Tag - steam greenlight

Castle Torgeath: Descent Into Darkness Review

I’ve been playing video games almost as long as there have been video games and ever so often one comes along so loaded with nostalgic feel that it feels like it traveled through a time machine.  The beauty of Steam Greenlight is these beautiful old school RPGs like Castle Torgeath can still find a home in your heart after so many years of hardcore games.

At the beginning of Castle Torgeath: Descent into Darkness, you are presented with a few paragraphs of text explaining the game’s premise. You are a down on your luck adventurer who finds a listing on a job board. The listing advertises an expedition into the ancient, and supposedly-abandoned, Castle Torgeath. The ad promises fortune and glory for anyone who joins in, so you grab your sword and start after the expedition.

The game resembles those old school, first-person dungeon crawlers like early Elder Scrolls games – actually, it more than resembles them – it is one! Castle Torgeath captures that retro feeling so well that, if you played through those kind of games when they came out, it is like a time warp.

You have three meters in you lower corner, one for mana, one for health and one for hunger.  Healing and mana are refreshed through potions and fountains and hunger is helped through food.  You want to keep an eye on all three to survive.  Occasionally you will stumble on a lost adventurer who will sell you the goods he has found or a spell he knows for the treasures you have stumbled upon.  Be wary of making too many trades or you might be short of valuables when you need them most.

There are multiple levels with bosses at the end and the game progresses with starting enemies being weak like rats to bigger enemies like summoned demons and big ass bugs.  All the time you also have to look for hidden clues and passages while avoiding hidden traps and enemies. The graphics are even retro, and they are done well enough to not make you sick playing but still simple enough to still hearken back to the roots it’s based on. The game features no speech, but plenty of tried and true text to read and the developers have quite a bit of lore scrawled out for your enjoyment.

At one point in gaming history, first-person dungeon crawlers relied on angular or grid-based movement systems. Torgeath allows for free-roaming movement, which should help modern gamers from giving up. The older movement systems can be rather constricting.

Last Health Point:

Castle Torgeath: Descent Into Darkness is a very fun play based off a very old school game design which works on a nostalgic level as well as introduce modern players to gaming history.  Besides it less than $10 and when you consider inflation isn’t that much more than it would have cost back in the day.


Castle Torgeath: Descent Into Darkness Review Score

(4 out of 5 stars)


 

Phoning Home – A Review (PC)

The current landscape of gaming has made it much easier for independent game makers to get their products made and published.  Kickstarter, Indigogo, and Steam Greenlight have opened the gates for many game makers to get their ideas made, and into the hands of the public.  However, not all games are made equal.  For every great game that comes out, there are usually five to six really, really bad games that came out with it.  One such game to get made this way is Phoning Home, by Ion Lands.  Phoning Home made its way through the Steam Greenlight community, and into my hands prior to its official release.  Is Phoning Home one of the good games to make it to market, or something to avoid and forget about all together?  Let’s take a closer look at Phoning Home by Ion Lands.

Story

In Phoning Home you play as a droid named ION, and begin the game by crash landing your ship on an unknown planet.  Your ship’s AI immediately sets you out to collect materials and craft parts to repair the communications array to contact your home planet for extraction.  As you explore the alien planet, you soon discover remnants of an older alien civilization, and another spacecraft, who is missing its own exploration unit, named ANI.  ION quickly realizes that escape from this planet is impossible, without ANI’s aide and sets out to find her.  ANI is discovered, but is also a bit mad, but is absolutely essential in your quest to escape.  Together, you and ANI begin searching for ways to get off the planet, while also exploring the ancient civilization and discovering what other resources are available on the planet.

The story is pretty generic, as these types of stories go, but still will keep you interested throughout the entire game.  The most interesting aspect of the story is the interdependence between ION and ANI.  ANI is extremely dependent on ION to move around the landscape, but ION cannot make it off the planet without ANI’s systems, so what develops is a story that really centers around two characters that are vital to each other for survival.  The story of Phoning Home went a lot deeper than I was expecting it to.

Game Play

You begin the game by completing some rudimentary quests for your ship’s AI unit, trying to get certain systems back online.  ION moves around the open world very well, with a jump pack and a sprint function to help you get around.  However, using the jump pack burns fuel faster, and using the sprint function will drain your battery.  This makes gathering of resources and crafting vital to progressing through Phoning Home.  

