Posted by Ben at 15:24
Well we didn't have to wait too long for more details of the PC port of Valkyria Chronicles.

Valkyria Chronicles is now available to pre-order on Steam, and the listing reveals a few more details. The big ones are obviously price and date, which are £14.99 and 11th November

There's also details of extra content and features for the PC Version
“CANVAS” graphics engine: A unique engine that produces breath taking images that look like watercolour paintings in motion.

“BLiTZ” tactical battle system: Experience strategic manoeuvring of units combined with conventional RPG gameplay, all layered on top of the moment to moment action afforded by real-time controls as players command each squad member and tank in battle.

Epic storyline: Players will immerse themselves in the epic struggle for freedom, as the fate of the world lies in the hands of Welkin and the members of the 7th platoon.

Customisation: Over 100 customisable characters allow players to create a variety of platoons to suit each battle’s needs.

Beautifully rendered battlefields: Players explore 30 different environments, using unique terrain features to gain advantages in battle.

Additionally this brand new PC digital version comes bundled with all previously released DLC, including:

Hard EX Mode (harder versions of skirmish missions in the main game)
Edy’s Mission “Enter the Edy Detachment” (a side story campaign)
Selveria’s Mission “Behind Her Blue Flame” (a side story campaign)
Challenge of the Edy Detachment (six challenge missions)

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Oct 29
Posted by Ben at 17:59

I probably should have written this the other day when I filmed the video, I'm fairly close to the point where I can review Shin Megami Tensei 4, so anything I post here might be a bit too on point

I will say though that Shin Megami Tensei 4 is a very good game, the video below will give you a pretty good idea of how it plays, but it's much later in the game before the plot really kicks in to something properly interesting, not that it's bad to start with.

Show/hide video

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Oct 28
Posted by Duane at 06:28

There is one element of gaming that, in my opinion, has been pushed aside as part of the movement towards Online play and thats getting a bnunch of mates round to your house all crowded round the one TV with a few cans of beer to help add to the mood. Of course, with the ability to play against millions of people, the concept of local multiplayer does seem like a bit of a dinosaur, but for me and many others growing up with videogames, it was a huge part of our youth. Thats where Italian developers Forge Reply come in as they appear to agree and have no released their local multiplayer only space battler "In Space We Brawl" onto PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.

From the offset Forge Reply seem t have drawn upon a few classic influences, I remember sitting down with my step brother to play a two player "space battle" game on our shared Atari 2600, and it appears to me that games Space War have provided a large part of what makes up the core gameplay of In Space We Brawl. The core concept of the game is that you have between two and four players, all controlling their own neon coloured ship on one screen, shooting at each other until one of you emerges as the winner. It's a concept that has been applied to countless games over numerous decades and its a concept that is still enjoyable today.

Whilst the focus is largely placed upon the shared multiplayer experience, there is a single player mode, this mostly consists of tutorials to help teach you the games mechanics and nuances. This is where the entire concept of In Space We Brawl begins to fall down. As mentioned, its been designed to be played multiplayer, however in order to get the most out of that you have to unlock the eleven different spaceships and weapons that you can choose from. This is all done via the games rather dull and slow Challenge Mode, which is only available to solo players. Now admittedly there isn't a whole lot to play through, but one would think that having the option to unlock the extra ships and parts through playing multiplayer (such as a co-op multiplayer) would have suited the concept of the game much more.

Thats not the games only problem either, battles feel sluggish and lack the high octane competetive nature that all the best local multiplayer games have had. If you think of games like Smash Bros or Power Stone 2 (admittedly the two standout 4-player games from my own youth) you think of fast, responsive gameplay where the difference is all down to the players skill. In Space We Brawl limits that element somewhat by making the ships feel sluggish and the turning circles of the craft often leave you in trouble, there's also a lack of gravity/atmosphere which is rather jarring.

Thats the saddening thing here. I love the idea of having a simple but fun local co-op game, something I can stick on with my kids and we can all instantly have fun with no learning curve to get in the way. However, I found, on repeated plays, that what the game seems to want to do just doesn't match up with what it actually achieves and ultimately we all found ourselves wanting to do other things instead.

Full gallery (8)
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Posted by Ben at 02:52
There's not a lot of details so far, but that shouldn't matter.

A tweet from Sega's Twitter account stating
Gallia, to arms! Return to the original battle on PC. More info coming soon...

with a picture from the first Valkyria Chronicles game. No details of price or date, but we'll post when we know

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Posted by Ben at 15:40
It's been out for a fair old while in America (and Canada etc), and it's been out a fair old while on Steam, but European WiiU owners will finally be able to play the highly regarded Shovel Knight in a couple of weeks

Due for release on 6th November and priced at e14.99, which, if they match Steam, should translate to £10.99
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Oct 19
Posted by Ben at 14:13

It's strange how things go sometimes. If you visit the store page for Schein on Steam you'll see logo after logo of award nominations and wins Schein has picked up over the course of its development. And it deserves them too, it's a great game, yet for some reason no one seems to be talking about it. It should by rights be an 'indie darling', but so far it's a lost gem

Maybe part of the problem is that it's easily dismissed as yet another indie puzzle-platformer, a Braid-like. With simple graphics, a so-so character model, and some less than great voice work. Spend some time with Schein though and you realise it's more than that, packed with smart, challenging puzzles, and some cool aesthetics.

