Browsed by
Category: Impressions

Previews

Five For Five – Odyssey

Five For Five – Odyssey

Every now and then I come across a game that surprises me in a good way. Usually these games are ones that I’ve had a brief glance at, said “Ooh, that looks cool” and then eventually got round to playing even if that has been months down the line. Odyssey is certainly in that category but this time rather than ‘getting round to it eventually’ I was lucky enough to get hands on with the demo so that I could let you all know just how interesting a game it really is.

The basis of Odyssey’s story is that whilst travelling the seven seas in your trusty boat, probably named ‘Seas The Day’ (it’s not) you come across a group of islands ominously named ‘Wretched Islands’ where by you intercept a radio transmission from a family who have been stranded there for a few days. The family also appear to have pirates chasing after them but have covered their tracks by leaving puzzles behind as they travel that can only be solved by using scientific theory. Don’t worry if you don’t know many sciency things because during your travels on the island you will find journal entries left behind for you by Kai, the daughter of the family. In these journal pages you will learn about various aspects of science that Kai has been learning about from her dad. These range from thoughts about how to prove the world is round and not flat, star constellations and gravity and everything you learn in these entries can be directly applied to the puzzles that you have to solve.

In attempting to prove the earth isn't flat, Kai learns about the rotation of the earth.
In attempting to prove the earth isn’t flat, Kai learns about the rotation of the earth.

These puzzles whilst being a challenge also provide a good source of knowledge and during my time reading the journal entries and solving the first few puzzles in the demo I genuinely learned some new things. There can be a lot of reading involved in the entries, but for me I was never put off by this as they were always informative and interesting. Quite often they split between Kai learning science from her dad and the general family activities on the island, setting the puzzles and travelling. Another thing that I enjoyed about the puzzles is that they were never illogical or random. If you don’t know how to do them it’s only because you didn’t read a journal entry properly or didn’t fully understand what the puzzle was trying to get you to do.

This puzzle involved working out which constellations would be covered when the moon was in certain positions compared to the sun.
This puzzle involved working out which constellations would be covered when the moon was in certain positions compared to the sun.

Aside from the main plot, Odyssey is a nice looking game. The islands and puzzles themselves are well designed and are nice to look at and the general feel of the game is one of quality. One of the only problems I have so far is the jerkiness of the camera. You can either have it really slow and sluggish or quick and jerky and I couldn’t seem to find a happy medium for some reason. This was a minor detriment to the overall game however and probably something that could be changed come the final release of the game.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the island has in store for me when Odyssey fully releases on it’s estimated date of May 2017. If you want to find out more about the game for yourself you can head over to the Odyssey Steam Greenlight page where they were voted in after just four days.

Have At Ye, Mechanical Malingerer!

Have At Ye, Mechanical Malingerer!

I don’t ask for much in life, but if you gave me the option I’d probably ask for robots and swords. Probably some other stuff as well  (like world peace and an end to hunger), but mainly robots and swords.

Rather conveniently, Doborog Games’ Clone Drone in the Danger Zone offers both; a third person arena-combat game featuring human minds in robot bodies facing off against robot minds in equally robotic bodies.

Read More Read More

FIFA 17 – Demo Impressions

FIFA 17 – Demo Impressions

This year’s obligatory FIFA release is more worthy for attention than any in recent memory. That’s important for me, as I have not purchased a FIFA game since 2013. Simply put, they rarely do enough every year to justify a purchase. They update the graphics slightly, tweak the gameplay slightly and slap the latest footballing superstar on the cover and then release it into the wild. It’s not enough for me to shell out £50. Every year, I play the demo, each time all reaffirming my position.

Until this year.

FIFA 17’s demo is still so very familiar:

  • Roster of fully licensed teams? Check.
  • Mocap from real professionals? Check.
  • Licensed commentary from Martin Tyler and chums? Check.
  • Alarmingly well rendered face of Wayne Rooney and his new hairline? Check.

There are some differences though. This years game is running on the Frostbite engine, the same one used to power Battlefield and FIFA has never looked healthier for it. Bright, smooth animations give players a sense of weight allowing them to move and react to each other’s presence in very believable ways. So far, just a slight fancier update than the usual.

fifa17_xb1_ps4_norway_wnt_hr_wm

Then, you look at this year’s marquee signing.

