Truth be told, I’d never heard of Bleak Sword prior to the announcement of Bleak Sword DX. As an Android user, I’ve become a bit secluded about what games are exclusive to Apple’s devices unless they make their way over to other platforms like Mini Motorways, Shovel Knight Dig, or even WHAT THE GOLF? has. Now, Bleak Sword DX is a tri-color RPG of hardcore action you could find similarities to Dark Souls , but it’s got enough going on to be its own thing. A game built for Apple Arcade only loses translation to other platforms in that you should absolutely play this in short sessions. I’ve oddly found that playing this for extended periods is detrimental to the experience. It’s certainly the first time I’ve felt this way for a game that’s come over, but Bleak Sword DX is still a must-play for its gripping gameplay and Gothic horror influence.
There are two things in life I’m not good at: Mega Man and speedrunning. I enjoy watching people play the series; I like even more to watch it being speedrun. But every time I tried playing it, I get demotivated. Dear reader, I used to look at Mega Man levels as this whole, giant, unyielding beast that needed to be put down as fast as possible. Took uncalculated risks, died a lot, thought to myself: “This game is too hard for me, I’m not good enough for it”. Fact is, I was being too hard on myself, and I learned that after finishing Protodroid DeLTA.
Urban Flow is a metropolitan puzzle game about traffic management. Baltoro Games’ has released the game onto the Switch and Xbox, and now has come to Steam. It’s not a powerhouse of a release for PC, but it is a standout game that has a lot to offer for all ages and skill levels. While traffic control on this scale is usually something automated through a city’s infrastructure, the game poses the question of “what if it was manual?” – and this is where you come in. Urban Flow is controlled chaos where its carefully constructed puzzles demand more of you with each new level for some surprisingly fun challenges.
LEGO 2K Drive, developed by Visual Concepts, takes players on an exhilarating journey through LEGO’s colorful and imaginative world. With its fun arcade physics and an array of exciting features, this kart racer is an excellent option for fans of the genre. The game has enjoyable gameplay, multiplayer options, immersive visuals, extensive vehicle selection, open-world exploration, and entertaining storytelling; all wrapped up in one full-fledged package.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a self-proclaimed “boomer shooter”, and largely succeeds and what it sets out to do. It fills in the blanks for a Warhammer 40K game to exist in this genre. Aside from its unique position in this genre, it is a somewhat forgettable game. What’s surprising, is that Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is fast-paced, contrasting that of the lumbering space marines we’ve come to know over the years. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun manages to be a fun run ‘n’ gun through its universe using a fun set of weapons, and not much else.
Miasma Chronicles is the third game from Swedish developer The Bearded Ladies, and is some of their best work yet with a winning formula. A miasma is “an oppressive or unpleasant atmosphere which surrounds or emanates from something”, thankfully the game itself is the completely opposite to that of the foreboding miasma that permeates the game’s story. Building upon the strengths of Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, what’s here is an evolution and a revolution. Miasma Chronicles has its own flavor of the XCOM-style tactical combat that’s equally visually stunning and brimming with personality for an exciting experience.
In gaming, few genres seem at odds with one another and feel like they’re strangely similar, one of those pairs being fighting and rhythm games. They stand at opposite ends of the spectrum, requiring distinct approaches for success. Rhythm games demand mechanical precision, while fighting games necessitate a profound comprehension of button inputs and your opponent’s arsenal of moves. But because both key into specific timing, one could easily see how these two genres could find harmony with one another, but alas, in the case of God of Rock, their integration with often results in a visual mess.
Redfall takes the open-world structure of Far Cry and marries it with the looting & shooting of Borderlands, and like those games can be played either solo or in co-op. This comes from Arkane Austin, the studio behind 2017’s Prey, and before that the Dishonored series – this is not either of those games, and it’s sadly not even close. Redfall has a solid premise, and while there’s glimmers of hope, it ultimately fails to deliver in all key areas. Redfall is a tragically disappointing game and an utterly low point for a prolific studio like Arkane.
