Tag Archives: preview

Skylanders Superchargers E3 Impressions

So Skylanders has a sequel for 2015, not really a shocker but there are a few items that stand out in the demo made available at E3 this year. One, the trap team pieces will have a function in the new title which provides elemental bonuses, it’s handy and a nice way to keep pieces relevant between generations. Two… the game incorporates racing / driving into the mix and while that allows them to gain traction on other popular franchises it’s the incorporation that hurts in this demo and by hurt I mean it really kills me a bit to see racing used so loosely.

SSC_Barrel Blaster 1

Most racing titles have adopted the standard of triggers as acceleration and braking mechanisms, they work well they’ve been doing this for ages as they’re not an on or off mechanism and they’re not bad to reach for most hands. Unfortunately Superchargers doesn’t want to follow this mindset, it now works to redefine how these controls work and make them a bit more complex than they need to be and even worse, it makes them harder to use than other titles on the market. A key point here is drifting your car in-game, normally there’s an e-brake for this in sims and arcade racers but in children’s oriented games they allow tricks, flicking the brakes and gas on and off or other sequences to create it, Mario Kart has done this for ages. Instead we’re stuck using trigger acceleration and buttons for braking or sliding which don’t mesh well.

For some it doesn’t sound odd, but it really is, let the thumb direct the car, the fingers pull the gas or brake and go from there as it minimizes the actions of the hand and in the event someone is using the right thumb for action it’s fine because it’s largely just sitting there on the gameplay anyway. It’s not Forza and even Forza doesn’t make this mistake, worse is that even if that was addressed there’s also a problem of inverted steering when deviating from a normal path. Going onto that half-pipe? Sorry, you controls stopped making sense. Going up that other side path straight ahead? Nope, doesn’t work there either, let’s flip those for you and turn every experience into opposites.

SSC_SuperCharged Barrel Blaster

It’s problematic because a childrens game is designed to be accessible and fun without overdoing it and alienating them while their older siblings or parents get it and tear things up. As it stands, Superchargers fails to consider the key demographic behind the game and offers a subpar performance in the car area. I really hope they’re able to pick things up in the future before release otherwise it’s a title I’d really hesitate to pick up. It seems like Activision would have put more time into the control system of the cars but in the current state it’s more like an afterthought.

Black Ice – Cyberpunk FPS, Hacking, RPG begins a journey

Retro inspired games have a unique market, generally delivering 2D sprite based environments as a throwback to the early days of gaming. Black Ice goes in a different direction, instead focusing on the neon glow that haunted the 80’s with a dash of Tron inspired computer environments in a 3D world. It’s a game of hack and dash with RPG elements as players have to tackle difficult hacks to obtain crucial tech to advance and eventually take down the master system.

While it sounds potentially easy, it’s a mind boggling mess, shooting speed and ammo are based on available RAM (within the game world) cycle speed and other factors are crucial for survival. While it seems like a given to just beef up your memory and hacking  speed it’s not that easy, Black Ice provides an array of enemies including reaaally annoying spiders that slowly eat away at your soul / health. Normally I don’t care about insects of any level, suddenly I do and I can thank this game for that.

It’s not all trauma, the weapons are brilliant when you have the right stats, using a plasma cutter to mow through everything (yes everything) is magically rewarding given how swarms bite and chip away so often.

While words could go on forever about Black Ice in it’s early stages of development, I’ll leave it to the two current videos recorded to demonstrate what there is within. If you’d like to try Black Ice for yourself, head over to the website and grab the latest demo.

Preview – PAWS (Prime Alien Watch Squad)

Some days something just drops in your lap that you take a second look at, PAWS is one of those games, the cute and simple looking hex battle game allowing animals to go head to head against alien invaders with a minimalist battle system.

We’re using a demo build of where the game is at while they kick off their Kickstarter campaign. Needless to say it’s an easy game to get used to, it’s also an easy one to lose all your points on. Medals for behavior act as currency to summon extra hit points, satellite lasers and a full bombing run from aerial support, how they have the ability to do all this? I have no idea, in fact I would prefer not to know just so I can keep thinking that Squirrel is just a harmless fellow addicted to nuts.

The attack system is point and click with units holding certain class balances. Warriors / melee attackers have a wider net to reach across the board, although their damage points vary and critical strikes can fall short when you need them most. Range attackers have lower HP but they have a steady damage average. You also get the wildcard (turtle) who can hit multiple opponents as a melee but tends to ride on the low end of the HP scale.

