Moonlighter is like if Recettear and a Roguelike had a baby. You play as a shopkeeper outside of an ever-changing dungeon. Your task is to sell goods to people. When you do, you earn money so you can get better equipment and craft better items to either sell or use yourself to go in to the dungeon. Clearing the dungeon will yield new items, which you can craft and sell in your shop, et cetera. It’s a big ol’ capitalism loop. The dungeon is different every time you enter, which makes it that much more fun. There’s 5 different entrances to the dungeon and characters to interact with so there’s presumably an end, but with the varying dungeons, bevy of characters to please, and loot to grab, you may not ever want to see it.
It’ll be coming out in 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch, and Mac/Linux.
Tunic has so much style it hurts. Zelda is the easiest comparison — you’re a lone adventurer (in this case a lil fox) in a mysterious world who collects items that open up new paths. If Hat In Time is a cute-as-heck platformer, this is a cute-as-heck action/adventure game. The controls are tight and responsive and the combat feels fluid and satisfying. An extra layer of polish/intrigue to this game is the concept that it’s a game you’re just discovering that was made in a foreign country, so you’ll see parts of the manual in the game and all the text is in a made up language you don’t understand. Even the website has this language peppered about.
This game is one of the ones we were most excited by at PAX South, so be on the lookout for it coming out later this year to PC, Mac, Linux, and consoles in 2018.
Once upon a time, @PeterMolydeux had a joke game description in which you play as a hole in the ground. From that, Ben Esposito created one of the most simple, but compelling games at PAX South, Donut County. The mechanics are simple — you play as a hole in the ground swallowing things up. The more you eat, the bigger your hole gets, which allows you to eat bigger things. Think reverse Katamari. Between levels, you’ll also get a glimpse into the lives of the citizens of Donut County which has been upended by this dumb hole. The art style is simple and effective, the humor isn’t overdone, and the gameplay, though simple, is satisfying.
Donut County is coming to PC, Mac, and iOS in 2018
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace
Prisma & The Masquerade Menace is in the early stages of development, so early in fact that it’s not even on Kickstarter yet. That didn’t stop the developer from having a fully playable level from the demo at PAX South.
It’s got some rough edges, but it’s already rather polished. At its core, it’s a platformer game in which you take control of Ray, a girl who can switch between different colored dimensions to make objects appear or disappear. Each of these dimensions also gives her abilities like high jumping, fast running, and block destroying. Once you get used to switching between dimensions, it becomes much more like a Sonic game in which you feel compelled to go as fast as possible, switching dimensions quickly and trying to think on your feet.
Prisma is still in its early stages, but give their Kickstarter a look when it goes live later this month!
Sundered is a game that leaps out at you from a sea of titles at a gaming convention. It’s art style has a way of pulling you in, making you want more.
Sundered is a Metroidvania style platformer/exploration game in which you take control of Eshe, a wanderer exploring seemingly endless, always changing caverns filled with eldritch horrors. The controls solid and responsive and the game’s difficulty is a little more than Super Metroid (we died 3 times in the demo), making it feel like a substantial single player experience. Details like the hand drawn art and pencil marks when the camera is really zoomed in all combine to make this a visual feast that also delivers on a tight experience.
Sundered is coming out to PS4 and PC in July but you can Kickstart it right now here!
In RiME, you play a boy exploring a strange island trying to work your way to a pillar in its center. Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, meet a super cute fox, and try to figure out the mysteries of your surroundings and what could have happened to make it the way it is now.
RiME feels a lot like Zelda mixed with Journey in the best possible way. The art style is stark and gorgeous, varying dramatically for different areas in the game. The world is all laid out in a way that’s easy to understand visually, which is a good thing since the game features no dialog or text, so you’re relying on just trying things out and being observant to solve puzzles.
RiME is due out summer 2017 on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has Been Heroes
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Arms, Splatoon 2, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Monster Boy started as a Kickstarter project called “Flying Hamster.” Since then, the team welcomed Ryuichi Nishizawa and turned the game into Monster Boy, based off the Wonder Boy in Monster World, a mashup between the Wonder Boy and Monster World series. Please go look those up if you have no idea what we’re talking about.
