Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst Has a Strong Story, Features Gadgets to Help Faith and Gets Very Vertical


It’s been a long seven years for Mirror’s Edge fans, but finally after such a uncertain wait, Faith is finally back and in a much bigger and more impressive way than any of us could have imagined. Gone is the gunplay, meaning that players can not use any guns dropped by enemies and many fans of the original will note that apart from the short and simple storyline, this was the weakest part of the game.

Included as well is an overhauled melee combat system, which feels much more fluid in Faith’s movements and to accompany this is a truly open world setting for players to traverse.

The City of Glass is Faith’s new playground and it is littered with various objectives the player can undertake.

Included in the demo for E3 but not limited to these were:

  • Billboard Hack
  • Speed Run
  • Delivery

Whilst these aren’t the official titles of the objectives, you can get a rough idea of what they involve.

Billboard hacking is exactly as it reads, you traverse the environment in any way possible to reach a high up billboard, press ‘X’ or ‘A’ to hack it and you’re done. Similar to Assassin Creed’s towers, though I’m not sure they really change the influence in a section or if they are more so for there for completionists, and to showcase the beautiful city environment. This was quite easy and I’m hoping the further you are in the game the harder they get.

Speed Runs are your time trial objective where you must get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the shortest time possible and where the game truly shines. As Glass is an open world with no loading screens, players can follow the set marker trail to reach their destination but they are not restricted to it. You can still take shortcuts if you find them to shave off a few seconds, and remembering the days of Mirror’s Edge, speed runners will tear this game apart.

They will find every little hole Faith can slide under, every wall she can jump over just to get there a fraction quicker, and with leaderboards you can bet some ridiculous times shall be recorded.

Last but not least there’s package delivery. These are very similar to the speed runs, but you’ll have enemies around most corners ready to take you down. This is where we got a chance to test out the game’s combat in all its revamped glory. Whilst I didn’t mind the combat in the original you can definitely see that Faith’s movements are of a more fluid nature.

She seamlessly transitions from running to combat and it’s a sight. I applaud the removal of gun combat because it took away from using Faith’s most powerful tools, her body. Combat feels less like a chore this time around and Faith is equipped with a whole arsenal of new moves to take down foes. There are specific takedowns that Faith can do similar to that of the Arkham franchise whilst she’s in the air.

This demo, whilst short, gave me a good indication that Catalyst won’t be disappointing fans of the original entry to the franchise.

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After the 13 minute demo had ended, I managed to have a quick chat with Erik Odeldahl (Design Director) who whilst new to the franchise, joins the team at DICE which includes 7 original developers who worked on the Mirror’s Edge (2008).

We like to think we’re catering to several types of players. We have a very strong story that brings you through the city, brings you into contact with all the important characters and Faith’s origins story. The free roaming sections are very important as well, we believe even players that don’t usually do that type of stuff we really hope they will play this one as well.

I also asked that since the game is now open world how vertical does the City of Glass get for Faith to traverse, as giving players this type of liberating freedom means the game world must be engaging enough to explore.

It’s gets very vertical after a while and we have gadgets, but we’re not ready to talk about those yet to help with some of that, so definitely very vertical.

Whilst they haven’t touched up on the gadgets, I’m assuming they’ll be something akin to maybe a zipline to travel from building to building. Heading closer to the its February 2016 release date we’ll find out more about what they will be.

Overall, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst to me feels like the game it was meant to be 7 years ago. No gun combat, huge focus on parkour movement, a beautiful city run by a controlling government with our runners and another faction at play, ‘Black November’, which we know little about.

There isn’t much more I can add unfortunately, the demo gave us a glimpse of how the game runs and looks and fans should be pleased. It didn’t give away any plot elements, as doing so would leave us over the 8 months with knowledge we can’t do anything with.

It was a perfect short demo to showcase the open world nature of the game, no loading screens, revamped melee combat and how much free roaming the player can do.

February 2016 cannot come fast enough.

Latest Clueless Gamer has Conan Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in Search of Female Companionship


If you’ve seen any if the previous Clueless Gamer segments from Conan O’Brien then you know that this weeks episode which focuses on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is no different. Massive warning though in that this video DOES contain big spoilers that could potentially ruin the game and a few of it’s moments for you. Watch with caution, but if you don’t mind the spoilers then by all means watch, enjoy and laugh away.

