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.
Distance is a game that frustrates me, not because I don’t like it or because it’s not a good game, but because I’m just not skilled enough to play it and therein lies the biggest problem I have with what should be a really enjoyable and fast paced arcade style racer. If it wasn’t for the fact that the rest of the game was so good I probably wouldn’t even mention it and off paper I’d put it down to bad design or lack of effort on my part. But the truth is that it’s well designed, fun to play, smooth running, has a great soundtrack and an increasing fan base that have already created thousands of custom maps to play on. It’s just a shame that this one mechanic slows all that down for me in such a way that I simply cannot compete with other racers in multiplayer and sometimes not even complete full race tracks at all.
If you want to see what Distance is all about for yourself, click on the video below.
With no solid release date set as yet, developers Refract hope to release some time in the first quarter of 2016. Distance can be purchased on Steam or via the official website for PC with other platforms to follow.
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.
Clandestine is a stealth action game currently in the Early Access program on Steam. It’s developers Logic Artists aim to bring the genre back to it’s routes by doing away with the all too common feeling that your character is some kind of all powerful hero with every possible resource at their disposal to get the job done. Instead Clandestine is best played in co-op with one player taking on the roll of the spy and one the hacker.
The spy is the operative on the field doing the dirty work. Dispatching guards, picking up intel and traversing the maps like a stealthy ninja with a gun. While the hacker has no on field activities and instead has the job of supporting the spy using their various different cyber skill for things like unlocking security doors and disabling cameras.
I’ve put together a short video below that better explains the overall gameplay in Clandestine and what I feel are the good and bad points about the game.
So as you can see from the above footage, while Clandestine looks promising there are still a few changes that need to be implemented before the games full release. Remember this game is currently in Steam’s Early Access program that means many changes could be made before the official release.
Clandestine‘s release date hasn’t been set yet but if you like what you see and want to buy into the early access version on Steam, you can do so here.
Blackguards 2 is a turn-based, tactical RPG based on the rule book of The Dark Eye, the increasingly popular German role-playing game that challenges even Dungeons and Dragons for it’s fantasy crown. Made by Daedalic Entertainment, Blackguards 2 is a follow up to 2014’s original and is due for release almost exactly one year later in January of 2015. Various additions and improvements have been made since the first game was released making Blackguards 2 a more accessible and understandable game than its predecessor. As a newcomer to the series I was glad to see there is an in depth tutorial that explains the basic mechanics of the game including any changes and while I did feel there were portions missing that could really have been of use, this really helped me settle into the game with a basic understanding of how to move forward once I was set free on the world map.
For those unaccustomed to Blackguards 2‘s gameplay style the main portion of the game takes place in two places; your campsite and the battlefield. The battlefield is of course where you test your skills on a tiled map using a turn-based system. Your characters can be strategically placed before the first turn is taken and the map can also be fully viewed before you start. One stumbling block I ran into early on was that I would quite often find myself taking a couple of turns on a new map then restarting once I had a better gist of what my overall goal was. Blackguards 2 does allow you highlight interactive items on the map, but only once characters have been placed and turns are in play. There is also occasionally a bit of dialogue before the first turn, but in many cases neither of these fully explain the maps end goal and on the hardest difficulties this can be a death sentence if you make a tactical error early on.
Once clear on your map goals the combat becomes really enjoyable and the twists and turns of the story elements don’t seem so harsh. In a way it’s both a good and a bad thing that maps need to be scouted before you fully commit to them. On one hand this of course means that the overall goal is not well explained enough to begin with, but also means that maps and not just straightforward affairs and vary in approach, difficulty and layout to the point that after six hours of gameplay I don’t think I approached a single battle in exactly the same way.
The campsite is the second area where you will spend a lot of your time learning about your characters history and getting to grips with the very detailed and open ability system. As with the action based portion of the game this area holds a lot of positives and a few negatives. For starters the aforementioned ability system is great once you get to grips with it. You are basically open to build your characters as you wish, without having to stick to strict class restrictions. Of course this doesn’t mean that you can just spend your ability points without thought, as this will most likely cripple your effectiveness later on when the game takes a difficulty hike. Carefully reading over abilities and choosing a path for each character is your best bet and this is where one of the negatives comes into play. The specification options and statistics are just not explained well enough. For example what is the difference between offence and damage and how do they effect each other if at all? Do main-hand and off-hand attacks have the same stat values? How many points of endurance do I need to gain in order to raise my health? These and more are all the types of questions I wanted to ask in order to improve the way I levelled my characters and so improve the way I played the game. Blackguards 2 certainly seems like it’s pushing itself toward the hardcore tactical RPG crowd, but in order to please that crowd you have to be overly informative and highly detailed in every aspect of character building.
Blackguards 2 also allows for moral choices when dealing with certain aspects of the games storyline. As the leader of a group of growing power within the kingdom Cassia often has tough choices to make than can effect the story later down the line. The game is also not as straightforward as choosing which point you want to advance to after every successful battle, occasionally the kingdoms forces will try to take back one of your controlled points on the map and then it’s your turn to be on the back foot and defend what you have fought so hard for.
