Console Obsession My Wordpress Blog Tue, 17 May 2016 19:04:36 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Neverending Nightmares PS4 review Tue, 17 May 2016 19:03:38 +0000 Publisher: Infinitap Games  Developer: Infinitap Games  Genre: Horror  Players: 1 

Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: Vita

When you suffer from mental illness, you may feel as if you are trapped in a never ending nightmare at times, and being in such a dark place is where Neverending Nightmare takes its inspiration from. The creator of the game, Matt Gilgenbach, has had experience with both Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so he was certainly well placed to make such a game.

Neverending Nightmares is all about a man named Thomas, who falls into one nightmare after another. The story is minimalistic in the way it is told, using both dialogue and violent and disturbing imagery to get its point across. It manages to do just that, but do be warned that the game often has a depressing tone. Still, considering its brave subject matter, this is hardly surprising. Don’t expect to come across many nice things in this game, as such things are near non-existent.

Even though the game has a cartoon look, there’s nothing cartoonish about some of the horror you’ll come across in Neverending Nightmares. There are creepy dolls, violent death, ugly monsters and some effective jump scares to be found in Thomas’ nightmares. There’s even some horrific self harming to be witnessed. This is definitely one disturbing game, but it’s also an effective one at getting its message across


Things actually look pretty normal here.

You start the game with Thomas stabbing a woman, waking up and then getting up out of bed, and you then go exploring his house. His house isn’t the only place that the game allows you to explore though, with Thomas waking up in different environments. It’s one horrifying nightmare after another for the poor man and, as minimalistic as the plot is, I did begin to feel hopelessness for him, which was obviously Gilgenbach’s plan from the outset. With its excellent atmospheric sound and visual design as well as the feeling of despair that the game triumphantly conveys, the creator of the game very much succeeded with that plan.

There isn’t a whole lot to Neverending Nightmares. As you might have guessed, it’s a horror game. There’s no combat or puzzle solving as such, although, like I said earlier, there are some twisted monsters to be found deep inside Thomas’ horrible nightmares. You can’t attack the hideous enemies directly, so the best course of action is always to run or to hide from them.

The lack of variation is Neverending Nightmare’s biggest flaw, although it’s one of those experiences that is perhaps wanting to speak to you more than it is trying to be a game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad game, and it’s also a moody and memorable experience, but more variation could have made it into a better one. Your task is often repetitive, as are your surrounding environments, which makes things feel samey after awhile.

Taking only two hours to discover absolutely everything that the game has to offer, Neverending Nightmares is a very brief experience, although with how repetitive things can feel, at least the game doesn’t outstay its welcome. Different routes do lead you to different endings, and you can return to levels to play through and attempt to see the rest of the conclusions without having to play through the entire game again, which is welcome. There are three endings in total, although one of them in particular doesn’t really feel like an ending at all, and it just comes across as rushed. Even with the extra endings, the game is in no way as sensibly priced as it could have been, and slightly under £10 would definitely have been preferable, but it actually costs a rather steep £11.99 instead. PlayStation Plus members are currently able to buy the game at the discount price of £9.49 though, which is a more attractive price, but with the discount ending on May 19th, such members will now have to be quick.


You can sprint in order to speed up, although it doesn’t take too long for Thomas to start wheezing.

Visually, Neverending Nightmares takes inspiration from American artist Edward Gorey’s pen-and-ink drawings. With black and white being the prevalent colours, brighter colours such as red and gold certainly stand out when they appear occasionally. Thomas’ character model is also large and colourless and, with everything else, makes for a memorable look.

Neverending Nightmares is memorable and bold in many ways, but it’s just a shame that the game itself couldn’t have had more variation as well as a longer playing time to make it a lot more worthwhile. As an experience, it comes as an easy recommendation, but as a game, things could have been expanded a bit more to offset the repetitiveness and lack of variation that it suffers from.




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The Park Xbox One Review Sun, 15 May 2016 10:07:20 +0000 Publisher: Funcom  Developer: Funcom  Genre: Walking Simulator, Adventure  Players: 1 

Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4

The Park is another one of those divisive first person walking simulators, in which action and puzzles take a backseat to, well, walking about and progressing the narrative. It’s obvious as to why such a genre has split opinion, as the majority of walking simulators really don’t have too much depth to them, so an interesting story and an absorbing environment are real essentials for this type of game.

The Park is developer Funcom’s first console game in ten years, although this isn’t the first time that the game’s Atlantic Island Amusement Park has opened its doors, as the game was first released on the PC in October of last year. The Park is actually a spin-off of The Secret World; a 2012 MMORPG which was also developed by Funcom.

The Park is all about a single mother named Lorraine and her son Callum. Having just spent a day together in the Atlantic Island Amusement Park, a search for Callum’s teddy bear soon turns into a search for Callum himself, and things keep getting weirder from thereon in. The story is certainly intriguing, although I must admit that I could see particular things coming before they even happened; I’m either psychic or the narrative is overly predictable at times. Another issue with the story is that it starts feeling incoherent later on with nothing seemingly connecting; in the closing moments, I really didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on. A Google search soon revealed to me that many others have been confused with the plot, leading to many different theories as to what’s actually afoot.


Unlike Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, at least the game does have a run button. Saying that, Lorraine isn’t the fastest sprinter in the world though.

As you explore the gloomy environments, you are able to find text files in your journey across the spooky park, which adds further depth to the story, but it’s almost like the developer didn’t actually want you to read them. The text is so small and there’s not even a zoom-in feature to take a closer look at it. I played the game on a 42 inch screen, but it made no difference, and the only way I could see the text was to shift closer to the screen. Because of this, I’m sure that many won’t even bother reading these documents which is a shame as they are so essential to enhancing the plot, meaning players will be missing out on crucial information.

More positively, The Park is a horror game, and it’s a successful one at that. The game has a very creepy atmosphere, and I never knew what was going to happen next as I explored the not-very-amusing Amusement Park. There are some effective jump scares, which certainly brought back memories of Louise’s jump scare article and how games are often better at these things than films are. The horror and atmosphere in the game are definitely some of The Park’s greatest strengths, and for maximum scares you should definitely play the game in the dark.