The premise is fairly simple, the game opens with you in a swamp looking for your son, soon you bump in to a fairy-like creature, an orb of Light that knows more about the swamp than you, a little more than she's letting on, and can alter the world around her and you. The gameplay quirk of Schein is its use of Light to alter reality. An uncrossable gap in normal light might reveal a ledge to jump on in green light, an impassable barrier in green light might need you to flick to red light to make it disappear. It's a mechanic that starts simple but quickly becomes hugely challenging.

One of the reasons for that is because you don't always get the time to think and plan out how to solve the puzzle. If you're trying to negotiate your way across a huge gap then working out which light you need to switch to has to be done on the fly, you can't always lay down the groundwork. Similarly the platforming can require a large amount of dexterity and skill. To reuse an example from earlier, if you're using the green light to reveal platforms to cross a gap, but there's a barrier in the way that can only be removed using the red light then the process is; have the green light on, jump, switch to the red light, switch the the green light, land the jump. There's a real mind-bending, rapid-fire aspect to the platforming

The shifts of light also improve the game graphically. The simple, bland design of the swamp and main character become far more interesting when the light mechanics are introduced. The green light brings colour to the swamp, your character all smiles and joy, it's sinister. It's a great idea, maybe one that isn't quite explored enough, but it does work to short-hand that everything is not quite what it seems in the swamp

Schein does have problems; the main character is played too flat, he’s supposed to be depressed but whether it's a production issue or a performance issue, something about it just doesn't land. Similarly, and fairly trivially in the great scheme of things, the spirit's English accent is offputting, probably only an issue for English players, but it noticeably isn't an English accent, even if it's recognisably supposed to be one. I was also a little disappointed by the story, a nice premise, a decent off-kilter world, that resolved in to not a lot really, I liked the almost fairytale aspect to it, but it still felt like it's core was missing.

A larger issue comes from the platforming, it's mostly fine but there's moments when encountering spikes where their damage area is larger than the pixels they're made up of. More infuriating, particularly later on, is a series of reworked platform-puzzles involving ledges and lanterns. The aim is to get from one side of the gap to the other, carrying over one coloured lantern at a time, stopping and leaving the lantern in a safe spot to head back and grab a different colour lantern, then leapfrogging the safe lantern before going back for that. It's not entirely different from the riddle about carrying some seed, a chicken, and a fox over a river. The problem is that if you're carrying a green lantern and land on a red platform with a red lantern on it, while in theory that should be fine, too often the green will overlap the red and you'll fall to your death. I'm fine with the game being difficult, but these moments where you feel cheated are blemishes on the game.

The difficulty is worth noting too, I found it pitched just about right, impressively so in fact. At the points where I was stuck I'd come back the next day and solve it. However, I was playing for review, I HAD to make progress, and when I did I found Schein hugely rewarding, but it's not inconceivable that had I just picked the game up on Steam I might have put the game down for the night and never picked it up again.

Don't let that put you off too much though, Schein is a fantastic game, it has a few flaws no doubt, I can't say that any of the boss battles were a high point, but it really is a gem of a game. Difficult but rewarding, it even manages to switch around those first impressions from looking like a cheap patchwork game, to being an impressive, extraordinarily well pieced together game
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Posted by Ben at 14:28
It's been a comedically long wait but we finally have a date and price for the European release of Shin Megami Tensei IV in Europe

The very well received in every other part of the world rpg will hit European 3DS' on the 30th October and is priced at a not unreasonable £17.99

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Posted by Ben at 02:08
... is coming soon!

Poor John Hardin, he's been doing his best to keep people updated wit the, ahem, "protracted" European release of Shin Megami Tensei IV, but it does seem that he's fighting against the current.

The latest news is that we should be hearing something concrete soon, like, the next couple of days soon

SMT IV EU status update: Things are looking good! We are waiting on a few confirmations and will have THE EXACT release date!

Confirmations hopefully by Friday, and we are still confident in October.

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Posted by Ben at 16:30
Giant Bomb have used the spooky month of October to chase up some promising looking horror games that have gone AWOL.

One of those games is the very 'nice' looking Routine, a space station horror game that was Greenlit on Steam

On Routine's progress Aaron Foster, co-founder of Lunar Software said

"progress is moving along at a great pace, we always talked about doing the introduction area late into development when we know exactly what we want to teach and make the player feel at the start of the game. And guess what! we are actually working on that stuff right now in our current milestone so hopefully that is a roundabout way of explaining that we are making good progress"

So, seemingly not a million miles away from being done, but also far enough that some healthy distance from Alien Isolation might be of benefit to them
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Posted by Ben at 14:15
Hot on the heels of the first Dragon Quest game's release on android, comes the cleverly named Dragon Quest 2

Priced at £2.99, Dragon Quest 2 plays much the same as the first game does on smart phones, in portrait mode with a touch screen d-pad

At some point I'll have a review up of the original Dragon Quest on android. It's not all I'd hoped, but it's not a terrible way to experience the early Dragon Quest games
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