Strikers Edge (PlayStation 4) Review: Barely Makes the Cut

Strikers Edge (PlayStation 4) Review: Barely Makes the Cut

Dodgeball is one of the few physical games that doesn’t get adapted to the video game world too often, something I personally consider to be a bit of a shame. Fun Punch Games attempts to change this with their latest title, Strikers Edge.

Read moreStrikers Edge (PlayStation 4) Review: Barely Makes the Cut

Crossing Souls (PC) Review – Lost Boys

Crossing Souls (PC) Review - Lost Boys

I can’t help but wonder if “80’s-stalgia” has begun to plateau in its popularity. While I often think I was born in the wrong time, and wish I could’ve spent my formative years witnessing the birth of the NES and the Golden-Age of gaming, I’m beginning to wonder if products like Stranger Things, IT, and maybe even as far back as Kung-Fury have ignited the “80s as a theme” popularity to the point of cynicism. I wonder this because of Crossing Souls, a wonderfully crafted—albeit flawed—story driven Beat ‘Em Up that is almost wholly “inspired” by the movies and cartoons of the 80s.

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

Crossing Souls tells the story of a group of friends who discover “The Duat,” a mysterious stone that drains the life of any who possess it for too long.  When the Data of the group, Matt, creates a device that allows them to tap into the Duat’s power, they find they can see the world of the spirits and are able to move within it. What follows is a whirlwind adventure involving life, death, government conspiracies and a plot to rule the world. It’s Stand By Me meets The Goonies meets a Saturday morning cartoon.

Gameplay is actually fairly similar to that of Hyper Light Drifter, but while more linear than that game, players explore each level from a top-down perspective that is somehow flat yet distinctly layered; fighting off wild animals and corrupted spirits. Players can control each of the friends, all of whom have their own unique abilities and playstyles. The leader of the group, Chris, has a trusty baseball bat and can knock back enemy projectiles. Matt has a laser gun and rocket shoes, Big Joe is the strongest, capable of dealing the most damage and also has the most health, and Charlie—who actually plays a little bit like the Drifter—uses a similar dash move and has a jumping rope that gives her a decent range for a melee character.

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

This distinction in characters does come into play in the platforming sections as well as the fact that certain characters are needed to get across certain gaps—Chris is the only character who can jump and climb things, Matt’s aforementioned rocket shoes allow him to glide short distances, Big Joe can push heavy objects, and Charlie can slingshot herself across large gaps. The game does an excellent job of making each character feel unique and each one is so charming and likeable that it’s hard to choose a favourite; further playing into the idea that each one is necessary for the adventure.

The last and most interesting gameplay mechanic does get a little into spoiler territory, so reader be warned. The final member of the group whom I have yet to mention is Chris’ little brother Kevin. When a sinister gang leader tries to steal the Duat and smashes its containment device, Kevin runs off with it—which inevitably kills him. After Matt rebuilds the device, the gang reunites with Kevin, now a ghost. This allows Kevin to move through solid doors, interact with certain spirits, and jump on phantasmal platforms (although he has no combat ability to speak of). This actually makes for a pretty interesting turn in the story and adds a nice layer to hopping in and out of the spirit world.

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

However, the gameplay isn’t perfect. Platforming can be a little tedious given the game’s perspective, and sometimes when you think you’re about to jump onto a platform, you end up landing behind it, or behind a pillar that appeared as a platform. Also, unlike Hyper Light Drifter—which perfectly blended melee with gunplay and precision dashing—Crossing Souls’ combat is a bit clunky and often more aggravating than fun.

For starters, enemies aren’t really affected by attacks, never being knocked back or stunned, so trying for combo attacks usually ends up in taking a hit. What’s worse is that there is a stamina meter that is drained with every attack and dodge, and while this kind of element adds a lot to a game like Dark Souls—where every fight is a precise blend of attacking, dodging and managing stamina—in a Beat ‘Em Up like this, it just makes things incredibly frustrating when you start a string of attacks and try to dodge an incoming attack from a second enemy only to get stunned from a lack of stamina and end up taking a hit from a third.

The stamina bar is also depleted by platforming, which makes sense for things like Matt’s hover ability or Chris’ climbing ability, but should have been reserved for the platforming alone since the meat of the game (the combat) is throttled by something that significantly limits your ability to move and fight.

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

Also, while the game encourages diversity in the characters, the limitation of the stamina meter really only makes Big Joe a worthwhile combatant, since he can fell most enemies in two or three hits. If you wanted to use a character like Charlie, who deals out less damage but theoretically can move quicker and hit farther, you’re definitely going to take a lot of hits.

My biggest problem with the game is definitely the era in which it is set. Crossing Souls leans way too heavily on 80’s references, almost to the point where it feels cynical. There’s a part where you’re on a bridge, outrunning a train. There’s a part where you’re in a Delorean. The world is littered with faux-references to movies and videogames to the point where you almost want to say, “We get it, it’s the 80s.” Unlike the first season of Stranger Things, which used 80’s movies and tropes as inspiration to create something original, Crossing Souls just throws out reference after reference as if to say, “Hey, 80’s stuff right? These were things from the 80s.”

