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Rants, Raves And Reviews

Anodyne 2 heralds the return of anodyne bringing things to a new dimension quite literally as this time you explore a 3d realm in the overworld, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t stay true to it’s roots however as the 2d realms still exist, essentially in self contained dungeons as you have to enter people within the 3d realm inside their own nanoverse to clear the dust from inside of them in the 2d realms.

The plot itself follows the story of nano cleaner nova, born into the world by the center’s will to be sent into individuals in order to extract dust crystals from them which have formed in their subconscious as a result of fixation and obsession over desires manifesting within them, and by cleaning out these nova receives cards transformed from the dust by the glandilock seed within her. A lifelong companion visible at the side of the screen at all times, only coming awake in the presence of such dust clusters and perhaps getting a little too excited at their collection.

These cards along with collected dust are channelled into a prism in the center in order to ward off duststorms in the overworld and expand the center’s control and influence over the world. A clever way of gating off progress within the game through the overworld but also being used as a clever narrative device limiting the progress you can make through the world in order to keep you to smaller and more straightforward nanoverses until you’ve progressed through a certain point of the game.

The gameplay arc follows exploration through the 3D world interacting with the people around and discovering more about the world of new theland, whereas most of the puzzles and gameplay will takeplace in the 2d nanoverses within characters in the world, mostly in self contained dungeons so to speak within these people and whilst this limits the number of secrets there are to discover or ways to break the world which may be expected by people who played the original anodyne it helps with the storytelling as these subuniverses are glimpses into the subconscious of the individual and tell their own particular story whilst you’re in their internal world.

Every transition to the nanoverse involves defeating a rhythm based game matching the colour and direction of the incoming dust crystals, however I felt that I would have liked there to be more progress through defeating bosses in some stronger dust infestations and the like, where the only real sense of strong combat came in the form of two keys shooting love at each other later, or a wrestling battle system within it’s self contained dustverse other than the final boss itself, and this could have easily been incorporated in the form of inner demons and the like to match the lore being told by the game.

I liked that although they didn’t have the ability to truly break the game with mechanics to abuse that some forms of things being not quite right with the world existed throughout and that in particular there was a very broken NPC in the desert who took you to a special 2d/3d hybrid universe in it’s own spacetime and perhaps reality itself if you imagine that there was a greater universe at large furtherstill outside of the game boundaries, and that the game devs themselves still have a way of communicating to you the player directly in some aspects of the game; though I did find myself missing any way to truly break outside of the game into the minus realm or shadow realities outside of the intended game universe and find hidden secrets like the relics found in the out of bounds area’s of the first game for those who looked hard enough.

That being said that although these elements aren’t incorporated in the game even though such breaking mechanics and out of bounds unusual things do exist in 3d games of old and could have made a great addition to the game this doesn’t take away from the fact that the game is still really good and has a very gripping and interesting plot, ultimately giving you a choice in path’s at a divergent point, and also has many nods to the original game both in the characters but also locations (and even the boss battles) which may even hint that this could be a prequel with events as they unfold within the game, and whilst I originally thought that the addition of the nexus universe in 2d was also just an easter egg this actually becomes part of a larger 2d universe you are able to explore within the game and also granting you access to shrink further still into the picoverse.

Although the picoverse is very straightforward and cleverly matches styles with the commodore 64 era of 8 bit games and although larger more open world area’s of the nanoverse exist within the nexus realms this still doesn’t seem to provide any out of bounds access or special area’s of that nature or even further dungeons within dungeons of the overworld of the original game, though there is a clever taunt when you first enter asking why you’ve taken so long to reach this point as essentially it would have been the start of the game in anodyne, it’s quite far into anodyne 2 and the nexus keeper presumes you must’ve idled on the title screen perhaps for steam card drops (though he doesn’t directly make that reference I know people who do idle on titles for such before ever going to play a game)

Plotlines exist between many of the realms of the game piecing together a greater storyline as to what is going on even though each universe is it’s self contained environment, and a greater storyline of being more than just your being and how life is more about the friends and experiences you make along the way rather than simply being your job or a tool, and even further story similarities can be glimpsed without spoiling too much of the plot as these are things you will want to explore and discover yourself on your own journey through the game, because it’s all about the fun you have on the way not just what the game is.

There aren’t any awkward platforming challenges in the 3d universe and the puzzles are fairly easy to pick up and understand, and there are at least 9 hours to play through the game to a basic ending with a full completion one taking even more than that still, and although I would like there to be the super secret out of bounds out of storyline stuff, or some references to the artifacts of the first game existing within the 3D realms the game is it’s own entity and still a very fun and enjoyable experience. I would have liked perhaps a little more enemy variety as I feel they’ve toned down the number of different enemies and methods of progression from the first game but still this can be forgiven due to the nature of limiting the universes into their own entities and maintaining a separate 3d overworld, and whilst the bosses were battles you may have already fought in the first game in slightly different guises the nature of the world and the way things are feels different enough to not be stale or overly familiar especially if it’s been a few years since you played the first anodyne.

