, sweet sickness for the game's tight, fast-paced multiplayer environment.
So, sitting down the past two weekends to take advantage of the Black Ops 4 beta, I expected a little more of the awesomeness that I got at the Jet Center in May.
GRIS wants to take you on a broken journey. One where Gris, the Journey-cloaked main character, survives a gorgeously drawn but emotionally brutal trip inwards. This is a 2D platformer with requisite jumping and flying, and movements both sidescrolling and vertically scrolling, but one that doesn't tell its story through dying and difficulty. The puzzles are lite, the platforming sequences aren't here to kill you, and optional skill-based challenges open up as Gris moves through and matures in her world. Even the trailer moves from warm, colorful, caring hands, to a color-drained palette reflecting the safety no longer there.
Looks beautiful. Publisher Devolver Digital has an eye for beautiful games. And while beautiful 2D platformers are a dime a dozen, GRIS's watercolor visuals are still gripping, fitting comfortably between, perhaps, Ubisoft's Child of Light and Stoic Studios' The Banner Saga.
GRIS (is that pronounced grease or griss?) is coming to Steam and Switch sometime this year.
I spent some time with the Override: Mech City Brawl beta over the weekend, and came away pretty impressed with what I saw. Override, developed by Modus Games, is a mech brawler that has giant robots duking it out in enclosed arenas that have been plopped into the middle of populated areas all around the world. The robots are big enough that they squash skyscrapers beneath their feet, causing a lot of chaotic collateral damage as the bots send each other flying across the map.
The beta consisted of a few different multiplayer modes, but there were clearly a lot of other modes that had been gated off for this event. Locally, up to four players could engage in free-for-all battles on four different maps. You could also hop online for four player battles, and spend your time getting smoked by strangers.
No stat tracking or progression was present in the beta, so the battles were pretty much one-and-done. But with a game like this, progression is the frosting on the delicious cake that is combat. Modus let their entire stable of twelve mechs out to play, and it is clear that a lot of time was spent making each character feel unique. All twelve mechs have their own unique set of powers and specials, including a devastating ultimate that can be unleashed when health is low.
After a brief dalliance with Metageckon, a MechaGodzilla type that I eventually decided was too slow for my taste, I finally settled on Cocada as my main. Cocada is a lizard/bug robot that for some reason put me in the mind of Lucio, one of my favorite Overwatch characters. He has a couple of great special moves, including one where he launches six heat seeking missiles from his back. His ultimate has him spinning to the point where he creates a giant tornado that can then sweep across the map, catching other players in its destructive wake. With Cocada, I faired decently against my sons, who locked in on Crystal (an anime pixie-looking thing) and Vintage (a weird 80’s looking robot with a monitor for a head).
The brawling is fast and furious, with different melee and projectile weapons spawning around the map to add to the cacophony of carnage. I became especially fond of a combo I created, where I would grab a bear trap and throw it in someone’s path, toss a grenade at them, and then unleash my rocket special move. Most satisfying.
Of course, being a beta, there was a fair amount of clunkiness on display. For some reason, only Player One could see their health bar when playing locally, which led to a lot of bitter complaining and unexpected death. And with four local players (we recruited a cousin), the framerate really chugged when the explosions start lighting up the screen (we were playing on PS4). When playing online, I didn’t see a way to jump out of a battle after being defeated, instead being trapped in spectator mode for up to five minutes while the remaining contestants circled around each other endlessly. But honestly, these are all issues that can be smoothed out before the game’s final release.
Even with those qualms, we all agreed that Override is well on its way to being a very fun and satisfying multiplayer game. The battles are flat-out fun, and the characters are varied enough that combat goes spiraling in some really unexpected ways. If Override runs another beta before release, I would highly recommend jumping in to check it out, especially if Modus decides to let players check out some of the other modes. And if the fun I had this weekend was any indication, Override has “sleeper hit” written all over it.