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

However, these problems aside, the game does play very well, although I did notice some significant lag in some of the more populated areas. It has a beautiful 16-bit aesthetic that is filled with colour and detail and an awesome synth-pop soundtrack, not to mention some incredibly charming cartoon animated cutscenes. And while these cutscenes are devoid of any voice-work, and can be more reminiscent of janky flash animation than the cartoons of the 80s that inspired them, it’s hard not to be endeared to the amount of love and effort that went into making them.

That’s really the thing about Crossing Souls: it definitely has its flaws, however, I really can’t help but cherish the amount of love and heart that went into it. Its problems are more disappointing because you can see where a little tightening would’ve made for a better experience and probably would’ve warranted a higher score. But that aside, Crossing Souls is definitely a fantastic experience, and I would highly recommend playing it.

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Crossing Souls (PC) – image for this review provided by Fourratic and Devolver Digital.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Jordan Biordi’s reviews of Metroid: Samus Returns and Pokkén Tournament DX for the Nintendo Switch!

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Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) Review: Open World Warriors

Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) Review: Open World Warriors

For better or worse, Dynasty Warriors is a franchise that is known for not changing. It will always tell the tale of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with familiar faces like Lu Bu and Cao Cao returning in installment after installment to cut through thousands of mooks in ancient China. This makes Dynasty Warriors 9 all the more surprising, as Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have decided to dramatically shake up the series with one very big change: the addition of an open world. Unfortunately, while the concept is certainly interesting, it is poorly executed, with issues both big and small taking away from the core Dynasty Warriors experience.

At its core, Dynasty Warriors 9 plays just like its predecessors. You pick one of several dozen characters from Romance of the Three Kingdoms and charge into battle while taking part in the most famous events and battles of the Three Kingdoms period. The simple act of killing hundreds of thousands of enemies is still just as fulfilling, depending on your attitude towards these games.

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Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) – image for this review provided by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force.

While you can mindlessly hit the same button over and over again to carve a path through your enemies, Dynasty Warriors 9 adds a new attack system called Trigger Attacks that can alter the enemy’s state and can be used to chain new combos. For example, I can end a simple button mashing combo by launching the enemy into the air. The result is that there is some strategy to be found when going toe-to-toe with the more powerful named characters, especially when combined with the returning Musou attacks and new character-specific elemental attacks.

On the downside, there’s a lack of diversity when it comes to playing different characters. Every character can equip any weapon type, with the exception of their unique weapons, with similar animations popping up again and again in the most basic combos. Considering these will be your bread and butter for much of the game, it gets old rather quickly.

Similarly disappointing is the quality of the voice acting. With maybe a handful of exceptions, the voice acting in Dynasty Warriors 9 is bad throughout. It feels less like people are talking and more like the voice actors were reading the line off the page, making everything sound awkward to the ears. Outside of conversations and cutscenes, voice lines will repeat with extreme frequency and it becomes grating on the ears quickly. It is fortunate then that the soundtrack is as good as it is, otherwise I would have turned off the audio altogether to prevent the voices from burrowing into my head.

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Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) – image for this review provided by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force.

Characters aside, the mission design throughout the game is interesting and refreshing. The game is divided between the four major states that make up the Three Kingdoms period, which are further divided into chapters that feature anywhere from one to a handful of major objectives. While each main objective has a high starting difficulty in comparison to the level your character will likely be at, the difficulty can be lowered by completing smaller scale missions that tie into the big picture. For example, capturing a fort will lower the overall level of an enemy general whom you have to kill. This makes it worthwhile to go after the side missions, though some, like the large number of fetch quests, are best skipped due to being very tedious.

To be blunt, Dynasty Warriors 9’s map is absolutely massive and does a great job of representing both the scale and environments that the many battles of the Three Kingdoms were fought in. Armies will clash along roads and battlefronts across the map, with your forces winning and losing without you, though plot or mission-critical battles will only begin once you enter the area. It is also, by and large, very empty. Cities, towns and forts are scattered around the world that serve as hubs for shopkeepers, craftsmen and larger military forces, but most of the world is taken up by nature with little in the way of defining characteristics.

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Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) – image for this review provided by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force.

I spent a very long time travelling the map, particularly since fast travel points are only unlocked after you activate them, and unless you are willing to fight every single enemy roadblock that you encounter, you will be running around a world that is neither interesting to explore nor interesting to look at. Playing on a PC, I had to double check that I was running the game at the highest possible graphical settings, as the textures on the environment are pretty poor.

The size of the world also has the side effect of increasing the amount of time between battles or missions. If you like seeing the kill count climb up rapidly, it will do so at a slow pace thanks to the need to travel to each new battle site. The smaller scale battles that populate the map are uninteresting because they lack the scale and scope that Dynasty Warriors games are known for, and I skipped as much as I could on the way to the much more interesting sieges and city battles that are reminiscent of previous titles.

Ultimately, Dynasty Warriors 9 is a major change for a franchise that has long been content to stick to its roots. Yet in adding an open world, it fails to properly marry the new system with the variety and intensity of previous titles. There are some good ideas to be found here, and with the experience gained in making this game and some further iteration, I can see Omega Force coming back with a much-improved sequel in a few years. However, unless you are a die-hard Dynasty Warriors fan, you likely won’t have a good time here.

Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) Review: Open World Warriors 4
Dynasty Warriors 9 (PC) – image for this review provided by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more by Preston Dosza like his review of Total War: Warhammer II – Rise of the Tomb Kings and why Monster Hunter World will succeed in the west!

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The Longest Five Minutes (Switch) Review: Lightning-Fast Flashback

The Longest Five Minutes (Switch) Review: Lightning-Fast Flashback

In the fifteen years since the release of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, NIS America has earned a reputation as the de facto publisher of quirky, anime-style games. Their games have starred misfit protagonists that run the gamut from maniacal overlords and malevolent angels to exploding penguins and everything in between. Their latest effort, The Longest Five Minutes, features a more grounded premise than one might expect, given the company’s pedigree: it’s a simple, classically-styled story of four stereotypical heroes on a quest to save the world from evil. It wouldn’t be an NIS America game without a twist, however: The entirety of this RPG adventure takes place in the span of five minutes.

Well, sort of. It turns out that a lot can happen in five minutes.

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The Longest Five Minutes (Switch) – image for this review courtesy of NIS America.

The Longest Five Minutes—gosh, I can’t seem to escape that specific combination of words—actually opens at the climax of its story. Justice-loving hero Flash Back (yep, that’s his name) and his compatriots are on the cusp of battle with the malevolent Demon King when Flash suddenly loses all memory of his journey. It’s not just his memory, either; Flash can’t remember his friends, his special moves, or even the reason why he set out on a journey in the first place. Little by little, he begins to piece things together through a series of flashbacks, growing stronger with every memory he recovers. It’s a novel approach to well-worn RPG tropes that is as silly as it is subversive.

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The Longest Five Minutes (Switch) – image for this review courtesy of NIS America.

Memories are the playable “meat” of The Longest Five Minutes. These micro-adventures generally task the player with exploring a single dungeon or town to flesh out a story beat, and rarely last longer than ten to thirty minutes. Given The Last Five Minutes‘ lean build, there isn’t much of an emphasis on gameplay mechanics here—it’s about as basic as a turn-based RPG can get. Movement is quick, and battles are over in a flash (heh), the only wrinkle being a functionally pointless (as far as I could tell) “re-experience level” that rises over the course of the game. In fact, with the exception of a few boss encounters, combat is so thoroughly streamlined that the player can roll through the entire game on auto-attack. No equipment or items carry over directly from memory to memory, and they don’t necessarily appear in chronological order, so whatever small emphasis there could have been on character progression is thrown completely out the window.

The Longest Five Minutes is fast, fast, fast. The game is designed around speed as a central element. It carries a comical tone throughout, and even its most sincere attempts at melodrama are tempered with lightheartedness. Because the entire adventure lasts only about six-to-eight hours, it blazes through plot points that similar games might linger on, though it does present a few surprising revelations as the story approaches its conclusion. It’s less a game to be taken seriously and more a fond caricature of the 8- and 16-bit RPGs that helped define the genre, pixelated aesthetic and all. A flavourful localization gives the game’s script an unexpected puissance, acting as a counterbalance its sparse, unmemorable soundtrack.

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The Longest Five Minutes (Switch) – image for this review courtesy of NIS America.

Although the essence of The Longest Five Minutes evokes other self-styled “parody RPGs” like Half-Minute Hero and the miserable Evoland 2, it has enough polish and personality to stand out from its contemporaries. Its marriage of simplistic RPG sections with branching visual novel segments works better than it ought to. It’s a slightly tough sell given its price tag, but there are much worse ways to while away the time than being trapped in The Longest Five Minutes‘ brand of RPG reverie.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Derek Heemsbergen’s  reviews, such as  Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth and his second look at Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Monster Hunter World Beta: the Insatiable Nergigante, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT,  Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Night in the Woods (Switch) Review: Small Town Blues

Night in the Woods (Switch) Review: Small Town Blues

In the era of the Switch, I resent pretty much any video game that tethers me to my television. This includes Night in the Woods, which I wanted to revisit at the end of last year when its “director’s cut” Weird Autumn Edition launched. Carving out the time to replay the game in the midst of all my other responsibilities when it was on my PlayStation 4 proved a challenge, and I ultimately ended up not completing it or seeing the new content. However, Night in the Woods is now on the Switch, and given the game’s storybook style and focus on the mundane, it feels like a natural fit for the platform that lends itself to a less restrictive type of play.

Night in the Woods (Switch) Review: Small Town Blues
Night in the Woods for Switch (image for this review courtesy of Finji and Infinite Fall)

Set in the small town of Possum Springs, Night in the Woods is an understated look at the life of the young adult in a small town. Mae, the protagonist but not quite the hero of this story, is a recent college dropout forced back into her childhood home with her parents. She forces her way back into the lives of her friends who are caught up in their own coming of age stories, like Gregg, a rehabilitated delinquent looking to leave Possum Springs forever with his boyfriend Angus and feeling trapped in the town as the only queer people there, and Bea, Mae’s childhood best friend who’s taken over her family’s story in the wake of her mother’s death. Mae’s resurgence throws a wrench in all of their lives, as they each have to come to terms with how the years apart have changed them and their priorities.

