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.
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: 1 – Faeria 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. 2 – Faeria 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. 3 – Faeria 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.
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.
Deliver Us The Moon is fresh out of a successful Kickstarter funding campaign and after having seen a trailer or two I decided this sci-fi survival/adventure game was due a deeper look. Upon first booting up the game I noticed that for a small indie team based out of Holland, developers Keoken Interactive have done a brilliant job with the visuals. Sure there are the odd optimisation needed here or there but for a demo this rates up there with the standard of many AAA demo’s I have played in the past. Solid mechanically, responsive and easy to control, not glitchy, interesting level design and probably the stand out thing for me in this demo is the lack of hand holding. There are a few pointers here and there but in most cases it’s up to you to figure out how to use equipment and decide what direction you should be heading in.
The demo is a short one lasting about 15-25 minutes and you can find my gameplay/commentary of the demo below.
The Kickstarter campaign might well be over but Deliver Us The Moon is still available to back on the official website and the first episode (of five) is due for release August 2016.
It’s evident that change is afoot in Goodbye Deponia, the third and final game in a trilogy of hilarious point and click games by Daedalic Entertainment. Early on in the game we catch our first glimpse of the inside of the Argonon cruiser headed for Elysium. It’s people look relaxed and are enjoying the high life unaware of the fact that people still reside on the planet they are about to destroy. Rufus and his band of stragglers are not about to let that happen however, and even after all his mistakes Goal has come around to his way of thinking too.
From the first moment you are able to take control of Rufus mayhem ensues, not in a frustrating ‘detrimental to the game’ kinda way, but in a wholly expected and welcomed ‘Rufus is back’ kinda way. If you’ve played the previous parts of the story you’ll already know that despite his best efforts everything Rufus touches is ruined in one way or another and the same is evident in the early story and puzzles of Goodbye Deponia.
The game mechanics are much the same as you would expect from Daedalic’s past games and indeed the past Deponia games. Space bar highlights any interactive points on the screen where as the left and right mouse buttons allow you to examine, pick up and use items found on your travels. Considering that this is the final part of three games, I would have expected the puzzle solving to be as hard as ever. Instead during the first few moments you are almost on rails and have only one option to advance. This is soon sorted and the proper puzzle solving kicks off but while the intro is entertaining, it also seems a little weak as far as gameplay is concerned.
As the version I am playing is only a preview and not the final product, there are still issues with sound balancing and missing text/voice from conversations. These are things that I would fully expect to be ironed out in the final product, but could cause frustration if they are missed. Aside from the obvious flaws, Goodbye Deponia actually seems to run a lot faster on my ancient laptop than the previous two games did. Again this could be because of the version but if translated to the final product this would improve gameplay and cutscenes nicely.
Daedalic claim that Goodbye Deponia can be played as a stand alone, without knowledge of the past two games and while they certainly try I don’t believe that you would experience the game properly. Without having that previous knowledge of characters, running jokes and puzzle solving methods many items of information would go way over your head. There’s even a quick run down of the past two adventures, but this for me acted as a jog of the memory more than a serious explanation that would allow an uninformed me to continue with play unhindered.
With all that being said the general feel of Goodbye Deponia is one of high quality care and attention, both in puzzle solving and game mechanics. The world, its characters and intricately hand drawn backgrounds are all still present and there is nothing to say that this wont be as good as the past two games, only time will tell. When all is said and done it really will be sad to say goodbye to Deponia and to Rufus, but at the same time I look forward to the conclusion of many hours of play and a genuinely interesting world.
Goodbye Deponia will be released via Steam and other outlets on October 22nd.
I admit that I may have jumped into the adventure gaming scene some fifteen years too late and as a result have been participating in a lot of pointing and clicking lately. It’s a wonder that my mouse hasn’t worn itself out from the constant release of great new games and discovery of old classics. As of late most of my finger tapping has been directed at Daedalic Entertainment’s releases and with each new arrival I feel duty bound to report to you with my impressions.
Memoria is Daedalic Entertainment’s latest tale of adventure and is the second game in the series to be based in the world of popular role playing game The Dark Eye. In Germany The Dark Eye really holds its weight amongst a band of loyal gamers, outselling Dungeons & Dragons with it’s dice rolling fantasy jaunts since its conception in 1984. Indeed the continent of Aventuria has been around for so long that it leads me to expect detail and complexity when considering anything linked with its name and based in its world.