The final release will be available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on December 4, 2018 in a $39.99 Super Charged Mega Edition (available physically in retail stores) and the $29.99 digital only Standard Edition.
Grid-based dungeon crawlers are having something of a resurgence. After the success of 2012’s Legend of Grimlock , the genre suddenly saw a burst of new games that put new twists on the classic “move a square at a time/fight monsters” gameplay. There are a plethora of games available on PC, and a few have drifted over to consoles and VR.
Developed and published by Happinet, Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle looks as though it is a game that has taken this basic gameplay and added a super cool hook to it. While exploring the titular castle, which is haunted by creepy spirits based on the Yokai of Japanese folklore, players are able to take their party of four, and split it into two separate parties. The ability to split paths allows for new strategies when fighting monsters. You can flank baddies, or distract them with one team while sneaking up behind with another.
This new dynamic helps Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle really stand out frrom the crowd. Add the new party mechanic to the creepy vibe and visuals, and Hyakki looks like a winner.
Haunted Dungeons: Hyakki Castle, will launch on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on Aug. 30 for $13.99.
QuakeCon's taking place right now and today they had a Fallout 76 panel to reveal more about the game. Running roughly for an hour, Todd Howard, Chris Meyer, and Jeff Gardner.
Three years in the making, Fallout 76 uses the Quake 3 network code, which has been battle tested to ensure smooth online gameplay.
Now, there's been many questions on people's mind about how this game is going to work, especially since there will be no human NPCs and every human in the game will be a human in real life. As one who doesn't enjoy being griefed, how was Bethesda going to handle this?
Well, they have a few things in place to help curb this. Being shot by someone will only incur a small amount of damage until you fire back, which then the weapons for both parties will deal full damage. This is the way to initiate and respond to conflict.
Those that do grief a lot of folks will have a bounty placed on them. The cool thing is if the griefer gets killed, the bounty will be paid out of the griefer's cap stash. So, being a jerk can cost you a lot of money.
But if you don't want to deal with anyone at all, you can set a pacifist flag so you'll be left alone from all human conflict.
Dying to others won't incur too much of a penalty. You'll lose any junk you have on you, but you will keep your weapons an armor. So while it can be a little bit annoying to die, you at least won't lose your weapons and armor that you might have found or crafted.
Perks are now card based and you'll earn cards at some set levels. Each park card will fall into a SPECIAL category and cost a certain amount of points. You'll be able to play cards, with point values from one to five, in all of the categories to help build your character. You can change your card perks at anytime as well as share them with your buddies. SPECIAL level caps are now 15 rather than 10 so you'll have a lot of options to customize your character via these perk cards.
Fast traveling around the world is still in the game, but now it costs caps based on the distance the location is from you. The closest place and the Vault entrance will be free to fast travel to, but other places will cost a cap tax to get there quickly.
All told, a lot of great info came out today as well as a brand new You Will Emerge video that details the perk system and talks a little bit about mutations. Check out the entire panel below. I've got my Power Armor edition pre-order ready! October will be the month the beta begins with November 14th being the date the game goes live.
The entire point of DCS for me has always been to allow me to learn dozens of esoteric things about how to operate aircraft that I was extremely unlikely to ever fly in real life. And by "extremely unlikely," I mean "never," in most cases. The exception to that would be the older Soviet fight/bombers - for enough money, you can actually buy some lessons in certain MiGs and Sukhois. That's really a borderline case, though, given that the costs associated with doing that would be well into five figures. For that kind of dough, I would buy myself a full-motion platform.
Now, however, I just need to scrounge up $40 (early access) for the newest model. For that relatively small amount (which would still cause some raised eyebrows and accusatory glances from the marital CFO, who simply doesn't understand why I need sims when I have a real plane, nor does she understand why I wanted to have a real airplane when I could just play with sims) I could have a study-level simulation of an airplane that I could actually fly with my current license.
