June 3, 2016

Duskers | Review

Posted on June 3, 2016 by Robyn Robo

Duskers recently released after having spent several months in Early Access, luckily they have gone into a full release in good time and with great polish. This game skillfully blends three core elements: rogue like dungeons, tense claustrophobic space horror and puzzles. The game is split into exploration of individual ships, which function as your levels. Each is procedurally generated with a guessed at number of baddies lurking inside. Your job is to use your scrappy fleet of drones to outwit and outmaneuver those enemies to survive and piece together what catastrophe befell the universe. There are plenty of contenders, and you’ll keep a running log of all the front runners through your journeys.

All these planets, and you still can't land.

All these planets, and you still can’t land.

The game display looks like a mash up of a retro-futurist mainframe terminal dream and a DOS computer aided design interface. Your connection with the drones is fuzzy, displaying a barely lit outline of the interior of boarded derelicts. This will wash out, scramble and occasionally drop entirely like an a UHF antenna in bad weather. Your much safer off with the overhead map view, where you can see the position and activities of all your drones at once. Controlling them the only way possible: both hands on the keyboard. That’s right, this game has a command line and beside some primitive joystick like navigation of individual drones, it’s the only way you can navigate.

Schematic view of derelict.

Where you’ll be spending most of your time

And navigate you will, as ‘[na]vigate drone room’ is the essential command to move drones room to room. By stringing together commands on line with semi-colons you can order up whole sequences of events before moving to the next drone and getting it lined up for a day’s work too. Each command can be shortened to the minimum number of letters needed for it to be unique. If you’re into Cisco networking gear, you’ll love it. This game is not entirely unlike a light version of Robot Odyssey, the infamously difficult Robot building game from The Learning Company for old Apple II computers. Except maybe that death is swift, scary and permanent.

The overall ambiance of the game is spot on. Even the soundtrack is simply a collection of your drones clicks and beeps, alongside the background hums of empty spacecraft. Occasionally, you’ll hear the thrumming and screams of angry creatures trapped on board the drifting wrecks. Warning sounds will warn as ancient ships contort and lose integrity or are bombarded with space debris. The game has countless video effects, but they work into the mood instead of against it. Further, they’re mostly in the single-drone mode and won’t affect the overview screen you use most of the time. The simple seeming graphics bely that a full 3D engine is running with particle effects full bore. Despite that, I never ran into a single moment of noticeable latency or lowered frame rates, nor did the game ever crash and break the illusion. The interface is one of sitting at a spaceship control terminal, driven by an actual keyboard making it feel intensely real. It’s as spot on, with a good setup, as playing Elite with a VR headset and customized joysticks. All of this feeds into the slow, horror film pace of play.

I don’t think any other game I’ve played has ever made me jump back from my desk quite as much as this. The levels are twisty and doors or airlocks can fail at random with relatively little warning, so you have to be careful. I found it best to keep most of the doors on a ship closed off, deciding on ‘staging’ rooms to keep myself from losing more than one drone at a time. Once, using the fuzzed out video feed of one disabled drone, I was able to watch an enemy slowly walk into a room I had opened for him. With one multi-part command I closed him off from my disabled drone and was able to space him and tow my precious scout back to the ship. This game revels in something that only computer games can accomplish so well, everyone who plays will walk away with their own narratives.

Confidence of subjects may have been short-sighted.

Definitely short-sighted.

There is some ‘dialogue’ to the game. Corrupted pieces of occasionally relevant information with which you build a database of the ways in which the universe could have ended. Piecing it together is not unlike going over a conspiracy theorists cork board of delusions and after quite a bit of play, I still have no idea what really happened. I’m not even sure it matters, but at least the self assigned objectives give you something to cling on to, hoping to make it far enough to get an inkling of the catastrophe together. Reading through these is one of the few ‘breather’ moments the game really ever gives you.

Much of the game takes place between levels, as in any survival driven strategy game. Drones have abilities built in, and some number of upgrade parts you have to add for basic functionality. These include generators, sensors of various sorts, weapons and salvaging equipment. You’ll scavenge new parts for your ship and drones from the hulks you board. If you’re lucky you’ll also pick up some fuel and new drones. When you’re really lucky, if you like a ship enough and have safely cleared every area, you can commandeer it for your journey. Their are some basic resources of the world, scrap and fuel. Fuel comes in two parts: propulsive and jump fuel. the former moves you around systems, the latter between them. There are multiple systems in each galaxy & you move between galaxies with jump gates. All of these are scavenged, propulsive fuel is also replenished (by ram scoops?) when moving between systems. Between levels, scrap is used to repair your drones, and their parts. It’s also required for buying new parts from automated trading outposts that have survived past humanity’s end. You’ll find that most repairs are pretty expensive, so keep backup parts and only repair what you have to for survival. For example, I tend to build up an inventory of generators, gathering arms and tow hitches as you can’t properly scavenge without all of them. Much of the game strategy is based on this aspect of never quite having everything you’ll need to survive. You can’t revisit levels, even when you just picked up that one part you needed. As an example: I find myself switching from using stealth, to lures, to room sensors, to motion detectors for detecting hostile movement. These all work, in very different ways, for avoiding being taken out by the hostiles.