Being set in an Amusement Park, you are also able to test out some of the rides, which adds a bit of fun to the game. There are seven to be found, and you might even find some of them scary in ways that such rides normally aren’t. It really is an effective horror, and this is something that the game does well. It’s just a shame that the rest of the game is lacking so much.

I respect the developer for being very open about the short length of the game, but sometimes you can be too honest for your own good, as admitting that the game only lasts for around 1 to 2 hours in the description, but then asking £9.99 for it is perhaps a little bit cheeky. Well, brave but cheeky. I know that developers have to make a profit, but it’s also their responsibility to offer value for money, and The Park doesn’t really offer this. After completion, you could go back and find some of the things you missed, but there’s little joy to be found in doing this.

In truth, The Park is not worth its current price, and is definitely a game that can be described as overpriced. If you really want to play it, I would recommend you to wait for the game to come down in price, or for it to hopefully appear on PlayStation Plus or Games with Gold, as there are far better games to spend £10 on. Don’t get me wrong, The Park is effective as a horror experience while it lasts, but the short running time and incoherent story puts this way down on the list of games to play.




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The Magic Circle: Gold Edition PS4 Review Sat, 14 May 2016 18:56:41 +0000 Publisher: Question  Developer: Question  Genre: Sandbox  Players: 1 

Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

The Magic Circle certainly threw me for a loop, and upon beginning the game I really had no idea what to think. It’s a game that made me experience a plethora of emotions, from confused to clever to bored at times. The story goes that you are inside a game – The Magic Circle – that has been stuck in development hell for the last 20 years, with the creators now feuding about what to do, all coming up with their own ideas about which direction to take the game. With the help of a guide known as Old Pro, you are given the tools needed to complete the game yourself, and what follows is something unlike any other game I have experienced before.

The Magic Circle begins quite linearly as it allows you to get used to the controls, and it is enjoyable seeing the game change before your eyes, with any other character in the game represented by a literal floating eye hovering in the sky above you, discussing what they want to do and making changes to the environment before you. Seeing them eyeing you up has a certain sense of intimidation as you don’t know what they might do next; you find a sword shortly after starting the game, but during one scene it is promptly taken away, and then a bit later you find yourself up against enemies, and it certainly instills a sense of panic as you worry about what to do without any form of defense – then it turns out you needed to die, with one of the characters then explaining what should or shouldn’t have happened. It’s a great game that messes you about no end, and really makes you feel as though you are inside the game and watching as the outside influences your environment.


The graphics are very surreal and give a sense of just how long the in-game developers have been working on their game.

You follow a set path at first, with some areas that you can veer off in to explore, but mostly the beginning is there to set up the story and allow you to get used to the controls, though, admittedly, it took me a tad longer than that for my brain to gauge what to do. The control scheme can only be described as smart though at one point I was so confused I had no idea what to do next and was trudging about, retracing my steps for a good half hour to an hour, and felt defeated when I resorted to watching a YouTube walkthrough until I got bored of that and decided to try on my own again; thankfully I hadn’t watched many spoilers. I did eventually come to realise what I needed to do, and then after a while of feeling so stupid that I couldn’t work out what to do, I began to feel clever as I realised that everything in the environment is there for you to use in some way; I just needed to connect the dots.

The Magic Circle is played from a First Person perspective and you are an unnamed hero. The game takes place in an environment that has two distinct graphical types, the first being reminiscent of such games as Neverending Nightmares, where the graphics look as though they have been scrawled with a biro, and the second being a pixelated sci-fi setting. The biro-like graphics certainly add to that unfinished look of the game that the creators are working on, and the pixelated area gives a sense of just how long the creators have been working on the game. Your job is to traverse the world and the clever part comes into play when you can ‘hack’ into and manipulate your environment; the main hero has the ability to take ‘Life’ and then can fill an area on screen to give it life. So if there is an area that looks ‘glitchy’ – known in the game as ‘ghosted’, an area that has been previously deleted – chances are you can fill that area with life, giving it colour and bringing it back into existence. This can be used in some way to help you progress, be it a bridge for you to cross, to an item that can be used.

There are enemies in the game and this is where it gets very clever; you can use Life to trap an enemy in a type of black hole, and then can hack into and edit that enemy, and there is various things here that you can do. You can take all of an enemies abilities, choose if they move about or stand immobile, choose whether they can be picked up or not and can even set who its enemies are, and who its allies are. Most likely for the enemies you’ll be changing them to allies, and whilst the game throws many enemies at you, you don’t need a huge army to succeed. You can also assign an ability to an enemy that has come from another foe, and this makes for some interesting combinations; The Magic Circle gives you the freedom to mess about with enemies any way you like and it’s fun giving them different abilities and watching their characteristics change, and this allows you to solve situations in multiple ways. You can even give life to inanimate objects you may find, such as mushrooms, a teleporter or a key, and it is certainly strange seeing items come to life that you wouldn’t normally consider as ‘living’.

So with this control set-up, it certainly sounds confusing and, for a good while, I was confused and it did leave me wandering aimlessly around for ages. I would walk to one area, look around and wonder what on earth I needed to do, and would try anything I could do with what I had at my disposal, then I would walk elsewhere and would think and do the same thing, possibly even dying in the process; the game is very much about trial and error as you get to grips with its unique control scheme. I then started to actually use my brain and after what seemed like ages, I finally worked out that I needed to use the enemies and the abilities to my advantage and suddenly everything became a lot more simplified; I finally started to see the good in the game and was thankful I didn’t give up on it, as I was so close to doing. The game was easy to complete once I understood what I needed to do, though The Magic Circle does throw you a curve ball near the end that I was not expecting, and certainly added some much needed variety to the gameplay.


This is a Howler, though you can change many of its characteristics, including its name. You can even set its enemies and, as you are unarmed, allow it to do your bidding.