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Night in the Woods for Switch (image for this review courtesy of Finji and Infinite Fall)

Night in the Woods isn’t a happy story for the group, as everyone is experiencing some kind of growing pain that forms a wedge between their friendships. There’s a sense of obligation to them at some points, as if they hang out with each other due to proximity. Possum Springs is a prison for them, and they know that if they aren’t there for each other that sense of entrapment will be the end of them. Night in the Woods is such an honest portrayal of living in a small town when your heart and mind are elsewhere that it feels bleak. There’s a hope of escape that runs through it, but it never forgets how suffocating the environment can be for people like Mae and Gregg. Gregg longs for a life with Angus free of judgement, and Mae stays because she has nowhere else to go. By the end, not everyone finds the answers to all the questions that haunt them, but Night in the Woods does cast a judgmental eye on how we can drag each other down into a hole of complacency, and it does so by casting the player in the role of the enabler.

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Night in the Woods for Switch (image for this review courtesy of Finji and Infinite Fall)

Beyond these interpersonal relationships, Possum Springs is home to its own sets of problems. Jobs are in short supply, people are leaving the town at alarming rates, and meanwhile, those who are still there are trying to get by. Night in the Woods’ worldview is largely shaped by its cynicism of its setting, but it’s not without glimmers of hope that the people are worth the struggles of living within it. Mae’s parents specifically stand out, as they want more for their daughter than what this town has to offer.

Most of Night in the Woods is spent travelling around this town and talking with the townsfolk. Each of the citizens gets a minute amount of screen time compared to the main cast, but there are stories being told all throughout Possum Springs, each painting a picture of the good and the bad of the town. In between each new scene, there’s a solid variety of mini-games to break up the walking and talking. Band practice makes way for rhythm game sections, committing crimes with Gregg leads to some destruction of property, and Mae’s vivid dreaming creates environments for platforming. Some of this feels like fluff, but in Possum Springs you take fun where you can find it, and there’s enough variety in Mae’s antics to make each individual set piece feel fresh.

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Night in the Woods for Switch (image for this review courtesy of Finji and Infinite Fall)

With the addition of the Weird Autumn content, there are new sides of these people to see. The update is available for all versions of the game for free, and comes pre-installed on the Switch edition. Those looking for a reason to revisit the game will find a lot to enjoy in this “director’s cut,” as well as supplementary side stories, such as the pre-release games Longest Night and Lost Constellation. These short games aren’t pertinent to Night in the Woods’ main story, but will give you some extra time with the excellent characters.

Night in the Woods is the kind of game I find new things in each time I replay it, and the Switch makes doing that practical in a way playing it on other platforms isn’t. It’s the definitive place to play this incredibly special game.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Kenneth Shepard’s reviews, such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 2, and find out why Kenneth thinks Danganronpa V3’s ending makes a polarizing case for letting the series go!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

The British Isles are the Most Detailed Map to Date in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia

The British Isles are the Most Detailed Map to Date in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia

After developing two games in the Warhammer Fantasy Universe, Creative Assembly has returned to its traditional roots of immersing players in critical moments in history with Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. Set after the defeat of the Great Heathen Army in 878 AD, players build up their kingdom in the British Isles during the uneasy peace between the Anglo-Saxons, Gaelic clans, and the Viking settlers. What a perfect time to rewrite the annals of history and seize the opportunity to unite Britain exclusively under your favourite factions banner. In anticipation for the game’s release date announcement, Sega was gracious enough to fly me and other members of the industry out to their headquarters for some hands-on time with Thrones of Britannia to deliver these first impressions.

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Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (images courtesy of Creative Assembly and Sega).

During my one-hour play session, I took the role of Flann Sinna, the King of Mide and later one of the High Kings of Ireland. While Flann may be known largely for his unorthodox strategies, in my hands he became a ruthless king who laid siege on anything he could get his hands on. Using his faction’s specialized units of javelins and skirmishers, my armies were built around dominating the mid-range of the battlefield. My swordsmen units acted as their fortified shields while mounted cavalry came in to cut off my opponents escape route and deliver the finishing blow. Everything was great about this strategy until I faced a food shortage from over expanding too early, forcing me to disband four of my units to maintain public order and lower my military strength.

The British Isles are the Most Detailed Map to Date in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (images courtesy of Creative Assembly and Sega).

Compared to my recent experiences with the Total War Warhammer games, Thrones of Britannia was a much more hardcore and thought out battle. I had to slow down and think two turns ahead to come up with an effective strategy to defeat my opponents and maintain my army’s presence. It was only when I started to work off of the new mechanics in Thrones of Britannia that this slower and more tactical approach to warfare started to click. The first mechanic I had to get used to was mustering. When players recruit units in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia they will only come in at a quarter of their total unit size and will build up over turns. To make up for the lack of initial manpower I depleted my food stores and gold to recruit more units before immediately charging into battle with them. By holding back and letting them build up my force would have been considerably more cost-effective and more cohesive as a whole.

The British Isles are the Most Detailed Map to Date in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia 3
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (images courtesy of Creative Assembly and Sega).