Memoria tells us the story of Geron and his wish to break the curse that currently traps his friend Nuri in the form of a raven. In order to do this he strikes a deal with a wizard who will teach him the spell he requires, but only if he can first solve a riddle. This riddle tells a second story of Princess Sadja and her attempts to acquire the mask of Malakkar, a powerful artifact that will supposedly change the course of a great battle her people are engaged in. In historical tales Princess Sadja disappears from the face of the earth with no trace or explanation as to where she might have gone. It’s up to Geron to discover her fate and in turn solve the riddle and free Nuri from her curse.
Having not yet played the first game in the series Chains of Satinav, I am lacking a bit of background information of protagonist Geron and his past exploits that have him branded as the hero of Andergast. In fact quite a few of the characters themselves don’t seem to be all that well explained, possibly due to the developers assumption that I have played the previous game and already have knowledge about them. In contrast, the fresh story of Princes Sadja and her band of would be heroes is very interesting and contains plenty of information about its characters. Hers is also a story more focussed on mythical beings, magic and undiscovered ruins, adventure and conquest and I find myself longing for each new part of the princesses story as the game progresses. As this is only a demo I still expect a lot more from Geron in the full game and am sure this will be the case.
If there’s one thing that continually shines throughout Daedalic’s games it’s the intricately hand drawn backdrops that stand out and give the games much of their charm and distinction. It’s the same case for Memoria and the developers have even chosen to go one step further and have rendered the characters with a computer, breathing new life and movement into the 2D world of Aventuria. At this stage in development English voice actors have not yet been added to these characters, but I’m happy to say that the script kept me thoroughly engaged to the point where I would have happily played the whole game without them.
If there’s one gripe I have at this stage it’s that the puzzles are a touch on the easy side and lack a little depth. Sure the developers have done a good job so far of removing much of the illogical decision making that has dogged past games, but in doing so have made the road to solving the puzzles a little too simplistic. It feels as if they need to add something to beef them up a little. Of course this being only a preview version I fully expect things to have changed come full release or at least advanced in the later parts of the game. There are also a few missed elements such as the previously mentioned voice actors and dialogue options that don’t exist.
All in all, Memoria is shaping up to be a great addition to the adventure gaming scene, with a strong story and a well imagined world. Before the full game releases on 30th of August I fully intend to play through Chains of Satinav so that I can better understand the characters and story of this game. Until then I recommend you check out the official web page and forum for up to date info on the series.
ANNO is one series of games that up until recently has completely evaded me. While I have certainly heard a lot about it and played a few similar RTS games such as The Settlers and Age of Empires, it’s just one of those series that I’ve never gotten around to playing until now.
Just like with The Settlers Online, Blue Byte and Ubisoft have once again teamed up to bring us ANNO Online, a free-to-play browser-based game. If you happened to have played last years The Settlers Online then you will feel at home here as the basic principles at this early beta stage are almost entirely the same.
You start your game with a single island split into seven sections. The first section is free for you to build the beginnings of your empire while the other sections are fogged out Age of Empires style, waiting to be explored. Buildings start simple with basic housing, means of providing food and drink and to produce cloth for clothes. As you can imagine with games of this style, as you advance in level the buildings advance allowing you to build upper class housing, entertainment for residents of your city and even ships.
The main problem I have with ANNO Online is that its economics and infrastructure are so finely tuned that it’s hard to get the right balance and allow for any more than 15 minutes gameplay. This is very apparent in the initial levels of gameplay, when setting a few things in motion such as providing extra sources of food or a new church, your resources are eaten up very quickly leaving you with little options for upgrades or otherwise advancing your population.
The game is also set up in much a similar way to any Facebook games you may have had the misfortune of playing. If you run out of resources or feel like you just can’t wait for them to build up again you can purchase credits which in turn buy the resources of your choice. You can also explore areas of the island early, increase your population or otherwise advance your gameplay experience beyond those 15 minutes or so you would manage without a purchase.
There are a few things to take into account before deciding whether or not to play ANNO Online. First of all as a browser-based game, no downloads are required and the game can run on just about any PC with an internet connection. So if your computer of choice is getting a little old and you find yourself passing on many games because you know they just wont run, then you will probably have no problems here. The second thing to note is that the game is only at a very early beta stage and so they are still fine tuning the balance of the economy and consumables with every day that passes. They are also adding new elements such as guilds, added just a day before this articles release.