The story itself is interesting though, amongst all of the confusion, I must admit that I didn’t take it all in right away, though do understand that it is a satirical dig about the gaming industry or some such lark. A lot of other reviewers have said the story has some dark humour and whilst there is some swearing and sexual references, there’s nothing that would deem it a dark comedy, even though it is stated by the developers themselves; they must have a weird definition of ‘dark comedy’. Some lines gave me a chuckle and the Old Pro is certainly amusing in his delivery, but there’s not much in the way of comedy here that gave me a laugh or made me think it was pushing boundaries. The voice acting is excellent and helps to bring the characters alive and, even though none of them are particularly likeable, it can be justified by the fact that these people have been working on a game for 20 years and so it is expected that they would have become rather jaded at this point. A young fan of the original game comes along to try and help them to finish their current project 20 years in the making and with her introduction, the game is not only taking digs at developers, but also devoted, over-zealous fans.

The Magic Circle has certainly surprised me and throws up many original ideas that make for a refreshing change to how you play. It may take some players a bit of time to become absorbed in the gameplay as the control scheme is different to what they may be used to, though once you understand how things work the game is relatively easy to play with a very creative ending. The entirety of The Magic Circle can only be described as creative, and it is a sign of good development when a game can cause so many emotions and you can tell a lot of effort has gone into the making of this game. It is by every definition original, and if you are looking for something different then this is certainly one to try.




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Push Me Pull You PS4 Review Wed, 11 May 2016 09:58:24 +0000 Publisher: House House  Developer: House House  Genre: Sports  Players: 1-4  

Age Rating: 3+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

As cute and quirky as Push Me Pull You is, I would say there’s not a lot to keep you coming back to play this game about conjoined worm-people and at £11.49 on the PlayStation Store, admittedly it is a tad over-priced; our recently reviewed Coffin Dodgers didn’t offer much in the way of content, though at least it was reasonably priced.

The premise of the game is to wrap yourself around a ball any way you can and try to keep it in your area of the playing court to gain points. To do this, you control a strange worm with a human head and hands at either end, stretching and shrinking its body and wriggling all over the place in order to get a hold of and keep the ball; the characters have no other skills other than stretching and shrinking their bodies, and this needs to be used strategically in order to win. You use both of the analogue sticks in order to move each end of the character, controlling the direction they crawl in and pushing your opponent in order to grab hold of the ball. The control scheme is difficult to get used to at first; it is one of those games where the controls will be easy to learn by some, but others will have a harder time adjusting as you try to gauge your brain to control the character. It’s a game that sounds simple, but is actually more challenging than you think. There is a warm up round before you actually take on the main game, allowing you to adjust to the controls and the way your character moves.


Keep the ball in your side of the court for a certain amount of time in order to gain a point.

The appeal of Push Me Pull You is that it is a game where you very much play with friends; up to four people can join in the game and there are multiple ways the game can be controlled. If there are four players, each player takes control of an end of the human-worm hybrid by using a controller each, or, if short of controllers, sharing two controllers between them, a player using one of the analogue sticks to control one end of the character, with the other player controlling the other end with the second analogue stick. Two players using a controller each can control one entire worm and two players can even share one controller, with one end of the worm sleeping as two competing worms are assigned to each of the analogue sticks. As there can be two people using one controller, it certainly tests your skills as a team player as you try not to snatch the entire controller and take over, or try not to nudge the controller so that the other player messes up their part, or desperately try not to pull the controller towards you for better handling. If sharing, you are essentially playing with one hand and this also adds to the difficulty of the game; Push Me Pull You certainly has a unique way to play in that, with four players, you do have to work together as a team in order to achieve your goal, and sharing the controller is certainly a novelty, the title very much reflecting how you play. Plus, with its local multiplayer, it is yet another game that will also appeal to those who prefer playing offline with their friends.

The premise is basic, though the game does offer multiple modes. Knockout sees you trying to keep your ball in the court, whilst trying to kick out the other players. Greedy sees more balls on the court, with you needing to keep every one in your half of the court to earn a point. In Halfcourt, you take the ball out to the sides to gain possession, and then bring it back to the centre to score, and Sleepy Time is for two players only and sees you playing with only one half of your character while the other is having a snooze. The modes do try to be different but the gameplay is still pretty much the same and whilst some people may find it fun and challenging, others may come to find it repetitive and lacking in substance.


You’ll find yourself getting rather tangled up!

The graphics of the game are simple and contradict the challenge Push Me Pull You offers; the style is very much like that of a children’s book, which is apt as the titular characters featured are clearly based on the pushmi-pullyu character from the Doctor DoLittle books of the 1920’s-50’s, a gazelle-unicorn cross with heads at either end of its body. The soundtrack will have your toes tapping and head bobbing, but, surprisingly, there is no music as you play the game, instead listening to the squirms and squiggles of your character as they lengthen or shorten their bodies and the tapping of their hands as they move about. The characters themselves also have some simple customisations, including changing the hairstyle and both hair and skin colour, and you can also choose what your teams colour will be. The number of points needed to win can also be customised to your liking.

Push Me Pull You is certainly a challenging experience, but I did find it to be quite repetitive after a while; the different modes try to offer something different but the gameplay is always basically the same. I give praise to the game for challenging the traditional way a game is played as it certainly isn’t traditional in any sense of the word, though this is one that is definitely best played in short bursts and definitely with friends; there is no AI controlled characters so there is no chance you’ll be able to play this on your own, with the game very much designed with local multiplayer in mind. A great game for get-togethers with several friends or if you are in a competitive relationship, but unless there is more than two players, the appeal of the game could wear thin very quickly.




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News – TurnOn features a city without power Tue, 10 May 2016 19:17:54 +0000 TurnOn is a puzzle platformer that puts you in control of an alien spark called Turnon. After coming to life and plunging the city into darkness when arriving on earth, it’s up to the little spark with the face to restore the power. Who ever knew that a spark had a face as well as a conscious?

TurnOn has you riding along electricity cables, and also has you solving puzzles and fighting enemies. Turnon is fortunately not alone in the city. A scientist, Professor Brain, finds him and befriends him after he crashes into the city’s power station. Brain has a minibus that features an electric generator, which helps Turnon in his travels across the city.

The story in TurnOn lacks cut-scenes and dialogue, and it’s all about the visual storytelling, which should please those who just want to get on with things.

TurnOn is due for release on Xbox One, PC and Mac on June 1st. The developer, Brainy Studios, is a team of only four people.



