Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Xbox One) Review

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Xbox One) Review

The notion that any piece of art is perfect is just wrong, but sometimes you can get pretty close. That’s how I feel about Asteroid Base’s latest game, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. By creatively blending genres like space shooters, tower defence, and metroidvania with bright colours and an original art style, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is one of the most unique and original titles on the market.  It’s one of the best games I’ve played in a very long time.

Everything about this title is unique, and that’s most evident in the plot. In the distant future, space scientist rabbits harnessed the power of love as a new fuel source. This new green energy was beloved by everyone; until an engine malfunctions, opening a portal to another galaxy, spilling hostile aliens and Anti-Love across the universe. Every cotton-tailed creature is captured and it’s up to you and your cat (or dog) to man a spaceship to save captive bunnies.

loversinsert4I heard the game really shines with multiplayer, but our office Xbox One only had one, so I had to settle with single-player, and it was a delight to play. It’s one of those games where it sounds complicated until you actually play it. You and your companion control a giant space circle fully equipped with four fixed turrets, one constantly moving cannon, a shield, and a map. You guide your ship looking for bunnies and jumping from turret to turret, taking out evil aliens. The combat is hectic as you need to move around constantly to man the proper turrets, while also controlling where your companion should be. I find the most effective way to play is to keep your pet on shield duty, that way the side you’re not on is still defended until you can switch to defend it. This leaves you in a position where you get surrounded because you can’t move, but if you’re fast enough, it shouldn’t be a problem. When you’re not locked in battle, exploring is encouraged. Each stage has a minimum space bunny requirement, but there are more scattered throughout the map and, while you do that, you can find upgrades for your ship along the way. It gives you incentive to explore and earn a better score.

The presentation is even more appealing. Everything is bright and neon. When bunnies are rescued they shoot rainbows, every character has a cute 2D cartoon aesthetic, and their colours are a stark contrast to the dark space background. To add to that, the techno soundtrack fits perfectly with the game and never gets old. Everything just fits to make a great experience.

Everything was put together carefully and lovingly, and that’s why it’s so fun. It’s originality and charm make it stand out from the rest of the XBLA marketplace’s indie titles. I really can’t say anything bad about this game. From amazing, frantic combat, to the exploration, right down to the art direction and music, Lovers in A Dangerous Spacetime is hard to forget. While no game is perfect, this comes dangerously close.

BattleBlock Theatre Releases on Steam Today

The Behemoth, most known for their game Castle Crashers will be releasing their newest game BattleBlock Theatre on Steam later today.

Released last year on Xbox Live Arcade, BattleBlock Theatre is a platformer where players run through stages filled with hazards to entertain giant cats who are keeping them and their friends captive.

There is a full story mode for both single player and co-op play. Stages in the co-op campaign are different from the single player story and will require both players to cooperate in order to complete stages.

The game has a variety of online multiplayer modes such as the traditional King of the Hill and Team Deathmatch to a basketball and soccer hybrid sports game.

It also has a content creator mode where players can create their own stages to share with friends and the internet. The Behemoth even features player created levels and offers in game rewards for completing them.

The Behemoth are featuring cross title features between Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theatre. If players have save date from Castle Crashers they’ll be able to wear the heads of the knights in BattleBlock Theatre. If they beat BattleBlock Theatre they’ll be able to use the character Hatty Hattington in Castle Crashers.

Players who Beta tested the Steam version will be able to download the full game for free.

BattleBlock Theatre releases later today on Steam, and is also available on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360.

 

State of Decay (PC) Review: Most Thorough Zombie Game to Date

State of Decay (PC) Review:  Most Thorough Zombie Game to Date

After multiple entries to series like Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and The Walking Dead, any developer attempting to impress players with another zombie-centric videogame has their work cut out for them. Yet this is exactly what Undead Labs has set out to do with its post-apocalyptic survival simulator, State of Decay. Fortunately, its impressively broad, open-world approach to the fall of civilization earns the game a level of distinction, setting it apart from its peers.

State of Decay plays like a potent distillation of the kind of compulsive side questing featured in Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series. After picking one of many unlockable survivors, the player can zoom around a map displaying a large number of objectives that must be completed in order to maintain — and, at the best of times, thrive — in a world gone to ruin. There are abandoned houses and buildings to clear of zombies, survivors to recruit, and supplies like fuel, medicine, building materials, and ammunition to collect. The more missions the player completes, the better their ragtag community will be able to deal with the hordes assaulting the gates of their home. Fail to pay proper attention to most pressing needs of the survivors, and bad things start to happen. People get hungry, sick, become scared, or lose faith in the possibility of a better future.

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At times the missions can feel like busywork, completing one supply run only to be radioed in that yet another objective needs to be checked off the community’s ever-growing list of needs. The repetitive nature of the game is alleviated, though, by the constant feedback given by State of Decay‘s impressive array of statistics. The limp combat system — equip the player character with a gun, melee weapon, or petrol bomb and use them to dispatch waves of predictable zombies — may not make searching a house for building materials immediately thrilling throughout the entire runtime of the game. What is exciting, though, is watching the respective supply cache number increase after finding these materials and knowing that this means the home base can now be upgraded. Each gameplay system is built upon yet another system in State of Decay. Because of this, the elaborate construction and character levelling mechanics help compensate for the less consistently impressive nature of the moment-to-moment play.

