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.

Atari’s Yars: Recharged Gets a Launch Date and New Teaser Trailer

It’s nearly time to go bug-wild, as Atari has announced an August 23, 2022, launch date for Yars: Recharged, the latest entry in the publisher’s popular Atari Recharged series. Complementing the announcement, Atari has also dropped a brand new teaser trailer depicting the game’s entrancing bullet hell gameplay and neo-retro aesthetic.

Yars: Recharged is coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Switch, Atari VCS, Stadia, and PC via Steam and the Epic store.

🐝 Yars: Recharged thrusts players to the center of a daring attack against the enemy homeworld, guarded by mechanical hives that pulse deadly cannons and emit flurries of swirling missiles.

🏹 Find pockets of safety amongst the hail of incoming fire, and then dart forward in daring forays to chip away at the enemy’s defenses.

💥 Gather enough energy by destroying enemy shields to power up the massively destructive Zorlon cannon, and use its pulsing, searing blasts of cosmic energy to annihilate enemies.

🎯 Yars: Recharged challenges players to remain acutely aware of visual and audio cues that hint at impending danger and master the smooth flying controls as they navigate increasingly complex levels.

Yars: Recharged and the entirety of the Atari Recharged series is made in collaboration with developers Adamvision Studios and SneakyBox. Award-winning artist and composer Megan McDuffee created the beat-heavy, pulsing original soundtrack. Yars: Recharged will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Switch, Atari VCS, Stadia, and PC via Steam and the Epic store on August 23, 2022.

STARSHIP TROOPERS | On 4K UHD With A Limited Edition Steelbook On November 1

SYNOPSIS

From the bridge of the Fleet Battlestation Ticonderoga, with its sweeping galactic views, to the desolate terrain of planet Klendathu, teeming with shrieking, fire-spitting, brain-sucking special effects creatures, acclaimed director PAUL VERHOEVEN crafts a dazzling epic based on Robert A. Heinlein’s classic sci-fi adventure. CASPER VAN DIEN, DINA MEYER, DENISE RICHARDS, JAKE BUSEY, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, PATRICK MULDOON, and MICHAEL IRONSIDE star as the courageous soldiers who travel to the distant and desolate Klendathu system for the ultimate showdown between the species.

DISC DETAILS & BONUS MATERIALS

  • 4K ULTRA HD DISC
  • Feature presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1
  • Special Feature:
    • NEW: Starship Troopers 25th Anniversary Reunion – an all-new virtual reunion featuring screenwriter Ed Neumeier and actors Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Jake Busey, Patrick Muldoon and Seth Gilliam

 BLU-RAY DISC™

  • Feature presented in High Definition
  • Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio
  • Special Features:
    • Director and Cast Commentary
    • Commentary with Paul Verhoeven and Ed Neumeier
    • FedNet Mode Picture-in-Picture
    • “Death From Above” Documentary
    • “Know Your Foe” Bug Featurettes
    • “The Spaceships from Starship Troopers” Featurette
    • “FX Comparisons” Featurettes
    • Storyboard Comparisons
    • The Making of Starship Troopers
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Screen Tests
    • Scene Deconstructions

CAST AND CREW

Directed By: Paul Verhoeven
Screenplay By: Ed Neumeier
Based on the Book By: Robert Heinlein
Produced by: Alan Marshall, Jon Davison
Cast: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Muldoon and Michael Ironside

SPECS

Run Time: Approx. 129 minutes
Rating: R for graphic sci-fi violence and gore, and for some language and nudity
4K UHD Feature Picture: 2160p Ultra High Definition, 1.85:1
4K UHD Feature Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible) | English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened Announced

Ukrainian developer Frogwares has revealed their new game – Sherlock Holmes The Awakened – will be a full remake and substantial rewrite of their 2006 release of the same name. Previously teased under the name Project Palianytsia, The Awakened is a dark, HP Lovecraft-inspired story infused with the narrative arc of a young Sherlock Holmes taking on his first big case once he settled in London.

The Awakened will be coming to PC, PS4, PS5, XB1, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch with a Kickstarter campaign set to launch soon to help secure the game’s final production funds and offer fans a few more bonuses and rewards for supporting the studio at a time when their country is at war.

The first official trailer, a video update from the team, and more details about gameplay mechanics will be released alongside the start of the Kickstarter campaign. For now, the team are sharing the first screenshots, extensive details on what the game is and are asking fans to opt into observing the Kickstarter campaign to be notified once it goes live.

