Entwined Review and Gameplay

Entwined

On the gaming world’s biggest stage Entwined was born to high expectations. The short presentation during Sony’s press conference introduced the title as the first game from a group of recent college grads, a new Sony studio called Pixelopus. The short gameplay segment shown featured flowing audio and striking visuals, immediately recognizable as the barrel gameplay from games of old. The short presentation ended with the announcement that it was on sale, right then, to Playstation 4 owners.

The abrupt announce and sell strategy of Entwined may seem a bit shady to some, but after playing through the game I can assure you there is nothing to worry about. In short, Entwined complicates one of the classic gameplay types so intuitively that it remains interesting for an entire game. The music is paced and varied, with the best tracks earning a place in your memory. The visuals are great for the same reason music visualizers are, they manage to match the speed, music and gameplay in a way that’s beautiful without being in the way. As the game culminates, the difficulty can become off-putting, until you overcome the challenge and it is appreciated for it’s purpose. The game comes across as a good freshmen effort that promises greatness in thee years to come.

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The gameplay evolves and challenges you through each of the game’s nine section’s or ‘lifetimes’. Beginning simply, every few seconds players align two characters, each controlled with an analog stick, against a grid they can pass through (Check the gameplay below to see this in action). Each character, a blue bird and orange fish, is stuck in the right and left hemisphere’s respectively. The movement allows for small twists to the base gameplay, for example as the two  get closer they become green and are able to pass through green spaces. While this may sound simple and even be simple for the first two or three lifetimes, the difficulty and complexity of each level increases dramatically. The level design is smart, with one level requiring the two characters to always occupy opposite sides and the next required no synchronization at all. This building and twisting of expectations builds throughout the game and makes the real challenge of hand-eye coordination all the more difficult.


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As to the story, the gameplay and objectives lend themselves to a tale of connection and reliability. Many subtle messages are sent through minute actions, such as the two characters relying on each other for success and the relationship between the players movement. The undertones of relationship can be ignored for other facets as well, whether the soon to be beloved soundtrack or the elegantly stylized visuals. Entwined’s soaring soundtrack makes good use of quiet melodies and driving hooks, more than once pairing with vista’s for truly chilling set-pieces. The visual design changed slightly with each passing lifetime along with the music, making this one sharper, this one electric and that one airy. The best part in the game happened toward the end as all the past aesthetics’s and music blended for the last level. Halfway through the game I expected the collage, but that didn’t decrease the inexplicable happiness I felt seeing all the little bits and pieces brought together underneath the games best track. The culmination wowed me in contrast to previous levels which I enjoyed, but didn’t love.

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The problem with Entwined is the problem of many indie titles. Difficulty is to blame for the only real unpleasantness found within Entwined. While the game is by no means ‘hard’, the punishment dealt out during later levels serves only to distract and frustrate the overall calming experience. In the moment it feels so out of place, being mad at this game that has thus far has only projected joy and peacefulness. Disconnecting from the characters you have come to endear, while remembering that this is a video game that you can loose, can be disheartening to say the least. Entwined manages to alleviate some of the irritation by making players feel triumphant over the difficulty through the stellar music, but for some, the frustration may be too much to get past.

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Entwined provides a good experience all around with standout looks and sounds that will leave a player entranced. The game is a bit short at only 2-5 hours, and the difficulty is problematic for some. Overall, I thoroughly appreciated the atmosphere, enjoyed the distinctive gameplay and  reveled in a completed challenge. Entwined carries on the mood, individuality and aspirations of games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan with the same gumption and less polish.

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Final Score: 8.5/10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK4jIN9GvP4&feature=youtu.be

Vertical Drop Heroes HD Review

Heroes

In this day and age, it’s much easier for independent game developers to create and share their games than it has ever been before. Naturally, this can result in a multitude of sub-par games (one only needs to scour Kickstarter for a little while to see this), but Vertical Drop Heroes HD by Nerdook Productions isn’t one of those games. I was a bit doubtful at first, given the number of procedurally-generated RPGs and rougelikes on platforms like Steam and GOG.com. However, I was surprised at how fun and addicting VDH can be.

The game is a “procedural platformer RPG hybrid with roguelike elements, where your hero adventures through randomly generated stages.” The goal of VDH is simply to gather coins, buy power-ups, beef up your heroes, and make it through from start to finish, beating down bosses and minions along the way. There is no grandiose, complex fantasy plot, no epic journey to parts unknown, no princess in another castle. There is simply the joy of beating up baddies, leveling up, and dishing out tons of damage. And, truth be told, that’s what I love about VDH.

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In Vertical Drop Heroes HD, you start off the game by picking from a small selection of heroes, each with different stats and powers. Once you’ve selected your hero, you’ll be introduced to the game’s hub, where you can buy weapon upgrades, item upgrades, upgrades to your “Pacifist points,” view your unlocked powers, and select “New Game +” mode if you’ve finished the main game. Once you’ve prepared yourself for the fight ahead, you can head through the portal into the main game, or, if you have enough coins, skip a few levels and start from a later level in the game.

