Don’t Starve: Console Edition Review


Developer/Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Version reviewed: PlayStation 4
Release date: January 7, 2014

Don’t starve. This is a simple rule, no? I mean, maintaining your vitality by cramming your pie hole with nutrient-rich foods is a staple part of everyday life, and if you’re reading this review chances are you’ve gotten pretty good at it. Apply this rule to a Roguelike videogame, however, and suddenly things aren’t so simple. Such is the case with Don’t Starve, the latest IP from Vancouver-based development studio Klei Entertainment. Released on Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux last year via Valve’s Steam platform, it landed on the PlayStation 4 in January to captivate the console market, but does this indie adventure have what it takes to lure gamers away from triple A behemoths like Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition?

The game begins by dumping your character, an intrepid gentleman scientist named Wilson, in a strange world. A dapper beanpole of a man materialises to inform you of your gaunt condition, advises you to chow down before nightfall arrives, and then leaves you to fend for yourself. The exposition is vague, though more about the title’s backstory can be learned from its promotional trailer. On a dark and stormy night, Wilson (who looks an awful lot like an Edgar Allan Poe caricature) is tricked into building a mysterious contraption by a windup radio, promising him “secret knowledge” in return, but when he activates said contraption spirits whisk him to an alternate realm. It transpires that this is the sinister work of dapper beanpole man, a.k.a. half-demon Maxwell, who no doubt plans to use Wilson’s machine for evil and stuff.


The first thing to know about Don’t Starve is that your survival relies entirely on exploration and self-discovery. There is no tutorial; there are no instructions, or “go here, do this” waypoint markers. You are alone in this seemingly hostile environment, and how best to look after Wilson’s health, hunger and sanity levels is up to you. Taking cue from the game’s title, I decided to make nourishment my priority on playthrough one, collecting all manner of seeds, berries and vegetables as I skipped through the forest. A veritable feast in my possession, I was extremely pleased with myself, yet as the foreboding darkness loomed it dawned on me that my single-mindedness caused me to overlook the importance of light. Blackness engulfed the screen and ‘something’ removed Wilson’s appendages with its teeth as I held my head in my hands. Lesson 1: darkness equals imminent death.

Playthrough two saw me change my strategy. This time, I gathered everything I stumbled upon – vegetables, twigs, grass, flint, rocks, an unhappy butterfly… When I came to review my bulging inventory minutes later, I realised I had the raw materials to construct a makeshift axe. Then the epiphanies came in thick and fast; with an axe, I could chop trees into logs. With logs, I could build a campfire, which I could fuel with grass and twigs. It wasn’t long until I was well into my first week, living off the fatta the lan’, but when Wilson’s sanity took a dive on day five he began to hallucinate, and the shadowy products of his delirium beat him to a pulp. Lesson 2: insanity equals unusual death.

The rather long-winded point being made here is that the inevitability of your demise lessens the more time you spend in this obscure, and often ruthless, landscape. Once players acquaint themselves with Don’t Starve’s crafting system, master their micromanagement skills and establish a list of wilderness do’s and don’ts (tip: don’t aggravate a swarm of killer bees. Ever), keeping Wilson alive becomes second nature. This enables you to focus your attention on discovering the title’s hidden wonders, from secret spelunking caves and rare items to a hidden Adventure Mode that slowly unearths the motivation behind Maxwell’s villainy. In fact, there’s an incalculable amount of satisfaction and achievement to be had here if you’re willing to put in the hard work.


A piece of advice though: do not get complacent. In keeping with the Roguelike sub-genre associated with RPGs and MMORPGs, dying in Don’t Starve is permanent. If you fall victim to the harsh conditions of winter, run out of supplies or get mauled by a pack of ravenous hounds, it’s back to the drawing board. To add insult to injury, the layout of each world is procedurally generated, meaning that when you do start a new game you won’t be able to follow your previous strategy step by step because the placement of landmarks, items and resources will have changed. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, as it compels players to take Wilson’s safety seriously, but that doesn’t negate the frustration they’ll feel when a Tallbird perforates their skull for wandering into its territory by mistake, robbing them of their progress.

Believe it or not, when you eventually meet your maker, some good does come of it. Aside from gaining valuable knowledge that will undoubtedly prove useful in a later playthrough, you’ll also be awarded experience points that unlock new characters. There are eight to earn in total, including Willow, an unpredictable pyromaniac with an unbreakable lighter, Wolfgang, a hard-hitting strongman and nyctophobic, and Woodie, a Canadian lumberjack with an imperishable axe and “a terrible secret” (according to the game’s Wiki). Each of the gang’s specific abilities is balanced by a weakness that can affect your tactics drastically, and this works well to introduce further variety, presenting some very interesting in-game scenarios.

Of course, all of the above would count for nothing if the game’s transition from PC and Mac to console was substandard. Thankfully, the PS4 port of Don’t Starve performs much like the original, running at a fluid 60 frames per second in true 1080p. The hand-drawn, Tim Burton-esque art style is delivered with vibrancy and crispness, and none of the quirkiness Klei Entertainment’s indie gem was praised for first time around has been lost in translation. Its mouse/keyboard control scheme is surprisingly well suited to the DaulShock 4 too. The D-pad performs multiple context-sensitive actions, L2 and R2 handles crafting and inventory management options (navigated using the thumbsticks), and the face buttons are reserved for simple tasks such as picking up items and swatting foes with whatever you’re wielding at the time. In this respect, the learning curve is gentle – a definite plus considering the unforgiving, trial and error-based nature of gameplay.


