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.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space Remastered out today for Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Steam

Kick off the holidays Sam & Max-style with Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space, a newly remastered version of Telltale’s Sam & Max Season Two, now available for $19.99 USD or equivalent.

Join the Freelance Police on a bizarre adventure from the North Pole to the Fountain of Youth, from outer space to Hell and back. Zombies will dance. Mariachis will sing. A giant battle robot will trash the streets. And when their friends’ lives are on the line, Sam & Max will risk their very souls to set things right.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space is a five-episode comedy game that won Adventure Game of the Year nods from IGN, PC Gamer, and Adventure Gamers when it debuted in 2007/2008. The remastered version has overhauled lighting and graphics, re-encoded audio, eight new musical tracks, and a ton of tweaks, enhancements, and Easter eggs. This Steam post has an overview of the updates.

Save 25% on Both Sam & Max Remasters on Steam
Through December 21, a bundle of both Sam & Max remasters is 25% off on Steam. If you already own Sam & Max Save the World on Steam, you can buy this bundle to complete the set and save 25% on Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space. If you don’t own either remaster yet, the bundle will give you 25% off both games.

Store Pages

LIFE IS STRANGE: TRUE COLORS OUT NOW DIGITALLY ON NINTENDO SWITCH

SQUARE ENIX Ltd. has today digitally released Life is Strange: True Colors™, the latest entry in the critically acclaimed Life is Strange series, on Nintendo Switch. The game will also release physically on February 25, 2022.

The Switch edition of Life is Strange: True Colors has been optimized for the platform with enhanced visuals and performance capabilities, allowing players to become completely immersed in the supernatural mystery that was recently awarded the Golden Joystick for Best Narrative in a game.

In this award-winning narrative adventure, players take on the role of Alex Chen, a young woman with the secret ability to absorb and manipulate the strong emotions of others. When her brother dies in a so-called accident, she must embrace her volatile power to find the truth — and reveal dark secrets buried by the town.

Life is Strange: True Colors has also been nominated for Best Performance, Best Narrative, and Games for Impact by The Game Awards panel of video game industry news organizations. Winners will be announced during the live and streaming show December 9.

Read more on the Life is Strange website: https://lifeisstrange.square-enix-games.com

Raw Fury’s Mecha-Anime RPG “Wolfstride” Out Today

Brazilian indie collective OTA IMON Studios and publisher Raw Fury have today released Wolfstride, the retina-melting, black-and-white, narrative mecha RPG, on Steam for $14.99.

Wolfstride is a role-playing game about three former partners-in-crime arriving at a turning point in their lives. When they inherit a junkyard mecha called Cowboy, they reunite to enter the planet’s most elite mecha competition: the Ultimate Golden God Tournament.

With each member lending their unique abilities to the team – dog-mechanic Duque, mecha pilot Knife Leopard, and jack-of-all-trades Dominique Shade – they’ll have to take on and outwit the best mecha opponents in turn-based combat. What begins as a simple mission to make money gradually unfolds into a deep, slow-burning exploration of their complex lives, the dark choices of their past, and their inevitable fate with the future of the world hanging in the balance!

Wolfstride is available at a 10% discount at launch and features full English-language VO with subtitles available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Simplified Chinese. Japanese subtitles will arrive next year.

Serious Sam 4 Gives The Gift Of Carnage On PlayStation 5 & Xbox Series X|S Today

No holiday season is complete without open hostilities and a guy wearing a dirty white vest on TV, so Croteam and Devolver Digital have duly unleashed the high-powered prequel Serious Sam 4 on PlayStation 5 & Xbox Series X|S today, gifting players around the world an ammo-stuffed pièce de résistance with a side helping of chaos.

Humanity is under siege as the full force of Mental’s hordes spreads across the world, ravaging what remains of a broken and beaten civilization. The last remaining resistance to the invasion is the Earth Defense Force led by the ever-dependable blue-collar grunt Sam “Serious” Stone and his heavily-armed squad of misfit commandos.

It’s time to make these alien assholes pay.

Check out serioussam.com for even more Sam.

Stunning Cinematic Platformer White Shadows Out Now

Thunderful Publishing, Mixtvision & Monokel are pleased to announce that cinematic puzzle platformer White Shadows is out now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC for $19,99 / €19.99 / £16.99. Step into a rich and atmospheric world where you play as a little Ravengirl trying to escape a brutal dystopia founded on propaganda that puts her at the bottom of its hierarchical social ladder.

White Shadows’ striking architectural forms and stunning monochrome art style combine to create a world of tragic beauty. It’s a world where the lies of the elite are plastered across its walls, where twisted forms of entertainment are used to keep everyone in their place, and where hope seems in short supply.

Composed of a vast network of towers rising from the void of post-catastrophe darkness into the sky above, the city our young heroine seeks to escape is a dangerous place to be. She will have to find ways to avoid the teeth of machinery primed to grind her into dust, leap across rickety infrastructure that bridges the cavernous darkness all around and avoid the watchful eyes of guards ready to gun her down. She will travel to the city’s brightest highs and delve to its darkest depths on her journey, discovering her destiny among the last free people alive.

