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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zer0 Sum

This was a surprise hit for me. I expected it to just be a cash in on the Borderlands name but Telltale have really nailed the look and feel. It was one of the better first episodes out of all the Telltale games and had some pretty interesting characters. Looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

27 Dec, 2014 (Xbox One)
Destiny: The Dark Below

There’s no denying that Destiny is lacking content so the $20 ($32 in the UK) price tag already stings for the first wave of DLC that has been tied to content already on-disc. Putting the sour taste aside the DLC contents are extremely lacking. There’s a handful of ‘story’ missions that are given to you by an NPC vendor in the quest hub with little more than a sentence of story sprinkled here and there. A few PvP maps that don’t hold much value for me due to the games balance providing little player progression . One new raid that is considerably shorter and not near the spectacle or with the gameplay variety of the first. All in all considerably underwhelming whilst incredibly over priced.

23 Dec, 2014 (PlayStation 4)
Halo 2: Anniversary

This was my first time playing through Halo 2 again in a long time. The Anniversary treatment looked incredible in parts, but poor in others where I found myself swapping back to the original graphics as they seemed to fit the area more. The new Blur cutscenes are incredible and the terminals that teach you about the Arbiter and Lockes backstory ready for Halo 5 are nicely done.

22 Dec, 2014 (Xbox One)
Gemini Rue

A beautiful story. Although not as noir as I'd hoped, it has some decent grit and characters you learn to love. There's a few things the game touches on that I would've liked to see in more detail, but I think the length of the game prohibits that. Gameplay is what you'd expect from the point-and-click genre although you'll be pleased by how little use-randomX-on-randomY you have to do (puzzles are all fairly sensible). Graphics are pretty old-school but it works, music I can't remember, and that's usually a pretty good sign. Yea, a good ride, and I recommend it, especially since there's not much else available that isn't made by telltale.

21 Dec, 2014 (PC)
SteamWorld Dig

A 2D miner that needs you to navigate a variety of underground caverns to acquire ore that’ll both unlock new upgrades to go deeper and earn you currency to purchase them. Whilst the gameplay is both simplistic and quickly becomes repetitive there’s a charming appeal to it all and the desire to fill bars and dig holes kept me chugging along until I had all the unlocks and before I knew it all the ore.

17 Dec, 2014 (PlayStation 4)
I Am Bread

A fun little distraction if a little under developed in its current state (potentially excused by it being an early access offering). With four keys you control the four corners of a piece of bread on its grand adventure to become toast by any means necessary. There’s something incredibly charming about exploring homely environments at a miniature level, doubly so when you add on the need to avoid touching the floor or dirty areas to keep the toast edible and bonus objectives of improving your toasts taste. Unfortunately it’s all a little too short, too confined and before long the controls become too frustrating to fight against.

15 Dec, 2014 (PC)
Escape Plan

A previously free PS+ game that I’d overlooked got a second chance when Iris became adamant that we gave it a try then subsequently beat it. A very straightforward environmental puzzle game that needs you to interact with scenes to get one of two characters from A to B. There’s very little dialogue, shallow complexity and a lot of repetition before long. It feels very much better suited as a mobile phone experience.

11 Dec, 2014 (PlayStation 4)
Dungeon of the Endless

A strange combination of roguelike, RPG, tower defence and strategy, Dungeon of the Endless is an intriguing beast to say the least. I bought it while in early access but the difficulty delayed completion until I re-installed it recently. It's still a cripplingly difficult game and requires you to take advantage of every imbalance, every loophole, to pass more than a few floors... and that's on the simplest difficulty setting.

With each failure the slate is wiped clean, but there are new characters to unlock and if you're lucky you can put together a team with some nice synergy. The currency system in game is well designed, and every module built or researched is a decision that could make or break you. The level of polish, particularly in menus is excellent and the pixelated style is well executed even if it gets a little old and chaotic as the game goes on. Music is good at first, but the number of tracks is limited and thus it grates after a while.