So does Don’t Starve hold its own against the latest big budget productions from EA DICE, Ubisoft and Crystal Dynamics? Unquestionably. Yes, it is a slow burner, offering little in terms of help or guidance, but the deeper you delve into this fascinating gothic world and its clever mechanics the harder it is to put down. Time will tell whether it has the clout to outshine Markus Persson’s Minecraft or Re-Logic’s Terraria, but speaking from experience its creativity and peculiarity succeeds at keeping the player’s attention for hours at a time. Given that PS Plus members can download it free of charge from the PlayStation Store as part of Sony’s Instant Game Collection, you’ve absolutely no reason not to get lost in this eerie IP.


Super Mario 3D World Review


Super Mario 3D World | Publisher – Nintendo | Platform – Wii U

As Mario now approaches his mid-30’s does this aging franchise still have a place amongst the gaming elite? He seen off the competition before. Let’s be honest, Sonic has seen better days and whilst Bubsy the Bobcat and Crash Bandicoot, to name just a few, have forced to take early retirement. There stands Mario, with is ever faithful band of comrades, standing tall in a celebration of everything that gaming should be. This is a masterpiece, Super Mario 3D World is above all else, FUN.

The story begins with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach (who for once has not fallen victim to the evils whims of Bowser!) exploring the Mushroom Kingdom when they come across a strange clear pipe. It is from this said pipe that a Sprixie emerges, imagine a rather odd looking fairy and you may have some idea what a Sprixie looks like. Suddenly, Bowser appears, captures there new found friend and disappears through the pipe. Our heroes give chase and our adventure begins.

Those familiar with Super Mario Bros. 3 will have some idea of the layout of each world, of which there are seven and of course a few bonuses at the end with I am certainly not going to spoil for you. The aim is to guide our heroes through various levels located within each world until the eventual showdown with one of Bowser’s minions. Once defeated, a Sprixie is freed and it’s on to next the world, rinse and repeat until the final showdown with Bowser himself. Defeat him and glory will bestowed upon you and legendary status achieved and what fun you are going to have in the process.

Mario Sand_

The goal remains the same, make it to end of each stage, raise the flag triumphantly and it’s onto the next. Each world acts a hub, anyone familiar with Super Mario Bros 3 will appreciate the layout. It offers a little more freedom to explore but, essentially progress is made by completing various levels along a set path. Whilst the layout remains familiar it is the sheer variety on offer that truly astounds. From using a large dinosaur as a makeshift surfboard to playing though an entire level when all one can see is shadows. It never becomes tiresome. New ideas are constantly thrown at you. You truly get the sense that the designers were given free reign. Some stages will require the use of the touch pad, some will have rushing frantically. Nothing feels overused or drawn out.

The graphics and attentional to detail are genuinely stunning. Colours are bright and bold. Everything feels solid and purposeful. This not design over substance, a world has been created that you would want to spend a serious amount of time exploring. Accompanying the excellent visuals is the superb soundtrack. Each level has its own composition which sets the tone perfectly. It is a true assault of on your senses.

Those who have experienced past games from the Mario franchise will recognise elements from previous titles. Mushrooms and fire flowers, to name just a few, make a welcome return. The introduction of the new cat suit is a stroke of genius. The ability to scamper up walls opens up a whole new dimension. The cherry power up, which also makes its debut, is quite simply hilarious. Collect one of these and your chosen character duplicates. There is now two on screen for you to control. This can be stacked so, potentially, there can be up to five clones all running around at the same time. Each one mimicking the movements of the other. Add the multiplayer aspect to this and it becomes truly chaotic.

Mario 3D world Review

There are four characters on offer, with a secret fifth hidden later on for you to unlock. Each with their own abilities. Mario, the typical all-rounder. Luigi and his super high jump. Princess Peach and her ability to float and of course Toad, who is quicker than the rest. Your chosen character can be changed at the start of each level. This makes changes to the play style seamless. Using extra Wii remotes the game supports up to four players. You can either work together as a team or make each level a flat out race to the finish. If someone has rushed ahead and your character falls off screen the game compensates for this by allowing you to catch up in the form of a bubble. You are magically transported back onto the screen and a simple button press and you’re back into the fray.

There is so much on offer here that you will certainly get value for money. Each level has three green stars and a magic stamp to collect. The latter is used when posting messages using Nintendo’s Miiverse. These can be genuinely tricky to find and will take real skill to find them all. Couple this with excellent controls, manic multiplayer and enough hidden surprises to put most games to shame. Nintendo have, once again, outdone themselves. Super Mario 3D World is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.


Reviewer – Mr Baddog

Super Mario 3D World is out now for Nintendo Wii U


Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review


Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Publisher: Capcom/Developer: Capcom
Nintendo DS/iOS

Why would anyone want a book when there’s Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective? Books don’t have 2D rendered sprites of hand drawn 3D models, you could have animation by flipping through the pages quickly but it would have to be an absurdly huge book to be anywhere near as cool. You would definitely drop a book that big on the bus and lose your place; drop a Nintendo DS on the bus and it’ll snap shut and save your place internally just because it loves you so very much. The point of this ludicrous opening paragraph is not that books are rubbish, but just that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is really really good.