“The Journey” is a single player story mode where you assume the identity of a young, up and coming star and his rise to one of the world’s elite footballers. You play Alex Hunter, the quintessential (he would have a potential rating of 200 in Football Manager) youngster and guide his on and off the field decisions. 2K have done this style of story mode once before in NBA 2K16 and while the basketball game took the first brave steps into the concept, it was lacking in refinement. The Journey feels like EA have worked out the formula, even in the short amount of time you have with Alex Hunter in the demo.

The new tweaks to the football of FIFA 17 are also interesting. A new set-piece creator enables you to choose how a player receives the ball. Be it a long far post cross to the giant centre-back or a near post drill for a first time Sheringham volley. It is a little ambiguous however, yet with a little practice became very effective.

20160907_fifa17_storymodestill_touchup-1920x1080_wwm

EA also are championing something called “Active Intelligence System” in which the AI is constantly monitoring its special awareness and the way AI players react and make runs. FIFA’s singleplayer AI used to get lots of negative feedback however, the fact that I didn’t notice any AI failings is a sign that it’s working as intended. Nothing the AI did felt unnatural during my playtime.

Passing can feel a little difficult to be precise with the analogue stick. A fair few times I wanted to pass to one player and it ended up at another’s feet because they were closer. “Be more precise then!” I hear you roar, but it is difficult and is the area that needs the most improvement. Shooting on the other hand feels lovely. Thunderbolt shots have a weight and true thump about them and feel wonderful when they crack against the bar.

20160831_fifa17_newwnts_netherlands_dribble-1920x1080_wwm

For years I have been begging for a game to have the same feel as Guy Ritchie’s first person Nike Advert “Take It To The Next Level”. Nothing has ever excited me more than the concept of a video game showing the experiences of real life footballer has. Being discovered, getting an agent, dealing with the press, the money, getting transferred all of these things seem to be present in The Journey the demo version was very enjoyable and I cannot wait to experience it fully.

 

The Elder Scrolls: Legends – Open Beta Musings

The Elder Scrolls: Legends – Open Beta Musings

I’ve never spent considerable time with a collectible card game, I tried Hearthstone earlier this year after seeing everyone rave about it for so long, and I didn’t get the attraction. I’m not going to proclaim that The Elder Scrolls: Legends, the new CCG set in the Scrolls universe is going to keep me playing for months on end, but it looks fun, to a newcomer at least.

Read More Read More

The Only Way Is Up

The Only Way Is Up

Sierra adventure games had many flaws – the unpredictable parser that required instructions to be written ‘just so’, the unexpected and seemingly unavoidable deaths, the genuinely insane puzzle logic and not to mention the fact that it was frequently possible to die on the very last screen of the game because you forgot to pick up some innocuous-looking item right at the start of the game.

Read More Read More

Gang Beasts Online Beta – Quick Hit Impressions

Gang Beasts Online Beta – Quick Hit Impressions

When a game is described by the developers as containing “surly gelatinous characters, brutal mêlée fight sequences, and absurdly hazardous environments” with the action taking place in a fictional place known as Beef City, you know it’s going to be fun. This is Gang Beasts, and I’ve got some quick hit thoughts after playing a bit of the online beta.

Read More Read More

Hitman’s Elusive Targets Are All Wrong, And Here’s Why.

Hitman’s Elusive Targets Are All Wrong, And Here’s Why.

I was actually quite late to jump on the Hitman bandwagon. The new one, that is. I’ve played and loved all previous installments of the series, but the news that Hitman 6 (or Hitman(TM) as it insists on being known) would be episodic was enough to put me off picking it up at launch. A few months later down the line and the positive reception of the first two of its sprawling open levels and multiple approaches was enough for me to take the plunge.

Read More Read More

Sanctus Vidi Vinculum

Sanctus Vidi Vinculum

I’m not entirely sure who it was that first coined the term ‘Holy Chainsaw’ – it was either my brother or one of his friends, crammed into the spare bedroom of my parent’s house, huddled around my father’s work computer which contained national secrets, government documents and for some reason a shareware copy of Doom.

Read More Read More

Niffelheim – Early Access First Impressions

Niffelheim – Early Access First Impressions

Niffelheim is a 2D side-scrolling RPG currently in development in Steams Early Access Program. In it you play as a Viking who’s soul has been diverted on its was to Valhalla. You can craft armour and weapons, collect resources, upgrade your home base and defend it against numerous foes. Niffelheim is a true early access game in the sense that there are a lot of features still to be released, but the games developers are hard at work and keep in regular contact with the players via the Steam forums.

