The Guild Of Dungeoneering Review. (On a Quest and Never Fearing)!

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The Guild of Dungeoneering by Gambrinous, is a dungeon crawling game, with a difference.

Instead of controlling your explorer you control the layout of the dungeon, how it looks and the monster placement. For the most part, its construction is solely down to you!.

Whilst you have no direct control over the explorer, you can influence the direction he or she moves in by placing Gems and Money Bags in or near the rooms you wish them to visit and explore.

Visually the game reminds me of a student doodling into their notebook at school, pencil sketched creatures and backgrounds made while they should have been learning about photosynthesis in science class.

When you first enter a dungeon you start in an empty room, the game will then deal you 5 cards, these will be a mixture of corridors and rooms for the dungeon layout, monster cards of varying levels for you to fight, and gold cards representing treasure to collect. Of these 5 you can place down 3 before your turn is over and the explorer starts wandering off in the direction of the blue footsteps underneath him.

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Combat is a simple affair, when your explorer enters a room with a creature inside you will enter the battle screen, from here can see the health and various abilities of both your adventurer and the creature. Combat is handled similarly to the dungeon building part of the game, in the beginning phase you will be dealt 3 cards, you will be able to see what card the enemy creature has chosen (unless they have a skill that keeps the cards hidden) normally you will have to work out which of the 3 cards you have been dealt will have the best effect against the attacking card of the monster, will the spider launch into a physical attack (red fist)? Will you use a card to block it (Red Shield)? Will you take the damage while launching a magical counter attack (Blue Fist)? Is the creature defending against magic (Blue Shield)? Or will you use an unblockable attack (Yellow Shield with Lightning Bolt)?

The skills used are quite varied and are influenced by the equipment and class of the adventurer.

When you first start out on your quest for gold, you are armed with only the default skills your adventurer starts with, so defeating a few level 1 monsters is essential for gathering equipment to open up a few more abilities.

Saying that, levelling up your character is handled slightly differently to what you may be used to, there is no Experience bar to fill. To level up your Dungeoneer you will have to fight an equal or slightly higher level creature. Each creature will drop level appropriate gear after each fight, many times I found myself fighting a boss character armed with nothing more than my trusty saucepan helmet and mighty dinner table fork before realising this.

After you have successfully beaten a dungeon you will return to your base, The Guild of Dungeoneering, with all the loot you acquired, this is then transferred to gold with which you can upgrade and expand the guild house, which in turn will attract more cannon fodder.. I mean adventurers and unlock new item drops for the next dungeon.

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I’m quite partial to the Most Holy Grail Knight with his host of health replenishing skills, although after you have expanded the guild house for a while you will be overrun with Chumps, Cat-Burglars (who throw actual cats!) Bruisers, Rangers, Troubadors, Mime’s, Apprentices, Shape shifters, Alchemist’s, Cartomancer’s, and Mathemagician’s.

 

Each dungeon you visit will have an objective that needs to be completed to progress to the next level. These can be as simple as “Defeat 4 Skeletons” or get your adventurer to a specific tile or creature within a set number of turns.

At times the game is more about luck than skill, this is more noticeable in the dungeons where you have to get to a certain tile or defeat a certain creature within a set number of turns, these runs can get wrecked simply because of the tiles needed to get to the correct area simply not being drawn until it is too late.

I will wholeheartedly recommend Guild Of Dungeoneering, it is a fun little game with a good sense of humour, and quite possibly one of the most catchy theme tunes I’ve heard recently, several times this week I have caught myself singing about the guild at work to myself…

 

Pros:

Fun!

Can lose yourself for hours

Great character designs

Cons:

Can rely too much on luck rather than skill at times.

Software Inc. – Early Access Preview

 

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Software Inc. by Coredumping is an Early Access Simulation game, starting in the 1980’s, your aim is to build your company from scratch in the hope that one day your business will dominate the software world.

A typical game will start like this.
Name your company
Name your Founder
Customise your founder, are they male or female? How will they look? What will they wear? (This is purely cosmetic and has no impact on the game as far as I can tell)
What sort of personality will they have? Generous? Mean? Optimistic? Snob? This will affect how they interact with the other members of the team and can affect effectiveness and morale.

Choose your game mode (currently there is only Free Play mode available to play, Scenarios are due to be added later)
Decide on a difficulty level, Easy, Medium and Hard (personally I struggled for a bit on easy…)

Select how much cash you start with
Select how many days are in a month (1 for quicker games, 8 for longer more thoughtful ones)
Hit start!

I will say straight off, this does not feel like it’s aimed at casual players, the sheer volume of information thrown at you through the avalanche of tutorials is, at first, rather daunting. There is a lot to learn and it is not as instantly accessible as similar titles, Game Dev Tycoon, for example.

