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Multiplatform Game Review: Vaporum by Fatbot Games

Vaporum is a grid-based dungeon crawler RPG in an original steampunk setting, inspired by old-school classics of the genre. Stranded in the middle of an ocean, in front of a gigantic tower, the hero has to find out what the place is, what happened there, and most importantly, who he is.

 

 

Vaporum is developed by Fatbot Games and originally released on PC in 2017. Key Features of the game include: First person real-time combat, Puzzles and level-wide objectives, Gadget-based RPG system, Lots of exploration, loot, plenty of character customization, a mysterious storyline filled with secrets, fully voiced main characters, and an Immersive steampunk setting.

 

Combat in Vaporum takes place in real time. Each enemy type has a distinctive set of strengths and weaknesses, and various kinds of attacks and defense mechanisms, so you have to employ different tactics to beat each one. A Lot of time is spent fighting progressively more difficult enemies on a grid based movement system which limits you to simple left, right, forward, and backwards movement and 90 degree turns. This leads to you being able to hit an enemy, step backwards and force a melee-only enemy to step forwards so you can hit it again and move before it can hit you, effectively killing it. This is simple versus a single enemy, but much more daunting versus multiple enemies and mastery of the tile based grid movement system is a must as jarring as it is. Combat is quick and lethal with little opportunity for healing. If you get backed into a corner, it easily becomes a situation of standing there taking turns hitting each other until one of you are dead. The gadget based system is more accurately a steampunk version of spells and is very fun and satisfying to use to defeat enemies.

 

 

The movement system is jarring at times and clunky. It did give me motion sickness due to the way the character moves. The character’s head bobs down and then looks back up after each move, and turning is a sudden start then stop that can disorient you. It must be stated this is one of only two titles to ever give me motion sickness, and even with developer help I was not able to prevent it; only limit it by turning off the options for headbob, screen shake effects, and idle camera animation. The head bob while moving was still there as was the up-down motion of the character breathing, but this did help to somewhat mitigate the motion sickness.

 

 

Most mechanics in Vaporum are very simple. However, combining these mechanics creates intriguing puzzles and level-wide objectives where you have to use both your wits and reflexes. While most puzzles and riddles are contained in a single room, progression objectives can span an entire level or even multiple levels. The puzzles themselves can consist of finding the button, moving crates in set patterns and triggering pressure plates in a specific order, with later levels adding lethal traps and teleporters. While solving the puzzles feels rewarding, it is a double edged sword as completing the puzzles are required for progression, but it is very frustrating when you get stuck on one, and they quickly become monotonous and boring at that point.

 

 

The games graphics and Audio are top-notch and perfect for a steampunk title and really help to immerse you into the game world. The voice acting is pretty good for the most part with only a couple lines of dialogue that felt off. The story is good even though it is set up with the stereotypical woke up with amnesia trope. The controls on the other hand make it clear this was a title ported over from the pc, and while clumsy and clunky and frustratingly annoying at first, once you learn and memorize them they no longer present as much of an issue.

 

Check out the video version of this review here –

 

Or check out Lone’s stream of the XBox One version –

 

For more info on the game, head over to the Vaporum website.

 

I give the game a solid 5 out of 10, it stands good on its own merits, but as a port it feels lacking in the quality of life department.

~Darsch

 

[Here Darsch reviews the PlayStation 4 Port of Vaporum, released early April 2019, also on XBox One and Nintendo Switch. ~Lone]


April 25th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

PC Early Access First Look: Satisfactory from Coffee Stain Studios

Satisfactory is a first-person open-world factory building game with a dash of exploration and combat. Pioneering for FICSIT Incorporated means charting and exploiting an alien planet, battling alien lifeforms, creating multi-story factories, entering conveyor belt heaven, automating vehicles, and researching new technologies.

 

 

Satisfactory is satisfying and out now in Early Access from Coffee Stain studios, the same studio responsible for “Sanctum” and “Goat Simulator”.

 

Satisfactory is a survival game about exploring an alien planet, taking its resources and building massive factories. It is one part survival and exploration game and one part factory sim. The game is satisfying to say the least.

