Tag: game

Rainbows, GameStop, PS5s and Maybe A New Game?

Pride Month Is Here (For Non-Australians)

During pride month, to celebrate our queer communities and embrace it, there are a number of events, parades, and parties galore, and the gaming scene isn’t any different. The Queer Games Bundle makes another appearance in 2022 on itch.io where you can own 588 games for just $60, with all proceeds going directly to the creators of those games.

Tell Me Why is free on Xbox, Riot Games, Fall Guys, and Warframe are having events and added cosmetic items to show your pride and support, and many companies have made statements in support of the LGBTQIA+ communities. So don’t be surprised if your favourite games are looking a bit more vibrant this month.

GameStop Employees Have Stopped

Over the weekend the GameStop in the Gateway Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska was closed as overworked and understaffed employees walked out, putting out an explanation as to why:

“Attention GameStop patrons: we regret to inform you that we all quit, our district manager has no respect for us as employees or as human beings. We have been told by our distinct manager that we were supposed to have had this store achieving sales quotas and running perfectly 6 months ago. Which was 3 months before a lot of us even got hired. Unfortunately, despite the staffs’ best efforts, we are not god.”

The notice also pointed patrons towards other establishments for their gaming needs, stating:

“Spend your money at an establishment that respects it’s employees.”

New Kojima Horror Game

Allegedly early footage of a new Hideo Kojima horror game has been leaked, reportedly a title called Overdose. The footage supposedly shows Mama from Death Stranding wearing a blue dress, but the game doesn’t seem to be Death Stranding 2.

Hideo Kojima has expressed interest in making another horror game, stating that he has ideas that would “make you defecate in your pants”.

Kojima Productions had signed a deal with Microsoft for an Xbox-exclusive title, but there’s nothing solid to suggest it could be Overdose, assuming that Overdose is even a real game.

It Might Be Easier To Get A PS5 Soon

Sony has projected that it will sell up to 18 million sales this fiscal year, with that number based on Sony’s ‘current visibility into parts procurement’.

Last fiscal year Sony sold 11.5 million PS5 consoles, and the year before that was only 7.8 million consoles, so 18 million consoles is not a small number. It remains to be seen whether Sony can achieve that 60% jump in producing consoles and selling them.

And now for some upcoming games!

June 9

  • Green Hell VR (Steam VR)
  • Madshot (PC)
  • Postal: Brain Damaged (PC)
  • Pro Cycling Manager 2022 (PC)
  • Tour de France 2022 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 10

  • Mario Strikers: Battle League (Switch)
  • The Quarry (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 14

  • Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Biosyn Expansion (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

June 16

  • Autonauts (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Overlord: Escape from Nazarick (PC, Switch)
  • Redout 2 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Starship Troopers – Terran Command (PC)

Aer: Memories of Old – Review

Developer: Forgotten Key
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Music: Forgotten Key
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch
Released: 25 October 2017
Genre: Adventure, Flight, Exploration, Indie

Every pilgrim starts here, venturing into the cave that shelters the shrine. Along the way giant tablets stand, carved with the words of the past, describing hopes and fears, legends and history. At the shrine itself you pay your respects, lighting the incense before the statue of a figure who holds a lantern in their hands. Your ritual complete, you turn to leave, only to realise that the lantern has started to glow. Bewildered, it floats towards you and you reach out to it, and once your hand clasps the handle you experience…

A vision of something terrible.

The cave starts to crumble and collapse.

And suddenly you are surrounded by ghosts. No… echoes of the past, revealed by the lantern, capturing a moment of fear forever.

As you flee the cave and the shrine, you find more of these echoes, these memories, and once you escape you find that you must continue your pilgrimage and find out why the lantern has lit itself for you.

Aer: Memories of Old is an exploration adventure game with puzzle and platforming aspects. With the ability to transform into a bird, satisfying flight controls, a vibrant, beautiful, minimalist art style, relaxing music that matches the mood, navigating this shattered world is enriching, satisfying, and never feels like a chore. Seeking out the history, discovering the events that led to this, and figuring out your part to play in it, is up to how thorough you are through your journey.

In a world that is literally shattered and broken apart, having the ability to fly is an essential one, and in Aer the flight system is beautifully managed. With a single button in the air you transform with a flourish, and spread your wings. With a few flaps of those wings you speed up, you can turn and bank, dive and rise. There can be a lot of distance between islands, with a lot of empty space, and you’ll be flying a lot. So it is fantastic that the act of flying feels fun, fast, and satisfying. I can look out for visual cues indicating speed boosts in the form of wind channels, bursting through clouds feels invigorating, and diverting my journey slightly to investigate a floating island with a memory on it only adds to my pilgrimage.