It’s a game of balance and budgeting these cute animals, it’s easy to spam the bombing commands the lasers and juice up early in the game only to realize later the crucial moment of “oh… that’s why I had so many points to start with” as the aliens just reign hell by ganging up on your team.

Currently each map and opponent group are randomly selected while your team varies with its own challenges. Having double or triple medics seems great until you have to generate enough damage while keeping everyone alive to avoid a complete loss. It’s an interesting title that shows forethought into the generated levels and balance of the characters. While some later areas might initially feel impossible it’s just a situation where it requires players to apply themselves a little more.

PAWS is still in development and if this Beta is an indication of what to continue expecting then I’d say it’s a worthwhile Kickstarter project to check out and consider.

Preview – SUPER HOT + Youtube Playthrough

It’s the end of the summer, its blazing and Bricky Blues drops an update to their 7dfps time based shooter using the Unity engine on everyone. It’s called Super Hot and honestly, it’s a change of pace and a challenging one at that.

Super Hot places players into a world where almost all time is controlled by the host, I say almost as bullets and general enemy gestures seem to still carry on at a reduced speed as things get moving. Overall it challenges those used to run and gun to calculate paths, counterattacks and examine their surroundings carefully. One ill-timed shift can restart the level and that bridge stage is relentless on the nerves if a stray bullet lands.

I did jump into the web demo and record it (poorly) although it seems to be a limited resolution build right now. The game looks great for what it is, reminiscent of old training simulators in presentation while coming in with a pounding SUPER HOT SUPER HOT every time a level is completed in a subliminal styled push. It’s a unique experience and there is the desire to complete the level at a faster rate each time because inherently you know you can do it better.

There’s a growing trend of art taking place in high contrast environments with gray-scale environments. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that in Super Hot, in fact it offers less visual conflict when a faint red hue illuminates a wall, signalling incoming doom. Personally I don’t mind the usage of it as it forces creative use of space and placement of enemies and components.

There isn’t much else to the game at the current stage, I’m currently enjoying the use of the time mechanics to pace out a rapid succession of kills while picturing some random bass line to eventually compliment the SUPER HOT pattern after a job well done. I’ve subscribed to the newsletter and I think it’s worth a shot by anyone to give the game a spin right now. It has great appeal and that repeated chant seeps into your brain after playing through.

Super Hot [Web / Unity Based]

Preview – Project Bliss

“Follow your Bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”

Project Bliss appeared under a month ago on Kickstarter, with a  goal of $150,000 the Enlightened Games team in Chicago envisioned a large budget but as ambitious of a project to match. Bliss strives to explore a world in need of healing although, the first segments of the available demo deliver a message closer to a personal discovery and development. As a pre-alpha it’s not possible to dig into the message as much as one might want, the focus is more on the general mood of each area.

The design elements of Bliss bring in a mixed pairing of animated despair, whimsy and chaos. The journey itself begins in darkness, the avatar locked in a cold dismal hollow, surviving by a flicker with an ominous red glow at the exit, intimidation of the unknown haunting the zone. Camera placement alters each scene, from top view, side pans and rear positioning, each adding their own dramatic effect.

Stepping outside the world is so vivid and pronounced, the colors drop one easily into a Zelda-esque environment. Taking on its own form of flat shading and design, Bliss operates on another level, harnessing the power of a world free from conventional design, embracing a world that defines itself simply by potential instead of a fixed factor. The first play of Bliss was fast, I jumped through the world in a moment, when I came through to explore and feel the world I realized I missed an entire interactive section of the game. The nature of the design masks some paths available but it lives up to the inspiration that Bliss will open doors, I genuinely missed an entire floating section of islands.

The demo closes on a darker note, the Bull delivers a chaotic outlook, red paints the world, our avatar’s stature changes again, no longer embracing a free motion and instead afraid to make that next step. A roar settles through the atmosphere and we’re whisked back into the start.

Bliss offers a potential that feels fresh, the world is up to the player, the experience has an air of innocence to it, there’s no story to the avatar and that blank canvas adds to the appeal and the sense of wonder. Being lost in the inner world, facing challenges within oneself and having so little guidance to what is a proper resolution.

Enlightened Games has a large challenge on their plate, while Bliss is closing in on their goal, their pledge to find a way to publish is a strong reassurance. The world is beautiful, the mechanics are rough but it’s clear this isn’t the end-product or anything near it. With the option to pan the camera I would have an array of beautiful scenic desktop wallpapers to rotate through. Until then I’ll makeshift my collection together.