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No GravatarBattle Chasers: Nightwar is a game that promises turn-based old-school RPG battles, crafting, exploration and randomly generated dungeons with multiple difficulty levels. But do these elements embrace the glory of old-school RPG glory, or feel dated and old?

Title: Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Available For: PS4, Steam (Windows/Mac), Xbox One, Switch

Battle Chasers: Nightwar kicks off with an epic air battle that crashes your ship and strands you on an island. You’re told that the aggressors that took you down and nearly killed you were random pirates, but the longer you’re there the more you learn of a deeper, wicked plot that must be stopped, and pirates are actually the least of your problems!

The game draws inspiration from the “90’s cult comic book” as well as the glory days of turn-based RPGs. Everything you’d expect from an RPG is here – turn-based battle, various equipment, grinding for experience and loot, side quests and even a fishing minigame – and while most of these don’t offer much new, the incredibly polished, gorgeous art makes up for it. Normally I couldn’t care less about art in a game, but the art here is stunning, the animations smooth and sharp, and even 30+ hours into the game I was amazed at how much I focused on watching the good guys and bad guys attack one another.

Because it’s what you’ll spend most of your time doing, the battle system is the cornerstone of Battle Chasers. I played nearly every RPG that existed on the NES, SNES and PS1-2, and while I used to love grinding out levels and getting that next piece of loot, the advent of action-RPGs made me nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy a turn-based RPG anymore. I was pleasantly surprised that the way Battle Chasers handles it, I still really enjoyed it! You’ll only ever fight enemies when you run into them on the screen, and one enemy on the screen is always exactly one actual enemy to fight; often when you get near them there will be a chain icon above two or three of them, and touching one initiates combat with all of them at once. This makes it so that you always know what you’ll be up against and allows you to plan accordingly. Each of your three-person party also has limited use dungeon skills that allow you to have an upper hand before entering battle: Calibretto the ancient war mech, for example, Calibretto can fire a bullet at an enemy and weaken them a bit before you even start combat. Gully can smash the ground, making nearby enemies stunned at the beginning of the battle. She also has a skill called “Stoneskin” that adds a little defense while making party members immune to damage from traps in the dungeon temporarily. These skills can really come in handy against the more difficult dungeon foes, and they can even be used to avoid damage from dungeon traps while exploring.

Once you touch an enemy, a turn-based battle begins. Based on speed/haste, allies and foes take turns battling. Each ally gets one action a turn and has two different sets of options to choose from – Actions and Abilities. The Actions are instant and typically generate overcharge, whereas the Abilities use up overcharge/mana. Overcharge is an incredibly unique twist and it definitely added a layer of strategy to battles. Each character has a max amount of mana, but they can also gain overcharge which is used in place of mana. So if you want to use an attack that uses 20 mana and have 30 overcharge, you won’t touch your actual mana reserves whatsoever. Unless you’ve selected skills that retain overcharge between battles, this amount goes away after each battle so there’s no reason not to use it when you can! The other side of this coin is that while the Actions are instant, the Abilities range from “Very Fast” to “Slow”, meaning the bigger, more epic attacks may take a while and allow enemies to attack first. Even the “Very Fast” attacks technically count as another turn, which can be beneficial when you have a buff that heals you every turn or negative when you have a debuff that hurts you every turn. Finally, there’s a Boost meter that’s shared by all available party members, and as the battle goes on it fills up. You can get this up to three tiers of boost, and each character has boost abilities that use between 1-3 tiers. These range from healing the entire party to doing massive damage, so it’s vital to have it as full as possible for a big boss fight!

After each battle you’ll gain experience (which is split evenly between all 3 characters currently in your party), gold and sweet, sweet loot. Most of this loot is used for crafting and selling, but sometimes you’ll just get a straight-up piece of gear. While there isn’t a huge loot pool, crafting and loot become more interesting through the use of rarities – most pieces of gear can be either standard, heroic or legendary, and each level of rarity adds to the attack/defense/etc of it. While crafting, each item has a minimal requirement, but if you add more of those items you can raise your odds of successfully crafting an item from 100-300%, with each 100% adding a level of rarity. You can also try to make something with as few as a 1-2% chance of success but, as you’d expect, if it fails you’ll lose your crafting materials.

The meat of the game takes place inside one of the game’s eight dungeons. Each dungeon is randomly generated to some extent, but the overall goals, potential enemies and boss are the same. As you explore you’ll come across loot, light puzzles, lore (text) and enemies. At the beginning of each dungeon you can choose your difficulty – Normal or Heroic – and once you’ve completed the dungeon the first time you can re-run it on Legendary difficulty. Legendary difficulty not only has higher level enemies, it also resets if you get wiped out (Normal or Heroic  merely return you to the Inn and Tavern, fully healed with some gold missing, and you can easily return to the boss fight any time). After the boss is completed you’ll get a random loot box based on the difficulty, but the real reward is the experience – the higher difficulty enemies are vital as experience drops off rather quickly once you’re a level or two above the enemies.