Watch The Monsters You’ll be Fighting in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


We’re deeply excited for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt here at OXCGN. We wrote about the game back in July of 2014 which you can read here, and again this year in February. The world of The Witcher 3 is not only beautiful but alive. As made apparent by the latest trailer titled “Monsters’ released by CD Projekt Red.

If you can’t wait until May 19th to get your fix, why not watch the video embedded below and learn about the terrors that wait for you.

Kirby’s Deluxe eShop Releases: Are They Worth Your Money?


I’ve had the opportunity, over the last few days, to play through two Nintendo 3DS eShop titles that came out recently: Kirby Fighters Deluxe, and Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe. Both are short, fun experiences centred in the Kirby universe that cater to a handheld game’s strengths – that is: A game that is immediately accessible, fun to play, and works well when played in short bursts. But, do these games have enough substance to warrant a purchase? That all depends on what you like.

Kirby Fighters Deluxe can best be described as ‘Smash Bros. Lite’, in that it plays almost identically to Smash. However, there are a few changes that affect the overall experience dramatically, some for better, and some for worse. For example, replacing the Smash Bros. trademark percentage based damage system is a more traditional life meter which is depleted as you are attacked, ensuring that matches do not run on too long, as can be an issue in Smash if you are having a hard time taking out a particularly tricky enemy and are nearing your bus stop.

In my time playing the game, each time I played through the single player portion (Which is very similar to the ‘classic’ mode in Smash, in that you choose your ‘character’ and face off against varying combinations of enemies until reaching the final boss) my play through lasted well short of 10 minutes, my best time being just under 5. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, for a handheld game – but I wonder how much enjoyment someone can get out of a game that could theoretically be 100% in a few hours.
There is a multiplayer portion which is locked to Local/Download Play, which meant I was unfortunately unable to try it out. If it is anything like the 4 player matches in the single player, however, I imagine it would be quite fun – though after one or two matches I suspect your group would want to transition to Smash for a more robust experience.

The biggest problem, however, is that there is only one playable character: Kirby. Replacing multiple characters are several ‘copy’ versions of Kirby, such as the swordsman version which looks as though Kirby copied Link’s abilities, or a Hammer version which appears to take after King Dedede. While each version plays differently enough, they all handle in the same, floaty way, leading to short battles that still manage to feel slow and weighed down. Kirby is a fun character when contrasted to someone like Greninja, but when fighting multiple Kirbys the entire match grinds to a standstill.

Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe, however, doesn’t hold a major comparison to another title on the system. You play as King Dedede, everyone’s favourite hammer welding penguin, and bounce across the stage to the beat of the background music. By pressing A with the beat of the drum’s main beat, you allow Dedede to jump higher off of the drums that support the stage, allowing him to reach higher coins and rack up a higher score. If you hit A on the off beat, Dedede will clap, or interact with objects in the environment, also adding to your score. The game becomes quite tricky, with drums that move out of the way while you are falling toward them, spiked pits, and enemies will block your path if you are at a certain jump height, ensuring you must always be looking ahead and deciding which jump to make.

While fun, Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe also suffers from the same problem as Kirby Fighters Deluxe in that there is not much content available. There are 7 stages, with a rise in the difficulty as you progress, followed by 7 ‘secret’ harder versions of the same levels. Some of them get very tricky, with spiked hoops you must jump through, and the concentration it takes to hit every off beat while also maintaining an optimal run through a stage is difficult to maintain, but once I’d played through them I never felt compelled to return and attempt to beat my score. This kind of game works well on a handheld, with easy, enjoyable gameplay that can be picked up easily, however, I don’t feel like it has enough hooks to actually keep you playing.

Overall, I think both games are pretty good, and worth your time if you are interested, but are vastly overshadowed by the breadth of amazing titles on the system already: Both 3DS exclusive games and older virtual console games that can be cheaper than the AU$9.10 that is being asked for each of these. While I had a fun couple hours with these games, I can’t see myself putting much more time into them: There is simply too much else to play.

The Escapists and Twitch are a Deadly Concoction of Addiction


Like any good thief or con artist, the key to success is always a well thought out plan. However, in most circumstances a good plan won’t always result in a perfection execution. This rings true in The Escapists, in that even if you’ve planned out exactly how you’re going to escape and when to do it, you can’t always expect that you won’t run into any big hiccup that derails everything you’ve worked hard for.