To see what the game looks like click the video below where I go through

Niffelheim is cuurently available on Steam for £14.99 link can be found here.

Dovetail Games Flight School – Preview

Dovetail Games Flight School – Preview

Let me first preface this piece by explaining my background with flight simulators. I played Microsoft Flight Simulator ’98 back in the day, I had an absolute blast…but wasn’t actually any good at flying the planes. Since then, my flying experience has mainly come from the Battlefield games, along with a dabble in things like Tom Clancy’s HAWX. What does that all mean? If you are a die-hard flight simulator fan, this isn’t the article for you as I won’t be talking about how accurate the plane models are or other details like that, but please feel free to laugh at my flying “skills” in the videos!

Read More Read More

Further Thoughts on The Division

Further Thoughts on The Division

The Division, it’s no longer such a new game now, and I imagine that most people who play it have long since reached the level cap and are in the ‘End Game’. Me? I’ve played about 24 hours’ worth, am at level 21 and just over halfway through the story missions. I might as well share some thoughts on how I’m getting on…

Read More Read More

Faeria In-Depth Early Access Preview

Faeria In-Depth Early Access Preview

As a well versed player of digital CCG’s Faeria is a game that instantly feels familiar to me. Upon launching the game up for the first time I find myself looking at the cards and even before I play my first game everything makes sense in terms of understanding the mechanics of the cards, which although under different names are shared with other digital CCG’s I’ve played in the past. What’s different about Faeria is the use of an environmental board on which the cards in your collection can be played and can move around before entering combat. This simple addition adds a whole new level of tactical thought to a game which already has all the layers of a normal digital card game. The combination works so well that I found myself sinking 4 hours a day over the first weekend of playing.

A typical game starts with an empty board and hexagonal shaped ocean pieces on which you place your land. Depending on which faction you build your deck from you can either place mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, neutral land called prairies, or a combination of any and all of these types. You can then place your creature cards onto these lands. Your creatures can only be placed on your own lands although they can be moved onto opponent lands after they have been on the board for 1 turn or more.

From here it’s basically a game of chess with your creatures facing up against your opponents. It’s important to note there are also four Faeria wells at the corners of the board. Faeria lets you use your cards and abilities and controlling these wells can sometimes be critical to winning either long games where your opponent will run out of Faeria if not managed properly, or rush games where you will be placing a lot of creatures and using a lot of event (special ability) cards within the first few turns.

Matching your card choice to your play style is also a large factor of success and it’s important to know what all your cards abilities are and how you can best play them. This of course takes time experimenting and refining your deck when you think something’s not quite right, or not exactly how you want it to be. Whether you play defensive, rush, or go for a deck themed around a particular feature like ranged combat or a focus on efficient trades it’s important to have a game plan.

Once you’ve had a good look at the cards and have drafted a deck you’re happy with, it’s time to get into the thick of the action, and there’s a few choices of game types to be made. Firstly you should be focusing your time in solo mode, where you unlock all of the codex cards (basic game cards) by defeating AI opponents from each of the factions; water, desert, forest and mountain. Once you have done this and refined you deck with any of the new cards you should head into battle mode. Here you can play against other real players in ranked or un-ranked play. Un-ranked is a good way to test new or experimental decks you have been creating, while ranked mode, going from 25-1 and then onto God rank is the ultimate test of your deck crafting and playing skills and stands as a mark of your commitment and skill with the game. Pandora is another mode players of CCG’s might also be familiar with and is also known in other games as draft mode, or arena. This has yet to be implemented in Faeria but is very near and from what I’ve heard will work much in the same way that it does in other games.

Faeria Booster Pack

As you gain ranks and level your character there are certain awards that can be picked up. Gold for buying booster packs, card crafting material and avatar pictures. There is also a shop in which you can buy all these things and booster packs, but the good thing about Faeria is that in this early stage with not too many cards it’s strikes me as not very pay-to-win, which is of course a great thing. As the game progresses (as with all CCG’s) the struggle will be in keeping up with all these new cards and the change of the meta game towards these cards. That moment is not upon us yet and if you wish to get into Faeria I would say get in early and try to keep on top of the cards as much as you can.