As you explore the planet, you will discover different resources that you can use in crafting.  Resources are initially unknown and not on the map, until you discover them.  Once you have located and gathered a particular resource, that resource will now show up on your HUD and makes finding more of the same resources easier.  ION can only hold a certain amount of each resource, so gathering maximum amounts and constantly crafting fuel and batteries is a great way to make sure you can get around whenever you need to.  Crafting is also done very simply, yet still felt satisfying.  In the crafting menu, you will see a list of all the objects that you can craft, and the materials that are needed to craft that object.  Once you have all the materials, you simply click on the item you want to craft and it is created and placed in your inventory.  Some items require multiple parts to create, so you will need to gather a larger batch of resources.

These items you can craft also include upgrades to ION, including weapons, teleporters, or magnetics that help you move ANI around.  Each upgrade changes the way the game is played and are realized at certain points of the game.  Your ship’s AI will contact you when a new upgrade or item is now craftable, and all you need to do then is locate the right resources to craft and unlock it.  Crafting these upgrades and items are vital to the overall game play of Phoning Home because of the constant shift and threat of the terrain.  ION will take damage from falls, creatures, and even the weather.  Repair kits, batteries, and fuel are in constant need and so you will spend most of your time gathering and crafting, as you explore your planet.

If crafting and resource gathering is half of the game here, then the other half is survival and solving puzzles.  ION is only outfitted with a pipe as a weapon in the beginning, so combat isn’t an option.  Large rock creatures will just crush you with boulders if you get to close, so you best learn to keep your distance.  Later, you will get some photon blasters and other weapons, but the option to hide and wait is usually the better option.  You will also have to deal with ANI, in what becomes long escort mission.  ANI has her own health bars and abilities, so you need to keep her alive at all costs.  ANI is also not outfitted with the same gear you are, so cannot fly or create her own teleport portals.  That’s all you, bud.  You will have to lift her over rocks, create portals to help her climb, or use your magnetics to get her to keep up with you as you run away from a very large rock creature using your head for target practice.

Aesthetics

Usually, indie games go with a drastically different aesthetic or really leave one aspect of the design short to save money.  Phoning Home’s aesthetic is impressive and really works well with the game.  ION does look a little too much like Wall-E for my taste, I would have liked to have seen something that really could stand out as being unique to Phoning Home.  The graphics aren’t awe inspiring but still do a hell of a job making the alien planet interesting to explore.  The planet has many different climates to explore and the planet looks just close enough to Earth to allow you to understand what it is you are looking at, but different enough to know that you are on an alien world.

The sound design, music, and voice acting are done extremely well.  Everything about Phoning Home feels much more polished than your average indie game, but the voice acting and music are easily the highlights of the aesthetic.  The voice acting was really well done, with just enough emotion to keep you invested in the story, but not too much to stop sounding like it would come from an A.I.  The music fits the feeling of the game, of being lost on a strange planet far from home.  It’s immediately the one area that you can just feel that the developers put a huge emphasis on and it comes off almost perfect.  The game feels very atmospheric thanks to the soundtrack.

Final Thoughts

Phoning Home is one of those good games that really shows what Steam Greenlight is really capable of.  Solid storytelling, decent graphics, and a great aesthetic (minus the Wall-E look) makes Phoning Home a must play for those that are looking for a game about gathering resources and exploration.  Phoning Home officially released on Steam on February 7.


Phoning Home Review Score

(3 out of 5 Stars)


 

Valve Announces the End of Steam Greenlight

Looks like Valve has announced that it will be ending its Steam Greenlight system, which was used to get independently-developed games onto the digital distribution platform. Steam Greenlight will be replaced this Spring by what they are calling “Steam Direct”. Steam Direct will allow developers more direct paths to publishing their games.

http://steamcommunity.com/games/593110/announcements/detail/558846854614253751

You can read the entire blog post at the above link!

War of Rights Kickstarter Announced

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October 15 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark – Today Campfire Games is pleased to announce the launch of their Kickstarter for American Civil War FPS game, War of Rights.