So it’s fair to say that any problems I have mentioned might well be altered or entirely removed/fixed by the time you come around to playing this. However, one problem that will stay with the game is that ultimately they want your money for playing and it’s advertised a lot on the website and with the new features they add. At this early stage of the beta its hard to tell if the game will stay like this for long. Certainly if you’re looking for a fully performing browser-based RTS, I would say I enjoyed last years The Settlers Online more and Tribal Wars even more still.
Today I get to play as the most resilient, strong stomached and crazy assed character of all time. That’s right, Isaac Clarke is back in this years Dead Space 3 and I intend to give you the full lowdown of the demo I played earlier. I’d also like to point out that I’ve never played a Dead Space game before. I have however, seen a friend play the first two games and know the story pretty well.
After breaking up on re-entry, Isaac wakes up to discover himself stranded on the hostile plains of Tau Volantis with Ellie and the crew scattered, or possibly dead. The weather is harsh in this area, with snow and debris of the ship lying all around. Our only option is to press forward in hope of finding the missing crew members and a way to survive.
It’s evident in this first area of the demo that Dead Space 3 has received a big improvement to the visuals since the last instalment. The character models and surrounding area, although slightly masked by the weather conditions, look very impressive. The initial music adds to the atmosphere well.
Moving on I encounter some Necromorphs using the weather conditions to their advantage. Being a first time player I expected to struggle initially with the controls, but one quick look at the layout had me set for the duration of the demo. I noticed that a side roll has been added in for more maneuverability when dodging incoming enemy attacks which is a nice improvement. Combat seems to be as intense as ever and with multiple enemies advancing on you quickly, stasis is at vital as ever.
The variety of weapons has increased greatly and included in the demo is the new assault rife gun. This seems to be a decent addition but doesn’t compare to the accuracy of the plasma cutter which I stick with throughout. The customisation of weapons has also undergone a big change. You are now able to craft your own weapons from scratch, or by finding blueprints, upgrade them and add attachments with lootable scrap items found while exploring. Guns can even be added together if you so desire.
A new edition is a group of human enemies fighting under the S.C.A.F. logo (Visceral Games should really keep up to date on their British slang). These humans are hostile to Isaac for whatever reason and use assault rifles much like the one I mentioned earlier. I also noticed a number of new Necromorph enemies throughout the demo, including dead S.C.A.F. members.
The best set piece of the demo comes near the end when Isaac is trapped in the immediate vicinity of a huge rotating drill itching to turn his body into a rag doll. In order to escape you have to fight off waves of enemies and solve the puzzle of turning off the drill itself, which I wont spoil in case you wish to play. This is another brilliant showcase for the visuals and intense combat. Even when the drill is at high speed and filling the entirety of your screen you can still pick out enemies and see where to move to avoid being minced.
After completing the demo I have very few gripes from what was an intense, visually stunning and well designed portion of the game. Normal difficulty (which was the only option available) was just a little to easy for me however. Whether or not this was done intentionally for the purposes of the demo or not im not sure, but being able to try at a all difficulties would have been nice.
I also didn’t get to try co-op, but I’m not sure it would be the kinda thing I would have enjoyed anyway. Scary and intense games are always best played alone, with your imagination running wild at every sound and shadow. Playing with a co-op parter might detract from the atmosphere a little.
The demo certainly pulls out the stops when it comes to making you jump. The scariest moments are often not when you have enemies all around you, but when everything is quiet and you’re waiting for the next attack. It’s at these times the music and eerie noises play their best part at creeping you out.
The Dead Space 3 demo was released today, exclusively to Xbox 360 owners who registered their interest and their details on the official website. It will be made available to everyone from the 22nd of January.
Being a fan of Formula One and wanting to play a F1 game are two entirely different things. In my opinion the games that I have seen in the past haven’t delivered the excitement and tension I get when watching the races on TV, and don’t convey the same feel of complete precision and total control that the drivers have over their extremely powerful cars. That is until now. I’ve been following all the press releases and developer diaries from Codemasters game this year with a close eye and they seem to have been making all the right changes. Introducing some great new features such as the Young Driver Test that feature in the real F1 world, brings a new sense of realism and for the first time an eagerness to play a F1 game. The following is my first impressions after playing today’s demo release from Codemasters F1 2012.