At the beginning of each level, your hero will be dropped at the top of the stage. From there, you must use your platforming and sword-swinging skills to make your way to the bottom of the level, where you’ll find the level boss and portal to the next level waiting for you. How you make your way to the end of the level, however, is entirely up to you. Levels are randomly generated, with platforms, minions, coins, keys, items, boxes, and chests. You can use coins that you find for power-ups throughout the game, including permanent powers that you can purchase from merchants scattered throughout the levels and shrines that will give your heroes temporary stat boosts and powers for the remainder of the level. You’ll be able to use the keys you find to unlock chests and gates to obtain more treasure, unlock cages containing allies who will help you progress, or to bypass the level boss entirely and open the gate to the next level. You might also come across characters that will request that you kill certain enemies or collect certain items, in return for gold or stat increases.

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Of course, being a rougelike game, your hero will probably die at the beginning of the game, and you’ll have to select a new hero to use. Luckily, your coins and power-up purchases will carry over to your new heroes, making progression very rewarding as bosses and minions become easier to overcome. Of course, if fighting is not your thing, the game also presents hero progression through “Pacifist points,” orbs that you can collect as you fall through the stage, avoiding enemies as you go. Trying to complete levels without fighting minions and bosses presents a new challenge to the game, as fighting enemies can sometimes become unavoidable. Thankfully, there are powers, allies, and even enemies that can blast through platforms, opening up new paths for you to fall through as you journey downward.

With all of these options for progression, stat upgrades, and various unlockable powers, Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a delightful, addicting game with high replayability. With all this, plus a split-screen mode for two players and online multiplayer, you have a generous amount of content in a deceptively small package. For its $5.00 price-point, VDH is a great value, and is a nice way to unwind. If you want a break from your typical shooters or stealth-action games, this game is a great alternative. Just sit back, relax, and slash your way through hordes of minions and bosses.

Pros: Fun and addictive gameplay and progression; High replayability; Multiplayer

Cons: No story; Simplistic style; May seem easy to more experienced gamers

Released On: May 20th, 2014     Tested On: PC

Developer: Nerdook Productions      Publisher: Digerati Distribution

 Final Score: 8/10

The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 3 ‘In Harm’s Way’ Preview

Dead

In Harm’s Way is the next and third episode of Telltale Games’ The Walking dead There’s still no official release date announced for this episode but it should be out before summer. After being captured by Carver and his squad, the cabin group is in big dead trouble. They’re back to the old facility led by Carver and their fate is not the brightest. The mini preview trailer shown at the end of the second episode, A House Divided, points towards a slavery system masked under the name of a devoted family. According to Carver, those who choose not to accept the family’s love will certainly wish they had. Watch the trailer here:

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x57u3CxSbjw” width=”500″ height=”300″]

The Walking Dead Season 2
The cabin group must endure the same nightmare twice.

1. Déjà Vu: Back to the Beginning

The cabin group has been running from Carver for a long time but now they’re back to the very beginning. They’ve been captured and reinstated to Carver’s dictatorship. They are reunited with the “old family” and they have no other choice but to embrace the community’s love. The nightmare is indeed a déjà vu that is far from ending. With so much vigilance and monitoring, there’s too little space for maneuvers. Escaping does seem impossible but apparently it won’t be, at least not for some.

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Disobeying Carver will unleash his rage.

2. Carver’s Tyranny: Pleasing the Devil

The only option to stay alive is to please Carver, the devil in person. He is deluded, fanatic and killing people is no issue for him. The only way to satisfy someone like this is to do everything he asks and expects. Disappointment and disapproval will bring nothing but suffering to those who choose to oppose his rules. Fortunately for Clementine, she does have the power to satisfy his curiosity and she can easily blend in the new community, as shown in the trailer. But the question is: How far is she willing to go? Clem is a good actress, she can put up a good role but toying with Carver might not the best idea around. My guess is that she’ll play him until she gets what she wants, an escape route.

The Walking Dead Season 2
Clem must fight the horde while escaping Carver’s tyranny.

3. The Escape Plan: Choosing Between the Devil and the Walkers

Clementine manages to find a way out of the facility, according to the new screenshots published by Telltale dead Games. What’s not known however, is what made Clem leave the group behind. In the preview trailer, a huge wave of walkers is approaching the facility and a lot of things could’ve happened. Perhaps, Clem managed to get out of sight in the middle of the disarray? Or maybe she found a gap in a wall somewhere and ran away? Choosing between Carver and the walkers is a tough decision but there is absolutely no doubt about who’s the worst enemy. At least walkers can’t make up strategy plans to torture and kill people.

The Walking Dead Season 2
Running might be the best survival option for Sarah.

4. Sarah: The New Heroine?

Clementine and Sarah will reach the forest nearby Carver’s facility and they’ll be forced to fight the horde. Alone and barely armed, the two girls will struggle against countless walkers. Will they be able to survive? Undoubtedly, Clementine won’t have any issues to kill a few more zombies but unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Sarah. Without Clem’s protection, I fear the worst. Sarah doesn’t know how to fight and she has never handled direct dangers before. Her survival will exclusively depend on her own actions – will she become a new heroine or will she fall to the other side?

The Walking Dead Season 2
What will happen to the cabin group?