Throughout the world you’ll need to unlock shrines, some of which requires solving a puzzle unique to the shrine. There is minimal information, figuring out the puzzle is all up to you, but I only ever felt ‘stuck’ on one puzzle, and that was only because I accidentally backtracked. They’re pretty straightforward, but there is a diverse range of puzzles for each shrine, and for inside the shrine itself.

As you make your journey you’ll encounter tablets and scrolls that record events that have happened, and through these you’ll piece together the history of this world, and a bit of your own history. But what really brings these history lessons to life are the echoes, the memories you find in the world, throughout the whole world.

Indicated by little symbols, once you light the lantern the memories are revealed to you. Some of them are quiet moments between friends, past explorers witnessing something remarkable. A lot of the memories capture dark moments of history, of the deaths, fighting, fear, people trying to escape, people trying to fight back.

Weirdly enough, the memory of a death that got to me the most was of an accident. A mundane, unremarkable accident.

The history becomes humanised, and I spent a lot of time flying around finding more of these echoes. And as I progressed, the memories told a story of greed and darkness, and one woman trying to prevent the end. I won’t say anymore about it, as finding these for yourself is a huge part of the experience.

Now, if I need to find one thing to nitpick about, it’s the platforming. Auk as a character is designed for flying around, but as a human, she can be a little tricky with her jumps. At times there would be a delay between pressing the jump button and actually jumping, and sometimes there would be no jump at all. And it happened just often enough to be quite frustrating, especially when I’ve solved the puzzle but I can’t clear this 3 foot gap in the floor.

I would get over my frustration once I’ve cleared the shrine and I’m back in the sky though.

Now, moving onto the music. It is bright and dark, open and feels like taking a deep breath into your lungs, or suffocating like you realise you’re a creature of the air and you are deep within this island, lost and trying to trust your path. Within caves and shrines it feels sombre and humbling, with the right combination of eerie notes to keep you on edge. But when you take flight, and the sun is shining, the music turns joyful and vibrant.

It fits the game and the art style, complimenting in a way that isn’t overwhelming nor redundant. And often I find myself leaning forward in my seat as the organ-like notes play, and I realise I’m about to see something special.

I heard about Aer a few years ago and thought it looked cool, and then forgot about it until I came across it on the Nintendo store. I picked it up, installed it, and forgot about it again until the holidays when I suddenly had a lot of spare time.

And I just fell in love with it.

I think we’ve all had our daydreams in that boring class where we looked out the window and wondered what it would feel like to be a bird. And I feel like Aer fulfilled that fantasy quite well. But to have such a satisfying flight mechanic, and then to combine it with the memories and snippets of information that encourages you to explore, the two becomes a wonderful combination, and even if I found myself crossing the entire map multiple times, it was fun and relaxing, and a bit exciting at times. It encourages you to take your time and your path, and I found a lot of enrichment in that. It’s a short game, but well worth the afternoon I took to just look around.

Freeplay, WitcherCon, Farewell Dogmeat

Freeplay 2021 Awards

Freeplay is Australia’s largest celebration of Australian independent games, and each year displays a diverse array of games, made by developers from all walks of life. This year, the Freeplay Award was granted to Umurangi Generation by Origame Digital, a first person photography game set in the future.

Some other finalists includes:

  • Webbed by Sbug Games for Excellence in Design
  • A Long Goodbye by Dana McKay for Excellence in Narrative
  • Neon Cyborg Cat Club by Edwin Montgomer for Experimental Game Award
  • Completely Stretchy and Uncomfortably Sticky by Daniel Ferguson for Excellence in Visual Art
  • The Lighthouse At The Edge Of The Universe by Ella Lim for Non-Digital Game Award
  • The Snowgardens by Anthony Cristiano for Student Game Award
  • Mealmates by magicdweedoo for Excellence in Audio
  • UNDER A STAR CALLED SUN by Cecile Richard for Micro-Game Award
  • Before We Leave by Balancing Monkey Games for Across The Ditch Award

For more information about Freeplay, and to check out these finalists, as well as semi-finalists, you can click here.

WitcherCon is Almost Here!

Fans of the books, games, and show will be able to come together for all things Witcher at WitcherCon, a digital convention taking place on July 9 on Netflix, YouTube, and Twitch.

Fans are being warned that there will be no new game announcement, however there is plenty to look forward to, such as a deep dive into the making of the games, the Netflix series, merchandise, and behind-the-scenes footage. In addition, there will be interactive panels with people involved in the creation of The Witcher, with never-before-seen reveals, and explorations into the lore and the world of The Witcher.

There is a lot more to look forward to, so if you’re a fan, definitely check out the full schedule here.

Real Life Dogmeat Passes Away

Fallout fans are probably well aware of Dogmeat, the canine companion who helps and backs up the player through thick and thin. A brave and capable German Shepard, its no secret that Dogmeat is held fondly in many hearts.

