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четвъртък, 18 май 2017 г.

Battle Brothers - No mounts, but plenty of blades



Men sweating, blades singing, blood, screams and flying limbs...your band is broken you just have seen the captain fall. You are in charge now.

This is how Battle Brothers starts. You barely manage to get away from the last battle with nothing more than three men, some money and few provisions. But you are not desperate, being the experienced mercenaries you are you know the company can be rebuild. And you will have to...or die.



Battle Brothers is a turn based RPG game where you command and manage a company of mercenaries, trying to recover the band to its former glory. To do that you will need to hire new men, acquire money, items and most of all reputation.  How? By traveling. A lot of traveling. To get all of the other things you will need money. Money come from contracts and contracts are found in towns, but once you complete a contract there is no guarantee there will another in the same town so you will need go to another. At the beginning you are barely known band of ruff-raffs which will chase robbers and escort caravans for little money. The loot will not be good either, but probably will be better than the farmer clothes your new recruits are wearing. Mentioning those guys...


New Recruits


When you arrive into a town you will be able to visit few different locations including smith, market, chapel, tavern, volunteers and few others, but the ones mentioned are the ones you will visit most and find in most towns. I am sure you can imagine what most of those are used for, so I will tell you more about the one where you will find yourself often - volunteers. In each town depending on its size mainly you will find different kind and number of men who have decided that the life of a mercenary is better than whatever they have been doing. Each volunteer has price, upkeep cost and biography. The biography is always the same for all men of a single type(all farmhands will have the same biography.) so it is not really that useful when you are hiring someone. All in all is a wild guess what abilities the man you are hiring will have(they can even have disadvantages like tiring quickly or eating more), but you still can guess some things. 



For example a trader is not very good in the shieldwall as he is weak. A priest will not flee easily, because of his hard resolve, but he is not used to fighting etc. In bigger settlements you will find better man. Some of them will come with good equipment or will even have few levels under their belt, but they will cost a lot more. The more men you have the more money you will need to pay them and more food you will need while on the road. The maximum size of your company is 20 men, but you will find yourself expanding slowly because of the scarce resources you have and the fact that you will lose men from time to time. And while it is easy to just go hire 1-2 new guys and put on them the equipment of their dead comrades you will notice that guys who are 4-5th level are a lot more useful than inexperienced new recruits. Not to mention that the game scales to really high levels of difficulty and you will need to train different men into different things so they can take on different roles on the battlefield. Making characters "specialize" so to say will make losing characters at later stages even harder to compensate for. It is kind of the Darkest Dungeon case where each level of a character make him/her more and more valuable and irreplaceable.


To battle!


And little by little we get to the main attraction -  battles. In battle as in the whole game your characters are represented by cute pawns, but that is pretty much all the cuteness you will see in this game. The battles are turned based and take place on hexagonal battlefields ridden with terrain obstacles which you will have to take in consideration during battle. Those include different terrain height which will affect damage and hit rating; trees which will block line of sight and even tall grass which is able to fully hide enemies and allies alike. But the things to keep in mind continue. 



Against different opponents different tactics work. If your enemies are undead or wild beasts pike wall is great. If they are humans you will have to advance as they will not throw themselves at the spears. Also when you are against armored opponents certain weapons work better etc. Also during battle you need to keep an eye on your brothers's resolve as if it drops they might flee. Many things affet resolve - being surrounded, seeing ally fall, seeing some being incapacitated.  You can even, no you will have to use formations and specialize troops to do different roles during battle. Or in other words the battles are complicated and will need deep strategizing if you want to win. Not to mention there are also crisis which when happen enemies become more numerous and start to raid cities and caravans. Making a well armed and skilled party very important if you want to survive the crisis. 



Conclusion


Battle Borthers is ok looking game. No flashy effects, no high detailed models, nothing visually impressive. But oh my how deep is this game! You will have to manage your company, be careful what brothers you hire, to have enough money, food and supplies. Which brothers you will take to battle, who will you hire, how will you arm them, what formation you will use. There is a ton of things, ridiculous amount of depth. The biggest downside for me was the lack of overarching story, but you can easily make your own. You will meet enough strong enemies, you will have more than enough epic battles to do so if you want to. You will even have the chance to get into a war between the royal families. Plenty of material to make your own story. Another nitpick which might turn people away is the low fantasy profile of the game. You will fight orcs, goblins and undead, but there is very little magic in the world of Battle Brothers.