Homicidal All-Stars was an apt and vastly superior name to what is now titled Showgunners , a very linear turn-based combat game that manages to keep some surprises within it. This comes from the folks behind the original Hard West and Phantom Doctrine, both of which featured great tactical, turn-based combat. Of all the games that I’ve played across the genre, I hadn’t played one with a game show or reality setting behind it. Turns out, the thing I’ve been missing was an audience cheering on my actions while a commentator gave play-by-plays of both sides. Showgunners has a wonderful presentation that does well to keep the energy high in this cyberpunk dystopian future of competitive television, and is bluntly good and shockingly gory.
Varney Lake is the second in series from “Pixel Pulps”, a franchise of games that began with last year’s Mothmen 1966 . This is a game about reflection, supernatural, and living with the choices that we make. While this is a game, it’s mainly a story driven narrative that unfolds before you in text, accompanied by its 8-bit visuals and chiptune soundtrack. Along the way you’ll have puzzles to solve or mini-games to play, but the story carries forward almost at all times. Interactive fiction, choose your own adventure, or visual novel; however you classify it, LCB Game Studios’ second game is a stroke of genius in storytelling with a striking accoutrement of visual and audio to make it unique.
Age of Wonders 4 ditches roman numerals for digits, but it doesn’t bring the series to modern times, it continues the long-running fantasy saga with a long-awaited and proper sequel. Triumph Studios returns nearly ten years since the last entry, and fixes a lot of the issues beyond combat and strategy that was lacking in Age of Wonders III. The wait for this follow-up has been more than worth it, and it’s a game that will have you staying for “one more turn” into the wee hours of the night. Age of Wonders 4 is a sprawling fantasy 4X RPG and tactical combat masterpiece that pushes the series forward in big ways.
The SteelSeries Aerox 3 Wireless (2022 Edition) is an impressive gaming mouse that promises a 200-hour battery life and sports a lightweight look. It fulfills those promises with uninterrupted gaming sessions and being able to forget that you’re even using a mouse at all, because it’s so light. It has a wonderful construction, despite it looking impossibly sturdy, and it’s breathable design keeps things comfortable even in the most intense situations. The end result is that the SteelSeries Aerox 3 Wireless (2022 Edition) is a magnificent and reliable ultralight wireless gaming mouse on a budget for wireless.
I don’t really have much of a connection to the Final Fantasy series. Sure, I played the NES and SNES classics, most of them years after they actually came out, and I enjoyed them well enough. I was pretty much out on the series in the 3D era of games, however, gravitating to D&D adventures in Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and the like. I say all of this to preface my thoughts in a way that will hopefully let you know that I’m not the type of person who will particularly relish in the fan service that occurs throughout Stranger of Paradise. I’m glad it’s there and my guess is the die hard fans have already made the decision as to whether or not they want to play this game, which has been out on Epic Game Store and consoles for a year. With the release of the game on Steam this month, I booted it up to see whether or not Stranger of Paradise holds up as just a good 3D character action game for those who still may be on the fence.
It’s often said that audio is the most important component of the entertainment experience; of course we all love flashy, gorgeous visuals, but whether you’re watching a movie, taking in a stream, listening to a podcast, or playing games, nothing will derail your experience faster than bad audio. In competitive gaming, every little bit of fidelity and clarity you can amass can be the difference between winning and losing a fight; in nearly every game imaginable, the experience is just better with higher quality sound. Humans are hardwired to optimize for sound; audio stimuli reaches our brain in 8-10ms versus 20-40ms for visual stimuli, and our reaction times for audio stimuli are up to 40ms faster than visual stimuli*. Sound matters to us, and Turtle Beach clearly understands its importance. Given its legacy of excellent gaming audio hardware, the company has proven itself time and time over, but it’s outdone itself with the new king of gaming headsets, the Stealth Pro.
If you haven’t played the early 2010s original from QCF Design, a real treat awaits you in Desktop Dungeons: Rewind . It’s the same game, with all-new artwork, some new twists, and still has the rock-solid gameplay that’s made it so beloved over the years. It’s a game I’ve had perpetually installed since it came to Steam, and I’ve been continually going back to all this time. Returning players can link their existing desktopdungeons.net account to utilizing their kingdoms and saves from day one, or start fresh. Desktop Dungeons: Rewind is a roguelike puzzler disguised as a tactical dungeon crawler with a dash of humor, for what is nearly unlimited adventures for decades to come.
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