After streaming the game for the better of 9 hours during my 3 playthroughs on Twitch, I hadn’t escaped the first and easiest prison, but I was determined.

Determined to sacrifice hours of my life, deprive myself of sleep, all to complete one section and entertain those who were watching. Spending an hour just figuring out what the hell to do, I came to the conclusion that Team17 had drawn inspiration from, FromSoftware. Thrown into the deep end after a very short tutorial on the basic game mechanics, and are expected to escape.

Running around performing daily tasks as to not raise suspicion with the guards, helping out other inmates to gain their trust, working out, stealing from inmates desks and more. Crafting items that will aid you in escape, hiding contraband as to not have them taken off you if you get knocked out or thrown into solitary confinement.

For a simple top down 8-bit game, it is extremely difficult and quite addictive.

TheEscapists (3)

After figuring out what to do and crafting a shovel, when I started digging in my cell at night, I had forgotten to cover the hole with my desk, thus being caught and losing all my items. The next time I dug, I had acquired a guards outfit and a strong shovel through crafting, only to dig right in front of a guard tower as they hadn’t gone to sleep yet. Scrapping the digging and going for cutting the fence, I had all the tools needed to simply cut and escape, however again I didn’t think to wait for the guards in the outside towers to fall asleep.

All this over the course of 9 hours and even then I still hadn’t discovered the other ways I could have escaped the prison. Crafting duplicate coloured keys to open certain locked doors or climbing through vents to easily move around the prison at night. The possibilities were endless and I still needed to go about my daily routine. Working my job to earn cash, fulfilling tasks for other inmates to gain trust and have the ability to purchase items off of them.

Being in line for roll call morning and night, attending breakfast, lunch and dinner, exercising, and also shower time. Of course, during some of the tasks a player can choose to shakedown cell desks, and steal items with no penalty unless caught. Just don’t deprive yourself of the ability to increase your intelligence, speed and health as they are required for harder prison if you wish to escape.

TheEscapists (5)

It’s crazy how a game like this can be so addictive, but it’s a testament to the fact that no matter how many times you fail, it makes succeeding that much sweeter. Like watching others player Super Meat Boy or Spelunky on Twitch, they might not be good at the time or take ages to complete a section but it’s the journey that matters. Being there through the tough and intense times makes for a great experience and even interacting with the person you’re watching giving them advice and hoping they succeed makes for great viewing.

I’m really happy that games like this are available on consoles, because I can come home after a day of work or gym, sit down turn on my Xbox One or PS4 and relax for a few hours in frustration. With in-built Twitch apps in both consoles making it easier for gamers to share content, it can get very time consuming watching others try to complete prisons you took hours to do.

OXCGN’s Best and Worst of 2014


It has been a busy year in gaming with next gen consoles building momentum and some absolute gems released on older systems the staff at OXCGN rate their best and worst of 2014.

Yvan:

Best of 2014

Bayonetta 2 Header

Bayonetta 2 (WiiU)

The original Bayonetta was a fantastic game when it was released for the Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2010 (despite the poor porting effort for the PS3 version). When Nintendo decided to publish Bayonetta 2 people were worried that it would be far more toned down that the original.

Boy, they could not have been more wrong.

Not only is Bayonetta 2 a blast to play but also it is just as outlandish and crazy as it predecessor.

The biggest shame about Bayonetta 2 is how its WiiU exclusivity will keep many from playing it.

South Park - SoT5

South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

I almost forgot about this game, since it came out so early this year. But picking it up again has reminded me of how fantastic of a job they did making it look, feel and sound like South Park.

Playing it, you really notice the love and care that was put into the game; this is probably one of the best licensed TV show games ever made

Super Smash Bros Wii U logo

Super Smash Bros. (WiiU)

The WiiU version of Smash oozes with polish; the huge roster of characters, the large selection of stages and the introduction of the Amiibos as a means to deliver additional characters on top of standard DLC has elevated Smash from the best fighting game on the WiiU to one of the best fighting games available..

Worst of 2014

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (WiiU)

Sega delivers yet another terrible Sonic game. Plagued with constant glitches, disappearing characters, baron world hubs and constantly dropping frame rates; Sonic Boom was Sonic Doomed.