It starts off with a murder; a detective called Lynne stumbles across a corpse in a junkyard, before a hitman bursts onto the scene and shoots her down for unknown reasons. After an enchanted lampshade informs the ghost of the discovered corpse (that’s you) of your “Ghost Tricks” it’s up to you to use these tricks to save Lynne. The catch is that you have no memory of who you are or why you were killed tonight; and Lynne is your only potential lead on unlocking this mystery before your time runs out at dawn.

That probably all sounded fairly straight and narrow before the stuff about ghosts and the enchanted lampshade cropped up didn’t it? Ghost Trick comes to us from Shu Takumi, best known as the creator of the also slightly insane Ace Attorney series, and those familiar with his work will see his fingerprints all over this outing too.

It’s hard to discuss the story in too much detail as even the smallest piece of information could have 100s of spoilers attached to it, but Takumi games often have really “out there” nonsensical plots. This is sometimes too much for some gamers; a lot of people especially get grumpy about the Ace Attorney series regular inclusion of spirit mediums into the plots, but Takumi gets away with it because he grounds everything with the characters.


Takumi views his characters as the foundation of the craziness not crash test dummies that the craziness just happens to slam into, and as nuts and convoluted as Ghost Trick gets you’ll come out of it remembering the people more than the events. The ending of this game really doesn’t work for some people, but gosh darn it, it’s such a pleasant ending and so wrapped up in this worlds own logic it’s impossible to hate despite how silly it is. A lesser game wouldn’t get away with it; fortunately Ghost Trick is anything but.

As the comparison to books at the start and this review’s absolute refusal to discuss (or ruin) core plot points might imply, the main event of Ghost Trick is the story but this isn’t just an interactive novel, there is gameplay afoot. You spend the game moving around with your “Ghost Tricks”, these allow you to hop a short distance between inanimate objects and manipulate certain objects, such as chiming a clock or swinging a pendulum. Much more spectacular however, is the ability to communicate with recently deceased spirits and rewind time back to four minutes before their death.

The core element of the puzzles in this game are these “four minutes before death” sequences, where you have to toy around with objects in a room to avert someone’s fate. It’s a clever mechanic in how the designers choreograph a death sequence, sort of as a “what if” scenario and give you limited tools to change it, as it also gives your ghostly spirit an excuse to actually communicate with all the other characters in the story. The one downside to it is it does mean basically everyone in the plot has to die at some point as part of one evening’s events, Lynne especially is a bit reckless as you’ll be saving her about six times in the game, you really get the feeling that as soon as your spirit fades away at dawn all these clutz will trip over their shoelaces and all die in one big pile and it’d all been for nothing.

Anyway, the actual puzzles are fairly trial and error in nature, but that’s not the smarmy criticism that it sounds. What the game does is give you situation and a whole bunch of toys to play with, you’ll probably spend your first attempt playing with them and getting everything wrong, but you’ll figure out what to do. Time is frozen when moving around in the Ghost World, and you rewind to the start as many times as possible and the game is never a douche about it, stuff just goes wrong in Ghost World sometimes. Solving a puzzle in Ghost Trick is more like completing a Sudoku grid than solving a crossword clue, you keep clawing away at it until eventually you get all the pieces in the right place and it all becomes obvious.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a beautifully presented story full of heart and spirit (hey this was a joke thanks for reading). Anyone who likes adventure or story-based games but gets frustrated at the structure of classic PC point n’ click ones should really love this, and anyone who is a fan of Ace Attorney or Professor Layton will be all over this as well. Whether you like, love or hate it, it’s guaranteed that you’ll never forget it.


Reviewer: Matthew Leslie


Resogun Review


Genre: Side scrolling shooter

There was a lot of pressure on Resogun when it was released. There are two big reasons for this, firstly it was a launch title for the much hyped Playstation four and secondly it was a free downloadable game thanks to the superb Playstation Plus service. This made it available to all new adopters of Sony’s brand new console and as such under the microscope. This game was developed by Housemarque in Finland who are perhaps most famous for their Super Stardust games which clearly have a similar visual style to Resogun.

A side scrolling shooter doesn’t sound like the most likely game to showcase a new systems graphical leap but Resogun really is impressive to look at. There are five different levels for you, all of which are cylindrical, meaning that the background is actually the middle of the world. The particle effects when blowing up enemies and the background crumbling as the level progresses really are amazing to look at. When the screen fills up with several enemies and you are firing frantically to stay alive this game really does look incredible and I feel it does show off what the PS4 can do visually, at times in the later levels the colours, sounds and animations on screen do look like art and just couldn’t be produced on older hardware.

The main appeal to me though about this game is that it is so simple to pick up and play, as I have already mentioned there are five levels in total, you can either go at these one at a time or play arcade mode and progress through each level in order getting harder as the game goes along. There are four levels of difficulty starting at rookie and ending in Master if you are good enough to unlock it. Sadly I struggle to survive long on this setting to really comment about it.