If I have to compare Battle Brothers to another game it is definitely Mount and Blade with bigger focus on the fights and turn-based, but similar in many ways. Great, sadly niche game which will not get the attention it deserves. It is hard, it is far from casual and takes a lot of time to progress. But great, great game nonetheless.

Where to find:

Official site
Steam

   

неделя, 7 май 2017 г.

Hollow Knight - Is everything but hollow






I cannot say I am platformer fan. I have not played many emblematic titles from the genre and in general I have not played that many platformers. That said the genre have its place in my heart and after Ori and Blind Forest this place has become even bigger. But why I am babbling about all this? Well, so you can have an idea how much value this article will have for you. Now that we are done with the clarifications, come; let us decent into Hollow Knight.



Descend below Dirthmouth 



You are the enigmatic Hollow Knight. Your past is unknown, your future neither. Your travels...they have led you to Dirthmouth, silent, deserted place, the last stop before the road to the Forgotten Kingdom lying below. In its nature as I mentioned Hollow Knight is 2D action platformer concentrated on the exploration of a gloomy, but vivid and beautiful underground world. But your wandering is not pointless; it is not just a walk in the park. You are here to discover an ancient mystery and there are forces which does not want that. 




When I recently talked about Hollow Knight on another place I compared it to Dark Souls and because I am kind of proud with this comparison (which sadly turned out not to be unique to me :( ) so I plan to use it here too. 

So, what is typical for Dark Souls? Its hard, right? It has an interesting, but vague and far from necessary to follow story. What else? You collect souls, saves are done on checkpoints where you revive when you die and there are epic bossfights. Now let's look at Hollow Knight and compare it on those few points. 



Difficulty



Hollow Knight is far from Darks Soul's difficulty, but here as well as in DS you will easily die if you are not careful even against small enemies which you will meet everywhere. And while we are on the topic of enemies I want to express how impressed I am with the great variety of bad bugs. Variety which does not stop at different models. They have different moving patterns, attacks, behaviour and there are even such which will move randomly and bump into you if you are in the way. The best part may be is that in each area you will meet new unique bugs which you will have no idea what to expect from and how to approach which again brings me back to Dark Souls where I had the same experience with new enemies.

To fight all those you will have at your disposal only one weapon, but you will learn a good amount of skills and will find equipable charms which will give you even more abilities. 





Story


The story in Hollow Knight is told in fragments and a lot of it is left for the players to decipher and piece together while progressing through the world. And this story is vast and intriguing, but it does not limit your progress in any way if you have no wish to follow it. But if you like this kind of storytelling I suggest you to try keeping up with it as its worth it. Because the nature of the storytelling you will have to walk around a lot and not only because of the story, exploration will bring you many benefits. You will find vendors which will then move to Dirthmouth, items, the cartographer(probably the most important) hidden areas and not to forget the only way to quick travel between areas the kind of which I leave to you to find. 



But what makes the exploration in Hollow Knight unique is that you do not have a map when you enter new area. You need to find the Cartographer and he will sell you map of the starting part of the area, but then you will have to buy a quill if you want to be able to update your map with the new areas you find. Also unless you are really good you will need a compass otherwise you will not see your position on the map. I was really tempted to try playing without compass for additional immersion, but the areas turned out to be too big and me being too bad to play effectively this way, but if you want you can try.




Bossfights


 Aside from the exploration and the struggle to piece together who you are and what has happened to the once great underground kingdom the other really exciting part of Hollow Knight are the bossfights. Together with the gloomy, melancholic atmosphere these fights are the other main reason for me to compare Hollow Knight to Dark Souls.
The bossfights in Hollow Knight are against massive creatures which while not looking as menacing as the ones in DS are as deadly and dangerous if you are not careful. The massive monsters you will face in Hollow Knight will always be stronger than you and only quick wit, reflexes and skill will help you be the one standing in the end.
  





Some concerns


Before going to the Conclusion I want to speak about some concerns you might have. You might skip this part if nothing worries you. 
Hollow Knight is very action oriented platformer therefor is important how controls behave. Fear not! The game's controls are perfectly responsive and tight I have never died because of slow response of my character (because of rushing and stupidity...many times). 
Another thing which people might find annoying is the fact you might need to farm money if you want to quickly buy everything offered in the shop. You will not need all of it immediately, but there are all kind of people out there. The farming is not hard and there are big minions, something like mini bosses, which will drop a lot of money when killed and will respawn every time you leave the area where they stand. Bosses will not respawn although they also give good amount of money. But again farming will be hardly needed and when time comes you will probably have most of the money you need at this moment. 



