All posts by Mark Smith

I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40 years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

Scarlet Hollow Episode 2 Out Now on Steam

Indie game studio Black Tabby Games releases Episode 2 of the choice-driven horror adventure visual novel, Scarlet Hollow on Steam today.

In Scarlet Hollow, visit the dying Appalachian coal town for the funeral of your long-lost aunt, and find yourself embroiled in a generations-long mystery that threatens an entire town. The game features hand-drawn art and writing from award-winning graphic novelist Abby Howard (The Last Halloween, Junior Scientist Power Hour, The Crossroads at Midnight.)

Scarlet Hollow has been critically acclaimed for its masterful blend of humor and horror by DreadXP, The Escapist, Nerdist, PC Gamer, PCGamesN, and others, with Episode 1 scoring an 8.5/10 on RPG Fan, and an 8/10 on CG Mag Online.

Scarlet Hollow was originally funded on Kickstarter raising $81k with the support of 2,726 backers and its success has led to winning the runner up prize for AT&T Unlocked Games.

Features

  • A heavily branching narrative where your choices matter. The relationships you forge and the decisions you make will dramatically alter your journey.
  • Terrifying and funny. Charming characters and snappy dialogue flip to pulse-pounding horror at a moment’s notice.
  • A complex relationship system that changes how characters act around you. Characters don’t just like or dislike you. Become friendly rivals, bitter adversaries, best friends, or mild acquaintances with everyone in town based on how you approach the story.
  • Trait-based dialogue and role-playing. 21 different character builds change how you interact with the world and how your story unfolds.
  • Original monster designs inspired by Appalachian myths and cryptids.
  • Five romance options. Whether you’re into goths, dads, Youtubers, mysterious recluses, or lo-fi beats to study and water your plants to, we’ve got all your bases covered.
  • Mountains of hand-drawn and traditionally inked sprites and backgrounds. Every background in the game is drawn by hand and inked on massive 19×24 inch paper, and each major character has dozens of hand-drawn sprites that interact with backgrounds and capture a full range of lighting, emotion, environment, and outfit changes.
  • A chilling original soundtrack. 

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege New Season North Star Launches Today

Today, Ubisoft announced that Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege’s Year 6 Season 2, North Star, launches today, introducing the new operator Thunderbird and the reworked map Favela, amongst many other updates. In addition, Rainbow Six Siege is coming to Stadia on June 30. From this date on, PC, Stadia, and Amazon Luna will have the opportunity to enjoy unified matchmaking and progression. Crossplay between console players and cross-progression for all platforms will be available early 2022.

While crossplay is already available amongst consoles from the same family, crossplay will be possible between Xbox players and PlayStation® early 2022, along with cross-progression between all platforms.

In North Star, players will discover a brand-new Defender: Thunderbird. She can deploy a Kóna Healing Station, which heals any player – ally or enemy – close to this device, even if they are downed. The Kóna Station has a cooldown between each charge. Thunderbird is a low armor, high-speed operator, equipped with a SPEAR .308 or SPAS-15 as primary weapon, and BEARING 9 or Q-929 as a secondary weapon.

North Star introduces a reimagined Favela map with better map overview and improved navigation. These changes will improve readability, making sure players always know where they are and where they are going when playing on Favela.

Additional updates coming with North Star include:

  • Scoreboard 2.0
  • New corpse icons
  • Bullet holes fix
  • Operator balancing (Melusi, Mira, and Maestro tweaks and Gas Propagation rework)

This season comes with a new 100-tiers Battle Pass, including a premium and a free track. Premium Battle Pass owners will have the opportunity to play Thunderbird from June 14, while other players will be able to unlock her with Renown or R6 Credits starting June 28.

For more information about Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, please visit rainbow6.ubisoft.com.

Into the Starfield: The Journey Begins

Take an inside look as we share the inspiration and process behind developing this new universe. The Journey starts today.

Watch: Into the Starfield: The Journey Begins:

Starfield is the first new universe in 25 years from Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery.

Starfield arrives exclusively on Xbox Series X|S and PC on 11.11.22. Play it day one with Xbox Game Pass.

Saber Interactive Reveals World War Z: Aftermath

Saber Interactive has announced World War Z: Aftermath, the ultimate co-op zombie shooter inspired by Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster film. World War Z: Aftermath is the next evolution of the original hit World War Z, which recently celebrated 15 million players worldwide, featuring 4K|60 FPS gameplay on next-gen systems, a new melee combat system, new first-person mode, and full cross-play on consoles and PC.

