- Reviewed by Manny Nolasco
In a world where game design is starting to re-establish the balance between gameplay and presentation, Brut@l is a clear example of reaching both ends of the spectrum in the form of simplicity. If you're looking for a hack-n-slash, rpg leveling, and dungeon exploring driven experience, Brutal is neatly put together with a "pick-up-and-play" attitude in mind. Newcomers and veterans alike to this genre will all find something both familiar, and refreshingly new when playing this game. Uniqueness, presentation, and sound design, are the three pillars that support this title's ability to stand out from the competition.
Brutal starts out with a basic character selection menu and then immediately throws you into dimly lit dungeon with only your two fists and abilities to defend yourself. At first, the black and white isometric design of both the levels and characters takes a little getting used to. As far as presentation goes, Brutal emphasizes the concept of "less is more", while uniquely trademarking itself with the ASCII (@) symbol with the combination of other familiar keyboard characters. In more ways than one, this approach to simplify presentation puts the focus on gameplay and less on its backstory. Ultimately, this leads to a positive experience, as the player is instantly motivated to finish the level completely and as quickly as possible.
The gameplay of Brutal is a hallmark in itself by demonstrating that once again, simplicity is key. Progression throughout the dungeon relies solely on the player's ability to find specific hidden keys to unlock special doors. They can be found in numerous places from treasure chests, within storage containers, to even fallen enemies. As the player progresses throughout the level, they will encounter hidden weapons, new gear, and shrines to provide offerings to the gods in hopes of favor towards their character.
Brutal's greatest trait can be attributed to the quality of its sound design. I highly recommend that players wear headphones to have a fully immersive experience. One could argue that dungeon crawling is defined by the feeling of isolation and being lost, and Brutal's sound design is a capstone embodying this achievement. From the repetitive footsteps of your character, to the eerie screeching of whatever abomination or pitfall that lies in wait for you in the next room, Brutal never falls short on providing unexpected encounters in both level design and enemy combatants.
In conclusion, Brut@l is a fun experience and has much to offer to those who take the time to invest in it; however, this is not to say that it is without some minor technical difficulties as well. During several playthroughs, I did encounter frame rate issues during the slower exploration parts of the game (oddly, not during the action sequences). I also thought that enemies were difficult to spot at times, like when rats would latch onto your character and slowly drain your health without knowing. But these observations are nearly subjective and may vary depending on the player's hardware and individual experience. I enjoyed how Brutal reminisces itself to a time of simplicity in gaming, while still providing a unique spin on the familiar genre of dungeon crawling. Lastly, I strongly recommend that players play this game with each character class, as the starting level and gameplay changes significantly based on your choice.
Written by Gregg Dietz
A Pixel Story Has been available on PC for just under year now but is now accessible to console players. This puzzle plat-former hearkens back to days past in gaming history and jumps forward all the way to today's high visual graphics. All the while engaging the player in a world of charming and clever characters.
The story is simple, you play as Pixel, or rather a pixel that has been given a physical form but you are still within a digital world. The evil OS wants to destroy the universe and it's up to you to put a stop to that. After some time, you gain control of a magical hat, that looks like Mario’s, but allows you to “Cache” you location and teleport back to it. I really enjoyed this mechanic as it allowed me to think abstractly to solve a puzzle. In the later levels, you aren't given new abilities but rather new ways to use said abilities. This is also set behind upgrades in the graphics department with is quite clever.
The visual angle of this game really does play around with the idea of how much different each generation of gaming has been. Not only adding more things for the player to do but also seeing how much things had advanced between them. The best thing is it never gets heavy handed with the history lesson and most of the time is quite comical when talking to other characters. That leads me to the next point, the writing is so much fun. If this counts as complement, its reminds me of Tim Shaffer's style. Charm pouring from every angle.
If i had a something to gripe about, it would have to be the music leaves a lot to be desired. I'm sure what the artistic choice her was but i felt like the music was an afterthought. I would have loved to have clearly different music in each section that stood out made me remember it but its just so forgettable. The other thing that bothered me so much was how floaty the character controlled, I feel like tighter controls would’ve been nice. Maybe that was part of the difficulty challenge but it got me killed more often than not.
Overall this game is a blast, fun through and through. The later bits get aggressively challenging, I'm looking at you recycle bin. But once you finish, it's quite satisfying. I give A Pixel Story a 7.5 outta 10.