Get Anyodyne 2 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/877810/Anodyne_2_Return_to_Dust/
I would recommend getting the game if you get a chance, you’re going to have plenty of hours of gameplay and the puzzles and locations within the game do feel different enough to not feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over in each nanoverse which is remarkable considering the nature of the 2D universes themselves and the limited tools at hand, even in the 3D universe eeking out new content in just the right times and perhaps even hinting that they’re adding the content to give you a greater experience and more reasons to re-explore in order to keep it fresh. Pacing these changes out at just the right times to leave you with a fresh sense of wonder exploring the worlds at large. (or nanoscale)

The green man gaming summer sale is on now until august 7th and has up to 90% off along with the opportunity to get up to 5 free games which means there are some serious bargains to be had, however the nature of the giveaway can be a little confusing as the tiered games to purchase have a free game given away on a separate list so it’s not like buy one get one free within those tiers, and the silver and gold tiers come with an intel starter pack with a choice of 4 out of 10 available games for free so it’s worth knowing exactly what you can get with your purchase when making your mind up, on top of this any purchase made gains an entry into a giveaway with a grand prize of a INTEL® NUC KIT NUC8I7HVK gaming pc and a game bundle of 3 top titles to go along with it.

How Do The Free Titles Work?

Making a purchase from a specific band gives you a code to redeem off a specific list associated with that particular band, and all gold and silver tier purchases also receive a master key to redeem against an intel starter pack, where prizes can vary as raw data has already expired and been replaced from the list by another title

  • Buying a game tagged Gold gives you a free game off the gold gift list as well as a 15% off voucher code to spend in the summer sale and an intel starter pack master key to claim 4 free games out of a choice of 10
  • Buying a game tagged Silver gives you a free game off the silver tier list, as well as a 10% off voucher code to spend in the summer sale and an intel starter pack master key to claim 4 free games out of a choice of 10
  • Buying a game tagged Bronze gives you a free game off the bronze tier list as well as a 7% off voucher code to spend in the summer sale.

As well as this every purchase made giving you one entry to potentially win a new gaming pc on top of the already significant savings means there is plenty to tempt you available on the site and some serious bargains to be had that it can be pretty hard to find something you might want to grab from the sale, even if it isn’t buy one get one free on the same tiered lists there are some pretty good titles on both the redeemable prize pages directly on gmg but also through the intel prize pack.

What is available within the intel prize pack?

Though this list is subject to change as there’s already been a replacement within it, the prizes at time of print are
1. There Came an Echo
2. Star Wars™ Pinball (3 dlc’s)
3. Gas Guzzlers Extreme
4. GoatPunks
5. Raw Data (no longer available unfortunately replaced by) archangel hellfire fully loaded dlc (f2p pack)
6. Star Trek™: Bridge Crew
7. TERA: WinterWing Starter Pack (f2p pack)
8. Dreadnought (f2p pack)
9. AdVenture Capitalist – Savvy Investor Bundle (f2p pack)
10. Star Trek Online (f2p pack)

With all of this choice it may be a little hard deciding what you want to get, and while a couple of purchases on the bronze and silver lists will get you most things off the intel starter pack and reduce the value of extra free games in purchases the deals are still pretty good regardless. To help you narrow down some of the good bargains to be had during the sale I’m going to recommend some of my top picks from each category.

What are my top picks and bargains from the sale?

In the gold tier my personal choices are prey (which I picked up myself) and metal gear rising revengeance both of which have some pretty big discounts and are really good games as well as being rather cheap so you can get the maximum bargain with the intel pack and free game on top of these big bargains.

On the silver tier list my recommendations are dead rising 3 and borderlands the handsome collection bundle which at 91% off is a large bargain alone without getting the 5 free games along with it.

My bronze tier suggestions are rather difficult as there’s just so many to choose from, but Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition is one of the many bargains available at 80% off, and with so many other choices at £1 you can get some pretty good bargain games from this sale.

This is just the latest in many sales on the site, and they’re always doing great giveaways and competitions as well as the wheel of mystery and more competitions and other fun things in the forum there’s plenty of reasons to check out the site even if you’re unable to grab anything from this sale another will come along in no time, as well as some of the ever changing game bundles they have available for huge discounts

Check out the green man gaming summer sale for yourself at https://www.greenmangaming.com/?tap_a=1964-996bbb&tap_s=4707-cadadd

The current war is a biopic drama following the life of Thomas Edison around the time of the spread of the new invention of electricity across America, and how the battle with Westinghouse begins over who can establish dominance across the land as to who’s electricity is best ultimately ending with the war over who gets to build their idea’s into the world of tomorrow presentation.

It’s an interesting insight into the mind’s of Edison and the others as to what motivates them and how their interactions with each other helped drive the path forward to the modern world we live in today, and it’s interesting to wonder what might be different had Edison not have snubbed Westinghouse driving his train past him at the station ignoring his dinner invite, as this triggered Westinghouse to begin his quest to take down Edison and provide a cheaper and more efficient dispersal system, which is ironic because Edison didn’t want to talk to him because he believed he was trying to steal his invention, where it is later revealed he only wanted to know what it was like and how he felt at that moment inventing something new and never before imagined.

