Gameplay Video
Feb 19
Posted by Ben at 17:32

We were sent over a preview code for upcoming platformer Slime-San, so we (I) took a look at the first world

I know it's trite and easy, but if you've played such as games as Super Meatboy and N+ then you probably know what to expect. Slime-San is a tough, tricky, but very responsive platform game. The sort of game where you first attempt at a level can be a nightmare, then when you return you wonder why you ever struggled.

I'm not going to go in to huge detail here, there's a video below for that, but Slime-San is very well put together. There's a bunch of additional stuff, not unlike Meatboy, to encourage you to return to the game, restarts are rapid, shame there isn't a pause button on the pad, or a restart button on there (that I know of at least).

Slime-San seems very promising, and it's out in April on PC (Steam, Humble Bundle's Store) which console versions to follow

There's a gameplay video below

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Feb 18
Posted by Mark at 20:27

This is more of a 'First-ish' Play, as I'd had time to give this a quick go before streaming it.

Anyway, it's another one of them tough-as-nails precision platformers indie developers are so fond of creating- the gimmick this time around being that you get a double-jump.

As you can see from the occasional excursion into the level selection screens, this is very clearly a preview build, but we do get a decent look at much of the game's second and third worlds.

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Pixel Heroes:
Byte & Magic
Jan 26
Posted by Mark at 16:36

Coming in alongside the announcement that Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic is coming to XBox One, we did a quick livestream of failing to complete the first quest.

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Yakuza 0
Gameplay Video
Jan 15
Posted by Ben at 16:55

We posted our written preview for Yakuza 0 the other day, and now I've managed to make enough progress to record the video accompaniment

As you can See Yakuza 0, while not exactly pushing the PS4, isn't a shoddy looking game. There's more to Yakuza 0 than we can show in the video, but you'll see a few fights, some of the side quests, hear me ramble on about stuff, do some shouting at other people's karaoke. You know, the usual stuff

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Yakuza 0
Jan 11
Posted by Ben at 12:55

The late Western release of Yakuza 0 may actually turn out to be a fortuitous for the series. Sega have tried a few times to find some traction for the Yakuza games in the west without much luck. The series undoubtedly has its fans, and they've generally been good games, but as the series has gone on its been harder and harder for new players to find a foothold. Yakuza 3 and 4 felt like too much canon had passed to be an entry, and while Yakuza 5ís addition to Playstation Plus will have undoubtedly put the series on people's radar, it was on the PS3 as people moved on.

Yakuza 0 then is the first time we've seen the series on the Playstation 4, and that it's a prequel, one that doesn't need a storied knowledge to get the most out of, it's a great time to jump in. That's not to say that a knowledge of the characters and world won't have benefits, knowing who Kazuma Kiryu is acts as a pretty good short hand for what to expect from the Yakuza games.The brutal, joyous closed area brawling the series is famous for. The game opens with a young Kiryu, still low on the pecking order in the Tojo clan, beating a guy senseless to collect a debt he owes. He's then walked around town by a friend, who takes the time to explain where Kiryu is going wrong as a Yakuza, he's a bit too brusque if you can believe!

It soon turns out Kiryuís victim has turned up dead, and the murder is being pinned on him. Yakuza 0 begins to reveal a complex story or betrayal, loyalty, and real estate land grabs. When the Yakuza series lands their straight faced stories they're fantastic, complex and interesting. Where Yakuza 0 diverges slightly from my previous experiences with the series is that the more ludicrous aspects of the game are introduced along side this, straight faced. It's sensible, it's what a good portion of the franchise are here for. So, while you're on your tour of Tokyo, learning how to be a better Yakuza, you're taken out for some karaoke (which is hilarious), and introduced to the fighting mini games and the leveling system.

Something that has changed is the levelling. Rather than gain experience through combat and side missions you instead earn stacks of cash from smacking people about. This money then buys items on the skill tree, be that new moves, extra damage or increased health, with specialists dotted around the map to teach you some moves. The introduction of these specialists is invariably hilarious, or at least so over the top itís cool.