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With that out of the way and now with all the necessary fundamentals in place you will need to design the layout of your headquarters. Your staff will want a pleasant working environment to keep morale and efficiency high. So, you will need to make sure that there are enough heating and ventilation systems in place, you don’t want your staff to freeze in the winter or your PC’s to overheat in the summer.

You are not limited to creating a single floor building, you can build up to 12 stories high and you can even add a basement where your servers can be stored. Although when my servers died a horrible fiery death as nobody would use the lifts to go down and fix them… It was entirely my own fault, I had put a lamp in the way and nobody could walk around it.

The early part of the game will see you taking contracts to keep the money flowing and when you have a suitable stash of cash built up you can think about hiring new staff or training the crew you currently employ. Of course, if you’re a one man studio and you are the only member of staff, popping off to college will have a detrimental effect on your income.

The cleanliness of the office can also have an affect on the team’s capability. After a while you will notice the flooring will start to stain with footprints as the team walks back and forth between their desks and the coffee machine or to the lounge with its big sparkly TV (I treat my staff well). This can be solved by calling out a cleaner for a one-time fee or hiring a cleaning team for a fixed amount each month. The same can be said for the maintenance team who will look after the radiators and ventilation systems. IT support is also available, but only when required, demanding payment each time.

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With enough time and effort you’ll eventually progress to creating your own Operating systems, Visual/Audio tools, Anti-Virus software, Game engines and then Games themselves, but these take a while to develop. You do not want to be aiming for this with only 1 team, so it’s best to have several teams working on several projects at a time.

Coredumping has a Trello page setup HERE to show the upcoming features and bug fixes, which is a really nice way to see what’s coming up and what parts of the game they are currently working on.
I do really like Software Inc., but the sheer amount of information to take in through the tutorials is a little overwhelming and the simple 3D models may put some people off, but if you stick with it, you will find a game that can suck you into its world of team management, staff training, office design, all in the name of designing the best software around.

Pro’s:
Fun to play
Satisfies the Simulation Itch

Con’s:
Could be intimidating to some

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Killing Floor 2 Early Access

KF2_Horizontal-Logo_HighRes review

Killing Floor 2, Developed by Tripwire Interactive is a wave based, first person shooter, co-operative, horde survival game (try saying that ten times fast) currently in Early Access on Steam. Unsurprisingly, it’s the sequel to the 2009 hit, Killing Floor, which just so happens to be one of my favourite games of the recent years.

The story for the original Killing Floor involved a biotech company, experiments which went very badly wrong, and the city of London becoming one massive kill zone… A Killing Floor… Set 1 month after the original, players are thrown across Europe in a fight for survival against what remains of these experiments.

The main focus for Killing Floor 2 is the Co-Operative play, team up with 5 other players for possibly the most entertaining evening you can imagine. The more players there are in game, the more Zeds (Zombies) you face. Not into online Co-op? Well there is a single player offline mode for you to try your hand at which scales down the amount of Zeds you will face, although this does not make the game any easier, at least at the beginning.

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The more you play the more XP you gain, the higher your level becomes the more bonuses are applied to your chosen class, hit certain levels and you can start customising your character with various perks of your choosing.

There are 4 Classes available:
Berserker: Close quarters combat specialist, specialising in hand to hand weapons… and DIY tools (Nail guns, Sledgehammers with small explosives attached & Saw Blade launchers)
Commando: Assault weapons specialist (M4, AK47, SCAR-H)
Support: Shotguns!, Shotguns! Shotguns! (Combat Shotgun, Double Barrelled, AA-12)
Field Medic: Healer, his/her Weapons have an alternative fire mode which fires healing darts (Pistols, Shotgun, SMG’s)

There are 7 characters to choose from, and if you own Killing Floor 1, you get 2 Classic characters thrown in on top and, going by a recent survey, Tripwire Interactive are keen to bring back a few more. All of these can be customised with different colour clothing and headgear which helps each character feel unique to you and your sense of style.

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So far there have been 4 maps released.
Burning Paris: Set on the streets of Paris, the Eiffel Tower lays mangled in the distance, fight your way through the streets and Metro stations
Biotics Lab: the scene of horrific science experiments
Outpost: a research lab set in a scenic snowy mountain range
Volter Manor: a grand estate in the middle of a wooded area
Each map is very open, and you are free to run about it as much or as little as you wish. Which seems daunting to start with but you quickly get used to the landscape.

Your enemies are quite frankly disturbing to look at and on more than one occasion I did find myself jumping out of my seat with brief moments of terror. Being grabbed from behind in a darkened corridor with only the muzzle flash lighting up a Zeds face as it appeared inches from the screen, is a genuinely unnerving experience. With names such as Clot, Cyst, Slasher, Crawler, Gorefast, Stalker, Bloat, Husk, Siren, Scrake and Fleshpound.. you know you’re not going to be in for a pleasant ride. Throw in some Boss Zeds.. and it’s downright nightmarish…

A typical game starts with yourself (and any team mates) armed with your basic equipment, from here you just need to survive. Killing Zeds rewards you with money and experience which can be spent between rounds. The end of each wave a mysterious French woman unlocks a trader pod for you to spend your hard earned credits on various weapons, ammo, armour and even grenades.