The other mechanic I started to employ in tandem was War Favor. During the turns my units were mustering up I was making them grow inpatient and hungry for battle. Represented as a bar near the top of the screen, I allowed my War Favor to fill up to the point where my armies started to receive buffs. This was the moment where the next step in my plan for conquest could begin as I rushed for settlements with a band of healthy and maxed out units. However, War Favor can work in the opposite way. By going off to war constantly the player’s units can feel fatigued and lose interest in the fight, receiving rebuffs and making the force vulnerable to assault. There’s a fine balance players have to consider when making any type of move excessively in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia.

The British Isles are the Most Detailed Map to Date in Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia 2
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia (images courtesy of Creative Assembly and Sega).

Unfortunately, this was where my time was up with Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. Within that hour of gameplay I experienced a wealth of depth and immersive strategy that only a historical based Total War game could deliver. Yet there were so many things I had yet to touch, including the impressive technology tree, the ability to create arranged marriages with my allies, or even trigger exclusive events tied to the kingdom of Mide. Thrones of Britannia may be built off of the same engine as the unstable Attila, but Creative Assembly is crafting this game with the utmost care and has seemed to work out the chinks in the armour. Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia releases world wide, April 19th, exclusively for PC.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Cole Watson’s reviews of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Gundam Versus!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Monster Hunter World Beta: the Insatiable Nergigante, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT,  Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4) Review: Frenetic Multiplayer Craziness!

Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4) Review: Frenetic Multiplayer Craziness!

Ultimate Chicken Horse for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is a new release, but the original version of the game made its debut for PC over a year and a half ago. For this reviewer, playing this game was my first interaction with the title, and my first time experiencing the frenetic gameplay therein.

First and foremost, this is a party game and is at its best when playing local multiplayer.  When played on its own in a solo-player challenge mode the game loses much of its appeal.  This is a game which is meant to be enjoyed with more than one player, and the more the merrier.

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Ultimate Chicken Horse – images for this review provided by Clever Endeavor Games.

Players take on the role of a farm animal, and in party mode will work on constructing a path from one side of the map to the other, at the same time making the path as complicated and deadly as possible.  Points are given for successfully making it to the other side, collecting coins, and for trapping and killing your opponents. The gameplay is often a little chaotic, and the controls could be a lot tighter and more precise. For a modern game platformer, the physics are at times a bit haphazard and hard to rely upon behaving in a predictable manner.  The game could be a bit more helpful in setting up the rules and walking players through the scoring, and it can make the first few turns a bit frustrating. However, once you get a handle on it, it’s fairly easy to start messing with your opponents while also trying to ensure you can figure out a strategy to successfully complete the level.  When playing for the purposes of this review, I found myself enjoying the balance of the game, as there are more than a few ways to get points, and it was easier than I expected to come from behind and win a round (much to my own chagrin, as suddenly my wife pulled ahead to take the win as a result of collecting as many coins as possible as her goal).  The rounds are fast-paced, and the more players means more chaos, as the screen gets busier and busier, with many more obstacles blocking one’s path.

As much chaotic fun as the game might be for local multiplayer, it loses much of the fun when it comes to online multiplayer. The game plays the same, but it definitely loses some the whimsy when you’re not playing with friends and family.  It drops an aspect of the personality of the game which at first made it seem so endearing.  Matchmaking isn’t the simplest, either, and on numerous occasions, the gameplay didn’t seem to make a smooth transition to the online world.

Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4) Review: Frenetic Multiplayer Craziness! 2
Ultimate Chicken Horse – images for this review provided by Clever Endeavor Games.

If you were hoping for an enjoyable solo experience you’re not really going to find it here.  The challenge mode is often more frustrating than enjoyable, as players load community-designed and uploaded levels. Some are seemingly built to be impossible, but for the most part there’s a decent array of levels. But when you’re just trying to complete levels that were put up in a series of speed runs, it takes away the more entertaining element that is evident in party mode.  What makes the single-player mode feel even more lacking is that it doesn’t manage to give the player a way to play solo, but still enjoy the frantic level-building that is experienced in local multiplayer.  Presumably it would be harder to program an AI to replicate such an experience, and instead the developers focused on the challenge mode instead of replicating the local multiplayer gameplay for the solo gameplay experience.

The game definitely encourages the player to try their hand at designing and playing their own levels, and uploading them for others to play. If this is your cup of tea, your overall enjoyment of Ultimate Chicken Horse will be substantially higher than this reviewer’s.  If this scratches your gamer itch, it definitely makes this an easy game to recommend, and more worthwhile given the price.

The graphics are simplistic, with a stripped-down aesthetic that really works for the game.  Ultimate Chicken Horse doesn’t need to have sophisticated and highly polished graphics, and it actually works better with a more simplistic style.  When building levels frantically, the art design is appropriately simple.  When starting levels, there’s little on the screen, but it just allows more room in which to cram all of the implements you need to provide your competition with difficult obstacles.

The music is subtle, and the sound effects are very on point and satisfying.  When a trap is unleashed and kills your opponent, the sound effects accompanying the carnage definitely allow you to relish in the mayhem.

Ultimate Chicken Horse (PS4) Review: Frenetic Multiplayer Craziness! 5
Ultimate Chicken Horse – images for this review provided by Clever Endeavor Games.

