Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guess what's coming to Vita and PS4? Indies!

Again!  That ain't a bad thing, of course - but I'll admit that every time we get another mini-flood of indie-on-Vita announcements, my excitement boils for a bit as I scan the news, searching, searching...  It's not a Darkest Dungeon announcement.

Oh well.  At least we get the next thing from the crew that made The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile.  That's pretty awesome!

And it sounds pretty awesome.  Dig this:
"If you’re familiar with some of our earlier games like The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder, you should know what to expect: solidly executed, intricate and brutal combat, lovingly hand-drawn and animated 2D art (of the non-pixel variety), a killer in-house soundtrack, and a massive roster of set-defining, dynamic and unique bosses. Salt is inspired as much by our history as a studio as it is by old classics like Castlevania DS, and new classics like the Souls series."
Everything I just read turned me on.
"Like in The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, the emphasis in Salt and Sanctuary is stylistic sidescrolling combat: weapons have movesets, air attacks have hang time, and rolling is king. There’s a huge amount of depth to the combat in Salt, however. Weapons can be one-handed and paired with shields or offhand crossbows for versatility, or wielded two-handed for added power — and every configuration has its own unique moveset. There are staffs for magic, bows for ranged combat, and belt-slotted consumables like throwing daggers and weapon-buffing Pitchfire. Of course, loadout weight affects your movement, rolling speed and stamina regen, so a good balance of defense and agility is key. Basically, it combines two things we love: fast, precise 2D combat and super strategic RPG depth. Also, there are curb stomps."
Sold.  Day one.

Like Guacamelee, Salt and Sanctuary is a Sony Pub Fund game - which means Sony ponied up some dough for development, guaranteeing them (likely) limited timed-exclusivity rights.

Also announced today for Vita are Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, a card-strategy game, that wierdo swordfighting indie Nidhogg, classic shooter Metal Slug 3 and an interesting-looking adventure game called Alone With You, which boasts that it will permit the player to explore "a half-dozen unique areas."

Shootin' for the moon, are we?

Another Pub Fund game, I'm willing to bet either the player-character or your helpful artificial intelligence buddy killed your comrades.

I'll check it out if (1) it's cheap and (2) there's nothing else interesting to play.  Curiosity may compel me.

As always, it's nice to see more announcements for my favorite platform.  Honestly, even with the momentary infatuation I'm enjoying with Last Light and Diablo III, the Vita remains my most-played platform of 2014.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Game Diary.

First Light.  Ummmn yeah.  That's good inFamous.

I had a lot of complaints about Second Son when compared to the first two inFamous titles, most of them focusing on how just getting around the open world as Delsin wasn't nearly as fun as it was as Cole in inFamous and its sequel.  First Light is a blast to get around.  Fetch still has the light-dash thing, and that makes getting up the sides of buildings a thoughtless process, but it hides its collectibles way out in empty space, demanding you make use of her neon-powered high-jumps, her air dashes, her neon thrusters.

In a lot of ways, it's the platformer I wish Second Son had been.  Story is meh so far.

In other news, I'm really enjoying Diablo III so far.  I got my Monk up to level 24, and at that point Kayla expressed enough interest in the game that she went out and bought me a second Dualshock 4 for the sake of co-op (and our upcoming anniversary).  I rolled a Wizard and she went with Barbarian, and that ancient Diablo formula proves seriously addictive.

I want her to get home just so we can keep smashing our way through some demonic hordes together.  And, also, y'know, 'cause I miss her.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

REVIEW - CounterSpy.

CounterSpy is a fine example of a game which prizes style over substance.  It's lovely.  It has an excellent 70s spy-groove soundtrack, bold, beautiful, poppy art direction from ex-Pixar artist Mark Holmes.  Its menus are stylish, beautiful, minimalist retro menus.  Its cutscenes are all silhouettes and horn-heavy jazz.

It's lovely - it's just not much fun.

It's a game that's far more about the tactics of what you're about to do than actually doing those things.  Good planning wins the day, here, as the game seems intentionally designed to limit the agency and power of its stylish hero when it comes to actual movement and combat.   The titular spy is only quick when it comes to snapping in to cover (note the two walls with arrows in the image above - those are the two cover points in this room), and just a bit too sluggish at everything else.

Shooting and its single-button-press fisticuffs never feel particularly satisfying - even with some pretty great headshot animations - both because there is no real player skill involved in the former and the controls of the latter never comfortably click.

