Articles tagged with preview


 
 
Hyper Sentinel

Sep 23
Posted by Mark at 15:41

A lot of gaming's retro revival has centred around the beginning of the home console era- either the likes of resurrecting IP from the time like Double Dragon or plundering the graphical limitations of early platforms for the sake of visuals like Castle In The Darkness.


While a lot of that has started to push later in time and look to 16-bit consoles for inspiration, Huey Games are going the other way with Hyper Sentinel, a game heavily influenced by the home computer era- and in particular, Uridium.

This isn't an entirely arbitrary choice of game- the father of Huey Games Ltd's founder, Rob Hewson, is none other than Andrew Hewson of Hewson Consultants, publisher of the C64 original.

Both games share the same core- the player controls a ship which flies alongside a larger ship called a Dreadnought. The objective is to shoot away all its defenses, flying back and to until they're all destroyed while avoiding retaliation attacks from both the Dreadnought itself and other enemy craft.

As you'd expect from a game of the era, Uridium is extremely challenging and it's this level of challenge developer Four5Six Pixel is aiming to replicate, upping the enemy count and speed to levels the computers of the era couldn't even dream of- this is also shown at the end of levels, where in 1986 it was enough to slow down and land, 2017 expects you to contend with a huge boss.

And these bosses can start to seriously fill the screen in later levels- a switch from the instadeath of the original to a regenerating health system, which could have been a lazy way of pandering to a modern audience turns these battles into compelling acts of brinksmanship, where you try and do as much damage to the boss as possible without dying, then retreating for a bit to recover.

When I caught up with the development team at EGX, they mentioned that the challenge aspect of the game was a huge draw for its Kickstarter backers, a group of people who have been instrumental in much of the bigger decisions made in development- notably a release on Nintendo Switch which didn't form part of the original Kickstarter campaign was added following community feedback.

The Switch version, getting its first public airing at EGX, is just as featured as its PC version, and the brighty-coloured pixel graphics and fancy effects pop on the screen when played in Handheld mode. The structure of short levels also makes it a great fit for the hybrid platform.

On the subject of Kickstarter, when asked about the future viability of crowdfunding following some fairly major failures and controversies recently, they did point out that it's still good for smaller teams with major followings- Hewson Consultants still have a following on the retro scene today, and a modest target of fifteen grand was very achievable (and exceedable, just breaking the £21k mark) and it's still a good way for indies to make themselves known to bigger publishers.

Its stretch goals went to further enhancements truly differentiating the modern game from its predecessor, including a Survival Mode, where you're simply faced with endless swarms of enemies and expected to keep going for as long as you can, and plenty of side objectives for fulfilling different criteria in each level.

There are also retro graphical modes, including ones which mimick the C64 and, as the developers seemed particularly proud of, ZX Spectrum.

Hyper Sentinel looks to be a very assured game, knowing where to modernise and where to look backwards to its fan-pleasing roots.

Hyper Sentinel is due out early next year on PC, Switch, XBox One and PlayStation 4, with iOS and Android ports to follow.
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Tower of Time

Aug 13
Posted by Ben at 15:25

I recorded a First Play gameplay video for Tower of Time last week, and spent most of it speculating, but failing to nail down, why it wasnít resonating with me. I wanted to spend more time with it, try to see if I could better put in to words my thoughts, try to write something actually Ďcriticalí rather than just spout vagaries.

Despite my hours with the game, despite my pages of note, and a video already behind me, Iím still not sure I can precisely quantify why I didnít click with the game. For those that donít know, and given that Tower of Time is an indie game still in Early Access on Steam Iíd wager that would be most people, Tower of Time is a western rpg with a few quirks with the combat. Its isometric viewpoint brings to mind the likes of Diablo and Pillars of Eternity, but its combat reminds me of the original Dragon Age. Rather than encounters taking place where you stand, instead youíre whisked away to one of the battle maps.

This takes a bit of time to trigger as your opponents trudge towards you, before you get a screen with a description of whether this will be a difficult battle, who youíre likely to face, and what theyíre weak/strong too. Thereís a couple of points Iíd make about this; firstly I think it needs to be speeded up, maybe an alert sound and straight to the preamble screen, thereís no need to stop your movement while your opponents trundle over. Add to that when youíre on the screen showing the enemies stats you canít alter your equipment to best suit them, instead you have to withdraw from battle, go to your character screen and set everyone up, then trigger the slow animation again.

Iíve no real complaints about the combat itself, although I do think itís one of the things keeping me at arms length. Tower of Timeís USP is that itís neither entirely dynamic like Diablo, nor to you stop time to set moves like Dragon Age, instead you slow time to a crawl, giving you enough time to drag your team around and set their next move. This means youíre always involved, you canít Ďpauseí the action and ease the pressure on yourself, but equally youíre not getting swarmed with your squad dotted around the battlefield while youíre left with no time to do anything about it.