Repeat this for a few rounds (Short games last 4 rounds, Long games last 10) until you are made aware of a boss creature appearing.. this is usually where I die.

One thing in particular I quite like, as you fight your way around the levels, each kill has a chance to activate “Zed Time” be it through head shots or explosions. When Zed Time activates the game slows down revealing the over the top gore and dismemberment you are unleashing.

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Killing Floor 2 is a lot of fun to play with other players, but so far I’m finding the Solo mode a little too hard. Whether or not this is down to my own skill level or the fact that as it is a Co-Op game at heart, I’m not really sure. The Dev’s idea of balancing for solo play seems to be to simply reduce the amount of Zeds for you to fight, this isn’t really rebalancing the game as they appear to have the exact same health and strength as they do in co-operative mode and five bullets are always better than one.

Not that I’m complaining that much, but it is frustrating to play solo for nearly an hour or two and not manage to finish a short game successfully.

A complete blast to play with friends and fun yet slightly irritating to play on your own, until you have levelled up a bit anyway, Killing ay on your own, until you have levelled up a bit anyway, Killing Floor 2 is one to watch if your on the look out for a zombie survival shooter.

Pro’s:
Combat is satisfying and bloody
Excellent open level design

Con’s:
Single player difficulty is rough on new players

 

Convoy Review

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Grab your trucker hat and get the leather jacket.. We got ourselves a Convoy!

Developed by Convoy Games, Convoy is a squad based, tactical combat, roguelike game. And being a roguelike game, Convoy is a permadeath game, meaning you have 1 life, lose that life you start again from the beginning.

Imagine the world of Mad Max, 3 rival gangs roam the planet, fighting anyone who is not affiliated with them, a few settlements have popped up offering travellers a chance to trade and generally survive the relentless assault from the gangs, and in between all of this, is you. Your spaceship has crash-landed on this barely habitable wasteland of a planet, Omek Prime, and in an effort to gather the parts needed to repair your ship; you set out in a Convoy.

At the start of each game you select your MCV (Mobile Command Vehicle), and a pair of units to escort and protect it, as you progress through the game you can unlock a further 7 MCV’s and up to a choice of 13 pairs of units. And while you start out with 2 vehicles guarding the MCV, this can be expanded to 4 over the course of your game.

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Once you have made your choices, you are presented with the options to learn more about game world, lore and your objectives, of course there is also the option to skip these and get straight into the game, which is useful if you have played a few times.

The game world is laid out with hexagonal tile’s spread across the map; you will need to travel across the map looking for the parts needed to get off this hell hole. Whilst on your travels, you will run into random encounters, ranging from strange men in robes to radio broadcasts, traps and many more scenarios. The random encounters are well written and at times quite surprising with how they play out.

Combat is interesting, whilst you have no control over the movement of your MCV, you do have control over the various weapons systems you can install onto it, you do, however have total control over the escort units. During the combat portions of the game your enemies will appear from various places over the screen, you will then need to position your escorts into the best possible positions for the defence of your MCV and taking out the attacking forces, keeping in mind the maximum range of your weapons, positioning the escort to block incoming fire, and being mindful of the debris fields, pylons and canyon walls that roll past while you are fighting.

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With the ability to pause the game and issue move and attack orders, Convoy plays out like an intense game of chess.

Convoy is also randomly generated, meaning each playthrough will be different. The main and side objectives, the random events, and different outcomes in each game will change from playthrough to playthrough.

There are similarities to FTL: Faster than Light, both are roguelike strategy games, both feature pixel art style and relaxing soundtracks, and most importantly both are fun as hell to play.

8/10

Pro’s:
Randomly generated games, lots of replayability

Titan Souls Review

Titan_Souls_-_Key_Art review

Titan Souls.  Similar in name to Dark Souls. Instantly the name tells you what you are in for: Pain, death, suffering, irritation, anger, and if you stick with it long enough…. joy.
Titan Souls started life as a short 4 boss game created for the Ludum Dare 28 Game Jam back in December 2013, the idea being to create a video game over 2 days with a set theme.

Titan Souls was created by AcidNerve and is published by Devolver Digital, who also published Hotline Miami 1 & 2, Broforce, Gods Will Be Watching and many other quirky indie titles.

The story is suitably vague; you are a young boy, armed with a bow and have set off to kill Titans and take their souls, for what reason? This is unknown at the start of the game.

Controls are simple, there is a big splash screen at the start of the game saying that a control pad is highly recommended, and I agree, I used my trusty Xbox 360 wired pad, your controls are simplified to move, roll/run and attack.