There are intelligent choices, regularly made, on the part of Dynamighty.  When in cover, you can sweep your aim over the room before you in the form of a very large circular reticle, giving you an approximation of where your weapon will be aiming when you tap L1 to aim and sweep out to take your shot.  Enemies that are alerted to your presence but unseen - or close enough to hear an un-silenced gunshot - appear as icons at the edge of your screen.  Clever!

There are intelligent choices made, here.  But they don't equate to a game that's particularly fun - they just permit a game that's a bit boring to be very manageable.

Yes, tragically.  Boring.  CounterSpy features randomized levels - it's designed for infinite replayability - but after a single playthrough on its normal difficulty, you'll have seen and experienced everything the game is capable of throwing at you.  You'll have more weapons and purchaseable powerups to unlock, but beyond that, the game has blown its wad.  Subsequent playthroughs on its harder and hardest difficulty reveal no greater pleasures or surprises.

It's paper-thin.

That would be forgiveable if the act of silently sweeping through its military bases were as slick, sleek and snazzy as its presentation, but it quickly grows stale, and is thrown into stark relief when one suggests that fellow stylish stealth indie Mark of the Ninja exists, and manages to be infinitely more fun with a simple, linear campaign, gloriously expressive movement and customizable character skills.

CounterSpy is a fine first try for developer Dynamighty, but it's nothing you should spend money on outside of a very low sale price.  It's a six-out-of-ten game with nine-out-of-ten presentation.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Don't Starve: Giant Edition comes to Vita September 2nd.


Vita screens!

Price!  $14.99.  Totally reasonable. The Vita version "...includes the Reign of Giants expansion. This expansion is usually $4.99, and we’ve bundled it in for everyone. It includes new characters, seasons, biomes, and other challenges that will happily kill you."

No cross-save!  "Unfortunately, in order for us to get the game on Vita, we had to rewrite a bunch of backend code to optimize it. Because of this, the save games are not compatible with PS4, so there is no cross play."

But!  "BUT! We love you all, so we’re making the game cross buy! If you own Don’t Starve on PS4, you get the Vita version for free, and vice versa."

New playable characters! "Reign of Giants adds two characters for players to discover and survive with. Play as Wigfrid, a stage actress who went a bit too far with method acting on her latest role, an ancient Valkyrie, or Webber, a young boy who lives inside the spider who tried to eat him long ago."

Year-round starvation!  "Struggle through a full year of seasons as you experience the torrential rain falls of spring and the blistering heat of summer."

A bigger, badder world!  "New biomes have been filled to the brim with new creatures and gatherables that will either help you survive — or kill you."

Shit.  Now you're scaring me.

More than one save slot! "You asked, we delivered."

Giants!  "They're in the name, for crying out loud!"

Oh God it's like a week away!  YayyyI have got to finish Rogue Legacy... but yeah, I can see this taking up a lot of my time.

Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 - Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games.

Yikes.  Glad these videos are a thing.

New Titan Souls trailer.

The game now has an "early 2015" release window.  Yeah, I can see myself diggin' on this.

Unless Hyper Light Drifter already came out by that point, in which case this'll probably feel pretty bare-bones.  (Apples & oranges, I know.)

A nice serving of Dead Island 2 gameplay.

It's from a Eurogamer preview, and there's a lot of footage we haven't seen before.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of Yager's light-hearted, comedic approach to the game - I rather enjoyed the dichotomy of the spectacular, over-the-top action of Dead Island proper mixed with a decidedly downbeat atmosphere - but put a katana in my first-person hands and point me at a zombie, and we're already half way there.  Day one.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Let's do some Math! 2014 Edition.

August is the time of year that I look ahead to the crushing onslaught of gaming goodness the next few months will level at me and, crucially, my wallet.  Once again, it is time to do some math.  I'm cutting way down this year, as I'm trying to save some cash... but that doesn't mean I have to be entirely responsible.

I just need to plan ahead, and I can manage.  I think.  I'm hoping I can average like, one-point-five games per paycheque.  That's manageable.

Remaining this month is inFamous: First Light, which will set me back about $20, I reckon.  September is where things really begin.

September 9th - Destiny - $69.99.  Yes, really.  Canada is paying, like, Australia prices lately.  Sucks to be us.

September 23rd - Natural Doctrine - $39.99.  My Vita has been dying for a nice tactical game ever since 2K ported XCOM to tablets, and Natural Doctrine may fill the bill.  This trailer certainly went a long way towards selling me on the game, but I'd still like to check out some reviews before parting with my precious paycheque.