War of Rights is a multiplayer game set around the tumultuous period of the American Civil War, during the Maryland Campaign of September 1862. Campfire Games is devoted to presenting the gruesome and glorious elements of the period, while maintaining the highest level of historical accuracy and realism as possible thanks to the wonders of CRYENGINE. Having been in development for over three years, the team at Campfire Games is taking to Kickstarter to aim to secure the funds needed to complete the game.

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1947432146/war-of-rights
YouTube: https://youtu.be/z5snMNkXdoo
Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=534499215
Twitter: @WarofRights
Facebook: War of Rights

Players will be able to take on the multiple battlefields of the campaign, from the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, where the Siege of Harper’s Ferry took place, to the ridgelines of South Mountain, to the meandering waters of Antietam Creek at the Battle of Antietam. Additionally, players will also be able to choose from a list of regiments that fought in each battle, as well as what rank to fight as, whether they want to slog it out as a lowly private, or orchestrate the carnage and mayhem as a Major General.

“With War of Rights having now been in development for over three years, we felt it was the right time to finally get the game to Kickstarter to secure the required funds.” said Emil Alexander Hansen, co-founder and technical artist at Campfire Games. “War of Rights is something very special to us, we’re incredibly passionate for historical accuracy and so with a successful crowdfunding campaign, we’ll be able to dedicate the time and attention the game needs to be and with the power of CRYENGINE, it’ll allow us to deliver something that’s truly authentic.”

Each map contains a period reconstruction of the buildings, farms, forests, roads and rocks that existed so that players can fight through the streets of Harper’s Ferry, in the wooded heights of Fox’s Gap at South Mountain, or in the wheat fields and Bloody Lanes of Antietam with great accuracy. Players can feel the whiz of each deadly shot and shell fly by their bodies, or hitting their comrades, or themselves, as they scream in a bloody hail from their wounds.

Campfire Games brings the fighting of the Civil War right to the player’s computer screen!

About Campfire Games
Campfire Games is a Danish indie developer founded by Emil Alexander Hansen and Mads Støjko Larsen. They’re currently working on War of Rights, a game set during the American Civil War. The team consists of talented people from all over the world, including both newcomers as well as veterans of the industry. Amongst the current team members are people who have been involved in Verdun and Space Hulk, as well as on other American Civil War themed game projects.

About Crytek
Crytek is an independent videogame developer, publisher and technology provider with headquarters in Frankfurt am Main (Germany) and seven other studios around the world. Established in 1999, Crytek has created multiple award-winning titles, including the original Far Cry, the Crysis series, Ryse: Son of Rome and Warface. All of Crytek’s games are developed using CRYENGINE, the company’s cutting-edge 3D game technology, which is also the first choice of other leading developers and licensees when creating games for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation®4, Wii UTM, iOS and Android. Crytek’s ongoing growth in the games-as-a-service market has extended the company’s reach as they continue to deliver top quality interactive experiences to players through self-publishing platforms

P.A.M.E.L.A. Now on Steam Greenlight

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Mississauga, Canada – September 22nd, 2015 – Indie micro development team NVYVE® Studios, today released the Rebirth trailer for P.A.M.E.L.A.™, the open world utopian sci-fi survival horror FPS that is scheduled for release on Windows PC in 2016. In addition, the studio also announced that the Steam community can now vote for P.A.M.E.L.A.™ with the launch of the Steam Greenlight campaign. To pledge support for P.A.M.E.L.A.™ visit http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=498592198.

“P.A.M.E.L.A.™ explores the unforeseen consequences of humanity’s craving for technological and biological advancement”, said Adam Simonar, Studio Director of NVYVE® Studios. “With release scheduled for 2016, we are excited to reveal a taste of the background story behind the devastating fall of a technologically utopian civilisation gone wrong”.

Through the Otherworld Agency, the team enlisted the help of Jeff van Dyck, who worked as Audio Director on Alien: Isolation and Composer on the Total War series, to create a unique and memorable theme for the Rebirth trailer. The Rebirth trailer introduces a wide diversity of locations and reveals the omnipresent AI overseer Pamela, as well as the complex personality driven AI system that players encounter.  P.A.M.E.L.A.™ begins as a Sleeper is awoken from cryosleep in Eden, a fallen utopia wrought with death and danger. As a Sleeper, the player will struggle to survive alongside Pamela as they explore the once vibrant utopian city.