5. The Rescue: Going Back for the Group

Leaving everyone behind is definitely not something Clementine would do. Even if the whole world is against her, she wouldn’t give up on her friends. I’m assuming most of the episode will revolve around Clem and her plan to free the group. But that doesn’t mean she’ll find all of them  dead alive. Whatever the reason, walkers or Carver, I think the group won’t be intact or united anymore. Some will most likely be killed during the incident and the rest will flee away. I don’t think Clem will be completely alone again, she’ll surely find at least someone else.

The Walking Dead Season 2
Sarah is a naive and innocent girl.

6. Sacrifices: Who Lives? Who Dies?

Death prediction in The Walking Dead series is always a tremendous challenge. Telltale usually brings the unexpected to reality but honestly, this time I think there are a few clues regarding who’s going to die next. My first bet is Sarah simply because she has too little chances of survival in this episode. Without any fighting skills, what are the chances that she escapes the horde without being killed or bitten? My second option is Alvin. He could be killed by Carver during the last episode and it’s a fact that Telltale doesn’t tend to keep such characters for long. Lastly, I’m sure someone from Carver’s team will go down as well. Who, I’m not sure.

In Harm’s Way is going to be another exciting episode filled with thrill and suspense. Will Clementine be on the run again? Will she be alone? Who will she manage to save this time? For now, there are just too many questions and too few answers to assume anything as definitive. True answers will only come upon the episode’s release, until then curiosity can only be satisfied with mere assumptions and slick facts.

League of Legends Champion Preview: Braum, the Heart of the Freljord

Braum

A new supportive champion is approaching the justice fields of League of Legends. His name is Braum, the Heart of the Freljord, and he comes from the icy grounds of the north, where his valiant reputation inspires everyone. Using his massive shield, Braum protects the weak and supports the strong, ensuring that both factions prevail and reach their goals. Riot Games has recently unveiled Braum’s skills and lore story, which describes him as a true legend filled with strength and fortitude:

The frozen peaks of the Freljord have for centuries punished the weak. But as these feared glacial lands host the graves of the frail, for the mighty, the land is a cradle, a place that elevates mere strongmen into true champions. Braum’s story started here, and as his strength and fortitude grew, so too did his legend. Today, his feats inspire all from the poorest of peasants to the fiercest of raiders. And as he prepares to bear his shield into battle once again, he goes knowing he carries the hopes and adoration of the Freljord’s people with him.

Passive: Concussive Blows

Braum’s basic attacks apply Concussive Blows. Once the first stack is applied, all basic attacks from Braum and his allies apply further stacks. Targets that sustain four stacks are stunned and suffer bonus magic damage. After being stunned, Braum cannot apply Concussive Blows to his target again for a moderate duration.

League of Legends BraumConcussive Blows is certainly a deadly passive in close combat and it’s quite overpowered  in comparison with most passives in game. But taking in consideration that Braum is a melee character and he won’t be able to frequently hit enemy champions during the lane phase, then it might mean that this passive is not as strong as it first appears to be. However,  I think it will be very devastating, specially when used with disable skills. That way hitting enemy champions and stacking Concussive Blow stacks will be much easier, thus triggering almost permanent stuns. Note that basic attacks from allies also grant stacks. I’m not sure how long this stun will last but it will certainly be a very short one, probably around half a second.  But despite the stun duration, I think this passive will most likely need a small power reduction upon release because having free stuns and bonus magic damage every four hits is a bit too much in my opinion.

Q: Winter’s Bite

Braum propels freezing ice from his shield in a straight line skillshot, dealing magic damage (based on Braum’s max health), slowing and applying a stack of Concussive Blows to the first target hit.

League of Legends BraumBraum will use his frozen powers to slow enemies in a straight line. Nothing special there, it’s completely normal for support champions to have some kind of disable abilities. However, in Braum’s case this skill will enable a combo with his passive. By using Winter’s Bite, he’ll automatically apply a Concussive Blow stack, therefore the allied ADC just needs to hit the same target and it will trigger a stun upon three more basic attacks. Also, as the target is slowed, Braum can possibly hit the enemy himself, triggering the stun even faster. This skill will surely be a precious combat gem, since it has an offensive and defensive role. The most obvious usage is to engage and slow enemy champions, however it can be also used to prevent enemies from flanking you and your allies.

W: Stand Behind Me

Braum leaps to the aid of a nearby ally, positioning himself between his target and their nearest enemy champion, and granting both Braum and his target bonus armor and magic resist based on his total armor and magic resist.

League of Legends BraumStand Behind Me is a notorious creation and a brand new concept in League of Legends. Self-bonus defense skills are common among support champions. What’s not so common however, is the ability to boost an ally’s defense rates. Braum will be able to perform both tasks at once and based on his total armor and magic resistance. Which means, the higher those two ratings are the more bonuses this skill will grant. What’s left to know is for how long the effects will last. I don’t believe it will be long, in fact it should last only a few seconds, five maximum, else it would be immensely strong and unbalanced.

E: Unbreakable

Braum raises his shield in a target direction, negating the damage from the first attack from the shield’s direction and reducing the damage of all subsequent attacks as long as the shield is raised. Braum intercepts projectiles with Unbreakable, causing them to hit him and then be destroyed. He also gains a minor speed boost until he lowers his shield.