From the get go Sonic Boom’s future looked bleak. With the project given to a small developer Big Red Button Entertainment, (which I originally had high hopes for), staffed by some former Naughty Dog employees, the Sonic Boom games (along with the TV show) was just another way to sell toys.

Rambo_The_Video_Game

Rambo: The Video Game (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Why was this released? I didn’t think there was any demand for an on-rails shooter recap of some of the highlights of the Rambo movies. The developers didn’t even bring in Stallone to record new dialogue all the dialogue is ripped directly from the films.

There are bad licensed games, then there’s Rambo: The Video Game.

Biggest Letdowns of 2014

Watch_Dogs Los Santos

Watch Dogs – Press X to Hack.

Hold on a second, don’t get all worked up. I actually loved Watch Dogs and tried to finish it as fast as I could. The problem with Watch Dogs was the hype – there was just too much. Comparing yourself to Grand Theft Auto V is never a smart move and neither is delivering a game that is drastically different to the E3 demos shown the year before; not to mention the lacklustre “press X to hack” feature.

Watch Dogs was less like an open world hacking game and more of a QTE game.

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Titanfall – Stand By For Titanfail.

Boy did this game arrive with a bang and then fizzle out very quickly.

For a game with so much potential it didn’t really go anywhere on top of that there was no excuse for the lack of any sort of single player campaign.

Titanfall lost its appeal very quickly and everyone moved on.

Destiny

Destiny – Uh oh.

Destiny’s development history is troubled and we may never truly know the details but one thing is for certain what ever was originally envisioned for Destiny certainly did not come to fruition.

With a very short unexplained story, the ‘light’ levelling system and a heavy emphasis on selling a season pass before the game was even released Destiny looked more like a cash grab than an exercise in story telling.

Dean

GOTY Picks:

1. Transistor (PS4)

2. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4)

3.Pokemon: Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (3DS)

4. Strider (PS4)

5. Heroes of the Storm (Alpha) (PC/MAC)

Best Game of 2014

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Transistor (PS4, PC)

Every once in a while I play something that reminds me of why I dedicate so much time to gaming. Transistor grabbed me immediately with impeccable style, incredible music, deep gameplay and a story that treats you like an adult – you won’t have every answer by the end of the game, and that’s fine by me. You play as Red, a lounge singer and the newest wielder of the Transistor (a strange, sword shaped device of unknown origin) who is being hunted through the city of Cloudbank by a mysterious set of creatures known only as the Process, all whilst searching for the people who killed your lover and stole your voice.

Transistor’s gameplay is like a mix between developer SuperGiant Games’ previous title Bastion and a Real Time Strategy RPG. You have an action meter which allows you to use your attacks, but each one drains a different amount from the bar, leaving you open and vulnerable to the repercussions of bad planning. This system is unbelievably flexible, giving you several skills, which can be equipped in 3 different ways, allowing heaps of combinations to be created over the course of your game.

Transistor came to me in a time when I was getting fed up with overblown sequels and within the 15+ hours I played it became not only my game of the year, but one of the better titles I’ve ever played.

Biggest Letdown

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Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)

Honestly I didn’t have a particularly bad time with Destiny. I spent several hours playing through the story and had a great time, but once I saw the end game content I felt no compulsion to continue. When the loot cave was discovered, I chose to play the game normally and I felt as though I was unfairly rewarded every time I finished a mission. Further seeing other players much better gear did nothing but push me away.

For a game that wants players to invest hundreds of hours I couldn’t justify the effort when everyone else was reaping the benefits of a broken system. When you based the attraction of your game on compelling loot make sure the system isn’t broken; all it does it drive dedicated players away.

Sorry Bungie the gameplay was great, but I can’t shoot at a cave when there’s so much else to play!

Jessica

Best Game of 2014

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When I think about gaming in 2014 I find it very difficult to name my favourite game of the year. There were plenty of letdowns (Watchdogs, Destiny, too many re-releases…) and the next-gen launch offered nothing to quench my gaming thirst. I mostly found joy in the smaller games that offered interesting stories and beautiful worlds. Every episode of The Wolf Among Us sucked me in with tense twists whilst Child of Light entranced me with its stunning art style but the game that took my heart was Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

Valiant Hearts was a masterpiece with its engaging characters that made me cry with barely any dialogue. I learnt an array of things about a war I’d never even heard of, I refused to use hints and complete each puzzle by myself and I enjoyed the stunning art style and music. It’s amazing how such a simple game can make the biggest impact.

