Author: Tyrone Johnson

Review: Frog Climbers

The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach the top of the mountain. You have control over both your hands, and aim them using the analogue sticks of your controller, similarly to games like Octodad or Mount your friends.
You then use your triggers to grasp onto a ledge or rock. (An important note is you can not play this with a keyboard or mouse).

The game does a good job at keeping the game fun for all players. A lot of racing games suffer from the problem that as soon as someone gets the lead, the players in the back will never be able to catch up, and so they don’t have as much fun. In Frog climbers, occasionally a bug carrying a vine will fly next to losing players, which if they grab will then get a boost upwards. If players fall off the mountain, they will also respawn after 3 seconds near the player in first place. Although it seems they can fall as many times as they want, as I haven’t seen some sort of penalty. I would personally like to see a life limit or something along those lines.

Something pretty hilarious is you have the ability to grab other frogs’ limbs. You can grab their feet, knees, hands or backs. It will weigh them down slightly, and you can use them to swing or climb up. However, there is a timer where your frog will lose grip after a while to keep it from getting to frustrating for other players.

Although if you don’t like the idea of being able to catch up and win at the last second, you can turn on a modifier that will reward the player who has the lead, which will then be compared across all players once the end is reached. There are other funny modifiers to play around with like low gravity or one arm. As well as choosing modifiers, you can also generate a map type of normal or hard difficulty, or even a map filled with wheel obstacles for extra challenge.

The map generation is quite similar to the one in many worms games, except instant, which is quite nice.
You can choose between 5 different types of frogs, which could easily just be different colours, but I like that the devs took the time to give them different body shapes, patterns and such. The green one plays upside down, and climbs with their feet instead, which I found to be quite funny.
You can also race in solo against the clock in preset, daily mountains in order to try get a higher score on the leaderboard.

My main issue with the game is there’s no AI, and no online play, which means you can only really have fun in the game if you have friends over. Sure you can play solo, but I don’t think that would keep you entertained for a very long time. So it’s definitely a multiplayer game.

Overall, I think the game is super fun. It’s a simple idea, but very well executed! There’s a decent amount of content for the relatively cheap price, and if you have friends over, it’s definitely a fun game to start up and have a few good rounds. Although I’m all for local multiplayer, I hope the devs consider putting in AI or most importantly, online play in the future.

Review: Snake Pass

Snake pass is a really well-polished and charming game that puts you in control of a snake. The controls are quite intuitive, and I picked the game up really quickly. Although you might struggle at times, it’s part of the game’s challenge and you’ll be able to retry every obstacle again until you get it right.

The controls are simple. You have the option to play with a keyboard, but I chose a controller as I found it easier.
One of your buttons moves your character forward, while another lifts his head upwards. This allows you to scale small obstacles in front of you. Finally, you have a grip button, which will tighten your body around whatever you are wrapped onto.

With these basic abilities, you can scale everything in the game. The fun comes in when you need to go up tall scaffoldings. The tricky part is not falling, so you need to make sure you wrap around poles on your way up to fight against gravity. The game really feels unique through its mechanics.

You have the ability to ask your little hummingbird friend to grab and lift your tail. This is quite situational and can help sometimes to counter the weight of your tail if you feel you’re about to fall off a ledge, but I found it can get in the way if you want as much “snake body” as possible to wrap around stuff.

Levels are quite large, and are littered with different kinds of collectibles, which incentivises exploration. Although it is all optional, and you can simply go for the main 3 gems needed to complete the level.

The music is really great, and made me feel super happy. It goes very well with the charming aesthetic of the game. The colours are vibrant, and the animations look cute. It’s nice to see a game with these kind of graphics again.

However, I have two gripes with the game. The first is the slight lack of checkpoints.
Sometimes you die and might lose 5 minutes of progress, and it’s frustrating to have to recollect the stuff you already did. I get not letting you keep the stuff you collected if you die, because it takes away the challenge of some of the collectibles. You could simply slither over a precarious beam, grab the coin, fall to your demise and then respawn, easy. Part of the challenge is coming back alive after collecting it. But it would be nice if the game could somehow checkpoint you as soon as you get to solid and safe ground, or perhaps just have a checkpoint waiting near deadly drops so you dont have to go aaaaall the way back after failing.

