Saturday, September 27, 2014

Guacamelee! (Drinkbox Studios, 2013/2014)

Springtime in New England is the time of year when the snow melts, the birds return, the trees sprout leaves, and major videogame developers from around the globe gather in Boston for the annual PAX East convention. There are always big game announcements at the show, but I tend to get excited for the more unexpected titles. This past year was probably a toss up between Octodad and Throw Trucks With Your Mind. In 2012, it was DuckTales Remastered that really took me by surprise. But in 2011, the biggest smile on my face happened while learning about Guacamelee!

There have been a few different versions released of Guacamelee! for different systems including Gold Edition and Super Turbo Championship Edition, but for this review I'll stick to the core game that's common to all of the releases. Personally, I played the Gold Edition on PC, but whether you're on a Vita, a Wii U, or a Surface Pro, the basics of the game are still the same.

So, what is Guacamelee!? In my Ittle Dew review I talked about clones, as it was an obvious tribute to the Legend of Zelda series. Guacamelee! takes a similar approach, but uses the Metroid series as its source of inspiration instead. Metroid clones, or Metroidvanias, have become common enough to be a declared a legitimate genre of their own, and Guacamelee! proudly plants its flag directly in the center of this genre.

Remember those Chozo statues from the Metroid games? Here they're Choozo statues. What about the iconic Morph Ball or Maru-Mari? How about just turning into a chicken instead? Energy containers? Heart containers. Wait, heart containers? That's not Metroid, that's Zelda! Yes, while it's primarily based around a Metroid core, Guacamelee! pulls influence from other iconic games as well. One of my favorite moments was after a Super Meat Boy worthy chase scene, you reach a giant axe which destroys a bridge, dropping your pursuer into a pit of fiery lava in tribute to the original Super Mario Bros. Of coarse, this is followed promptly by a "Your princess is in another castle" quote.

This type of influence awareness and blatant referencing is a large part of the game's humor. Even in the background there are constant subtle references to various videogames, pop culture icons, and so many memes. What's unique about Guacamelee! though is that while so obviously tongue in cheek and full of jokes, the story is presented completely seriously with real emotion, or as real as you can get from typed dialog cut-scenes. Unlike Ittle Dew, there's no breaking the fourth wall, no winking at the audience, and no breaking character. The final moments of the game's conclusion in particular are especially touching.

The story of Guacamelee! follows a Mexican agave farmer turned undead luchador as he quests to rescue El Presedente's daughter from the reanimated skeleton of one of Mexico's baddest banditos. The adventure carries you across the country both through the land of the living and the land of the dead. As with Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, there's a lot of carefully timed jumping back and forth between worlds.

But, what's it like to actually play Guacamelee!? While the Metroid series is all about blasting aliens with an assortment of lasers and ray guns, Guacamelee! has no guns. As the name implies, it's all about melee combat. Being a luchador, you'll be punching, kicking, and otherwise beating the snot out of all of the undead agents of evil you encounter. Additional moves are learned along the way that in addition to providing new ways to beat up the baddies, allow you to access new areas as you advance through the game.

These new moves not only increase your mobility, they also allow you to break through various obstacles. The obstacles themselves are color coded to indicate which of the special moves is required to destroy them. This is important to note because later in the game there are enemies protected by colored shields which can only be broken by the appropriate special move as well. This is reminiscent of the color coded armor worn by the space pirates in Metroid Prime which revealed which of Samus' weapons would be effective. There are also enemies that can only be hurt while your luchador is in the correct world, living or dead. As you can imagine, a screen full of various color coded enemies spread between the two worlds takes a great deal more strategy to contend with than your average beat 'em up.

Visually, Guacamelee! has a rather unique style. It reminded me mostly of the Samurai Jack animated series. It's not flat, not realistic, not really a traditional cartoony style either despite being highly stylized with exaggerated proportions. It's a look that fits well with the subject matter however. Add in some flamenco guitar and mariachi serenading and the audio track compliments the visuals just as nicely.