The simplicity of the game play is for me its strongest asset, you can only fire left and right with you standard weapons that upgrade the further you get into the game. There are only three different ships to choose from all with varying attributes from quick agile but lacking fire power to slow but as powerful as a tank. Finding the ship that suits your style best is part of the fun in this game, personally I like the Nemesis as it is the most agile which is a huge help as I seem to spend most of my time just trying to stay alive.

Your primary weapon varies in power and speed with each ship but the bombs you have are identical regardless of ship. These bombs destroy everything on the world in one fell swoop, great for clearing a congested screen of enemies but these are in limited supply and can only be collected by saving humans that are dotted around the world. These humans are an integral part of the game as they help you build up not only lives, bombs and shields but also points. Yes this game really does hark back to the old days, points are an integral part of this game you will want to be as high up the leader boards as possible and the difficulty you play at massively affects this.

How you collect points is simple, keep hitting your enemies and save the humans. If only it was as simple as it sounds, the more enemies you destroy the higher your multiplier gets but if you go a few seconds your multiplier resets meaning you have to plan how to kill the enemies so that you don’t leave a gap between the waves. Saving humans can help you keep your multiplier giving you a few moments before you hit something else. The more humans you save means more bonus points at the end of the level too as well as the rewards that they give you through out the level in the form of bombs, lives, points and temporary shields.


The end level bosses are superb, the varying difficulty levels really do make each fight different. On the easy levels it seems that the early bosses aren’t that hard to beat but on the harder levels you have to rethink the strategy you used before and most likely come up with a new one to succeed. This also applies to when you use different ships, each one means you have to tackle the bosses in a different manner to get to their weak points.

Of all the launch titles for the PS4 this was definitely the most successful exclusive in my opinion. Whilst on the surface it looks likes a simple side scrolling shooter that you think you have played several times before it is not until you have played it that you realise that it is much more. The simplicity of its game play proves that sometimes less is more this game doesn’t try to over complicate things making it so easy to pick up and play but, for me at least, impossible to master. It is great fun and the points system ensures that you do want to give it just one more go to try and beat your top score.

I am going to give this game an 8/10. I have played this game as much, if not more, than my other PS4 games, the only aspects that could be improved are the number of worlds and ships but otherwise this is a great fun game that everyone with a PS4 should play.


CastleStorm Review


Developer: Zen Studios

Type/genre: Strategy (Angry Birds meets medieval ages with castles, knights and dragons.)

The controls for the game when you first pick up the controller feel a little fiddly, but within ten to twenty minutes tops you’ll fully understand and be using the controls like a professional. Using the left stick you control and adjust a ballistic weapon, which is your most important tool in defending your castle. Using the right stick enables you to control the camera pan the environment and keep a eye on all the action. Both the bumper buttons let you select options to aid you in battles while the letter buttons confirm or cancel actions and issue additional commands. Generally although the left stick seems a little over sensitive and the controls a little confusing at times they do feel responsive, lag free and overall a pleasure to use.

The game has a cartoon like RPG feel to it, with the good guys fighting in blue and the baddies ranging from Vikings to Orcs and dragons fighting in red. Characters seem easy to pick out during the carnage with the camera picking out every individual no matter how far zoomed out. Cut-scenes carry along the story whilst clearly showing what is happening, not only does this make the game more enjoyable as you know what your doing but also can lead to some humorous and comical happenings to make you, the player smile.

Backgrounds are a pleasure to look at with something always going on while you play, these can range from weather elements happening i.e clouds moving or thunderbolts striking the ground to birds flying past with funny results from stray arrows.


Right from the start you know you’re in for a treat music wise, with a horn of war sounding then a medieval sound playing in the background. The menu music changes from time to time but is nothing more than a tune sadly, it does do the job though and helps the game feel complete with Zen Studios going the extra mile to add minor details. Voices during cut-scenes are sharp and clear with a narrator speaking over the top explaining everything that’s happening to help you through the carnage. During the campaign sometimes you hear characters shout “CHARRGE!” as they rush into battle, they also let you know clearly they have spawned with a simple “I’m here”.

The game feels smooth and fluent with the basic principle of physics being used to stop people attacking your castle. You start off with a basic ballistic arrow firing weapon that can be upgraded with the more kills you gain with it, eventually making it into a lean mean rapid firing machine. Levels start off easy with only a few enemies trying to attack your castle (of course) and you are learning how the game is played it only means things can and will only get harder. Fear not though as the more you play the game, more items and abilities are unlocked and buyable from coins you gain through the levels, in turn making your castle and forces grow stronger faster and generally more badass!

Levels range from defending your castle to killing so many people with headshots or destroying the enemies castle, these link well with the story explaining that basically everyone hates you and you must do anything possible to look after your castle, while stopping the on coming from taking your land.

Enemies vary from vikings, evil dogs and orcs together with dragons, giants and enemy “champions” to not only vary what your defending your castle from and killing but adding something different to game-play, ultimately forcing you to change your defensive stance and learn some new tactics.

Conclusion: In all honesty I never really enjoyed defend the tower style games, but with so many unique features being bought in to change the stereotype, CastleStorm really wants to push the boundaries of not only the players enjoyment but the game in general. With tongue in cheek storylines, endless customisation of your castle and unique little twists on missions. A very enjoyable experience that will no doubt make you keep coming back for more.