My second problem with the game is you need to move in a sort of zigzag motion to actually gain speed and move forward. It can be quite tiring if you are going long distances. I get that it makes sense, and snakes do that, but I would have honestly prefered just holding forward and moving like that. It’s not a huge problem, as it’s quite rare to do it so frequently, but it’s still an annoyance.
Overall though, I’m having a lot of fun with the game. It’s a really charming world to be in and the gameplay feels very rewarding! Recommended.

Review: Domina

Domina is a strategic Rogue-lite game that has you maintain your resources, while at the same time trying to help your slaves climb the ranks of the Gladiator tournaments. It can be quite a complex and hard game, but I think enthusiasts of the genre will have a lot of fun with it.
You start off with 3 slaves of varying talent, choose which one you want to pit in the next battle, and watch them fight their opponent.

By default all fights are AI controlled, but if you purchase an upgrade that is available very early, you can take control of them and fight as a gladiator yourself. This is cool, but the AI seems to be more efficient in using all of their moves available.

If your slaves die in battle, they’re gone forever. If they succeed, they bring home a lot of money, resources, and train their stats up a bit. They sustain their damages after battles and need to be patched up. You can either do this by spending one coin and having them heal a small amount, or hiring a medic to speed up the process.

One of the choices you can make in the game is who to hire. There are loads of people to choose from, but you can only have a certain amount, and they take up resources everyday. One possible employee can upgrade your Ludum (The place you are training your slaves). Another keeps your people healed, while another can help you save a bit of food. It’s all choice, which is great!

So after you complete a battle, you have a set amount of time to do everything else you want until the next one begins. This includes purchasing resources, training slaves, healing slaves etc. Personally, I feel like the game could have done without this, because once you click on something to open up a menu, the timer pauses. So all you’re really doing is rushing to find what you want to click next, and then once you’ve clicked it you’ve got all the time in the world to make your selection and think about what you want to click next. I understand that they probably did it to only allow you to train a certain amount per day, but it can still be a bit frustrating at times.

You do however, have the choice to reject fights that are offered to you. In doing so, you will anger the host of the fight. There are 2 people that organize fights for you, and they chill at your Ludus all day. If you get on their good side, they will offer fights that are more beneficial towards you. If you shove them off, they will give you really unfair fights that your guys are bound to lose at.
To win these 2 over, you can bribe them with wine, or giving them secrets about the other host, etc. It’s a pretty interesting aspect of the game.

The big picture is that you want to win the grand tournament. In order to do that, you need to travel the country winning some really hard fights. REALLY hard. So in order to succeed, you must train your guys for quite a while, while keeping an eye on your resources.

Fighting is quite fun to watch actually. You feel like you’re a part of the crowd. It can get really intense sometimes because your best gladiator is on the line. If you throw a slave in without any weapons or shields, sometimes the crowds will toss things for them into the arena, but the slave needs to avoid the other gladiator to get it. I’ve seen a completely unarmed slave beat a shielded gladiator once. It was a really awesome feeling. I actually just threw that slave in there because I didn’t want him anymore, but he came out victorious.

There is a story. Although it’s nothing amazing, and easily skippable, I’m sure some people will get a kick out of reading the text boxes that lay the tale down. There are ocasional pop-ups throughout the game, kind of in the style of FTL, where you will be given a situation and you can choose how to deal with it. Depending on your choice, you might earn a new Gladiator, earn the trust of one of the 2 hosts or nothing at all. It adds an extra layer of Rogue-lite-ness.

Lastly, the soundtrack is so great that It’s a really unique experience, and the game is programmed to have the music kick in as soon as a battle starts, and it just feels so awesome.

One pretty major flaw, is that at the moment of writing this there doesn’t seem to be a save feature. If you feel like you’re done for the day, your run is over for good. You can’t come back to it. And your runs can be relatively long, so it would be a welcome addition.