The real life inspiration for the Fallout companion, River, has sadly passed away. Fallout 4 senior designer, Joel Burgess, tweets:

“Dogmeat is a tether.  He grounds you in the world, will always stand by you, lead you to your family, and anticipate your needs.  He wants you to be safe and happy.

In other words, he loves you.  

And if love is River’s legacy, I am contented.

Rest in peace, big girl.”

River had won an award for her role in Fallout 4, and true to Dogmeat’s companion role in the game, she had a major role as a companion to developers.

And now for some upcoming game releases!

July 1

July 6 

July 7

Monster Hunter Rise Review

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Music: Satoshi Hori
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Released: 26 March 2021, 2022
Genre: Action role-playing

You are a new hunter in the beautiful, but small, village of Kamura. Your task as a hunter? To hunt the biggest, baddest monsters that roam this world. But that’s not all, you are also tasked with protecting this village from a devastating event called the rampage. Where a dozen monsters, bigger and badder than the one before it, descend upon Kamura in a furious siege. And you have to not only repel it, but also discover the cause of the rampage in an effort to put an end to this ferocious stampede.

Monster Hunter Rise is the newest game in the Monster Hunter series, with a semi-realistic 3D artstyle, detailed gameplay and mechanics, and a lineup of monsters who will challenge you, while managing to be distinctive from other games in the series.

Monster Hunter Rise at its base is just like every other Monster Hunter game. That is you are a hunter, and you hunt monsters, each unique and with its own set of behaviours and abilities. You can choose from 14 weapon types, such as a hunting horn, great sword, hammer, dual blades, bowgun, or sword and shield, just to name a few. Once you complete the hunt, you get rewards such as money and points, and resources from the monster you just carved. And you can use these rewards to make extremely cool and helpful armour and weapons, and upgrade your gear.

Monsters do not have a health bar in this game, and instead you will have to rely on visual cues to tell you when it’s exhausted, close to death, or if it’s about to do a particularly brutal attack. So you have to be observant, learn about the monster, and adjust your gear and approach to achieve a successful hunt.

Monster Hunter Rise also has some mechanics unique to this game, such as the addition of wirebugs, which creates wires that can help you pull off devastating abilities, hold onto monsters, and even allow you to ride the monster, controlling it for a limited time. Another unique feature is the rampage, where a stampede of monsters attacks the village, and it’s up to you and some brave NPCs to push them back before they can get through the giant gate. You have access to special, heavy-duty weapons, such as cannons and ballistas, to help, and when the gong is hit it gives everyone a surge of power, allowing you to go toe-to-toe with some of the more brutal monsters in the rampage.

And outside of the rampage, there is the mystery behind the cause of the rampage. And solving that mystery will mean having to face, you got it, more monsters.

The music in these games have always been rather epic, and quite beautiful. And Rise is no different, including some beautiful singing from characters in the game. When the language is set to Japanese, you are introduced to poetic singing with the introduction of the monsters, like the game is telling you a story. And the audio experience can be extremely helpful during your hunt. Your characters will shout call outs, warning you when the monster is targeting you, but also telling your teammates when you’re in trouble, reloading your bowgun, or taking a health potion. It’s not essential, but it is helpful, especially if you and your friends aren’t using microphones.

I have been playing Monster Hunter for about 9 years now, and I’ve always enjoyed how over-the-top, challenging, and kinda goofy the games are. And I really got to enjoy the multiplayer aspect with the release of Monster Hunter World, and that hasn’t changed with Rise. Rise has streamlined a lot of the mechanics from previous games, making it less daunting. There are still a lot of areas that have me looking up guides to understand, but you can enjoy the game without it. The hunt itself still has a lot of details to think about and consider, and to hopefully turn to your advantage. I’ve had my friends find a stinkmink to lure another monster to our target, so that the resulting turf war would soften them up a bit.

I would advise making your way through the singleplayer village quests first, as that introduces most of the monsters, mechanics, and features of Rise, and they’re not too challenging. It’ll also introduce you to the ‘big bad’ monster. But once you are ready, jump into the hub quests for the multiplayer experience, and prepare for a wild ride. Whenever we felt things were getting a bit easy, boom. We’ve been mauled by a tigrex and someone just rage quit.

So what do we do? Have a break. And then try again. Craft a special hunting horn that looks like a cello but gives us earplugs, bring out some flash bombs and poisoned food, and get a bit smarter about our hunts.

And then once we succeed, cheer and pat ourselves on the back and go check out what cool armour we can make now, so you can get back to the hunt.

Hey, we’re monster hunters. What else are we going to do?

Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star Review

Developer: Lorenzo Redaelli/ Eye Guys
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Music: Lorenzo Redaelli
Platforms: PC/ Mac
Released: 14th August 2020
Genre: Visual novel, horror

A fairy tale come to life. A fallen prince from the stars. An instant connection. Romance. Love. Passion. Pain. Guilt. Fear. Anger.

Mutual orbit, spinning out of control.

Milky Way Prince is a unique visual novel game about abuse in relationships, mental illness, and intimacy. With a combination of 3D environments and 2D characters, with a simplified colour palette, it is beautiful, haunting, horrifying, resulting in an experience that has left me thinking and feeling, mind turbulent.

I won’t go into detail in this review, but the game does delve into emotional abuse, self harm, suicide ideation, and the difficult ugly sides of mental illness. It’s rough. I had to take breaks between chapters to go hug my cat. But it is a beautiful game, it explores these themes in a way that was unique, thought-provoking, and jarring.

In Milky Way Prince, you play as Nuki, a young man with stars in his eyes, obsessed with the stars that litter the night sky. You learn of a fairy tale, where a prince from the stars falls to Earth. A beautiful romantic tale.

Nuki spots a falling star in real life, and follows it to find a man who is crying. He is Sune, and this is your first meeting.

What follows should play out like the fairy tale. And in a way, it does. But the brightest stars are the most unstable, and as beautiful as they are, to get too close is to invite disaster. But like a moth to a flame, Nuki is drawn.

He has stars in his eyes, and Sune is his prince.

Game Play

Most of the game functions like your standard visual novel game. The characters have some conversations, and you are able to select dialogue options to respond to the situation. There aren’t any wrong responses, but they change how the game plays out. Whether that prevents catastrophe, destroys you, or otherwise, it can be hard to tell with option will lead to which conclusion. And that’s kinda the point of the game. Sometimes, in life, and especially in abusive situations, there aren’t any safe responses, there aren’t clear ways out, and there aren’t tidy resolutions. Sometimes, all you can do is react.

There is a beautiful mechanic involving intimacy, where you swear an oath before engaging. With elements of BDSM, interesting symbology, and the ability to decide on which of your senses you will use in this situation, it gives you insight into this relationship between Nuki and Sune. It is intense, displaying both vulnerability and guarded nature of Sune. He is someone who gives so much, but withdraws in an instant. Who bombs Nuki with affection and love, only to immediately put up walls and become reclusive. Hot and cold. Light and dark. Opposites in a single person.

In a binary system, orbit is mutual.

At times, the game throws you into high-stress situations, where you experience an impending explosion, and you have to defuse it before it happens, a dozen times over. There are moments where the game will make you jump with how quickly things can change.

You are kept on edge, uncertain, afraid, but wanting to push forwards, to push through. To help Sune.

It’s kinda the point.

Music

The music is of the electropop variety, and it can be quiet at times. But even the music will lash out at you, throwing sound at you, lending an auditory punch to the visual hit. When things are calm and good, the music is nice, pleasant, kind almost. But when things are bad, when the situation is spiraling, when you watch Sune fall apart, it becomes painful, attacking your senses, overwhelming you. I became very stressed and anxious when I heard those discordant chords.

At times though, the audio is overdone, and it does become almost comedic. Sometimes it’s just not necessary, and just becomes annoying. Not in a good, adding-to-the-experience way. But in a ‘I am now clicking as quickly as possible to make that sound stop because it sounds like a rubber balloon’ way.

Overall Experience

Overall however, the game is jarring, it is beautiful, it is horrifying, it is frustrating, it is a lot.

Many people are aware of mental illness, and what it can do to the person. It can be exhausting, difficult to understand and explain, hard to live with. It can be managed, with the hope of being able to thrive one day.

But a lot of the time, it can be ugly, destructive, not just for the sufferer, but also for those around them. Those people can remove themselves from it at least. But what happens if you don’t? If you don’t understand? If you’re poorly equipped, unprepared, and if the person with the illness doesn’t want your help?

What happens when two stars are locked in orbit? When those stars spiral out of control, closer to each other?

One of the features of the game I really appreciated, after feeling like I just wanted to grab Sune by the shoulders and shake him, was that you can experience the game from his point of view, for a little while. You see through his eyes, see his thoughts, his reasoning, his logic.

You begin to understand.

I appreciated that.

Zed Games Podcast – Episode 202

episode202

We chat with Sanatana Mishra, designer of Assault Android Cactus, a twin-stick shooter for the PC (coming to PS4/PS Vita later this year). We discuss the game creation process, the definition of “bullet-hell” and hear the story of how a 3-person studio gained the support of Sony.

Jody gives us some first impressions of the sub-atomic puzzler “Particulars” (Steam early access)

In studio: Razor, Lee, Jody.

Aired 15 January 2014

Zed Games Podcast – Episode 202

Subscribe to the Zed Games Podcast on iTunes