A PIxel Story releases February 24th on Xbox One and PS4. You can follow the developer, LampLight Studios on their twitter account @LamplightGames. YOu can follow the publisher, Rising Star Games on their official twitter account @RisingStarGames
You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Search for @ChubRockGeek.
Thank You for Reading.
If you're a FPS fan, whether it's on PC or console, one thing is generally agreed amongst most amateurs of the genre: GoldenEye 007, for the N64, is widely regarded as the most iconic and revered game of the genre. Not only that, but GoldenEye 007 has been used as the gold standard (yes, pun intended) for pretty much every subsequent first person shooter ever since.
In 2005, a group of developers set the gaming world on fire with their release of a mod of the popular first person shooter for PC. The mod allows players to relive the glory days of the N64 with completely revamped versions of the old maps in addition to 10 additional multiplayer modes, and completely redesigned versions of the old weapons found in the original version.
Old Meets New
While the original game was developed by Rare and ran on their own engine, the mod was created using Valve 2, the same engine that was used for Counter Strike and Half Life. So lovers of the old version will be able to enjoy the aesthetics and levels of the original version with new and improved mechanics.
No Story Mode
Some will be disappointed to know that the game was solely made for multiplayer. However, this shouldn't be that much of a disappointment since it was the game's multiplayer mode that made it so popular with fans in the first place.
The reason for this was simple. Since the mod was created independently by a non profit group of developers, there were limited resources for the creation of elaborate single missions. As a matter of fact, the developers relied solely on fan support for game servers and mirror hosting.
Also, this new version of the game allows up to 32 players at once, which is a large improvement from the original version which only allowed a maximum of 4 players at a time due to the N64’s limitations.
Even if the graphics are absolutely stunning with impressive frame rates, this version of the mod is actually very light and doesn't require to run on a uber powerful machine. As a matter of fact, anyone with a PC with at least 4gb of RAM and Windows 7 should be able to enjoy the game to its full capabilities.
All in all, GoldenEye: Source is quite faithful to the original version and is perfect for hardcore of gamers who want to play the game on their PC. The gameplay is furious with tons of new options and stages to keep players interested, and the new mechanics provide a much needed improvement from the now outdated version. This is definitely a must have for any fan of the original game and anybody can get it for free at www.geshl2.com. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Gregg Dietz
Video edited by Anthony Beanes
You wake up in a strange world. Your family is gone. You’re missing an arm. And a shadowy creature tells you that you have to find your family if you ever want to return home. What do you do?
If you’re Sasha, the heroine of “Severed,” you take the living sword the shadowy creature is offering and go out to fight some monsters. You may have lost an arm, but by the end of the day, most of those in your path will have too.
The controls to “Severed” are simple, relying on the joystick to move and the stylus to interact with objects and attack. Yet it works with that well, using a first-person perspective and a simple but effective map to let you navigate through an expansive world. There are brief instructions or tutorials, but most of the learning is done through experience.
You have to use your head and instincts simultaneously in many parts. For instance, early on there are some clay pots in an empty room - anyone who’s played a “Zelda” game knows that those are things in need of smashing, as there may be valuable items inside. Not too long after, though, and a few pots begin spraying poison when shattered. It doesn’t take long to figure out which ones are safe to break and which contain deadly toxins, but it plays on the gamer’s instinct and makes you think.
Combat is done almost entirely with the stylus, swiping across the screen to slash at openings and deflect attacks. You may prefer to land multiple light hits in a row, or swipe wide for a longer, more powerful slash. Guarding is done via deflection, requiring a precise swipe to knock an oncoming blow away (although I found deflecting blows coming from the right were a lot easier to deflect than those from the left).
But what makes the combat noteworthy is the rhythm to the battles. Each creature has less of a pattern and more of a beat; you’ll learn how long you can attack before it changes its guard from this beat - slash slash wait, slash slash wait. Attacking a guarding foe does you more harm than good, so the rhythmic pacing of combat adds a unique flavor to the game. In combat against multiple foes, you’ll have to watch their gauges to see how close they are to attacking, and pace out your strikes and rotations against each accordingly.
The art style of the game is unique; it’s 2D, and rather flat and linear, but uses perspective and shadowing just right to provide some great depth to each scene. The environment really does feel like a strange world, filled with bizarre and dangerous creatures, which you slowly learn more about as you progress. Of course, the soundtrack helps set the environment nicely, providing an ominous but catchy tone.
Overall, “Severed” is very enjoyable. It’s unique, features a good learning curve, and creates a dark but intriguing world for the players to explore. If you have 15 bucks to spare, and like the idea of chopping off monster limbs, then give it a look.