The player takes control of Jin, a boy who can transform into five different monsters to solve puzzles and take down enemies with a variety of abilities. This platformer hearkens back to old school platformers in the 80s and 90s — simple gameplay, peppy music, bright visuals. Like a Saturday morning cartoon video game that you set your alarm for.
Monster Boy is simultaneously releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.
Some game developers try to emulate the style of classic pixel games and achieve something between nostalgia and amusement. Then you have a game like Warlock’s Tower, which just looks like it’s always been a Gameboy game and dares you to tell it otherwise.
The graphics of Warlock’s Tower look exactly like an original Gameboy game being played on the Super Gameboy player, complete with being able to change main color from green to orange yellow. All of that helps Warlock’s Tower in the charming area, but the underlying gameplay is really cool, too.
At it’s core, Warlock’s Tower is a puzzle game in which you take control of a mailman trying to avoid monsters and deliver a letter to the warlock of the titular tower. Each move you make takes away one life, but there are tokens on each floor to increase the number of lives you have. It’s a puzzle to be able to figure out which tokens to get at what time and using what directions. The game even has Twitch integration so you can interact with your chat while you play.
Warlock’s Tower is out now for PC.
Has Been Heroes
Has Been Heroes is a Roguelike inspired by Plants Vs. Zombies.
Oh, what, you need more?
In the game, you’ll take control of three characters, each with their own lane. Each character has a different number of attacks, attack power, and control of spells. It’s up to the player to time their attacks accurately, swap characters, and utilize spells cleverly to fight back hoards of enemies.
At first, it takes a bit to get used with character switching and the concept of enemies having points with which to block your attacks, but very quickly, you’re pausing the game less, attacking with one character, swapping another in after the shield is broken to follow up with a health attack, and using spells on the fly. It’s satisfying to feel in control, but also like your heart is in your throat trying to figure out if your abilities will be off cooldown before the next enemy reaches you.
Has Been Heroes comes out March 28th for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Dragon Ball Z games have launched in various degrees of quality. It is always good to practice skepticism with these games because for every great game like Dragon Ball Z Hyper Dimensions on the Super Nintendo, we get three horrific entries like Dragon Ball Z Raging Blast. It is never fun being burned by a bad game adopted from a pre-existing franchise with personal and nostalgic ties. Thankfully the new Xenoverse series has acted as a new age for incredibly fun Dragon ball Z games when the first entry came out back in 2015. The sequel, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, moves the franchise forward with minimal changes but carries the torch of the original by bringing quality, fandom, kinetic controls, and an incredible roster to longtime fans of the anime.
The adventure continues to be yours in this entry and you again create your own character to participate in some of the most memorable fights in the Dragon Ball Z lore. Expect all the fast action, hard punches, enormous energy beams, and evasive teleportation maneuvers that made the TV show iconic.
There are plenty of customization options to choose from as you appoint you look to the five races of, Sayian, Namekian, Human, Buu, and Frieza race. Each race has their own ability to transform. Sayians go Super, Frieza goes perfect, Buu goes Kid, humans have hidden potential, and the Namekian’s grow large like Lord Slug. Nobody is left out of the transformation game this time around which levels the playing field in a big way. The other races lacked a true transformation which found those character under powered when fighting against transformed Super Sayians. This addition was more than welcomed.
Once you cook up your fantasy character, you are dropped right into the world of the Time Patrollers where you’ll help keep time’s flow safe from the dastardly villain duo of Towa and Mira. These characters return from the first game and use their energies to increase the power of other villains across time. These time manipulators team up with Turles and Lord Slug and tackle every major moments in the Dragon Ball Z history. These super powered versions of classic villains are determined to change the timeline for the worse. Your job as a Time Patroller is to ensure that the events go according to how they originally transpired. For whatever reason your original character’s presence does not affect time like the presence of new villains, so in that aspect the narrative makes little to no sense. Leave logic at the door for this story folks. The time traveling rules are basically nonexistent and offered up in convenient and illogical ways.