As would be expected, the world of Guacamelee! is quite expansive with a number of large interconnected areas. Being a Metroidvania, you'll also have plenty of backtracking to contend with as you try to figure out where to go next and how to get there. Gamers either love this or hate it, so keep this in mind as you decide whether or not this is a title you feel like sinking your time into. Luckily there is a useful fast travel system which manages to speed up the process without nerfing the experience.

As a huge fan of Metroidvanias with a soft spot for beat 'em ups, this game felt like it was designed specifically for me. If you have similar tastes, you'll probably love this well polished game. If backtracking and exploration aren't generally your thing, but you're all about delivering flying uppercuts while double jumping across bottomless chasms, you might still get a kick out of Guacamelee! It might not be for everybody, but this is a game that will make a lot of people happy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ittle Dew (Ludosity, 2013)

Let's talk about clones. The videogame industry is full of them. Every genre has its share of games that borrow ideas from others. In fact, videogame genres themselves only exist because of this. Pong lead to Breakout and Arkanoid, Space Invaders evolved into the shooter/bullet hell scene, Donkey Kong launched the entire platformer genre, and Pac-Man inspired the top down maze adventures that eventually morphed into first person shooters. Think about that next time you load up Bioshock or Borderlands, you're really just playing a more advanced game of Pac-Man.

One of those top down maze games that evolved out of our favorite yellow muncher was the 1979 title Adventure for the Atari 2600, itself a console port of the 1977 text adventure Colossal Cave Adventure. The console/PC differences were much more noticeable back in the 70s. Adventure's dragons, bats, castles, and forests directly inspired the 1986 Famicom/NES mega-hit The Legend of Zelda, which in addition to launching one of gaming's most respected and successful franchises ever, also launched a huge number of clones. Early examples include StarTropics for the NES, Neutopia for the TurboGrafx-16, and Landstalker for the Mega Drive/Genesis. Later examples include Beyond Good & Evil and the Darksiders series. Even today, designers continue to pay direct tribute to the early Zelda games with releases such as 3D Dot Game Heroes, The Binding of Isaac, Evoland, and the subject of this review: Ittle Dew.

Ittle Dew doesn't hold back with its obvious influences. The visual style is Link to the Past with Wind Waker's cartooniness, the opening cinematic is right out of Link's Awakening, and there's even a fairy winged companion as in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Not even the display misses out on fun featuring such familiar Zelda tropes as heart containers collected in quarters.

The plot is fairly simple. Green tunic clad adventurer Ittle Dew and her fairy/fox sidekick Tippsie are shipwrecked on a mysterious island, and need a way to escape. The only raft available is in the shop of a man named Item Carver, who happens to carve items. Will he generously donate his raft to the cause out of the goodness of his heart? Oh coarse not! First, you must go on a quest or two.

In classic Zelda style, Ittle Dew is comprised of an overworld and dungeons. As with Phantom Hourglass, there is a main dungeon that must be repeatedly visited throughout the game between trips to the others. Items are collected in the smaller dungeons which allow you to proceed farther in the larger one, which is where you collect the gold needed to purchase passage to the smaller dungeons. It's the type of back and forth mechanic that could get old in a longer game, but Ittle Dew's brevity prevents that from becoming an issue.

While not as long as most adventure games, it does provide more replay value than would be expected. Taking more from Megaman than Zelda, Ittle Dew's levels can be approached in whatever order the player chooses. This effects what items are available when playing through the other dungeons, which of coarse effects what secrets and treasures are available. Playing through a second time in a different order can provide for a much different experience. Also, a quick trip to youtube shows how popular this game has become for speed runs!

Ittle Dew's dialog is dripping with humor and sarcasm. In addition to pulling inspiration from, and paying tribute to the Zelda franchise, it also pulls no punches in poking fun at many of the genre's standard tropes. The way you refill your health by picking up a heart, the basic interaction with the enemy creatures, even the nature of the quests themselves, when taken a look at from a step back can seem a little silly. The eye winks and rib jabs stay upbeat and fun without getting annoying, which is always a risk when taking this sort of satirical approach to a game's narrative.