Powered by the next generation of Saber’s dynamic Swarm Engine™, World War Z: Aftermath turns the tide of our fight for survival back against the undead. Join up to three friends or play on your own with AI teammates against hordes of ravenous zombies in intense story episodes across new zombie-ravaged locations around the world: Rome, Vatican City and Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.

Key Features:

  • New Battles from a World at War: Play as both new and returning characters as you take the fight to the undead with a brutal new melee system, decimating zekes with unique moves, perks and dual-wield weapon options like the sickle and cleaver. Fend off new undead monstrosities, including swarms of flesh-hungry rats that will unleash total chaos on your team.
  • The Next Generation of Zombie Action: Play in glorious 4K|60 FPS on next-gen systems. Endure endless waves of increasingly difficult zombies in the new Horde Mode XL game mode, exclusive to PC, PlayStation®5 and Xbox Series X|S, featuring hundreds more zombies on screen than ever before possible (Horde Mode XL will arrive in a free post-launch update).
  • New First-Person Mode: Experience a heart-pounding new perspective with Aftermath’s immersive first-person mode option.
  • Deep Hero Progression: Level up eight unique classes — the Gunslinger, Hellraiser, Slasher, Medic, Fixer, Exterminator, Dronemaster, and all-new Vanguard class — each with their own perks and playstyles. Customize your weapons to survive any challenge, and conquer new daily missions with special modifiers for bonus rewards.
  • The Complete World War Z Experience: Aftermath includes all content from World War Z: Game of the Year Edition, including full episodes in New York, Moscow, Marseille and Tokyo.
  • Play With Friends Anywhere: Aftermath supports up to four-player co-op with full cross-play between consoles and PC.

World War Z: Aftermath will launch later this year on PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC for $39.99, with backwards compatibility available on PlayStation®5 and Xbox Series X|S at 4K|60 FPS. Players who own the original World War Z will be able to purchase World War Z: Aftermath for $19.99 on their respective platforms. World War Z: Aftermath: Deluxe Edition, featuring a bonus weapon pack, weapon skins, and four days of early access, will be available for $49.99 ($29.99 for World War Z owners).

In early 2022, World War Z: Aftermath will officially launch on PlayStation®5 and Xbox Series X|S with additional next-generation features and enhancements, including the new Horde Mode XL. A free upgrade to the next-generation version of Aftermath will be available for players who purchase Aftermath on PlayStation®4, Xbox One or PC on their respective platforms.

For more information, visit www.WWZgame.com, and follow the series on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

ORCS MUST DIE! 3 COMING JULY 23RD ON XBOX, PLAYSTATION, AND STEAM

Robot Entertainment, an independent development and publishing studio, today announced Orcs Must Die! 3 is coming to Xbox One, Xbox One Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility, and Steam on July 23, 2021. The award-winning Orcs Must Die! series is back and better than ever with Orcs Must Die! 3, featuring all new War Scenarios and War Machines which add massive scale to battlefields that deliver on an epic orc-slaying power fantasy. Either solo or via online co-op with a friend, players must defend their rift using a variety of weapons and traps against hundreds of orcs simultaneously. Players can also test their resolve with the brand new and ever-evolving Scramble Mode that pits players against orcs in a series of five escalating challenges where both sides receive random modifiers after each battle. Plenty of new and returning fan favorite heroes, weapons and traps await players seeking to unleash orc-devastating mayhem.

To celebrate the announcement of Orcs Must Die! 3 arriving on Steam, Orcs Must Die! 2 is available to play for free on Steam until June 20th. Download Orcs Must Die! 2 for free here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/201790/Orcs_Must_Die_2/

For those interested in pre-ordering Orcs Must Die! 3 on Xbox One, Xbox One Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Steam, all new Overload Skins have been made available to deck your heroes out with some awesome new digs. Find out more here: http://www.orcsmustdie.com/

Orcs Must Die! 3 Features:

  • More of EverythingOrcs Must Die! 3 is everything fans loved about the first two games and more. More orcs, more traps, more weapons, more upgrades and even better looking. It’s cranked up to at least eleven.
  • New Story – Play through a brand new story set more than 20 years after Orcs Must Die! 2, where the War Mage and Sorceress have rebuilt the order and trained new young apprentices.
  • War Scenarios – All new War Scenarios deliver on the promise of massive scale first set out in Orcs Must Die! Confront overwhelming armies of orcs outside on the battlefields surrounding the castles. Thin out waves of orcs hundreds strong before they breach the walls and crash your rift.
  • War Machines – You’re going to need new weapons of death and destruction to handle these hordes. War Machines are traps on an oversized scale. Lay down your mega flip trap and launch dozens of ragdolling orcs. Mount your mega boom barrel launcher and unleash pyrotechnic glory.
  • It Never Stops – The legions of orcs keep coming long after the story is completed. Etch your name into the orc-slaying hall of fame through Weekly Challenges or see how long you can survive in Endless Mode.
  • Take Drastic StepsOrcs Must Die! 3 comes with the Drastic Steps campaign and content for free, including terrifying flying enemies, heroic war guardians and of course more tools for orc destruction!
  • Scramble to Survive – The new Scramble Mode pits you against vile orcs who evolve with increasingly difficult and sinister tricks up their chunky sleeves. But each level you survive, you collect your own modifiers to fight back with!

ABOUT ORCS MUST DIE! 3
Orcs Must Die! 3 ushers orc-slaying mayhem to a previously unimaginable scale. Solo or with a friend by your side, arm yourself with a massive arsenal of traps and weapons. Slice, burn, toss and zap hordes of repugnant orcs in this long-awaited successor to the award-winning series. New to the series, War Scenarios pit players against the largest orc armies ever assembled. Mountable War Machines give players the essential firepower to heave, stab, carbonize, and disarticulate the abominable intruders. Orcs Must Die! 3 originally released as a Stadia exclusive in 2020 and this version of the release includes all new content, features, and improvements as well as all previously released Stadia content including the Drastic Steps campaign.

For more information on Orcs Must Die! 3, please visit the official website http://www.orcsmustdie.com/, and follow the game on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OMDGame/  and Twitter https://twitter.com/OrcsMustDie

“Dark Souls meets Tetris” isle-shifting action roguelike Loot River revealed all new footage this weekend

Over the last few days straka.studio revealed a host of new footage for its upcoming island-shifting action-roguelike Loot River. Published by straka.studio with the help of SUPERHOT PRESENTS and the Slovak Arts Council, Loot River is a dungeon-crawling action-roguelike that combines the tense, real-time combat and dark fantasy stylings of Dark Souls with the spatial block-shifting puzzles of Tetris.

Here’s a four minute video showcasing how Loot River plays, with lead developer Miro Straka explaining how it works:

This three minute developer walkthrough shows off a condensed montage of Loot River’s isle-shifting:

Armed with the power of the Relic, players can shift the ground beneath them, sliding floating ruins together in a series of tile puzzles. As players venture through these endless catacombs, they’ll encounter beasts, lost travelers, and bosses. These cosmic grottos offer a wealth of new weapons and gear to discover, as well as unholy knowledge to unearth for permanent upgrades.

Drawn to shards of an unholy relic, wandering nomads have found themselves in a perpetual cycle of life and death, losing their sanity as they journey through endless parallel realities, devouring each other to absorb the knowledge of their fellow travelers. No two journeys are ever the same as countless lost souls float through the Loot River.

Visit the Loot River website: https://lootriver.com/

Chernobylite Breaks Free From the Exclusion Zone on July 28th, 2021

Video game publisher All in! Games and independent developer The Farm 51, are pleased to announce that the highly anticipated sci-fi survival horror RPG, Chernobylite, will launch on PC (Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store) for $29.99/€29.99/£23.99 on July 28th, 2021, with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions coming later in the summer of 2021.

Chernobylite is a science-fiction survival horror RPG, set in the hyper-realistic, 3D-scanned wasteland of Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone. You’ll take on the role of Igor, a physicist and ex-employee of the Chernobyl Power Plant, returning to Pripyat to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, 30 years prior. Compete with a hostile military presence and other stalkers, face supernatural creatures as well as a harsh and unforgiving environment in your search to uncover the truth. Get ready for a thrilling adventure of survival, conspiracy, horror, love, and obsession. Will you survive your fears?

  • Stealth, Survival, & Combat – Survival in the Zone is not easy, and each day brings new challenges as your comrades die and supplies diminish.  Avoid detection with stealth takedowns or engage in open armed combat.  Danger lurks around every corner.
  • Base Building & Crafting – Construct a base from which to plan your daily operations and excursions.  Utilize workstations to craft gadgets, traps, and weapons, or modify existing equipment to your needs.
  • Resource & Team Management – Companions are key to your survival and the resolution of your journey.  Each day requires careful planning and assignment of resources and tasks to your comrades.
  • Non-Linear Storytelling & Strategy – No playthrough is the same. The choices and  story are in your hands. Choose wisely whether to trust your comrades or not, use resources for survival or research, and to face conflicts or avoid them. The future is up to you.