The mechanics are not much different from Xenoverse 1, however, they are refined and honed. Everything just feels faster in all the right ways, which for a Dragon Ball Z game is majorly important. You want to feel like Vegeta when reeling back for a final flash and you want to harness the speed of Gohan when you are zipping around the large areas looking for the next bout. This game delivers on that fantasy of embodying a Z Fighter, and any fan of the series would be hard pressed to feel differently.
There are plenty of customization options as you progress in the game. Once you start collecting costume pieces and buying new articles of clothing with your awarded currency. You can look like some of your favorite characters or go for a completely unique look as you pan through your item drops to see which clothing has the best stats and look. If you don’t like the stats but love the look of your clothes, there is a remedy for that! QQ Bangs can be mixed up by combining clothing and power items. This negates the effects of the clothing stats which, in turn, uses the QQ Bang stats, which gives you the choice to look how you want but have the stats that fit your play style.
There are other things to do in the HUB world as well. This world acts as your lobby, a place your character engages in as you queue up missions and quests.This open area known as Conton City, is much bigger than Xenoverse 1’s HUB world of Toki Toki City. Your created characters. It is so awesome to see all their creations as you run around the world communicating through emotes. Bonus: No load times for this HUB area with up to 250 other player-controlled combatants, all with their owns hinder this areas as you fly from end to end and do small quests and missions in that world.
There are plenty of activities to occupy your time in Conton City. Time rifts are quests that has you going to famous locations like Guru’s house, Frieza’s ship, Capsule Corp Building, and Master Roshi’s Island. Here you will find your character participating in missions that are specific to these locations. Guru’s house will have you fighting off Frieza forces and collecting Namekian Dragon Balls. While over at Frieza’s ship you will find yourself aligning with different Lieutenants as they usurp one another all in the name of becoming Frieza’s right had man. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 does not lack content, but it does lack diversity. In any of these quests, the main thing you are doing at any time will always be fighting. The only things that do change are the enemies, the win and lose stipulations, and the arenas you fight in. It sounds like a negative point but it is no more repetitive than any other fighting game.
The gamplay loop is very exposed early on, but that comes with the territory of these mission based/grind heavy/loot collecting games. You will spend your time doing all the various types of missions I have talk about, which are ultimately the same mechanically. You will load up a story mission, fight some bad guys, and then at the end of the match get some credits, items drops and possibly even new moves. You will then utilize item drops, sell them off, or mix them into new items. Doing story missions unlocks patrol missions which are just variations of the story quests. In between these mission you can do all the time rift events which, again, is just more fighting. The game is repetitive, there is no denying that. I think this shortcoming is overshadows by all the other working parts of this game though.
The story and mission progression have not changed much from Xenoverse 1. The story itself is all about fixing the timeline of the original series, while the Patroller Missions, which can be played up to 3 players co-op online, takes more creative chances as yr avatar teaming up with the bad guys in alternative-history-like scenarios. Playing online with 2 other friends is a blast and has quickly become one of my favorite co-op experiences of this year. There are also 6-player raid missions where you’ll participate in fighting big bosses for big payouts and loot. These fights get incredibly large scale in terms of the open spaces you occupy and the amount of movement and activity going on at any given time. The intensity levels of these battles really ramp up as the screen becomes a cornucopia of colors as you blast energy waves together in an attempt to take down the damage sponges in the form of long time villains.
Out of all the games this year that I have played, the only game me and my gamer group could agree on to play co-op this year was Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. My squad and I loved the first game and played hundreds of hours of co-op, so it was obvious that we would return to this series. Also an important personal note if you’re debating to purchase this for group gaming: out of the four people I play this game with, only 2 of us are major Dragon Ball Z fans, one is a passive fan, and the other hates the entire series. He plays the game because it offers fun co-op, jaw dropping graphics, and a great fighting game/action RPG hybrid.
