Played with: Mouse & Keyboard and Xbox 360 Controller
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)
Of all the franchises that Telltale has tackled, Minecraft seems to be the one that was met with the most scepticism. There’s no real plot in the original game; any sense of story comes from the player’s own creativity. The world is randomly-generated, with a distinct lack of memorable landmarks and locales. How can a game that amounts to a digital toy be turned into a linear, narratively-focused adventure? Well, Telltale seems determined to find out, even if it must build a new world from scratch to do it.
I have a confession to make: I did not achieve 100% completion before reviewing Immortal Planet.
Now, for anyone well-versed in the practice of games journalism, that should come as no surprise. There are too many games and not enough time in the day to see every bit of content in each. However, in the case of Immortal Planet, I was tempted. See, completing the game on the Normal difficulty rewards you with an achievement called “Bad Ending” and unlocks the Nightmare difficulty: effectively a New Game Plus mode. There was some speculation that beating the Nightmare mode would unlock the “good ending” for the game, and this later seemed confirmed in some developer patch notes on July 29. The notes clearly stated, “added Good Ending” as one of the points. Seems self-explanatory.
In the end, though, I decided against pursuing this ending. I figured that forcing myself through the game for another 10 to 15 hours would only sour my thoughts on it. Better to take some time away from it and come back to it on my own time; not like a new ending was really going to change my thoughts on the game.
It turns out that that may have been a more prudent decision than I at first thought. A recent post on the Immortal Planet Steam forums has seen players testing countless methods of unlocking this ending, all to no avail. Simply beating the game on Nightmare mode isn’t good enough, and neither is completing all the in-game challenges.
Eventually, data miners got fed up with this debacle and started hunting through the game’s files. Their discovery? A file (named English.loc) containing all the text for the game, including everything that was exclusive to the Nightmare mode. The last few lines of this file contained the intro and outro text for the game, clearly labelled as such. Lo and behold, there was only one of each. No extra text for an extra ending means only one thing: there is no secret “good ending” in Immortal Planet.
Slow, stamina-based combat? Check. Enemies that respawn whenever you rest to heal? Check. Experience points that get dropped every time you die? Check. No, this isn’t some ill-promoted sequel to the Dark Souls series; it’s an isometric action game by the name of Immortal Planet.
To say that Immortal Planet draws heavy inspiration from FromSoftware’s famous series is an understatement. For the first half hour or so of the game, every time I asked, “I wonder if it does this thing that Dark Souls does?” the answer was a resounding, “Of course!” Thus, Immortal Planet takes place in a semi-open world backed by a largely vague narrative. As a mysterious Awakewalker, you are tasked with restoring the Cycles of the planet, the lack of which has caused it to turn to a frozen wasteland. In your way stand countless enemies with varying attack patterns, all of which need to be analysed and circumvented to succeed.
Then again, perhaps a more accurate question is, “How do I describe Redout without drowning this review in more buzzwords than the average E3 press conference?” The thing is: doing so would require me to pour hours and hours of time and energy into a single paragraph instead of just playing more Redout. Not exactly ideal. With that in mind, allow me to indulge.
Redout is one of the most delightfully high-octane, edge-of-my-seat racing games in recent memory. It’s a thrilling adrenaline rush of an experience that caused more emotional outbursts from me than a House of Cards season finale. It’s a finely-tuned joyride that’s been polished and balanced until it shines in a cornucopia of flashy colours.
What I’m saying is that Redout is really freaking good.
Randomness in games is an excellent method of promoting custom story generation. The fact that nearly everyone will have an experience that is at least marginally unique means that there’s always something new and interesting to talk about that many players may have never seen or heard of. That’s the goal with The Long Journey Home, a rogue-lite space game that channels FTL: Faster Than Light and No Man’s Sky into a challenging, galaxy-trotting, survival experience.
Omega Force’s catalogue of Warriors games has become incredibly prolific over the years, with dozens of instalments spanning many historical periods and franchises. Throughout this catalogue, they’ve carved out a niche for themselves in the “spectacle fighter” genre, though for the uninitiated, it may as well be the “shonen anime: the game” genre. Each title is a pure, unadulterated power fantasy, giving the player control over numerous heroes who are capable of slashing through scores of enemy soldiers with little more than a wave of their hand. While the overall gameplay tends to stay somewhat similar, the key difference is always the setting. The franchise has visited Hyrule, ancient China, and even Gundam…Gundam-land, but now it’s time to make a return trip to Japan for the latest Samurai Warriors title: Spirit of Sanada.
The titular Guardians aren’t the only thing under pressure in the second episode of the ongoing point-and-click adventure series. Following a painfully average first outing, Under Pressure is tasked not only with continuing the established story, but also with giving players a reason to care. Featuring new characters and locales alongside some far more dramatic emotional beats, is there enough here to help the series claw its way out from mediocrity?