Which, for the uninitiated is pretty much what youíve got to look forward to from Yakuza 0. It seemingly presents itís barmy side a bit more front and centre than in previous games, but that belies an interesting and well presented crime story. There are moments that will have you rolling with laughter, but equally some of the brutal combat will make you wince before snorting in delight. Thereís mini games and side quests a plenty, and a ton of sub stories to fill out the world.

Weíll see where it goes as we progress through the game, but so far Yakuza 0 is shaping up to be a great entry to the series.

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Mantis Burn Racing
Gameplay Video
Posted by Ben at 03:59

Mantis Burn Racing is most notable for being one of the handful of games that will be native 4K on the PS4 Pro, and 60fps too. Granted it's probably easier to manage that on a top down racer than it is on something like Tomb raider, but even on a normal PS4 Mantis Burn Racing looks sharp and runs fantastically.

I say this in the video but the 60fps really help the handling feel like you're sinking in to sand and dirt, there's a responsive looseness as you correct your drifts without touching the breaks.

Game structure wise Mantis Burn Racing is fairly standard, you work your way through a set of races, with each event being one of a certain number of types. There's straight races, time trials, elimination, series races. As a general rule if you win you progress, but there are gates to progress where you have to earn enough gears. Gears are awarded for completing certain actions during the races, so winning the race might get you 3, a long jump 2, and destroying some scenery 1. There's also an upgrade mechanic to the cars that can also act as gating to some extent.

This is kind of where I've got some reservations, some of these things don't feel like they're quite front and centre enough. Beyond that my only gripe is that races feel a bit quiet, there needs to be more engine noises and the like.

anyway, there'll be a full review in the next few days, so click below for our First Play gameplay video

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Mad Father
Gameplay Video
Posted by Ben at 13:59

I've got to admit a level of ignorance with regards to Mad Father. Apparently it's a Japanese indie game originally released in 2011, with an English release a year later. It's now out on Steam, remastered over the original release

There'll be a full review up in the next couple of days, but the video shows the early parts of the game. I'd completed Mad Father at this point, so it's pretty much a video review. For what it's worth though, I really enjoyed Mad Father, it's a cool thing that I hope more people get to play

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Super Treasure Arena
First Play
Posted by Ben at 16:02

Headup sent over a few copies of their new multi-player 2D arena shooter (if that's how you'd characterise it) Super Treasure Arena, which is still in Early Access on Steam, but we thought we'd take a look at it.

We're a little clumsy at it, certainly not showing off particularly high level play, although after a couple of matches against randoms the other night I can attest there's several levels beyond where we're at.

Super Treasure Arena seems pretty good so far, the use of enemies hides that it might otherwise feel a bit empty with only 3 or 4 humans (or bots) in the arena. Personally I could see an 8 player local co-op game being fantastic, but the online seems to work pretty well, even at this early stage (note: the game is only 4 players)

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Meridian Squad 22
First Play
Posted by Ben at 02:02

We were sent a code for Meridian Squad 22 back when it was in Early Access and probably should have taken a look at it then. However, I was having a few difficulties with the game, and it didn't seem right to go in to detail on the rough edges of Meridian Squad 22 while it was still in development, especially as a lot of what it was missing was polish

Meridian Squad 22 is a good looking game, regardless of how many people made it (1 person!) it's graphically pretty impressive. There's a lot of content there, the "10 hours+" referenced on the store page is, for me at least, a gross under-selling. This all being said, I'm not feeling it. I'll need to play more to write any sort of review, but it strikes me that hat Meridian Squad 22 needs is a little more handholding. RTS genre die-hards probably don't need this, someone like me, I could do with easing in a little more, levels structured to introduce mechanics. There are a few like that, and I guess you have to give the game credit for getting to the point rather than laboured tutorial missions, but it can make the game a bit of a chore to play

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Inferno Climber

Posted by Ben at 16:41

I mentioned in our video preview that I, like Iím sure most people, was a little surprised to see a Dark Souls inspired game from Arc System Works, the studio synonymous with beautiful 2D fighters such as Blazblue and Guilty Gear. Perhaps that Inferno Climber plays the way it does belies the studios roots, for something so rooted in the likes of Dark Souls itís quite a responsive game.