Overall, it’s a really fun, and very well polished game. I think people who enjoy the randomness of Rogue-likes/lites will get a kick out of this. It’s brutal, but rewarding!

Review: Bayonetta

Bayonetta is a spectacle fighter that originally released for consoles in 2009. The game has finally ported over to PC, and is still as good as I remember.

I’ll start off by quickly saying that the PC Port is great. Textures look better than they used to, it runs at 60fps, you have mouse control in menus and can rebind keyboard controls.
Now that being said, I still prefer to play games of this genre on a controller, so that’s what I did. Although, I did test the keyboard/mouse controls and it’s definitely playable.

Onto the game itself. You play as Bayonetta. A witch that feels the need to fabulously pose in all sorts of over the top ways while you fight, and it is really a joy to watch. Combat feels so meaty in this game, with spells shooting out different colours, loot and gore flying everywhere while you string your combos together. It’s really fluent and satisfying.

The combat mainly consists of combining your light and heavy attacks in different ways. Depending on the orders you press them, the directions you move in or how long of a break you take before pressing the next button, you will perform a variety of moves. Equipping different weapons also changes your attacks.

You can also freely incorporate your guns into combos whenever you want. Including your foot guns. Yes, she has guns on her shoes as well.

New enemies are constantly introduced throughout the game to keep it from getting stale. You will have to adapt to their moves, and can sometimes even pick up their weapons to temporarily use against their allies.

Obviously you’ll need to make sure your health doesn’t deplete, but you also have a magic gauge that will drain if you get hit. Upon filling it up, you can perform “torture” attacks that will inflict a huge amount of damage on enemies. They usually include stuff like kicking enemies into Iron maidens or guillotines. It feels awesome to watch, but each “torture machine” is unique to different enemy types. If you fight a few enemies of the same type, you might find yourself doing the same torture attack repeatedly, which can get tedious at times since it requires that you button mash or spin your mouse/analogue stick.

When you kill enemies, you gather their halos in order to spend them in the store. Here you can buy weapons, accessories that grant you powers like invincibility or cloning upon activation. As well as consumable items or costumes. Items are quite expensive, so it might take you a bit of time to gather enough money to really afford a lot of stuff.

Depending on how well you do in a chapter, you will earn a larger bonus of money. Every fight you partake in will be rated individually. The speed at which you complete the fight, your combo intricacy or number of hits taken all factor into your final score. This is great for replay value, and it’s pretty satisfying when you score higher up.

Although, I feel like scoring very high in some areas on your first playthrough is really difficult, and will require revisiting that chapter once you’ve upgraded.

All the gameplay feels super rewarding and is just so much fun to play. Although the story isn’t the selling factor behind the game, it had me gripped enough. Bayonetta is quite likable as a provocative, cheeky anti-hero, and the mystery behind her past is quite intriguing.

One relatively big gripe I have with the game is the inconsistency behind cutscenes. Some of them are animated great. Fluent, and look nice. While the other half are still images that shift back and forth as if you’re looking at a slide-show. I’m not sure why they went with this. Obviously it was cheaper and easier to make, but that’s not something you generally see in the base game. It’s something developers typically do in DLCs. It’s not a huge problem, because it gets the story across and they’re still mildly interesting looking, but it would have been much nicer if everything was beautifully animated the whole time.

Although the music is decent, you won’t be hearing it much over the combat sounds without turning it up, and it seems the me the same fight music is played over and over throughout the game. I didn’t get tired of it though, which is surprising. Perhaps it’s because I could barely hear it. It does successful set the mood for Bayonetta’s personality though, which is nice.

Overall, I’m having a tonne of fun playing through the game a 2nd time after all these years, at 60fps. Boss fights feel epic, combat is satisfying and tight, the writing can be pretty funny at times, and it’s just a cheesy fun experience to go through. Big props to the devs for reflecting the game’s age in its price. I think for how cheap it is, if you are a fan of the genre, definitely do yourself a favor and pick the game up!