Uncover the tragic events that lead to the downfall of a civilization, and fight for your life as the broken citizens of Eden defend their home against your intrusion. With a personality-driven AI system, no encounter will be the same as the Afflicted react in unpredictable ways, driven by their excruciating pain and disfiguring disease. Interact with various factions, including the Afflicted citizens, security droids, robotic custodians, and more. Each faction has its own unique behaviors and alliances, and will react dynamically to the player’s behavior to become allies, or enemies.

Experience tense gameplay in a richly developed, believable sci-fi universe. Each decision is meaningful, and each encounter could be your last. Wield and customize an array of modular equipment to defend yourself and explore the environment. Utilize an immersive UI that incorporates full body awareness, where the player’s involvement in the world is never broken. Manage the power reserves of the city, using energy only when necessary to avoid the dangers of being stuck in the dark. Upgrade your weaponry, and construct a safe haven to defend against the denizens of Eden. Enhancing your body with Bio-Augmentations will give you an advantage over your enemies, but at what cost? Every decision has consequences in Eden.

Can you survive the future?

For the official website visit: www.pamelagame.com

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Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/nvyvestudios

Preview of Crate Entertainment’s Grim Dawn

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My Kickstarter reviews/previews continue this week with Grim Dawn, an action role playing game developed by Crate Entertainment. Grim Dawn racked in an impressive $537,000 on their Kickstarter, almost doubling the amount that Crate Entertainment was asking for. In order to help development further, Crate Entertainment has put Grim Dawn up for sale on Steam, following the same path that Minecraft and Day Z have taken, selling pre-release versions of the game to fund further development. Now, I have some strong feelings about this current practice, but that will be a discussion for another time. Let’s just focus on Grim Dawn today.

Grim Dawn is an action role playing game that follows in the foot paths of games like Diablo and Torchlight. Set in a fantastical Victorian era landscape, Grim Dawn begins you as one of four classes (soldier, demolitionist, occultist, and nightblade) with a fifth class coming in a later update. These pretty much break down into melee class, range class, spell caster, and assassin. One of the features of Grim Dawn that hasn’t been seen in the other games mentioned is the Dual Class System. When you hit a certain level, you may add a secondary class to your first, to gain access to their skills. Sure, the soldier can use pistols already if he has a high enough cunning, but if you really want to be better at it, dual class into the demolitionist.

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As you level up, you get to increase one of your three characteristics and gain levels on your skill tree. The characteristics are broken down into three simple stats: cunning, physique, and spirit. Cunning essentially is your ability to hit, dodge, and be fleet on your feet, while physique is your strength, constitution, and durability represented in one number. Certain classes will want to focus more on one stat then the others, to be sure, but you will still need spirit as a soldier in order to use some of your skills. Skill trees look like most all other skill trees that have ever been created. You are given a set of choices at each level to choose from, and these can either be improved upon or you can select another skill if you have reached the minimum level. There is a default skill for each class that can be chosen anytime, and that skill increases your states instead of giving you another skill. Don’t like the choices given to you at a particular branch of the skill tree? Then put those points into the default skill and boost your stats.

The world of Grim Dawn is fairly generic in aesthetic. You begin in a ruined village, where you were formally a prisoner that was possessed by a demon. The inhabitants release you, and set you out on tasks to help them secure themselves against the relentless undead that has been plaguing their town. Quests follow the typical format; quest givers are seen with a yellow exclamation point over their head, they go through a dialogue describing the quest, then will have a question mark over their head until you return to fulfill their quest. Traveling across this land is down by foot, with rifts that are open around the world that act as portals to teleport you to checkpoints or back to town. Like Diablo, you can also create these rifts yourself, to get you out of a dungeon to repair or sell of your loot.

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Crate Entertainment is going for some interesting features for Grim Dawn. Two of the more interesting features for me is the faction based questing and the choice system. At points during the story, you will be faced with two factions and must choose to help one or the other. Helping one faction hurts your reputation with the other faction, but will allow you to earn rewards once your reputation is high enough. I had two immediate feelings when I heard this. One was “Hey, that might be interesting to see how that works in an arpg,” then it was immediately followed by “Damn, now I have to grind factions, like I did in World of Warcraft”. The other system is the choice system, where you will be faced with certain choices, that will change the face of the world. By helping out a village to fend off an attack, the village will grow and prosper. If you choose not to help, then it will wither and die. While I am not a big fan of these perceived moral systems, it will be interesting to see what Crate Entertainment really can do with it.

