Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Iron Banner Week is Live

Iron Banner has returned again for the week of July 28th. This PvP event has players pitted in Controlling zones and earning reputation for goodies from the vendor. Here is a list of the possible gear for this week:

New Titan Helmet
New Hunter Helmet

New Warlock Helmet

Dragon Quest XI Announced

Dragon Quest has been a franchise staple since 1986, with ten titles spanning multiple consoles over the years.

Square Enix announced yesterday that Dragon Quest XI is slated to be released for the Playstation 4 and 3DS in Japan. They managed to drop Nintendo NX as a possibility as well, Nintendo's yet to be revealed next console, claiming it is under consideration.

No confirmation of an American Release as of yet.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Spotlight: Seasons After Fall

Seasons After Fall
PC - Xbox One - PS4
Developer: Swing Swing Submarine
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 2016

Charming platformers tend to ring a chord with me, and Seasons after Fall is well within that category.

Seasons after Fall is an exploration game at heart, in which you take the role of a fox with the ability to change the season as needed to manipulate the world around you. These actions can create platforms with blooming flowers in spring or freezing water to traverse over the icy rivers.

You have unlimited power to change the seasons, but also have the ability to communicate with other animals. We see the fox utilize a floating jellyfish to assist in opening a bridge, and even possible communication with a lumbering bear for a bigger task.

The game is shaping up to be simple, fun, and has potential for some pretty clever platforming puzzles.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ori and the Blind Forest Review - When Storybooks Come to Life

Score: 9.25 / 10
Ori and the Blind Forest
Xbox One - PC
Developer: Moon Studios
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: March 11, 2015

  • Gorgeous visual appeal
  • Gameplay is fluid and easy to pick up
  • Story is wonderfully told
  • Hidden collectibles and tasks have you often straying from main path
  • You can create your own savepoint, but will often forget
  • Some segments are frustratingly difficult

Ori grabbed everyone's attention at E3 last year. It was a new IP, and a gorgeous one at that, and similar to Limbo or Journey the visual appeal allowed it to standout amongst triple A titles. It was not just the look of the game that drew me in, but the emotional impact a minute and a half trailer carried with it. That small window of time captured loss, hope, and fear with a few simple frames and a beautiful soundtrack. The trailer that stuck with me a few years ago has delivered that very experience from start to finish, with a wonderfully crafted game that is as fun to play as it is to watch.

What is this warm, fuzzy feeling?

Like playing out a storybook, Ori and the Blind Forest's wonderful art direction and atmosphere keeps you hooked into the game from start to finish. Every aspect of the game is the definition of beauty. The light hearted soundtrack compliments the visual brilliance, soothing you with simple melodies or pumping up your heart rate during an epic chase. The standout of the 2D environment shines through with the vivid contrast of light and dark, with Ori standing out like a lens flare in a Tim Burton film. It is a living, breathing world that entices you to explore every corner.

The story compliments this tone with a simplistic, yet fitting approach. No dialogue is spoken throughout the game, and only a translated omnipotent Narrator along with your companion will guide you through the events that unfold. Ori begins his quest after falling from the Spirit Tree during a storm, and is adopted by a creature known as Naru. Soon a cataclysmic event orphans Ori, who is restored to life near the Spirit Tree. Upon awakening Ori is tasked with  restoring the forest by recovering the light of three main elements that balance Nibel.  You meet\ a few other faces along the way that delve into the origins of the cataclysm, the mystery behind your aggressor Kuro, and the effect Ori has on the creatures he finds along the way. It is a tale of love, loss, and the glimmering light of hope that Ori embodies as he overcomes every trial to restore balance to the world.

Fighting the Color Purple

Gameplay is very similar to fans of Metroid as a side scrolling platformer with a mix of combat and perfectly timed jumps. Ori explores areas, unlocks new abilities, and uses those abilities to progress further to each marked objective. Platforming becomes very fluid with wall climbing, boosted jumps, and glides that string together seamlessly. Soon the game will have you chaining together everything you know during chase segments, creating a fluid movement to a safe zone. Combat varies with the different enemies that bar your path, some shooting projectiles and others hopping around aggressively to plop on your head. Ori's guide will shoot out beams of light at a certain range, which can be combined with ground pounds and bashes to open your enemy up for attack.

Ori features a save system that is manually done in lieu of a typical autosave. There will be segments that automatically save but for the most part, you must lay down a save spot before trudging along through a difficult segment. This is a double edged sword, as laying a spot down just outside a difficult part is a joyful convenience, but if you are like most who are conditioned to expect auto saves you will forget this feature a lot. This leads to many trudges through the same spot over and over again until you finally remember to lay down a save point. There are also segments that are frustratingly difficult, especially the end segment that requires near-perfect timing to complete. I found myself having to walk away at one point after dying so much that I could not bear to repeat the same part for the thirtieth time.

 I will find you shiny item...and I will collect you

Those who strive to collect every last item will find a fair share of content off the beaten path, each with its own use. Life Cells and Energy Cells are scattered around that increase the health of Ori or magic ability. These are usually found in areas behind secret walls or areas previously explored. You also gain experience and go through an ability tree, fine tuning your mobility, map awareness, or combat capabilities. By the end of the game I kept them pretty even and still had a handful of locked out abilities that would take a little more effort to fully unlock.

The few inconveniences of the game were not enough to outshine what is one of my favorite titles I have played this year. The wonderfully crafted world, the finely adapted soundtrack, and the fluid gameplay had me exploring every corner and overcoming every obstacle to see the game through to its conclusion. Ori is a game that is captivating from start to finish, and though the road ahead can be frustrating, the storybook feel of the game will keep you motivated to see every backdrop and corner of the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Don't Celebrate too Early - A Lesson in Humility

EVO is where the best of the best in fighting unite, but sometimes you get ahead of yourself, as this player finds out very quickly. His early celebration ends up costing him in the end, leaving many shouting "What are you standing up for?!?"