"It's a platformer, how much variety it can have?" A lot! I spoke about this already, but each area is different with different, thematic design, bosses and enemies.
Is it metroidvania? It is. For good or for bad there are segments where you will have to come back later when you have the appropriate skills necessary to traverse the area. Those are usually bonus areas which will contain money, items or story and will not be necessary for your progress, but might make it easier. 


Conclusion
  
Hollow Knight is an epic 2D action-adventure. You’ll explore twisting caverns, battle tainted creatures and escape intricate traps, all to solve an ancient long-hidden mystery. In this review I have compared it to Dark Souls and I know a lot of you are thinking about Salt & Sanctuary, but this is a totally different game. Salt was an action platformer, but it was still centred around the hard fights and there was very little platforming or exploration. In Hollow Knight you will have your share of jumping puzzles and great amount of exploring the unique world in which you have descended.  It's a healthy mix of Ori's jumping puzzles and Salt & Sanctuary's fight without taking any of those two to the extreme.
A must play for the fans of the genre.



Where to find:

Team Cherry Official site
Hollow Knight Official site
Steam
Humble Bundle
GoG



събота, 22 април 2017 г.

Preview: Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest - Not Magic in Space




This is such well known fact on the blog that I do not know why I even bother to mention it, but I am big big CCG fan. When I hear CCG and I already want to try it. So imagine how I felt when from TokArts contacted me and asked if I am interested in checking their upcoming game Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest.


Multiverse is innovative card game where you and up to 5 more players will try to conquer the Galaxy or to take the home worlds of their opponents. The game heavily reminds me of Magic: The Gathering, but at the same time is so different that I am not sure how appropriate is this comparison.  But let me tell you more about the game and you will decide for yourself.




Factions  


In Multiverse you will be able to play with one of the six factions which are color based, each color with its own playstyle. This is one of the things which reminded me of MtG, some colors are even similar to the same colors in Magic. For example Red is aggressive, Green can swarm you, Blue is heavy control oriented etc. On the other hand the gameplay and the idea of the game is different enough to make it unique and worth it. Each faction produce resources from different types of planets(similar to Lands, again...). Unlike other CCG games in Multiverse the resource cards(Planets) are not part of your deck, instead the planets of all players are part of the board - the Galaxy. 




A Galaxy to Conquer



I keep saying that the game differs greatly from Magic, but let me prove it and tell you about the core gameplay of Multiverse. In this game there is a board and your units via ships move on the map, take new planets, build structures, fight, board enemy ships. This is already a whole new game.  On top of that you can build only on places where the necessary resources are present on the space itself, but you have cargo ships to make this easier. As you can see the game is a galaxy of possibilities on its own. Now that you know what you can do you can start working on a strategy how to win. I did not tell you how you win, did I? May bad. To win you should either conquer all your opponents home planets or conquer half the Galaxy. 





Conclusion


Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest mixes CCG with strategy 4X game, trying to make something very unique and truly interesting. In the game you will do everything you have ever dreamed for in a space strategy game. You will have battles between space armadas, you will board enemy ships, colonize planets and transport goods with cargo ships in order to expand your empire. 
The game is still under development and a lot is work in progress, but you can try it in OCTGN. You will have the stunning 225 cards to experiment with and over at TokArts you can see when testing sessions are happening and play with other people too. 
In case you have no experience with OCTGN you can find full tutorial here
When Multiverse is complete it will run on its own engine like every other digital CCG, so if you do not like it now, give it time, this game has huge potential and for I will follow it closely.



Where to find: 

Official site

петък, 14 април 2017 г.

Pressure Overdrive - Step up a gear!




Count Soap is stealing all the water in the world in order to open his Uber-Spa, but nothing is lost yet as La Resistance is here to stop him! You are a member of La Resistance and alone or together with a friend you are about to blast some bad guys.

Only one thing, before going into the game - I was provided a key from the developer Chasing Carrots and the is expected to be out in Q2 this year. 

Or should I say this version of the game as Pressure Overdrive is actually remake of 2013's original title - Pressure which sadly did not take off well, but luckily Chasing Carrots took the criticism to hearth and went back to fix their game. And because this is how I roll I will be honest and here and now will say that I have not played Pressure, but I can tell you about this one.



Race, ram & blast! 


The title says it pretty clearly. This is what you gonna do when you are not in Le Bistro, tinkering your buggy. More details, you say, I am glad you asked! 
Pressure Overdrive is steam-punk arcade race shoot em up game where the goal is not to reach the finish, but to survive until you get there as the track is packed full of enemies of all kinds. Small tanks, punks on bikes, giant trucks spilling acid, motor boats and even bosses at the end of each world. The game reminds me of Tank Racer(and this is quite the inaccurate comparison I know...)  but a lot more dynamic and frantic with packs of enemies all around you, smashing fences, gun towers, flying above bottomless pits and crashing through explosive barrels. BANG!BOOM!KABAW!  