As of today, Grim Dawn has two acts that are ready to play, with more coming down the road as Crate Entertainment finishes up on it. There are also some features that are still not in game yet, like multiplayer and most of the faction based questing lines. This is a work in progress, and is being sold as such. For a game that is technically still in development, it was surprisingly bug free for me. This tells me that Crate Entertainment really is taking the time to look at this game and is trying to put out the best possible game for the market. While Grim Dawn may not take the place of Diablo II in my heart as the best arpg of all time, it will definitely earn a place in my play rotation as development continues. This is a game to watch! Grim Dawn is available now through Steam Greenlight to purchase as a game in development.

Blade Symphony Preview (PC)

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One of my newest addictions has been Kickstarter.  I love seeing great ideas being pitched and developed by way of crowd funding. The feeling that I get when I pitch in on a great idea, see it being developed, then finally receive the final product when it is ready – amazing.  Within the last year, I have backed projects such as Kingdom Death, Hexx, and Zombicide.  One such project was Blade Symphony, created and developed by Puny Human and funded through Kickstarter.  Funding was successful for Blade Symphony back in August of 2011, and we have finally gotten our hands on a early copy of Blade Symphony to let you know how development is going.

Our Preview:

Blade Symphony is a sword dueling game, where individuals face off against each other and duel using various tactics and blades.  You have the option to select one of three fighters:  Judgement, Phalanx, or Ryoku.  Each fighter has their own techniques, strengths and weaknesses.  You further customize your character by selecting one of the many different types of swords available; such as katana, foil, jian, or practice swords to name a few.  Each sword has their own move sets, strengths, and weaknesses.  This gives the player the ability to customize his or her own character to their own personal play style.

During combat, each fighter also can change between three different stances: Fast, balanced, and heavy.  Each stance has a set of combos that are dependent on the weapon of choice you are using.  By holding down the mouse buttons, you will be able to trigger a defensive move, such as a parry or block, or a focused attack, which increased the strength of the current move.  Combos can be completed using button and keystroke moves, and can be completed through different stances by scrolling the mouse wheel.  This gives combat in Blade Symphony a very fluid feel, much like actual sword duels.

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Game modes are currently set for Free For All on the servers.  Blade Symphony currently only has an online mode, with training disabled in its current build.  So, after creating a character and choosing a sword, I entered the fray.  Blade Symphony allows players to duel one another, through the challenge action.  If you want to challenge a player to single combat, simply target the player and press the appropriate key.  The other players will become nearly invisible, with only you and your opponent being solid enough to hit.  The duels are best out of three and are to the death.  Once you die, you re-spawn and simply need to follow the arrow to find your opponent again.  Current maps range from small and interesting to large and bland.  The office building was one of the largest maps I played on, but was very stark and uninteresting to look at, while I absolutely loved the aesthetics of The Courtyard.  The game is still under development, so what we played here was a beta build, that could continue to change in both looks and game play.

First Impressions:

Blade Symphony was helped along with over $19,000 Dollars through Kickstarter, and is currently available through Steam for $14.99 while the game goes through development.  While the game has an unfinished feel to it, with many features still under development, you can see a quality game that will offer a lot of depth once it is complete.  The fights are fluid and differ constantly, allowing players to choose the weapon and fighter that fits their style of play and makes each duel different from the last.  For those of you that like one on one fighting games, Blade Symphony will be one to keep an eye on.

Evoland Review (PC)

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The role playing game has had a long and storied history in the world of video games.  Games like Ultima, Hydlide, and Final Fantasy has paved the way for today’s games, such as Mass Effect and Skyrim.  The role playing game has gone through a massive evolution from the earlier days, in both game play and in technical aspects, such as graphics and sound.  With Evoland, Shiro Games hopes to bring this evolution of the rpg to life with their own story.  The concept of Evoland is very simple, you set out to save the world while finding upgrades to the game itself.  As you play Evoland, you will find items such as 3D backgrounds, or random encounters, or even sound that will evolve your experience with the game.  Evoland parodies many of the classic rpgs, such as the aforementioned Final Fantasy and the Legend of Zelda, but struggles to find an identity all it’s own.