As with any good RPG, Battle Chasers offers up side quests. While you’re exploring the overworld you’ll come across several places that just can’t be finished at the time, and returning later can grant some great rewards. These are often hinted at through varying hunts that have you tracking down some special, difficult side boss for unique, specific rewards. These also often have specific requirements to “summon” them, like lighting lots of torches with single-use, rare flint or exploring for hidden triggers at a cemetery. The more I played, the harder these hunts became, and I even got entirely stomped on by one or two of the bosses which is VERY reminiscent of the hidden bosses in older RPGs.

Unfortunately, these side-quests really don’t grant a great deal of experience, so the vast majority of the game so far has been exploring, doing what I can, beating a dungeon, returning to town to rest and sell extra loot, returning to the same dungeon and beating it on legendary difficulty, returning to town to sell stuff, and then repeating in the next area. This got old pretty quick, especially when I was expecting lots of side quests and unique things to do, and has me worried for the remaining 3 dungeons since each dungeon has required more and more grinding before successfully beating it. Will I have to run the same dungeon on Legendary 2-3 times in a row for the last couple dungeons? Older dungeons also don’t get any tougher with your levels, so if you’ve already beaten the second dungeon there’s no reason to go back to the first aside from completing your bestiary.

The bestiary was a nice touch. When you first encounter an enemy their HP and upcoming attacks are unknown, marked by question marks. However, as you defeat the same enemy repeatedly you’ll get to see these specifics, so you’ll know if your attack that does 80 damage will finish them off before they do their crazy charged attack or not. Killing even more of the same enemy (or any enemies of a particular type or a particular area) grant bonuses to your entire party, like those shown above. This at least gives you some reason to go back to old areas if you haven’t completed one of these challenges, and it guarantees a slight boost to different stats for your entire party as you continue throughout the game.

Speaking of the characters, you quickly get a party of three and then discover other party members who you can swap out until you’ve gathered all six. You’ll only gain experience for the three currently in your party, however, so if you really want all six characters to be equally powerful you’ll need to grind twice as long. While I tried swapping characters out a bit, I ended up sticking to the original 3 since grinding was getting dull as it was. You’re also only allowed to change characters at very limited times – while entering a dungeon and while at the Inn and Tavern for example – and you can’t check the skills or equipment of characters not in your party, so I often sold items that would have been beneficial to them, but by that point my main 3 characters were a good 4 or 5 levels ahead of the rest anyway. Each of the characters is interesting, and as someone who never read the original comics it was interesting learning about them. I really liked that the main character is a girl named Gully who’s a little badass and isn’t the one who heals the party (oddly enough, the giant war mech Calibretto is!). I was loving all of the characters until the fifth: a woman named Red Monika. Normally she’d probably have been my favorite – she’s a rogue fugitive who’s quick with a gun and constantly on the lookout for fame and fortune. However, her character is also barely covered with clothing, to such an extent that I’d be embarrassed if anyone caught her on the screen. As such, I purposely never put her in my party and never got to hear her wit in the heat of battle, which is a real shame. Surely this isn’t the developer’s fault as the characters were already designed, but I still wish I could’ve thrown a robe on her or something!

However, while the game was fun overall, the worst part of all was just how often it crashed. The first time it happened I had just finished a dungeon and was paranoid the autosave hadn’t kicked in, so I would have to redo at least the brutal boss fight. I was so relieved when I found out that wasn’t the case – getting back into the game put me back on the main menu with all of my hard fought loot. This was far from the only crash though – crashes were so frequent that every time I returned to the overworld map from dungeons and small areas I was paranoid it would happen again. I never lost progress, thank goodness, but crashes had other terrible effects – every time the game starts you’re forced to watch a good 10-30 seconds of the intro movie before it can be skipped, and then the first several battles take a while to load (sometimes upwards of 10-20 seconds each!). The longer you play, the less time the battles take to load until they’re instant, but if you have to restart the game every two or three hours those load times can get rather brutal. [Reviewer note: I quickly tested the game out after a month of updates since this review was written and noticed the battle load times have been entirely removed, which is AWESOME! I haven’t been able to test for crashes, but the intro movie still takes just as long to skip.]

Overall I did have a good time with Battle Chasers. I still plan on playing and finishing it, and even now I’m itching to grind enough to beat another hunt. The game utilizes strategy far more than I’d have expected: one boss annihilated me my first try, then I went in again (without any leveling up) and destroyed him with a better strategy. It’s also amazing that this was a Kickstarter game, and it’s easily the best Kickstarter title I’ve ever played as far as I’m aware of. As soon as the glitches are fixed, this will definitely be a game to check out, especially if you’re itching for the good old days of RPGs.

 

Disclaimer: A review key was provided by the publisher

By Cataclysmic Knight On 14 Sep, 2017 At 07:44 PM | Categorized As PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarHave you ever wondered what would happen if you combined Monty Python art and humor with Marble Madness and tower defense games? Then why the heck didn’t you play the original Rock of Ages? If you’ve never heard of Rock of Ages, welcome to the club. When I first heard of Rock of Ages II I was so hyped to try it out – I LOVE Monty Python and I love wacky games!