The airplane in question is the DCS Yak-52, which in the current market sells for around $55k for an actual plane. It's not exactly pocket change, but it is less than the resale value of my current plane.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Yakovlev Yak-52 (Russian: ??????? ??-52) is a Soviet primary trainer aircraft which first flew in 1976. It was produced in Romania from 1977 to 1998 by Aerostar, as Iak-52, which gained manufacturing rights under agreement within the former COMECON socialist trade organisation. The Yak-52 was designed as an aerobatic trainer for students in the Soviet DOSAAF training organisation, which trained civilian sport pilots and military pilots. Currently the Yak-52 is used in the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Aerobatic Yak 52 Competition, a popular powered aircraft one-design World Aerobatic Championship.
The $55k example cited above was built in 1993, so it's one of the newer ones. That matters in airplanes because weaknesses in the original design get fixed in later years.
With planes like this, though, the acquisition cost is only a small portion of the overall costs - you have to add in fuel costs: with a 360 hp engine, it's going to burn 20-plus gallons of Avgas (currently about $5.25 a gallon) every hour as it plods along at a glacial 125 mph. It's also going to consume oil by the gallon, it's going to need to be hangared, and it's going to be tricky to find a mechanic qualified to work on it. They get spendy in a hurry!
Better, then, so start collecting cans to return for the 10¢ bounty. I'd only need 400 of them, plus tax.
The Yak-52 is currently available exclusively as an early access module on the DCS store page, but it looks like it will be on Steam on or around August 15 too.
QuakeCon 2018 is in full swing and Bethesda and id Software are baptizing the show in blood with our first real look at Doom Eternal. It's no secret that Doom was my 2016 game of the year--our editor made me promise to never write a review that long ever again--but Doom Eternal looks like everything I wanted out of a sequel and so much more. Adaptive damage models, enhanced melee combat, even more brutal glory kills, and updated weapons--it's all here, wrapped up in a freeform combat system that looks even more satisfying and dynamic than it was in the first game. It all looks gorgeous too, and sprinkled with that wry gallows humor that made the first game just self-aware enough. I still have some questions (a rival doomslayer? Extra lives??) but so far this looks like more than I could have hoped for. After Wolfenstein II left me rather tepid and disappointed, I feared the worst for Doom Eternal. For now, at least, my fears have been assuaged.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
The next Great American Novel will be a video game—though you might've already played it. GameFly was already planning on shutting down its streaming service, before the EA acquisition happened. And Elon Musk is adding classic Atari games like Missile Command and Pole Position to the center touchscreen in his Teslas.
So, what are you playing?
I'm just straight overloaded with games to play right now. I've been playing way too much Smite recently, but it's just the game I can never seem to quit. Fortnite's also back on my radar, as watching the Summer Skirmish these past few weeks has given me an itch to play the game again. With the release of Monster Hunter: World on PC and We Happy Few this week, I'll have a busy weekend ahead of me. I'll probably find some time to try out the Black Ops 4 beta some more, as it was good fun last weekend and I'm looking forward to what changes are coming this weekend.
For months, my poor, poor copy of Assassin’s Creed Origins was sitting on my shelf, plastic-wrapped and untouched; I fully intended to play it, but life got away from me around every corner. Now, though, I have an excuse. I’m helping out with a course at my university for incoming freshman, primarily those interested in history, that covers how history interacts with video games as a medium—how history is represented and recreated, how the blanks are filled, how fact reconciles with fiction, and all that cool stuff. Origins is one of the first games of the syllabus, and to be honest I’ve spent most of my time in the Discovery Tour. I got to explore the interior of the Great Pyramid at Giza, inspect the sarcophagus of Khufu (which may or may not have ever been occupied) and set foot in the Library of Alexandria, which I’ll admit without embarrassment nearly brought me to tears—because, come on! They recreated the Library of Alexandria, one of the most devastating losses of knowledge in all history, and we can enter it for the first time in millennia!