The drama remains high throughout both with events unfolding in edisons private and personal life as his wife becomes ill but also with the constant battles over who claims which territory of America as the sole supplier of electricity. While this isn’t usually a movie I would go see I remained gripped and interested throughout the movie as events unfolded and evolved the nature of the race to both supply electricity to the nation, but also the interpersonal natures of the characters and seeing their motivations and drives which lead them to never give up despite the hardships entailed on both ends.

Nicola tesla plays a small but very pivotal role in the movie and clearly deserves greater recognition than he ever gained in life as he came up with idea’s both ahead of their time but also the pivotal piece of technology which allowed Westinghouse and AC to become viable and run machines and not just lightbulbs. He started out being hired by Edison, who actively refused to work with AC believing it to be dangerous, and was promised a huge $50,000 bonus in the event of doing something monumental however when it comes time to claim such a prize Edison laughst it off as joking leading him to go off on his own, and lacking the money or fame the other characters have and being an immigrant he’s quickly taken advantage of yet again losing both his patents and his company in the process.

In the end tesla has a meeting with Westinghouse who’s desperate for his designs of a transformer that allows his AC current to work on machinery, without which his company would fail and ultimately Edison would win, however seeing deficiencies and desperation in tesla he makes grand false promises which take advantage of tesla yet again, where the movie reveals he dies without fortune or family never having been able to turn his idea’s profitable which I feel is a real shame because he should have reaped the rewards for his inventions without which AC would never have been viable, and the movie does end a little abruptly without following this plot to it’s terminus, but ultimately where do you draw the line on the path of electricity across the nation, ending with the world of tomorrow battle being won is a good as place as any.

While I wouldn’t've chosen to go watch the movie with what I’ve seen I was gripped and entertained throughout and learnt new things both about the struggles of establishing electricity but also the mindsets of the inventors and their motivations which drove them as well as the sacrifices they made in order to be successful. Whilst it’s a very narrow audience who may be interested in this movie I think it’s a worthwhile watch, and if you don’t go see it at the cinema I would definitely suggest you take the opportunity to watch it on TV when it inevitably airs as you will be entertained and there are quire a few twists and turns along the way keeping up the drama throughout.

Killsquad is a twin stick shooter mixed with elements from a variety of genre’s from novarama, and while the game at it’s core remains true to the twin stick shooter experience adding levelling elements similar to moba’s unique to each mission along with the variety in both the level and enemy design as well as the variations in the way all of the heroes play make this a highly polished experience and a game that stands out above others in the genre. Offering a choice of single player or online multiplayer up to 4 player co-op action without throwing overwhelming waves of enemies at you whilst keeping it fun and challenging.

The game has been released today in early access with a roadmap ahead for future plans and expansions, but they wish to see what the community would like and build the game towards what players would like to see as well as fix those elements which don’t work for players and this is a good way of designing the game going forward to ensure the community get the experience they would like from the game. Even saying this the game as it stands seems a very polished experience and while there are a couple of bugs like breaking animations or causing enemies to lose agro if you do specific things (and really actively refuse to fight you) these bugs are expected in early access and bringing them up helps ensure they won’t be an issue going forward.

At present there are 3 main area’s in the game each with their own feel and experience all being very different, and although the enemies are varients of bigger waves of enemies coming in for melee combat and differing long range enemies as well as a few special ones unique to each area the way they do things does feel different enough, and they all look like they belong in their zones where many other games of the genre would simply throw the same enemy at you in each area rather than having the unique variants designed to fit the area.

The zones themselves offer a significant degree of variety beyond simply aesthetics with the factory area offering zones which traverse between rooms rather than simply being sidescrolling as well as incorporating mazelike stairway sections, and it is inhabited by a variety of mechanised enemies who feel like they belong in the factory zone, where the open world zones have fleshy inhabitants that look like they belong in those zones, with cave spiders inhabiting a crystalline landscape full of crevasses and bridges along with natural disasters occurring in the zone and the final zone currently in early access being a deserted wasteland with flying prawns and other wildlife.

There are a number of touches which have been given to the game which normally get neglected such as background elements making the world feel alive from flocks of birds flying by, to machinery working along in the factory area’s. This along with the level of detail put into the animations and mechanics for all of the skills which do vary greatly from each individual character to make sure that they play very differently to each other despite being two shooting and two melee classes they all feel and play very differently to each other.

Many games of this nature would often have a purely cosmetic difference between characters, but you can see the effort made to ensure the heroes play differently, starting with one of the shooting characters having a selection of skills and upgrades which revolve around marking the enemies with your primary weapon to trigger skills on them later, which plays very differently to the other projectile character who fires a ghostbusters style laser beam and fires huge plasma balls as well as providing health kits on demand for any character to use to heal. The two melee classes also play very differently due to one being very fragile with skills designed for dodging and avoiding enemies, whilst the other gains armour for hitting enemies and rewards remaining up close in the combat as well as having an option for an ultimate which provides momentarily invulnerability for the team.