League of Legends BraumThis ability is similar to Yasuo’s Wind Wall, which absorbs enemy fire. In this case, Braum creates a frozen barrier that negates the first enemy attack and reduces the incoming damage from all subsequent attacks. Unbreakable can be extremely useful during the lane phase, mostly because it can easily deny the harasses from the enemy champions, whether support or ADC. Fast reflexes and prediction will create very interesting moves. For example, casting this ability before an enemy skill reaches you will automatically deny that skill’s damage.  Braum will also gain a minor speed boost, which can be used for a consecutive engage if the moment is indeed advantageous.

R: Glacial Fissure

Braum slams his shield into the ground, sending out a huge long-range skillshot that knocks up and damages all enemies caught before leaving behind a strong slow field.

League of Legends BraumBraum’s ultimate is a massive frozen fissure that will disable enemies in a line. As obvious, this ability must be used with accuracy and precision in order to hit the most enemies possible. This way it won’t just knock them up for a short time, it will also reduce their movement speed, creating the perfect scenario for a team engage or disengage. Glacial Fissure can be combined with many other disable abilities, like Malphite’s Unstoppable Force and Yasuo’s Last Breath. The combo ultimates will extend the disability effect by restraining the enemy team from using attacks and abilities and it will simultaneously inflict huge amounts of damage. In the end, it’s always about timing and strategy.

Global Overview: A New Perma Ban is Coming to Ranked Matches

It seems pretty obvious to me that Braum will be the new Leona of the League. He will be the legend of supportive tanks with his multiple disables, damage absorption and defense boost skills. He will also be the terror of AD carries and he’ll be a hell of a challenge to kill. With his super-tank abilities, I don’t think it will be difficult to harass an enemy ADC and jeopardize his farming plans. In fact, a simple poke might end up in an spontaneous engage and possible kill. I can perfectly foresee a new perma ban option coming to the ranked system. Braum you won’t be forgotten.

Trials Fusion Review

Trials

If you’re like me, you probably spent countless hours in computer class playing the original Trials flash games. RedLynx had taken an incredibly simple idea and added a polish to it that we hadn’t really seen in the genre. Flash forward to the release of Trials HD in 2009. The game received critical praise and a steady fan-base because of their perfection of the concept and successful attempt at bringing it to a home console.

After HD and Evolution, fans expected another game would appear on the horizon. Cue Trials Fusion, an absolutely fantastic culmination of all of the ideas presented in previous titles, with a nice new paint job to boot.

Trials Fusion, like its predecessors, appears to be quite the shallow game at first glance. You play as an unnamed test subject as he attempts to make his way through each course, designed by some ambiguous corporation for reasons unknown. The entirety of the game has you driving left to right, and contains only a few basic control options.

You hold R2 to accelerate, L2 to brake, and the left thumbstick to lean forward or backward. Pressing triangle allows you to bail, essentially committing suicide, but beyond comedic value, it doesn’t really have much purpose. You do eventually unlock the ability to pull off stunts by holding the right thumbstick in certain directions, adding another level of depth for those who seek it.

The idea that the game is controlled with such limits makes it appear to be nothing but an ‘Excitebike HD’ of sorts. This couldn’t be further from the truth however. While you are restricted by these concepts, the real depth comes into play when you factor in the obstacles you must overcome, the physics you must master, and the absolutely devilish design of the courses. RedLynx has shown that they have conquered the art of level design, as each stage is more interesting and challenging than the last.

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a sight to behold

They help keep things fresh by adding in locales that contrast each other aesthetically, and courses feel unique because of the changes of pace so frequently offered. One level will have you on an ATV as you fly over sand dunes, while another might have you in a factory that constructs the paths as you drive over them. Ideas like this keep things interesting, and there is never a sudden change in difficulty.

The learning curve for the levels is almost flawlessly balanced, and courses contain enough checkpoints to make anyone, veteran or newcomer, capable of toppling even the most challenging of obstacles. That said, RedLynx locked the harder stages behind medal requirements, so every player, good or bad, must start improving their scores and collecting medals if they wish to progress beyond the normal tracks. It is a smart move as it forces people to improve their skills, and in the end, makes the reward of completing the harder levels all the more satisfying.

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This is truly embarrassing

In Trials Fusion, each stage has a total of four obtainable medals. Simply completing a stage nets you a Bronze medal, but to get Silver, Gold, and Platinum, you must fulfil time requirements and complete perfect runs. It sounds easy enough, but the stages are designed in such a way that every tiny jump can mean success or failure if you are even remotely off on your speed, jump, angle, or timing. The levels ramp up to an almost impossible degree, and I found myself struggling to get past singular parts of a stage, based on the fact that RedLynx demands perfect execution on the ‘Expert’ and ‘Master’ tiers.

The game never feels unfair however. It never feels as if they’re trying to deceive you with flawed design. Every obstacle and checkpoint is deliberately and carefully placed so that you will always have a fair chance, granted you learn the mechanics. It’s also extremely useful that they’ve allowed you to watch friend’s replays, as I found myself learning a lot from players with a higher skill ceiling than myself on particularly cruel areas.