  • Endless customisation
  • Feels tailored to the player
  • Easy to pick up and play


  • Weapons can be a little over sensitive
  • Sometimes unclear on what to do
  • Sadly hardly anyone plays online so long waiting times for a game.

Link to Zen Studios:
Link to CastleStorm (Xbox 360) :
Price: ($9.99 or £6.75)
My Twitter: @Stemo666

Dungeon Keeper Review


Dungeon Keeper
Pub:  Electronic Arts / Dev: Mythic Games

Approaching this review, you may have heard one or two things about terrible gameplay, predatory business models and a shocking disregard for gamers shown in this title. These things are all true –  Even stuff you might have made up in your head, on the spot, just then. Dungeon Keeper is probably the greatest example of how the mobile game market needs a radical overhaul – and that action needs to start with you, today.

I knew this game was in the pipeline but had forgotten about it around release, so I was surprised to see a couple of YouTubers suddenly coming up with videos about one of my favourite older game franchises. I was not ready for what I saw on screen and – despite their warnings – went ahead and downloaded the game from the Play Store.

Dungeon Keeper does not fail because it is an inherently bad game. The IP of Dungeon Keeper is strong; you play the villain who builds a dastardly dungeon filled with traps and minions and you must defend it against the incursions of pesky ‘heroes’ and other ‘Keepers vying for power. The original concept came from Bullfrog Games who were responsible for many classics in the 90s (that have since been shat all over by EA – I’m looking at you, Syndicate) and was full of character and interesting gameplay mechanics. Essentially a realtime strategy game, you design and dig out your dungeon and interact with monsters to gather resources and fight battles. Playing from the bad guy’s point of view was novel, but the humour was what made the games shine.


Dungeon Keeper does fail because it treats you, the player, like an idiot. The redesign of the game needs you to be a hyperactive cash-cow, randomly clicking everything and throwing money at the screen – or it requires you to not really enjoy playing games at all, and instead merely check-in once or twice a day to tap a flashing button.

Like the original games, you still dig out your own dungeon. Again, like the original games you send your imps to dig out rock to make space for rooms. What makes it slightly different to the original is that some rocks take 4 hours or dig out.

Or a day.

So if the idea of ponderously digging out a 5×5 room over the course of a month appeals to you, then great. Go ahead and download.

Alternatively you can take what the game itself calls ‘quite the polarizing solution to make the timer disappear’ and pay. The game knows it is being exploitative. The game knows that it is cashing in on what are hopefully the final death-throes of a monetization model designed to mug, and mug heavily, a few people who get caught in its trap.

To put it simply, you can pay quite a lot of money to progress more quickly. Without paying, there is basically no game to speak of. Everything has a timer and nothing is fun. If you want to make the slightest change to your dungeon, the game sticks out its grubby paw and asks for payment – like a drunken busker stumbling his way through some of your favourite tunes and demanding cash in return for silence.

I don’t care that they got the original voice actor back to play the games’ narrator. I don’t care that there are a couple of moderately funny one-liners. Dungeon Keeper 2014 is NOT A GAME. It is a cynical and manipulative title that gives you no reason to play it. Were it to have been released at £15, with  no additional micro-transactions tacked on, it might have been worth a look – but I have neither the time, inclination nor bottomless pockets to discover what the ‘end game’ of this particular title might be.

I’d like that to be the end of it. It would have been nice if we could just turn away from Dungeon Keeper and never speak of it again. This is however, one final aspect that I have to bring up – just in case you come across this title in the app store and get confused by the ratings. Like many other titles, this game will ask you to rate it and – again like many other titles – it will ask you to give it five stars. Here’s the thing about that – if you choose 5 stars from the in-game options it will take you to the store page to rate it. If you choose 1-4 stars it will ask you ‘send feedback’ to them EA instead.

Sneaky. How many people do you think actually follow up, find the game page in the store and rate the title from there? I would suggest a great deal fewer than the ones who just click ‘5 stars’ to get rid of message.

I don’t know how to put it more plainly than this: do not download Dungeon Keeper – it sucks.

Do not tolerate ‘free-to-wait’ games that offer you virtually nothing in return.

Hell, even Flappy Bird offers a complete experience.


Reviewer: Karlos Morale

Dungeon Keeper is out now for Android and iOS

Dungeon Keeper is ‘free to play/wait’


Long Live the Queen Review


Long Live the Queen
Hanako Games

How is it that the animals are always first to know?

Look at almost any horror film you can name and the little barking doggy or the startled cat is the first indication, to any character willing to see it, that misadventure is about to befall. Animals, it would appear, have some kind of preternatural sense of impending doom – it’s just we humans who are too dumb to recognise it. Trouble is, as soon as our animal friends – whom we feed and protect for years – sense anything dangerous they give the most useless warning signals going. Oh, puppy is barking at the door? Well it could be that the old man outside is a hideous were-beast from beyond the veil, or it could be that puppy needs a piss. Thanks for making that clear, pup. Now we’re all dead.

Well, great news if you enjoy obscure animal signals leading to your untimely demise, because Hanako Games has brought us what I can only imagine is a world’s first ‘useless animal sign of death’ simulator, under the charming name of Long Live the Queen.