Title: Rock of Ages II: Bigger & Boulder
Developed By: ACE Team
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Steam (Windows)

Rock of Ages II: Bigger & Boulder, from all the reviews I’ve read, lives up to its name – it’s both bigger than the original and it still involves giant boulders and hilarity. The main game plays out like this – you and your opponent have your own identical paths to throw your boulder of doom down, crushing your enemy’s obstacles and trying to retain as much boulder integrity as possible so that when you inevitably slam into your foe’s castle door you’ll do as much damage as you can.

After your boulder smashes into the enemy’s door (or if your boulder gets entirely destroyed) you’ll have to wait until another boulder is chiseled out of stone. While you wait for your next boulder you can use your currency to lay down various traps and obstacles for your enemy. Spring boards, tower walls, ballista, balloons that dangle lions that cling to enemy boulders and make them wonky, sticky cows… There are loads of options! Each one has a different value, and most of them increase in value with each one you lay down. My personal favorite is the spring board – these pop out of the ground and fling the enemy boulder in the direction the spring board is aimed, typically sending them backwards or throwing them to their doom! This not only damages the boulder, it also greatly slows them down, and in a game where 3 boulders almost always means victory that bit of extra time can really be beneficial.

The game balances the importance of laying down objectives wisely and being able to control your boulders. However, if you’re terrible at controlling the boulder (like me) you’re doomed to fail on the harder levels that involve crazy jumps (yes, of course your boulder can jump!) and tight turns. By the 6th or 7th map I was hitting the enemy’s door less than half of the time while they had no problem demolishing me.

 

The game has two main modes of play – the standard “war” and an “obstacle course” that’s essentially a race. The obstacle course is basically war without laying obstacles, and both you and your opponent(s) race the same course together. The first to three points wins, and each time the course is played in a match the obstacles get more and more crazy.

These game modes are available both online and offline. Offline you’re presented with a hilarious campaign mode, obstacle course and a time trial mode that allows you to run any course without obstacles in the hopes of getting on the online leaderboards. You can also set up your profile – you can set up your banner, change your leader and paint your ball. While the obstacle course is the same as I already explained, the campaign is where I spent most of my time.

In campaign mode, you go up against various figures – like Adam and Eve or William Wallace – and artwork – like the Scream. Each battle begins with a ridiculously funny clip that looks like something right out of Monty Python, sometimes blatantly showing off their inspiration with things like pokeballs that look like Holy Hand Grenades of Antioch (if you don’t get that reference go buy Monty Python and the Holy Grail right now and watch it immediately!). Each battle takes place on the enemy’s turf and beating them on any difficulty gives you a star, their boulder, their leader as someone you can use and a banner customization option. Stars are then used to take down gates for the game’s crazy boss battles, and whether you win the battle or not you’ll knock the tower down so you can progress (thank goodness!). As you roll around the map, you’ll also find new traps, obstacles and weapons to use against your opponent, but you’ll only have 4 slots to equip with the dozens of options until you take down the bosses and collect more slots. All of campaign mode is also playable in split-screen couch co-op, something fantastic for people like my gal and I to play together. Each side’s castle door still seems to have the same amount of health though so slowing enemies down is even more important!

Like any multiplayer game, the real fun comes when you play with other people you actually know. This includes co-op and against one another on a couch of course, but the trash talk flows even more beautifully with up to four-player online play, battling it out 2v2 in war or free-for-all with the obstacle course. For the best odds of winning you’ll want to play through the campaign first though so you can practice and unlock all the different obstacles and balls. The courses, however, are all unlocked from the second you get the game! Like most everything else in the game, you can choose which ball you use as well, and you get the vast majority of them from beating campaign levels. Some roll faster, some are more agile and some have special abilities like the paint ball that doesn’t allow your opponent to lay down new obstacles where you roll for a limited time.

While I found the game incredibly frustrating after a handful of levels, it was still a pretty hilarious time and it’s something my gal and I will have plenty of laughs with. If you enjoyed the original Rock of Ages or Monty Python, those reasons are enough to dive into Rock of Ages II.

Note: I received a code for the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

By Cataclysmic Knight On 1 Sep, 2017 At 10:46 AM | Categorized As PC Games, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarBioshock: Infinite. Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season One. Life is Strange. Final Fantasy VII. These are some of the games with moments so powerful I’ll never forget them. It’s a list with some incredible games, and What Remains of Edith Finch definitely belongs on it as well.

Title: What Remains of Edith Finch
Developed By: Giant Sparrow
Available For: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Windows (Steam)

When I first started playing the game, my fiancee actually mentioned that the game reminded her of Bioshock: Infinite. It’s gorgeous, and even though I went into the game entirely blind there was always this nagging feeling that there was something dark going on. That balance of emotions – gorgeous, peaceful, curious exploration combined with dread and a twinge of sadness.