Ittle Dew is more than a series of cutscenes though. There's questing to be done! The gameplay itself is combination of combat and puzzle solving. The basic combat as you traverse the island's various locals is adequate, but nothing really special. As you gather more of the game's special items and begin to discover more creative methods of dispensing the different creatures the fighting starts to get more interesting, but overall the combat isn't the main draw of this game. The boss battles do kick it up a notch though by forcing you to figure out how to use your new items to turn the enemy's attacks back on itself.

The puzzles are where Ittle Dew really shines. While some games still have trouble figuring out interesting ways to challenge your mind while adventuring, Ludosity has created some surprisingly inspired brain teasers to work your way through while on your quest to escape the island. Much of it is taken directly from Zelda canon such as lighting and extinguishing torches, striking magic crystals, and bombing through boulders and cracked rocks, but these concepts are all expanded upon to a degree that really raises the mental challenge to a new level. Some of the puzzles span multiple rooms that must be traversed in just the right order to make everything lined up, all while fighting off the dungeon's inhabitants of coarse.

While Ittle Dew might not be a great game, I had a great time playing it. It might not be a timeless classic, but it's a game that I would highly recommend to any fans of the classic Zelda games, especially because it's available on so many different platforms at this point. According to the Ludosity website, there's a sequel in the works too, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for that!

Friday, September 19, 2014

DuckTales Remastered (Capcom/WayForward Technologies/Disney Interactive Studios, 2013)

I grew up on the now classic games of the 80s and 90s. Even today, I still go back and play those games, as can be seen by my choice of titles to review. As fun as those games still are these days, it's a much different experience than it once was. What at one time was cutting edge and ground breaking technology is now at best quaint and retro, and at worst laughably obsolete. I still try to imagine how those titles appeared to eyes that had never seen what modern games are capable of, but much of the wow factor is simply gone.

But, what if you could actually play one of those classic games, and have it look and feel as polished and shiny as newer releases, while still retaining all of the fun it had way back then? It's a rare treat to get this opportunity, but a couple years ago at the PAX East convention I was blown away to discover just that in the surprise announcement of DuckTales Remastered.

As this is a re-imagining of an older game, I should probably start by talking about the original. In 1987, Disney premiered the DuckTales cartoon series which took Huey, Dewey, and Louie, along with their uncle Scrooge, and sent them treasure hunting around the world in adventures obviously inspired by the popularity of the Indiana Jones series. At that time, Capcom was riding high on the success of several of their original game franchises, including the Mega Man series.

Given the similarities between the two, it made sense to adapt the basic Mega Man formula when adapting DuckTales to game format, and the results were successful enough to inspire an NES sequel, as well as two Gameboy releases. Also noteworthy at a time when licensed IP games were only loosely inspired by their source material (play the NES Star Wars game to see how loosely!), every character and enemy in the game was actually from an episode of the series.

DuckTales Remastered updates the original game in just about every way, but at the same time it manages to stay true to the original. most notably, the graphics have been updated. The graphics themselves seamlessly blend the 3D environments with the hand drawn sprite animation to create a 2.5D platformer experience that matches the look of the original cartoon much more closely than the original did.

As nice as DuckTales Remastered looks, it sounds even better! They managed to reunite the voice cast from the show to reprise their roles. Even though I haven't watched an episode since the show's cancelation, these voices still ring out with so many memories that it makes me want to go back and binge watch the entire series. The original music tracks have all been reimagined as well. If you grew up with this game, you'll be humming right along.