Review: Breach It

Breach It is currently in an Early Access Alpha stage, and it shows in certain aspects, but overall it’s a very fun and solid game. It’s inspired heavily by Rainbow Six Siege, which can only be a good thing!

Optimization has been great for me and a lot of other people. No FPS drops, and no crashes as of the latest update.

Attackers and Defenders have a preparation phase at the beginning of each round to choose any equipment they want to use. Attackers pick a gun, and a special item. This can be a Shield, hammer or C4. There’s been a few glitchy moments, particularly with weapons handling (i.e. a gun that won’t take a magazine and a new one needs to be retrieved from the armory).

The hammer and C4 can be used to make holes in weak walls in order to create different breaching points into the objective room.

Defenders can choose certain walls to reinforce, so that they are not penetrable. They can also barricade doors by hitting nails lined around a doorway. It feels very satisfying to do, by the way.  Overall the core gameplay is in good shape and does what it says on the box. Quite entertaining when the wall you’re taking cover near is blown open with a fistful of C4.
The round ends when either team has been eliminated, the bomb has been defused or time runs out.

There’s a decent number of guns to choose from, and the gadgets are fun enough, however there is currently only one map.
It’s not such a bad thing since the objective room moves around the building each time, and the attackers can spawn in from any direction.

Regardless, the dev has so far shown a very good attitude when it comes to updating the game frequently, and working closely with the community to get feedback. Which is a great sign.

Currently there is are only two maps, one map for each gamemode. One is a defuse the bomb and the other is kill the enemy team before the time runs out.
Defuse mode is played more tactically and you need to be more careful when entering, and the map is designed accordingly. It has some places where you can hide and ambush the enemy team. The map is really easy to learn and i feel its well balanced.
Kill the enemy gamemode is a more intense way of playing the game. All of the walls can be destroyed so you have to use your reinforcements to create a room where they cant just suddenly kill you from behind. The map is smaller so you can check all of the rooms easier but there are still good moments for ambushes.

There are a few minor issues, like the voice chat not working consistently, or not being able to grab your magazine and pull it out immediately, but they don’t break the game and are easy enough fixes. I also found myself constantly trying to shoot small holes through walls, but that isn’t possible currently. You can only create them using the provided tools. Hoping that will be added in the future!

If you enjoy Rainbow Six Siege or VR shooters, definitely give this a shot. It’s cheap, and fun enough in it’s current state with other players. Recommended!

Review: SUPERHOT VR

Superhot VR is the popular first person shooter where time moves only when you move, but this time in the virtual world. An engaging and fun to play FPS, the gameplay makes you feel like you are in the matrix, using your mind and body to dodge bullets, in a visually surreal environment.

The gameplay is all about your movement and that of the oncoming bullets, outnumbered by the enemy, in a series of scenarios, using different weapons to shoot, slice and move your body towards survival. It’s a unique FPS design that’s extremely fun and addictive. Having played both the VR and non-VR versions of the game, I recommend getting Superhot VR if you enjoy the original, as the gameplay is the same, but the experience is completely different in VR, and I equally enjoy playing both versions of the game. The VR controls are perfect and super smooth, leaving you with that that matrix feel. The challenge of the gameplay gives it lots of replayablity.

It seemed a touch more aliased than it should have been, and super-sampling can only help you so much, because of the constant red+blank on white color contrast, but of course it runs well. I loved the intermission scenes in the little apartment, with all that computer crap everywhere. The ‘campaign’ mode will probably be over before you know it, but there are plenty of other modes to enjoy in your subsequent sessions.

Now onto the problems with the game. It’s just so much fun. However, I beat the game in only 1 hour. That is VERY short for the main campaign. Although I died a few times and had to restart a few levels, maybe I’m just that amazing at the game? I doubt it. Luckily, when you beat the game you will unlock a few challenges, but they aren’t as substantial as the main game. You can try to speedrun levels, or turn on an only headshot mode, or a survival mode where you kill as many enemies as possible. Again, they aren’t as fun as the vanilla game, but they will extend that 1 hour playtime a little bit.

