Browsing category: Reviews

The Outcast Lovers – by FarFewGiants

Set within the confines of a small cottage on the coast of Britain, The Outcast Lovers is a somber follow-up to the tragic events of The Night Fisherman. After sheltering the boy who has found his way into their custody, the couple now face a crisis of conscience as they debate what to do next. Should they turn him over to the authorities, or do they take him in as their own son despite their commitment to never have children of their own?

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ULTRAKILL (Demo)by Hakita & New Blood Interactive

It is almost certain at this point that New Blood Interactive’s creative output is going to quickly dwarf our capacity for keeping up, expanding inevitably until the entire universe is wholly subsumed by New Blood Interactive games and domain names. The newest entry in this growing existential threat to our reality is Hakita’s brilliant ‘Devil May Quake’ action romp, ULTRAKILL, a wonderful FPS that feels like a distinct throwback to the less-than-tasteful BULLETSTORM with its elaborate combo mechanics and incentive to stylishly gore enemies in the most imaginative ways possible.

Where ULTRAKILL truly succeeds is in the way it incentivizes the high octane violence on display. Rushing through the bloody showers of monstrous destruction is the only way you regain health- there’s no medkits or edible wheels of cheese here, only your determination to keep it as close & personal as possible with your foes and foe accessories. Waging cosmic warfare has never been so satisfying as it is in ULTRAKILL, and the straightforward gunplay gives way to a staggering depth of technique and modular fire modes to increase its depths outside of its literal blood opera acrobatics. Oh, did I mention, there’s wall jumping, sliding, dashes, ground pounds and double-jumps, giving the player an incredible degree of movement expression that will leave enemies’ heads spinning for days, were they to ever live that long, then again their heads will just as likely spin without them.

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HROT (Demo) by Spytihněv

When iD Software decided to publish future Quake titles with Activision, GT Interactive was in a real bind having now lost one of the most famous intellectual properties in video games. The eventual answer to Quake for GT was signing a publishing deal with Ukranian-based developer Action Forms, who at the time was developing Chasm: The Rift, though largely better known for their most recent release, Cryostasis.

Chasm was a joy, a more technically competent Quake Clone that demonstrated unique features like limb removal and in-game cutscenes with facial animations for each character. As forward thinking as the 1997 game was, it would find a lukewarm reception in the west and ultimately become forgotten in the gaming zeitgeist. Fast-forward to today, solo developer Spytihněv’s HROT picks up right where Action Forms left off, presenting a curious relic fallen out of a mirror universe where Eastern Europe was a hotbed for mainstream first person shooter developers.

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Games Sampler For Windows 95 – Monolith & Microsoft (1995)

The year is 199X, you just signed on to your new Personal Computer Machine for the first time and finally finished the arcane incantations to get Windows 95 running. You look at your hands, clasped as they are shakily around the Computer Disc Read Only Memory device that came with your new Machine. You seat it in the CD tray, press the button, and you’re transported to a new world, a better world, a digital world.

If, like me, you grew up in the 90s with nary a console to your name, you were intimately familiar with shareware, endlessly copied to floppies (against contemporary advice regarding copying that floppy) and passed around the playground (or, in my case, church pew). But what always caught my attention was not the veritable jenga tower of small black squares that cluttered my desk and infested my youth, but the new shiniest circle on the market: The CD-ROM. This was the age of the demo disk, and Windows was in ascension, it makes sense then that Microsoft too cornered the market on sneak peeks into the murky future of PC gaming.

Enter Games Sampler for Windows 95, aka Manhattan Space Station Odyssey.

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Wide Ocean Big Jacket – by Turnfollow & published by Tender Claws

I like demos, especially when they’re self-contained narrative slices that compliment the core game. Wide Ocean Big Jacket takes more of an excerpt approach with theirs, an appropriate choice given the narrative oriented gameplay. It’s not quite a visual novel, nor is it an adventure game, or even a walking simulator, in fact it feels more like chatting with an old friend on a nice stroll through the woods, and it has some of the more believable writing I’ve come across in an indie game lately.

So let’s step out and enjoy the nice weather with Meryl & Alan, shall we?

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Starstruck: Prologue – by Createdelic

I’m not sure what I just played, but it’s brilliant.

We try to avoid doing comparative analysis, yet it seems impossible to pull Starstruck apart from it’s obvious influences: Part Earthbound, part Little Big Planet, part Scott Pilgrim, with an added dash of…….. Gitaroo man?? Katamari?? Truly a sublime cocktail of inspiration. It’s rare to see a game bold enough to dive head first into the experimental spirit that defined both the Dreamcast and the late PS2 era, let alone one that does so with such finesse.

Come down to earth with us as we explore the wonderful world of… Neighborhood.exe

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Happy’s Humble Burger Barn – by Scythe Dev Team

Public relations is still a relatively young industry despite its dominance in everyday life. At the hands of this new medium, the world is reduced to a cacophony, and no matter where you look you find a million ads vying for your endlessly divided attention. With companies caught in a forever war with their competitors for the true currency of hungry eyeballs, marketing continues to race ahead in innovation that bears the fruit of research often difficult to distinguish from quack fringe science papers on brainwashing. How can we get people to eat more junk food? How can we get them to drink more soda? How can we convince everyone to consume more luxury goods in excess? How can we commodify more of our daily lives?

The newest entry into the Scythe Dev Team‘s game universe, Happy’s Humble Burger Barn, has found some disturbing answers. Brace yourself, Dear Reader, for you may find that Happy Cows do not necessarily produce better milk.

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Pattern – By Galen Drew (Soundtrack by Michael Bell)

Deep within the deserts of New Mexico and the salt flats of Utah lie monumental accomplishments of human will, structures defined by their relationship to the land and the human perception of the universe. These installations, such as the works of Nancy Holt (Sun Tunnels), Charles Ross (Star Axis), and Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), are colloquially known as Land Art, a genre that sits at the intersection of architecture, sculpture, and earthworks (the history of which is chronicled by James Crump in his documentary Troublemakers).

While all art requires the passage of time and years of perfecting the craft, Land Art is differentiated by the scale of both labor and duration of construction, often taking place over nearly geologic timescales, both in pre-planning to select the perfect geographic locale and the fabrication process itself. Architects, land surveyors, local governments, construction laborers, land owners, local communities, permits, and weather are merely a drop in the bucket in terms of considerations and obstacles that must be tackled before even breaking first ground.

Digital Landscapes, on the other hand, require few of these considerations. Enter Pattern by Galen Drew.

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(Content Warning: Domestic Disputes, Childhood Trauma)

A colorful rubber ball bounces past, immediately drawing your focus and illustrating the short lived nature of your fledgling autonomy against your newly formed limbic system. Play, at this point, is far more important than any budding sense of self-awareness.. such a vivid color, so squishy… it even bounces… You could toy with it for hours on end and never lose any satisfacti- Is that Mister Caterpillar? He’s so green…

Lurching towards the plastic green structure adorned with egg-shell colored “eyes” to provide animistic illusion, you fumble and fall over… you’re still getting the hang of this walking thing after all, that’s what mum keeps telling you at least.

A distant figure by the back yard gate catches your vision, an animal like silhouette announced with an audibly heavy breathing sound… is this a new friend you wonder. But before you can investigate this character, mum calls out to come inside to get ready for snacks, and the good child that you are you head in paying no mind to the mysterious new friend.

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