Titan_Souls_-_Screen_1 (1)Attacking is interesting, while you are armed with a bow, you only have 1 single arrow and once it has been shot you must recover it to attack again, but have no fear about losing the arrow off the side of the map, once the arrow has been shot you can magically summon it back to you by holding the attack button again. Of course, this opens yourself up to an enemy attack as you cannot move while summoning your arrow.

This brings us on to the enemies, the world is only populated by the Titans; massive beasts that have a single weak point (similar to Shadow of the Colossus), 1 arrow to the weak point will kill the Titans instantly, but those weak points are well defended. You will have to learn the attack patterns of these massive beasts to be successful.

titan_souls_-_screen_1Titan Souls has a beautiful 8-bit Pixel art style and is viewed from a top down perspective, like Zelda on the NES. The background music is nice and atmospheric as well.

If the tagline for the Dark Souls is “Prepare To Die” The tagline for Titan Souls should be “Oh god the pain, goddammit, what the hell do I do!”

I make no apologies, Titan Souls absolutely kicked my backside in my play through, and yes there were times when I thought about giving up. But I persevered and thoroughly enjoyed my time in this strange unforgiving world. The Titan fights whilst imposing the first time you face them, bring a very intense feeling of satisfaction when you work out what you are supposed to do and finally shove your arrow right where it needs to go.

Titan_Souls_-_Screen_2Casual players may find Titan Souls hard and unforgiving, maybe too hard. But if you are a fan of the “punishment/pay off” genre (Demon Souls, Dark Souls etc), you may have more than a little fun here.

The difficulty, and running back to the Titan after a death… when you die you respawn back at a campfire, and at times the run back to the Titan you were fighting can feel tedious, are the only negatives I have found with Titan Souls.

Pro’s

Challenging difficulty level.
Beautiful 8 bit art style
Atmospheric soundtrack
Controls are easy to learn

Con’s

Challenging difficulty level
Highly likely you will shout at your PC
Some may find running back from the respawn to the Titan fights tedious

Score: 7/10

Cities: Skylines Review

screenshot_1_1 reviewCity Builders seem to be like buses at the moment, wait ages for one to come along and then multiple games are released at once, or close together as in this case.

Cities: Skylines was developed by Colossal Order, whose previous games consist of Cities In Motion 1 & 2 and published by Paradox Interactive whose previous games include Crusader Kings 1&2, Hearts of Iron 1 – 4 and a list of published games longer than my arm (Magicka possibly being the most well known).

It was a just over a month ago that I reviewed Cities: XXL. Cities: Skylines is from a completely different developer and Skylines has nothing to do with that game, which is a good thing. Why you ask? Read on.

When you start up Cities: Skylines you’ll notice there is no tutorial option. The tutorial appears in the form of pop-up hints as you progress through your game, this is an open-ended city building game as such your game will continue for as long or short as you want it to.

You’re given the choice of 9 maps to start your city in, as is customary each map has its own resource stats, levels may have Forests, Ores or Oil reserves placed somewhere upon them and if you wanted to you could dedicate industrial areas to specialise in production using one of those resources.

screenshot_6_1Your starter area will have a highway ramp located near the edge of the building area, this will be where your new citizens will drive into your town, so don’t forget to connect both sections to a road. My first town went bankrupt because I failed to notice I was only connected to the on ramp.

With your first road down, you are left to plan out your town. From this point you will need to balance the wants and needs of your citizens whilst trying to balance your budget and taxes; tax too high and you will lose your citizens, tax too low and you will start losing money very quickly.

The interface is beautifully simple, helpful hints will teach what each button and option does. There is also a Skylines version of Twitter, complete with hashtags called Chirper, this will tell you exactly how your citizens are feeling, what they want more of or just tell you how well or bad you are doing. If you click on the citizens name you will be taken to his or her home, which is very useful for finding out where the problem areas of your city are.

Get bored of the 9 maps? Make your own! Cities: Skyline comes complete with a map editor that is ridiculously easy to use, as well as an asset editor to use if you wished to create/edit any in game structure more to your liking.

I’ve always found that City Builder games will either survive or die due to the size of the area available to make your cities, Skylines has possibly one of the largest map sizes I’ve seen. You start in a tile that’s roughly 2km by 2km, and as your city population expands so can your building area, up to 9 tiles by default although there are 25 tiles to choose from, and there are a number of mods on the steam workshop to open up all 25 tiles if your PC can handle it.

Yes, despite only being recently released, the community has created a vast array of mods, maps and custom buildings to download; of course using any form of mod disables your Steam achievements, unless you use the mod that enables them while using mods.

screenshot_7_3My one and only problem with the game is the complete lack of an auto save function. After accidentally kicking the power cable and causing my PC to reboot, I found that the previous hour of gameplay had been lost, which was pretty disheartening. But again, there is a mod for that on the workshop, hopefully Colossal Order will add that in a future patch.

Cities: Skylines is an essential purchase for any city builder fan and after the demise of Maxis the chances of a new SimCity game is pretty low. Cities: Skylines looks to be the game that fills the SimCity gap that has been left behind.