Every run is different starting fresh with a basic hero and levelling up in a mobaesque fashion from a choice of options to tailor the run to what you require for that specific level based upon your team and the dangers you are facing. Providing a variety of choices for level up progression from synergies that will be unique to your hero or skills that may benefit a larger team, it’s down to you to create a build that works for you in that current moment, and as missions are fairly short levelling and progression happens quite rapidly. The choice comes to whether to explore for more enemies and more experience to make the boss easy or rush down the objective to get the rewards quicker.

A roadmap for expansions has been set out showing that new area’s are planned and being designed as well as extra playable characters, and new factions which may be new enemy types or even lead to further levels and layouts designed around them and this along with the fact that they are planning on expanding based on feedback from players as the game develops shows that they are putting a lot of effort into this game to ensure that it is a very good experience. Even as it stands with only a few worlds it’s very obvious that a lot of care and effort has been put in to ensure the game doesn’t feel stagnant and all the heroes, completion tasks and area’s all feel very unique and offer a variety to keep the gameplay fresh which all adds up to the game being a very polished experience and worth the asking price.

I look forward to seeing how the game progresses and what further developments will be coming out, and it would be really cool if they manage to have a huge roster of playable characters all feeling very unique in their styles and skills though I can understand this would be asking a lot especially as you can also change weapons and items on the characters for the missions, and perhaps further skill tree options would be fantastic to allow even greater customisation for runs though the game really doesn’t require any of this to be a very fun and playable experience worth the asking price.

Get killsquad for yourself over on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/910490/Killsquad/ Currently in early access.

Also curated over at https://store.steampowered.com/curator/6860437/

Party hard 2 is a casual game from pinokl games and tiny build where your mission is to eliminate noisy party members in order to get a decent nights sleep, except things might not be entirely as they seem as there is a plot behind the gameplay as well as a tonne of different objectives to achieve, through whatever means necessary from taking out specific targets to completely wiping out all inhabitants and witnesses in order to make your way through the game.

The difficulty of the game can vary depending on what challenges you want to undertake, and whilst most levels are fairly straightforward should you choose to take the easiest objectives others especially those that require stealth or have a vary collection of partygoers together which results in the police hunting you down can present a much more challenging time which will result in a number of attempts before you’re able to successfully complete the levels.

There are two very unique boss levels included in the game each with their own particular method to be defeated which isn’t overtly publicised for you but is laid out in a method for you to discover through experimentation in order to succeed and whilst proving challenging they’re not impossible to overcome and add variety to the levels as well as a sense of completion having a final boss in particular to defeat in order to complete the game. The final boss also has aspects which fit into the plotline as well as proving a unique problem to overcome which adds to the reasons the game has been well designed and thought-out rather than simply being a collection of levels and challenges to overcome as you do feel like you’re progressing forward with some purpose and some path and meaning to the levels you work your way through.

Each level has a variety of tasks from the ones overtly shown to you through hidden secret objectives which you have to discover for yourself through experimentation or by completing certain tasks within the levels which unveil further tasks to perform within the levels, and there are four varieties of tasks which exist within the universe from the stealth and carnage paths to the mystic (secret objectives) and I forget what the other type is but attempting to fill or minimise these paths adds challenges you can choose to fulfil in your playthrough as well as playing with each of the 4 available characters to unlock all with their own playstyles and skills.

While the playstyle is easy to pickup there’s plenty of nuance in the methods you choose to achieve the tasks through the use of items and in game props you can trigger in order to achieve your goals, along with simply dancing to avoid suspicion and detection (though not everyone will like your dance moves and this can lead to further trouble than you’re intending) The mix of challenge and variety of techniques you can choose to play through the game as well as the openness to play however you wish to play all adds to the fun and enjoyment of the game as you really are free to mess around and experiment and just have a good time with it, and if all goes wrong and the police are called it’s not all over until you’re caught and you’re free to go on a rampage whilst trying to run and hide through the specifically designed escape routes until the police inevitably giveup as things become more effort than they’re worth to capture you.

I have 14 hours of gameplay across 14 levels each ranging in difficulty and challenge, note that however I only have a 50% completion and more difficult challenges as well as the newly added community created content and levels would vastly increase the playtime of the game, and as the game is very enjoyable it’s definitely a worthwhile and recommended purchase.

Get party hard to for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/572430/Party_Hard_2

Game of thrones returned to our screens for the final season, where we would discover the final outcome of all of the events that had passed and whether life would win over the white walkers and just who would sit upon the iron throne as the dust settles at the end. However whilst the previous seasons had followed storylines established in the books this season was left up to the show writers to decide the fates and outcomes of our favourite characters, and as a result this has lead to a lot of controversy over the way things played out and how characters have acted in manners different to we have come to expect throughout the series’s lifetime.