Story:

You begin the game playing as Clink, a young boy who sets out into the world in search of adventure.  As you progress through the beginning of the game, you will eventually run into a young girl named Kaeris, who is setting out to find the two halves of an amulet that she needs to save her town from destruction.  Joining forces with Kaeris, you hunt down the two halves of the amulet in order to gain entrance into the Black Citadel to face the ultimate evil that threatens to destroy the world.   Evoland is fairly short, clocking in at around three hours of gameplay, but that is plenty of time to tell this generic story.

From the beginning, Evoland sets out to parody the great games of old, even by mimicking the names of Link and Aeris from Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy VII respectively.  Even the story is a generic retread of many of the old rp games from yesteryear, without really having a soul of it’s own.  This isn’t a huge negative for me, because I feel for this game it actually worked to serve its purpose, but it does so without being stellar or memorable.  In fact, what the story of Evoland really does is remind me of the better games that Evoland parodies from my youth.

Gameplay:

Evoland’s gameplay is what saves the overall experience.  You begin your adventure in a soundless, colorless, 2D world where you can only go right.  Going right leads you to a chest, in which you find the left button.  Finding this button then opens up more of the game play by allowing you now to go left to collect another upgrade, which opens up the rest of the world.  As you play through Evoland, the game play will evolve, hence the name.  You will encounter upgrades such as color, 16-bit graphics, sound, random encounters, and changes to your heads up display.  I found this gameplay mechanic to be very entertaining and it is the main draw to Evoland.

Evoland will but a ton of random fights in your way, just like the older versions of Final Fantasy.  Sometimes, it will feel like you can’t go three feet without having to battle a random creature and you move through the overland map.  At first, I was enjoying this feature because of how much it reminded me of the older rpgs I played, but soon grew to hate it and realized why developers moved away from this game play mechanic.  Not everything that occurred in old, classic role playing games where fantastic nor do they hold up well to today’s standards.  Fights are extremely straightforward in most combat situations.  When you are fighting in the overland, the combat system becomes turn-based, a la Final Fantasy, with almost no challenge whatsoever   You just select attack until all your enemies are dead, while you have Aeris, I mean Kaeris, just spam heals without fear of running out of mana.

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When Clink enters into a dungeon, the game play changes yet again to a more The Legend of Zelda style, with one exception which mimics the Diablo series of combat.  Puzzles in these dungeons are simple to solve, requiring very little thought.  Combat takes a much more action rpg style, where you must swing your sword to defeat enemies and pick up gold and health along the way.  Death is a little more certain in these dungeons, but mostly due to instant death traps, like falling into lava pits.  The boss fights in these dungeons, again, adds a little more depth and challenge, but once you discover the pattern to the boss the fight is over.

Leveling up will only increase one of your stats per level in Evoland, and you do not have a choice in which one is picked.  Equipment is forced upon you, and you have a very rudimentary inventory screen.  During the Diablo dungeon, you do pick up much more equipment and a more robust inventory screen, but this is used only to give you the feeling of playing a Diablo game, and not to actually give you any type of bonuses.  The items are predetermined and do not give you the bonuses they say they do.  While reading the item descriptions will give you a good chuckle, it doesn’t really add anything to the game play of Evoland, except to remind you how awesome a game Diablo really was.

Aesthetics:

The sole purpose of the aesthetics of Evoland is to remind you of games gone by.  The game is modeled after the graphics and looks of such games like the Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy VII, that you will feel like you are playing those games, almost.  There is always something just a little off about Evoland, like looking into a parallel universe where you recognize many things but they just aren’t as good as you remember.  The graphics of Evoland starts off as a copy of the 8-bit generation and will continue to evolve through the game until you reach high definition textures with ambient lighting.  Even at it’s most evolved, Evoland won’t win any awards for looking pretty, but the graphics here are designed to fit the overall idea of Evoland, and works quite well.

The sound works in exactly the same way as the graphics.  You begin the game with, literally, no sound at all.  Then as you move through the game, you will discover sound and music that will evolve in quality, but never any voice acting.  So I guess evolution does have a limit for the developers over at Shiro Games.