As someone who has grown extremely tired of post-apocalyptic zombie settings, it may be worth noting the unlikely novelty of State of Decay‘s take on well worn genre tropes. Rather than concentrate on any one aspect of a world-ending plague like, say, the interpersonal conflict between haggard survivors or the action inherent to fighting back against overwhelming hordes of monstrous enemies, Undead Labs’ title is a broad sampling of nearly everything audiences have come to expect from zombie media. Within a single game players will fight pitched defensive battles and barricade the windows of houses, scavenge for supplies in buildings, terminate infected friends, and explore a devastated landscape.

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It’s surprising that, given the breadth of activities on offer, State of Decay manages to make every one of its objectives feel essential to the overall experience. This is the definitive zombie game — barring a sequel that introduces expanded combat mechanics, better mission variety, and some form of cooperative multiplayer. Other games that share its setting may have better gunplay or more interesting characters, but none have the type of comprehensiveness that Undead Labs’ creation offers.

Whether or not that’s a recommendation depends greatly on how willing someone is to enter into a generic, but incredibly exhaustive zombie simulator. Is State of Decay meaningful? No. Is it fun? Quite often, yes. Is it the most thorough exploration of the undead apocalypse to date? Absolutely.

Skulls of the Shogun (Xbox 360) Review

Skulls of the Shogun (Xbox 360) Review

Sometimes it’s really nice when game surprises me. And I was quite surprised by Skulls of the Shogun by 17-BIT. Not only did I find Skulls to be a well put together and accessible strategy game, but also found that I really enjoyed the art and sense of humor of this silly samurai strategy.

17-BIT’s motto is “Remember video games? We do” and according to their website their mission is to revitalize classic games with a next-gen twist. While playing Skulls there wasn’t much that tickled my nostalgia bone but the quick matches did invoke memories of a simpler time before marathon games of Civilization. Now, I’m no stranger to turn-based strategy games but even I was surprised how quickly I became a dead samurai master. Skulls has an incredibly shallow learning curve. I’d say that almost anyone can play a match or two and understand how this game works and I love that about it. In order to remain accessible there isn’t a daunting amount of units to learn about. There are three main units: infantry, mounted, and archers. Those three are consistent for every match but what changes throughout the game are the monk units. Over the course of the single player campaign you’ll be introduced to the three different monk units. The first is the Fox monk who acts like a healer. The second is the Salamander monk who is more like a sorcerer using fireballs and spells to damage enemies. Finally, my favorite, the Crow monk who is the trickster and can blow enemies right off the map with a gust of wind or steal resources from enemy rice pads. Towards the end of the game you actually get to start choosing which monk units your team will use which really allows you to tailor your team to your play style. If you’re aggressive you’ll want Fox monks for healing or if you’re the slow and methodical type you may be better off using the Crow monk to pick off your enemies.

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Once you learn the basic mechanics of the game, the depth becomes way more apparent. One of the keys to success is to watch your troop positioning. Unlike most strategy games, the units don’t function within a rock paper scissor type of circle where each unit counters another. In Skulls almost every unit can hold its own if you’re smart about things. As long as you are really paying attention and don’t place your units where they can be pushed off a cliff or take care to place units in spirit walls you’ll be able to hold your own in any match. So while Skulls isn’t as deep as something like Civilization it does have enough substance to keep you playing, and once you’re finished with the campaign you can take your undead army online with matches of up to four players.

Aside from the mechanics I also enjoyed the art, sound, and writing found in Skulls. None of the dialogue may be spoken but that doesn’t keep the game from being funny. The art is enjoyable as well, a mix of simple 2D characters with some absolutely gorgeous hand painted environments. So far everything about Skulls of the Shogun seems pretty solid but unfortunately the game does have its flaws. For starters the game could be a lot more stable. I actually had Skulls crash to the Xbox Dashboard a few times which caused me to lose all my progress and restart that match. There were also a few times where I encountered an odd glitch that prevented me from moving my units. I could attack, take other actions, but was unable to move my unit despite having movement available. Fortunately to solve that glitch I just had to reload my last checkpoint which wasn’t too bad. Those are the major flaws but I would have also liked to have a few more units at my disposal, the ones in the game are fine but once you’ve finished the campaign there’s not much else to learn.

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All said and done I think this is a pretty impressive title from an untested developer. While the game’s flaws may have been of a technical nature they didn’t really hinder my enjoyment. Sure, having to restart a match or two is frustrating, and the main character sounded strangely like Jabba the Hutt, but I do feel that Skulls of the Shogun is worth the asking price of 1200 MS points. It’s fun, creative, accessible and contains enough depth that even hardcore strategy players may find it enjoyable. 

Who Needs Sunshine?

Who Needs Sunshine?

Hello everyone and welcome once again to Patch Notes. A few housekeeping chores are in order this week. First off I, want to apologize to those loyal readers who wait with bated breath every other Friday for a new edition of Patch Notes. Unfortunately due to a prior commitment I wasn’t able to get v1.1 out to you until now. If you missed me, I’m sorry.

Read moreWho Needs Sunshine?

Through Hell By Torchlight – An Interview With Max Schaefer

Through Hell By Torchlight - An Interview With Max Schaefer
Before Runic Games and Torchlight, you used to be the co-founder of Blizzard North if I’m not mistaken?

Correct. My brother who’s with us at Runic still and a third guy, David Brevik, started up a little game company called Condor Incorporated in 1983. We did a few Game Gear and Game Boy titles as well as a Sega Genesis game before we got a contract to do our first PC game which was Diablo.

Read moreThrough Hell By Torchlight – An Interview With Max Schaefer