After first setting up your character the demo puts you in a MacLaren car ready for the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. The YDT goes through all the basics of controlling the car, things like cornering, acceleration, breaking and how to use features like KERS and DRS. You can also free drive round the whole track in wet or dry conditions to test different settings. The full YDT is not available in the demo as the whole second day of the test is missed out. During the second day you can expect more performance testing, learning about tyre conservation, systems tests and wet weather tests.
The YDT seems like a good way to ease in anyone who hasn’t played any F1 games before like myself, but could become a little grating for any veterans of the series or anyone who already knows a lot about F1. The videos provided during the test are informative but actually getting out and trying it all is where the real fun is and makes the video sections seem a bit pointless. Simple things like being able to drive your car out the pit lane and into the starting position would make the experience all that more realistic, and while you can view this if you choose, you are unable to control the car until out on the track proper.
Moving onto the second part of the demo and I’m now placed in the Williams team for qualification in Monza. There is a lot of useful information in the build up to the qualifying and race itself which I like a lot, adding to the build up of your qualifying lap and the race itself. You can receive mail from your team about your performance and any goals they might have for you in the race ahead, view weather conditions, and watch a Hot Lap video with commentary. The Hot Lap videos are a very good idea that are unfortunately not delivered in the best of ways. A lot of information is thrown your way in just a few minutes and there is no way to pause or rewind the video to take another look. It would also be nice if the video could be viewed in full screen instead of half screen with the track layout in the other half, a mini map on a full screen would be much more effective.
Car tuning and customizations are something that have been restricted for the demo but look to be very in-depth if they are all available in the main game. Before a race you can alter all kinds of aspects of the car such as front and rear wing aerodynamics, suspension height, tyre selection, gear changes and how much fuel you have on board at any one time. You also have all the usual driving assist options such as ABS, manual or auto gear changes and breaking assists. Interestingly you can also choose a rival driver for the season allowing you to set your own goals of beating the driver in a race and in the season as a whole.
Once setting my fastest lap and placing second on the grid (must have been beginners luck), it was time for the real race. For the purposes of the demo you play in Season Mode which is a shortened version of the full career mode. The season is ten races long and only five laps per race. It started off well, handling was a little unstable as I was using a controller and so hitting the perfect apex and sticking to the race line was a little tricky but quickly getting used to how KERS and DRS worked gave me a valuable advantage and I pulled in front in my first lap. Pulling ahead of the pack by a few seconds I was starting to get a bit ahead of myself and pushed my speed too much, making a few mistakes. Luckily the Flashback feature allows you to rewind the race a certain distance before your mistake and let you try again. This may seem like cheating but fortunately you can only do this four times a race and I found myself having used all four Flashbacks by the time I was on the fourth lap.
With just over one lap to go I messed up again and found myself in the gravel with no way of altering my mistake. Pushing back onto the track it got even worse as I almost caused a collision with Vettel and was awarded a time penalty. Now back in sixth place I pushed my KERS and refocused for the final stretch. Gaining one place during this lap I noticed that not having any music or much team chat over the radios was a little strange. The noise of the engines and the odd screech of tires was all that was audible and realistic as this may be, over the course of forty or fifty laps of a full race this could become very tiresome. I finished the race in fifth place but was pushed to twenty-first due to my time penalties.
Racing without a proper steering wheel is the biggest grumble about the racing control. The various customisations I could make to the handling and assists helped but ultimately this would be a totally different game when played with a wheel which I don’t have. The game immersion is really good giving you lots of information in the build up to the race and allowing you to adjust accordingly. As I mentioned before this could be improved by small things like allowing you to control your car when leaving the pit and lining up for the race start or being apart of the pre race interviews that you see on the BBC. The menus and overall layout is clean and well explained and made making any adjustments easy. Equally if you’re not fussed with all the pre race waiting around and just want to get out there you could set the game to easy and use quick set up options.
The F1 2012 demo was played on the Xbox 360 and is available to PC and PS3 owners over the next couple of days. The full game release will be on September 21st in Europe.
I got my hands on Diablo 3 earlier today, around 3pm GMT, and unlike many, I installed and got into the game without any problems at all. I was quite surprised at the lack of problems considering the many issues that people were having in the early hours of launch, and are still having tonight according to what I am seeing on Twitter. So, in the peaceful British May afternoon, I got to spend about an hour with Diablo 3, and you can find some brief first impressions after the jump. …