-Reviewed by Gregg Dietz
-Video edited by Anthony Beanes
-Convention Reporter/Host of Rolling 20s podcast
When we received an advance copy of an independent comic book for review, I eagerly stepped up. Though I don’t have much time as a busy conventioneer, family man, and podcaster, I’m finding that as I get older, I want to try out as many things as I can to see if I become a fan. Shadow Hunters #4 is not one of the things I became a fan of.
The cover quickly grabbed my attention with someone that looked like a more curvy version of Marvel’s X-23 surrounded by ninjas with glowing eyes. I wasn’t sure where this was heading. I began reading pages and found out that feeling of not knowing where the story was going would deepen with every page. There was no summary or synopsis on the credits page, so it was up to me to read between as many lines as possible to find out what the actual story was. I gathered bits of it as I went; the main character is a semi-scrupulous half-vampire gang leader. She has a number of full-blooded cousins, one of which licked blood off of every part of her like a third-tier porn star. Her father is a noble and betrayed her trust. There’s some kind of flash drive everyone wants with government records on them. Lastly, for some reason, she knows a sorceress and a shape shifter that seem to play games with each other in the shower, and I’m not talking Parker Brothers.
It didn’t take long before the dialogue told me that this would take some patience on my part. By page 3, the main character (who’s name still hasn’t been mentioned at this point), says to another character, Shut up! I don’t care about you but Jessika made it sound pretty important what was on t
hat drive. And I’ll be damned if your just gonna bleed all over it! I didn’t change the punctuation at all. It was the kind of sentence that you have to read a few times to make sure what the writer was trying to get across.
The art wasn’t much more helpful. The detail seemed to fade in and out and if you weren’t a central
character, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on drawing those characters, I felt. The vampire ninjas that
showed up (yes vampire ninjas) looked like faceless minions you might find on an episode of G.I. Joe
from 1992. That being said, the pertinent characters seemed to get more attention, but all of the main characters, with the exception of one male soldier, were all slender women with D-or-larger-cup breasts who shopped at Hot Topic at various parts of the last decade. This felt more like someone’s middle school fan fiction brought to live than a story that may lead to an ongoing narrative.
The direction seemed to need help as well. The soldier was bleeding from a large gash in his abdomen standing with some of the women, then on the next page, he was several feet away laying on the ground. By the third act, not only was he not bleeding, but his clothes were repaired and clean. If there’s an explanation for any of it, I missed it.
In Norse mythology, dying in glorious combat will let a warrior enter Valhalla. In “Jotun: Valhalla Edition,” failing at that means even more fighting, as you try to prove yourself to the gods. But the obstacles and battles ahead are enhanced by great music, good visuals, and some spot-on mythological references.
Story-wise, the goal of “Jotun” is simple: earn your way into Valhalla by fighting the jotun. There are several stages to explore, each with unique environments, obstacles, and puzzles that must be traversed to clear them. While they can be tackled in nearly any order, certain levels will unlock new abilities that may make others easier to complete.
In regards to gameplay, the controls are simple enough; there are regular attacks, power attacks (which are more commonly used to clear certain obstacles, since the time it takes to charge a power attack leaves you open to be hit or for the opponent to just walk out of the way), dodge rolls, and the abilities granted from the blessings of the gods. It takes no time to get used to the controls, although as with all games, it takes time and experience to really master the timing for everything.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game, however, is the visuals. The designs are all hand-drawn 2D artwork, but everything moves smoothly in both gameplay and animation. The environments and backgrounds are stunning, stretching out into the distance and creating beautiful scenery. At times the game will slowly zoom out, showing the sprawling worlds reaching out into the distance, showing the full scope of the game.
Additionally, the soundtrack is powerful, and adds to each level the proper amount of tension and emotion. Composer Max LL deserves praise for crafting such a fitting soundtrack for the game, as it really adds to the experience. There is some voice acting, including narration and the occasional moment where the player character (Thora) speaks, but none of it is in English; the game boasts “authentic Icelandic voice-overs,” and it adds a more unique, even mythical feeling to it.
Speaking of anything mythical, the game draws pretty much entirely from Norse mythology, and it’s perhaps the most accurate representation of the mythos I’ve ever seen. Each deity and mythical item is true to its source, including the occasional recounting of certain myths or origin stories. As a fan of mythology, the accuracy was very much appreciated; there’s no need to try to make the stories more “hip and modern,” the game relies on the appeal of the old tales and mythos.