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Rocketbirds 2: Evolution PS4 Review Tue, 10 May 2016 19:12:13 +0000 Publisher: Ratloop  Developer: Ratloop  Genre: Action Platformer  Players: 1-4  

Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: Vita

Let me get this out of the way. In spite of its title, Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is not an evolutionary game by any stretch of the imagination. The title isn’t a complete lie, however, as this first sequel definitely does a number of things to evolve its own series, and they are improvements that makes the game feel less limited.

Rocketbirds 2 carries over the silly humour from the very first game, and it also carries over Hardboiled Chicken’s fight against the evil penguin dictator Putzki, who somehow survived the closing events of the original game. It falls to the heroic chicken to once again assassinate the evil penguin. The silly humour is likeable enough, and it gives the game a very light-hearted tone; if the thought of a gun-toting cartoon chicken doesn’t already do that for you.


Visually, the game has a cartoon charm, and the backgrounds have a 3D depth to them. Like the original, if you have a 3D TV, you can also play the game in 3D. Aurally, New World Revolution have returned to do the music.

Where the sequel has mainly evolved in comparison to the original game is in its movement system. In my review of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, I must admit that I neglected to mention some of the games’ limitations. The truth is that you were only able to shoot forward, and weapons could only be fired while you were stationary in that game. This has improved immensely in the sequel.

Hardboiled Chicken is a lot more agile than he previously was. He can now shoot while moving, and even when he’s jumping. Being able to fire bullets in all directions makes the action feel a lot less limited, although the controls might take some a little while to get used to. You move with one stick and aim your gun with the other, and, for such a side scrolling game, this twin-stick setup does feel fairly cumbersome at first. Given a little time though, you may just be culling fellow birds like an expert; spilling their blood and sending their feathers flying everywhere. The improvements to the hero’s movements means that the action is more interesting and varied, and it’s certainly smoother, more fulfilling and skill-based in comparison to the stop and start action of the original game.

The game is also more challenging than the original game was. Perhaps it’s because gunfire is coming at you in all directions, but things just feel tougher than they did before. There are also some difficulty spikes from time to time, and I did find myself dying and having to try again on a number of occasions, particularly on the final chapter of the game. I’m happy to say that the checkpoints are mostly generously placed though, and you never have to replay a sizeable chunk of the game to get back to where you previously were.

Occasional underwater, jetpack and stealthy sections are welcome, as are the sections in which you take control of enemy birds to do your bidding for you, Abe style, but, whatever you are doing, the action in the game rarely let’s up. Yes, Rocketbirds 2 is a sidescrolling platformer with a lot of shooting and bird killing, and there’s little else other than this. Because of this, certain sections of the game can feel slightly repetitive, but it’s a rare thing for the cartoon violence to not feel satisfying.

The game has quite a collection of guns, which grow over the game’s duration, but it’s just a shame that accessing them can feel rather awkward. You can only have two weapons equipped at once, and you’ll have to go into the menu screen if you want to switch one or both of them to something else, which can be frustrating during the action, particularly as accessing the weapon screen doesn’t pause the game.


Rocketbirds 2 features Cross Buy and Cross Save, which is useful for those who own both PS4 and Vita.

The main campaign is mostly good stuff while it lasts, but the cooperative mode also makes its return, now with a new name. The Rescue mode is a drop-in/drop-out mode which has players working together as budgie commandos to, as you might expect, rescue other birds. Unlike the original game, there’s online options here as well, meaning that the mode can be played by up to four players at once, locally or online. If you are a lone gamer though, the mode can be played in single player as well, which is the main reason as to why the developer decided to rename it. In single player, you can hire AI budgies to help you out. The Rescue mode gives you the opportunity to customise your load-out with unlockable weapons as well as the cosmetics of your chosen budgie commando, which also affects their stats. The missions take place in procedurally generated levels, and there’s also a hub level in which you can purchase weapons, have shootouts with your teammates in the Dojo, and head on missions.

Rocketbirds 2: Evolved feels slightly cumbersome and repetitive at times, and has some frustrating difficulty spikes and weapon switching issues, but it’s also a sequel that has evolved in areas that make a lot of sense. The smoother movement controls transform the protagonist into a much more capable shooter, the increased challenge renders the game more satisfying, and both modes are very playable. In conclusion, Rocketbirds 2: Evolved may not rule the roost of action platformers, but it still offers a fun time.




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Coffin Dodgers PS4 Review Mon, 09 May 2016 08:35:11 +0000 Publisher: Milky Tea Studios  Developer: Milky Tea Studios  Genre: Racing

Players: 1-4  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One

Old people and death are a fun topic for a racing game, don’t you think? I wish I could have been at the meeting when developer Milky Tea Studios discussed this idea. The premise sounds like someone was bored one day, had a random thought about pensioners racing on mobility scooters, chuckled a bit, and then thought it might actually be a profitable concept, a £9.49 profitable concept to be more precise, with a discount price of £8.54 for PlayStation Plus members at the time of this review. Generous.

So a game about pensioners racing, you wouldn’t really expect much, would you? If you said no, you’d be right, as Coffin Dodgers is a game that definitely lacks any substance, cruising by mostly on its ridiculous concept and people’s love of quirky OAP’s as opposed to the actual content, a game where you can definitely switch off your brain.

There is a story – and ‘story’ is used very loosely here – whereby a group of seven elderly characters, whilst sleeping one night, are each paid a visit by death himself, the Grim Reaper, who says he will be back for their souls in three days – why he doesn’t just take them then and there while they are sleeping is anybody’s guess, but this isn’t a story where you should lose sleep over the details. Deciding they are too young to die, they challenge Grim to a literal death race, putting their souls on the line. And there’s something about zombies in there too that’s rather glossed over.


The visuals are not the most awe-inspiring and come across as a bit of a lazy effort.

The story mode is where all the action takes place – again, using the word ‘action’ loosely here – as you race to stay in the game and avoid elimination by trying to stay ahead of the pack. There is a total of five areas to race in, including the aptly named “The Village”, “The Town”, The Farm”, “The Graveyard” and “The Showdown”. You can just tell the quality of the game with titles like that. With the exception of “The Showdown”, which has one racetrack, the other four areas have three racetracks each, with you needing to finish every racetrack in a certain position and avoid elimination in order to move on to the next area.