In Giant Sparrow’s second game (their first being the unique The Unfinished Swan) you play as Edith Finch, a 17-year-old girl returning to her old home after being left a mysterious key in her mother’s will. Edith is the last living Finch and she’s decided to return and explore. The house is perhaps the most accidentally creepy home ever with the rooms of dead family members sealed off and peepholes added to let people see inside like a museum. These rooms each have memorials to those who lived, and perusing their memorials brings Edith into the final moments of each family member.

These final moments are the true meat of the game, with wildly varying scenarios and themes. A child star famous for her scream ends up having her death told through a horror zine with classic horror music playing and a Tales from the Crypt-like host. A baby plays with a bouncing frog in the bathtub, collecting other toys that bounced around with it. The most unique of all was Edith’s brother, a gamer and stoner who worked a boring job at a cannery. Here you’re tasked with the monotonous task of cutting the heads off of fish with the right stick and controlling a dude in a maze with the left stick with a psychiatrist narrating his story. As he devolves further and further into his imagination the screen is taken over more and more by the old-school game that gradually evolves from something reminiscent of Atari titles into a present-day 3D adventure.

What makes these minigames so particularly wild is that it’s such a juxtaposition of emotions. These scenes are full of joy, of adventure and of wonder and yet, deep down, you can’t help but remember you’re essentially causing this baby to drown to death. Despite always feeling a nagging “what am I going to do to get this person killed?” I always happily continued on. It’s also worth noting that this is a game that will not only hit you in the feels, it’ll continue to do so repeatedly throughout your 2-5 hours with it.

This is a narrative game with even less “gameplay” than typical narrative games where you make meaningful choices that change the outcome of events. It’s incredibly linear, and you never once make any important decision. However, the narrative is extremely powerful, and the controls of the game really made me feel connected to what was going on. You grip things with the right trigger and then use the stick to move your hand to do things like pull a door open or turn a music box handle. I also enjoyed having a plain white orb as a symbol that items can be interacted with as the home is SO full of stuff! I read somewhere that it truly felt like the home was lived in and I couldn’t agree more. Despite how linear the game is and how short it is, it’s a masterpiece. I absolutely can’t recommend it enough, it’s just amazing.

Note: I received a code for the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

By Cataclysmic Knight On 7 Jul, 2017 At 03:57 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Playstation Vita, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarUtawarerumono: Mask of Deception was my introduction to visual novels, and I have a minimal amount of experience with anime, but I dove in to the game with some excitement due to the SRPG battle elements. However, as the hours ticked by I learned that I had been deceived myself.


Title:
Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception
Developed/Published By: ATLUS, AQUAPLUS
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), PS Vita

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is a stylish 2D game that had a lot of promise and fell terribly short. As a huge fan of Telltale Games and other titles like Life is Strange I really had high hopes for an epic story and an intriguing strategy-RPG battle system. The game began with a protagonist who doesn’t remember who he is or how he ended up where he is. Kuon, a young girl, had helped him out and he soon finds himself in grave danger and saved by her once again. From there the two of them end up working to find out what Haku (the name Kuon has given him since he can’t remember it himself) can do to earn a living, fight wild battles and get wrapped up in all sorts of intrigue.

The first major challenge I came across with Utawarerumono was the fact that the game isn’t dubbed. Every word of dialogue required reading subtitles, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t a 40-50 hour game. The game is also primarily an illustrated book, with static or minimally-animated scenes that change every so often as different characters come in and out of conversations or as scenes change. I was also surprised that, in my time with the game, I only made a handful of decisions. Unfortunately, every single one of those decisions was presented in a hub (within a hotel or camp) and merely let me choose which scene I wanted to see next. These decisions made no difference whatsoever and sometimes even made things worse. At one point Haku told a man named Ukon that he was too tired to do any work and Ukon told him that was fine, they were just going to relax; when I chose the next scene Ukon came to ask Haku to do work! This all occurred in the same night and the flow of these scenes knocked me entirely out of the moment.

The story is also horribly drawn out. I’m okay with a story that doesn’t move at a quick pace, and as someone who has binge watched dozens of entire shows on Netflix it’s something I’m used to. However, Utawarerumono frequently had scenes that should’ve lasted 2-3 minutes and ended up being 20-30 instead. That’s the equivalence of an entire television episode given to Kuon and Haku eating breakfast, with Haku wondering how Kuon can eat so much food and Kuon explaining what the food was and how to eat it! This is done with only a few different static screens showing Kuon sitting there, so it’s not like I was even presented with what the food looked like or shown what Kuon was showing Haku. It also isn’t an occasional thing, it’s the norm; when I stopped playing the game 25 hours in (theoretically half way or more through the 40-50 hour game) I could have summed up the main plot in a few paragraphs, and it certainly hadn’t gotten interesting enough yet to hook my interest. There were teases at a really interesting story, but it was akin to sifting for flakes of gold in mountains of dirt.

Perhaps worst of all, some of the men in the story (Haku especially) are quick to comment on things sexually. While some humorous innuendo or funny situations can really liven moments up, even if they’re sexual in nature, I sometimes felt dirty playing Utawarerumono. This includes commenting sexually to girls who appear very underage, rape comments and blatant crudeness. It went there so often that it became a game for my gal and I to guess when it would happen next, and it almost always went even further than I’d have expected.