What is this game about?

The Awakened remake sees a young Sherlock take on his first major case alongside his newly acquainted sidekick, John Watson. What seems like a straightforward case of a missing person quickly spirals into a web of conspiracies by a nefarious cult that worships the eldritch god Cthulhu and are attempting to bring about an ancient prophecy. The game will take the detective duo across 4 locations – Victorian London, a Swiss psych ward, the New Orleans bayous, and the Scottish Highlands – as they try to separate reality from the supernatural while trying to put a stop to these shadowy madmen.

Why Are We Making This Game Now?

The idea of using the unsettling and horror-filled events in The Awakened to continue our young Sherlock arc has been floating around the studio for a while. The supernatural, all-consuming cosmic horror setting and gameplay work extremely well as a monumental, life-altering moment in Sherlock’s formative years. Something that tops what we already did in Sherlock Holmes Chapter One and lets us continue our creative take on what Sherlock could have experienced to become such a broken and haunted genius. The story is also set up well as a great opportunity to give our take on how the profound bond between Holmes and Watson could have cemented itself. It’s something we intentionally didn’t cover in Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, but a part of the Holmes story we knew we’d like to one day cover. A profound and haunting experience that essentially brings them together. “

“So we’ve always wanted to remake this game at some point, but the war has forced us into making it now. By working on a title that has the bulk of its content, scope and narrative all locked in place after just a few weeks, we are giving ourselves a much more predictable and structured development cycle. And stability and predictability is exactly what we need right now while the rest of our days remain so uncertain.” – Denys Chebotarov, Producer, Frogwares

What is being remade?

“No assets or code are being repurposed from the original game. We are essentially rebuilding the entire game from scratch to run Unreal Engine 4, using all new assets or ones we can cleverly rework from Sherlock Holmes Chapter One which came out only a few months ago. We’re also adding entirely new gameplay mechanics while reworking the original ones to expand the ways players will be solving the cases. The changes to the story and timeline mean entirely new voice acting will be recorded. We’re also reworking the camera to feel like modern third-person perspective games, remaking all of the UI, animations, cutscenes. The list goes on. It’s essentially an entirely new game with only the underlying story in the cases staying more or less intact” – Jaroslav Martyniuk, Feature Designers Team Lead, Frogwares

A list of the major changes to The Awakened include:

  • All new graphics and assets made in Unreal Engine 4
  • New and redone animations
  • Full cutscene overhauls
  • Additional investigation gameplay mechanics
  • Rewriting the story to connect with the case from The Awakened to a younger Sherlock
  • Amplifying the story behind how Watson and Holmes came to be so close
  • Minor story rewrites to the cases
  • Additional side quests
  • New English voice-over recordings and translations into multiple languages
  • UI overhaul
  • Change to contemporary 3rd person perspective camera
  • Additional quality of life features

What is Being Rewritten?

The original Sherlock Holmes The Awakened was a standalone story with a mature Holmes and Watson taking on a case of what seemed like a simple kidnapping but turns into something much more supernatural and sinister.  We’re extremely proud of the original writing in The Awakened which over many years seems to hold up as quite a few fans and critics have told us that they consider it one of the best Cthulhu-inspired game stories out there.”

“So we are taking this foundation and keeping much of the horror, Cthulhu storyline intact but rewriting it to be a direct continuation of our young Sherlock history. Most notably we’re shifting the timeline so it’s Sherlock, a few years after the events that took place on Cordona. Watson is at his side but they are just acquaintances at this point and this is their first major case together. Much of the character interactions and lines are being rewritten to reflect this. We’re making some changes to the stories in the cases as well as some entirely new side quests. The story of how the bond between Holmes and Watson could have formed is being amplified in the writing now as well as changes to the ending to line up with all this and the psychological impact the events would have on both of them.” – Antonina Melnykova, Lead Narrative Designer, Frogwares

Why Are We Doing Crowdfunding?

“Under normal circumstances, we would secure the funding for our next game ourselves from the sales of our previous titles. But this war is continually throwing new challenges at us that each time requires we stop, regroup and adapt. This takes time, effort, and in some cases money that would normally be marked to fund the production of a game.”

“We have the bulk of the content, new features, and storyline all mapped out and locked in.  But we have rewritten the original story a fair bit and plan to use all-new voice acting so we need to now record and also translate all this from scratch. As the plan is to launch the game on five platforms, we will also need extensive QA time and resources. And lastly, the team has additional features and enhancement ideas that we would like to consider adding if we were to have additional resources.”