“It’s been a long road to get to this point and we couldn’t be more happy that people are finally going to be able to get to play the game we’ve been working so hard on,” said Daniel Wagner, creative director and co-founder at Monokel. “We can’t wait to see what people make of White Shadows and how they connect with the impactful experience we are trying to deliver.”

Call of Duty: Vanguard – Ultimate Edition Review – PC & PS5

Welcome to another yearly installment in our Call of Duty review series.  These reviews, much like the game, have taken on a Mad Libs style of design where I simply plug in a few variables and generate a review.  After all, if the designers can’t be bothered to come up with something remotely original why should I?  This is an “off year” release for the franchise, as Call of Duty: Vanguard was developed by Sledgehammer, the arguable B-team of alternating studios, and it clearly shows; especially when compared to last year’s Black Ops: Cold War game.  Vanguard falls short in just about every way from technical presentation to game design that has been stripped down to something that can only be described as disappointing.

Call of Duty has clearly become a live service product, as noted by the introductory hub that offers up the last four games including Warzone.  Finding the Vanguard option on the far left, you are given options for campaign, multiplayer, and zombies; pretty standard stuff.  For the purpose of this dual format review I played the campaign to completion on the PS5 but only made it to the third chapter on the PC (Stalingrad) due to horrible screen tearing that was making me motion sick.  So far, nothing we have tried eliminates this screen tearing at either a software or hardware level.  It happening on three very different computers using an RTX3080 and an RTX3090 card.  V-sync in the game and the video card settings does nothing, nor does changing resolution or quality settings.  Sadly, all of our multiplayer coverage including Zombies was going to be based on Mitch’s review of the PC version, so at this time our review is only going to cover the campaign.  We hope to update our coverage once the PC version becomes “playable”.

Thankfully, the PS5 is immune to the screen tearing, offering up a visually pleasing experience with slightly less detail, dynamically reduced resolution, and a few noticeable cuts in special effects and texture quality.  An early and obvious example happens in the second mission after you bail out of a plane and are sneaking through a dark forest.  Distant AA fire lights up the night sky, creating these gorgeous god rays that streak through the trees on PC, while the PS5 merely brightens the scenery without the directional lighting.  Most of the sacrifices on the PS5 are superficial and stuff you wouldn’t even notice unless you were playing them side by side looking for them.

One thing I was expecting on the PS5 was the haptic feedback that really made last year’s Cold War game unique with its variable trigger resistance across the different guns along with the powerful rumble effects for explosions and such.  My hands, or at least my trigger finger, would literally get too sore to play after about two hours.  While there are rumble and haptic toggles in the PS5 options menu they seem to do nothing.  Aside from some slight rumble during the more extreme moments in the game there was no resistance in the triggers and no direct feedback when wielding the larger weapons like the MG42.  The PC version using my Elite II gamepad had slightly better rumble effects; more obvious and effective than the PS5 but still rather generic.

Call of Duty has always offered up a great story/campaign mode, except for the one year they didn’t.  Vanguard is all over the place with its story, both in structure and pacing.  There is no real linear narrative; rather you start the game with a very exciting train mission stripped right from Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, followed by an assault on a submarine base that ends with one team member dead and the rest tossed into a holding cell at Nazi HQ.  For the rest of the game leading up to the final mission you will get to play out the origin stories for the surviving members of Vanguard, as each is interrogated by the SS as to their knowledge of Project Phoenix.

This leads to a rather sporadic gameplay experience where you don’t play any one character long enough to truly care about them.  It does offer the unique ability to present key WWII battle moments spanning multiple locations and times during the war.  One minute you are sneaking through a frozen Stalingrad and the next you are sweating away in the African desert going up against Rommel’s tank forces or dive bombing a Japanese aircraft carrier in the Battle of Midway.  There are admittedly a lot of thrilling moments throughout Vanguard but nothing seems to gel or come together as one cohesive story.

Part of the pacing issue has to do with the abundance of cutscenes, all of which are excellent quality and tell their compelling part of the overall story, but overwhelm the gameplay with their constant interruptions to the point where you often toss your controller in despair and go make some popcorn.  Looking at the chapter breakdown there are 18 selectable thumbnails, half of which are filmstrip icons indicating a story break.  And this doesn’t even factor in the in-game cutscenes where more exposition is delivered during lengthy, scripted, non-interactive moments.  To make matters worse, the major cutscenes are pre-rendered and displayed at a locked 24fps, which can be very jarring after playing the game at 60fps.

Another limiting factor is the lack of any hidden intel hidden throughout the game that would incentivize replaying levels or even exploring beyond the narrow linear path you’re meant to follow.  With the exception of the expansive post office level that feels more like a multiplayer battle arena, most missions keep you locked on a very strict path leading to compact encounters and scripted action sequences.  Since there is no intel and no reason to explore the level designers weren’t compelled to create anything beyond the intended path, almost giving Vanguard an on-rails feel.