Final Thoughts:

When I read back through this review, I realize that it sounds much harsher than I think I intended it to be.  Evoland is a parody of older, better games but it is enjoyable for what it does give us – the evolution of RPG gaming from beginning to end.  Throughout the game, I was reminded of the “good old days” of playing the The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy VII and the first Diablo games, and this made Evoland’s faults stand out that much more.  Parody is a tough gig – you have to make the connections to the story you are parodying while maintaining your own soul and identity.  That is why Mel Brooks’ old movies are the best example of the concept. Brooks was the master of making these connections but also in creating his own original ideas and jokes to make his movies into classics.  Evoland is a good attempt, but ultimately ends up being mediocre because of the lack of its own soul that Shiro Games just could not pull off through their parodying the greats of the RPG genre.  Still, for $9.99 on Steam, it is a good look for anyone that is fond of the old days of gaming.

[easyreview title=”Evoland Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ] Our Rating Scores Explained

Steam’s First Greenlight of 2013

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Valve Software has announced the first Steam Greenlight games and apps of 2013. On the roster is Spicy Horse Games upcoming Akaneiro: Demon Hunters and Leisure Suit Larry. Checkout the full list in the press release below.

Official Press Release

January 15, 2013 – Valve today revealed the fourth set of games and Software titles to advance through Steam Greenlight and be offered worldwide distribution via the popular platform for games and software. Over 60 titles have advanced through Steam Greenlight and been offered Steam distribution agreements since Greenlight launched in August of last year.

The latest Software titles are:

  • articy:draft | Game Design Tool
  • GroBoto – Modeling App

The latest games are:

  • Akaneiro: Demon Hunters
  • Asylum
  • DLC Quest
  • Eador. Masters of the Broken World
  • La-Mulana
  • Leisure Suit Larry
  • MaK
  • The Age of Decadence
  • Unepic
  • War For The Overworld

These titles will be released independently in the months ahead (as they are varying stages of completion).

Steam Greenlight is a new platform feature that enlists the community’s help in selecting some of the next games to be released on Steam. Launched on August 30, Greenlight allows developers and publishers to post information and media about their game in an effort to convince Community members that their game should be released on Steam.

For more information, please visit  http://steamcommunity.com/greenlight/

Air Buccaneers Review (PC)

AirBuccaneers Unity Game

There seems to be a brand new genre brewing in the game community that centers around airship to airship combat.  Ludocraft, a game design team from the University of Oulu in Finland, has brought us our second game of this type in Air Buccaneers.  Similar to Guns of Icarus, Air Buccaneers centers around traditional first person shoot game types, such as team death match or conquest, but involves the use of air ships to wage war.  Air Buccaneers is set in an alternative past, where Vikings and Buccaneers fought over land and resources using these airships that are basically just cannons and a steering wheel on a plank strapped to a hot air balloon.  This game play made for some interesting gaming moments, as well as some very frustrating ones, so let’s see how Air Buccaneers fared with our review.

Story:

The basic premise of Air Buccaneers is that a group of Buccaneers are invading Viking lands for resources and material wealth.  The Vikings are rising up to defend their homeland against these invaders, and join battle in the skies amidst floating islands and cannon platforms.  The story is told through short excerpts during loading screens or short little paragraphs in your character modification screen.  Besides these little story morsels, there isn’t really anything else to the story of Air Buccaneers, so if you came here for a good story, you will be vastly disappointed.

Characters in Air Buccaneers are all exactly the same looking guy, with only modifications that you earn during your leveling process.  There is no character personalities that shine through, just the same guy copied over and over again, with different items attached to the model based on what you have unlocked so far.  I understand the reasoning behind this due to the ability to change classes many times during game play, which I will get into more in the next section, but using different models would make the experience that much better.  All I could keep thinking about during game play in regards to the characters, how great it would have been to have character similar to Team Fortress 2 in this game.

Game Play:

With a severe lack of story line or interesting characters to play as, Air Buccaneers has to rely on solid game play that is fun and challenging.  I really like what Ludocraft has going on here with Air Buccaneers, even if it could a little more polish.  You select a side, either Viking or Buccaneer, then set off to defeat the enemy through airship to airship combat.  When the game begins, you jump into a small glider, that will take you to the nearest airship that needs a crew member.  There, you take over one of four jobs, which you can change on the fly.  The four classes are; Captain, Gunner, Defender or Guerrilla.  The Captain essentially steers the airship and gets the crew into position, the Gunner fires one of four cannons on the airship, the Defender helps keep boarders off the airship and fixes the airship when needed, and the Guerrilla boards enemy ships with grenades when the ship is close enough.  Switching between these four classes is as easy as interacting with an item, or just by scrolling through your tools you spawn with.  Similar to Battlefield 1942, this allows you to play multiple roles in one life and never get board with your loadout.