Biggest Letdown of 2014

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There was only one game that I truly detested this year. Every gamer made it sound like a must play, with many rising up levels within a couple of days after launch. It was supposed to be a new MMO shooter experience in a interesting sci-fi world but it completely fell flat.

This game was Destiny.

 Sure Destiny had great shooting mechanics that surpassed many first-person-shooters but apart from that, Destiny had nothing else going for it. It has a boring story which basically had you gunning your way from waypoint A to waypoint B. You began each level on a planet at the same spot every time meaning you were forced to plough through the same old enemies who spawned at the exact same spot just to reach a slightly different looking area who most likely had the same enemies again and again.

The thing that annoyed me most about Destiny was how it forced you to grind in order to continue the story. It was common to be thrown into missions aimed at your exact character’s level until all of a sudden the next mission jumped up its difficulty drastically. Perhaps if each map weren’t so recycled I would’ve enjoyed leveling up and forgiven Bungie but no. This game promised big things but never actually achieved them.

Underrated But Dank Game 

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With the hype over Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. sadly my favourite Nintendo game this year was forgotten and it was Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. This game had some of the best level design for a platformer in a living and breathing cartoonish world. There were many frustrating moments, especially in those boss battles, but the difficulty of Tropical Freeze just kept you coming back for more especially whilst enjoying the flawless co-op. The art, four playable characters, backdrops, levels and music all fit together perfectly in one of the top platformers you can every play.

Arthur

Best Game of 2014

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Middle Earth: Shadow of Modor (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, PS3)

Quite possibly the only game to truly utilise the next gen persona. The Nemesis system is amazing for continually changing the hierarchy of orc captains and adapting their looks and attributes throughout the game.

The further you progress the harder it gets and with satisfying combat like the Arkham franchise, it definitely was a great game. It’s best to level up and upgrade your character as early as possible as the game does like to be quite brutal in many circumstances.

Biggest Letdown of 2014

Destiny

Destiny (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)

Sure the game is addictive to a certain degree, but the final product is nothing compared to what Bungie had envisioned. With high profile members of Bungie leaving well before the games’ release, doubts began to emerge about what would actual ship to players. These doubts where realised when the launch of Destiny came with an extremely short campaign, an overall lack of content and broken RNG.

The Tariray

Best Game of 2014

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC)

I have never felt so drawn to a game the way Ethan Carter made me.  The loneliness and melancholy was palpable, the hopelessness at times utterly tangible.

As someone who simply loves good story telling, this game got me hard.  There is something quite powerful in watching a story unfold before your eyes and ultimately, despite all your actions and interactions, be nothing but a bystander to a greater tale that you have no power to change.

Unlike other on-rails games – this game is not only beautiful and haunting, from the graphics to the music – but compelling and very deep.

I make this game sound like its terribly sad, and in a way, you are left with a sense of wistful sadness by the end of it that is actually really refreshing to feel in a game.

I want more games like this, games that elicit emotions that don’t run on strategy or adrenaline, but in empathy, curiosity and even love.

Worst game of 2014

Assassins Creed Unity

Apparently, Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Xbox One, Ps4, PC)

From what I hear hurr hurr – that Assassins Creed: Unity has really put its proverbial foot in it.  From not being capable of programming female characters into it all the way to not being able to program anything functional into it.  Hoo boy.

Look, sometimes, mistakes are made and Ubisoft is a fabulous company that does great work. Perhaps there were internal pressures, office politics and general asshattery that occurs in any large corporation.  I mean, we dished out so much pain on EA last year (and the year before) so I guess the criticisms had to go find a new place to roost.

But really, releasing what is technically an incomplete game? because enough Beta testing would have caught these bugs, these weren’t little oopsies, they’re signs of good work gone sloppy.  You don’t order a BLT sandwich, get just the bread and then be happy to wait for the pig to get cooked, the lettuce chopped and the tomato grown.

So – while I’ll be honest, I haven’t played it yet – I would say that the fact that the DLC to fix the bugs was essentially the size of the actual game makes it the worst.

Biggest letdown of 2014 – Gamergate.

Seriously, guys… that was all unwarranted.  All of it.