If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive PS4 party game, Ultimate Chicken Horse is definitely worth trying out.  If you can get it for a discount (which likely will come at some point) and you like level building I would heartily recommend it.  However, If you’re not going to be able to make use of the local multiplayer, it definitely makes this a tougher game to recommend.  As a game designed for local multiplayer, Ultimate Chicken Horse succeeds and then some.  With the right gamer personality, it becomes a game of one-upsmanship, as differing playstyles start to clash in enjoyable ways.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Adam Chapman’s reviews of Gran Turismo Sport and FIFA 17!

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Celeste (PC) Review: a Dashing Platformer

Celeste (PC) Review: a Dashing Platformer

Sometimes, it’s enough to just play a retro-tinted game or a plain old platformer that merely plays well. What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t really have a stringent requirement for an over-arching narrative that’s going to blow me away all the time. Recent 3D Mario games are proof of that, as Nintendo has made efforts to even downplay the existence of a tenuous plot device to string everything together. You’re going to get a strong base; lots of unique levels, and you will probably fight Bowser for whatever reason. I’m in. But with the rise of Indies in the past decade or so, an extra kick in the story department sure is a nice surprise.

Celeste (PC) Review: a Dashing Platformer 1
Celeste – images for this review provided by Matt Makes Games, Inc.

Celeste, the latest project from the talented Matt Thorson, is one of those surprises. It’s a platformer set to the beat of climbing a mountain, but it quickly becomes so much more than that. Celeste—also the name of the mountain itself—is incredibly thematic, as our protagonist Madeline deals with various psychological challenges alongside of all of the physical hurdles required with scaling a giant crag. These are all conveyed through small breaks, with a light injection of real world humor and sensibilities that almost add a surreal element to the mix.

All of the aforementioned interludes are also spruced up by sharp cartoon art, allowing the characters to get a little more emotive than they would with the already keen sprite-work. The beautiful soundtrack that’s constantly pumping and the minimalist sound effects augment its theme.

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Celeste – images for this review provided by Matt Makes Games, Inc.

Going along with the lack of heavy-handed, lengthy cut scenes, Celeste is really easy to get into at first. You have an invisible grab meter when holding onto walls, and a limited dash mechanic. Both are presented without meters clogging up the screen; instead you’ll get visual cues like huffing and puffing or colour changes to denote that you need to find another way.

It’s very intuitive, as the grab concept feels right, and the dash is directional like a bullet. Touching the ground or grabbing a special sparing cube power up will let you dash again, and that’s basically it. You need to marry the two together to scale every obstacle, which can be tough to reconcile until you start really getting into the swing of things. The lack of fluff-like, lengthy tutorials make it that much more fun to acclimatize.

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Celeste – images for this review provided by Matt Makes Games, Inc.

Although it is difficult at times, the chapter-based segmentation and auto-saving is great for taking breaks. You’re also presented with myriad extra content to tackle—or not. You can collect strawberries for extra points, or not. There’s a ton of extra rooms to explore and conquer, sometimes hidden by cracks in the wall Metroid style, or not. You can also find collectibles that unlock extra stages or a retro mini game, or not. You get the picture! For those of you who aren’t all about anything but the critical path, there are no real set options outside of a speedrun timer, which is fine.

Outside of a few uneven rooms—mostly in the middle—my only real gripe with Celeste is the death restart delay. It’s not huge at all and isn’t even a big gripe, but with other games allowing for instant restarts it can sometimes get frustrating when tackling a particularly taxing room to have to wait a brief moment between deaths.

It’s really hard to think of anything fundamentally wrong with Celeste. It presents itself as a whimsical platformer, and ended up exceeding my expectations of it. If anything I wish there was a bit more when it came to the core set of levels—challenge room and mini game-esque extras are fine, but I really wanted to see more of these characters—but that’s a great problem to have.

Celeste (PC) Review: a Dashing Platformer 3
Celeste – images for this review provided by Matt Makes Games, Inc.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Chris Carter’s  reviews, such as Tokyo 42 and Preacher Season 2!

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Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – An Instant Classic

Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – An Instant Classic

When I reviewed Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection, I did a bit of quick research to find out that it was the second entry in the Zwei series. Having enjoyed the it so much, I was delighted to find out that the first Zwei game would be making its way to North America not long after. Zwei: The Arges Adventure takes on a drastically different visual approach but still offers the same level of depth when it comes to gameplay mechanics and world building.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – An Instant Classic 5
Zwei: The Arges Adventure – images for this review provided by XSEED and Marvelous USA, Inc.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure follows the twin siblings Pokkle and Pipiro, a brother and sister pair living in the quiet village of Puck. The game’s plot kicks off after a masked man steals the village’s holy relics with our main protagonists offering to chase after him and get them back to the village’s shrine. It isn’t the most unique plot by today’s standards, even when compared to its sequel.

What really carries this game’s plot are its endearing characters. Pokkle and Pipiro are both fourteen years old but despite Pokkle wanting to become a hero like most JRPG protagonists, he’s also got a “dad style” sense of humour. This trait isn’t exclusive to the game’s cutscenes either. Almost any random interactable object found in the game will have Pokkle making some sort of amazingly lame pun about it. Much like Zwei’s sequel, speaking with any NPC will result in somewhat lengthy conversations that help make the world of the game feeling alive.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – An Instant Classic 3
Zwei: The Arges Adventure – images for this review provided by XSEED and Marvelous USA, Inc.