The game does have some strategy-RPG battles, but in the 25 hours I played I came across less than a dozen of them. The first didn’t occur until an hour and fifteen minutes passed, and by five and a half hours in I’d only fought three battles. To make matters worse, the tutorial was nearly nonexistent and despite some game history with SRPGs I still didn’t really grasp the deeper elements of the system. Luckily this really didn’t matter as the battles were all so easy that it would’ve been a challenge to lose, and I only had one character knocked out over the course of my time with the game. The game does offer two difficulties, and I went with the standard (easier) one, so it’s worth noting that if you want any kind of challenge and you’re at all familiar with SRPGs you should absolutely go with the harder difficulty mode.

On the upside, I was incredibly surprised by just how polished the game was. The dialogue system is brilliant and allows for automatic or manual progression, rewinding and pausing (including optionally replaying audio). The voice acting sounded excellent although, as I don’t speak the language, it’s hard to be certain. The art, while typically static, is very stylish and detailed. The music is rather fantastic, even to someone who isn’t typically a fan of anime music, and you can listen to music as you unlock it in the game from the title screen. As you progress you can also customize the title screen’s art and look at different art from the game. In the battle system, you can easily go back and replay old battles as well. For a game that’s mostly a book, it’s clear a lot of work went into polishing and perfecting the systems.

I have no doubt Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception will have plenty of fans. The series already has a solid fan base and I’ve heard from numerous people how excited they are to play both games. However, it absolutely wasn’t for me – it dragged on, it required reading subtitles and it barely had any actual gameplay to it. My primary job for years now has been as a book reviewer, so I have absolutely nothing against reading for hours at a time, but a story has to be interesting to be worth experiencing.

Finally, as I previously mentioned I didn’t complete the game. After putting in approximately 25 hours and learning that the game is basically just one-half of the overall story (with the upcoming Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth finishing it) I decided I didn’t need or want to complete it. Some of the information presented in this review – the lack of any genuine choices throughout the rest of the game and the fact that the game is 40-50 hours long, for example – was gathered from other reviews from reputable sources or from information from ATLUS/AQUAPLUS.

Note: I was given a free code for the game (and DLC) in exchange for my honest opinion.

No GravatarFlinthook by Tribute Games is a ridiculously addictive, even more ridiculously difficult action/platformer/roguelike in space pirate ships! Armed with your plasma pistol, hookshot and chronobelt you’ll be blasting away enemies and platforming through insane trap-filled rooms, battling waves of crazy enemies and taking out countless randomly-generated ships in search of four particularly notorious foes.

Title: Flinthook
Developed By: Tribute Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Win/Mac/Linux (Steam)

My first taste of Flinthook was seeing @flinthook tweet a few gifs and screenshots on Twitter. When I saw the one above I was hooked and immediately added it to the list of games I had to try. Just look at that incredible animation, the crazy bullet-hell-ish dodging, smooth hook shot work and use of slowing down time! I’m so glad my gut was right – Flinthook is a BLAST!

After a brief training level, you’re given your first bounty and thrown into the meat of Flinthook – working to find and defeat your first boss. To find Bad Billy Bullseye you must first feed your compass three ghost gems, with one being found aboard each of Bad Billy Bullseye’s ships. Each “level” presents you with three ship options, each with random modifiers that can be good or bad. Higher difficulty ships have lots of modifiers (one may have fog on the ship, lots of shops, lots of treasure rooms and tougher enemy rooms) and lower difficulty ones may have as low as one. Right off the bat you’re introduced to the risk/reward balance that a good roguelike has – treasure rooms are often extra dangerous but can give you boosts for your current run or loads of gold to buy boosts or health, or one ship may be a higher difficulty overall but have better modifiers than the rest. If you can survive long enough to find the boss you’ll head to their ship and take them on in an epic battle! The game has four main bosses, each with a wild fight and the later bosses require more gems to find. Should you die, you’ll lose your progress toward your current boss and have to find all of their gems once again.

Like any good roguelike, you’re going to die a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. Each time you die you’ll gain experience and work toward purchasing permanent upgrades. You can upgrade and unlock all sorts of things, such as increasing the amount of experience you get each run, adding to your max HP, unlocking additional sub weapons or adding to your total number of perk points. Each time you level up you’ll earn a booster pack that has a random card (or cards) that can be equipped, and these can modify your game in all sorts of ways. You can make your pistol more powerful, shoot further and/or change the way it fires, add additional HP, make it so you find extra gold and pretty much anything else you can think of. As you unlock more of them you can really line up some cool combos – you can make it so you get lots of extra gold from everything and then set it so your pistol does extra damage depending on how much gold you have, you can equip loads of experience boosters for grinding, or you can equip loads of perks for your chronobelt to make it last longer and slow time even more if you love the slo-mo. The tricky bit is that there are dozens and dozens of potential upgrades to equip and you’ll never be able to equip more than 13 at a time (and most take more than one perk point!), so you must choose wisely.