The final season itself was only over 6 episodes where the previous seasons all had 10 episodes each filled with so much action and intrigue that it held everyone’s interest throughout the entire saga, filled with intricate plotlines and subplots as well as characters all acting with their own secret interests not so subtly hidden from viewers. I believe this was in part because the show writers didn’t want to introduce any new plotlines, but also because it was difficult for them to imagine how they could playout events as they were unfolding with character developments which had been occurring in the show, as a lot of these seem to have been ignored and thrown by the wayside, much as the episodes of the show seemed to simply put a wet cloth over everything and bring all of the events to as an abrupt end as possible just so there were no loose ends and they could consider the show closed and over.

Many of the main characters which were left in the show had began to unveil specific changers which were apparent in their nature and demeanour changes on screen in the previous season which was unveiling a path towards certain outcomes, however in season 8 any character development seems to have been thrown out of the window as though a big reset button was hit leaving all of the characters returned to an earlier state of mind just so the show could draw to a close without creating further plotlines or developments which could have lead to further episodes or seasons requiring filming.

In the final episode itself events were very unclimactic which was very disappointing for a show that had gained such a following for it’s spectacular action and highly intriguing plotlines, however things felt rather flat and dull as the events played out landing with as muffled an ending as daeneris dying softly and quietly in john snow’s arms. There seemed to be very little going on in the episode as daeneris began a speech in front of her armies (which had somehow risen from the dead after the battle with the white walkers where all of her dothraki forces and most of the unsullied were wiped out by the white walkers) and then john snow simply being allowed alone into daeneris’s chamber even though it was stated at this point she wouldn’t trust him and may want him dead as he’s a threat to her reign, yet allowed to simply assassinate her quietly. Other than this most of the episode revolved around cringe worthy politics and establishing how rule would be decided, even going as far as to having the most awkward scene where the show literally breaks the fourth wall and rubs dirt in the face of the book writer for not mentioning tyrion in the least in the first book. I realise this may be intended as a play to say an explanation for why he’s not in the books but really it comes across as an unnecessary dig at the book writer, which after the terrible writing and plot of this final season just leaves me feeling very awkward watching the show.

There are quite a few subtle character differences I would like to raise where I feel certain events seemed to be playing out towards which were completely ignored in this final season, often flipping personalities of characters entirely upon their heads. Starting with arya stark who in the last season had been acting out of character much like she was dead inside and simply there to fulfil her deathlist, and this seemed to play towards a plot where arya had been eliminated by the female many faced god servant and was simply fulfilling the bargain made with the many faced god to wipe out those on her deathlist, where ultimately it would be revealed that arya was just a face on the many faced god’s wall all along and her persona was being worn to fulfil this promise of servitude. Instead the show had her return to a more carefree state wishing to explore and become more human again, with a seemingly pointless sex scene doing nothing other than reveal Maisie’s boobs to the world and doing nothing for plot or character development in the show.

Another character who had made significant progress in their personality arc throughout the show was Jamie Lannister who had discovered essentially his soul as he had fallen for brianne of tarth, and had changed everything he did in his quest to ensure that she was kept safe and alive, even trying to manipulate his sister into sending her forces north to protect winterfell against the armies of the undead, and through sleeping with her he was hoping to manipulate her to desire to keep him alive, and he was working with the idea that having the armies of the capital there brianne’s chances of survival increased, however in this season whilst there are still redeeming moments like him knighting her, he simply reverts to “I’m just an arsehole” and rides off to save his sister and run away with her which doesn’t seem to fit in with how things play out in this show.

Daeneris herself was twisted to be an evil dictator rather than the true ruler of the 7 kingdoms which had been the entire story arc of the show to date, and a lot of her actions within the show this season were very questionable in my opinion. I realise they had to follow this path in order for her not to be ultimate ruler over the seven kingdoms, however it feels that simply they have done this in order for the least likely potential candidate to be the one who ends up ruler of the kingdoms, almost to the degree that it feels someone has placed bets on the longshot and thrown the fight in order to make a lot of money on a rigged gamble. Even her final scene just seems so anti climactic like a puff of smoke as a matchstick is extinguished, which isn’t how such a pivotal character deserves to go out in the finale of the show.

While there are a number of other things that don’t fit with the show’s established lore like her advisor who was destined to betray the one true ruler of the seven kingdoms and be reunited with his testicles in a magical manner he ends up simply being eliminated for betraying daeneris who turns out not to be the true ruler of the seven kingdoms, as established bloodlines would make that john snow but neither ends up on the iron throne anyway, especially as the throne itself gets melted symbolically during a scene in the finale. They did do some things right like arya fulfilling her prophecy to eliminate many white walkers and at least that got fulfilled in what seemed to be correct, which maybe makes it worse as some established lore and prophecies are followed whilst others are twisted or ignored in a show that’s always had this magical lore as an underlying backbone to it’s story.