But overall, is the game fun? Is it entertaining? Or does it focus so much on the style that the function falls flat? Well, while it may vary from stage to stage, overall the game is enjoyable to play. The music, acting, and mythological accuracy all add to the overall strong gameplay, and it’s just challenging enough to keep players engaged.
And if the boss battles aren’t tough enough for you, there’s the Valhalla Mode, providing amped up boss battles for an extra level of challenging.
If I had one complaint, it would be that the Wii-U version does not utilize the gamepad’s screen much at all. Even though the game could be played on either screen, the gamepad just displays a logo, so there’s no playing it with the TV off, which is a convenience the Wii-U allows. Of course, this only applies to the Wii-U version, and is an incredibly minor thing to mention; most players will not take any issue with this at all.
Overall, I’d give “Jotun: Valhalla Edition” a solid 8/10. It’s fun, well-made on every level, and appeals to the mythology geek in me.
I have never really liked remakes that much they just seem to be for the most part to me somewhat unnecessary. And when I personally say remake we are not talking about some sort of franchise reboot or high defiantly rereleases those are fine. No what I am mentioning here is when an original game is rebuilt from stretch to retell the same events with some new material. My peculiar reasoning for this is that if the game was already really good to begin with why remake it just play the original. But on the other hand if the original game was not all that good not to say bad of course then it could stand to reason why remaking it could be pretty desirable. The remake of the first Resident Evil is the kind of remake that falls into the rare circumstance of being remake from an original game that was not all that great overall. This remake is not only one of the few that was needed but is also one of the best remakes of any original game period.
Being an accurate remake and not just simply another reboot the opening story is exactly the same as the original. There are some events that happen later in the game that were changed to help explain certain elements in the squeals. And also plot material that came up in the squeals was also mixed in the narrative to help keep the overall story fresh. So besides that there are no changes to the main story from it was if you played through the original game. So because of that there is no need for me to go into lengthy detail about the plot especially since I already told it all again recently in my review of the prequel.
Although the core game mechanics are the exact same there have been several improvements made over the original with many of them being concepts that were later introduced in many of the squeals. Some of the new gameplay quirks that came from later games include being able to perform 180 turns in an instant and being able to auto combine weapons ammo and ink ribbon in and out of the storage bins. Of course one new addition to the gameplay that was brand new is the use of single use defense items such as daggers and grenades that allow you break free when certain monsters have ahold of you. Another great enhancement is in the area of controls where overall character movement is not only much greater than before but it is also some of the best in the entire series.
The general map is pretty much the same as before so for those of you who are very familiar with the original will have no trouble knowing the layout. Although there have been some new additions to the remake such as an abandoned shack east of the mansion and the new aqua ring in the basement of the residence. Other minor changes that help keep the remake fresh include an addition set of tunnels added to the underground caverns and slight changes and new rooms on the second floor of the mansion.
Of course just because the map has not changed much does not mean you will be able to explore everything in the exact same way as you did the in the original. Most of the keys are now in different places than before and will require different strategies to get to them. Some of the key items have different uses from what they were before and there are also new key items to find.
The key items are not the only thing that is different many of the puzzles have had slight altercations to them or have completely changed as well. And there are new puzzles in areas where there were none before such as the clock puzzle in the dining room. All the puzzles are nicely done and some of them will take some brain power in order to figure them out properly.
All the monsters you love from the original are here with two new additions the first is Lisa Trevor an immortal mutated girl who shows up here and there and can only be avoided as weapons are unless against her. Then there are the Crimson Heads who rise up from zombies you have already killed and are much faster and deal more damage and they can be prevented from coming to life if you burn the body of the zombies you have killed with some kerosene. Overall the remake has lots of stuff that has remained both changed and unchanged and also has some new stuff added in for good measure that make this remake feel like an entirely new game.
The graphical leap of the remake over the original is amazing as the amount of detail with the characters and environments were some of the best for its time. The soundtrack is still really good with most of it being updates of tracks from the original including the save room theme. And of course the voice acting and writing are much better as well although some of us long for the days of the Jill Sandwich and Master Of Unlocking. Not to mention there are quite an amount of unlockable extras to keep you coming back for more including the new real survival mode.
Overall the remake of the first Resident Evil as mention earlier is not only one of the few remakes that was needed but is also one of the best ever made. In many ways it is better off for some to skip over original and just play the remake instead it is that good. And like the second Resident Evil is not only one of the best in the series it is also one of the best in its genre period!