The NES DuckTales didn't have a lot of dialog in it, so what exactly does this voice cast do? Well, DeckTales Remastered starts off a little differently than its 8-bit counterpart did. The first part of the game is a tutorial mission where Scrooge McDuck has to save his money vault from an attack by the Beagle Boys. This manages to teach the game's unique control scheme, as well as set up the story for the later levels. Back in the 80s, cartridge memory was expensive, and story setup was generally taken care of inside the instruction manual, which game designers actually expected you to read entirely before starting a game. Adding this intro level makes a big difference in modernizing the game.

The levels themselves are still playable in any order other than the final level, just as they were before. Short cut scenes before, after, and during these levels advance the plot and make the world more immersive without breaking the game flow. While the areas allow you to go in different directions and explore for the best path to your goal, it never gets into full on Metroidvania style exploration/backtracking. That's either a plus or a minus depending on your tastes, but for this game I think the style fits nicely.

Other modern elements include collectibles and a modern map. This map can be disabled at harder difficulties for an experience more similar to the original game. The controls are still just as tight and responsive as they were before. Despite being released on modern platforms with their gamepads full of buttons, the same original controls are used. I actually played this using a USB NES gamepad. There was just something a little magical about that combination.

Hopefully the success of this game leads to similar updating to classic games in the future. Maybe a Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers Remastered is in the future? We can only hope!

[TRAILER] Battleborn Cooperative Campaign Gameplay Walkthrough

Yesterday, 2K Games released a video showing off the new features in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. This new game is made by 2K Australia rather than Gearbox Software who made Borderlands and Borderlands 2. So what has Gearbox been up to? They've got a whole new game in the works called Battleborn, and it's expected sometime next year. There have been hints and glimpses of it so far, but today they released an 18 minute video giving us a look at what we can expect.

A lot of the video is interview footage with the creators as they explain what the game is about, and the footage that is shown is still in the pre-alpha state, but it still does a good job introducing us to the world.

I'm already enjoying the overall art style. This game has a great look to it, not the cell shaded outlined cartoon world of the Borderlands series, not a gritty realistic brown and gray world, but something new and unique.

The characters look like they'll all be fun to use and offer a pretty wide variety of play styles.

What has me worried though is that what we see of the game so far just looks so chaotic. Maybe they simply picked one of the more intense battle sequences of the game to show off, but if the whole game involves this style of being constantly swarmed by so many hordes of enemies then it seems like it could get old after a while.

It's too early to make judgements on this yet, so I'll have to keep an eye out for more info on this game in the future.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

[TRAILER] Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: An Introduction by Sir Hammerlock AND TORGUE!

It's trailer time again!

This time it's more than just a teaser or advertisement, it's an informative look highlighting some of the new features in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

For those that haven't been following this one, it takes place between the events of Borderlands and Borderlands 2 on the moon Elpis orbiting the planet Pandora, the setting of the previous two games.

Clocking in at just under the ten minute mark, this video serves as an introduction to the environments, characters, weapons, and story of the up-coming combination prequel/sequel.

As a long time fan of platformers, and platformer/FPS hybrids, the low gravity of the moon combined with the oxygen kit tricks such as double jumping and gravity slamming has me eagerly looking forward to this one.

There's an implication that the narrative aspects of the game will be greatly expanded on this time, including a large amount of dialog from the playable characters. This could go either way. The way the story elements expanded from the first game to the second really let the world come alive, but if they push it too far they run the risk of falling into the problems of Metroid: The Other M.

Another worry for this release is that Gearbox, while still somewhat involved in making this, has handed off the reins to 2K Australia. The only other example of 2K doing something like this that I can think of is Bioshock 2, which while not a bad game is generally considered the weakest of the trilogy.

Still, I'm looking forward to spending way too much time playing this game at some point, and I'll be sure to review it here to let you know if it lived up to my expectations or not!

And for fun, here's a picture I snapped at PAX East this year...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Defiance (Trion Worlds/Human Head Studios, 2013)

Back when I was playing through Borderlands 2, I often found myself imagining how the game might fare as an MMO. It had all the standard elements of an MMO, the quest system, the skill tree, the random loot drops, it just needed a server that could host more than a handful of players at a time. After a while I started thinking that I can't be the only person with this idea, so I went online and read about an online game that many were comparing to the Borderlands series, Defiance.