You can get the standard edition for just £9.99 here and the deluxe edition for £14.15 here

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Game Guru: The Easy Game Maker – Early Access

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Now I’m sure at some point every gamer in the world has thought to themselves,’ I could make an awesome game’, I know I have. Unfortunately I have zero ability, knowledge or experience in video game creation…
So my intrigue was peaked when I heard about Game Guru: The Easy Game Maker, a game development program on Early Access from UK Indie development studio TheGameCreators that boasts:

“Game Guru allows you to fulfil your dreams in a non-technical, fun and extremely easy to share way. Create games that you can literally play with others in minutes.”
Could this be true? Could I make a game… with no experience or knowledge? I had to find out.

Upon launching Game Guru, you are met with a splash screen with some hints and tips including
“Watch the Video Tutorials.”
“Play the demo games.”
“If you have questions or need help please contact the development team in the Game Guru Community Hub.”

So I watched the tutorial videos and by the end of the 10 videos, I had a very basic idea of how to use Game Guru. A browse over the community hub filled in a few blank spaces as well.

Now, I’ve had experience with level editors, mainly Far Cry Instincts and the Halo series Forge mode on the 360, which to me was helpful in creating levels in Game Guru. There are tools for lowering, raising, levelling, blending and painting the terrain.
Placing items, weapons, NPC characters and pre-made buildings is as easy as adding from the entities menu, within minutes you should have a reasonably cool looking map.. Skill level/imagination dependant.

1843 reviewBefore you create your game you’re going to want to plan it out.

In my case I wanted to create a quick simple game where you start in a village, wander through a forest, fight off some attackers, head up to a church on a hill fighting another small battle and entering the church to fight a boss and recover a relic.. Game over

After 6 failed attempts, highlights/lowlights include adding so much foliage my PC ground to a halt, completely messing up the waypoints for a few characters and creating a puddle so deep I drowned the moment I stepped into it.

I realised this was probably beyond my capabilities, so decided on something a little bit simpler.

In the end, I created a simple medieval first person shooter, consisting of 2 assassins and 1 strong boss character..
Starting at a small fishing village ( 1 house next to a small river), you creep forwards through a forested area, picking up a sword and a bow with a few arrows. Just up the path from the village you meet 2 Assassins! After dispatching them and admiring Game Guru’s physics engine as they fall like ragdolls, you proceed up a hill with an imposing looking church overlooking the area. Upon entering the church, you are set upon by the Barbarian Chief- a mountain of a man wielding two claymore swords. One valiant fight and several arrows to the head later he is down. Now to grab the legendary Maguffin “The Helm of Awesome”…. fade to black.

Yes, it was simple and had less than 5 minutes actual playtime but I, with no experience, had managed to create a game. (The pic below is from that).

unnamedSharing your games is easy, simply select Save Standalone and Game Guru saves a standalone version of your creation in a folder that can be zipped up and shared among your friends.

Game Guru comes preloaded with 10 demos to show off what can be done if you actually put some time and effort into making a game, these range from multiplayer death match games, a cartoonish coin gathering while avoiding manic looking Bugs Bunny clones armed with ray guns type game, and a few modern and fantasy style games.

There is also a very nice list of buildings and assorted items bundled into the entity list, if you wanted more you can browse the Game Guru store for extra items, some are free and some are available to purchase. Of course, if you were familiar with 3D rendering and object creation you can attempt to sell your creations in the store for others to download and feature in their games.

The forums are a fantastic place to gather tips and find out more about scripting, and seeing what other creators have come up with. I found a great script for automatic door opening earlier.

2001Planned updates for Game Guru include:

* Character creator – personalise your game characters using this simple creation tool
* Construction Kit – the ability to easily create building structures for your games
* Improved AI & gaming techniques
* Enhanced explosions and particle effects including fire/smoke
* Underwater swimming and effects
* Laser weapons for Sci-Fi games, Spells for Fantasy games
* HUD systems; compass tool, map, inventory
* Melee attack & other combat & interaction game choices
* Extra characters and game assets

If you have an interest in game design, or like me thought about making your own game at some point but got scared off by how difficult it might be, Game Guru may just be what you’re looking for.

Currently priced at £14.99 on Steam Early Access, yes there are other free game creation programs out there, but I personally found Game Guru easy to use, I really like the simple and easy approach to creating a game. As a complete beginner to game creation I found using this much easier to use compared to Unity and Gamemaker, but like I said that may be just me.

Hopefully, TheGameCreators will put up some tutorial videos on scripting, the little bits I have picked up so far came from the community hub and the steam forums.
I’m really interested in seeing how this progresses, and will revisit Game Guru when the next update hits.

Game Guru is available via Steam HERE

Homeworld Remastered Review

HW1_Remastered_01 ReviewWay, way, way back in 1999 a small studio named Relic Entertainment made a game named Homeworld.