If you manage to overcome all of the metaphorical obstacles RedLynx has thrown at you, know that your journey is far from over. Beyond completing the 53 stages, each stage comes with a set of three optional objectives. They range from finding hidden paths, running over flowers, doing tricks in specific orders and other obscure actions. It adds an entire layer of depth for the completionists, and adds to the overall replay value.

They’ve also included several items for customization that give you a bit more control over your character and his vehicle of choice. Though the offerings are quite slim, it’s nice that you can give your favourite bike a different colour scheme, or dress up your character as you please.

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Am I in Heaven?

Beyond the single-player offering, Trials Fusion comes with a very robust track editor in the vein of LittleBigPlanet. You are given a set of tools that allow you to place objects, customize the weather conditions, the location of the sun, the time of day, and essentially any small tweaks you could think of. You can even change the geography to your liking, and as far as I can tell, there aren’t many drawbacks to the system in place.

Upon completion, you can share and upload your tracks to the online servers, and as expected, browse through community creations and nominated favourites. It truly makes an already replay-heavy game endlessly entertaining.

The one major disappointment I have with Trials Fusion is that they do not offer a competitive online feature. Trials is designed in such a way that it almost feels criminal to not have one, though to my knowledge, they have something planned. To counteract this issue, Redlynx has given players the option of playing with their friends via couch multiplayer. While it is definitely welcomed, especially in a generation focused entirely on online features, it would be nice to have a proper system in place for those who want to play with their online friends or compete against the best of the best.

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I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more

Trials Fusion offers nearly endless replay value, a plethora of tracks to play all with their own objectives, leaderboards to conquer, and a track editor that is bound to keep you occupied for months to come. Trials Fusion is, in my opinion, RedLynx’s biggest achievement to date.

If you appreciate tight game design or are a glutton for punishment, it behooves you to take a chance with Trials Fusion. 

Final Score: 9/10

Goat Simulator Review: Unleashing Chaos in the Most Hilarious Way

Simulator

The human imagination is indeed fruitful. It’s not every day that you see a goat game being released worldwide. But Goat Simulator is no ordinary animal game. In this bizarre reality, players must evoke their darkest wishes and destroy everything around them using just one tool, a goat. Yes, a goat. This terrific mammal is capable of unimaginable destruction and this simulation represents the true power of goats in a very entertaining and hilarious way.

Goat Simulator
Flying missions are part of the the quests, so don’t miss a chance to blow up something.

1. Aesthetics: The Art of Destruction

Aesthetics Score: 8.5/10

It really surprised me to see Goat Simulator powered by the Unreal Engine 3. Mostly because the game is so amusing that it looks strange to visualize such comedy in the shape of stunning graphics. The overall map is relatively small but most of the environmental scenes are quite detailed and realistic. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that some small objects lack definition but that’s probably part of the “small, broken and stupid” game description from Coffee Stain. The special effects and lightening are generally well displayed and I particularly enjoyed seeing my burning goat flying around like a living jet. Besides, most of the environment is interactive. Players can really change the appearance of the world by breaking glass, destroying objects, killing people or even exploding cars. At the end of a playing session, it’s hard to recognize the initial town. It’s as if a hurricane passed by and destroyed every single object.

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I decided to make my evil goat even more demoniac with a windy machine – running faster means better destruction.

2. Gameplay: Goat Gone Wild

Gameplay Score: 8.5/10

Goat Simulator has a very intuitive and simple gameplay system. It’s not like there is a lot to do, so it would be hard to make a complex gameplay. Anyway, the main goal in this title is to explore and destroy things; you basically earn points by licking and destroying anything. But there’s more, there is an extensive list filled with challenging tasks. Some of them are related to secret zones or activities that players must find themselves through exploration and experimentation. Now, I didn’t expect such a deep concept in this game but I must admit it’s quite thrilling. Furthermore, Goats can be slightly mutated if they accomplish special tasks. Becoming a demoniac goat, robot goat or even a space goat is part of innumerous mutators in-game. Some of these transformations grant special skills that will strengthen the chaos, for example the demonic goat has a magnetic skill that attracts all objects and players.

Goat Simulator
I found this wind area that resembles zero gravity space. It’s quite funny to keep your goat floating.

3. Innovation & Performance: Creativity vs. Malfunction

Innovation & Performance Score: 6/10

Innovation is all over this game. After all, it’s the first simulation of goats, thus the best so far (because there’s no other for comparison). It would be particular sad if the game’s theme was to be the only innovation here. But it’s not the case. In game, there are multiple creative features that reproduce reality in an accurate way, such as backflips, kicks, licks and dragging/smashing things with the holy goat horns. The mutator system is also a great innovation that very few expected to find. Being the goat king or playing mini-games using your tongue doesn’t seem that exciting but aren’t they totally original?

When it comes to performance things change drastically. The game is very buggy and sometimes the only way to keep playing is to enable the unstuck option and respawn elsewhere. Some animations can malfunction at times too and the map’s border is extremely annoying, since you practically get stuck between a real and a virtual wall, if you end up getting there by any chance.