The game is action in its purest form and it involves a good amount of skill too as you will have to drive, shoot accurately and dodge bullets all at the same time. 
But come on, who cannot do that pf! To make things harder and more thematic, you have two resources(so to say) - pressure and health. The second is obvious, if it reaches zero you are busted and you should restart the race. Pressure is necessary to shoot your guns. The longer you shoot the more pressure you spend. Lower the pressure slower you move and shoot. You can stop shooting or moving at all to recover, but you are not a coward, right? Then you need to be accurate as each destroyed enemy gives you pressure( There is also very annoying type of enemy which steals your pressure...). If you do not manage to finish you can restart or you can call a buddy for filled with action and fun coach co-op action. If you finish the race you move on to the next, but before that...





Welcome to Le Bistro 


Le Bistro is your garage where you can make your buggy a real mean machine with spikes at the sides and swirling blades at the front, all this finished with a shotgun to rain fire on those who does not dare to get close to you. Or you can put a big mortar and just blast everyone away from afar. There is good amount of upgrades and styles of play depending on what you put on your machine, so you will never be bored with your car while you make it into real weapon for mass destruction.  






Conclusion 


Pressure Overdrive is great combination of race and arcade shoot em up game. It is frantic, colorful, full of action, fun, full of different, wacky, but nasty enemies. It has 3 worlds with more than 30 levels for you and a trusty friend, to test your skills in a bullet filled race or hair standing bossfight. And when you beat those there is the endless mode, only for the best of the best.
It is a kind of game which I have not seen for long time and while is not exactly my cup of tea, I had great fun with it and hard time putting it down. It is clear that Chasing Carrot has put some serious work in it and I hope it will be the success it deserves to be. The game is expected to come out in Q2 this year for PC, PS4, Linux and Apple OS. 



Where to find:



събота, 8 април 2017 г.

Quick Opinion: Pixel Privateers, Night in the Woods



This is one of a kind Quick Opinion! There has never been another like it! It's about only two games... I was planning of making two separate posts about Pixel Privateers and Night in the Woods, but when I started writing them I realized the games are two simple or short for the format so I bundled them into a Quick Opinion. Here they are!





Pixel Privateers


I would have never heard of this if I was not following closely Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria. The game is not theirs, but they are publishing it and that is what grabbed my interest. Made by Quadro Delta(Yes, the guys behind Pixel Piracy) Pixel Privateers is squad based tactical RPG where you will explore the galaxy following mysterious quest to recover alien technology. 
In its core the game is really simple. You choose your team, pick a planet and beam your guys down to kill things and loot dead bodies until they complete the objective for the mission, then you bring them back and put on them new shiny items and then repeat. Surprisingly the action part while always the same is fun, flashy and entertaining. There is great amount of different weapons, including swords, several classes and what surprised quite good amount of different enemies. 
After each planet you will also get a lot of items with which to fiddle trying to make your characters the best you can. Also you can hardly hit a too hard planet or too easy without wanting to as you can change difficulty for each planet before you raid it.
 The biggest problem I saw with the game is that you will get so much loot that the amount of inventory management you will have to do is overwhelming and honestly annoying. This aside Pixel Privateers is great light, pretty much mindless fun where you kill things and they explode like pinatas dropping items everywhere. If this sounds like your thing find the game on the links below. 


Where to find:




Night in the Woods

"I stayed here and got older. You went to college and stayed the same."
 Bea


This line sums up what Night in the woods is and if you have played it you will agree I am sure. If you have not, read on.
You play as Mae, she has dropped out of college and now is back to her small town where everything is the same at first glance, but actually so much has changed. Night in the Woods explore the problems of growing up, failing, parents expectations, clash of past and present and many more, it is a game which will have biggest impact on players which are around Mae's age and they themselves are having the same or similar problems. Other audience to which I recommend the game are people who have gone through this in the past. Another side of the game is the mystery and Mae's weird dreams, but most value from the game you will get if you play it because of the things I mentioned above as this is the main purpose of the game in my opinion. To touch these sensitive topics which few if any games does. 
Some more game-y things about Night in the Woods. The whole game is moved in the same way games like Oxenfree are. You go around, talk to people, interact with objects and see what happens. The game has interesting geometrical art style, simple controls and it is around eight hours with two main different endings which can be slightly altered depending on your actions. 
As you can see Night in the Woods is hard to review material, as if I go in details I will spoils many things and this game is mostly about the experience it gives. And the best experience is when you do not know what is coming. I recommend this game even if only for the example how to make such games.  


