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The Pathless Review – PC

The Pathless knows that you’ve played Breath of the Wild. Its stunning visuals and fully orchestrated soundtrack scream the influence of Nintendo’s beloved series, so much so, that you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the latest entry in The Legend of Zelda. The looks and sounds may drag you in, but the feel, specifically the fluid motion of the protagonist, will drive an arrow through your heart and drive you to explore every nook and cranny of its vast forest map.

As a master archer, you are tasked with saving an island from a dark curse that has corrupted its inhabitants. It’s nothing new to adventure games, but that doesn’t cheapen the overall experience. The story is minimalistic with an occasional cutscene and exchanges of dialogue. Developer, Giant Squid, decided to let the world tell its own story. Bodies around the world provide a small glimpse into the island before your arrival. On one occasion, I read about the slaughter of a whole monastery. To my surprise, I happened upon that monastery and those who would call it their final resting place. Later on, I would find myself in the skeleton of a giant lizard, who just so happened to swallow a temple. It’s small moments like these and the fact that you can miss them that make the island feel alive.

This island is huge, spread across four biomes that include a thick jungle, vast plains, and the deepest snow valley I’ve seen in a game. As you traverse villages, ruins, and other structures, you’ll work to avoid the area’s boss, as they hunt you in the shape of a giant red orb. These moments are scary. While I never had one interrupt a puzzle, there would be a few times where I would be caught off guard while admiring something in the distance. Getting caught starts a difficult-to-win stealth section. There isn’t much lost if you fail these sections, so they’re only mildly annoying.

I originally was worried that traversing each area would be tedious, as the archer is only equipped with a bow and her eagle companion. I could not have been more wrong. Your character is given boosts that can be filled by shooting talismans spread around the island. The inclusion of auto-aim makes moving around the island fluid and easily the most fun to be had in the game. Your eagle adds depth to the movement, giving you boosts into the air to help gain access to new areas. There’s also the pet button. Time and time again your eagle will be corrupted by the darkness of the world. The only way to heal her is with pets. While it is a small addition, it gives you the opportunity to slow down and take in the environment around you.

You have one objective with each area, beat the boss. To do so you’ll have to find numerous lightstones around the island. With no world map or markers present, you will rely on spirit vision to help you find your way. Spirit vision (think detective view from Arkham Asylum) gives you hints on where to find stones. With the lightstones in hand, you’ll liberate the three towers in each area and then will face the area’s boss. This loop in each area can get repetitive. The discoverability can help break this up a bit, but if you’re streamlining to get through to each boss, you’ll likely feel some fatigue. This ultimately doesn’t take away from the awesomeness that is the boss sections.

Each boss fight is broken down into three sections. The chase, the fight, and the finishing blow. If you can only experience one moment in The Pathless, please let it be the chase. As you enter the final lair of an area, the boss takes off and you are forced to give chase, using everything you’ve learned and the talisman around you to stop and corner the big chicken. With the chase, I don’t hesitate to draw comparisons to Wander climbing giants in Shadow of the Colossus in reference to the scope and the awe you feel in the moment. Each fight also evokes more Zelda comparisons, especially from Majora’s Mask in reference to the darkness and the warped state of each boss. The fight and the finishing blow for each boss bring something interesting to the table, but they fail to live up to the excitement brought on by the chase.

The Pathless makes you want to run through its world as fast as you can. It also makes you want to stop and take in as many moments as you can. I say do both. And dang it, pet the bird!

The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes Review – PC

I love a good scary game and Supermassive Games has been delivering some great interactive narratives ever since Until Dawn back in 2015.  Borrowing heavily on the design elements of that fantastic horror adventure, The Dark Pictures Anthology was born just four years later with a new series of cinematic games kicking off with Man of Medan followed by Little Hope a year later and now House of Ashes this October.  All of these games, including Until Dawn, follow the same basic structure dealing with a group of people put into dangerous and terrifying situations and you must try to keep as many of them alive as possible as you swap out playing various members of the cast.  The entire thing is “hosted” by the Curator who introduces the story and occasionally reappears to check in and comment on your progress and even offer a hint if needed.

Of the three games released so far Man of Medan remains my favorite to play because of the diverse cast and branching storylines, but when it comes to actual story House of Ashes definitely wins for best narrative.  Set in 2003 we join a group of soldiers in the Gulf War searching for chemical weapons following the capture of Saddam Hussein, but not before a brief and terrifying prologue set 4,000 years prior where we play as a Sumerian temple guard defending against an invading army.  How these two events tie together will quickly be revealed.

I won’t even begin to spoil the adventure ahead because it is full of twists and shocking reveals that genuinely surprised even me.  You’ll get to play as most every member of the cast, experiencing all the relationship drama and claustrophobic terror of being trapped hundreds of feet below the surface while being stalked by bloodthirsty monsters that feed on actual fear.  Prepare for plenty of split-second decisions, QTE’s, and that infamous button-tapping EKG.  With multiple plot paths all leading to an insane climax, how many soldiers can you keep alive?

As expected, House of Ashes maintains that same level of cinematic quality with exciting locations, and a diverse cast of characters all expertly portrayed by actors lending their voices and motion-capture performances to create a truly interactive movie.  My only issue with the game was the character model for Rachel King (Ashly Tisdale) that goes well into “uncanny valley” territory.  Her voice performance was fine, but knowing what Ashly looks like in real-life and seeing this creepy recreation in the game was really distracting; not that having her drenched in Carrie post-prom blood for the final act of the game wasn’t already distracting.

The audio mix for this game is truly terrifying; especially if playing in a surround sound setup or with good headphones.  The screeches and echo location clicking of the monsters had my nerves frazzle throughout most of the game.  The voice acting is outstanding, the music is thrilling, and the entire sound design is worthy of a feature film.

You’ll definitely want to play House of Ashes with a controller, as there are plenty of button-mashing QTE’s that simply don’t work as well with a mouse.  My only issues with controls were the rapid-tap sequences where you have to mash a button to fill up the circle.  This was very difficult to do using my thumb, forcing me to alter my grip on the gamepad and use my index finger.  Another minor annoyance was how the game lulls you into just watching it then suddenly springs a QTE on you with no warning.  The game also has the uncanny ability to know when I am taking a drink or scratching my nose and spring a QTE on me.  Thankfully you can fail a few of these before permanently altering the story.

As with previous games in the anthology House of Ashes can be played alone or with friends both online or in a local party mode for up to five players who all share a controller and play chosen members of the cast.  The online mode is particularly cool because players can be seeing and experiencing their own events simultaneously before coming together in those shared moments of terror.  There are numerous paths to explore and a very clever cinematic credit sequence that recaps your choices and reveals their outcomes at the end.  You’ll definitely want to play this adventure more than once, and there is even a Director’s Cut available to experience even more of the story.

I really enjoyed House of Ashes.  It had some truly terrifying moments, great story reveals, interesting relationship building, and a cinematic quality that you don’t often get in horror adventure games.  A single pass through the story took me just over six hours and only earned me seven of the thirty possible achievements, so there is plenty of incentive to revisit this game in the future and definitely share it with friends.  House of Ashes is definitely an improvement on Little Hope and hopefully a sign of great things to come when the anthology wraps up next year with The Devil In Me.  Until then, I’ve got a lot more adventuring to do.

If you want to see House of Ashes in action, check out our gameplay video for the first two hours of the game with commentary.

MORE SCREENS

Decide A Cyberpunk City’s Fate In This Stylish Narrative Adventure

NeuroNet: Mendax Proxy is set for the Steam Next Fest and before the release of its first public demo, is revealing a stunning cinematic trailer.

NeuroNet is a story-driven adventure that sees players control an enhanced City AI. Your purpose? To aid the citizens of the city of Catena and improve their lives, while making sure the city doesn’t fall apart in the process.

Inspired by the smash-hit, Reigns, players must make quick-fire decisions that impact the future of the city and the prosperity of its citizens. Every choice matters and every decision has a lasting impact on the characters you meet and the wider city status.

From helping jolly Papa Ru to turn his food truck in downtown Shentilar into a successful business, to grander city-wide choices like aiding the politician Denton Talingrey, players will find themselves faced with moral dilemmas, where there are no right choices, just a city in need of direction, with you at the helm.

In this fully voice-acted adventure, you’ll encounter dozens of unique characters, take on thousands of story events, explore multiple endings and a branching narrative that will expose you to a city losing its humanity to technology and ultimately shape the future of this city.

Will your choices allow the city to prosper or set it on a path to ruin?

NeuroNet can be wishlisted now on Steam and the Epic Games Store, and players will be able to explore its world during the Steam Next Fest from October 1-7th. You can find out more about the game in its latest Steam blog: What is NeuroNet?”. 

Key Features

  • Branching Narrative:A ‘Reigns’ inspired branching narrative where player choice directly impacts the story, with some outcomes benefiting the citizens of Catena and others benefitting someone else…
  • Quick Decisions:Characters pose problems that offer quick-fire decisions, but they are deceptively simple and have far-reaching repercussions. Good instincts are required to make the right choice at the right time.
  • Choices That Matter:See the impact of every choice you make as your influence spreads across the city. Analyse reports and read the social media feeds of the population to observe the effects. Throughout the overarching story, your decisions will change the path and decide the outcome.
  • Diverse Cast:Meet and build relationships with 23 diverse and fully voiced characters. Guide each one on their journey as they face the tough challenges life in Catena presents.
  • Compelling Events:Over 5000 story events to experience, each offering choices that affect the characters you meet.
  • Rich Lore:Explore the world of Catena through an expansive digital Codex packed with deep lore, engaging characters, and stunning cyberpunk environments.

Devolver Digital’s Phantom Abyss Braces For Invasion Update Today

Temple plundering asynchronous multiplayer game Phantom Abyss gets overrun by marauding spirits in its latest update, available now on Steam. The Invasion Update ups the ante with new enemies, new relics, more phantoms and even more traps. To usher in this ominous new content, Phantom Abyss is the Steam Weekend Deal from Sept. 23-27 with a 25 percent off discount.

Temples are now a single path toward the Inferno for all who enter, confining every lost soul to start alongside the player from the moment they step inside. Relic Rooms in the Ruins and Caverns now contain multiple relics, but players may find themselves confronted with nothing more than a bag of sand if luckier looters beat them to the prize. However, the Inferno now holds the key to freeing the phantoms and sealing a temple forever.

New obstacles include vertical spinning blades, new rolling log speeds & patterns, new sliding sections and all-new punchy crushers, but that’s not all: Homing Bombs will chase players down and explode on impact, while the devious Defenders will strain against their chains to lash out at anybody clumsy enough to get too close. Floating Bombs and Dart Mines round out the explosive additions to the temples, ensuring each run is more dangerous than ever.

Phantom Abyss will continue to expand throughout Early Access, with new chambers, traps, whips and additional gameplay features added over time. For more information, rope swing over to phantomabyss.com, a website of such historical value it belongs in a museum.

Help Aliens Escape Rural Germany in Plan B From Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey, Coming October 28

There’s nothing worse than your car breaking down in some backwoods, out of the way village far (really, really far) from home — especially when that car is actually a flying saucer! Plan B From Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey, a new interactive adventure from publisher Assemble Entertainment and developer RobotPumpkin Games, is headed to mobile platforms and PC on October 28, 2021! In the game, players will hop into the space-boots of a shipwrecked shapeshifter as they experience Bavarian hospitality first-hand — or tentacle — and try to repair their ship and get the heck off the planet before the cockpit permanently smells of lager and pretzels.

Set in the style of an interactive book — similar to previous RobotPumpkin games like the popular The Innsmouth CasePlan B From Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey is a classic tale of culture shock between two very different demographics. The game will see players designing their very own custom space creature who will attempt to navigate this strange, archaic land filled with lederhosen and lager where every decision can change the outcome of the story!

Inspired by old-school science fiction stories and featuring a hefty dose of poking fun at German village life, players of the game can look forward to beautiful hand-drawn art, endearing characters, and hilarious encounters. The tiny Bavarian town of “Unter-Hinterobersdorf” is calling!

Key Features of Plan B From Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey:

  • “Basic” Bavarians Meet “Extra” Terrestrials: Design your very own cute, cuddly, and conniving space creature with unique features and a touching backstory
  • Make the Right (or Funniest) Decision: With 19 possible endings, every choice matters, which means plenty of trial and error with comedic results
  • Big Brain Blobs: Use those alien wits to solve fun, challenging mini-games and discover handy (or tentacle-y) items to help you escape the savage backwater of Southern Germany
  • Handmade German Craftsmanship: Dozens of beautifully illustrated backgrounds and animated characters breathe life and personality into this perfectly blended sci-fi comedy experience

Developed by Robot Pumpkin Games and published by Assemble Entertainment, Plan B from Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey will launch on Steam, iOS, and Android on October 28, 2021. Learn more and add the game to your Steam wishlist here.

Stay up-to-date with Plan B from Outer Space: A Bavarian Odyssey by following Robot Pumpkin Games on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Follow Assemble Entertainment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and join the official Discord server here.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 Announced

Frontier Developments plc (AIM: FDEV) unveiled today Jurassic World Evolution 2, the much-anticipated sequel to the highly successful Jurassic World Evolution. Based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film franchise and created in collaboration with Universal Games and Digital Platforms, Jurassic World Evolution 2 builds upon the ground-breaking and beloved 2018 dinosaur park management simulation, offering players a thrilling front seat as they take charge of their own Jurassic World park. With a brand-new immersive narrative campaign voiced by cast members from across the Jurassic World film franchise, exciting new features, four engaging game modes, and an enhanced and expanded roster of dinosaurs, Jurassic World Evolution 2 provides fans with everything they need to create authentic and compelling Jurassic World experiences.

In Jurassic World Evolution 2, for the very first time, players will build their parks beyond the confines of the Muertes Archipelago. Each location brings new terrain and fresh challenges for players to contend with using deep, detailed management tools and creative options. Across this range of beautiful new biomes, including dense forests and scorched deserts, they’ll contain, conserve, and care for more than 75 prehistoric species, including all-new, highly requested flying and marine reptiles and returning community-favourite dinosaurs. These majestic prehistoric creatures feel more alive than ever, displaying brand new behaviours as they interact with each other, fight for dominance, and react intelligently to the world around them.

Boasting four fantastic game modes, players can experience a bold new era for the Jurassic World Evolution video game franchise. Set immediately after the Earth-shattering events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Campaign mode lets players immerse themselves in an original Jurassic World story as they lead efforts to control, conserve and contain dinosaurs alongside an iconic cast of characters from the films, including Dr. Ian Malcolm (voiced by Jeff Goldblum) and Claire Dearing (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard).

For those looking to unleash their creativity, Sandbox mode delivers everything players need to create their perfect Park, while Chaos Theory mode offers a re-imagined take on pivotal moments from the Jurassic World film franchise as players strive to make their own mark and change the course of events. Finally, for those that want to test their mastery of the game there is Challenge mode.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 will be launching in late 2021 on PC, PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One.

G FUEL Chili Dogs Energy Drink, Inspired by ‘Sanic’, is Coming to a Green Hill Near You

We all know that Sanic can run up 12 times the speed of light, which is equal to 15 lightspeeds per Sanic. But did you know Sanic is the newest addition racing to the top of G FUEL’s flavor list? Seriously, it’s true. If you’ve ever wanted to drink a chili dog from a G FUEL shaker cup, now’s your chance. As in, join the G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs pre-order waitlist at gfuel.com/sanic-chili-dogs for $39.99 before the waitlist closes forever at 3:00PM ET on April 2nd, 2021.

Developed in partnership with SEGA® of America, Inc., G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs will be available to buy for customers in the U.S. and Canada as a limited-edition Sanic Bundle, which includes a 40-serving Sanic Chili Dogs tub, 16 oz Sanic shaker cup, and an additional 40-serving Sonic’s Peach Rings tub add-on.

“The Sanic meme still cracks us up after all of these years. We’re thrilled to work with SEGA again on our second, and yes, very real, Sonic the Hedgehog-inspired crossover flavor,” said G FUEL Founder and CEO, Cliff Morgan. “If you’re waiting for us to yell ‘April Fools,’ don’t hold your breath. G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs is the real deal.”

G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs is exactly what it sounds like: the world’s first energy drink that tastes like chili dogs. It’s Sanic’s food of choice that gives him the boost he needs. In fact, G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs is sugar-free and loaded with antioxidants from 18 different fruit extracts. A serving of the new flavor has only 15 calories and contains 140 mg of caffeine along with proprietary energy and focus-enhancing complexes. So, it will certainly help you if you “Gotta Go Fast!”

“After the runaway success of the G FUEL Sonic’s Peach rings flavor, SEGA and G FUEL sat in a room together (virtual, of course) to try and figure out how to one-up ourselves. After much deliberation, someone jokingly said, “what about a chilidog flavor?”, to which – we all kind of laughed, and then latched on to its simplistic brilliance. I mean, who doesn’t want to drink a chilidog? Right?” said Michael Cisneros, Manager of Licensing for SEGA of America

Are you ready to wash down G FUEL Sanic Chili Dogs with some water in a Sanic shaker cup and then summon an F5 tornado? Pre-order your G FUEL Sanic Bundle now at gfuel.com/sanic-chili-dogs. The bundle starts shipping this June. Don’t say we didn’t warn you ….

Soccer Adventures Free Demo Release

Today dotparc Gaming Studios released a free demo of the action adventure game Soccer Adventures on Steam for PC. Soccer Adventures is the first indie game developed and published by dotparc Gaming Studios, Austria.

Put on your soccer dress, lace up your soccer shoes, and do not forget your shin guards. Join Robin on his big adventure against the thieving American football team.

The free demo contains the first 4 levels of the game. The full game offers 30 levels plus free updates and more levels for the first 12 month after release.

Soccer Adventures is a single player 3rd person action adventure game. Robin, the hero of the game, loves to play soccer. He is extremely talented and is improving his skills daily. Until one day he realizes that the local American football team has a big secret. Robin watched them as they broke into the neighbour’s house, led by their evil female coach. Although he told everything to his parents nobody really believed him. Therefore Robin decides to do something about it on his own. So the adventure begins.

The Skylia Prophecy coming to Steam on November 20

In The Skylia Prophecy you will have to lead Mirenia in a quest to vanquish the evil she unleashed when she was a teenager. Journey throughout dozens of  lands and towns, explore ancient dungeons, and battle hordes of monsters.

The Skylia Prophecy features fights against powerful bosses and exploration-based riddles. Meet different people and help them, sell you powerful items and reveal secrets that will aid you on your journey.

The Skylia Prophecy –the pixel-art, story-driven, side scrolling action RPG set in a medieval fantasy world– will be released on Steam on November 20.