I feel that the final season has been very disappointing overall and hasn’t fit in with the rest of the show in the slightest, however this could work out very favourably for the written works of game of thrones, as many may turn to purchase the books in order to discover how the plot actually plays out and how the show was destined to truly end. I understand that the show wanted to hold it’s momentum and finish off the series having already delayed a whole year for the final season as it was, however I would have preferred to wait until the books were written and released and had the show follow the ultimate true storyline and watch the true ending of the show. I doubt that the show writers would ever return to remake the show should the books plotlines differ vastly from how the show did end, however I’m sure that there will be many people who would wish it to be so especially as many are already petitioning for the final season to be changed and how much disappointment there is all over social media at present.

Game of thrones has been a show I have enjoyed through it’s lifetime from having watched the first 6 seasons on binge 10 hours a day before season 7, then having been hooked since, and everything but the final season has been of a vastly greater quality which is probably why so many people are disappointed and raising all of the issues they’ve had with the final season because it just doesn’t live up to the rest of the show’s history, and the finale especially being filled with so much politics and drivel rather than being a true climactic ending with a satisfying outcome is why I feel the show just ended with a fizzle rather than the dragons fire it had held throughout the rest of it’s lifetime.

Clocker is a puzzle game set in two universes essentially as after receiving a mysterious broken watch to repair a father jumps to save his daughters life further breaking the watch and as a result both knocking himself out of time but also his daughter into a completely separate and phased timestream, and as a result of this puzzles must be solved in order to progress through the game through the manipulation of individuals by simply playing out and rewinding their timestreams causing interactions with the objects and individuals around them being altered by events as they currently stand. Furthermore these events continue to playout after solving the puzzles in the daughters timeframe where time passes as normal in close proximity to her, but passes slower the further away from her it gets in a doppler like effect.

The puzzle element of the game involves rewinding and fast forwarding the individual timestreams of individuals one at a time in order to create an outcome in the world that allows you to traverse to missing pieces of the clock which have been scattered around the world while you are stuck in a dome like structure unable to progress outside of a very narrow part of the city, and through solving these puzzles and collecting all of the pieces you’re able to progress to the next area. There are a number of puzzles in each zone which require solving and whilst your actions may appear limited it’s rather surprising how much of a difference things can make by having certain events playout in a slightly different order or position.

The interactions are said to have some very complex AI mechanics behind them and this is apparent due to the fact that not only must interactions between all of the elements be recognised within the dads timeframe in order to solve the puzzles, but also the effects of time passing in the daughters timestream afterwards as time continues to progress is rather difficult to picture as time continues passing onwards, and characters and events passing by depending on who encounters what and how fast things are travelling is a requirement in order to ensure things progress as you hope they will in her timestream.

There were at the time of my review being recorded only 3 area’s to the game, and there was around 2 hours of gameplay for me from beginning to “end” however this is a single playthrough without fulfilling the true ending which is clearly designed to be returned through and play out other outcomes and investigate thoroughly in order to find the solution for a true ending. On top of this they have also since added additional content to the game since my playthrough so actual playtime may vary especially if you have a more difficult time than me in solving some of the puzzles which is easily possible. The third area however was essentially a prologue and there was little to it at the time of my review, I know they’ve published changelogs showing additional content since so who can confirm how much there is should more content be added again, but saying that playing through different solutions and trying to gain the true ending would add even further gameplay time to the game.

The story and narrative of the game were very fun and entertaining and the puzzles presented a challenge in solving and took more thought than a cursory glance in order to achieve so I would recommend a purchase especially as the mechanics and interactivity between both time universes in order to solve the puzzles provides an interesting and unique problem solving nature you’d struggle to find elsewhere and as a result I think the game is definitely worth purchasing and playing through.

Get clocker for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/916050

Booksmart is a coming of age comedy movie revolving around the exploits of two American high school girls coming to the end of their final year having dedicated their entire lives to studying and furthering their path forward to their dream careers ahead of them. Whilst the film opens up with some highly caricatured stereotypes from the overtly rich daddy’s boy to the significantly overdramatic gay guys in drama club, and though this might seem a little over the top you will realise later into the movie why certain individuals have been portrayed in these ways for the sake of the unveiling comedy ahead.

The film blossoms once the main character overhears other students slagging her off for dedicating her life to her studies which causes her to attempt to rub it in their faces that she’s going off to yale while they’re going to have terrible futures ahead of them (which lets face it as millennials the struggles are real) However it turns out that not only is one of them also going to yale but they all have bright futures ahead, including the seemingly dimmest who’s been hired by google due to his specialist skills, and causes her to have a breakdown and start asking literally everyone in the school and it turns out everyone has lived a full life of partying but also managed to study so well that they’re also all going to fantastic and renowned colleges and universities as well.

As a result of hearing this the lead character decides to make changes, and whilst the camera angle and cinematography suggest she’s going to become a serial killer and have a psychotic break the movie takes a more comedic turn following previously successful movies such as dude where’s my car, Harold & Kumar as well as even the hangover all of which follow a formulaic structure of a single night of calamity moving from one event to the next as everything doesn’t quite go to plan but leads to the hilarity resulting from the misadventures.