Blackguards 2 is currently in development and I have no doubt that come release day there will be advancements and improvements from what I have seen in the preview. For me if they are to get things just right it would be nice for there to be a bit more detail in the statistics side of things and continuation of the varying map styles and encounters. Blackguards 2 is clearly confident in what it wants to achieve, that being a solid tactical game set in a fantasy world with a rich backstory. Characters are likeable, combat is enjoyable and the game is generally well designed and I can’t wait to try out the finished product next year.
I hack and slash but the enemies keep at me thick and fast, surrounding me from every angle. Slowly they chip away at my health, forcing me to drain my soul reserves in order to replenish my health. I pull back to a previous area hoping to pick off a few grunts before the full force hits me again. Alas it’s no use, there are just too many. Fortunately I have one last trick up my sleeve. Not one that many mortals would openly admit to, but then again I am not just any mortal. I have already been resurrected once today and don’t plan on giving cause for a second time. My secret… well, you see I have a demon in my soul and can transfer to its shadowy world in a mere second.
And just like that… I vanished.
The cross dimensional mechanic is easily the best thing about Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms, meaning you can start and finish quests, find secrets, solve puzzles and encounter entirely different enemies in both the realm of the living and the shadowy realm of the dead. In fact one of the best moments of the game came when I discovered some poor betrayed soul haunting the afterlife, only to take pity on the story they told me and exact revenge on their betrayer back in the mortal world. It’s this added sense of depth that makes the questing in exploration in Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms all that more enjoyable, especially when travelling through previously visited areas. Another high point is the all too rare boss battles, which provide a real challenge even in lower difficulties. These encounters are filled with unique abilities and situations that make them stand out amongst the hundreds of normal enemies you will encounter over the course of this game. They require tactics, patience and often multiple attempts, which is exactly what I would expect from an ARPG that knows what it’s doing.
If Shadows: HK was able to keep up this level of performance across the entire game, then it really would be something special. Unfortunately just like a freshly unearthed gem you can see that it has value, that there is something special there, but it’s rough around the edges and needs some work to mould it into perfection. Shadows: HK has plenty of plus points but lacks the polish and overall direction of an ARPG that has larger funding behind it.
One of the main problems I have with the game is the way the story is delivered. There is a very short prologue that does little to set the story for you, the cutscenes are poorly processed and it’s not until you are a few hours into the game that the story really begins to open up thanks to the great voice acting and pick up and read lore books that you find dotted about the levels. Combat is also very slow to begin and again it’s not until a few hours into the game, once you have a full party of characters and you’ve had some time to level up abilities that the combat becomes more exciting. Even then it is still slow when compared to other ARPG’s.
Another major bugbear, although not necessarily a problem depending on what kind of a game you are expecting, is the looting and crafting systems. Gear drops are not frequent and I rarely found myself using the crafting systems to build myself armour or weapons. Instead most of my character progression was achieved through leveling up abilities and stats and by picking up the odd gear drop. If you are looking for an instantly fast paced ARPG focused on gear drops then you might want to look elsewhere.
Of course there are many good points to Shadows: HK and if you are willing to put in a couple of hours to get past the initial slow start, the games combat and story really begin to open up and become more enjoyable. Another positive to note is that the game is really easy to get to grips with in terms of understanding the UI, maps, combat mechanics, character movement and travelling through the levels. Questing is a particular plus point for me as I found the cross-realm mechanic really added a sense of depth to what would otherwise be quite linear quests. There are occasionally also moral choices to be made, that whilst not ultimately storyline changing, do directly affect the game world.
At first I wasn’t sure about Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms slower pace but found myself sinking hours into unlocking new characters and completing challenging quests just so that I could see every area of the well designed and smart looking levels. Upon completion it now ranks among the top games in my steam list for play time and that’s only with part one of the game. Book two is planned for release in 2015.
The Verdict – On target
Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC
Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Steam review code supplied by PR.
With only a couple of weeks until we’re all set free in the peaks of the Himalayas, Ubisoft have released another Far Cry 4 trailer further expanding on the story trailer from E3. It seems the once peaceful region has been torn apart by war, of which there are two opposing sides and two opposing leaders; Amita and Sabal. The trailer also shows off the Far Cry famous wildlife, extreme sports that the player can supposedly take part in during the game, and lots of explosions and fire.
So you thought Assassin’s Creed Unity was going to be one of those games that tried to be serious and easy to follow did you? Well, think again because Ubisoft have just released two brand new trailers that throw all that out the window.
The first trailer shows the player deperatley trying to escape a time anomaly within the animus, It eventually catches up to him and he is transported to a future version of Paris with planes, machine guns and massive V adorned on the Eiffel Tower. What could it all mean? Watch the trailer below and let us know what you think.
The second trailer takes the lighthearted approach as four voice actors impersonate celebrities as they play a co-op mission within Assassin’s Creed Unity. I’m not quite sure what the point of the trailer is, but there are a few laughs to be had and the voice actors are actually very good.