 

 

I decided to choose the first starting area offered of the three biomes, a grass land with plenty of flat land to build on and a decent amount of resources but long distances of travel.

 

The other two biomes were a lush forest with plenty of biomass (used to make power and fuel) but few building opportunities and a rocky desert with a mix of the two but little biomass.

 

 

The game launched into early access with –
• 6 tiers full of milestones that unlocks machines, resources, equipment and vehicles
• 3 different starting areas/biomes on a large handcrafted world (30km2)
• Vehicles with automation capabilities
• Equipment and weapons
• Alien creatures
• Multiplayer

 

With the following coming as the game reaches full release:
• The rest of the FICSIT milestones and tiers
• More machines, resources, vehicles, equipment and weapons
• Improvements on core gameplay, systems, UI/UX, Quality of Life
• Iterate on world, exploration, landmarks, rewards and creatures
• Full narrative
• More optimization
• Dedicated server support
• Mod support

 

 

My first game session started out as many survival games, stranded alone somewhere with nothing and you have to gather resources and craft what you need as you go.

 

After about 30 to 45 minutes I had the start of an automated factory going. After two hours though, I had miners set up gathering an endless supply of copper and iron ore, feeding it onto conveyor belts and into my smelters & to be turned into ingots, then further down the assembly line they would be turned into other building resources I needed to further automate things.

 

 

The game has a simple gameplay loop that is easy for me to lose my self in and it can be relaxing while trying to solve logistic problems such as how to get resources from point A, at the top of a mountain, to point B far below and away the most efficient way possible. This is the core of the game.

 

It takes time to get really built up, two days in and I am still working on getting my factory running and unlocking milestones, this games progression system. Milestone can be thought of as levels with in each tier that give you blueprints and upgrades. it is very simple and helps to give the player guidance towards what to while building the factory.

 

 

If I had to rate the game in its current early access state I would give it a 5 out of 10, but, as it’s an early access title and many features, such as the narrative & several tiers of upgrades and buildings, are simply are not in yet and early access is expected to last at least a year.

 

Check out my first look preview video below for a better idea –

 

Satisfactory is one to watch for gamers interested in this style of game or newcomers looking for something different but fun.

 

Want to play youtself and support the developer in Early Access, or just wishlist for later, head over to the Epic Game Store page or the games website


April 5th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

Multiplatform Game Review: Anthem

Anthem is a shared-world action RPG, where players can delve into a vast landscape teeming with amazing technology and forgotten treasures. This is a world where Freelancers are called upon to defeat savage beasts, ruthless marauders, and forces plotting to conquer humanity.

 

 

Anthem, the would be savior of bioware, the game that was going to compensate for letdown after letdown. The great equalizer, Is in reality, just another letdown from the once great Bioware.

 

Bioware is dead folks. It died when the founding doctors left it after Star Wars The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 were released. To see proof of this look no further than the shitastic Anthem. I hate saying this because I had such high hopes for this game but it’s less of a game and more an example how not to make a looter shooter (hint, don’t use frostbite engine for one) and how to make a load screen simulator!

 

 

The very first thing that stands out about Anthem is how beautiful the game is. The second, is the insane amount of long load screens that should not exist in a game in 2019. Bioware code named Anthem: Dylan, after the singer in the hopes that Anthem would revolutionize the way we view games like Bob Dylan changed how we view music. They failed on this front like they have failed on so many aspects of Anthem. Need to change your loadout? LOAD SCREEN! Need to respawn? LOAD SCREEN! Spawn into a mission set to public? Get ready for three or four load screens back to back as the game teleports you to the rest of the group who are now half way through their mission. Oh, by the way, the missions take less time to complete than they do to load, and this is on a good pc with superfast broadband speeds and a fast storage device!

 

 

The game also suffers from invisible enemies and random frame rate drops on the best pc hardware you can get for gaming! (Did I mention I have an awesome pc?) The game is terribly optimized, using the frostbite engine which does not have the framework in place for basic looter shooter functionality, or real inventory. This is why we can not switch out equipped weapons in the field, contrary to that drivel Bioware fed us about it breaking game flow. They already broke that with abilities that have drastically different cool downs, which prevent you from doing combos more often, thus making the combo system feel clunky and broken, but man is it so nice to watch a swarm die to a combo!