Without spoiling the movie essentially the plot follows the two girls as they attempt to make their way to the graduation party all of the students are posting clips having fun at, determined to live the full experience and have some significant memorable event and having been to a party before graduating to make up for having neglected that part of their lives in favour of their studies and gained nothing extra out of the sacrifice, and whilst they think they’re heading to the big party they end up going from one minor party to another through misunderstandings and people wanting them at their party rather than the main one.

There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout the series of calamities which unfold as well as a few emotional moments towards the end as the jokes build up and escalate as the girls make their disastrous night one to be remembered and cherished, and at the end of the movie you feel that everyone is a more rounded filled out character beyond their caricatures, and I had a good time laughing out loud at several points throughout the movie, and feeling emotional towards some of the events towards the end of the movie even if they were obvious to spot coming and as a result I would recommend going to see the movie if you’re looking to be entertained and have a good laugh. There are some adult jokes and adult natures (well a fair few) but that’s what you have to expect in a coming of age sort of movie right? Either way the comedy vibed well with me and I would recommend going to see it when the movie comes out near you.

Find out more details about booksmart at http://www.booksmart.movie/

Lucius 3 is the final part of the movie inspired horror adventure trilogy where Lucius has to return to his home island to fulfil 7 prophecies in order to open the gateway to hell and potentially bring an end to the world. Featuring an open world layout it’s up to you to explore the world and try to piece together the clues from the scroll in order to enact specific pre-ordained acts of violence against people in order to bring forth the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Whilst the open world nature adds more freedom to explore the world there are a few issues that result from the way things are done, as whilst some games like the old silent hill games would lock off area’s with finding specific keys prompting you to return to specific area’s this game relies upon activating specific cutscenes and triggers in order to allow access to certain area’s prompting that you’re not allowed to enter yet if you try to go to key area’s too soon. Whilst this prevents solving certain puzzles early it does create issues that mean if you hear one trigger hint and go to a certain area before hitting another specific prompt you’re going to end up stuck pretty early on and presuming you’re locked out of doing a certain action to get into the mayors house, and this lead me to go on a wild adventure lost unable to progress for a long time in my gameplay.

This isn’t the worst thing that could happen however as there are a number of side plots you can pursue along the way if you go off the rails from the main track with special events to eliminate the townspeople in a variety of ways some of which add further nods to horror movies with easter eggs. I tried to avoid this on my playthrough though as there’s a big theme throughout the game where Gabriel is constantly telling you it’s not too late to turn things around and abandon the path of evil, so I was trying to make my playthrough a chaotic good playthrough (with some accidents happening) and embrace the side of light only taking out those who really were evil and deserved it.

Spoilers, it’s hard not to go into a specific part of the game where later on events occur however I feel the spoiler is actually something that will free you up in your gameplay allowing you to go explore further and pursue the alternate elimination plots. Obviously I stated that I was trying to save as many of the townspeople as possible only pursuing those who deserved to be taken out, whilst accidentally flinging someone off a fort and perhaps ending someone’s life trying to open a portal to another dimension. The spoiler is that none of this matters, whilst I did seem to get a bug that jumped one of the prophecies straight into the church confrontation by wearing the white clothes too early (again from a clear hint in game to do so) there’s a scene where everyone in the town have decided they have to take you out in order to stop bad things happening in town.

At that point you’ve got to start literally vaporising everyone as they rush you down and whilst it’s an interesting minigame trying to catch out the people sneaking around the edges you do end up with regrets for deciding not to eliminate other people or pursue and search out those plotlines when you’ve been presented the opportunity. Taking them out would make this scene easier but that’s not the point, it’s the disappointment to miss out on all of the special scenes and sidelines that really hit you as you’re going to get a lot of enjoyment from pursuing those storylines and seeing all of the movie based easter eggs revolving around them.

I focused on following the plotline directly after the initial problems caused by getting sidetracked, though I don’t think there’s much of an issue after the first incident and even after you move on through the chapters of the game you’re going to be fine to explore the island for additional plotlines is going to add a lot more length to the game as well as enjoyment, without effecting the outcome for the end of the game and the ultimate decision over good and evil.

The game took me around 7 hours to get through however you have to account for getting lost in the first act due to events being locked off from activation and then looking over them repeatedly, but balance that with rushing through the rest of the chapters you could get more playtime exploring and looking for all of the additional actions you can do throughout the game and for the price of the game you’re getting a decent horror narrative adventure with some interesting puzzle mechanics. Whilst I feel that some of the progress related boundaries can cause some issues they’re relatively minor and I did get a funny bug where all of the towns people started sinking through the ground into hell perhaps because I took too long or maybe because of finding some drugs in a bag in the game but these are easily overlooked and not majorly gamebreaking.

If you’re looking for a new adventure game and enjoy horror movies this is a pretty good game for you as it’s crammed with references from a number of classics as well as being an enjoyable game. I would recommend giving the game a try.