In this game, you play as Elodie, a 14 year old princess with gigantic eyes whose job it is to survive long enough to become queen – just 40 short weeks are all that separates you from the crown that your mother vacated by virtue of ‘magical mishap’. It would be nice to think that your soon-to-be subjects are all rooting for your in your bid to take control and have a bit of sympathy for you as a young girl who has suddenly lost a parent. Unfortunately, life in the court of Nova is a dangerous place and basically everyone has an agenda of some kind. Only by harnessing the skills necessary to be queen will you survive long enough to take the throne.

Long Live the Queen is a story that you read, with some game-y elements that make it feel very similar to a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ story. You make choices based on the information you have (or have learned from previous playthroughs) and hope that you are choosing wisely.

queen screen

Given that most people you meet seem to either subtly or openly hate you and want to see you dead, and that violent murder can come suddenly from any direction, you swiftly need to get Princess Elodie up to speed on how to manage the affairs of the kingdom. This is done by attending classes in various topics to increase your skills (hey, that’s a lot like life!) which could be things such as Public Speaking, Animal Handling or World History, amongst many others. Being a teenager, Elodie’s mood is up and down like a yo-yo in a hurricane and her mood effects her ability to learn certain skills at certain times. Happy Elodie wants to go running and swimming whereas lonely Elodie prefers more cerebral pursuits.

All of this is done in the vain hope that one day, your skill in accountancy or dancing will prevent you from getting stabbed, poisoned, blown up or any of the other fail-states that punctuate your story.

Fear not however, as death doesn’t exactly mean the end of your tale – rather that you begin it again – and try to make better decisions to prevent your demise.

In fairness, murder doesn’t always come out of the blue. Sometimes you might get a piece of text that describes a falcon flying over head and dropping a twig. Other times you might hear a dog barking. These are clues. And if you don’t have the necessary skill to interpret them, they are f*cking useless clues which – as you expire from eating poisoned chocolates or whatever – you realise it would have been better if you’d have picked up on.

Although there are multiple paths to victory, there is definitely an optimal way to play through the game. A wiki guide can take you straight through to the end with zero effort on your part besides a little clicking and reading.


So here’s the kicker – will you care enough to want to see Elodie’s story played out through to the end? Unfortunately, I’ve got to say probably not. At £7 on Steam, it really is hard to recommend this title when there are so many other games vying for your attention and hard-earned cash. Although Long Live the Queen is certainly an interesting title, there is little variation (the story can be virtually identical from playthrough to playthrough) and, once beaten, little incentive to return. It is certainly a charming game, with relaxing music and undemanding visuals that are pleasant to look at – stats screen aside – but I have to say that you’re probably better off watching one of your favourite YouTubers do a Let’s Play of it than play through it yourself.

Long Live the Queen simply doesn’t offer enough fun to make it a worthwhile purchase.

Now I am off to keep a close eye on my dog, in case she is trying to warn me that the new bowl which has appeared in my house is a bomb by going to sleep on the stairs and shedding exactly the same amount of fur as normal.


Karlos Morale

Long Live the Queen is out now for PC

Try the demo here

Hearthstone Preview


Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment

Here we go then; one of the most talked about titles in PC gaming has finally hit the open beta stage, so it’s time for everyone who hasn’t played it yet to stop waiting for access keys and start slinging fireballs and dropping Leper Gnomes with wild abandon.

For the as-yet uninitiated, Blizzard’s Hearthstone is a Collectible Card Game or CCG, bearing some similarities to that classic of the genre, Magic: The Gathering – a game which has transcended its roots in sweaty gaming clubs to make it a highly popular game across various gaming platforms.
You choose a hero and build a ‘deck’ of virtual cards with which to do battle against either AI or other players on your server.

Hearthstone is a turn-based game where you select from your hand of cards and try to whittle down your opponents life-counter to zero, thereby winning the game. Your only limitations are the cards in your deck and the mana pool (points to spend on playing cards) available to you. It is an intense game of strategy and counter play, with a nice dollop of randomness and luck that you need to learn to get on your side. Many forums ring with praise for the RNGesus – the god of the random number generator, and those who bemoan when he has turned away from them at the crucial moment.

So far then, so like many other CCGs out there. So what sets this apart from Magic, Scrolls and the rest?

Well for a start it comes from the mighty PC gaming juggernaut that is Blizzard Entertainment, home of the best-selling MMO, World of Warcraft and eSports colossus Startcraft 2. Hearthstone draws on the characters that are familiar to Warcraft players to populate its world and therefore comes with a strong personality right out of the gate – but that’s not all that it has to entice new players.

Hearthstone’s real strength lies in the immediacy of its gameplay and the power of its assets to grab the curious. Every card dropped onto the field comes complete with its own catchphrase and effects. Similarly, the heroes are all well-voiced and characterful, drawing players in and getting them to invest in what otherwise could have been a rather dry gameplay experience. Add this to the usually fast-paced nature of the turn taking and the rather glorious and visceral nature of the simple animations and you have a game where most people who see it in action think, ‘I’d like to play that.’