When I was developing games I heard a quote about the importance of fun and movement in games. I can’t remember who said it or even what game it was but the gist of it was this – the developer(s) had made a movement system that was so fun that it was a blast just jumping and running around. With such a fun movement system, it was clear the game itself would be fun when placed on top of it. I feel like that sums up the main feeling I have about Flinthook: the movement in the game is just so fun and solid that it eradicates any flaws the game may have had otherwise.

In addition to the fantastic movement system, one of the things that stuck out to me the moment I started Flinthook was the terrific music. I’ve played video games for over 30 years and can count the number of game soundtracks I would buy on both hands, but Flinthook’s music is so terrific it competes with games like Final Fantasy! It’s full of adventure, it’s inspiring and it’s action-packed! From the second I hit the title screen I was amped up and ready to go. The sound effects are great too, and the art is gorgeous.


Flinthook
is a very difficult game, so difficult in fact that I was only able to defeat one of the game’s four bosses so far, not including all of the secrets and additional things the game includes! To get a solid feel for what the game had in store, later on, I watched some YouTube videos, and it’s incredible just how much more there is to the game! Not only do the levels and bosses get ridiculously harder (the final boss requires 12 ghost gems!), there are all sorts of secrets you can uncover by pulling off crazy things like not getting hurt on an entire ship.

Despite the difficulty the game’s brilliant grappling system, addictive leveling, a slew of secrets, amazing music and incredibly deep customization system kept me coming back, and I’ll definitely be playing much, much more of Flinthook in the future as well!

Note: I received a copy of the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

By Cataclysmic Knight On 18 May, 2017 At 03:02 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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I’m a little bit biased when it comes to Destiny – my gal and I have logged just over 2,800 hours (not including idle time) in the game between us.  We’ve been around since the first month of release and even bought an Xbox One for it! I check out the Destiny Reddit page at least weekly, and when the game isn’t so dead it’s typically numerous times a day. As you can imagine, I was FAR BEYOND HYPED that today was the first real look at Destiny 2. This was by far the biggest Destiny livestream and it was the first to have a scheduled pre-show – an entire hour – beforehand.

Ah, the pre-show… While there were a few discussions (a particularly interesting one with Lance Reddick – the voice of Commander Zavala, the Titan Vanguard – revealed that he plays nearly daily and is a Warlock main!), the majority of the hour countdown looked a lot like this…

With my hype a bit deflated, 10am Pacific finally rolled around and the show kicked off. The entire thing can be wrapped up in just two words: HOLY S*$&!!! From the moment it began new trailers, videos and dialogues filled one insane hour of action. There was so much information, both blatant and hidden, that books could be written covering it all. If you don’t have time to watch Bungie’s recorded stream (at the top of this post), I’ll briefly cover everything here:

  • Story is going to be a much bigger part of the game! Not only will the story be bigger and better (as already evidenced in the current trailers), it’s one of Bungie’s main focuses this time. The campaign that was highlighted in the reveal had Zavala and Ikora in action, with Zavala throwing up a bubble to protect you and Ikora taking out an enemy ship with a nova bomb. @MyNameIsByf recently tweeted out a picture showing you can even check out lore in-game!
  • Each location looks AMAZING! Not only can players now go from one planet to another without going to orbit (thank goodness!), each planet is now much more open. A map will display all the relevant information around (including public events – and when they’ll happen! – treasures, “Adventures” and “Lost Sectors”), and you can even go directly into missions from on the ground itself.
  • Strikes, Nightfall Strikes and Raids are back! While the game is being expanded upon, the fact that strikes and nightfall strikes are returning is a bit of a surprise. Nightfall strikes and raids are also FINALLY being given a sort of matchmaking (along with the competitive PvP mode Trials) that hooks solo players up with clans that they can reject or accept.
  • PvP is getting updated – not much was discussed here, but a new game mode was briefly touched upon called Countdown that was referred to as an “attack/defend” mode. Also, rather than having 6v6 matches as the primary focus (with 3v3 as the more competitive modes like the weekly Trials of Osiris), crucible (PvP) will now be 4v4. This means a bigger reliance upon each player, leading to more competitive play.
  • Clan integration looks great! Not only do they work for their pseudo-matchmaking, they also work to collect loot (somehow based on everything everyone in the clan does), help players come together for activities and even have customization options available to them!

There’s a great deal more that’s captured so much better in the video than words can say. The new classes all look INCREDIBLE as well. Hunters wield a staff, Titans look like a void version of Captain America with their shield (it even bounces off of enemies when thrown!) and the Warlock looks most epic of all wielding a solar sword. It’ll be interesting to have classes more encouraged to use their supers as these days most supers are used to revive others or save themselves at the last second (or even after death in the case of Sunsinger Warlocks). Weapons are changed too, with players using two primaries (one with an element and one without) to swap between and one “power” weapon. Power weapons can be anything from a sniper to a grenade launcher! Destiny 2 also introduces SMGs, grenade launchers and several others.