I've circled back around to Far Cry 5, but more specifically to the Arcade section. I enjoy the bite-size "missions" and the inventiveness of the folks that are using the map editor to build little tiny worlds that are far more than the sum of their parts. I started by playing the Highest Rated maps, but I am also finding a lot to like (and an equal amount to dislike) when I order the maps by Most Recent. Some of the creativity gets watered down a little bit due to limitations in the map editor, primarily with respect to audio. It's a shame to see/hear a painstakingly created WWII venue ruined by the standard FC5 trash talking from the NPCs. In fact, that has gotten so tiresome to me that I resent it even in contemporaneous maps. I mitigate my irritation at their incessant chatter by timing sniper shots such that they don't finish whatever rant they had begun. On the plus side, I really like the game mechanics that allow me to crouch behind cover and pop up for a shot just by hitting the right side mouse button. The AI can be resoundingly stupid, but some of that comes down to map developers not taking the time to configure them to behave at least somewhat rationally, but mostly it's just some gaps in the platform. For example, I have long since stopped worrying about hiding corpses - the surviving NPCs really don't seem to care about them all that much.
I mentioned last week that I was going to enjoy some online multiplayer with my son-in-law, but that got postponed until this week due to problems he was having with his Rift. Once instructed to just bite the bullet (so to speak) and remove/reinstall both Oculus and SteamVR, he got it all working again. As was I, he was very reluctant to remove Steam until I assured him that he wouldn't have to reinstall all of his games. To be honest, I couldn't remember if that was true or not, but hey...no harm, no foul.
I am playing a number of very different games for review this week. Another World, the SNES classic adventure game, has been given a really great remaster on Switch. Included with the insanely difficult gameplay is the ability to toggle the original graphics and the newly remastered graphics. You can tap a button and flip it back and forth between the two. This is a game that 100% stands the test of time, and looking back at the original graphics, I simply can't believe that they got this thing running on the SNES. Some miracle of engineering, that.
I'm also playing Detached, a VR science fiction title. The game was originally designed as a multiplayer competitive game, but sadly not much of a community has sprung up around it, so I haven't been able to engage with it on that level. I have been playing the single-player campaign that was added in, and that aspect of the game is very engaging, but slightly nauseating.
And lastly, I picked up an awesome little RTS title on Switch, Crush your Enemies!. Crush your Enemies! (that exclamation point is theirs, not mine) has a great streamlined approach to RTS, and some great pixel-art/cartoonish graphics, but neither the streamlining or the cartoonishness should dissuade RTS fans from checking this title out. The strategy is real, and the battles can be mighty tough. I'm enjoying this one greatly, and after I play some of the multiplayer, I will be ready to review the game in full.
Right now the main thing I'm playing is the new Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay trailer on repeat. I hope, just like in OG Red Dead Redemption, I can kill the HUD, bury the minimap, and get real cozy with navigating by landmarks. Other than having a HUD-less mode on my wish list, I like 100 percent of everything I'm seeing there. We're about two-and-a-half months away from launch, but I can already hear my wife spinning up her "Widows of Red Dead Redemption" Facebook group again.
I’m getting back into the Black Ops 4 beta this weekend (it’s still on, right?). In between new jobs and writing, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for games recently, but one thing I love about the beta is the fisticuffs. Seriously, there’s nothing greater than surprising some decked-out player with a jab to the face. Unfortunately, most of the time they’ll actually get the drop on you first, but it’s still a blast.
Freedom Planet, the indie darling that racked up tons of positivity on Steam, is finally making its way to Nintendo Switch. GalaxyTrail's breakout game began life as a Sonic tribute project, but quickly evolved into a much bigger title with its own distinct personality, while retaining Sonic-style level design and speed. Marvelous and XSeed are teaming up to publish the game on Switch, which like many indie games feels like a perfect fit for the platform. Freedom Planet arrives on the eShop on August 30th for $14.99. Here's hoping the sequel makes it to Switch as well in the not-too-distant future.