 

 

On top of all of this the game’s main focus of loot is a broken mess with inscriptions (affixes to those familiar with Diablo) not working or not being relevant to the weapon or gear you have equipped. The loot grind is poorly executed at best with nothing really unique and only four different gun models in the game. Bioware has fortunately recognized this and are working towards fixes to make the loot system work better and are even removing common and uncommon items from the lvl 30 loot tables after listening to feedback given by diablo 3 veteran and main man behind itemization; Travis Day.

 

Remember that awesome E3 footage that showed the strider walking and then getting attacked and the freelancer receiving a legendary item? That was an entirely scripted and acted scenario that never once appears in the game. Walking striders and competing factions just sadly do not exist. It would have been a nice touch if such things could happen as showcased in that E3 video, but that’s how things work though in building hype for a game, we usually are never shown actual live gameplay but a scripted video instead.

 

 

The missions are a terrible repetition of two different types with little diversity. You have the defend the point against waves of enemies and collect items while killing enemies. That’s it, and while the actual gameplay can be fun it is confined to this weak and broken system that get rather boring quickly. Added to this list of terrible choices and things is the fact Anthem was meant to be a story driven experience but the great storytelling Bioware is known for just is not present! The story is generic at best with some cool events here and there, but with dialogue choices that ultimately lead nowhere and do not matter, and no memorable characters except for Owen. I will fight you on this, Owen is the best thing about Anthem!

 

 

That all being said, Anthem does have promise and potential if EA lets bioware have the chance to fix it. Pass this one up for now and check back in 4 to 6 months when they release new endgame content (or in a sale ~Lone) and have had a chance to update and fix what is broken, if they even can. Currently, endgame is just repeating the final story mission of the game over and over.

 

Right now, a dissapointing 1 out of 10 though.

~Darsch


March 9th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

Reggie Fils-Aime to step down as Nintendo President, names Bowser as Successor


(This article begins with a dramatisation which is for comic purposes. The main news article begins after the line)

 

A conference room inside Nintendo of America’s offices. Redmond, Washington. February 21st, 2019.

 

Reggie Fils-Aime: Friends, investors, esteemed colleagues. I think we can all agree when I say that over the last decade, Nintendo has grown from strength to strength. We have seen record breaking sales from the Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch systems; and our moves into mobile gaming and film are beginning to also pay dividends. True, it hasn’t all been plain sailing (takes a picture down from the wall of a blue “U”); but one thing has never been lost: We are a company of individuals always moving forward and innovating with fun, dynamic new ideas.

(The entire boardroom cheers)

Reggie: …Which brings me to the point of today. After more than 15 notable years at Nintendo of America, and nearly 13 as your President and COO, I believe the time is now right for me to pass on the reins. I therefore wish to inform you that I will soon be stepping down from the chair.

(The entire boardroom gasps)

Reggie: I called this meeting today in order to name my successor. Step forward… Bowser!

(All heads turn towards the doorway as the door to the conference room swings open, The floor shakes audibly with each step as the spiky-shelled King of the Koopas steps in to the room)

 

 

Bowser: That’s RIGHT! I’m taking control of this Airship, and you all will bow to me from now on! For my first act, I demand a meeting with your precious poster child who has so often foiled my plans. Bring me Mario this instant!

Reggie: Not you, Bowser…

Bowser: WHAT?!?

 

A picture of Doug Bowser
Image courtesy LinkedIn

 

(From behind the large, intimidating Koopa, another man steps forward. As Reggie shakes the man’s hand, the entire room applauds)

Reggie: I of course was referring to our current Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Doug Bowser. Effective April 15th, I am officially promoting him to my now-former role as President of Nintendo of America.

Doug Bowser: It has been my great fortune to work with and be mentored by Reggie for four years at Nintendo of America … And rest assured, we will continue to build on his work to evolve and expand our brand, furthering Nintendo’s global mission of creating smiles. There are millions more of those to come.