Another issue I had with the game is everything is picked up using the side grip buttons. After a while, your fingers will really start to hurt, as the position of those buttons isn’t very natural and doesn’t lend itself well to being held for extended periods of time. I understand why they did it like this though.

This allows you to hold onto a gun, and free up the trigger button for actual shooting. After you’ve shot your 5 bullets, your gun will run out and you will want to throw it at an enemy as fast and easily as possible, which is when you just release the grip buttons and it will go flying. If they had any other system, I don’t think it would work as well.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that it can be quite painful after a while, which sucks.

One tiny thing to point out is, sometimes while you’re waiting for a bullet to pass by you, or waiting for a gun to fall into position, you want to keep your head out of the way while at the same time speeding up time. So you’ll kinda just move your hands around to speed up time. It’s not really an actual problem, but it feels a bit silly at times and might make you feel a little bit less immersed at times.

One final problem is the lack of menus. It can be a bit frustrating when you’re playing a challenge and want to restart if you know you aren’t going to, for example, get the fastest time in this level. There’s nothing you can do other than wait for an enemy to kill you. This won’t affect you much, but it would still be a welcome addition.

PROS:

+ Geat visuals and art.
+ Interesting way to progress.
+ Great game mechanics.
+ Occasional humour.
+ Gameplay feels just right.
+ Lots of modes to play through after the main “story mode”.
+ Works great with Oculus Rift + Touch.

CONS:

– Each level has about 5 stages, but if you fail any stage, you have to start the level over.
– Animations can be a bit underwhelming in some situations (dying enemies seem like only semi-ragdolls).
– Sometimes shooting behind objects doesn’t work because of invisible walls.

Overwatch’s newest event ‘Uprising’ officially announced

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Overwatch’s new game mode has finally been legitimately unveiled by Blizzard. The event takes place years before the actual time of the base game, when Overwatch was still a unified organisation rather than a disorganised collective of oddballs dotting the globe. Players take control of Tracer, Mercy, Torbjörn and Reinhardt as they fight through a war torn King’s Row, beset on all sides by the Omnic extremist group, Null Sector.

Like Overwatch’s previous event, Junkenstein’s Revenge, this will be a PvE situation wherein the players involved will be working together to beat back a horde of AI controlled robots. Unlike before, players will be trying to defend a play-load as it pushes through the city, and the enemies seem to be much faster and aggressive than the lumbering ‘zomnics.’

In addition to the event game mode, new skins and sprays will also be available to be collected. Highlights include costumes for many of the key Overwatch personnel in their prime, and costumes for the ‘Blackwatch’ members Genji and McCree. There are numerous goodies and items of interest to earn, including a new skin that shows the game’s resident sniper, Widowmaker, before her transformation to a literal cold-hearted killer. Additionally, eagle eyed fans spotted a spray that seems to be a picture of pre-brainwashed Widowmaker with her murdered husband, Gerard, which is significantly the first times fans have been given a hint to what he might have looked like.

Thinking about it, this event will be a fairly significant one for lore fans, both for the above reveal of Widowmaker’s character and because this will be the first time players will get to experience something similar to the Omnic Crisis. Admittedly, this isn’t the actual Omnic Crisis: the event is actually placed a few years after the Crisis was over, but seven years before the base game. However, this mode might be an important step in understanding just how bad the war was, and why certain characters still hold such a deep distrust even years after the fact.

Knowing Blizzards extreme attention to detail and love of including secrets and Easter Eggs in their products, I’m certain we can look forward to fans dissecting the event and finding out just how many bonuses Blizzard has snuck into it.

The Surge Has Gone Gold and Unveils More About Its PlayStation 4 Pro Updates

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Focus Home Interactive just announced that The Surge, the hardcore action-RPG developed by Deck13 has officially gone gold on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. The game will release for retail and download on May 16 and is already available for pre-order on consoles and PC.

More information follows about the PS4 Pro updates for The Surge. For instance, the first free update will be available at the release of the game, and will allow players to either play in Dynamic 4K at 30fps or in 1080p at 60fps. A second update will be available a bit later after release, allowing players to activate the HDR option.