Ni no Kuni or: How I Learned to Stop Moping and Play the Game

Ni No Kuni worldI wasn’t sure that I would be picking up Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch or not.  It had nothing to do with a lack of interest and everything to do with the fact that I couldn’t get the Wizard’s Edition of the game, which left a rather sour taste in my mouth and a large pit in my stomach. If you don’t really care about any of this then just skip down to my impressions of the game.

I should probably try to explain some things first, at least the best that I can.  Originally Ni no Kuni was a Nintendo DS game, which never left Japan. In it you played a young wizard and utilized the touch screen to draw spell glyphs.  In order to help you with this task each game came with a really neat wizard’s companion book that featured tons of info ranging from spell symbols, familiars, items, alchemy, etc. You pretty much needed to use it all the time.  This concept actually resonated with me rather well. I liked the idea of needing to consult your wizard manifesto in order to learn things and solve puzzles.  It kind of gave me the same vibe I got from old copy-protection manuals for Quest for Glory games. Most people probably didn’t care for that but I really dug it.

Read more for my early impressions of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch! (more…)


Single-player and Multiplayer Worlds Collide

Single-player might one day be the new multiplayer.  Sitting back on your couch with a controller in your hand adventuring off in your own single player world, disconnected from any other players doing the same thing as you, is becoming a thing of the past — in an awesome way!

Many of you are familiar with Demon’s Souls.  If you’re connected to the internet while playing you can occasionally see ghost-like images of other players in the same area, a bloodstain showing where someone died and the ability to see how it happened.  You can also leave messages for others to find in their single-player games.  There’s even a competitive play mode where you can actually enter someone’s single-player game and become a black phantom to try and kill them.

Dragon’s Dogma, a game releasing May 22, is doing something really cool with asynchronous events.  There’s an extremely difficult dragon boss called the “Ur-Dragon”.  Via Xbox Live or the Playstation Network, players combine their attacks, in their single-player game, on the Ur-Dragon until it is finally killed globally.  The player who deals the killing blow gets some extra rewards, but everyone who participates in their own single-player game gets rare items and all who participate get their name in some kind of hall of fame.

It won’t be long before players form guilds in their single-player experiences yet somehow work with other players.  Imagine a game like Skyrim or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning where players might be able to come together at a guild hall in a city but when they leave the doors they’re back in their single-player World, or a global auction house available in the city of your single-player game.   There are lots of neat ideas, and asynchronous events are just the beginning of entirely new types of games.  It gets my imagination going to think about how other games or features from games can combine together.

You can watch the Ur-Dragon video after the jump. (more…)


Starhawk Review

Starhawk released today exclusively for the Playstation 3!  Starhawk is a third-person shooter with a setting that reminds us of Firefly — that wild west in space vibe.  It’s the future, and Humans have colonized other planets. The game takes place in a colony aptly named ‘Frontier’ where miners have been affected by a powerful substance known as rift energy.  This energy has transformed some of the miners into mutants who are protective of the rift energy, and the natural conflict for game is established.

Unlike its predecessor Warhawk, Starhawk has a single-player campaign.  We’ll update this with our impressions once we’ve finished the campaign, but for now we’ll say that the single-player feels very similar to multiplayer in that the player is given multiple ways to tackle a problem.

Multiplayer is the heart and soul of Starhawk.  Players can compete in 16v16 matches of CTF, zone control, and other common multiplayer modes.  These maps are ginormous to accommodate Hawks, the mechwarrior/transformer/Warhawk machines that define the gameplay in Starhawk.  The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the Warhawk days; Players fly around in highly maneuverable Hawks, on the ground in tanks and vehicles, or on foot with a very familiar multiplayer shooter feel.

Build & Battle is what makes Starhawk unique.   As you play you earn rift energy that you can spend like currency to call in drops from the radial Build & Battle menu.  You can call in walls, turrets, supply depots, vehicle bays, and change the course of battle through strategically utilizing rift energy to give you and your team the advantage.

Gameplay is chaotic, unpredictable, and crazy polished.  Flight feels amazing, gunplay is solid, and the Build & Battle system makes each map feel different because players may defend their flag differently or build up their base differently every match.  There’s so much being done in Starhawk that we wish would be brought to the rest of the shooters on all platforms.  (Part of me dies thinking about how awesome this would be on PC. -Keen)

Read on for more of our review! (more…)