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Thoughts on the Destiny Beta

I haven’t followed Destiny very closely at all, so when I started the beta I was pretty much going in blind. I do remember being excited about what I saw at the last E3, but now the hype has kicked into overdrive and September 9th can’t come soon enough.

I’m not entirely sure how you would classify Destiny as a game. Destiny is obviously a first-person shooter first and foremost, but the game is also heavily invested in several different kinds of online components. Destiny is not a MMOFPS, or at least I wouldn’t consider it one. Some people think that any game that has massive amounts of people playing online makes it an MMO but from my understanding it has always been about massive amounts of players actually playing together. You can’t really win here because there a lots of people on both sides who insist their definition is correct, but I’m getting a little off track here. Destiny is what I would consider a Persistent Online World, or I guess a POFPS. You can go to a social area and visit shops and so on and you are there with several other people but it seems pretty obvious that the area is instanced. When you are out doing story missions or just exploring there also seems to be a smaller smattering of players but that’s actually a good thing since a very crowded zone would pretty much ruin this kind of game.

So when I first started out I had to create a character. Of the three races and classes I went with Exo Hunter, which is pretty much a robot stalker-y type. Each character class gets their own set of abilities. I was able to throw a fire grenade and a throwing knife along with summoning a powerful fiery pistol as a sort of ultimate ability. I don’t know exactly what other classes can do but I’ve seen some interesting stuff like weird shield things and powerful ground-pound moves so I imagine it’s stuff like that. It actually reminds me a lot Borderlands in many ways but there seems to be a whole lot more depth here. I’m not entirely sure how their level system is going to work but it seems that pretty much every time you level up you get a new ability or passive. It doesn’t really look like a talent tree but each ability has a progress ring around them. How exactly you unlock these abilities is something I’m not too sure of. It might be straight progression based or maybe you need to do certain kinds of actions. [Read more...]

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty Review

My experience with the Oddworld is almost nonexistent since Keen and I never owned a PS1, which means we missed out on all that cool stuff. It was one of those really neat looking games that I never got a chance to play, like MediEvil and Crash Bandicoot. Later on I did get to play it for a bit at a friends house and I played the PC demo a lot. Oddly enough a lot of Abe’s gamespeak has stuck with me over the years like the way he says “Hello,” “Follow Me,” and “Okay.” I still pull those out every now and then. A few years ago I tried to get the first two games on Steam but eventually gave up after way too much trouble getting them to work. Anyway… when I found out that a remake of Abe’s Oddysee was happening I was pretty excited to get to play the game for the first time. Well, almost those first time anyway.

oddworld-new-n-tasyWhat Is Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty?

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a puzzle platformer. You take control of a Mudoken floor-waxer named Abe who overhears a plan to turn Mudokens into meat products. From there you make your escape from the RuptureFarms meatpacking facility while rescuing as many Mudoken buddies along the way as you can manage. Soon after that Abe pretty much falls backward into the role of fated savior of the Mudokens. It’s fascinating stuff and it’s told with a lot of rhyming.

Abe is a pretty weak dude. There’s not a lot he can do other than run, jump, duck, roll,talk, and throw stuff. He can, however, perform a mystical Mudoken chant that will turn birds into portals and take over the minds of Slig guards. I’m not entirely sure why Abe can do this or if only certain Mudoken have the power but I guess that’s not really important. When making your way out of RuptureFarms you will need to dodge various security measures, slig guards, and several nasty ways to get killed like mines, pits, and grinders. When you encounter fellow Mudoken slaves you can chat them up and tell them to follow you. Upon finding a ring of birds you can chant open a portal for them to escape through. They’re not terribly bright though and they will run into hazards if they aren’t cleared and if there are sligs around they will get gunned down.

The platforming elements are very good and the controls seem very tight. I can’t really recall a single death that wasn’t my fault. What I really like about this game is how well it works as a speedrun game. The way Abe moves actually reminds me a lot of the original Prince of Persia game. The way he runs and jumps, hangs and rolls, etc. Actually a lot about this reminds me of PoP and I wonder if that game was influential at all or if it’s just coincidental. Unlike PoP there are quite a few nasty bad guys that want you dead. Sligs will gun you down, paramites will follow you and attack in numbers if cornered, scrabs will run you down but will fight each other, and slogs which just want to chew you up. Elum are pretty cool dudes however and will let you ride on them in some portions of the game. They run faster and jump much farther than Abe can on his own.

You will face a lot of hazards on your adventure. Not only do you need to worry about falling down pits and the local wild life but also mines, floating bombs, rolling boulders, grinders, and electricity fields. Here’s where a lot of the puzzle elements also come in. You have to sneak around bad guys to pull levers to disable stuff or open areas and try not to get gunned down. Sometimes you will have to do all of this while worrying about fellow mudoken buddies who might get caught in the crossfire. Other times you will just have to worry about remembering a a mudoken whistling password or how you are possibly going to run through this area, activate what you need to, and make it back without being killed. It’s fun stuff.