This was a real-time strategy game set in space and was one of the first games (if not the first), to have total 3D movement. No bottle necking an area with hundreds of tanks, no parking in one spot on a map that you knew your opponent couldn’t get to. Simply because, you couldn’t, there were no areas that were blocked, it was space, and they could fly around the asteroids and shoot you in the behind.

For its time Homeworld was a beautiful looking game, the music was atmospheric, and the fleet combat played out on screen like a beautifully choreographed action set-piece from a sci-fi movie.
A standalone expansion pack was released in 2000: Homeworld Cataclysm that was developed by Barking Dog Studios (who later became Rockstar Vancouver and worked on Bully and Max Payne 3) this carried on the story 15 years after the first game and focused more on smaller fleet combat. A full blown sequel was released in 2003, Homeworld 2 was set 115 years after the first game but did not receive the same levels of praise as the original game nor the expansion.

2004 saw Relic Entertainment being bought by THQ, they then cemented their reputation as a solid RTS studio by developing and releasing the Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War series.
THQ bought the rights for the Homeworld games and everyone’s hopes were raised for a continuation of the series. Unfortunately, the original founders of Relic left to form a new studio and THQ went bankrupt in 2013. And that was the end of Homeworld…

That is until Gearbox Software stepped in and bought the rights to the Homeworld franchise and announced plans to re-release Homeworld 1 and 2 as a HD remake, the Homeworld Remastered Collection.

HW2_Remastered_04So 16 years after its original release, gamers around the world can sit down and play possibly one of the best Real Time Strategy games of all time. So the question is, can we forgive Gearbox Software for Aliens: Colonial Marines?

Homeworld: Remastered combines Homeworld 1 and 2 in one glorious HD package, the source code for Homeworld: Cataclysm is long gone and has gained urban myth status, some say the code was lost while others say that there is a backup copy sat in a cupboard somewhere waiting to be rediscovered.

The story for Homeworld follows the Kushan, a race living on a harsh desert planet known as Kharak, the ever present fight for survival and resources led the clans to be constantly at war with each other, until the discovery of a massive ancient ship buried out in the desert.
The ship contained technologies far beyond any that they had known (you know, like deep space travel) in the centre of the ship lay a stone tablet with a map of the galaxy and two coordinates etched in, one was for Kharak on the outer rim of the galaxy, the other Hiigara which meant “Home” in the centre of the galaxy. With this, all wars were ceased as plans were made out to build a ship capable of travelling the large distance and discover their Homeworld. Over a century, and many scientific discoveries later, a scientist volunteered to be integrated into the “Mothership” to be its living command core.

hwrm_01The game starts at this point, and it’s up to you to help the Kushan find their way home and work out why they were apparently dumped on this planet. Over the course of the collections of 31 Single player missions (16 for Homeworld and 15 for Homeworld 2) you will Fight, Mine, Research, and occasionally trade with the single friendly race encountered in your travels.

You start off each map with your Mothership and a couple of resource collectors, these are the lifeblood of Homeworld, without resources you can’t build ships, without ships you can’t attack or defend yourself, and without being able to attack or defend yourself, you will die a horrible but beautifully rendered explosive fiery death.

Resources are gathered from asteroid fields, floating wreckage and various clouds of space dust. Build resource controllers to accompany your collectors and it saves the trip back to the Mothership to drop off that valuable resource.

There is a good variety of ships on offer to build, from the quick but weak Fighters, the more role orientated Corvettes, or the overwhelming firepower of the Capital ships, each one has a job and it does its job well.

It does take a bit of time to get used to the fact that your enemies can attack from any direction, ahead, behind, to the sides, from above and below. But when you’re used to it the game is a joy to play.

So what’s different to the 1999 release? Let’s check the Gearbox Software description.

“Homeworld Remastered Collection includes updated high-res textures and models, new graphical effects, and support for HD, UHD, and 4K resolutions. Homeworld’s original audio and video artists have also recreated cinematic scenes in beautiful high fidelity. Homeworld Remastered Collection uses Homeworld and Homeworld 2’s original source audio to create a stunning new mix of effects and music.”

In simple terms, they have taken a fantastic looking game from 1999 and turned it into a fantastic looking game in 2015.

As well as they Remastered versions of Homeworld 1 and 2 Gearbox Software have also included the originals, updated to run on modern Operating systems. The difference between them is astounding.

The more interesting addition to the Remastered edition is multiplayer. Gearbox has gone along the route of merging the multiplayer modes from Homeworld 1 and 2 into a single game mode. This mode is currently in Beta, as it says when you first fire it up.

“This is an all-new agglomeration that combines bits of code that are over 15 years old with bits of code that were written last week.”