Time to upgrade (or fix) my mods!

Learning the strategy, and calm careful approaches needed for this game will take a few hours. Even then, you may have runs cut short early from an unexpected turn. This game does not take it easy on you with a learning curve, outside of the built-in tutorial. You also must be prepared to occasionally be hit with a total oddball, such as an asteroid or losing video feeds while something important goes on. The precise balance of controllable and uncontrollable events will keep you on the edge of your seat. Many enemies are quite hard to predict at first. For example, swarms aren’t picked up by motion sensors, but by the loud buzzing you can hear on a drone’s feed next to their rooms. They can also move through the vents, so the room you’re in might not be as safe as you thought. Aside from this dangerous exploring, most of the game is run from the ship schematic overview, and by using preprogrammed commands to orchestrate drone movement. You can easily give a drone a whole sequence of rooms to scavenge and tell it when to return home. I do wish their where more commands along the lines of “once the drone has left room A, close its door” but the lightweight shell style of scripting works very well in this game. It is extremely robust and well though out. All considered, this game is extremely tense and on edge. It is rare to find a game that so perfectly conveys as sense of never being safe as this. Even save scumming with a force quit will not work on this game, it’ll simply act as if you had undocked, losing you access to the level you left and any drones you left behind. Those drones are pretty cute, with their little whirring movement and sometimes cutesy names. It makes it all the worse when they inevitably get smashed up. My stockholm syndrome cried out each time.

That said, with practice, patience and a freighter full of luck, you will eventually get into the rhythm of the game. On a good run, this means you’ll be able to explore further and further on each run and really make a bond with your drones and ship before they are reduced to dust.

My recommendation is to try this game, and when you do: BE PARANOID

I played this on my Ubuntu LTS / Steam / NVidia 960 machine with a provided download code and a ‘mechanical’ keyboard.


SteamWorld Heist Hits Steam and PS4/Vita On June 7th

Posted on June 3, 2016 by Jason Nason

Image & Form announced today that SteamWorld Heist will release worldwide on Steam on June 7th! The price will be $19.99 USD and comes with a 15% launch discount for the first week after release.

On the same day, SteamWorld Heist will also be released for PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in the Americas. The game will be released one day later in Europe. The PlayStation versions will feature cross-buy (buy the game on one platform, get the other one for free).

“The Outsider” DLC pack, which adds new levels, hats, weapons and a playable character, will be available on the day of launch for both Steam and PlayStation for $4.99 USD.

Read More


Fans Worry That Hard Reset Redux’s Graphics Have Been Downgraded

Posted on June 3, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Hard Reset

Flying Wild Hog’s upgraded and augmented version of their 2012 FPS Hard Reset hits Steam and other digital distribution platforms today but some fans are already scrutinizing the game.  Complaints have included accusations of blurry textures, missing lighting effects, ambient occlusion being disabled among other changes.

The source of this comparison is a 4 minute long YouTube video by Candyland where these changes are laid out using rather short gameplay segments. Some commenters have pointed out that the developers may have intended to remove or change certain features, like lighting effects, in the name of optimization and higher overall framerates.

Graphical tweaks aren’t the only changes that Hard Reset Redux has when compared with the original – a brand new weapon, the Cyber Katana is only included in this remaster. It also features a new dash mechanic allowing for quicker movement when dodging enemy attacks and different enemy placement to help the game’s overall pacing & difficulty level.

So has this cyberpunk shooter gone through a downgrade in its’ quest to become stronger, faster and better? Check out the comparison video in the embedded player below and let us know in the comments section!

Here are the minimum system requirements for Hard Reset Redux


    • OS: Windows XP or Later
    • Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 / AMD Athlon 64
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800GS / ATI Radeon HD 3870 or better
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 5 GB available space



Total War: Warhammer Review | A Solid Game with a Few Additions to a Solid Formula

Posted on June 3, 2016 by Fionna Schweit

Review by: Rob Logsdon

Total War Warhammer is Creative Assemblies newest edition into their long running series of real time strategy games. Warhammer is a solid addition to the Total War catalog, and represents the first non-historical foray by Creative Assembly in their world conquering strategy games. I got am playing this game as a veteran of both Atilla and Rome Total War games, so its safe to expect some bias in the favor of Creative Assembly, that being said, let’s get to the review.

