Another day, another new Telltale series. It seems that every franchise is getting adapted to the tried-and-true “interactive movie” format, and with the first season of Minecraft: Story Mode, the formula was starting to show its age. The series wasn’t without its high points, but these came with tonal inconsistencies, technical problems, and some downright cringe-worthy moments. The prospect of a second season didn’t so much appear as a chance at redemption as another cheap cash grab on top of the first season’s questionable Adventure Pass. However, completely out of left field, Telltale actually seems to have made some changes with this one! The question is, are they enough?
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.
How do I describe Redout?
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?
Video games have become increasingly dour over the last few years.
With a push towards more realistic environments, faces that are slowly crawling out of the uncanny valley, and the ever-popular greys and browns of most shooters, it’s easy to forget that video games were once primarily cartoony and colourful.
Thankfully, amidst the (admittedly gorgeous) vistas on display in games like Anthem and Forza Motorsport 7, several games slipped into E3 2017 that demonstrated the power of modern technology when it comes to creating imaginative, vibrant worlds. However, environment design can only get me so interested in a game; it’s what populates these locales that tends to truly make them shine. These are the games that had me clutching the sides of my face, ranting in all-caps to my friends, and trying not to squeal loud enough for my neighbours to hear, because OH MY GOSH DID YOU SEE THAT IT’S SO ADORABLE AND I NEED IT NOW!!!!!
Come and sit down; I’ve a tale to tell,
Of a game whose mechanics were boring as hell.
It was quite the looker; the work put in showed,
Yet no joy was present while travelling Plague Road.
The menus seemed like those for mobile devices,
As though the game had an identity crisis.
It seemed to be built to be played on the go,
Where perhaps the repetitiveness wouldn’t show.
Instead, it was ported, so haphazardly,
To Vita, PlayStation 4, and also PC.
I found all too quick did monotony creep,
And before long, the game had me falling asleep.
Pulling off good horror with pixel art is difficult. Titles like Lone Survivor come to mind as somewhat recent examples of pixelated horror done right, but such games are far from the household names that Outlast, Amnesia, and even Slender have become. Part of the reason for that may be that it’s difficult to properly set up jump scares when playing from what is generally a pulled-out, third-person view; giving the player so much vision can undercut the effectiveness of such surprises. To combat this, many “bit horror” games choose the same tactic chosen by The Count Lucanor: the horror comes from the imagery and circumstances rather than their sudden presentation.
Hell Warders made an awful first impression.
Upon loading it up, I was quickly greeted with clipping assets, overflowing lists that disappeared off-screen, a non-functioning character creator, and various spelling and grammar errors in pieces of menu and help text. Oh, I also couldn’t play the game; there were no multiplayer games available for me to join, and the “Create Game” function seemed to be broken.
The second attempt didn’t fare much better. After some of the more egregious issues (namely, the character creator problems and the ability to actually start a game) were sorted out, I was greeted with something that felt tiresome and monotonous more than anything. Enemies spawned in from multiple directions, leaving me quickly overwhelmed and resigned to defeat. It appeared it was going to be a bad time all around.
Thankfully, subsequent patches proved this to not be the case.