The bold idea with Defiance was to create an online game and a TV show that function as companions to each other in order to establish a more cohesive world. I have to admit that I've never actually seen the show. Syfy inked an exclusive deal with Amazon Instant Video which means it's not on Netflix, Hulu, or even Syfy On-Demand, and since it's not on any of those, Amazon doesn't put it on the Prime service, so you have to actually purchase or rent the episodes to watch them. Since I don't feel like paying for a show I could have DVR'ed for free as a Syfy subscriber, and I'm too lazy to torrent it, I simply haven't seen it yet. Does this effect my enjoyment of the game, or the game's overall success? Maybe, but I'll just have to assume that smarter minds than mine made this decision for a reason, and just leave it at that.

While Defiance fans (and I'm sure its creators as well) prefer to avoid Borderlands comparisons, that's how I found it, and so that's what I'm going to compare it to. There are a lot of similarities right from the start. Instead of Vault Hunters you get Ark Hunters. Instead of Bandits, there's Raiders. It's a fast action game with lots of shooting both at human enemies and giant alien beasts that pop out of the ground and drop loot when destroyed. There's armored vehicles to zip around the varied terrain, and enclosed high tech industrial and slum areas to stealthily duck and cover your way through while killing all the baddies.

So it's just like Borderlands then right? Well, no actually. For starters, it uses a 3rd person camera rather than a first person view, giving the action more of a Mass Effect feel. The graphics are more realistic rather than cell shaded, and the action takes place not on a distant alien landscape, but on the ruins of the San Fransisco Bay Area after an attacking alien race's attempt at terraforming. The storytelling is more serious as well, but more on that later.

To me, Defiance's biggest accomplishment is how well it combines being an action shooter and an MMO at the same time. Visiting shops, leveling up your character, following quest chains, and of course, interacting with other players all put you solidly in an MMO experience. Even the vehicle system mimics the mounts found in most fantasy MMOs. There's a lot more soloing in Defiance than in most MMOs I've played. Players tend to more often approach it as a single player game that just happens to have other players around. It plays great as a single player experience, but it's nice sometimes when you're in trouble and a random stranger starts sniping from a distance to help you out. I did a couple missions in a group, but the game was balanced to work fine either way.

The point where you'll interact with other players the most is in the Arkfall events. These show up as red areas on your map of varying sizes. Arkfalls consist of several strong enemies, or one enormous enemy, or more often both. These are the spontaneous moments where you'll battle alongside your fellow players against the alien onslaught while sharing in the resulting loot drops. These can be a lot of fun, but after a while I found myself mostly skipping them along with the other pop-up style missions.

Since a lot of Defiance involves speeding down the road on a 4 wheeler, random events tend to pop up near, or in the middle of the road to give you more to do on your way to your next mission objective. There are NPCs in need of rescue, alien specimen that need scanning, factories on the verge of meltdown, and plenty of roadblocks by just about every variety of enemy faction in the game. These are fun, especially when other players join in, and a great way to grind XP on the go, but after a while they got repetitive, and I often found myself simply going around the roadblocks and moving on.

One of the reasons so many distractions are needed while running around is that in contrast to the overflowing quest logs of similar games, Defiance only allows you to hold one mission at a time. Following the GTA method, once you pick up a mission, all other missions become unavailable and aren't displayed on your map. It's a shame because several of the fetch quest or collection quest missions would have been more fun to keep running on the side, and make progress on while following the more story based missions, rather than focussing on just that task and nothing else.

Speaking of story based missions, Defiance puts a major focus on providing enjoyable story telling, as would be expected being tied so closely with the television series. There's no tongue-in-cheek comic relief or pop culture references. The story stays on point as a serious drama delivered by some surprisingly well done cinematic cut scenes. The characters are interesting, and the voice acting fits perfectly. The problem is that the dialog itself is at some times terrible, as if the writers were purposely trying to squeeze in as many cliches as would possibly fit. Hopefully this isn't also the case for the show! Still, considering how many MMOs still rely on text blocks to advance the plot, they get points for effort.