There is nothing else like the Dragon Ball Xenoverse series. The creative team, Dimps, has taken everything they did right about earlier fighting game entries, and shaped it up into an Action/Adventure RPG hybrid. Much like what Gearbox did with marrying the first person shooter genre to the Role Playing Game genre with Borderlands, Xenoverse series successfully merges two completely different game types to make something that feels fresh. I think that anybody, fan or not, that is willing to give it a try, can find something to enjoy about this game. Buy it now if you’re a longtime fan, try and check it out if you have a passing interest…but this is one of those gems of this year that will be sorely under-appreciated by most of the gaming community.
In the TV series Lost, we see a character named Desmond Hume residing in an underground facility, driven borderline insane by the monotony of his daily routine. Desmond is required to regularly enter a series of numbers on a computer every 108 minutes. While nothing as redundant occurs in The Bunker, the game’s tone, setting, and non-linear storytelling feel directly inspired by a show like Lost.
The Bunker, developed by Slendy Interactive in partnership with Wales Interactive, begins in a post-nuclear war era with the birth of our protagonist, John. He’s born in an underground shelter that houses less than 60 people. However, we quickly flash forward 30 years later to find John alone with his mother. Thus the central mystery reveals itself: what happened to everyone else?
An Alarm Sounds
What separates Slendy Interactive’s first outing from other titles is its aesthetics: everything is live-action. With a runtime of roughly 90 plus minutes, you essentially have yourself a movie. Now the industry hasn’t mastered manipulating a real human being completely. The Bunker is simply a point-and-click thriller, but is still impressive for a developer’s debut game. Unless you’re slow to select the next location and make John stand around looking clueless, the gaming experience itself doesn’t distract from the cinematic quality.
In the midst of John’s daily routine, an error message indicates a system failure somewhere in the facility. This is where the conflict and John’s unease begins. He hasn’t traversed from his floor with his mother much, if ever. Visiting other floors to resolve a mechanical problem sets his nerves off. Actor Adam Brown‘s performance, especially his facial expressions, effectively communicate John’s dread with his predicament.
As you take John along on his mission to repair the electrical and air filter systems, Brown moves timidly along each darkened hallway. With each floor you explore, a seemingly repressed memory rears its ugly head. We begin to see what unfolds with the shelter’s previous occupants via flashback, culminated in the game’s final moments. It’s as disturbing as it is gratifying.
Actress Sarah Greene plays John’s mother and she covers every range of human emotion fathomable by the game’s end. However, I’m intent on avoiding spoilers, so I’ll reference these specifics no further. If you ever throw up your hands during The Bunker‘s story, which can take a stretch to get into, be assured there’s absolutely a pay-off.
Outside of our two leads, the minor characters deliver their lines in a most uncomfortably wooden fashion. Then at certain points where John is simply standing in a hallway, the musical score swells as if hinting at a big reveal or jump scare, but nothing comes.
Mechanically speaking, the game is ultimately not intended to be any sort of challenge. It’s rather unfortunate though, as glimmers of a Quick Time Event (QTE) appear all-too briefly. However, the average gamer will pass these QTEs with flying colors and then some.
Despite any criticisms I levy against The Bunker, the story and high production value compel you to forgive them. This feels like a full-fledged Hollywood production but occasionally the actors arbitrarily stop and wait for a button click. They even filmed this in a real decommissioned bunker. This pays off as it makes your environment feel legitimately previously occupied.
It might be too early for declarations, but I’m predicting this title could see the same success as last year’s live-action mystery game Her Story.
The Mafia series has always been remembered for its amazingly constructed stories. The focus points have always been characters and narrative, and Mafia III continues this trend. Despite an early exposed gameplay loop and some slight graphical issues, I never found myself bored with this seemingly polarizing game.
I grew up with family in New Orleans so the setting of Mafia III, New Bordeaux, really speaks to me. The roaring late 60’s jams gives me vibes of old car trips with my parents and the music of their generation.This game brought up a bunch of old memories that were more than welcomed, so you’ll forgive any bias you pick up while reading the review of how fantastic I found this game.