The racing itself is very simple, with decent enough controls. They do feel a bit finicky at first to handle, but nothing that majorly affects the gameplay. There are times when holding down the accelerator button at the start of a race can cause the character to wobble when they move forward, and you do need to release the accelerator button in order to gain control again, but this doesn’t have a huge impact on how you play the game or whether you win or lose. In fact, once you are used to the controls, it can be very easy to win a race, the difficulty of the game not offering much in the way of a challenge.

To help you stay in the race, your chosen character can use melee attacks and power-ups scattered about the track. The melee attack initially consists of you using a walking stick and swiping at other racers to stun them, or it can be charged up to completely knock them off their scooters. The power-ups you can grab include a machine gun, missiles, a protective shield, oil and other such items. When using an item to hinder other racers, a target marker will appear on-screen, though the homing of the weapons isn’t always very accurate and won’t always hit their target, which can be frustrating when you are in a situation where your only hope is a hit. There are no items that are particularly special, only useful enough to see you through to the end of the race.


Get ahead of the pack and avoid elimination to qualify for the next round.

As for the racetracks themselves, as mentioned, they don’t offer much in the way of a challenge and it is very easy to memorise the layout so that if you do choose to play through again, you will win without breaking a sweat. The races are on the short side, though can be customised to your liking, increasing the number of laps and hazards and whatnot. There isn’t much variation in the design of the tracks, but just enough for you to recognise that you are on a different track. During races, at times you will also need to avoid obstacles, such as cars, a paperboy and even a UFO laser beam. One track that does stand out is “The Farm” in which UFO’s have invaded the area and are abducting sheep. I do enjoy games that add minor details, and this is one such detail that stood out for me, but it is a shame it doesn’t continue for the whole game.

Upgrades are also available; winning a race will earn you coins, and you can use these to upgrade your scooter, improving the engine, gearbox, how many power-ups you can carry and unlocking more powerful melee weapons. However, even though there is an upgrade system, it doesn’t make much of a difference to the gameplay itself, as you can complete the game without even needing all of the upgrades, and could possibly even finish the game without upgrading at all.

In fact, a lot of what Coffin Dodgers offers seems superfluous and makes the game feel as though it was purposely made just to make a quick buck. The game really is as basic a game as you can get and isn’t even that innovative; I’ve played simpler games which are more original. It seems that a funny idea was formed, and the rest of the game was built around that idea, but with other ideas that aren’t very creative, with it seeming as though the developers are hoping that the game will sell based on its concept alone. It is certainly a fun, quirky game, but one that is not for serious game players and may even struggle to keep the most casual of gamers hooked. Other aspects that seem tacked on is the collection of XP that doesn’t seem to have any reason for being there – your upgrades are based on your coins, so I am not entirely sure what the XP is for; it could determine how many coins you receive at the end of a race, but if that is the case, it is not made very clear. There is also an open world area, because open world games are also popular right now, and it feels so barren, only having glowing markers that take you to boring mini games, that have you collecting as many items as possible within a time limit, or takes you to the races you have already played.


At no point in the game do you compete against zombies on scooters.

The graphics of the game are also lacking and Coffin Dodgers looks more like a PS2 title than a PS4 title, which is a huge step backwards in gaming quality. Why would anyone these days make a game that resembles a PS2 title? Yes, there are games out there that try to imitate older games, such as Nidhogg or Shutshimi, but Coffin Dodgers looks as though it was made on the cheap and comes across as quite a lazy effort. The animations are also limited to a few limb movements here and there and sometimes there is also slight lagging during races, which seems impossible considering the game isn’t really pushing the limits of the PS4.

There is a multiplayer option and you are able to play split-screen, the screens being split vertically in two player, which is more preferable as it allows you to see more on the screen. In all, up to four players can join in and, admittedly, this is the only part that actually feels as though it has been given some thought, and it is fun knocking your friends off their scooters and watching the amusing physics of the characters as they fly around, skid, become stuck in the map, or are unintentionally driven over by another character. Whether the physics in the game were done on purpose or not is questionable, but is still fairly amusing. There is also a Time Trial option where you race against the clock, but I doubt many players will stay around long enough to even bother with it.

Back to the story, and it really is lacking, and that is an understatement. There are literally only two main scenes the game offers and that includes the opening, created to resemble a comic book for some reason, and the ending, that seems to forget it was supposed to be styled on a comic book, and it isn’t consistent at all. A lot about the story doesn’t make sense, mostly because not much thought went into it anyway, and one thing that also seems tacked on just because it is popular right now is zombies. Zombies feature as obstacles on the tracks that you can kill and gain XP from, the excuse being there is a sudden zombie outbreak, though I do also want to mention the bit of false advertising; on the main image there are zombies on scooters, though at no point in the game do you compete against zombies on scooters, or even unlock any zombie character to play as. The story is that Grim kills any racers that are eliminated and takes their souls, though these racers are somehow still able to compete even though it clearly shows them being buried in scenes shown after the races. It also shows them rising from the grave, a hand rising out of the ground; are the eliminated racers now zombified and you get to compete against them in their zombie form? No. As mentioned, there are no zombies to race, and the eliminated racers turn up looking like their normal selves. The whole story has been given very little thought with so much added in as though it was a last minute inclusion, just to broaden the games appeal.

Overall, Coffin Dodgers feels like a paint-by-numbers racing game, one that has a funny concept, but a terrible execution. The game is by no means unplayable, but does come across as a thrown-together, cheap, money-making ploy with a lot of excess baggage added in order to justify the price. Milky Tea Studios also creates animations, so I suppose they have to make the extra cash somewhere, even if that means releasing sub-par games. Worse still, as far as I can tell there is only one unlockable, with the only other rewards being the PS4 Trophies you can collect. The multiplayer is fun to play with friends, but it is difficult to tell who the game is aimed at. The Pegi rating is a 12+ and so, despite its cartoonish appeal, Coffin Dodgers can’t be played by young children – who it would appeal to the most – though perhaps older people would get some joy out of it. As for more serious gamers, they should really give this a dodge; Mario Kart it isn’t.