Best Cook: Lara Croft

Yeah, survivalist cooking!  If I ever invited Lara for tea, I am guaranteed some decent Deer Jerky.  Possibly even Wolf Jerky (I’m sure it tastes papery, like bark [eh?! eh?!]).

Worst Cook: Geralt of Rivia

Man, that guy drinks poison.  Never let him buy you drinks at a bar, or worse, never let him behind it to mix a few cocktails…

Rocco

Best Games of 2014

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InFamous Second Son (PS4)

When I was deciding to jump to next gen this game was a compelling reason to take the leap. I had loved the 2 previous Infamous games and really looked forward to what a next gen treatment of the franchise would bring to the table. Sucker Punch really delivered on this one, although it isn’t as long as previous titles and the array of powers whilst being very different aren’t as fleshed out as when we were playing at Cole the overall experience is pretty great.

The powers are all different enough that you feel the need to swap between them and whilst the storyline is rather simple and could probably have benefitted from a few more twists and turns the change in setting and direction provide enough difference from the previous 2 games that you never feel like you are retreading Cole’s story. I hope they make more games in this series and I hope they continue to explore other characters and settings within the extending Infamous universe.

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Hearthstone (PC, iOS, Android)

I have never played competitive card games and I was a little apprehensive to jump into something with such dedicated fans. I was terrified of being beaten again and again by players who had more time and who had invested more money into Hearthstone that I could ever hope to. What I found when I started playing on my iPad was a wonderful game that was easy to learn but supremely difficult to master, I would whittle away hours trying to figure out the best deck combinations and trying to master combos that dealt extreme amounts of damage.

I am still pretty terrible at the game but that hasn’t pushed me away, every battle is a new learning experience and on the rare occasions that I do win the sense of accomplishment is so great that I am hooked again for a few more hours. Did I mention the base game is free!

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PSVita)

One thing I will always love about the PSVita is the bizarre games that come out of Japan. Danganronpa came out in 2010 but was rereleased for the Vita this year. Part Ace Attorney, part Virtues Last Reward and always bizarre, the high school murder drama even uses elements from rhythm games just to keep things interesting. The murders are gruesome; the trials require quick thinking and the characters are so fantastically ridiculous that the whole thing is just utterly compelling.

I really recommend this game to anyone who wants to get weird but also wants to use their brain, nothing is as it seems at Hope’s Peak Academy just ask Monokuma!

PICKS OF PAX – Indie Edition


The Best Things About PAX Aus!

With all the huge titles about to debut, its easy to forget about the wealth of incredible and unique indies out now, coming soon and in early access. I’d love to list all the games I played on show at PAX Australia, but here’s some of my favourites direct from the show floor.

Never Alone – Upper One Games

Never Alone is a unique game that puts you in the shoes of Nuna, a young Alaskan girl. With a newly befriended arctic fox, the two of you set off on a tale based in Alaskan culture to find the source of a never-ending blizzard.

This game has an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic and does things only a few games have even attempted, immortalising a culture and their history, while showcasing it to and educating an audience that may never have experienced it before. The game plays as a puzzle platformer akin to Limbo or Braid with a co-op aspect, but also takes inspiration from some of the recent UbiArt Framework titles, Valiant Hearts and Child of Light in its approach to narrative. Another interesting factor of Never Alone is that each of the collectibles in game unlocks a small documentary style video relevant to its place in the game, giving cultural insight from the Inuit people that expands and contextualises what you’re experiencing at that moment.

Never alone launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on November 18 as a download only product from the digital stores. You can read more about it here. It’s an exciting new step for games, and it’s co-op features make it perfect for playing with a friend, family member, or even on date night!

Screencheat – Surprise Attack

Screencheating isn’t cheating right? It’s a legitimate strategy!

Screencheat keeps this philosophy at it’s core, creating a four person multiplayer game where you’re all invisible and the only way to shoot each other is by watching other players screens to track them down. The game plays surprisingly well, after one or two matches you really get a feel for the way it works – it has this real sense of nostalgia about it with quite a unique spin. The weapons you can wield in game are as zany as the concept, with electro-crossbows, a blunderbuss and even a hobby horse which allows you to charge into enemies. There is a lot of fun and laughs to be had here, a game that can bring even strangers together in a tense and fun match of old school inspired shooting.