There are bugs, and there are glitches.
I’ve read reports of fleets disappearing, or moving when not told to.
Others not so major, I only experienced a few minor ones, at one point I had my entire fleet colour scheme randomly change to another, not game breaking.. but it was confusing to me until I realised it was my fleet getting annihilated and not the opponent.

hwrm_08 reviewThere is also no matchmaking service, at the time of writing, and finding a game can be difficult. After 25 minutes of trying to join servers only to get dropped moments after starting the maps, I decided to try and host my own game. Within moments I had an opponent eager to do battle and was promptly destroyed within minutes, but that’s pretty standard for me and online real-time strategy games.

If you have never played the Homeworld series, I wholeheartedly recommend buying the re-mastered collection; it’s one of the few games that every strategy fan should own in my opinion.
If you are a long-time Homeworld fan, and still own the originals, £26.99 is a lot to pay out for the same games you already own with a shiny coat of paint on top.
If you are a long-time fan but don’t own the originals, I highly recommend picking this up!

I can now forgive Gearbox for Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Early Access Darkest Dungeon

Wallpaper_Ruins_New reviewI think the opening text for Darkest Dungeon sums up the game perfectly.

“Darkest Dungeon is about making the most of a bad situation. Quests will fail or must be abandoned. Heroes will die. When they die, they stay dead. Progress saves constantly, so actions are permanent.
The game expects a lot of you. How far will you push your adventurers? How much are you willing to risk in your quest to restore the hamlet? What will you sacrifice to save the life of your favourite hero?
Thankfully, there are always fresh souls arriving on the stage coach, seeking both adventure and fame in the shadow of the… Darkest Dungeon!”

Darkest Dungeon is a 2D rogue like dungeon crawler from indie dev’s Red Hook Studios that is currently on Early Access. Darkest Dungeon started life on Kickstarter and smashed its funding goal of $75,000 ending up at $313,337.

Wallpaper_LosingItBigTimeStory time!

You had a rich relative, what the relation was is unclear but he was rich and that’s what’s important. He lived lavishly in a big house where much drinking and partying was to be had. But, as is such with rich relatives he became bored and wanted more. After hearing rumours of an unknown power buried deep beneath the mansion, he decided to find it for himself. Unfortunately the power was more than he expected, driven mad by what he found, he wrote you a letter asking you to come home and sort out the mess he had made, and in his final act of madness took his life.
You have returned to the mansion to reclaim your ancestral home from the unspoken evil let loose by your relative.

As you play through Darkest Dungeon you will gather a band of heroes to take dungeon crawling, these range from Bounty Hunters, Crusaders, Grave Robbers, Highwaymen, Occultists and Plague Doctors. Each class comes complete with their own selection of powers, skills and abilities. Healers, Tanks, Ranged ,Combat Specialists… the usual RPG stalwarts.

While not adventuring you will spend your time in the village, here you can upgrade your heroes, and various buildings to help your team relax. Yes, relaxing is an important part of your team management. Whilst in the dungeons you will need to keep an eye on your health and on your stress bar, the stress bar indicates your team’s stress level in Darkest Dungeon. Unlike the health bar which will go down as you take damage, the stress bar goes up as you play and travel further into the darkness, when it is full your characters resolve is tested, this will give your character’s an affliction such as Paranoid, Selfish, Fearful, Abusive and Masochistic. Obviously these are bad.

Occasionally you may get a positive affliction such as Powerful, Vigorous or Focused.. but I’ve seen more abusive crusaders who refused to listen to orders thus getting an entire team wiped out than I’ve seen focused ones.

8_CrushingBlowCombat is turn-based and easy to learn. Squad placement is essential, certain skills can only hit certain opponents stood in specific places, and certain skills will change the positioning of either your opponent or yourself. If you get knocked into a space where you can’t use a skill, you best pray you don’t die before getting back into position.

In Darkest Dungeon, death comes fast and comes often, it will lure you in with a false sense of security, and then beat you down until you’re begging for mercy, and then it will laugh in your face and continue beating you. When a hero dies, he is gone forever. You will need to try and train up a replacement to take his or her place and hope they last longer than the last one. The Enemies vary from traditional human bandits, spiders, ooze’s to the more Lovecraftian themed gothic horror creatures, unspeakable monsters that penetrate the minds of men and create madness and insanity

In its early access form, there are currently 10 class’s available to hire and 3 areas to do your quests in, with more planned for a later date.
Darkest Dungeon looks gorgeous, it reminds me of a graphic novel coming to life on screen with its amazing hand-drawn art style, Darkest Dungeon is a very enjoyable game and has a LOT of promise. But it may just be a little too hard for some people, the difficulty is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness, if you play games for fun and relaxation, this may not be the game for you.

I look forward to seeing how Darkest Dungeon progresses.

Darkest Dungeon is available on Steam Here

Sunless Sea Review

buoywallpaper1-1024x576 Review SizeVictorian London has sunk beneath the earth and supernatural forces roam this new sunken world, you are the newest Captain in the city ready to make your way into the unknown realm of the Unterzee. This is Sunless Sea from UK studio, Failbetter Games, a rogue like exploration game with a heavy emphasis on storytelling.