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Paranautical Activity Xbox One Review Sun, 08 May 2016 19:16:24 +0000 Publisher: Digerati Distribution  Developer: Code Avarice, Digerati Distribution  Genre: FPS

Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

I’m a huge fan of The Binding of Isaac. It was one of the first games with roguelike elements that I played. The proof was there for me to see that roguelike games could have a lot of appeal. With Paranautical Activity, FPS and roguelike elements have been combined, which is an attractive prospect in itself.

Unlike The Binding of Isaac which has you making your way downwards, Paranautical Activity has you starting at the bottom, and then making your way upwards to the eighth and final floor.  But this is far from an easy task. The game isn’t a lengthy one by any means, but with its merciless enemies and random elements, it’s certainly a challenging one.

The game has a number of selectable characters, some of which are unlocked by completing set tasks. The characters have their own weapons and statistics; the latter determines things such as the speed of the character, their fire rate, health, and how damaging their weapons are. You’ll more than likely find a favourite character, one suited to your play-style. A favoured character choice may even mean a better chance of survival.

Before delving further into the game itself, I have to say that Paranautical Activity has a very distinctive look. The game is retro styled, with blocky guns and enemies that appear as though they have been built out of LEGO bricks. This blockiness, along with the lively Dubstep soundtrack, certainly helps to add some personality to the game.


Completing specific objectives unlocks new characters, bosses, weapons and power-ups. All of which will then randomly show up across future sessions.

As distinctive as the visuals are, the randomly generated environments are actually rather uninteresting, and this does make the experience feel duller than it could have been. With all the enemies that you’ll be shooting and killing though, the dark and rather boring environments are easier to forgive and forget during a play session.

Less forgiving are the dark floors. Paranautical Activity is regularly a difficult and fair game, but it does have some cheap tactics that it throws at you from time to time. Chiefly, when you move up to a new floor, you’ll find that you are in the dark from time to time, and it makes things a whole lot more difficult than what they already are. I wasn’t able to survive on any of the dark floors, and that’s because I wasn’t able to see what was going on. It just feels unfair.

Being a roguelike game, Paranautical Activity has its random elements. This means that every time you restart the game, the experience feels slightly different from the last. Like I’ve already mentioned, the rooms you visit are randomly generated, and enemies, items and weapons in the environment are also randomised. This makes the prospect of failure and repetition less of an issue, and, if the game manages to capture and hold your attention, you’ll keep going back time and time again to give it another try. Hopefully, you’ll eventually reach that elusive eighth floor.

The game goes a little like this. You go into a room, you get locked in, and you have to kill all the enemies in order for the doors to be reopened. You’ll also have to kill a boss before you are able to ride the lift to the next floor. Enemies are varied enough, with some firing a number of projectiles at you, while others disappear and reappear right in front of you. As for the bosses, some of these are brutal, and they include everything from a giant floating skull to a rolling snail.

The shooting is relatively fast paced, and you really do have to be careful in the rooms that enemies are present, which is in the majority of them. Learning the attack patterns of these enemies is a must and, initially, you’ll very likely be dying within no time at all; you may even struggle to get off the first floor. Even though it can feel a little clunky at times, the shooting is competent enough, and it does bring to mind the likes of Doom, which the game was partially inspired by.

As for pick-ups, these include some that you are able to purchase with cash that you pick up from defeated enemies, and others that are dropped after killing enemies or rewarded to you after beating a boss. Pick-ups dropped by normal enemies can only be used once, at a time of your own choosing, although, in the heat of the moment, they may just give you an all important edge. These pick-ups include temporary speed and damage increases as well as other things such as invulnerability and slow motion. Guns and secondary weapons can also be switched for free in weapon rooms that you may come across, even allowing you to get your hands on another characters weapon. During a session, all the permanent power-ups you carry stack up, which means that the longer you manage to stay alive, the more powered up you will be. You’ll need to be, as the further you progress, the more difficult the game becomes as a number of extra dangerous enemies are introduced. Some of the pick-ups have detrimental effects as well, with an example being one that raises your health but lowers your speed. You’ll be hoping that your current run will be kind to you every time you play, with a reliable range of power-ups hopefully being sent your way.


Killing enemies always results in a basic but satisfying shower of particles.

If you want to get as far as possible, you may decide to try and move up to the next floor as quickly as possible, but you may miss out on some helpful items. If you are an adventurous player, on the other hand, you’ll want to search each and every room on the current floor, and kill every enemy and mini boss before taking on the main boss in the boss room; indicated by a red door. Being bold can come with its own rewards.

There’s a lot of replay value, and I found that the game had that ‘just one more try’ appeal, as I intended to get further into the tower on my next attempt. There are also three modes in the game, which includes Classic, Hardcore and Endless modes. At the beginning of the game, you’ll only have access to the Classic mode, and you’ll have to put a lot of work in if you intend to unlock the other two modes.

Paranautical Activity is a brutal but likeable combination of FPS and roguelike games. It’s fast paced, very replayable, and the LEGO-like visuals give the game a distinctive look for such an FPS. The bland environments and the dark floors let things down somewhat, but if you enjoy the challenge and randomness of similar roguelike games, then this is definitely worth a look.




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Severed PlayStation Vita Review Sat, 07 May 2016 14:44:23 +0000 Publisher: DrinkBox Studios  Developer: DrinkBox Studios  Genre: RPG

Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Either I am getting old, or this game is brutally difficult. It is probably because of my age and my slower reflexes, but what starts out as a pleasant game, easing you in to its story and mechanics, teaching you how to attack enemies, use powers, transmute body parts you collect from enemies and so fourth, suddenly starts getting a bit out of hand, or at least it feels that way.

Severed follows the story of Sasha, a young, sword-wielding warrior who wakes to find her family missing and so ventures out into a surreal world of purple forests, caves made of crystal and many peculiar mazes in an attempt to find them, guided by a two-headed bird, with teeth in place of a face, and a mysterious figure in a cloak.

Severed has some good ideas and takes full advantage of the PS Vita’s touch-screen, with the player needing to swipe here and there in order to attack many foes, choose menu options and so on. The only other buttons used is the D-pad, or optionally, the analogue stick, used to move Sasha around the maze-like areas from a first person perspective. The controls are simple but clever and are very easy to pick up, allowing you to become quickly absorbed in the gameplay.