At the moment Faeria costs £17.99 on Steam and with this you get 20 booster packs, 10 entries in to Pandora mode when it becomes available and exclusive aesthetic item for your god. Eventually it will be free-to-play but then the bonus for supporting development during early access will be gone. Assuming that Pandora entry is about 100 gold and ignoring the exclusive avatar items, this would have cost you 3000 in game gold, which takes while to farm though quests, so to get this quick boost as soon as you start the game feels worthwhile to me.

The Good and the Bad of Faeria
So you’ve probably heard enough about the in’s and out’s of Faeria to decide whether it’s your kind of game or not, but as a whole is the game worth playing or not? Let’s start with the positives.

Positives – The beautiful art style, familiar feel, smooth gameplay, the fact that it’s not pay-to-win, is easy to pick up and hard to master and lacks in RNG compared to other CCG’s are all great but fairly small reasons why you should play this game. The main three points for me are that: 1Faeria already has a great community of players who are all willing to help you understand the game and craft better decks and can chat to you thanks to the forum link you find in game. 2Faeria has a uniqueness about it in that it has an almost board game feel but it actually a CCG. The mix of evolving environmental board and chess game of your cards on this board is brilliant. 3Faeria even in this Early Access stage receives regular updates to balance the cards that people are playing every day. This is a great way to keep the community feeling in touch with the game and the changes that are happening whilst also receiving all the normal bug fixing and so on you would expect for a game in Early Aceess.

Negatives – Considering this game has only just entered early access on Steam there are actually very little negatives about it. This is probably in part down to the community and the open communication the developers have with the community, allowing them to suggest feedback and directly send screenshots or reports of bugs to a live developer and a team of moderators. However in the spirit of fairness I feel it would be unjust if I didn’t mention the minor negatives I have found with the game so far. 1 – There is a running battle log at the side of the screen, this is helpful but only has a history of a few turns. It would be nice to be able to scroll down this list and see what happened previously as occasionally your opponents turn can be comprised of several different moves, attacks and spells and the log quite often doesn’t even go back a full turn. It could also do with a little more explanation. Sure a creature attacked, but who did it attack? Quite often the target of spells and attacks are not shown. 2 – When opening booster packs and finding new cards, there is no indication of where these new cards are when you go back to the drafting stage. It would be nice if there was some kind of highlight that showed where these were for new players who were not acquainted with all of the games cards yet. 3 – There is currently no player interaction while in game. No emotes, no chat between friends, nothing. While some players may enjoy the silence it would be nice to have the option to chat to friends if you wanted. 4 – As the player base of Faeria is just taking off, matchmaking can be a bit unfair at times. You can be placed with an opponent five ranks above or below you, or even face the same opponent twice in a row. I assume this is because of the smaller player base and I’m sure it will be rectified in due course. It’s not like it happens all the time anyway!

If your interested in checking out Faeria further I’ve included a gameplay video below where I detail a couple of strategies for playing and talk about some other aspects of the game.

Faeria can be purchased for £17.99 on Steam, but will become free-to-play in September.

ARK: Survival Of The Fittest – Early Access First Impressions

ARK: Survival Of The Fittest – Early Access First Impressions

I’m sure many of you have already played ARK: Survival Evolved the largely popular open world survival game with dinosaurs taming abilities. Well either way you’re in for a treat with ARK: Survival of the Fittest as it includes almost everything from the main game but in a much shorter more confined time frame. If there’s one thing that I don’t like about these new wave of survival games, it’s that it always seems to take forever to establish yourself on a server and get to the good part of the game where you’re defensible and not being picked on by every player you come across. ARK: SotF immediately blows that out the water with game tending to last between 45 minutes to 2 hours, yet still contain most of the good parts of these longer survival games.

If you have ever seen the film Battle Royale (or The Hunger Games) you will have a good idea of what to expect here. Every player essentially starts with nothing, but can craft weapons and armour and tame dinosaurs just like in the main ARK game. It’s then a battle between all the players on the server to take each other out until there is only one left (or one team left, depending on the game type). The video below should give you a better idea of what to expect.

ARK: Survival of the Fittest is free-to-play and has only just made it’s way to Early Access on Steam a few days ago so expect there to be plenty of updates and changes before the game is fully released.