Overall: If You’re Depressed Then You Really Should Play Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator is definitely a title to play if you’re looking for a good laugh or simply an entertaining experience. There’s nothing complicated or deep about it; you’re a destructive goat unleashing chaos in town. The thing about simple things is that they can become tedious very fast but then, this game hasn’t been made to be played every day. I would rather perceive it as a momentum game that can lift your spirits in no time, especially if you’re feeling down. After all, it’s not every game that allows you to be a living hurricane.

Pros: Funny and exhilarating gameplay; Re-playability value.

Cons: No story or narrative; Short and repetitive content.

Released On: April 1st, 2014     Tested On: PC

Developer: Coffee Stain      Stain Publisher: Coffee Stain

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Final Score: 7/10

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’ Review

Crooked Mile

A Crooked Mile pursuits the escape of prime suspect Ichabod Crane, who was found guilty of murdering Lily during the previous episode, Smoke and Mirrors. The whole story revolves around the previous events discovered in the Open Arms Hotel and the possibility of new involvements. Finding the truth is the main priority for Bigby and the deputy department but when things seem to be finding its route, everything just becomes even more complicated.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’
Bigby starts by examining Crane’s desk.

1. Gameplay: Following the Leads

Gameplay Score: 8/10

In this new episode the gameplay is more centered in exploration rather than combat. As Fabletown’s detective, Bigby has to visit different places and search for possible evidence that might lead to Crane’s current location. Finding and analyzing objects is the predominant activity in this interactive episode. A bit tedious for some but it can be exciting in its own way. Solving murdering cases requires intelligence and wisdom and that’s why fighting is not the main focus in A Crooked Mile. However and as usual, combat hasn’t been forgotten and Bigby will get himself into deep trouble. Despite the few moments of action, they’re all much more intense and severe with profound consequences for the upcoming episode, In Sheep’s Clothing.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’
Crane has been stealing public funds but is he capable of murder?

2. Narrative: An Expected Reality

Narrative Score: 7.5/10

The great mystery in A Crooked Mile is set on Crane’s innocence or culpability. And as I’ve predicted in this episode’s preview, things are not exactly as they look like. Even though, facts lead to a single and definite conclusion, reality ends up being a little different. And that’s exactly what players must uncover through new evidence. I can’t say the new revelations are stunning but they’re surely promising. Moreover, Snow White’s speech is usually very biased and apprehensive, which indicates that the new suspicions are in fact accurate. Bigby is still far from the truth and the whole case is much bigger than they ever imagined. In the end, this episode featured a predictable reality and it didn’t bring anything unexpected into the game.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’
Choices become more relevant.

3. Innovation & Performance: Choices that Matter

Innovation & Performance Score: 7/10

The third episode of the Wolf Among Us allows players to decide the angle they wish to investigate. While perusing Crane’s location, Bigby has three places in mind that might give him precious information. But time is short and players can only examine two of the three locations. This is not exactly new since in the previous episodes, players could also choose where to go first. However, now there’s a clear limitation. Unless players replay the episode, there’s always one location that can’t be explored. This is a very significant element and it gives choice a deeper meaning. Furthermore, the game runs smoothly and the only bug I could find was at Crane’s apartment, where certain objects kept being accessible even after analyzing them.

Overall: Not as Great as Expected

Honestly, this new episode is a bit of a disappointment to me. After the multiple dramatic revelations in Smoke and Mirrors, I was expecting something more enigmatic and astonishing. But instead, the new narrative turns out to be exactly what I was expecting. Crane is indeed innocent of murder and there’s a huge criminal group behind all the incidents going on Fabletown. The real killer is still on the loose but with the appearance of new villains truth shouldn’t be as far as it used to be.

Pros: Choices that make a difference; several investigation paths to explore.

Cons: Lack of action and combat encounters; predictable storyline.

Developer: Telltale Games     Publisher: Telltale Games

Release Date: 8th April, 2014     Tested On: PC

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Final Score: 7.5/10

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 ‘A Crooked Mile’ Preview

Crooked Mile

The next episode of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us is releasing this week on April 8th and new stunning facts are about to be disclosed. Fabletown is living a true horror scenario with the mysterious serial killer on the loose but Bigby, as well as other Crooked Mile factions, seem to be getting closer to the truth. Will they finally get a glimpse of reality? Or will they get misled by devious information again?

Episode 3: ‘A Crooked Mile’ Preview

In the last episode, Smoke and Mirrors, Bigby faced many twisted facts. Snow White’s death was nothing but a glamour delusion, the Woodsman proved his innocence, Toad seems to be involved with the real murderer, and Georgie Porgie became the prime suspect. But the most stunning revelation was done at the end of the episode, when Bigby finds solid evidence that incriminates Ichabod Crane. Now, in A Crooked Mile, everyone’s trying to catch the hypothetical guilty one. But if there’s anything to be aware of with the past two episodes is the fact that what normally seems to be ends up being something else. So, I’m quite confident that Ichabod is not the killer. He might have been involved with the murdered girls somehow but that’s probably all there is to discover.

Telltale Games has recently launched a release trailer for the third episode with more accurate information about the upcoming events. Watch it here but be aware of the spoilers:

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Destroying the Mirror will disable Bigby from finding Crane and anyone else.