The yellow circle indicates the timer before an enemy attacks, and this causes havoc for you in later battles.

Except for when you face enemies, that is. The premise of Severed is to combat enemies and sever their limbs in order to combine them and create yourself ever more powerful upgrades in order to go up against tougher enemies. There are many enemies that you will face and they all have their own quirky design and attacks, and whilst the start of the game has a smooth, consistent flow during combat, later things become a little more chaotic. The more you progress, the tougher the enemies become – as is expected really – and they can start regenerating their health, have higher defences, use magic, and have a quicker time to attack, and it is this timer that really starts to bog the game down.

I enjoyed playing the game very much up until about halfway through, when the enemies become a lot tougher. As I have mentioned, it could just be my age and poor reflexes now, but it feels as though the tougher enemies are constantly bombarding you with attacks, and you really need to have the reflexes of a ninja in order to catch the ones that are launching an attack and stopping them from hitting you. Sasha has some advantages in the form of her Mana, and can freeze enemies and even steal their power-ups. However, these powers prove to be useless as you can only use the Mana on one enemy at a time, and even though you would think this would work to your advantage, with the attack times sped up, you will still have three, maybe even four, other enemies to fight against, all dealing you heavy blows as you frantically go back and fourth between each of them trying to deal them damage. Plus once you use the Mana, it is fully consumed and it takes forever to recharge, meaning you are not likely to use it more than once, maybe twice, during a battle, so is not something that is very practical during combat. This is a game where you really do have to rely on your reflexes, and as I have said, mine are in a pretty poor state now.

Other advantages Sasha has during battle include the ability to parry enemy attacks with her sword, and as you are hitting an enemy, each strike will slowly fill up her Focus bar, an ability which is used to inflict greater damage once at full capacity – still pretty useless when you are battling multiple enemies though. The Focus is also used to sever enemies body parts; if this bar is not filled up before you defeat an enemy, you will not be able to collect those all important body parts needed to upgrade Sasha, and it is recommended that you upgrade her as much as possible to keep in line with the tougher enemies, even backtracking if necessary, to find any items you may have missed. Sasha really does need to be upgraded; at the beginning of the game I missed out on exploring a lot of the areas and so missed many items that were crucial for me to progress, so from the very beginning, I would definitely advise to search every nook and cranny as you go.

Another sore point for me about the combat, however, is that when there are multiple enemies, sometimes it can also be difficult to see which enemy will be attacking next. As you are attacking an enemy, with your finger swiping crazily on the screen trying to deplete their health as fast and as desperately as possible, another could be preparing for an attack; a yellow line, indicating the timer, encircles the enemies health gauge as it counts down to when it is going to strike, and with you manically focusing on another enemy to even the numbers, your finger obstructing the screen, you may not see this timer and an enemy will then attack out the blue. This is ten times worse with the tougher enemies as this timer will circle a lot quicker, and if you are not fast enough – really fast – you will be hit by multiple enemies at once, depleting your life bar, ending the battle, with you needing to start it all over again. Another annoyance added to some battles include a timer in which you have to complete the battle within and this only adds to the exasperation of the gameplay.

So at this point Severed has become somewhat of a major frustration for me. I am not a huge fan of games where there is not much of a strategy to enemy attack patterns and where they overwhelm you with attacks, but other than the unfair enemies, there are other aspects of the game that I very much enjoy. The design of the game is lovely; the art style is washed with muted colours and sharp, angular lines being used for the characters and backgrounds. The story is basic with little dialogue and although it is not a stand-out point of the game, it’s still endearing enough, and the game as a whole does keep you interested enough to continue playing on. I also enjoyed roaming around and exploring; there’s secret items to be found that help to increase your Mana and health bars, and you can also slice through vases scattered about here and there to find body parts that can be used to upgrade Sasha, though you do have to be careful which vase you slice through.


The visuals are surreal and give the game a haunting atmosphere.

There are some puzzles in the game, but it’s not outwardly obvious that they are puzzles, with most requiring you to work out how to open a door, or some other type of doorway, to get to another area. Mostly you will need to pull a lever or hit a cymbal-like statue to get through a doorway; other times you will need to find pieces of an item in order to access another area to explore, and sometimes you may even need to use your special abilities to open new pathways. There are many places to explore and thankfully this exploration isn’t constantly being hindered by random enemies, allowing you to roam at your own pace and allows you some much-needed breathing space after a rather hectic battle.

Upgrading Sasha is also fun, with all the usual elements needing to be upgraded, such as health, how much health you regenerate when you land a hit, how much damage you take, and so on. You can also upgrade even faster when you transmute the body parts you find from enemies; combining them allows you to add further upgrades as long as you have the right amount in stock. And, as frustrating as the enemies are, they all have their own unique design, or variation on an earlier design as their strength increases, and they attack in a variety of different ways. This does keep you on your toes and keeps battles fresh so you never feel you are fighting the same battle twice – well, except when you die and need to start again and again and again…..

Despite some of my gripes with the game, that probably has a lot to do with my age, I still think Severed is a quirky and well-designed little RPG, though I must admit I have yet to fully complete it, but from what I have seen so far, it seems things are only going to get even more intense. It doesn’t offer anything that is truly exceptional, but is still a great title that certainly deserves at least one play through, so if you’ve got quick reflexes and want to put them to the test, I do recommend you to give this a try.




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SUPERHOT Xbox One Review Mon, 02 May 2016 19:50:34 +0000 Publisher: SUPERHOT Team  Developer: SUPERHOT Team  Genre: FPS/Strategy  

Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

SUPERHOT is one of those games that sits in a group of deceiving games that are a lot more than meets the eye. You’d be completely forgiven if you were to think that the game is just an ordinary FPS with shooting and melee attacks, as that’s exactly what the game first appears to be. The truth is that SUPERHOT is so much more than that, and it’s a highly unusual game that also takes inspiration from genres outside of the FPS. You can only truly tell the difference when you see the game in its stop and start motion.