It’s an exciting time to be a Destiny fan, and even folks who are new or returning to Destiny will have an awesome game to look forward to!

By Cataclysmic Knight On 15 May, 2017 At 01:10 PM | Categorized As Mobile Gaming, News, NINTENDO, Portable/Mobile Gaming, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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According to The Wall Street Journal, The Legend of Zelda will be headed to mobile in the future. Following the great successes of Pokemon GO and Super Mario Run this may come as little surprise, but it’s certainly awesome to hear nonetheless! The game will reportedly come after the release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing mobile game, which will reportedly release in the second half of 2017, leading many to believe The Legend of Zelda title will release in early 2018. There’s no word on what the game will be, and while a port of a classic LoZ title would be amazing (A Link to the Past please!),  so far all of Nintendo’s games have been original titles. There’s also no word on whether this game will be free to play (like Pokemon GO or Miitomo) or not (Super Mario Run had a hefty $10 price tag for full admission!).

The timing of the news is certainly interesting with E3 beginning in less than a month (June 13-15). 2016’s E3 included news from Bethesda concerning their mobile game Fallout Shelter coming to PC, so E3 mobile game news wouldn’t be unheard of. The speculation on what the Zelda title may be is perhaps even more fun than the game will be itself, with TechRadar detailing some great possibilities including a cooking game, puzzle game and an online multiplayer title in the vein of Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS.

Whatever it may end up being, one thing is for sure – it’s an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan!

By Cataclysmic Knight On 9 May, 2017 At 03:48 PM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Developed By: Fire Face Corporation
Published By: Adult Swim Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Windows

One side of the second building.

I had never heard of Small Radios Big Televisions before I received a review code for it, but a quick glance online made it look like Fez if it was a point-and-click puzzler. Diving in, I was presented with a building against a rather plain red background and absolutely no tutorial or clue as to what to do. Moving the left joystick moved the cursor, and when it moved over the only door present it became clear this was what I was meant to do – open the door and begin. Exploration is unique: instead of being given a character to move around, you merely move the cursor and whatever room you’re currently in tilts to allow the cursor to reach everything. To enter a room or interact with things, just press X with the cursor over it. Some things, like cogs, require dragging to complete puzzles. This may sound pretty standard, but the fact that I never saw myself and the view was pulled so far out gave the game an entirely different feel.

It was when I found my first cassette that the game really became special. These cassettes are better than music (yes, even Star-Lord’s Awesome Mixes), they’re virtual reality! Each one has a very specific experience and is clearly labeled with things like Road, Forest or Stream. Like any VR experience these are all first-person, and while some of them offer automatic movement along a pre-programmed track you can’t actually control yourself at all. You can, however, look around with the cursor, and the goal here is to find green gems. To make matters even more wild you’ll come across magnets as you explore the main game which warp any cassettes you currently have. Idyllic, lovely settings become ruined and corrupted when entering them again which is necessary to find additional gems.

Your TD-525 provides some simple diversions, but at what cost?

After each area is completed there’s a mysterious conversation between two people. As a huge fan of story in games this was an excellent addition. They’re all very short, so folks who couldn’t care less don’t have to wait long, and they’re just long enough to tease at what’s going on. Between the lack of any kind of setup, the mysterious setting, the VR tapes and these dialogues the game’s world is constantly unraveling into something interesting. There’s also writing and graffiti on the walls of several of the rooms that elude to a much darker tone. It’s almost painful how much I want to talk about the story of this game! Unfortunately, this is one of those games where giving any details would hurt the experience.

Things get a little dark at times.

I am NOT good at puzzle games. A quarter or a half of the way in I typically start needing a walkthrough here and there, and by the last quarter or so I usually end up spending more time watching videos on how to solve the game’s puzzles than actually playing it. That wasn’t the case here, and while I ended up feeling rather smart a few times I worry that hardcore puzzle fans will be rather bored here. The difficulty in the game comes mostly from navigating through the areas and locating the green gems in the cassettes: as the game progresses rooms end up having quite a few diverging paths that make it easy to forget where to go or where you just came from. There is a map in the game, but I didn’t get any use out of it personally. The fact that doors are always closed until you first enter them and stay open once they’re opened helps, but the later areas require a fair bit of backtracking.

The audio and art fit the retro theme incredibly well. The 3D styles of the last century are evident here and the music is subdued and enjoyable, although one or two of the pieces may have been a little repetitive in the background as I hunted down gems. I also liked that the game took advantage of the DualShock speaker for inserting cassettes; as someone somewhat new to PS4 I’m always excited when a game takes advantage of it. It all came together to draw me far more into the world of Small Radios Big Television than I could have expected.

Small radios provide big insight into the plot.