1. Ichabod Crane: Innocent or Guilty?

Every lead points towards Crane but there’s something that doesn’t feel right. Mostly because Telltale has been producing deceitful facts one after the other, which makes me think this is just another play. But that’s not all. Even if a few facts may incriminate Crane, where’s the motive? He seems to have affections for Snow White, despite his terrible temper. In fact, he deeply mourned her death and he seemed genuinely miserable about it. On the other hand, his escape seems a bit off. I know, when you run away it means you’re guilty… normally. But if you’re being framed for something you didn’t do and there’s no way to prove otherwise, then running away might seem the best solution for the time being. I think that’s the case, thus why Crane destroyed the magic Mirror. That way, no one will be able to find him. And who knows, maybe new leads will be found in the meanwhile.

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The Tweedles – Is it just business?

2. The Tweedles: What’s the Catch?

The Tweedle brothers are always intervening in this case. Whenever Bigby finds something, they are either ahead or aware of the new lead. They are supposed private investigators but what’s the catch? Who is their client and what’s his/her interest in finding the real murderer? Or perhaps, it’s the real murdered who’s trying to gather every bit of information concerning the murder cases. That way, he could always be one step ahead of Bigby and assure he’s never caught. But there’s another option. It could be someone willing to take over Bigby’s position. Finding the real murderer before the sheriff, would prove that Bigby is rather incompetent and poorly suitable for his position. Regardless their real purpose, the Tweedle brothers are determined to accomplish their goal no matter the costs and they’ll return for another fierce and steady rivalry.

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Grendel has done something terrible and the Woodsman is not so happy about it.

3. Grendel and the Woodsman: Trust and Betrayal

The Woodsman proved his innocence in the last episode. He might be an indecent man but he’s no killer, at least that’s what he claimed. But can the same be told about his friend Grendel? This fable monster is normally aggressive and unreceptive. More, he’s truly dissatisfied with Bigby lack of results. Would it be surprising that he has taken action into his own hands? In the new trailer, Grendel and the Woodsman can be seen fighting. What’s left to know, however, is why the two friends are being hostile towards each other.

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Changes are coming to Fabletown under the name of Bluebeard.

4. Bluebeard: Wind of Changes

With Crane gone, the presidency seat is empty but not for long. Bluebeard, a rich and famous fable will step up and get a hold of the town’s management. The curious fact is that Bluebeard used to be a serial killer, however he seems to be a bit different now and devoted to his new ambitions. Power is always a main attraction for the wealthy ones but could there be any hidden motives behind his presidency desires? If by any chance Bluebeard killed Faith and Lilly, then it would make perfect sense to frame Crane and take his seat – security guaranteed.

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The big bad wolf will reveal his true form in A Crooked Mile.

5. Bigby: Losing Control

Since the ending of episode one, Bigby has been previewed to lose control and assume his true fable form – a big and frightening werewolf. It seems that episode three will feature that anticipated moment, where for some reason Bigby will embrace his wild shape. Will he be forced to break his humanity to fight back? Or will pressure and commitment lead him to a breakdown? I’m not sure what will make him go wild but one thing is for sure, it has to be a very strong and meaningful event.

6. ‘You Have No Idea of What’s Going On’

In the end, players really have no clue of what’s going on. And no matter how much prediction is done, there are always a couple of unexpected revelations that turn tables around. In the new trailer, a female voice resembling Holly’s states: You have no idea of what’s going on. Do you? And that’s exactly how I would describe the storyline until now. Nothing is conclusive, everything is uncertain. But isn’t this surprise element that keeps the story going? What makes players engaged and thrilled with the next episodes? It’s obvious that this play-act will eventually end but for now, it will continue as fierce as ever.

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea – Episode 2 Review

BioShock

Bioshock Infinite was a bit of a bizarre game. It released to nearly endless praise, only to be called the most overrated game of 2013 weeks after the dust had settled. From the story to the gameplay, it has become quite polarized in its reception as time goes on. Burial At Sea: Episode 1 promised to be as compelling as Infinite, though struck out because of its short length and abrupt conclusion.

Irrational Games assured us that Burial At Sea – Episode 2 would be an intriguing and concrete finale to the series, and it really followed through in this regard.

Burial At Sea – Episode 2 has you playing the role of Elizabeth for the first time in the series, and after a brief and beautiful introduction, picks up exactly where Episode 1 left off. Avoiding spoilers, if you remember what happened at the end of Episode 1, you’re about to have your mind blown at all of the insane twists and turns that are around each and every corner of Episode 2. Like Infinite as a whole, Irrational made the story just as bonkers as before. They managed to tie up Infinite quite nicely, even if there are some iffy parts thrown in.

One of the main problems I had with Infinite and Episode 1 was that they seemed to juggle too many ideas at once, which caused the story to be convoluted and puzzling. The original Bioshock told a story that was JUST as insane, yet made every single twist clear and concise without leaving the player ever feeling unintentionally confused. Episode 2 has the exact same problem that Infinite has, in that you will often wonder what exactly is going on, even when the credits roll.