So What’s New?

So as I mentioned before, my experience with the original game is limited. However I have noticed quite some big differences between each version. Firstly, and most obviously, the game looks and runs a lot different. New ‘n’ Tasty looks visually very impressive while still capturing the aesthetic of the original game. It’s actually pretty interesting because while playing the game it felt like this was what the old game looked like but after tinkering around in my Steam version of the original I saw that was very much not the case. So either they did a very good job at recreating the original game or I just have a very bad memory of what old games looked like. In addition to the impressive visuals the game also runs a bit differently. The game screen actually scrolls as you move rather than changing screens every time you get to edge.

Another big addition to New ‘n’ Tasty is the inclusion of three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal. and Hard. I imagine Hard probably resembles the original game the best but the other difficulty levels are great for people who might have thought Abe’s Oddysee was too much of a challenge. Probably one of the biggest changes added in New ‘n” Tasty is 200 additional Mudokens that you can rescue which brings the total to 299. That’s a whole lot of dudes to rescue. I thought I scoured the levels but I was still only able to get 175 at the end of the game. There are also several different kinds of leaderboards for anybody who really wants to compete on speed running and saving mudokens.

The only real negative change that I have noticed involves jumping while standing still. In the original game you can jump forward just by pressing a button. In New ‘n’ Tasty you will have to also press forward or else you will just jump upwards. That was a little annoying at first, especially since pressing forward and jump at the same time didn’t always seem to work for me. However not long at all in the game I figured out you can press jump first and then quickly push over on the stick and execute a standing side jump 100% of the time. It’s a small complaint, and really my only one in the entire game. Even then it doesn’t seem like anything that couldn’t get patched. Even if it doesn’t it’s not that big of a deal.

abeShould You Get It?

Yes. Yes you should. This is coming from the perspective of somebody who hasn’t played through the entire original game before, though. Even so I can’t imagine old fans not wanting to play this just to see the new additions. Even if you mastered the original game there are 200 more Mudokens for you to rescue this time around and the game looks and plays better than ever. I got 7 or 8 hours out of my first run through and I plan to go back and try to do it all over again–and rescue more buddies along the way. Oh, and it works GREAT with remote play on the Vita. I played through about 1/3rd of the game that way, but the game is cross-buy/cross-save anyway so when the Vita version comes out you can just use that. So yeah, support the game and hopefully New ‘n’ Tasty does well enough that we get a remake of Abe’s Exoddus and even some new Oddworld games.

9/10

Review Code Provided By Oddworld Inhabitants.

Divinity: Original Sin

divinity-original-sin

Divinity: Original Sin is a fantastic RPG experience that rises above the sea of mediocrity that the genre has become. I just thought I’d get that out of the way.

Premise

In D: OS you play as a source hunter; two, actually, but I’ll get to that later. Source Hunters are tasked with hunting down Sorcerers and other foul magical things, but for your mission you are sent to the town of Cyseal in order to investigate a murder. A councilman has been killed and the scene of the crime was hinky enough for the local wizard to request the aid of Source Hunters. However things aren’t quite as simple as they seem and soon you find yourself wrapped up in something much larger than you realize. Sound fun? Read on for our full review.  [Read more...]

Divinity: Original Sin Review In Progress

Keen and I were fortunate enough to get review codes for Divinity: Original Sin and have spent the past week playing the game’s drop-in/drop-out co-op. You don’t often see a lot of RPGs these days that are memorable or even that good, especially when everything is being dumbed-down and streamlined, so it is very surprising and exciting when gems like D: OS pop up. We’re still working through the game so we aren’t going to do a full review just yet, but we decided to share some of the very awesome aspects about Divinity: Original Sin in the mean time.

We found a bucket, a hammer, and a pot and made helmets.

We found a bucket, a hammer, and a pot and made helmets.

Exciting and Fun Cooperative Gameplay

Divinity: Original Sin can be played fully cooperative either over LAN or Online. You are already given two characters to play with so when somebody joins they take over the other character. Another interesting idea that they use is cooperative conversations. Every now and then you will get to interact between your characters and each person can take a different stance on something. If you can’t resolve it one way or another then each character will use their persuasion skill in a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who wins out. Either way each character will gain points in different personality categories that will give bonuses to different abilities.

Turn-Based Combat

I absolutely LOVE turn-based combat and that is exactly what you get with Divinity: OS. As soon as you are detected by an enemy or take a hostile action then everything switches from real-time to turn-based. What’s actually really interesting is that if other party members are off doing other things then they will remain in real-time while the combat goes on. Once they get close enough they join in on the combat.