Arguably, most people who play Call of Duty aren’t here for the campaign.  Sadly, I gave up on having any sort of fun with the multiplayer modes that have since become so monetized and live-service oriented, and even the zombie mode has been slipping over the years.  I dabble with each new installment during the pre-release betas and pretty much get my fill of the immature community and cookie-cutter game design, which this year has been stripped down to the bare basics.  Hopefully, Sledgehammer can fix their v-sync issues so my PC reviewer can complete his coverage on the various multiplayer modes including zombies, otherwise I may have to suck it up and give the online modes of the PS5 version a shot.

Call of Duty has been slipping over the years and now I hear this is the worst selling installment in 14 years.  Sadly, I’m not surprised.  With a disappointing campaign where you watch as much as you play and stripped down multiplayer and stale Nazi zombies, Vanguard truly is the icing on the expired cake of Activision’s day-old bakery.  Hopefully Activision starts to realize that we don’t need yearly rushed and incomplete installments, and fans are perfectly happy to wait for quality.  Just look at Halo Infinite.  I guess we’ll have to wait until next November to see if Activision gets the message. Until then, keep on soldiering and hopefully we’ll be back with a multiplayer update soon.

If you want to see Vanguard in action check out the first 90-minutes of the game in our PS5 First-Look video.

MORE SCREENS

Demo available for action roguelike Loot River

straka.studio with the help from SUPERHOT PRESENTS and Slovak Arts Council have today released a demo for their upcoming island-shifting action-roguelike Loot River. Slated for a release next year on PC and Xbox platforms, Loot River lets players journey down an otherworldly river in search of knowledge and loot! The demo is now available on Xbox.com and Steam.

Set in a series of procedurally-generated labyrinths, 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.

This demo allows players to play through the tutorial and two shorter levels. While the full game will be procedurally-generated, this demo is locked to one seed to merely give players a taste of Loot River’s unique isle-shifting mechanic and combat system.

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.

Loot River won’t be out until 2022, but I wanted to give players a chance to check out what makes it such a unique spin on the roguelike genre ahead of time,” said Miro Straka. “The full game will have loads more biomes, bosses, monsters, upgrades, and procedurally-generated dungeons – a feature disabled in this demo to not give away too much. We’d love to hear people’s feedback on it now, to ensure that Loot River is as polished as possible when it launches next year on Xbox and PC.”

How about a Scarf for Christmas?

Discover your true destiny as you explore beautifully crafted worlds. Although pretty, these worlds have been altered in various ways. Something or someone is hiding the truth. What can you see on the horizon? What will the dawn of a new day bring? Zero-in on what’s really going on in SCARF!

During your adventures in SCARF, you will have to solve all kinds of increasingly complex puzzles, overcome daunting obstacles and discover gorgeous new places, using interesting mechanics. Take your time and ease your breath in this wild world, do not fear the puzzles and challenges as the game mechanics are quite forgiving.

Create a bond with the SCARF and unlock new abilities that will allow you to master exceedingly difficult platforming challenges. Glide, hook and slingshot your way through this fantastical world of wonders.

Features:

  • A journey for all ages with multiple narrative levels
  • Beautiful scenarios
  • A stunning art style
  • A mysterious polymorphic scarf in the shape of a dragon
  • Unravel an alternate ending, depending on the player’s exploration
  • Adaptive orchestral music
  • A magical world with a legendary mythology
  • Exploration, puzzles and platforms that make for an adventure worth remembering

The gorgeous and exciting 3D single-player adventure platformer takes you on a wholesome journey. Give yourself or a loved one a treat. SCARF is coming to you on 23rd December 2021 on Steam and GOG! 

And to remember that you are not alone out there in these troubling times, we think it is essential for the community to have access to good quality games at a reasonable price. Therefore the full game will have a 10% launch discount.

THE FULL MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy Saga Now Complete With Release of Final Volume

Leading video game publisher and developer BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. has launched Vol.3 of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy, the concluding chapter of the all-new story arc set in the legendary sci-fi universe, in the Americas on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.

As a multipart story told through three volumes, the MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy saga is now complete with the dramatic conclusion of Vol. 3 available for all Mobile Suit Gundam pilots to experience. Players who purchase the Standard Edition of Code Fairy will gain access to all three volumes of the game, in addition, those who purchase the Deluxe Edition of Code Fairy will receive access for up to eight exclusive Mobile Suits from Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation 2. All three volumes are also available for individual purchase.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy tells an original story surrounding the “Noisy Fairy” – a secret unit led by Alma and under the direct control of Kycilia of the Principality of Zeon. During the “One Year War,” the unit struggles to break through into the continent of North America which is where the game’s story picks up. MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy is a tale of unbreakable bonds formed in the midst of the brutality of war.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy builds upon the world established by the free-to-play action title MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION 2, even unlocking special Code Fairy-themed rewards and items in BATTLE OPERATIONS 2 for players who progress within Code Fairy. Additionally, MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION 2 players can unlock a special Code Fairy themed mission through gameplay progression.

For more information regarding MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM BATTLE OPERATION Code Fairy, please visit: https://www.bandainamcoent.com/games/gbocodefairy.