It’s disappointing to see that they couldn’t flesh out the ideas more, or tell them in a way that doesn’t damage the story itself, but it’s become expectation with Infinite and its DLC at this point. When you manage to figure out everything that has transpired, you will appreciate the story as a whole, as it’s definitely up there on the intellectual scale, offering unique ideas and perspectives that are often not told within the realm of video games. It never manages to hit the level of something like the original Bioshock in my opinion, but it’s a refreshing plot told well if nothing else.

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As mentioned earlier, Episode 2 has you controlling Elizabeth. It’s very nice to finally get to see the world through her eyes, as she was undoubtedly the best character in Infinite, and shines even brighter in this piece of content. Every single piece of dialogue Elizabeth speaks is music to the ears, and the writing of her character is top notch. Her personality is strong and consistent, and she’s intelligent, witty and offers a lot of class to the game.
Beyond her, characters such as Atlas and other familiars from Bioshock make their appearances, and it’s wonderful to see them again. Part of what made Bioshock so appealing were the eccentric, deranged, and psychotic characters, and after a brief display with Cohen in Episode 1, we get to see a lot more into the minds of several other standouts.

Unlike Episode 1, Episode 2 doesn’t tease you with the characters. What were brief and seemingly unimportant glimpses at old fan-favourites, become essential key scenes to the plot in Episode 2. They never feel shoehorned in, and it’s actually a pleasant surprise that Irrational gives more insight into the story of the original Bioshock, as well as some of the lore of Infinite. These types of things make the plot and characters very fulfilling for long-time fans, and actually helps with the theories that people have created in response to the often ambiguous aspects of this universe.

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Even though the setting and characters are familiar, the gameplay has been drastically changed from Infinite and even Episode 1. No longer are you a gun-toting death machine with octopus vigors and the ability to spawn crows as personal kamikaze fighter jets. Nor are you guessing where the hordes of enemies are hiding and spawning as you get filled with so much lead, that you’d be considered a lethal weapon in some countries. The idea now is that you’re a female Solid Snake. Stealth is the name of the game, and Elizabeth with her vast knowledge, excels in this practice. You must use your new vigors to stalk from the shadows, your sleep-dart crossbow to render foes unconscious, and your occasional weapon to defend yourself when you make a mistake in your tactical approach.
Enemies are laid out cleverly in most areas, but are less in numbers. You will rely on being quiet and using the environment to your advantage to sneak from safe zone to safe zone, as any direct engagement will often lead to your demise. Elizabeth lacks a shield, but makes up for it with her wit.

When not taking part in stealth, you’re often exploring a meticulously designed world filled with nods to previous entries in the franchise and solving basic puzzles to progress. It’s a bite-sized original Bioshock in this regard, as the world is dark and beautiful, but hauntingly devoid of life. Every room is filled with ruin and destruction, but also the leftovers of what was once a beautiful city.

As usual, the set pieces are designed with care in such a way, that you’ll often find yourself stopping to read the many vandalisms and propaganda spread throughout. The environments themselves never get bombastic or over the top like some of the key sections in Infinite, but the design is top notch regardless, and the urge to explore every nook and cranny remains ever present.

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Though not perfect in any way, Burial At Sea – Episode 2 delivered a praise-worthy finale to the somewhat disappointing first episode. It wraps up Bioshock Infinite as a whole, while injecting new life into both Infinite and the original Bioshock’s lore. There is a lot of content for people to play with here, and like Infinite, I suspect that Episode 2 will spark endless debates.

Final Score: 8/10

You Should Have The Forest On Your Radar

Forest

Have you heard of The Forest? The Forest is an open-world survival game being developed by Endnight Games that will be going into early-access on May 22. It is a game that struck me as both beautiful and disturbing, and each time Endnight releases a new trailer for it, I find myself getting more and more excited.

On March 19, Endnight released the third trailer for The Forest, detailing more of the late game shenanigans.

Here’s our third trailer, showing a more extended look at some of our survival systems and also what life is like in the forest a little further into the game.

The first thing I noticed when I saw The Forest was that the game looks undeniably gorgeous. It is possibly the most technically beautiful indie game I’ve seen considering the lighting effects and particles, and It’s shocking that they’ve managed subtle things like reflective water on bodies and seemingly dynamic wildlife. There are serene qualities to the graphics that boost the atmosphere and make the game feel oddly welcoming. That is, until they take any sense of safety away and throw hordes of hideous creatures your way.

That stark contrast plays well into the games atmosphere and makes the encounters even more startling. The balance between reprieve and horror seems to be an idea they’re keeping in the forefront, as each trailer shows off tranquil scenarios which slowly lead into the things nightmares are made of.

Furthermore, if you consider that the AI is programmed in such a way that the cannibals might watch from a distance or stalk you rather than engaging in all out combat, it seems that there will be many terrifying and exciting moments that make The Forest memorable.

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Beyond this, the gameplay seems to revolve around survival and crafting. Everything from cutting down trees and building structures, to hunting, fishing, trap-making, and weapon crafting. All of these elements combined really make it feel as if you will be fighting for survival. How deep they make the system is something we will have to keep an eye on, but if it’s anything like what the trailers are hinting at, every single choice and action could be life or death.

The more Endnight teases The Forest, the more I want to sink my teeth in. If the trailer above left you wanting more, head over to these links for more survival horror goodness.