I really loved that the game doesn’t hold your hand yet still ended up making perfect sense. It was awesome that even a mediocre puzzle gamer like myself could figure things out! Although the gameplay is rather simple and half the puzzles are just hunting for green gems in cassettes or navigating small labyrinths of doors the setting and story more than made up for it to me. I even felt compelled to go back through and find the two lenses I missed the first time around; completing the game unlocks the ability to go back and the doors are thankfully all closed once again. The mystery was a bit simple but deep enough to keep me excited about every scene, and the ending had a really unexpected, Twilight Zone-ish twist. If you’re a big fan of story games like me and have a few hours to spend on a unique little puzzle adventure title I’d highly recommend Small Radios Big Televisions.

Disclaimer: A code was provided for the purposes of this review

By Cataclysmic Knight On 29 Apr, 2017 At 11:58 PM | Categorized As NINTENDO, ROG News, Toys and Merchandise | With 0 Comments

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I don’t have fast food often, but when I do McDonald’s isn’t a top choice. I’ll admit with geeky pride that the second I found out that McDonald’s had a set of Mario toys in their happy meals, though, I excitedly told everyone I knew and looked up everything I could about them. I recently purchased a few and tried them out, they rock!
 
These three toys are numbered 1-3 on their bags and given the names Jumping Mario Toy, Yoshi Toy and Luigi Launcher Toy respectively. Jumping Mario is definitely the coolest: after flipping a switch on the bottom there’s a button that plays the jumping sound effect! The sound activates on release, so that if you set it on a table or the floor or your hand and then lift him up it’ll play. Yoshi’s tongue sticks out when pressing his “saddle”, and Luigi has wheels under him so that when the lever is pressed behind the pipe he shoots out and rolls a good distance. If you had some small bowling pins or something similar you could bowl with him! They’re all pretty awesome toys for a Happy Meal, or you can buy em for only $1.79+tax each like I did.
 McDonalds Toy Case
The McDonald’s I checked only had these 3 available out of all 8, and for those outside of the US you may have some different options. There’s an incredibly in-depth and fun review video below (not mine) that shows 12(!) toys in the UK/Japan (VERIFY THIS), and while the set of blocks look AMAZING my jealousy quickly vanished when I realized Jumping Mario isn’t available there.

 

There’s a giveaway, too!

McDonald’s is giving away 100 bundles that include a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Mario Kart 8 deluxe. You can get one entry per day through May 22nd by buying anything at McDonald’s or two for buying a Happy Meal, BUT you can get two free entries daily without even leaving the house with a quick email! Directly from the official rules:
To receive two (2) AMOE Entries without making a purchase, send an email to entry@amoeentry.com and include the date you are sending the email in numeric format (mm/dd/yy) in the subject line and your first/last name in the body of the email. Note: AMOE Entries must be received on the same date noted in the subject line or they will be disqualified.
Good luck winning a Switch with Mario Kart 8 and go get some sweet Super Mario toys!
By Cataclysmic Knight On 29 Apr, 2017 At 10:32 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews, ROG News, Videos | With 0 Comments

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King for a Day

 

Yesterday, Thursday the 27th I was lucky to be one of the 30,000 to attend AMC’s King for a Day event. Armed with a terrible memory and without any way to take notes, I’ll give you a SPOILER FREE look at King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

I stepped into the theater over half an hour early to find a good quarter of the seats full. Before the movie began, hopeful showgoers were being turned away repeatedly as literally, every seat was full. Comfort be damned, I was hyped for a King Arthur movie by Guy Ritchie with Charlie Hunnam in the titular starring role! The fact they gave out some pretty sweet swag didn’t hurt either.

 

Swag!

 

I went in expecting a humorous, action-packed fantasy movie with some great dialogue and I sure wasn’t let down. What I didn’t expect, however, were the epic twists on the source material – without spoiling anything the movie really handled Arthur and Excalibur well. I thought “Legend of the Sword” was a really lame part of the title originally, but now I realize just how fitting it was. Excalibur is perhaps the most well-known weapon that exists, and it is AWESOME here. It also leads to some truly amazing fight scenes, one of which is easily in my top 5 fight scenes of all time. It’s badass, it’s brilliant and it’s epic! I also really loved the depth given to the Arthurian legends, even the stone from “the sword in the stone” is given a really great twist.

Beyond the action and the great editing/humor, the characters were excellent as well. Arthur is a man who has made his own way – “from nothing comes a king” was a very accurate tagline for the film. I would’ve loved some more Goosefat Bill (Aiden Gillen, Littlefinger on Game of Thrones and Paul Serene in Quantum Break) but I’ll survive. Jude Law was an excellent Vortigern, although the movie could’ve snuck a bit more depth into his character pretty easily. The biggest surprise was Astrid Berges-Frisbey whose character – “The Mage” as she’s credited – was awesome! The rest of the cast was excellent as well, but nothing particularly sticks out in my memory a day later.

I typically don’t like reviewing a movie after only one watch, as hype and surprise can cover up a movie that really isn’t great a second time around. Heck, I typically don’t review movies anyway, but I couldn’t resist with such a surprise hit. Fans of fantasy shouldn’t pass this one up for anything, it was glorious. There were only a few scenes that really benefit from the big screen though, so you won’t really miss out waiting til it hits Redbox/Netflix/disc.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out a trailer for the movie below.