It's all good stuff... I feel a sense of achievement from completing it, and I have some good stories to tell, but it somewhat lacks in gameplay and variety when stretched over many hours. Multiplayer is a nice addition, and can make your life easier, but since things are essentially turn-based you could end up feeling like a spectator in what's more like a single-player experience. I feel guilty giving it such a mediocre score, but I'm going to go with my gut on this. Perhaps if victory hadn't come after such a grind the numbers would look different.

8 Dec, 2014 (PC)
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Farcry 3 alt. universe this is not. Sure, it comes with a full visual overhaul and a true 80s retro feel, but to call this a separate game would be too generous. The pacing is pretty bad, and they don't give you choice over how you level your player. The weapon selection is woefully limited and vehicles are pretty much pointless as your character runs at breakneck speed by default. The inclusion of the blood dragons was a nice touch, but I would have liked to see more of this, more character abilities, more challenge.

The tongue-in-cheek humour is good (although it dries up a little outside of the first 30mins). There's some good retro gaming fan service and let's face it, shooting cyborgs in the face with a neon-coated bow from a faraway hill still ticks some boxes, but this game could've been much more. More outrageous, more idiotic, more creative...

If after Farcry 3 is done you're left wanting, I'd pause for thought before diving into Blood Dragon as it might not fully scratch that itch.

7 Dec, 2014 (PC)
Injustice: Gods Among Us

A shallow beat em up that lacked any imagination on varying moves. Sure you could get by with chancing a fireball forward but overall it was as bland as you can get. I even had a tough time keeping myself awake for the cut scenes with really low frames rates that didn't really help the dry story line. Multiplayer was ok but don't expect it to last long.

6 Dec, 2014 (PlayStation 4)
Game of Thrones: Episode 1 - Iron From Ice

A decent first episode to the series. The new characters fit the universe well and it's good to see existing characters fleshed out more.

6 Dec, 2014 (Xbox One)
Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Got to love that UbiArt framework. It's got a great story throughout, some nice puzzle sections, and it teaches you some WW1 history.

6 Dec, 2014 (Xbox One)
The Dream Machine: Chapter 5

The fifth installment of The Dream Machine is easily the high point of the series to date. Using imaginative dreams as its primary platform, it builds greatly on its predecessors’ ability to tell a creative story with very few strings attached to reality, yet still be grounded enough in real-world logic to solve its clever puzzles. I won’t hesitate to recommend The Dream Machine to any adventure fan right now.

5 Dec, 2014 (PC)

What to say about Unturned... Well it's free, so that's pretty good, however as another craft-em-up / survival game it is a pale imitation of Minecraft. Fighting the zombies takes minimal effort once you get used to it, and melee weapons do the job so there's no real need for ranged weapons and thus ammo. You can build some pretty good houses, but this gains you little beyond bragging rights. Food and drink survival is impossible at first, until you acquire the crafting recipes to make fire and a canteen... then it becomes another triviality. The game clearly has potential in the multiplayer scene, and I certainly had a few great hours of play, but the experience becomes shallow too fast; and when Minecraft and Terraria raise the bar so high it's hard for Unturned to compete.

3 Dec, 2014 (PC)
Torchlight II

It's hard to review a game you picked up so long ago, especially since I just repeat-flashed through the final act to speed things along (Embermage = op).

Torchlight like any game of this type was bound to be a grind, and with 44hrs on record it kept me busy for quite a while, but I'd wager only a fifth of that time was spent in fights worthy of my character. Perhaps it's my guilty pleasure of min-maxing that led to this... and the skill system certainly gives you that option: With abilities and items and set bonuses and socketables and enchantments and pets... the list goes on.

Quests have no voice-over and can be ignored, FMVs are dull and music is nothing to write home about; however gameplay is smooth and enjoyable. After account setup, multiplayer is quick and easy and the game relaxes some of its rules to make it easier to find your team or hop out and shop. The game seems to try its best to remove all the little annoyances.