SUPERHOT’s campaign is wrapped around a rather bizarre story that is largely told through text chat. The parts you control are actually meant to be a game, but it’s a game that you aren’t meant to be playing. The story is intriguing enough and rarely interrupts the game for too long, although it does come across as a little confusing at times. SUPERHOT’s best storytelling is definitely the tales you tell when playing the game for yourself, particularly as there’s nothing else quite like it.

So, in what way does SUPERHOT differ from the average FPS? Well, firstly, time only moves when you do, which means that keeping still results in your enemies pausing in their actions as well. This changes the FPS in a way that it actually feels very much unlike an FPS, with certain things about the game creating a feeling more in line with puzzle and strategy games. In some ways, the game even feels turn-based, which means that this is far from a typical FPS, and if you try and play this like Call of Duty, well, just don’t expect to be able to get anywhere very fast. Instead, this is a game that requires caution and for you to slowly check every possible corner, as missing an enemy can easily result in your doom.


The game has a jump button, which is helpful during certain situations.

When shots are fired, red tracer lines indicate the path of the bullet, which allows you to pause the action and then decide how best to deal with the incoming threat. Having bullets whizzing past your ear, knowing that your avoidance strategy worked or that you have just had a bit of luck are moments that get the adrenaline pumping, particularly as taking a single bullet always spells your end, forcing a complete restart of the current level. Even when you stop moving, bullets continue to move through the air in slow motion, although if you move too fast, they then fly through the air at a normal, more dangerous speed. As for firing your own gun, there’s satisfaction to be found in predicting an enemy’s movement, and getting your bullet to smash into his body. It’s electing what to do or not what not to do during your stationary moments that makes the game feel like a puzzle and strategy game, and also like no FPS you have ever played before.

The levels are often laid out in a way in which there’s no clear strategy as to how to complete them, and you are given enough freedom to work out your own means, utilising everything that the game gives you. You might find an object to throw at your enemy to stun them and to knock their gun out of their hands, and then coolly snatch the firearm out of mid air. If available, you might opt to go for a katana, use the stop/start mechanics to your advantage and slice an incoming bullet in two, and then continue to chop the intended shooter in half. It’s even possible to try and save some ammo by getting enemies to shoot out windows or to strategically manipulate them into the path of friendly bullets if you so wish, or to toss your empty gun at an enemy and then rearm yourself with their airborne weapon. Guns are very limited in their ammo, so the game is all about making each and every bullet count, and then hopefully finding another firearm once the ammo of your current weapon is spent.

Guns include handguns, machine guns and shotguns. As each enemy only takes a single shot to kill, the guns here show their differences in the amount of area coverage when fired with the handgun only firing off a single bullet at a time, while the shotgun fires off an impressive spread, which can potentially kill a number of enemies at once if you are able to line your shot up accurately enough. As for the machine gun, this allows you to fire off a barrage of bullets, allowing you an even better spread and to spray the gunfire in different directions with each press of the trigger. With all the latter said, all guns in SUPERHOT are an attractive thing to arm yourself with, although shotguns and machine guns are the most precious methods to help you succeed.


Fortunately, you can tell where enemies are going to appear. A red glow indicates their arrival.

SUPERHOT’s only enemies are the Red Guys, who are just as red as the name suggests. Like a lot of other things in the game world, they also smash up when shot. In fact, the violence here is actually bloodless, but you still get plenty of gratifying feedback from the Red Guys deaths, smashing up like glass in the way that they do when a bullet makes contact with them. The game could definitely be described as a smashing good time.

When you are able to kill all the enemies and complete a level, the game shows a replay, but as opposed to when you are actually playing, the replays actually show how things pan out at a normal speed. It’s an excellent inclusion, and you soon come to learn that SUPERHOT is a game that can make anyone look like Neo from the Matrix or Chow Yun Fat in any John Woo film. Even though you know that you have completed the level using time-based control and probably through careful planning and, perhaps, a bit of luck, the replays often display what appears to be superhuman reactions, and are just tremendously satisfying to view, particularly after a tough time in a stage which resulted in you having to restart a number of times.

SUPERHOT’s brief campaign varies things enough to make each level feel unique, and it also has to be said that many of them can only be completed through trial and error. Some won’t like this approach, but others will enjoy the experimentation, and will be immensely satisfied when they finally complete one of the more difficult levels. The game can undoubtedly feel very frustrating at times, but it’s never anything less than satisfying when things do eventually go according to plan, and then witnessing your much earned and glorious success on the replay.

Back to the brevity of the campaign, and it’s a shame that it can be completed in under two hours. This is easier to forgive when two further modes are unlocked following the completion of the campaign though. The Endless mode has you taking on an infinite amount of enemies and surviving for as long as possible, and there are also unlockable variations, which includes killing as many enemies as possible in a single minute. The Challenge mode, on the other hand, is exactly as the title suggests. Challenges include playing a stage with only a katana or your fists, and there’s also speedruns, amongst other options. There’s also hard and impossible challenge options which has enemy bullets moving faster, and enemies taking five hits to kill. The Endless and Challenge modes are very worthwhile extras, but in regard to the Endless mode and speedruns in particular, it’s a shame that there’s no online leaderboards to see how your own times and kill numbers compare to the records set by others.


I would mention Hotswitch, but I think that’s a feature worth discovering for yourself.

Visually, SUPERHOT can certainly be described as highly unusual. The game looks rather basic, but it’s also very striking as well. The Red Guys stand out in the white, clinical looking environments, as do the red tracer lines of the bullets, as well as the black bullets, weapons and objects. It’s a very stylish looking game, which is very fitting as SUPERHOT’s gameplay ideas are also amazingly slick.

SUPERHOT is one of those games that reminds me just how precious indie developers are in the current gaming climate. It’s a very inventive game with ideas that work wonderfully well, changing the way in which an FPS is ordinarily played in major and clever ways, and the game is just as satisfying as it is slick. Some may not take to the trial and error and often frustrating nature of the game, and it’s sad that the campaign is so brief and that the game lacks any form of leaderboards, but, for people that take to the game, everything else will very likely work like a dream; a surreal dream involving people made out of red glass, and spectacular shootouts that result in them being smashed into a million pieces.




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