I did love this game, but by no means is Total War Warhammer perfect. With the newest instalment we see great visuals especially with the campaign map itself. Warhammer models are famous for their specific detail, and Create Assembly has really worked hard to bring this level of detail to the individual models. Each unit seems lovingly sculpted with the care and time the most devout tabletop players, emblems stand out, hero units look unique and the whole world feels alive.


The level of detail in the game is stunning

The user interface will be familiar to veteran total war players and easy to understand for newcomers to the series. There haven’t been many UI tweaks to this entry, but the ones that are there are mostly related to magic, new tabs for lore, with videos of each spell in action, and explanations of each lore, are some of the new features.

The addition of magic is well implemented with multiple schools of magic ranging from the lore of death to the lore of metal. On the battlefield you will now see your general as an individual who will be a capable warrior able to singlehandedly take on units of normal infantry. This is quite a change from the previous squishy lords. Its not mostly safe to charge your hero in to a large group of enemies and tie them up in melee combat. Your lord may not win against an entire unit of say heavy cavalry, but he will keep them engaged until you can find something in your army to counter with.

Watching units of flying creature’s crash into your lines as units of trolls and giants tear through your lines is a both an amazing and terrifying sight to behold for the first time. Creative Assembly has done an amazing job of bringing the visceral world of tabletop Warhammer Fantasy to life. You can feel the power of a strong magical spell doing its work as infantry units get tossed aside by a column of fire from the sky. Calvary crashes through ranged missile units, utterly devastating them, and your heroic lord holds the center of your line, his mace swinging back and forth with devastating effect. It’s all very stunning to see.

Stunning visuals are not the only thing this game offers, each of the four playable factions: The Empire, Dwarves, Greenskins, Chaos, and Vampire Counts, all look and feel and play very differently.  Despite the difference between the races, anyone who has played the tabletop game will quickly see the similarities between game and tabletop. Each race keeps its most important traits without any one race being too powerful.

Dwarves are very heavily armored and able to absorb enemy charges and beat them back with powerful artillery and ranged units. They excel at defense and have powerful late game artillery that can devastate entire enemy units. Dwaves do not wield magic, instead they have runesmiths who capture powerful magic’s in runes and can release them on command. Dwarves excel at both ranged and melee attacks with a good balance of units and some of the most powerful cost effective artillery in the game.


Empire troops defend a wall in a high tier settlement

The Empire’s infantry and ranged units are not as powerful as some other factions, but they make up for it with powerful cavalry which used well to attack enemy units in the flanks and rear will quickly turn the tide. The empire is strong in magic fielding wizards, of three types Fire, Light and Celestial lores, each bring powerful spells to combat. The empire is in my opinion the most balanced faction, it possesses a decent amount of everything, war machines, cavalry, and monstrous creatures, and while none are devastating alone, together they form the best rounded army in the game.

The vampire counts field hordes of cheap infantry combined with death magic and powerful monstrous infantry. They trade the ability to have ranged units for large amounts of cheap infantry, and some seriously scary monstrous creatures that that can cause Terror in the enemy ranks. Their lords can raise the dead, quickly turning the tide of a battle that may not be going your way. They also get to corrupt the land they currently hold giving them bonuses and doing causing attrition to invading armies.

Chaos functions like a horde armies from the Atilla game where they have no permanent settlements and each horde builds and carries its own building with it. Chaos was a late announcement to the game, and was meant to be the first DLC, but anyone who pre-ordered got them for free. They get chosen warriors of chaos and chaos knights so though infantry and cavalry at higher tiers is very powerful. Chaos wields the magic of Fire, Death, Metal, and have some extremely powerful spells.

The Greenskins have powerful melee infantry and the ability to bring Trolls and giants onto the battlefield, plus once there fightness meter reaches its peak a Waagh army will spawn to aid in further conquests. goblins have the little waagh lore of magic ork shamans have the big waaagh also they get giants and trolls as there top tier units which is just cool.

Each race feels unique and even though there are only so many ways to do infantry and Calvary and ranged units, each race feels separate, but not so much that if you are playing say empire you can’t go and pick up vampire counts.