The game has some problem however. One of my biggest complaints early on was that while games like Borderlands allow you to quickly switch between four guns from your inventory, Defiance only allows for two. It does have three separate Loadout slots which can have a completely different armor setup as well as a different two weapons, but there's no quick way to switch Loadouts without going into a menu. And since it's an MMO, the bad guys don't pause when you open a menu. Plus, don't forget to update all three Loadouts each time you get a new armor upgrade!

One of the most addicting aspects of most random loot drop games is that you're constantly getting new and better weapons and equipment. Even non loot drop RPGs allow you to purchase better items. Unfortunately, this is not the case with defiance. Even though I already paid money to purchase the game, it looks like I didn't actually buy the whole thing since every single worthwhile item that can be purchased requires a combination of not only in game currency, but real money as well. I understand the need for microtransactions when trying to maintain game servers and all of that, but when I finished the 60+ hour game using the same guns I had 5 hours in, something is wrong! Why even have an in game currency at all if every single item costs real money?

Another problem with an online game is that it can change under you at any time. The most obvious example of this to me while playing Defiance was with the grenade system. When I first started playing, the grenades recharged. You'd throw a grenade, then fight for a bit, and after a while, you had a new grenade that could be thrown. This was pretty unique, but I got use to it. Then it became part of my play style. I developed tactics around it. I started to rely on it. Then, I logged in one day and it was changed. The new method involved collecting grenades of different types as dropped items. You could hold up to five of any type, and whatever type you had equipped is what you would throw. If you ran out of that type of grenade, you simply couldn't throw grenades again until you got more, or went into your settings menu and equipped a different type of grenade that you were carrying. Oh, and remember Loadouts? You better to remember to equip the new grenade type on each of the three Loadouts. Oh yeah, and since it's an MMO you're still getting shot at the whole time you're digging through menus. They may have changed the grenade mechanics again since then, but after a few days I just stopped using grenades completely, so I don't know.

So, what was my overall impression with Defiance? I went in expecting an MMO experience that felt like a Borderlands game. Did I get that? I actually did. Did I like it as much as I liked either of the Borderlands games? No, sadly I didn't. Did I still have a lot of fun playing Defiance and get completely addicted to its gameplay? Yes, I most certainly did! As many complaints as I have about it, Defiance is a game that is greater than the sum of its parts. Would I recommend the game to others? Well, last week I would have absolutely said yes, but Bungie just launched Destiny, so maybe wait and see how that is first?

Friday, September 5, 2014

DLC Quest / Live Freemium or Die (Going Loud Studios, 2013)

While it's not as common as with other mediums, sometimes games attempt to reach beyond mere entertainment to actually make a social statement. The Oddworld series took a stand against the rise of corporatism, the Deus Ex series spotlighted discrimination and fear of change, and American McGee's Alice series looked at mental illness and how it's viewed by society. Occasionally, the focus is turned inwardly and a game will challenge the video game industry itself. That is the case with DLC Quest and its expansion, Live Freemium or Die.

It's no secret that the gaming world has a love/hate relationship with downloadable content. Sometimes it's wonderful, as when a game you love gets additional levels and missions without having to wait for a sequel. Sometimes it's convenient, as when a busy gamer pays to skip hours of grinding to get right to the fun part. Sometimes it's silly, as with hats, lots and lots of hats. And sometimes it's just plain wrong, as when what should have been part of the game itself, something fundamental to the games mechanics or any sense of enjoyable balance is sold at an additional cost within the game you already payed for.

The important thing to know about DLC Quest, is that all of the purchases use in game currency, not real money. It's a game about DLC, not a game of DLC. Much like Evoland, DLC Quest starts with what is essentially a broken game. These crucial elements such as sound and the ability to jump are purchased at an in game shop using coins that are found throughout the world Super Mario style.