I played my games mostly as a Gunner, and that was a blast, literally.  As a Gunner, you have three different types of loads that you can choose for your cannons; cannonballs, rockets, or flames.  Using these loads will depend on how much damage you are looking to do, and at what range your enemy is at.  When you fire the cannon, you use your movement keys to align your cannon with the enemy, then press fire.  The fuse will be lit, then when the powder is ignited, the cannon fires.  This takes about five seconds to happen, which means you must keep your cannon tracked on the enemy during this time, and that is hard to do!  Determining range is rather difficult too, since there are no crosshairs, either on the user interface or on the cannon to aim.  You just have to use your previous shot as reference, but since both you and your enemy are constantly moving, that is not easy to do. All of this, though, is done well.  The game doesn’t track kills by players, because it is so difficult to aim properly, but you do earn points per hit, per kill, or performing jobs well.

As you play these games, you earn experience points for doing your job well.  These points go into leveling up your character to unlock additional items to customize your character.  You also gain class experience while you do a particular job, and this experience unlocks the class Perk and Flaw trees in the character section of Air Buccaneers. The Perks and Flaws Trees flow in a very similar way to a traditional skill tree, with each branch requiring a set amount of experience to unlock that talent.  However, Air Buccaneers also put in Flaws that you must take if you select a Perk.  Perks can be a shorter fuse time on cannons or extra grenades for a boarder, but come at the cost of a Flaw, like Eye Patch with cuts your screen down by 25%.  Seriously, it will black out a quarter of your screen.  The downside of these Perks and Flaws is that it takes quite a bit of experience in these classes to unlock and enjoy.  If you happen to be running around, doing several jobs during a game, this unlock process will take even longer.

Air Buccaneers is fun to play and the game play is unique enough for me to keep coming back to it.  It will take time to get used to, but if you put that time in, you will see the fun to be had.  The biggest downside is that Air Buccaneers is an online multiplayer game only, that means no offline content nor single player game play.  Even worse, is that  I have only seen, at most, eleven servers to choose from with only two being populated, one in Australia and one in Ireland.  So, actually playing this game depends on if there are games happening, and what your connection speed is, because connecting to Australia can be tough with a weak connection speed.

Aesthetics:

The aesthetics of Air Buccaneers didn’t strike me like some of the other games out on the market.  The aesthetics just didn’t feel as polished as I would have liked, but are not bad in any sense of the term.  The worlds are vast and well designed, but due to the nature of the game, the only time you ever pay attention to the environment on the ground is as you are plummeting towards it.  I like the way Ludocraft does inject environment into the air battles, with floating islands and flotillas that double as cannon platforms or capture points.  One battleground even had a massive tornado that would cause the air ships to be sucked in and could be used for an extra speed burst.  The models of the characters are all the same, except for customization options which, at later levels, really add more of a contrast to the game.  The actual graphics were a little below par due to various glitches and bugs that I ran across, and, again, suffered from a lower budget compared to other games on the market.

Sound was bare bones, with the same voice actor for every character on a particular side.  You can issue voice commands through the UI to your team mates, which is a nice touch but it is the same voice over an over again.  Customization of your characters voice would have been a very nice touch, but would have required more actors.  Music is just background noise and quickly forgettable, and the sound effects do a great job in making the battles sound like battles.

Final Thoughts:

Air Buccaneers from Ludocraft is one of Steam’s Greenlight games that are available now.  Steam’s Greenlight project lets gamers vote on the games they want to see be made available to them through Steam, and Air Buccaneers is a nice addition.  While lacking a certain amount of polish that is seen in higher budget games, Air Buccaneers does what it does right.  Airship to Airship combat feels right and, though at a slower pace then most gamers are used to, offers up some challenging game play that will keep people trying new things.  I love how the game allows players to swap classes quickly and at a whim, though requiring class experience points to unlock the Perks and Flaws system does have a tendency to prevent players from doing that.  Air Buccaneers is available now through Steam Greenlight and is a very solid entry into the new airship genre that is popping up.