Where to find:


неделя, 19 март 2017 г.

Torment: Tides of Numenera - A World to behold




You are falling from the sky...You do not know who you are, where are you or why you are falling. Faint memories flutter through your mind.

This is how Torments starts and if you are wondering, yes you can die in the first forty or so seconds of the game. Or you can live and unveil the unbelievable world of Torment.

Few things I want to say before continuing with the game. This is more of a first impressions than a review as I have not finished the game, but I have played around twelve or so hours. Second I will try to go without any major spoilers, but if you want to experience the whole game without any knowledge better not read this. Here it comes!



Who am I?



You just fell from the sky. You have no idea who you are, where are you or what happened. When I played for the first two hours I felt so confused I barely knew what to do. The game overwhelmed me. And this is how it should be, this confusion you feel together with your character is obviously intended and greatly woven in the story. When you learn more about the world you will be faced with the choice to be who you want to be or try and pretend to be the one who everyone think you are, which is decisive choice and the world will react to it. While we are on the topic of the main character something which appears to confuse people is the character creation. While making your character you will make few choices which are vague and is not clear to what exactly they lead. Some people tend to not find such way of building character fun and to them I can say only...you can choose whatever you want at the end of the "Memories segment" (where you initially build your character) so do not fret. 



World and Exploration



 Sadly, the part of Torment's world you will see is not much. Actually it is just one city(well and the endless plains of your mind, but I will let you find this on your own). But if you want to learn more about the world, yourself and what has happened you can talk with the people of the city. No I will actually go further and say that you must talk to the people of the city. The least you will get from the conversations are items, skills and side quests, but what is more important you will get knowledge for the world, for yourself and for the man you are looking for. Each dialogue choice you make shifts the Tides which are the game mechanic determining how people react to your words and to you in general.  Speaking about this, probably here is the place to say that Torment is precisely targeted game. The developers had clear idea what audience they target and because of this it is a special piece of a game. You need to be one of these gamers who are genuinely interested in the world of the games they play. If you are not you will not only miss a lot of the game but it will probably be a bit of a boring slow experience. The driving force of the game(at least for me) is the will to know more.




And while we are on the topic of talking to people and before we continue to the world I want to mention something which annoyed me a little - people are too talkative. You will rarely be denied the opportunity to talk to someone about pretty much everything. This breaks more than few characters. True, later in the game you might be able to talk about more things with certain NPCs than when you met them for the first time, but this does not really neglects the will of everyone to talk with you about everything. BUT this also does not mean you should not choose your words wisely, as I said you will talk a lot and this is what will progress you in the game. One wrong word may cost a lot. One seemingly wrong word can bring you more fortune than you imagine.




Returning on the topic about knowledge and the world - it is a world worth knowing more about, but it is not only words. You are part of this world and while you are limited in only one city mainly it is a huge city. See it, explore it, watch it. Torment looks old, but the level of details is amazing, everything around you moves, shines, works. The city pulses with life. Dive in and be part of it.



How the world works


Knowing all this, let me tell you about some actual game mechanics. Torment is squad based RPG with (small in number) turn-based battles. Each dire situation being battle or not is called a crisis and each crisis can always be resolved without killing everyone or even without fighting at all. But if things go bad during battle your characters will have two types of actions - attack action and movement action. Each of these can be spend for what it is or it can be used to activate skills. Often in battle( and almost always out of one) you will need to invest your stats in different skill checks. Each point invested this way is lost effectively reducing the stat, until the character does not rest. This system brings very interesting resource management aspect into the game, because you do not know what you will need and when also you are not able to rest just anywhere, no you can rest only on specific places and while resting some quests may progress, situations may change. 





Conclusion


Torment: Tides of Numenera is squad based RPG with turn based battles, but you will almost never be pressured to fight as there are numerous ways to resolve a crisis. Torment is a game focused on talking and learning about the world in which you have fallen(you literally fall from the sky). It is a game targeted at people who like long dialogues, hard choices, intriguing world and exploration. Oh and have a lot of free time. Torment: Tides of Numenera as most games of the genre is between 25 and 30+ hours of gameplay. But every hour invested is worth it, even if you do not finish it play it if not for another thing then for the rich palette of characters you will meet. Torment is like a how-to to anyone who is in the business of creating characters.

Where to find: