Mid-Week Musings 04/17/14
It's been a long few days here in the Mitten, as Mother Nature's gusting winds have been wreaking havoc on any power line foolish enough to stand in her way, while Old Man Winter can't seem to understand the fact that his season was supposed to be over a long time ago! Now that the lights are finally back on, the snow has stopped falling, and I have a minute to sit down at the keyboard, it's time to muse! This one's a long one, so let's get to it!
Pax East 2014 Round-up and Reaction
Transistor officially arrives on May 20th!
Transistor, Supergiant Games' gorgeous and incredibly awesome looking action RPG, finally has an official release date and will be available for Linux, Windows, OS X, and PS4! In a month that includes the long-awaited release of the Ubisoft opus Watch Dogs, the PS4 debut of baseball super franchise MLB 14: The Show, and the first batch of DLC for horror gem Outlast, Transistor is easily the game I'm most excited about in May. With a wicked art style, intriguing sci-fi setting and story, and intriguing gameplay that looks to intricately blend action and strategy, May 20th can't get here fast enough. It doesn't hurt that press previews have been overwhelmingly positive. Oh and while you're at it Supergiant, can we please get Bastion onto PlayStation platforms? Especially the one that rhymes with pita?
Mercenary Kings is Vita-Bound
Tribute Games' addicting retro-meets-modern-game-design-platformer, Mercenary Kings (currently available for Windows, OS X, and PS4), has been officially announced as inbound for the Vita and sporting Cross-Buy functionality no less! MK's short bursts of SNES-inspired goodness will be right at home on Sony's little handheld that could. In addition to Mercenary Kings, Tribute also announced plans to bring over Vita versions of Curses 'n Chaos, a throwback beat-em-up that looks to warm their Scott Pilgrim hearts, and Ninja Senki DX, a deluxe version of the free-to-play PC platformer that looks like a long lost NES cartridge rescued from the ether. None of these have a confirmed release date at this point, but I'm digging all the Vita love pouring out of Tribute Games! Mercenary Kings addicting play-collect-build loop on the go? Yes, please.
The Evil Within fails to impress...
My enthusiasm for The Evil Within has been curbed. Expected for Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One some time in August, and billed as Shinji — he of Resident Evil fame — Mikami's return to the roots of the survival horror genre he helped popularize, how could you not be excited about this one?! Early trailers looked eerie and promising, and with the late summer release date fast approaching, I was anxious to see the
hands eyes-on impressions of gamers and media members alike this past weekend.
The Evil Within has potential, but it needs some serious work before it's where it needs to be.— Brian Shea (@BrianPShea) April 12, 2014
Unfortunately, this excitement has been severely tempered as impressions of the game coming out of PAX have been less than favorable. With accusations of failed horror, seemingly stale gameplay, and a demo that was truly bizarre, I'm wondering if the game is on the right track at this point. Of course, I've yet to get my hands on the game at all personally, and Game Revolution's Nicholas Tan reminds us to keep this alpha demo in perspective, so I'm holding out hope that maybe this was a case of a demo not showing off a game's potential in the best way possible. I'm still excited to try the game out, and there's been plenty of people who liked what they saw as well, but I'll try and keep my excitement level reserved for the time being.
Resident Evil is one of my all-time favorite games, and the gaming straw that broke the camel's back so to speak in terms of myself finally purchasing a PS One all those years ago, so I really want this game to be awesome! I still have faith in Shinji Mikami, and we're still months away from release, so here's hoping this one turns out better than these initial previews would suggest.
...while Evolve continues to look awesome
This one sounds like it's going to be something special. A new kind of 4v1 take on multiplayer from the guys who brought us Left 4 Dead, Evolve finds a team of four hunters, all of them representing a specific player class with unique tools and abilities, seeking to track down and neutralize a hulking beast before it can evolve (hence the name) into a killing machine they are unable to stop. Hands-on impressions are almost universally positive, and the idea that there are additional monster classes, outside of the Goliath class developer Turtle Rock Studios has been showing, sounds like this game is going to have strategy for days. I love the idea that this team of four hunters all need to work together cooperatively to take down this monster, as it's seemingly impossible to confront the creature lone wolf. With an emphasis on teamwork and a group-based strategy that requires each player to utilize the strengths of their class to succeed, this sounds like a game I'll be playing for months.
Evolve has a fall release window (July-September for Microsoft Windows, PS4, and Xbox One), and as much as I'm clamoring for this Michigan cold to subside, I'm now oddly anticipating the autumn!
Below and Transistor lead a slate of awesome indie titles on the horizon
PAX, in all of its various forms, has always been a great showcase for indie developers and their titles, and PAX East 2014 was no different, with a cavalcade of wonderful games on display. We've already waxed poetic about Transistor, but there were plenty of other awesome indie gems littering the show floor. Below, prasied by many as game of the show, looks like a total showstopper and is the definitive feather in Xbox One's fledgling indie cap. IGN calls it "a cross between Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda", and I'd be lying if I said that didn't sound awesome. From the team behind Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Critter Crunch, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes HD, and the upcoming Super T.I.M.E. Force (also an Xbox One/Xbox 360 exclusive), Below looks to follow suit as another stellar game in their growing catalog. Oh, and Jim Guthrie (of Superbrothers and Sound Shapes fame) is providing the music. This sounds like as good a reason as any to own an Xbox One in the near future. As yet, the release date for Below on the PC and Xbox One is TBA.
One game that took me by surprise was Fenix Rage. A punishing, quick-paced platformer about guiding your speedy, Sonic the Hedgehog-like character to the proverbial cookie at the end of the level, this looks like another addicting "get the best time" puzzler that will keep me glued to whatever unannounced platform this thing ends up on. Might I suggest the PS4/Vita with a little Cross-Buy action in tow? Its release date is also TBA.
Then there is developer Roll7's Not a Hero, a stark departure from their previous game OlliOlli, that looks to mix Hotline Miami with Platinum Games' Vanquish in a stylish pixel art package. Reading about this game has me dying to get my hands on it. Check the description of the game straight from Roll7's website, and tell me you don't want to fire this bad boy up right now:
"When an anthropomorphic rabbit/mayoral candidate from the future named BunnyLord needs a murderous loner to clean up the city during the election, Steve heroically offers up his dubious skills with a gun and lack of self-preservation instinct to this mysterious stranger from beyond. Now Steve must clear five districts of crime and recruit new heroes for his cause by sliding, diving, ducking, and taking cover through hundreds of full-throttle shootouts across the city. Through the power of ISO-Slant™ technology and a wasted youth, London-based developer Roll7 (OlliOlli) delivers the greatest 2¼D cover-based indie shooter of all time ever."
While no platforms have been announced yet, it's probably a safe bet to assume this will end up on at least one PlayStation platform given their recent release history. And if you haven't given OlliOlli a whirl, try it out, you might like it.
These are but a few of the awesome indie games that made their presence felt on the PAX show floor. If you're interested in seeing more of the indie-goodness PAX had in store for its patrons, a simple Google search should turn up a wealth of additional content. The future continues to look bright for the indie movement across all gaming platforms, and that means more awesome games, often of the unique and experimental variety, for all of us to play.
Titanfall gets it's first expansion DLC
"Expedition" is Titanfall's first DLC, and it comes chock full of large mechy goodness. Sporting three new maps in the form of "Swampland," takes place in a...erm...swampland, and feature a huge amount of tress which reportedly allow you to do some epic wall runs, "Runoff," which features a number of different "pipes and water," and "War Games," which takes place in a Pilot training area. Developer Respawn Entertainment is also set to add custom Titan decals and the ability to meet up with other players based on a hashtag system. It's unclear if the decals and matchmaking features are a part of this DLC, or a separate patch/update. That's about all we know about "Expedition" right now, but stay tuned as we get closer to its release sometime in May. Titanfall is currently available for Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
But wait...There's more!
There's tons more to check out from this past weekend's PAX East event. If you're thirsty for more info, visit the favorite gaming site of your choice to check out all of their additional coverage! I'd recommend the Official Website, IGN, or Gamespot.
DrinkBox announces their next game and I'm not sold
DrinkBox Studios — of Tales from Space and Guacamelee! fame — is one of my favorite developers at the moment, so the announcement of their next game has been something I've been eagerly anticipating. What I didn't expect was Severed, a first-person action(?)/dungeon crawler game with touch/motion-based controls. Revealed on Destructoid, Severed sports a very Guacamelee!-like visual style, with a pretty wicked soundtrack by Yamantaka/Sonic Titan by the sound of it. It looks to have this cool mechanic based around collecting the body parts of your fallen enemies, and beefing up your own player character with your newly acquired limbs and extremities in the process. All of this sounds very weird, very quirky, very awesome, and right up my alley. But then I find out it's a first-person dungeon crawler with touch controls in development for mobile devices, releasing in 2015. Cue the sad panda face:
If you've kept up with the Musings, you know that I'm not a fan of touch based games. I rarely play games on my iPhone, with the exception of maybe the only perfect touch-based control game, Cut the Rope, and I'm of the belief that all iOS games would play better on the Vita with BUTTONS! Real, honest-to-goodness BUTTONS! Remember those? BEE YOU TEE TEE OH EN ESSS... BUTTONS! Not virtual buttons. Not some phantom analog stick that is somewhere on the left side of the screen, but you're not quite sure where because your character is not moving and you just called your Aunt Cindy four times trying to jump over the first pit in the game you're playing. Not some grayed-out "A" and "B" button that when attempting to press either one, the game in question recognizes the actions for neither "A" nor "B." I'm talking real buttons here. Tactile buttons; the solid round nub you feel sitting beneath your right thumb, eagerly anticipating its next press so it can show you how wonderful and lag-free it communicates your action to the game on screen. I'm talking about real-life square, x, triangle, and circle buttons! I'm convinced that virtual buttons were conceived as a cruel joke to gamers in the fourth circle of Hell, perpetrated on this world through some devious imp hijacking the body of an early iOS designer. Is it too much to ask that my favorite designers at least give us the option of playing games with REAL BUTTONS?! I want the GTA iOS trilogy on my Vita with real buttons and trophies. The iOS Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic re-release? Would kick a thousand times more ass on the Vita with buttons. I'm talking about REAL BUTTONS here!
That said, Severed was only just announced and we still don't know much about its expected platforms or release date, other than it's targeting mobile and 2015. A lot can change between now and then, including the extremely likely chance that the game arrives on the Vita, sporting touch controls, but also analog sticks and real buttons.
"Honestly, Vita owners are the ****ing best. People rag on the Vita so much, and I think people who rag on the Vita don't understand, at least from a business perspective, the purchasing power of Vita owners. Vita owners are serious purchasers of games. It's an amazing system." - DrinkBox's Chris McQuinn
All hope is not lost and I'm not writing off this game in any way, shape, or form, but have you ever tried to play a first-person game on a touch-only input device? DrinkBox has a stellar track record and they've only ever made good games, with Guacamelee! in particular being one my favorite games in the entirety of the PS3/Vita library. My excitement for the title is not what I anticipated it would be at this point, being the next DrinkBox game and all, but I will watch its development closely over the next however many months and I remain hopeful that this will turn out to be another awesome game under their Luchadore Championship Belt. But I can't help but wonder how awesome this game would be as a 2D, Mega Man inspired platformer full of all the unique ideas, concepts, and character designs that DrinkBox is pouring into this game...