Blizzard pulled off a bit of a coup by releasing Hearthsone at the best price point available – free to play. This means that if you are interested in checking out their game there is literally no barrier to entry besides signing up for a account and having a functioning PC. Of course, being a collectible card game, the is the option there for you to buy packs of cards with hope of improving your deck, but with a bit of luck and some time spent playing you can build a decent deck from just spending currency earned in-game.

I honestly surprised myself after a couple of weeks playing that I put my hand in my pocket to buy a few packs of cards. I am the last person usually to buy into ‘freemium’ models for gaming, but Hearthstone manages to make the whole experience so enjoyable that I felt it was definitely worth supporting the developer and handing back some cash for all the hours of enjoyment that I had already.

And hours of enjoyment is right! There are two main play modes, the first being online play with constructed decks that you have worked on over time. This can be in either casual or ranked mode where you play against people of equal skill level to yourself and hopefully move up the ranks over time. The second main mode is the Arena. The Arena mode differs by seeing you use a deck that you have drafted for that particular play session. You choose a hero and then are given 30 sets of three cards, picking your most favoured one each time to build a deck with. Then you enter into the arena, playing against other people’s drafted decks who have the same number of wins as you from that particular run. Your session ends at either 12 victories or 3 defeats, which comes soonest. At the end of your Arena run, you are given a set of rewards which could be either gold, ‘dust’ (for crafting specific cards) or cards. It’s hugely addicting as the vast number of Hearthstone Arena videos on YouTube and streams on will attest.

OK, so that’s the praise and as effusive as it was, there is room for some complaints – although this part of the review needs the caveat that Hearthstone is still in Beta and is being regularly patched and updated. Firstly, the game suffers with some game breaking bugs on occasion. These come in the form of graphical glitches, cards overlapping and cards swapping position on the board. Although this sounds minor, in a game where strategy is everything, a random piece of misplacement on the behalf of the game engine can be hugely frustrating – especially if it ends your arena run. Secondly, there are some semi-frequent issues with accessing the servers which can prevent you from playing the game completely. Worse, on occasion the game will disconnect you from the server due to an issue at their end which results in a loss for you – again, less than ideal. Finally, although I would not call this game pay to win, it can feel a pretty unfair for newer players to see their plans destroyed by players who have ‘legendary’ (rare and powerful) cards in their deck. With experience you will discover that these cards are not necessary to win, but can feel like an unfair advantage when you begin.

Having said all that, if you can remember you’re getting into a game that is still in Beta and is steadily being improved, I can heartily recommend that you check out Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft right now. Oh, look – here’s a helpful link to help you do just that:


Reviewer: karlosmorale

Score – 7/10 (will rise when Beta issues are resolved)
Out Now for PC with Android and iOS versions to follow.
Hearthstone is free to play.

Character Cards

Community Review – MLG Pro Circuit Controller for PlayStation 3


We are pleased to announce the return of our community review section. Community plays a very important part at Frugal Gaming and we’ll be publishing reviews submitted to us by our forum members, Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

Review by Forum Member @csreynolds09

Ten years ago, Sundance DiGiovanni and Mike Sepso founded Major League Gaming, a professional electronic sports organisation headquartered in New York that sought to elevate videogames tournaments to viable competitive and spectator events. In the last decade its Pro Circuit has hosted and broadcast countless national and international championships, awarding victors with monetary prizes exceeding tens of thousands of dollars. These competitions illustrate that playing games is more than a casual undertaking to some; it’s an opportunity to fund an education, or secure a future.

When it comes to peripherals, particularly joypads, few third party companies cater to this breed of player. Sure, many may market their merchandise with punchy slogans promoting improved durability or game-changing features, though from experience the ‘style over substance’ ideology rings true too often. Not so with the MLG Pro Circuit Controller. Built by reputable manufacturer Mad Catz, its creation has been heavily influenced by feedback from elite MLG competitors. It is therefore a controller designed by gamers for gamers, but can it realistically compete with Sony Computer Entertainment’s robust and reliable DualShock 3?

On initial inspection, the MLG PCC is a hybrid of Microsoft and Sony’s first party pads. Its glossy chassis is modelled on the Xbox 360 controller, while its two convex (curving out or bulging outward) analog sticks and divided D-Pad are laid out as per the classic PS3 arrangement. But there’s much more to the product. Delve deeper into its packaging and you’ll discover a number of substitutable ancillary components, including matte finish faceplates, two concave (curving in or hollowed inward) analog sticks, an adjoined D-Pad, and an clip-on cartridge containing two 35g weights – all of which can be interchanged on-the-fly without the need for a screwdriver or similar tool.

Lift the primary faceplate from the five mini magnets holding it in place and you’ll gain access to MC’s patented ProModule system. Say you want to swap the right convex thumb stick for a concave one. Simply twist the analog module anticlockwise to unlock it, and remove it. Then, insert the replacement analog module and rotate clockwise until a click is heard. Return the faceplate and presto, job done. The MLG PCC’s hassle-free compartmental construction empowers gamers to build a controller that meets their individual preferences, be it an Xbox-style layout (left concave analog, adjoined D-Pad, right concave analog) a PS3-style layout (divided D-Pad, left convex analog, right convex analog) or an exclusive configuration somewhere in between.