Each new game has you creating a Captain, you start by selecting your background, were you a street urchin? A poet? A war veteran? An ordained priest? Or are you a natural philosopher? Your choice of background decides which of your stats get a starting bonus and an appropriate officer to help run your ship, the officers give another bonus to your skills and can be improved with quests, or until you find a better replacement.

aHR0cDovL2ltYWdlcy5lY2hvYmF6YWFyLmZhaWxiZXR0ZXJnYW1lcy5jb20uczMuYW1hem9uYXdzLmNvbS9sYXJnZXIvbm9jdHVybmV3YWxscGFwZXIuanBnThe next step is to choose an ambition, what is your end goal? How will you decide if you win or lose?
There are 3 choices:
Find your father’s bones, recover your father’s remains so he may have a proper burial.
Fulfilment, gather enough knowledge to write a masterpiece and retire.
Wealth, get rich, buy a mansion, maybe even have servants and start a family.

Finally you will decide on your name and how you will be addressed are you a Sir, Madam, Captain or Citizen? You then choose your character portrait. I’m quite fond of my Lord with a pipe smoking silhouette. With that in the bag you are released into Fallen London.

Whilst in the various ports Sunless Sea plays out like a choose your own adventure book. Select an area of the port you wish to visit and depending on your skills and items in your inventory, you have a variety options to select from. For example whilst in London you may choose to visit the Labyrinth Of Tigers, a supernatural zoo of sorts, if you have enough money you could choose to buy a specimen, if you had acquired a certain item you could offer to sell one to them.

Shark review SIZEVisiting all the locations in the ports will reveal a variety of tasks to complete, sometimes you will have a passenger who wants safe passage to a certain location, maybe someone wants information about a place; someone may want a certain item returned to that port. Collect your tasks and it’s time to head out to zee. As always your starter ship is fairly unimpressive, but eventually you can upgrade to bigger, better and faster ships over the course of your story.

Whilst you’re in exploration mode Sunless Sea changes to an overhead viewpoint, now that you’re in charge of your boat you have to use W, S, A, D to control your speed and direction as you head out to find Fame, Fortune or your Fathers bones.

Sunless Seas game map is huge, and randomly generates with each new game meaning a slightly different experience each time you die, if you are like me you will die a lot. Death may be due to roving pirates, a flock of zee bats, giant mutant sea crabs or jellyfish, once I was even sunk by a sentient iceberg…

bonny_reefs-1024x575Combat is a simple affair, you can fit a variety of guns, cannons and torpedo launchers onto your ship to attack or defend yourself. When you find yourself in a battle you will see a firing arc onscreen, one for each weapon you have installed on your ship, as long as you keep the enemy within that arc (or arcs) your weapons will charge up, you may fire before the bar is full, but your accuracy will suffer.

Combat is not the only way to die, you need to keep an eye on your fuel, supplies and terror levels as well. Run out of fuel at sea and you’re informed that your lovely little boat has just become an oddly shaped house floating in the ocean. If this happens you’re given the choice, float aimlessly for a while, pray to a zee god for help, try to signal distress, or abandon ship. Running out of supplies is similar, the lower the supplies dwindle, the more your crew loses heart before falling into the lure of cannibalism. Combine these with running out of fuel and you are basically left watching your crew eat itself. Your terror rises through a combination of situations such as sailing with the lights off, sailing in the middle of the zee, taking damage and some quests result in your terror levels rising. Once the terror reaches maximum level your crew will mutiny, that never ends well.

nemesiswallpaperDeath is just around the corner on most journeys, and when you do sink below the waves after a misjudged battle, starvation or a rather violent mutiny, you’re presented with the Legacy screen. From the legacy screen you can select any perks or items you wish to leave to the next captain, I’ve had the same not quite-as-rubbish as the starter deck guns passed down through the last 5 captains.

I found Sunless Sea very entertaining to play, with its Gothic Steampunk visuals with hints of Lovecraftian horror themes, the fact that the stories differed with each new game added to the enjoyment. Failbetter Games say they were influenced by such games as Faster Than Light (FTL), Don’t Starve, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and Elite, so if you are a fan of these you will find Sunless Sea a lot of fun to play.

It is not without its faults though; travelling between the islands towards the start of the game can be quite slow.
The AI can easily become confused in battle if you manage to approach an enemy from the rear and stay squarely behind them they will try to turn to face you constantly, and as weapons and attacks only charge while your opponent is in the targeting arc, this can lead to an entire battle in which your opponent may have 3 times the health of you but won’t fire off a single shot.

Pro’s:

Simple, easy to understand controls
randomly generated maps add to replayability
Heavy emphasis on storytelling
Massive selection of stories and quests to run through

Con’s:

Very slow pacing to start
Enemy AI can be a bit clunky

8/10