The visuals of Zwei: The Arges Adventure are the games biggest difference from its sequel and at times, its greatest flaw. If Zwei: The Illvard Insurrection represented a high-end PlayStation 2 title, Zwei: The Arges Adventure looks like a really high-end PlayStation 1 game. The game makes use of beautifully detailed sprites on a 2D world that almost looks like a painting at times. Fans of overhead JRPGs will feel right at home with the game’s presentation. Where the visuals lack, however, are when it comes to certain animations such as attacking: there really aren’t any. Characters sort of just throw themselves at their target until one disappears. Another slight problem is that at certain times, the game’s fixed camera can end up hiding enemies or items if they happen to be in the wrong place. Zwei also has a great soundtrack to go along with its soft visuals, made up of mostly relaxed tracks. Unlike its sequel, this one does not feature any voice acting.

I was surprised to see just how similar Zwei: The Arges Adventure turned out to be in terms of gameplay after comparing the two. All of the same mechanics are present. You can eat food as a means of healing and gaining experience points to level up. You can bring a pet along with you to a dungeon to help battle and collect items. The game even has the same character book that keeps track of everyone you meet and carries detailed information on them as you get to know them. Dungeon layouts are a bit bland at times with nothing but hallways and big rooms to fight in but the game’s quick pace makes this easy to overlook.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure (PC) Review – An Instant Classic 2
Zwei: The Arges Adventure – images for this review provided by XSEED and Marvelous USA, Inc.

Zwei: The Arges Adventure measures up to its sequel in nearly every way. With near identical gameplay, it’s safe to say that if you like one, you’ll likely enjoy the other. The game’s visuals, although beautiful, and the, at times, stagnant camera mechanics can hinder the experience a bit. Despite this, however, it’s still absolutely worth the experience. For long-time fans of developer Falcom this is one you shouldn’t miss.

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Remington Joseph’s reviews, such as Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2!

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Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) Review: Super Saiyan Levels of Gameplay and Presentation

Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) Review: Super Saiyan Levels of Gameplay and Presentation

The Dragon Ball frenzy of the 90’s has returned to North America in a spectacular resurgence, with a new show being dubbed by the original cast, a new trading card game hitting local game shops’ shelves and now the upcoming release of what may be the best Dragon Ball game to date. The moment it was announced at the E3 2017 during the Xbox press conference I knew I had to review Dragon Ball FighterZ. I was just that excited. Developed by the passionate developers at Arc System Works and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, FighterZ captures the essence of the source material fans have known for decades and has masterfully tuned it into a competitive 2D fighting game.

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Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) – images for this review provided by Ark System Works and Bandai Namco.

At its core, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a 3v3 fighter akin to the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. Players comprise their 3-member team out of a diverse 24-character roster from Dragon Ball Z as well as newly cherished characters from Super. I adore the detail put into the visually stunning models and stages, but what really captures my heart as a Dragon Ball fan is how every attack these characters perform are ripped straight from manga panels, anime scenes and even previous games. The gameplay of Dragon Ball FighterZ is fun and accessible to all skill levels of fighting game players, with powerful light and heavy auto combos baked into the core system for every character to utilize. Specials and super attacks are also simple to execute by using a basic quarter circle motion.

However, that doesn’t mean FighterZ lacks the depth of a traditional fighter. The intricacies of the combat system will be on full display in the coming weeks as the competitive community learns which characters play well off one another as they start to string together powerful combos by tagging in their teammates and stacking supers. The pace of the combat in Dragon Ball FighterZ is as fast and furious as the anime, with energy blasts, assist moves, high-speed dashes and vanishing attacks quickly filling the screen as players exhaust their meters in a flurry of inputs. The combat system is so focused on aggressive play that it can be overwhelming for some players to keep up with the action and the few defensive responses available rely on proper timing to execute if the pressured player is stuck in the corner.

Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) Review: Super Saiyan Levels of Gameplay and Presentation 3
Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) – images for this review provided by Ark System Works and Bandai Namco.

The original story of Dragon Ball FighterZ revolves around Akira Toriyama’s newly designed female character, Android 21. The gist of the story is that the world is in peril by the hordes of clones created by Android 21. Unfortunately, the Z-Warriors and their recently revived rogue’s gallery can’t rise to the occasion as heroes because their immense power is being suppressed by energy waves. That’s where you, the player, comes in to save the day. Acting as a disembodied spirit, the player links to the playable characters and unlocks their suppressed potential so they can fight and stop Android 21 from accomplishing her oh so diabolical scheme. While the actual plot is rather lacklustre, I still enjoyed the story and how it serves as a long-form tutorial to prepare players for competitive play. The complete story is told in three arcs, and upon completion, unlocks the playable Majin form of this mischievous new character. My favourite parts of the story, however, where easily the multiple humorous interactions between characters as players create different teams, which I won’t spoil for eager fans. Once players complete the lengthy story mode, they can further improve their skills by tackling arcade mode and local battles before jumping into the online arena.

Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) Review: Super Saiyan Levels of Gameplay and Presentation 5
Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) – images for this review provided by Ark System Works and Bandai Namco.

I love that Ark System Works reused the lobby system of Guilty Gear Xrd: REV 2 and tailored it to Dragon Ball. The lobby essentially acts as the player’s menu system as they jump around to the various game modes available as a chibi-avatar of their favourite character. The real fun comes in online lobbies where up to 34 players can populate a single server and interact with each other by chatting, using emotes or sharing stickers. It’s not a system that works for everyone, but I think this kind of lobby adds another layer of flavour to the presentation of Dragon Ball FighterZ and I enjoy its implementation. What players might not enjoy is that certain avatars and colors are locked behind a loot box system. Thankfully these loot boxes don’t require any actual money to purchase as players accumulate the two forms of in-game currency by playing the game whether their online or off. Zenni is the primary currency and is used to purchase basic capsules. If the capsule contains a duplicate item, then the item becomes a Z-coin which can be used to purchase premium capsules and only contain unobtained items.

My only worry with Dragon Ball FighterZ is the quality of the online play at launch, which I can only talk about from my previous experience as both a closed and open beta participant. Over 85% of my matches played smooth and with minimal frame delay even when I was playing with mediocre connections, but the open beta incident threw that level of consistency out the door when the sheer traffic of players crashed the game for close to an entire day. It’s my hope that Ark System Works has remedied this problem in anticipation for release because both Dragon Ball fans and fighting game enthusiasts alike are ready to swarm in the moment the clock strikes 12.

If it wasn’t obvious, I love Dragon Ball FighterZ. The perfect marriage of source material enriched gameplay and original presentation has created a fantastic experience that a wide audience of players are sure to enjoy. The gameplay is simple enough that any level of player can pick it up and recreate infamous attacks from the show, while at the same time it’s mechanics are so deep and unexplored that the game feels ready to support a competitive community of fighting game enthusiasts. Ark System Works has outdone themselves here and I’m eager to see what other anime properties they will be allowed to play around with in the future.

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Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4) – images for this review provided by Ark System Works and Bandai Namco.

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Cole Watson’s reviews of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Gundam Versus!

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Total War: Warhammer II – Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) Review: Look On My Armies And Despair

Total War: Warhammer II - Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) Review: Look On My Armies And Despair

During the launch of Total War: Warhammer II last year, there was a conspicuous absence of the Tomb Kings from the list of factions that populate the New World. With the Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC, Creative Assembly are rectifying that, bringing the Tomb Kings to the forefront in a way that respects the faction’s lore and makes them stand out from the rest of the Warhammer races.

Total War: Warhammer II - Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) Review: Look On My Armies And Despair 3
Total War: Warhammer II – Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) – images for this review provided by Creative Assembly and Sega.

The Tomb Kings are the Warhammer universe’s riff on Ancient Egypt, a long lost empire that has risen from the grave and seeks to reclaim its former glory and territory. But unlike their fellow undead Vampire Counts, who specialize in raising armies rapidly to expand quickly, the Tomb Kings are far more insular and protective of their holdings. They are a defence-oriented faction as a result, but that doesn’t mean these mummies are lacking on the battlefield.

In general, the Tomb Kings focus on fielding legions of weaker infantry and fast moving chariots to overwhelm their enemies, while powerful animated statues like the Ushabti and Necrosphinx use their higher defense and attack to crush them. Your starting units are relatively weak, and will die quickly, but they are meant to hold the line for your more specialized units to dominate the enemy. This is further reflected in their unique healing mechanic, which heals your army and resurrects some of the dead after certain number of your own soldiers are killed. Never before has it been this fun or strategic to watch your men get slaughtered.

Total War: Warhammer II - Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) Review: Look On My Armies And Despair
Total War: Warhammer II – Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) – images for this review provided by Creative Assembly and Sega.

Unlike other factions across both Warhammer games, the Tomb Kings do not need to pay gold for units or their upkeep. Instead, each unit has a cap on the total amount that can be built at any time, with the cap only rising as more military infrastructure is built in your cities. This breeds caution, as you must carefully avoid stretching your forces too thin while simultaneously conquering enough to keep your finances in good health.

In a departure from previous Total War: Warhammer faction DLC, Rise of the Tomb Kings also does not come with a mini campaign. Instead, players have the choice of four legendary lords with their own starting positions instead of two. I welcome the change, as each of the new lords feel far more fleshed out, both in the diversity of their abilities and their starting locations, than previous DLC leaders. My personal favourite is Grand Hierophant Khatep, who starts out in the Dark Elves’ home continent of Naggaroth and must contend with them and Norscan raiders in his opening turns.

Ultimately, Rise of the Tomb Kings is a sign that Creative Assembly are more than willing to experiment with the Total War formula to create unique and engaging factions that fit with the established lore. If future DLC is as strong as this, Warhammer and Total War fans everywhere can continue to look forward to conquering the world in increasingly entertaining ways.

Total War: Warhammer II - Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) Review: Look On My Armies And Despair 1
Total War: Warhammer II – Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC (PC) – images for this review provided by Creative Assembly and Sega.

Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more by Preston Dosza here and here!

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CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!