Iím not sure if this is a problem as such, but I found myself playing almost entirely in slow motion, micromanaging moves and positioning; who attacks who. It sucks the pace out of the game, my own fault I guess, but it did mean combat encounters took an age. Thereís a few little niggles Iíd like ironed out. One is that on quite a few occasions instead of my clicking on an enemy to launch an attack, it would be misread as me wanting to move my character to them. Iíve also found that, while my ranged fighters will pick targets without me having to spell it out to them, when my melee fighters kill an opponent, unless theyíre attacked by someone else, theyíll just stand there, not attacking their nearest opponent, just contributing nothing.

The story is, I think, interesting, your character is actually a general who met a dormant spirit in a newly re-emerged tower as a child. Thereís something off with this spirit, clearly his motivations arenít your best interests, but now youíre tied to him, constantly being called to him. Youíve returned to the tower, and you as a player are put in the unusual position of being in control of a character who takes no active part himself, but is both controlling others, and being controlled. However, and this is where my issues are still a bit nebulous, I just wasnít engaged by it. The characters arenít defined enough, thereís a couple of interesting side stories, but nothing that I can really remember to write here.

Thereís also not enough to do. Tower of Time follows a very defined pattern and it needs more. Youíre basically walking from fight to fight, theyíll be the odd chest, some gold to pick up, and then the occasional story beat. Diablo manages with little story because it has constant battles and meaningful loot, Tower of Timeís pace is too slow and its battles too meaty for that, and thatís fine, but it could really do with some meaningful loot to make the non-battle sections more worthwhile

Still, Tower of Time is pretty well made for a game so early in development (currently on version 0.3.0.8362), and for as much as I played I didnít get close to the end. Not bad considering itís only £11
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Tower of Time
Gameplay Video
Aug 06
Posted by Ben at 16:32

We got sent a code for Tower of Time, the new (first?) game from Event Horizon. A name that's just begging for me to shoe-horn in a reference.

Tower of Time is still in early access, still seemingly very early based on the version number (0.3.0.8362), so bear that in mind with any bugs and some of my thoughts in the video below

In Tower of Time, and what you've missed in the sections preceding this video, you start off as a young boy who finds a hole in the ground. He wanders inside and finds a giant upside down tower. In there he finds a dormant spirit who calls out to him, and continues to do so throughout his life, eventually calling him back to the tower.

You then play almost a watcher roll, as someone invisibly controls your actions so do you control your heroes, soldiers you've sent in to the tower to fight for you. Viewing their progress from the surface above, almost as though (I'm really sorry) you don't need eyes to see.

The gameplay video below shows some of the early sections of the game. I'm going to write a full preview during the week. I want to see more of the game (I already have done), and better put a pin in my thoughts about the game. At the minute it's vague, I'm not connecting with Tower of Time and I can't place why other than meaningless synonyms like "it lacks punch". I don't dislike Towers of Time, I quite like the combat in fact, but I also want to better put in to words what the barrier is

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Slime-San
Gameplay Video
Feb 19
Posted by Ben at 17:32

We were sent over a preview code for upcoming platformer Slime-San, so we (I) took a look at the first world

I know it's trite and easy, but if you've played such as games as Super Meatboy and N+ then you probably know what to expect. Slime-San is a tough, tricky, but very responsive platform game. The sort of game where you first attempt at a level can be a nightmare, then when you return you wonder why you ever struggled.

I'm not going to go in to huge detail here, there's a video below for that, but Slime-San is very well put together. There's a bunch of additional stuff, not unlike Meatboy, to encourage you to return to the game, restarts are rapid, shame there isn't a pause button on the pad, or a restart button on there (that I know of at least).

Slime-San seems very promising, and it's out in April on PC (Steam, Humble Bundle's Store) which console versions to follow

There's a gameplay video below

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Switch

Feb 18
Posted by Mark at 20:27

This is more of a 'First-ish' Play, as I'd had time to give this a quick go before streaming it.

Anyway, it's another one of them tough-as-nails precision platformers indie developers are so fond of creating- the gimmick this time around being that you get a double-jump.

As you can see from the occasional excursion into the level selection screens, this is very clearly a preview build, but we do get a decent look at much of the game's second and third worlds.

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Yakuza 0
Gameplay Video
Jan 15
Posted by Ben at 16:55

We posted our written preview for Yakuza 0 the other day, and now I've managed to make enough progress to record the video accompaniment

As you can See Yakuza 0, while not exactly pushing the PS4, isn't a shoddy looking game. There's more to Yakuza 0 than we can show in the video, but you'll see a few fights, some of the side quests, hear me ramble on about stuff, do some shouting at other people's karaoke. You know, the usual stuff

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Yakuza 0
Preview
Jan 11
Posted by Ben at 12:55

The late Western release of Yakuza 0 may actually turn out to be a fortuitous for the series. Sega have tried a few times to find some traction for the Yakuza games in the west without much luck. The series undoubtedly has its fans, and they've generally been good games, but as the series has gone on its been harder and harder for new players to find a foothold. Yakuza 3 and 4 felt like too much canon had passed to be an entry, and while Yakuza 5ís addition to Playstation Plus will have undoubtedly put the series on people's radar, it was on the PS3 as people moved on.