Spell Interactions

I love it when spells interact with each other and D: OS is full of that stuff. Many spells are able to create different surface effects like oil, water, fire, and poison. Other spells can then interact with those surfaces and make interesting things happen like lighting oil on fire, freezing water, putting out fires, or igniting poison. Not only that but many of the spells in the game also create cloud effects like smoke, steam, and poison gas. Some clouds can be electrified and others blown up or used to disrupt line of sight.

Fascinating Crafting

I haven’t even delved very far into the depths of the game’s crafting system but I find it fascinating. There are tons of different resources and ingredients you can find scattered about and you are able to combine them together in interesting ways. For instance, you can find branches and use a knife to carve them into arrow shafts and then attach them to arrowheads. Or combine two branches together to make a staff. Or you can take a wooden doll, combine it with a needle and then some pixie dust to make a voodoo doll that can damage a target. Sometimes you will find different recipes by reading books but it’s also a lot of fun just trying to combine different objects together. Near the very beginning of the game I was messing around and used a hammer weapon on a tomato, which made tomato sauce. Then I used flour and water to make dough and then added in the tomato sauce to make pizza dough, which when cooked at a fire source makes the pizza. It’s just cool stuff like that that you happen upon that makes the crafting so fascinating.

To Be Continued…

Keep an eye out for our full review of Divinity: Original Sin. Hopefully we will be able to get it up before the end of this week at the latest.

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is probably among the best purchases I’ve made this year and is easily one of the more memorable experiences. It’s pretty sad when a $15 download title is just so much better and so much more enjoyable compared to a lot of hyped “triple-A” titles that have come out this year. I’ve actually spent more time playing Shovel Knight and other stuff like Papers, Please than I ever put into games like Watch Dogs. That’s mainly because Watch Dogs just wasn’t very good, but it also seems to be a growing trend with all of these big budget games turning out to be boring and uninspired while the smaller, and often independent, games shine so much brighter. I suppose it’s something that has been going on for a while now, but I never really took a whole lot of notice until recently. Anyway, enough about all of that and onto Shovel Knight!

shovel-knight-levelThe whole concept of Shovel Knight is ridiculous and awesome or perhaps just ridiculously awesome. I mean, a knight that goes around fighting people with a shovel is just hilarious in its own right but the idea opens up some interesting gameplay ideas. Personally I would have loved to see some more elements that involved digging and some interesting secrets and puzzles to go along with it but at its core Shovel Knight is an action platformer first and foremost. I want to compare it to something like Mega Man but I don’t actually have a lot of Mega Man experience. Shovel Knight might actually be closer to, a lot closer actually, Duck Tales–even down to Shovel Knight’s ability to bounce continuously on enemies and certain objects with his shovel. There’s a lot more to it than that, however. In addition to bouncing and swinging your shovel you can also collect and buy various relics and upgrades throughout the game. There’s a wide variety of optional sub-weapons that you can acquire that not only help in defeating baddies but also provide some additional help in the platforming department by granting you the  ability to walk and travel over spikes or flight a short distance.

The overworl layout of Shovel Knight looks somewhat similar to Mario Bros. 3. All of the levels are connected by paths and in order to progress you need to defeat bosses to unlock the way through. There are also a few optional side areas where you can gather some extra treasure and even some wandering bosses. A few towns are also available and you can talk to NPCs and buy upgrades there. Each of the actual levels are themed to a specific boss like Mole Knight, Plague Knight, Propeller Knight, etc. This is what reminds me a little bit of Mega Man, especially since you get the option of a few levels at once and can tackle them in any order. Sometimes this can even prove to be helpful if there is a handy relic in another level that might make things easier for you later on.  The game is actually pretty difficult and you will die at least a few times be it from enemies or platforming. At the end I had 85 or so deaths so maybe I just suck. When you die you lose a portion of your acquired treasure and go back to the nearest checkpoint you reached, which can sometimes be pretty far away. Some of the treasure you lost will remain at the spot of your death in the form of floating bags and if you are able you can regain some of it. The higher treasure amount you have, which is what you use to purchase stuff and acts as somewhat of a score, the more you lose.

shovel-knight-bossMy first run at Shovel Knight lasted around 8 or so hours and that was only at about 97% item completion. A new game + option exists which lets you carry over all your stuff into a harder version of the game and right now I’m working through that. A form of achievements also exist called Feats. Some of them are fairly easy while others are just straight up crazy. I mean, complete the game without dying? Don’t fall into a single pit? That’s just crazy but that’s another cool aspect about this and games like it. You can really make it as hard for yourself as you want by trying to beat the game without getting any relics, by destroying the checkpoints for money, trying to beat it in under 90 minutes, etc. All of which also have an attached feat.

Shovel Knight is a fantastic game and one that I wish could just keep going on and on without end. If you have a Wii U, 3Ds, or PC then you really need to check it out. The visuals are incredibly charming and the sprites are just awesome. The music is catchy and there is actually a lot of good variety to it. Plus the game is just loads and loads of fun. Support Shovel Knight and maybe we will get a sequel if we are lucky.