Screencheat is available now for PC on Steam, GOG and the Humble Store. You can find those links and read up on the game here. So what are you waiting for? Grab a few friends and settle in for some seriously entertaining multiplayer sessions!

Submerged – Uppercut Games

Imagine the world of Wind Waker combined with that of Lara Croft. Throw in some survival aspects and you have the basis for Submerged, a narrative driven exploration game in a sunken wasteland.

The game starts with a young girl and a young boy in a boat, sailing amongst sunken buildings. You play as the girl, Miku, and carry the boy, Taku, to safety in a ruined clock tower, then begin to search for supplies and an explanation of where you’ve found yourself. After sailing around for a little while I knew this was a world I wanted to get lost in. The environments in this game lend themselves perfectly to the premise, blending mystery with a sense of adventure. The story is one which unfolds the more you play, taking you on a journey of discovery with the protagonist. This really looks to be an ambitious project, one which will be very exciting to dive into when it releases.

Submerged is due to be released in 2015. You can follow its progress for more information on Uppercut Games’ Development Blog.

Expand – Cjohnson Games

Expand is a ‘meditative’ game that follows a small, black square through an ever unfolding circular labyrinth, and strangely enough, manages to be one of the most powerful games on the market.

As you move about this evolving worrld, paths and arcs unfold and shift in quite an evocative manner. It’s one of those things you could watch for hours, with new and unique forms shifting out of the humble sphere. Add to this a truly incredible soundtrack and short, simple phrases and the game becomes a much deeper experience, hinting at higher meaning and allowing you to relate this small square’s journey to your own life experience. It’s simple, tranquil and ultimately emotionally resonant, and I’m sure each player will have new and unique experiences when playing it.

Expand is set to release sometime in 2015, and you can follow updates on the title here. The game will also ship with a level editor, something that personally I’m pretty excited to play around with myself.

Metrocide – Flat Earth Games

Metrocide is like old school Grand Theft Auto and Bladerunner had a baby. A pixel art, kickass baby.

As a famed contract killer you must navigate through this dark futuristic world, avoiding enemies like gangs and cops as you hunt down your targets. Permadeath is present here, making all your movements and actions even more important if you don’t want to wind up back at the start. The top down view and visual style really allow the tone of the game to come through without being over-complex, making way for a game that’s challenging but also a lot of fun. Fans of action-stealth games or anything retro inspired should really give this one a go.

Metrocide is out on Steam Early Access right now, which you can find here. You can keep up with the game’s progress on Steam or on the official website.

So there you have it, a few of my personal favourite indie titles from PAX Australia this year. There are countless more exciting and awesome indies out there, don’t forget to check out what else was on offer – and if I’ve missed your favourite please let me know in the comments or on social media!

Jayden Perry ©2014

SMITE: An Interview with Todd Harris


The Co-Founder of Hi-Rez Studios Talks about SMITE!

During PAX Australia the team from Hi-Rez studios were on hand to show off their MOBA, SMITE, to the general public. The game has been released and is free to play, available to download here, and I got the chance to chat to Todd Harris who walked me through what SMITE is, how it works and what the future holds for the title.

Jayden – First off, could you take us through SMITE a little? Its a MOBA, but it’s not as widespread as games like League of Legends or DOTA2, games people are quite familiar with. What makes SMITE different to these titles?

Todd – Of course it’s newer, so it’s still on the growth phase, but really what makes it different in terms of gameplay is how we treat the camera and controls. In most of those other MOBAs its sort of a 2D isometric perspective, the camera is way up above the map, like a bird’s eye view and you’re clicking to move your character. In SMITE you’re actually moving your character as the camera is right behind them. The combat plays much more like a third person shooter – you directly move your character, you’re right there in the environment. If your friend is sneaking up behind you, you can’t see them, you’ve actually got to turn your camera in order to see them. So the camera and the controls definitely are different, and that kind of trickles through the whole combat.

All of your attacks in SMITE are aimed skill shots, where in the other MOBAs some are but a lot are lock ons and you’re just managing cool downs. In SMITE if you play a ranged character, which we call a hunter, similar to an ADC role, all of the arrows or ranged attacks have to be aimed, they have a travel time and you have to lead the enemy. Same goes with melee characters, having to aim their damage cone at enemies. So for aiming and evading it comes down to player skill with the controls combined with the strategy. From a mechanics stand point these make it different.