“We’re delighted to finally announce a release date for Chernobylite on PC,” said Wojciech Pazdur, Development Director & Vice President The Farm 51. “We are extremely grateful to our community, who has supported us since the Kickstarter campaign in 2019, who believed in our vision and saw Chernobylite shape into the ultimate Chernobyl survival experience that it’s about to become.”

“The Farm 51 have done a fantastic job in creating a high-quality survival horror RPG with Chernobylite. We are all very excited for the PC launch this July,” said Piotr Żygadło, CEO at All in! Games.  “We have some exciting news regarding the console release, which we hope to share very soon.”

Chernobylite will also come to the Xbox Series X/S and to PlayStation 5. Stay tuned for more details. Chernobylite has been rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB, and PEGI 18.

For more information about Chernobylite, including full language support, visit the official Chernobylite website, Twitter, Facebook, Subreddit, and Discord server.

A Tale of Paper announced for PC and consoles

Indie publisher Digerati and developer Open House Games are delighted to announce A Tale of Paper for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. The game is scheduled to launch Q3/Q4 2021.

A puzzle-platformer starring a paper protagonist that can change into different forms, A Tale of Paper was originally released last year as a PS4 exclusive after winning the PlayStation Talents ‘Game of the Year’ award. Since its PS4 release, Open House Games has been working on new content for A Tale of Paper. Three all new prequel chapters starring a new character with its own unique abilities will be included with the new versions.

Key features

  • Paper shape transformations: Jump high as an origami frog! Turn into a paper plane and soar! Discover seven forms, each with its own pros and cons
  • A small hero in a big world: Overcome challenges, solve puzzles, and escape danger as you journey across beautifully crafted environments
  • A narrative without text: Explore each level and find hidden collectibles to unveil the heartfelt story behind A Tale of Paper
  • Discover bonus chapters: Complete the main adventure and unlock three prequel chapters, with a new character, new abilities, and new challenges

A Tale of Paper is part of the Future Games Show ‘Virtual Show Floor’, and a demo is available to download now from the event page on Steam.

Revolutionary Time-looping Strategy FPS Lemnis Gate Launches August 3, 2021

Frontier Foundry, the games label of Frontier Developments plc (AIM: FDEV, ‘Frontier’), and Ratloop Games Canada today announced the release date for their upcoming turn-based strategy shooter, Lemnis Gate. The exciting, cerebral title is set to bring pioneering 4D gameplay and thought-provoking tactical combat to PC and console on August 3, 2021. In preparation for a simultaneous launch across PC, PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One, players can pre-order the game today for 20% off the suggested retail price, as well as the exclusive KARL operative and weapon skin, Mettle Mantis.

Unveiled during the PC Gaming Show, the latest trailer reveals more stunning gameplay as it showcases the brain-engaging, heart-thudding action of the Tectonic Wells map, giving players a tantalizing glimpse of what they’ll be getting to grips with in the coming months.

Lemnis Gate’s distinctive time-exploiting mechanics mean players can team up with past selves, alter the events of previous rounds, and even reverse death. Whether outwitting opponents online or facing off with friends locally with pass the controller, players will need strategic cunning and skillful execution to succeed as they progressively build their plays in thrilling 1v1 and 2v2 matches. Over five nail-biting rounds all taking place in a 25-second time loop, players select one of seven uniquely skilled operatives, and seek to deploy ingenious tactics that will reverberate throughout the match. There is no room for favorites in Lemnis Gate and mastering the abilities of each operative will offer the best chance of victory.

Ahead of launch, PC players everywhere will have the opportunity to play the game during the upcoming open beta on Steam. The beta will be the first time the wider public goes hands-on with the game, offering an early glance at the sorts of innovative strategies and outlandish thinking that will come to define Lemnis Gate.

In addition, Xbox Game Pass subscribers will be able to download and play Lemnis Gate on PC and Xbox consoles through Game Pass from launch. Xbox Game Pass subscribers will continue to be able to access Lemnis Gate as long as their Game Pass subscription is maintained.

Lemnis Gate is available to pre-order for a suggested retail price of $19.99 from Steam, Windows Store, PlayStation Store, and Xbox Store.

Stay in the loop by following Lemnis Gate on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Visit the Lemnis Gate website at: https://www.lemnisgategame.com/