“Through crowdfunding, we can secure all these needs and also safeguard the overall funding of the game, knowing full well we now have the guaranteed means to finish the game and handle any hurdles we could face as this war evolves. This safety net will allow us to put our team’s needs and safety first as we adapt further without derailing the entire development and funding.”

“And lastly, we also know we have a group of dedicated fans who enjoy and support our games and want to help us as best as they can right now. Through Kickstarter, we can offer these fans the chance to buy our next game now and be rightfully credited for their support in the game itself while also helping to determine some of the game’s final content and giving them a few extra rewards and bonuses.”  – Sergey Oganesyan, Comms Lead, Frogwares

ZOR Is A Dark Struggle For Survival With A Hella Cute Paint Job

Developer Righteous Hammer Games is excited to announce the Early Access release of ZOR: Pilgrimage of the Slorfs, coming to Steam August 30, 2022. ZOR is a mash-up of genres that come together to create a challenging and innovative experience for strategy fans.

Features: 

  • Tabletop-inspired turn-based deck builder with eye-catching 3D graphics
  • Terrain, traps, enemies and auras create fresh tactical puzzles each turn that reward mastery over metagaming
  • Hundreds of cards with a variety of uses, including harvesting, attacking, movement, building, buffs and more
  • Use experience to upgrade cards to more powerful versions, and expand your deck through exploration and crafting
  • Procedural maps, strategic choices, and endless deck combinations, no two games will ever be the same

In ZOR, players are tasked with protecting the Slorfs, alien creatures on a perilous journey to uncover the truth behind the star god Zor. Travel across hex-grids using a deck of cards, collecting resources and attacking vicious enemies along the way. Players must think carefully about every move to prevent the Slorfs from meeting an untimely demise. Picking up a branch can be beneficial when back at camp, but it could come at the expense of an enemy attack.

ZOR allows players to build powerful decks with over 100 cards to craft or upgrade. Use cards to move, attack, and harvest resources on the board. Slorfs need food and water to survive, which are depleted each time a card is played. Supplies can be replenished by harvesting certain items during battle, or by resting at camp. A Slorf’s health, however, is finite, and if they run out, they’ll perish for good. A delicate balance between survival and combat makes for a unique and high stakes tactical experience.

After the Slorfs have beaten the bad guys, they can take a much-needed rest by making camp. This is where players can cash in XP for upgrades and craft items to improve the Slorf’s quality of life. Special cards can also be crafted.

For more updates follow the game on Twitter and keep an eye on the Steam page for announcements prior to ZOR’s release on August 30.

WARNER BROS. GAMES ANNOUNCES MULTIVERSUS OPEN BETA IS AVAILABLE NOW

Warner Bros. Games today announced the Open Beta for MultiVersus, the all-new free-to-play platform fighter videogame in development by Player First Games, is now available in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Players in these regions can now download the game on PlayStation®5 (PS5™) and PlayStation®4 (PS4™) consoles, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One consoles, and PC, with full cross-play support and dedicated server-based rollback netcode for robust online competition.

MultiVersus brings together a variety of beloved heroes and personalities to team up with or compete against in epic battles, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn (DC); Shaggy and Velma (Scooby-Doo); Bugs Bunny and Tasmanian Devil a.k.a. Taz (Looney Tunes); Arya Stark (Game of Thrones); Tom & Jerry (Tom and Jerry); Jake the Dog and Finn the Human (Adventure Time); Steven Universe and Garnet (Steven Universe); Iron Giant (The Iron Giant); LeBron James (Space Jam: A New Legacy); Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith (Rick and Morty); an extraordinary original creature named Reindog; and many more to come.

Featuring matches with a strong focus on cooperative gameplay, every fighter is outfitted with a deep set of combat mechanics that distinguish the game’s fresh take on 2 vs. 2 gameplay. This allows combatants to boast customizable movesets that combine dynamically with other characters as they battle for supremacy. From Wonder Woman and her Lasso of Truth attack unexpectedly paired with Shaggy and his sandwich projectile, to Arya Stark’s face-swapping ability complementing Superman’s laser vision, the impossible can become possible through surprising team combinations and matchups.