While Total War Warhammer has been well crafted and implemented it is not free from flaws. One problem I discovered quite quickly is that Empire and Vampire counts have a hard time keeping an economy that can support their armies and allow for new conquests. Few buildings especially for the Vampires add significant amounts of money and units. Meanwhile  army upkeep ramps up very quickly. So these two factions will quickly be running either in the red or making very little money a turn making it quite challenging to build new armies.

Next up we have to talk about the AI which has plagued the total war series since the beginning. While the enemy army will for the most part be competent using its ranged units, plugging gaps in their lines, and trying to use units to outflank you, I experienced a bug where very rarely an enemy army will sit in place and eat your artillery shots. With the new focus on lords as individual units a new problem has arisen in that the enemy AI will often run their lord ahead of an advancing army and allow you to either kill him or do very significant damage to him before he has even reached your lines. Lords are way more powerfull than in say Atilla, or Rome, but you still can’t put them against an entire army and expect them to survive. So to say the Ai is more liberal with its generals is a bit of an understatement. This can be easily fixed with patches, and I hope that it will be.

The diplomatic mechanics have been significantly reworked from Rome two, it is now much easier to know where you stand with a faction. Confederating is now a much more useful and doable mechanic than it was in previous games. With this comes a very silly exploit that will hopefully be patched out. If you declare war on a faction that cannot reach you in several turns they will generally sue for peace and offer a sum of gold or whatever your factions variant is, which you will accept of course because you will need the money. Several turns after an ally will ask you to rejoin the war again generally with an offer of a sum of money, you can repeat the cycle over and over to farm gold. Obviously this is a slight issue again hopefully that will be patched and changed in some way.

Next let’s talk settlements. Total War Warhammer keeps in line with Attila and Rome two that the provincial capital has walls and can reach size five. Minor settlements have no walls to start, but, there are defense that can be added to them to give them walls. This is a nice feature, and since they top out at size three.



The major issue I have with this is that sieges and city assaults are just plain boring now. If you attack or defend a minor settlement without walls the battle takes place in a normal open battlefield instead of within the confines of the settlement. So gone are the days of your minor settlements using narrow streets and possible city centers on hills with small ramparts to station ranged units. This is a great loss as that helped sieges feel more alive and to give you a chance to overcome terrible odds with clever use of terrain and buildings.

Sieges of provincial capitals have also taken a huge step backwards in that instead of being able to attack from all sides choosing how you will overcome the enemy defenders and cities that generally had at least several defensible positions once you had breached the walls. Now you get one wall to assault two if you are really lucky, towers are only active if one of your units is standing with its influence box. Once the walls are breached you have maybe two or three large streets for the enemy to move down into the city center capture point. Also for some unexplained reason every unit in the game can run up to the enemy walls and pull out ladders and start climbing. Sieges have taken a huge step backwards taking a lot of the fun of it with them. The last issue with settlements comes that all factions cannot take any settlement Dwarves and Orcs can only control the others settlements and Humans and Vampires are the same this is by far one of the worst ideas introduced into total war it limits the gameplay potential as a whole and will kill replay value as the strategies and maneuvers you make game to game will end up being very similar since you are so limited on what settlements you can control.

All things said though Total War Warhammer is a fun game and a fine addition to the series many of the issues above will either be patched out at some point and failing that there has always been a thriving modding community for total war so the people will get what they want one way or the other. The game is beautiful with a lot of potential and the freelc of Britonia and they many other to be announced DLC packs will provide hours of fun for those willing to look past its minor issues. Beautiful with tons of potential I am looking forward to seeing how this game changes and grows as we go forward.


Overwatch passes 7 million players

Posted on June 3, 2016 by Fionna Schweit

We all knew it would be big, but im not sure that anyone could have predicted that almost 2/3 of the people who played in the free beta would end up paying for the game. Seven million players have played overwatch during this its first week of existence. To put that in perspective the last COD sold a total of 5 million copies, and with in a few weeks its player population had dropped to less than one million.

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said “Over the months and weeks leading up to release we saw a lot of love and support for Overwatch—from Blizzard gamers, FPS fans, and people who’d never picked up a game like this before—and we’re very grateful for everyone’s incredible passion and enthusiasm, We poured a lot of effort into creating a game—and a new universe—that anyone could enjoy. We’re ecstatic to have had such a successful launch, and we’re looking forward to all of the fun, competition, and new content still to come.”

The total number of hours played of the game is already over 100 million as of this writing. I my self have sunk about 40 hours in to the game this week, it has been one of the very few games recently that I have been willing to play on my own. its unique feel and solid shooter mechanics just keep people coming back. I personally also can not wait for competitive mode when I hope find a team to play with in a semi-competitive manner!


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