This is where I start to brace myself a bit, I know Dark Souls fans are less than reluctant to defend the series, and Iím not really criticising it. Iíve always found the Souls games to be methodical, itís a series where even the pacey characters have a deliberate weight to them, where every movement has to be thought out because you canít just spring away from danger. Inferno Climber isnít like that, it has a more arcadey, or console like feel. Maybe thatís a term thatís outdated, but it reminds me of how a platformer might control, itís floaty with air control, wide attacking circles, little inertia to your movement.

Beyond that all the other series staples are there, thereís a stamina bar, stingy amounts of health items, danger around every corner. Iím not going to bang on about Dark Souls from this point on because Inferno Climber is its own thing, early in development, and promising. The biggest difference fromÖ ermÖ staples of the genre is how it handles death. Firstly, obviously, you will die, in fact you pretty much have to die to start the game. However, rather than return to a camp fire (there are camp fires) where you then have to trot off to retrieve your lost experience or items, instead you pick a different character. It reminds me of Killer 7 in that regard, youíre not 1 character youíre all of them, with each of them slowly gaining levels even if theyíre not in use. When you die you pick another character, equip them, grind for a bit, buy a contract from Death, then go and retrieve them. Or die trying.

Itís an interesting take, arguably enough for Inferno Climber to build on and make something defining for itself. Truth is the most defining thing about Inferno Climber, aside from its controls, is its looks. I mean no slight when I say it looks like a Vita game. Thereís an upscaled look to the visuals, a muddyness to the textures. Originally Inferno Climber was supposed to come out on the PS4, maybe it still will, but Iím not sure its graphical style would have done it any favours on a console. The simplistic graphics should ensure it runs smoothly though, Iím running a GTX 970 and have had framerate drops, it certainly fluctuates, but the weíre dealing with an Early Access game currently in version 0.2, itís far from optimised and not something it should be judged on.

I do really like the look of the game, ignoring the muddier elements, the aesthetic is great. I canít place what it reminds me of, certainly the old Medieval games on the Playstation, but something more recent. The character models are gangly with feeble limbs, theyíre almost scarecrow like. The enemies vary from plain looking blobs to flying Zelda-like enemies and chunky skeletons. Thereís a charm to it all that I think could prove to be a huge asset for Inferno Climber.

Thereís stuff I hope they improve. The initial tutorial area is both very easy and well signposted. It does a good job of teaching you the very basics, and hopefully is indicative of what will be in the game, because after than the handholding largely disappears. From The tutorial area I was sent off in to the woods, and the step up in difficulty was perhaps a little much. The enemies themselves were one thing, but the environmental hazards were enough to do me in. I feel like Iím retreading a lot of the same ground in preparation to not actually make any progress. Itís an odd balance, particularly as at this point itís still teaching you things about poison and archery, basic level stuff. Working out that youíre supposed to grind isnít exactly rocket science, but a heads up that you should probably store some money and some weapons for your next character wouldnít have gone amiss. Similarly thereís challenge rooms in the hub area that should be made use of. It does let you know theyíre accessible, but, given that theyíre called ďchallenge roomsĒ, not enough to tell you youíre ready to go and do them, acting as they do as tutorials for the rest of the game.

Thereís enough to Inferno Climber in its current state that I enjoyed my time with it, so thereís certainly enough promise for its forthcoming development. Weíll keep an eye on it, possibly take another look at it once itís further in development, and Iíd have thought a review at some point. Anyway, check out the video to see how it plays
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