Players have a number of ways to experience MultiVersus, including the 2 vs. 2 team-based cooperative mode, 1 vs. 1 matches, 4-player free-for-all, co-op vs. A.I. matches, custom online lobbies, The Lab (practice mode), tutorials, and local play matches supporting up to four competitors. The game’s fun filled multiplayer bouts can be set against the backdrop of various reimagined environments from awe-inspiring worlds, such as the Batcave (DC), Tree Fort (Adventure Time), Scooby’s Haunted Mansion (Scooby-Doo), Sky Arena (Steven Universe), and other recognizable locales.

MultiVersus Founder’s Packs are currently available for purchase via the Standard, Deluxe, and Premium Editions including different levels of in-game content. For more information, visit MultiVersus.com/Founders-Pack. Additionally, a Preseason Battle Pass is currently available allowing players to complete challenges and unlock in-game rewards. There is a free option open for all players and a premium option requiring an in-game purchase to participate. The Preseason Battle Pass is live now through Aug. 8, followed by a full Season 1 Battle Pass beginning Aug. 9. All player progression and rewards unlocked will be retained through the life of the game.

For additional information about MultiVersus, visit MultiVersus.com or join the community conversation on Twitter (@MultiVersus), YouTube (MultiVersus), Instagram (MultiVersusGame), Facebook (MultiVersus), and Discord (MultiVersus).

Hunt: Showdown’s “Serpent Moon” Event Starts Today

Hunt: Showdown‘s biggest-ever live event, “Serpent Moon,” starts today on PC and consoles. Running for 60 days, the event features “Viper,” a brand-new evolving Legendary Hunter, plus new gameplay, additional story, and much more.

Running for 60 days until September 25, the “Serpent Moon” live event brings a supernatural infestation of snakes to the bayou. Deadly serpents appear in snake dens throughout the bayou, and players must capture snakes and sacrifice them on altars. However, these snakes will attack Hunters if they make too much noise on their approach, so players must balance the reward of greater event points, and greater rewards, for looting and sacrificing snakes against a lower amount of event points for simply destroying them.

Hunters will be able to equip three new Event Traits to help them. “Beastface” reduces the reaction range of snakes, allowing players to get closer. “Serpent” increases the distance at which snake sacrifices can be made, and “Poison Sense” will identify nearby poisoned players when using Dark Sight. Players will also be rewarded for investigating event clues and rifts, eliminating bosses and more.

Weapons and Blood Bonds are just some of the rewards up for grabs in the event, which continues the narrative from the previous “Traitor’s Moon” live event. After events unfold in the bayou during the event, audiobooks will be released on popular streaming platforms and Hunt‘s social media channels so fans can listen to the story, too.

All players who join the “Serpent Moon” event will be able to play with a new Legendary Hunter, “Viper.” In a first for Hunt, this unique character will visually evolve through different stages as players progress. The number of stages Viper will evolve through depends on the player’s chosen pathway. A new battle pass system – “The Gilded Path” – will enable gamers to choose from free, standard, and premium pathways. 

The free option offers two stages of Viper’s progression, plus the opportunity to earn weapons and Blood Bonds during the event. The standard Gilded Path battle pass provides everything in the free tier, four stages of Viper’s evolution to experience, more weapons and rewards to unlock, and Blood Bond cashback. The premium Gilded Path tier offers everything from the standard Gilded Path option plus 3,000 Event points to speed up progress. Whichever pathway players choose, they are guaranteed two new weapons: the Romero 77 Alamo “Coluber” shotgun and the “Snakeshot” Sparks Pistol!

All players can earn up to 11 rewards during the 60 days of the “Serpent Moon.” Boosters, Blood Bonds, and weapons are up for grabs, including the “Antosha” Caldwell Conversion Chain Pistol and the “Lucidus” Vetterli 71 Karabiner Silencer. Players who choose to play with the standard and premium Gilded Path battle pass will be able to unlock a further 17 rewards, including the new “Snake Oil Ward” antidote shot and the Winfield M1873 Swift rifle “Slither.”

Launching alongside the Serpent Moon event on Steam is a ‘Serpent Moon’ bundle, which includes “They Came from Salem” and the brand-new DLC “The Prescient” – which when players play as these Hunters they will benefit from an event point boost – plus new Legendary Weapons. Players can receive a further event boost with three new Event Traits that can be stacked with the activation of new Mr. Chary’s Contracts.

Hunt: Showdown is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Players can find out more about the latest live event and the game by visiting www.huntshowdown.com.

Train Valley Console Edition Launches Today on All Consoles

BlitWorks Games is happy to announce that Train Valley – Console Edition is out today on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles at a price of 11.99 USD | EUR. This is the ultimate version of the first installment of the praised train traffic management series that has been receiving fantastic user reviews on Steam, as it has been constant updates and improvements since it first launched on PC. Players will go through campaigns in Europe, Americas, Japan, the URSS and this edition also includes the German DLC, that starts with the I World War and goes to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the modern Frankfurt Airport.

GAME FEATURES

  • Build railroads in order to connect cities, tunnels and bridges. New railways are cheap when laid across bare fields, but can be expensive when demolishing forests, villages and other existing structures.
  • Manage increasing traffic by constructing switches, sidings and spurs so that multiple trains can run without delays, at the same time.
  • Stay accident-free by precisely controlling trains during crucial moments, using pause for planning (you can build railways and schedule trains while on pause).
  • Play through 5 seasons: Europe (1830–1980), America (1840–1960), USSR (1880–1980), Japan (1900–2020) and Germany (1830-2020).
  • Complete the story mode featuring such real-life events as the Gold Rush of 1849, the construction of the Florida Overseas Railroad, World War II, the Cold War, the launch of the first manned space flight Vostok 1, the fall of the Berlin Wall and more.
  • Explore the game in different game modes: in story mode (5-10 minutes), in random mode (15-20 minutes – the level looks and develops differently every time you launch) or in sandbox-like mode (can be turned on for both story and random modes. It allows you to play without time and money limits).
  • Discover 30 types of trains – from early steam-powered locomotives to modern high-speed trains, driving 18 types of cars – from old-time passenger cars to hoppers and cisterns and to military-use tank and gun platforms.

Toplitz Productions Secures Rights To Survival Adventure SERUM

Toplitz Productions proudly announces its cooperation with the Polish development studio Game Island. With their latest title SERUM, the ambitious and experienced team presents a survival-fest in a class of its own. A green liquid, an eerie world and lots of time pressure characterize the fascinating and promising game concept.

 “We are delighted to have found a partner in Game Island, who is investing so much heart and soul and creativity in the project, and we are looking forward to the next development steps with great anticipation,” explains Matthias Wünsche, CEO Toplitz Productions. “SERUM with its special features fits perfectly into our portfolio and will serve a new, expanded target group alongside Dynasty Games and the Giant Series.”

 “We are glad that we’ve found a well-established and trustworthy partner in Toplitz Productions. With their publishing experience, Serum will have a chance to reach a worldwide audience. There has been an excellent understanding between our companies right from our first talk about the game”, says Michal Ojrzynski – CEO Game Island.

The release of SERUM is scheduled for the end of 2023. Until then, Toplitz Productions and Game Island will introduce players step-by-step to the warped world where the green liquid is the most precious commodity and the race against time ensures survival!

Twin-stick shooter Aniquilation releases today

R-Next and Gamera Games announce that its twin stick shooter Aniquilation is now available on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch for $14.99 / €12,99. Play solo, in couch co-op or in PVP battles in a hectic title that will challenge you to use the environment as a weapon. Each planet featured in more than 30 levels has a different flavor, making each one of them feel unique. Terraform planets, upgrade your ship and find the ultimate weapon, the Aniquilation, to finally solve a mystery that almost led your civilization to extinction.

The IQ metal, the energy source that powered your civilization, has vanished and you need to find an alternative through the galaxy. But things don’t go as expected. Traveling through the universe you will find out that the IQ metal isn’t as good as you believed. Instead, you will hear about the ultimate weapon, one called Aniquilation, that could help your species forever.

KEY FEATURES

  • Enjoy a hectic twin stick shooter for more than 30 levels
  • Use the environment in creative ways to destroy your enemies: throw or reflect elements on the surface to clear the surface of any threat
  • Play solo or with friends in five game modes: story, defend the base (protect your bases and destroy your enemy’s), goal (score more goals than your opponent), contagion (the player that spends less time infected wins) and free for all (finish your rival and its buildings)
  • Choose between different ships, each with its unique set of abilities and skills. Unlock and upgrade new ships as you move forward

Aniquilation lets players engage in a 3D twin stick shooter that will allow them to use the environment as a weapon. Terraform some planets; use their buildings, elements, and infrastructures as weapons; unlock and upgrade new ships with different skills and abilities as you move forward. Aniquilation also features five different game modes that can be played alone or with friends.