At it's core, DLC Quest is a fairly simple 2D platformer with retro inspired graphics. I mentioned in my Wake review how the retro graphics fad has quickly gone from original and charming to lazy and cliche, but in this case it actually serves a purpose. Around the overlap period of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, the 2D platformer was undeniably the most popular and successful genre out there. Whenever a new game was announced, it was assumed to be a platformer unless it specified otherwise. Many consider this to be a golden era, both for arcades and living rooms.

By harkening back to this simpler time, while juxtaposing the abrasive elements of modern era DLC, the entire concept that has snuck so subtly into our world is held up under an unforgiving light for the scrutiny of all. Would we have put up with it back then? Would we have embraced it? It's not the most subtle of commentaries, but it's certainly an entertaining one.

Now to get off the soapbox and talk about the game itself. First, the controls are tight and responsive. For this genre, poor controls are a deal breaker, and obviously somebody at Going Loud Studios took the time to get this aspect right. Hopping from one patch of floating grass covered dirt to the next is as much fun as ever. While power-ups are all purchased at one of the two shopkeepers in the game (Nickel and Dime), exploring new areas to collect enough coins, and then backtracking to previously unreachable locales after expanding your abilities lends the game a metroidvania flavor, which for me is always a welcome direction.

The expansion, as would be expected, expands on all of this. Live Freemium or Die gives the player a new map, new NPCs, and a whole new set of DLC upgrades to work towards. In a way, it's more of the same since the overall look and feel is so similar. In a way, it's a lot more of the same since this expansion content is larger than the original game. For me, since I purchased all of it together on a Steam sale, it was simply the 2nd act in a two act production. Both the original DLC Quest content and the Live Freemium or Die expansion are fairly short, so I'd recommend playing through them both consecutively.

The story of DLC Quest is lighthearted and entertaining as it plays off genre and industry cliches while poking fun at games both classic and contemporary. Not even other indie games are off limit as Live Freemium or Die makes some fairly obvious stabs at games such as Limbo and Plants vs Zombies. The worst skewering however is lobbed at Skyrim and its now infamous horse armor PR nightmare. The dialog is light yet well written throughout, and the NPCs, while none very deep, do achieve their own personalities to the point where it brings a smile whenever one returns unexpectedly due to a plot twist.

As I mentioned above, the graphics in DLC Quest are obviously retro inspired, but they tend to push beyond the limitations that a direct 16-bit style would allow by adding subtle effects such as drop shadows, particles, and even a slight blurring on the background layers to imply depth of field. It's a pleasant enough looking game with a simple art direction that serves its point well, but it won't win any awards.

DLC Quest is one of those games where I fell in love with the premise as soon as I heard about it, but I was skeptical as to how it would play as an actual game. It turns out the game plays great, and kept me entertained for the entire short time I was playing it. It's a pretty affordable game, so I'd recommend picking up a copy if you're a fan of vintage platforming mixed with witty satire. Oh, and there's hats, lots and lots of hats.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

[TRAILER] Official Destiny Live Action Trailer – Become Legend

Back when the first XBox came out, there was a much hyped new game called Halo by a little known company called Bungie. My roommate and I picked up a copy on impulse while buying our XBox, and played it non-stop for weeks! Bungie made a few sequels to the Halo series before handing over the reins to others. What have they been up to since then? They've been working on a new game called Destiny.

The first thing you'll notice about this trailer, if not from the post name, is that none of this is in game footage. This is a live action promotional tool for the game to give us a taste of the setting, the story, the style, and the action packed feel of the game. I have to say that this trailer looks great! I have no idea if the game itself will be good, but beta-testers I've heard from have been saying good things!

Two personal thoughts on this:

  1. The floating robot thing was a total Tron flashback!
  2. Whoever decided to use Led Zeppelin's The Immigrant Song in this deserves a raise!