From a theme perspective, you’re playing gods and godesses from mythology, so there’s a lot of characters people already know. Characters like Thor, Odin, Anubis, Zues or Hades, plus some that are a lot more obscure.

A final big difference is just the fact that there are multiple maps and modes. In most other MOBAs there’s your primary three lane map, and that’s the most popular, whereas in SMITE we have a three lane map called ‘conquest’ you can jump into if you like that MOBA style. If you’re not into that or want something easier to learn you can jump into other modes – here at PAX these guys are playing ‘arena’, which is a big, open Roman Colosseum, and more of a deathmatch experience. You don’t have to worry about lanes, you can just jump in there, have some good fun and be in and out in twenty minutes reliably. It just provides a different experience for players. We have five maps all with different art, gameplay rules for people to hop in and enjoy.

Jayden – Lots of MOBAs are notoriously hard to master and learn, but this seems a lot more accessible due to the third person camera and familiar feel. Do you think that this will be something that will lead to it gaining popularity into the future?

Todd – Yeah, I mean we’re trying to do both. We have a super competitive scene we could talk about, but when you’re coming in at first, whether from another MOBA and you need to learn all these new characters or if you’ve never played MOBAs before, we want to make it easy for people, so this game mode [deathmatch] is very easy to pick up.

The other thing we have that i think is a great system is by default when you start as a new character we have a system that gives an auto-build of your items and an auto level of your skills from our designers; it’s also customised a bit per game mode and per god. It may not be the ideal build but it’s gonna be pretty good. Your team mates aren’t going to yell at you for building wrong. You can just hop on in and all you have to worry about is mastering the skills with you god, not worrying about items, then later when you feel comfortable you can turn it off. It’s a pretty cool system and also something that helps expand the genre because a lot of people are intimidated by MOBAs; we think this will help get a lot of new people into it, whether it’s SMITE or other MOBAs out there.

Jayden – Could you tell us about the competitive side to SMITE? It seems you have some good tools for new people to learn the game, but what’s the competitive side like?

Todd – The competitive side is really important to us. Even in beta two years ago we began running tournaments every weekend just to see if there was going to be an appetite for competitive play, and there definitely was. We have teams at this point who play SMITE that players will recognise if they follow other eSports – names like Dignitas, Team Solo Mid, Cloud Nine, Cognitive, SK Gaming, all these have SMITE teams competing currently.

About two months ago we started the SMITE pro league which is six professional EU teams and six professional NA teams. We also have an amateur cup which lets people come up against these pros. In November there’s the regional championships in five different regions, leading to our first world championship in January.

Believe it or not SMITE is the fastest growing franchise to hit the 1 million plus event – there’s only three other franchises to reach this; League of Legends, DOTA2 and Call of Duty, and all of them have been around for a while but in the first year our prize pool is already 1.2 million, with two months left to go. Half of this has been crowdsourced through something we call the Odyssey – our version of Valve’s compendium, we really liked that model. With a January event, January 9 to 11 in Atlanta Georgia, we’ll see the best teams from NA, EU, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil and two teams from China getting involved. We’re hoping that in Season 2, now that we have servers in Australia, we’ll see Australian teams entering the scene as well.

Scylla, mid battle!
Scylla, mid battle!

Jayden – SMITE is running on PC here at PAX, but it is coming to Xbox One in the future correct?

Todd – Yeah, so two months back in Germany Microsoft announced from their stage that it’s coming first to Xbox One; I think the quote they used was ‘finally, here’s a MOBA that wants to be played on consoles’. That’s true, today it’s free to play on PC and we do have controller support, some of our players plug-in a controller and it maps really well. We think it’s going to be a really nice experience on console, and when you see it in third person you get an idea in your head of how it would map to the controller and not feel awkward, it’ll feel really natural. A lot of the work we’re doing now is around some of the UI on things like the item store and god select to make it a much better experience for playing on a TV in your living room. We hope to start closed beta for Xbox One very early next year and have it released sometime in the first half of next year.

SMITE was played by a lot of people at PAX Australia and always had a long line, so that’s a great indication of interest in the product. We’re very excited to see where SMITE goes in the future, as well as how the first world championship turns out in January 2015. I’d like to thank Todd for speaking to me and giving us a good feel for the game, and to Surprise Attack for helping showcase the title and setting up appointments at PAX!

Jayden Perry ©2014