The third-party pad doesn’t fail to impress from a performance perspective either. Its rubberized contours sit comfortably in the palms of your hands, and hours of continuous play can be had before your digits’ dexterity starts to deteriorate. A mandatory wired connection precludes battery-related disconnections occurring at inopportune moments, and the 3m gold-plated USB cable supplied eliminates input latency, ensuring that thumb sticks, D-Pad, face and shoulder buttons respond optimally. The most welcome function though is the trigger switch, a nifty trick oddly absent from the peripheral’s user manual. By holding down Start and Select for a few seconds you can remap the shoulder buttons so that L1 and R1 perform the actions assigned to L2 and R2, and vice versa (the joypad’s controller assignment indicator lights invert to notify the user that the switch is active). To begin with I found the change disorienting, but after a few Team Deathmatches on Call of Duty I’d familiarised myself with the new set-up, and it felt so natural that I found reverting back to the PS3 norm challenging.

Despite its alluring features, the MLG PCC is marred by a few inadequacies. For one, neither of MC’s D-Pad modules cut the mustard in terms of precision. Occasionally, pushing up or down will concurrently perform a task mapped to left or right, which makes executing combos in Tekken 6, for instance, rather cumbersome. The analog sticks take a bit of getting used to also. Apply a touch too much pressure when turning and a slight adjustment accelerates to a fast revolution. As such, aligning iron sights with moving targets in first-person shooters proves extremely difficult, and even after altering my sensitivity settings I still found myself doing an increased amount of strafing with the left analog stick to compensate.

The repositioning of the Start and Select buttons is sore point as well. I imagine they were moved to lessen the likelihood of pressing them accidentally during intense gameplay moments, but their new placement makes accessing menus and scoreboards in-game an awkward affair. Last of all, the premium controller is lacking a basic PlayStation 3-specific trait: SixAxis support. To most this won’t be a deal breaker, especially considering how few games nowadays harness the technology. Nevertheless, as someone who likes to revisit Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune or Heavenly Sword from time to time, its omission is hard for me to ignore.

Maybe I’m not the videogames God I thought I was, or perhaps I’m just too used to the feel of my worn, well-used Dualshock 3. Whatever the explanation, I wasn’t able to fully adjust to the MLG Pro Circuit Controller, although that’s not to imply Mad Catz’s joypad is a poor product. Its build quality is second to none. The innovative ProModule system offers unmatched versatility and personalisation possibilities, and FPS enthusiasts will definitely value the (strangely) secret trigger switch function. Dedicated and tournament-standard players will love this peripheral, of that I am confident, but casual and budget-conscious gamers might be opposed to investing £79.99 in hardware that marginally outshines Sony’s own.

Verdict: 7/10

Cheapest Price: £79.99 Delivered @Currys

Review by Forum member @csreynolds09

Follow on Twitter @csreynolds09

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Gioteck GC-2 Review – The Xbox 360 Flavoured PS3 Controller


I mainly play all my games on the Xbox 360 even though I also own a PS3. The reason for this is that I detest the Dualshock 3 controller, it’s too small, too light and just feels wrong compared to that of the Xbox 360. I’ve owned a PS3 since the day it was released and although I prefer the console over the Xbox 360, the gamepad just killed the whole experience for me. Games like Killzone 3, Uncharted, MAG and many more PS3 exclusives always frustrated me as my hands seemed to have turned in to claws that will only ever feel comfortable with an Xbox 360 controller in them.

I have tried many third party PS3 controllers that are based around the 360 design, but they were all pretty rubbish. They either had connectivity issues or dead spots on the thumb sticks that made playing precision games with any degree of accuracy pretty much impossible. By the time you had compensated for the controllers lack of accuracy in shooting games, you’d get a bullet in the face. This made me very angry as I am rubbish enough without this hindrance!

Then a friend of mine recommended the Gioteck GC-2 controller as it had some pretty good reviews. I went down to my local game store and managed to pick one up for £27.99, which is about £6 cheaper than the official Dualshock 3.  The first surprise I had was that the controller worked straight away without any issues. Just plug the wireless receiver in to the PS3 USB port and the controller connects straight away, this is one thing that caused issues with the other third party pads I’ve trialled.

The pad itself feels almost the same as the Xbox 360 controller and it also has the displaced thumb sticks that I love so much. The finish may look a little shiny and cheap for some peoples tastes, but the rubbery finish of the grips makes it really comfortable to use. It also has triggers that are far better designed than the Dualshock 3, which I always thought were dire. I have played Killzone 3 and a few other shooting games and the controller has proved accurate and responsive.

There are also a few other features on the pad, a few of them I will never use. There are various thumb stick sensitivity settings, force feedback that provides a satisfying amount of vibration (that sounds a little wrong) and a turbo button.

Overall this is a very good controller and I would recommend it to anybody that prefers the 360 style controller over that of the PS3. The only negative elements I’ve found is that the triggers and buttons are a little on the small side and could do with being a little chunkier. The bumper buttons are also a bit on the flimsy side. For all those lazy buggers like me, you cannot use the controller to turn on the console. You’ll have to get a large stick that can reach the consoles power button or alternatively get off your backside and turn it on manually, just like we did in the 80’s!

Frugal Gaming Product Score : 7 out of 10

Cheapest on-line price £19.99 here

You can find all GC-2 details here in an on-line PDF