Get Lucius 3 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/513290/Lucius_III

Battle princess Madelyn is a retro inspired action platformer inspired by one of the developers daughters as well as being written by a professional childrens author.  The game itself comes in two game modes and whilst the regular gamer might believe story mode is the preliminary game mode it seems arcade mode is actually something quite different and the designed primary mode.  Where arcade mode comes across 10 worlds of 5 levels each (according to the steam page but seems 2 and a boss), where weapon drops come from the sacks of enemies permanently replacing your main weapon until you find another, whereas the story mode is very different with actually shorter and different world levels all tied together with an exploration factor and unlocks involved which I played through believing this to be the primary mode and arcade simply being a level select of these and not a completely different entity which plays entirely differently.

There has been a huge patch to the game which has made some significant changes to the story mode through a number of issues experienced throughout by players, and at the time of print of this review there are some other issues I will bring up which would really change the quality of life of the game mode as well as one significant bug with fritzy which I will bring up with the aim of these being fixed in a further update and perhaps never being experienced by yourselves should you decide to go ahead and purchase the game.

Gameplay

Levels in the game involve a variety of enemies each with their own unique attack and movement mechanics spawning at various points in waves whilst you take them down with the arsenal of weapons you’ve collected attempting to traverse through the platforming challenges the area’s offer trying to find the boss keys and possibly finding secrets and additional powers along the way.

In story mode you have to complete side quests or defeat certain bosses in order to obtain additional weapons and powers like a double jump and whilst the area’s have been changed to be more linear initially and avoid a large number of very difficult challenges at the start there are a few additional balance changes which could be implemented to make progression feel a bit more natural.  For example you find a quest to obtain a hammer for the blacksmith so you can upgrade your weapon and armour however by the time you finally collect this half way through the game you can fully upgrade everything, whereas if you were offered this opportunity earlier in the game and naturally slowly level things up the quality of life and pace of the game would feel far more appropriate, and whilst you have the opportunity to press a button in the menu to unlock everything at the beginning this is cheating and defeats the purpose of the mode, in which case again it feels like arcade mode is the way the game should have perhaps been played and released.

Another major bug in the story mode is that your companion fritzy lacks his powers until you obtain the pogo ability which is if played linearly 80% through the game, and if not at least over 50% of the game and it feels like this should have been unlocked from the very beginning and not tied to the pogo ability (which also grants you a wand weapon and no explanation that you must use down attacks on enemies to bounce of their heads at time of review and I had to ask the developers about how to use the ability thinking it was bugged and I hadn’t been provided the ability)

Some other gameplay bugs have been fixed and as stated earlier the developers do care and are trying to make the story mode as tight as it should be, and whilst they’ve made the earlier levels more approachable they also fixed actual bugs from sidequests which had prevented you from being able to even fight certain bosses.  This shows that the developers are addressing issues with the game mode, so perhaps expect in the future that fritzy’s powers might actually work from the beginning of the game as expected, and if you could unlock some armour levels sooner in the game incrementally it would make quality of life so much better, so whislt there are bugs at the time of review I do expect these to be resolved.

Even with these bugs the game is very playable and enjoyable, in story mode you have a compressed taste of the levels with the challenge of having to find all of the unlocks and keys in order to fight the bosses.  Boss fights are well thought out holding onto that retro feel with learnable boss patterns and a variety of mechanics involved in taking down the bosses as you progress so they all have their own ways of being defeated rather than just dodge and attack where possible often subtleties are involved to get the best patterns to avoid getting defeated in order to progress.

The story mode has an interesting way of subverting expectations as you expect the game to be coming to an end through the building of stitchbot actually you unlock the second half of the game and additional area’s to explore previously inaccessible offering a pleasant surprise with additional gameplay.  (Which also allows you to finally complete some of the earlier side quests previously impossible to achieve should you desire a 100% completion rate)  Collectible stuffed toys are provided to you as you complete the game, which I initially confused for some form of monsterpedia type thing, and whilst the game begins with some of your collection already filled out (which if you read descriptions suggests you’ve already encountered them) I feel it would have been better to collect everything from an empty state to avoid confusion, and this doesn’t even have to be through side quests it could have been achieved through defeating the first of these enemy types or additional drops from existing quests/chests/bosses.

Overall Impressions

At the end of the day for the price you’re paying you’re getting a pretty fun action platformer for the price, and while the arcade mode is the definitive version with all of the polish you would expect from the game they are making efforts to polish the story mode to ensure that there aren’t major bugs and gameplay issues and giving it a more progressive arc into the gameplay showing that they do care about the title and want it to be the best that it can be. The game would have been good enough value with the arcade mode alone, and the fact that you have additional modes as well as the story mode there is plenty of gameplay to be experienced, and depending on whether you want to battle through waves of enemies and challenging platformers or explore to complete quests in order to get to the bosses there’s a game mode for you. The bosses also offer plenty of variety as opposed to simply learning their patterns some often involve some extra aspect in order to be defeated adding a greater challenge and more interesting factors to the gameplay.

If you’re looking for a good retro inspired action platformer this is the game for you. Check out battle princess Madelyn for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/603930/Battle_Princess_Madelyn/