Finally the boss fights... There's minibosses scattered about, and they seem to have randomly assigned buffs that can lead to some interesting encounters... some can even pose a threat! Final area bosses are built up, and many have scripted mechanics such as area denial, pulls or spawns; but with difficulty the way it is I never found a reason to do anything other than stand still and spam magic missile. There's potential, you can see it, but it's too weak and fragile... too easily crushed under my lvl 51 heel. Muahaha!

As a side note: I've tinkered with the overhaul mod called Synergies and it claims to fix many of the pacing issues and throws in more mobs for you to squelch. A coop permadeath run with this enabled still intrigues me, and for this reason I raised the score a bit. There may be life in the old dog yet.

3 Dec, 2014 (PC)
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Had a vague idea of what i was getting in to--Ass Creed meets Arkham Asylum in LOTR universe.

HOWEVER was not prepared for home much i would enjoy the experience.

It does have some issues with mission completion recognition and some rather dodgy unit collision, but still its fun. Funner than i expected

Basically i really enjoyed it and was surprised by such, so if you are lacking something to get into, want to waste some time and like the LOTR universe then i highly recommend.

Plus if you have a decent computer looks AWESOME

1 Dec, 2014 (PC)

Ground this out over far too long, it's a lovely game and I found the puzzling some of the most enjoyable I've played, although I don't really play puzzle games so don't have much of a frame of reference. Although determined to figure them all out by myself there were 3 fuckers that refused to reveal their inner workings to me and I had to resort to a guide. A shame because figuring them out for myself was extremely satisfying.

1 Dec, 2014 (PC)

Overall an enjoyable first-person platformer. The game's premise can be summed up as you're at the bottom of a pillar, climb to the top. There are a lot of platform puzzle segments, needing you to use a handful of power-ups to navigate around. During the later segments these can become an enjoyable challenge, such as when needing to handle switches in gravity, a swarm of flying drones and maneuvering lasers. Whilst the gameplay is solid it's lacking in almost every other area. There's little to no story at all (logs are a lazy storytelling mechanic), the environments are bland even if the engine handles them well and a full story run was completed in a mere 2hours and 16minutes.

30 Nov, 2014 (PC)
The Unfinished Swan

This marks the first game that Iris has completed, her first contributions to GameBeat history, sitting alongside me shouting commands and spotting the games collectible balloons. A charming simple exploration game that has you throwing blobs of paint to colour a blank world to find the path ahead. It tries a little too hard to artsy and special but its execution is interesting and unique enough to be worth the attention for a playthrough.

30 Nov, 2014 (PlayStation 4)

1. If you haven't played Anitchamber... play it now. If you have, proceed to 2.

2. If you haven't played ... play it now. If you have, proceed to 3.

3. If you enjoyed both games, proceed to 4, otherwise gtfo.

4. You probably haven't played Deadcore... play it now. You will enjoy it. A lot.

I stumbled across this game as part of Steam's usual deluge of ads, but the trailer intrigued me so I but it on the backlog. Now with the recent sales I thought what the hell, let's give it a go. I'm glad I did.

This first-person platformer is perfectly executed, smooth as hell and gorgeous to boot. The levels are colossal, even putting DarkSouls to shame, but within a short period you'll be dashing and bouncing your way around making short work of sections that at first proved challenging.

One of the best things about Deadcore is something it doesn't do... It doesn't restrict you. If you want to, and have the skills to jump around a puzzle or laser grid instead of through it, that's fine. If you fancy going off-piste and climbing up that decorative curved roof to reach the next area early: Be our guest!

I'd go into details about the abilities and upgrades and stuff, but suffice to say it's a nice simple system that gives good replay value without feeling cheap (it's even worked into the lore).

There's story here but it's Braid-esque, take it or leave it. It's not bad, just not really that important. Gameplay is what makes Deadcore shine.

Considering the dev team can be counted on one hand, this is a masterpiece.

29 Nov, 2014 (PC)