September 30th - Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor - pass.  I've had a preorder down on Shadow of Mordor for a while, and press have been pretty positive about the game - but if I'm going to give a pass to this or Destiny, it's probably going to be this.  The Destiny beta (and alpha) were just pretty frickin' fun.

"Late September" - Shadow Warrior - $44.99.  An old-school arcadey FPS that harkens back to the boom-era days of Duke Nukem, DOOM and Dark Forces.  Yes please.

Total for September : $155.

October 7th - Alien: Isolation - $69.99.  Alien Isolation may prove to be a victim of its own hype, but it remains the first time an Alien game has actually tried to offer what Alien fans want.  I'm in.

October 21st - The Evil Within - $69.99.  The legendary Shinji Mikami (Vanquish, God Hand, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil) returns to survival horror.  I don't care if the press was been down on the game at its last showing.  Don't care.  Shinji Mikami.  Discussion over.

October 28 - Lords of the Fallen - pass.  Like Shadow of Mordor, I've got a preorder down on Lords of the Fallen that I'll have to move.  It's a dark action-RPG that's trying to be like the (deservedly venerated) Souls franchise, but I can't afford games that are merely potentially awesome.  If reviews sway me, I may give it a second look.

October 28 - Assassin's Creed Unity - $69.99.  The Assassin's Creed franchise has a problem with consistency, but sometimes you get AC II or Brotherhood or IV.  Those are awesome games that provide seriously enriching experiences - and the first purely new-gen AC is something I'll need to see.

Total for October : $210

The only major release I'll need in November is

November 18th - Far Cry 4 - $69.99.  The sequel to one of the best games of the last gen?  Done deal.

Also due out some time this year is the SCEJ RPG Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines - $50 - which does not yet have a release date.

What will further stretch my wallet are all the sweet little digital-only games that are in the pipeline for the rest of 2014.  All of these are day-one purchases, all of these are due this year, and none of them have a release date locked down.  I'll estimate twenty bucks each...

Galak-Z - $20.

Hyper Light Drifter - $20.

Hotline Miami 2 - $20.

Liege - $20.

Don't Starve: Reign of Giants (Vita) - $20.

Velocity 2X - $20.

Drifter - $20.

Total for November (+digitals) : $230. 

Okay, so that's a total of $595, which is a very far cry from last years' total ($1062.00, what with the PS4 launch). Estimating two pay periods per month, that's six periods - so that's only $100 per paycheque!

That's totally doable.  Particularly if I manage to quit smoking.  Shit.

Oh, wait.  Tax... $672.35 or $112 per cheque.

Okay.  Yeah.


That's gaming responsibly.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I think this trailer just sold me on Natural Doctrine.

Most of what I've seen of Natural Doctrine so far just made me feel it was a pretty ugly game.  Then what I heard of it made it sound like a stupid-hard game.  This trailer and this post over at the PS Blog makes it look and sound like a game I want.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Muramasa's 4th DLC drops Sept 2nd in NA!


Aksys announced this evening that the localization of the fourth and final piece of downloadable content for the immaculate Muramasa Rebirth will arrive on PSN in North America in less than two weeks.  The title is Hell's Where the Heart Is, and they've provided a nice breakdown of the story.

"When former monk turned playboy Seikichi accidentally proposes to Rajyaki, the daughter of the Lord of Hell, he finds himself literally sucked into an adventure he never dreamed of! Already on a mission to recover the sacred treasures of the Seven Gods of Fortune that she misplaced, Rajyaki stuffs Seikichi in a magical bag and continues her mission – all while being the “bestest” fiancĂ©e she can be! Play as the formidable Rajyaki as you explore the Muramasa world, all while falling madly and deeply in love with Seikichi!

Three Powerful Forms – Naturally as the daughter of the Lord of Hell, you have some fearsome powers. In child form, Rajyaki is quick and speedy with her ax. As a woman, Rajyaki uses her powerful club to knock enemies out of her way. Finally, in demon form, Rajyaki uses her near infinite powers to destroy any enemy in her path!"

(Rajyaki's style, then, is rather akin to Miike's shapeshifting combat in Fishy Tales of the Nekomata.)

"Test Your Skills – Even after completing the main story, Rajyaki’s adventure continues! Face bosses and enemies from the Muramasa Rebirth storyline and test your skills against the likes of Raijin or the Dragon God!"

Aksys also promises that  "after completing all four DLC, a special gift from Vanillaware, developers of Muramasa Rebirth, awaits players in the Genroku Legends main menu."  Oh please let it be a tease for their next game.

Oh please.  I love you Vanillaware.

I've always loved you.