There is no fast travel, which has been bothering some, but I never use fast travel in any game because I feel it is immersion breaking.Trust me; there is nothing quite like driving through the murky bayous while listening to Credence Clearwater Revival on the radio and singing the song “Born on the Bayou.” With over one hundred licensed tracks from artists like Jimmie Hendrix, Bobby Fuller, and The Troggs, I never found myself hating the long rides to and from mission locations. If I were really these characters in this game, I would have to actually drive the distance, and I think it’s fortunate to have such amazing music to keep you company.
Speaking of the characters, this game is filled with well thought out and written characters. Lincoln Clay is your avatar, and by the end of the journey you will truly feel like you are embodying the man.
Former Black Ops commando Lincoln returns from Vietnam and wages war on the mafia across New Bordeaux when he comes back home to his old crime family to see they have fallen on hard times. Lincoln Clay is more than willing to align himself with unsavory types as he expands his bloody services across the city’s districts. Lincoln will do anything to ensure that the men responsible for atrocities committed in the fantastic opening sct in this game, pay for it.
As you free up certain districts, you will attract one of three underbosses, who come from different backgrounds and walks of life. Lincoln teams up with a female Haitian crime lord, a down on his luck Irish mod boss, and a chastised OG Italian mobster from up north. Among this colorful class is my personal favorite character, Donovan, a crooked federal agent who acts as
And Mafia III’s vengeance-soaked story-line definitely deserves the rank of classic; its performances and narrative could rival those of TV’s and film’s best dramas. The game constantly had me thinking of last generation’s Spec Ops: The Line, one of the best written narratives in the whole medium.
The game weaves multiple timelines together to tell the story. While the actual gameplay occurs within 1968 New Bordeaux, the cut scenes flash forward via a documentary-stylized film. In these scenes, people from Lincoln’s life talk about the man and the legend himself, as these scenes unfold in an interview like manner as they reminisce about all that transpired during the Fall of 1968. One character in these scenes is Father James, who is slowly coming to terms that he helped and aided a friend, Lincoln, who had become a monster. The emotional weight is heavy and rewarding. Other scenes play out in a court room where Donovan is giving a disposition on what transpired in New Bordeaux, and they are equally as well performed. These cut scenes sometimes foreshadow events that are about to transpire. The board of men discussing the debriefing of the events that happened in this game will allude to large chaotic events that happen, and then the game will shift back to 1968 where you assume control as Lincoln Clay and play out those events. This is utilized throughout the game in extremely effective ways.
The gameplay seems to be the polarizing part of Mafia III. The gameplay loop exposes itself very early and never deviates. You get some info from Donovan, head to the district in question, begin to dismantle all the rackets in the region, which then exposes the area’s crime lord, which naturally leads to your assassination of the target. This loop repeats for about 30-40 hours in every district of the city. While I never tired of taking over rackets, distributing power to my underbosses, or doing execution kills on crime grunts, I have heard many say they felt bored with this loop, but this was not my experience at all. There are so many ways to go about taking over rackets and completing standard missions. You can go all stealth (which at times is overly simple, but still satisfying) or you could go full-out lead and just blow everybody apart with the game’s pretty standard but robust weapon system. Also the big story missions, where you are taking down the crime boss for the area, are innovative, fresh, and have great map designs that seem handcrafted and catered to slaying as many gun-wielding goons as possible.
I enjoyed giving properties to my underbosses as they pitched why they felt they deserved the rackets and areas. If you focus too much on one underboss, the others will get mad and leave you in which case you will have to hunt them down and kill them. This made me feel like I was actually running an up-and-coming empire. It added that extra weight to every decision.
The journey itself is filled with an exposed game play loop, standard open world activities, and serviceable mechanics. If you like open world games, this is an easy recommend. The game does suffer from some pretty substantial graphical problems, poor lightning, and botched animations…but a few updates from now these will be none issues. However, there are flaws and I feel obligated to point them out. At no point did I ever feel aggravated to the point of quitting because of these technical contention but I did suffer a few hard game crashes.
If you can stick it out to the end, you will be rewarded with one of the most satisfying