Yakuza 0 then is the first time we've seen the series on the Playstation 4, and that it's a prequel, one that doesn't need a storied knowledge to get the most out of, it's a great time to jump in. That's not to say that a knowledge of the characters and world won't have benefits, knowing who Kazuma Kiryu is acts as a pretty good short hand for what to expect from the Yakuza games.The brutal, joyous closed area brawling the series is famous for. The game opens with a young Kiryu, still low on the pecking order in the Tojo clan, beating a guy senseless to collect a debt he owes. He's then walked around town by a friend, who takes the time to explain where Kiryu is going wrong as a Yakuza, he's a bit too brusque if you can believe!



It soon turns out Kiryuís victim has turned up dead, and the murder is being pinned on him. Yakuza 0 begins to reveal a complex story or betrayal, loyalty, and real estate land grabs. When the Yakuza series lands their straight faced stories they're fantastic, complex and interesting. Where Yakuza 0 diverges slightly from my previous experiences with the series is that the more ludicrous aspects of the game are introduced along side this, straight faced. It's sensible, it's what a good portion of the franchise are here for. So, while you're on your tour of Tokyo, learning how to be a better Yakuza, you're taken out for some karaoke (which is hilarious), and introduced to the fighting mini games and the leveling system.

Something that has changed is the levelling. Rather than gain experience through combat and side missions you instead earn stacks of cash from smacking people about. This money then buys items on the skill tree, be that new moves, extra damage or increased health, with specialists dotted around the map to teach you some moves. The introduction of these specialists is invariably hilarious, or at least so over the top itís cool.



Which, for the uninitiated is pretty much what youíve got to look forward to from Yakuza 0. It seemingly presents itís barmy side a bit more front and centre than in previous games, but that belies an interesting and well presented crime story. There are moments that will have you rolling with laughter, but equally some of the brutal combat will make you wince before snorting in delight. Thereís mini games and side quests a plenty, and a ton of sub stories to fill out the world.

Weíll see where it goes as we progress through the game, but so far Yakuza 0 is shaping up to be a great entry to the series.

GALLERY:
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Mantis Burn Racing
Gameplay Video
12-10-16
Posted by Ben at 03:59

Mantis Burn Racing is most notable for being one of the handful of games that will be native 4K on the PS4 Pro, and 60fps too. Granted it's probably easier to manage that on a top down racer than it is on something like Tomb raider, but even on a normal PS4 Mantis Burn Racing looks sharp and runs fantastically.

I say this in the video but the 60fps really help the handling feel like you're sinking in to sand and dirt, there's a responsive looseness as you correct your drifts without touching the breaks.

Game structure wise Mantis Burn Racing is fairly standard, you work your way through a set of races, with each event being one of a certain number of types. There's straight races, time trials, elimination, series races. As a general rule if you win you progress, but there are gates to progress where you have to earn enough gears. Gears are awarded for completing certain actions during the races, so winning the race might get you 3, a long jump 2, and destroying some scenery 1. There's also an upgrade mechanic to the cars that can also act as gating to some extent.

This is kind of where I've got some reservations, some of these things don't feel like they're quite front and centre enough. Beyond that my only gripe is that races feel a bit quiet, there needs to be more engine noises and the like.

anyway, there'll be a full review in the next few days, so click below for our First Play gameplay video

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Super Treasure Arena
First Play
21-09-16
Posted by Ben at 16:02

Headup sent over a few copies of their new multi-player 2D arena shooter (if that's how you'd characterise it) Super Treasure Arena, which is still in Early Access on Steam, but we thought we'd take a look at it.

We're a little clumsy at it, certainly not showing off particularly high level play, although after a couple of matches against randoms the other night I can attest there's several levels beyond where we're at.

Super Treasure Arena seems pretty good so far, the use of enemies hides that it might otherwise feel a bit empty with only 3 or 4 humans (or bots) in the arena. Personally I could see an 8 player local co-op game being fantastic, but the online seems to work pretty well, even at this early stage (note: the game is only 4 players)

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Meridian Squad 22
First Play
23-08-16
Posted by Ben at 02:02

We were sent a code for Meridian Squad 22 back when it was in Early Access and probably should have taken a look at it then. However, I was having a few difficulties with the game, and it didn't seem right to go in to detail on the rough edges of Meridian Squad 22 while it was still in development, especially as a lot of what it was missing was polish

Meridian Squad 22 is a good looking game, regardless of how many people made it (1 person!) it's graphically pretty impressive. There's a lot of content there, the "10 hours+" referenced on the store page is, for me at least, a gross under-selling. This all being said, I'm not feeling it. I'll need to play more to write any sort of review, but it strikes me that hat Meridian Squad 22 needs is a little more handholding. RTS genre die-hards probably don't need this, someone like me, I could do with easing in a little more, levels structured to introduce mechanics. There are a few like that, and I guess you have to give the game credit for getting to the point rather than laboured tutorial missions, but it can make the game a bit of a chore to play

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