Bowser: BAH!!! This pipsqueak is not even worthy of the Bowser name! (He storms out, as the rest of the boardroom congratulate Doug)

 


 

Yes, it’s official. After more than 15 notable years at Nintendo of America, and nearly 13 as its President and COO, Reggie Fils-Aime will retire. His successor, Doug Bowser, is an industry veteran who joined NOA in May 2015 as the Vice President of Sales before being promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing the next year – and now, starting April 15th, he will now hold the esteemed title of President of Nintendo of America.

 

While the name may not be familiar to everyone, Bowser’s business acumen is certainly powerful. Doug Bowser is an industry veteran who joined NOA in May 2015 as the Vice President of Sales before being promoted to Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing the next year. During his time at NOA, Bowser led the sales and marketing efforts for Nintendo Switch, which became the fastest-selling video game system of this hardware generation through 21 months, according to The NPD Group. Even before his time at Nintendo, Bowser has held major roles at Electronic Arts – where he last worked as Vice President of Global Business Planning.

 

In announcing his retirement, Fils-Aime said:

 

“Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever … It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.”

 

Responding to the news, Shuntaro Furukawa, President of Nintendo Co., Ltd, had this to say:

 

“I really appreciate everything Reggie has done for Nintendo. Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader. We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum. While we will miss him and we wish him the very best in his retirement, we are also pleased to have such an able successor ready to step into that role. Doug Bowser and the rest of the team will ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum for Nintendo.”

 

So long as this Bowser doesn’t share the famous Bowser’s fiery reputation, Nintendo of America should remain in safe hands.

 

Bowser, the King of Koopas, breathes fire
Image courtesy Super Mario Wiki


February 21st, 2019 by CrimsonShade
Posted in Gaming, General, Nintendo | No Comments »

#TBT PC Game Review :- Subnautica from Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Descend into the depths of an alien underwater world filled with wonder and peril. Craft equipment, pilot submarines and out-smart wildlife to explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, cave systems, and more – all while trying to survive.

 

 

Recently I picked up the first person survival game; Subnautica (released Jan 2018 on STEAM, Dec 2018 on consoles), it looked like a fun game from the drunk play-through I watched and as I hadn’t played a solo game in a while, thought I would give it a try.  I should say that I have only just recently become a PC gamer and I have so much catching up to do that my computer is going to hurt by the end of the year with everything I have to cram in. Now I am a firm believer that a reviewer shouldn’t sway your opinion, because in the end we all have differences of opinion and that is good; or the world would be boring. So please, if you get a chance and you are into survival games, give it a go and make your own mind up, in my opinion this was a brilliant start to my PC gaming life!

 

The story, like any survival game, is pretty standard in that you are stranded alone to deal with the world around you. In this case you are on an ocean planet, light years from home with not one coffee place to help you deal with this. You were part of a team sent to setup a “phasegate” and to search for a missing ship that crashed on the planet. Because humans have to repeat courses of action before we figure out what is bad and what is good, your ship crash lands as well.

 

 

While scanning the planet, your ship “The Aurora” is hit by an unknown energy force from the surface and you escape in the only life pod that seems to have passed it’s maintenance checks as the others you find that haven’t done so well! I swear they could have spent less on interior decoration, (potted plants and posters advertising the ship to the crew of said ship,) and spent it on shields, better life pods or a less sarcastic AI. The wreckage of your once “advanced” ship lays on the horizon of this new world and you must save yourself through modern sci-fi technology, scavenging planetary resources, and retrieving tech that has spread far and wide across the ocean seabed. Can you do it?

 

In my case, yes I could and had a jolly good time too!

 

 

The gameplay style, apart from the first person free roaming aspect, is best described as a tech-tree you must grow and nourish with SO MUCH titanium and copper you wouldn’t believe; and who would have ever thought I would get fed up of finding gold and diamonds!? You also need blueprints found by scanning broken parts of equipment from the wreckage of the two crashed ships.

 

You start with basic tools for survival in the form of a Replica…I mean Fabricator which runs on the principle of “FEED ME SEYMOUR!” You cram large quantities of fish into it and get bottle water and food in return. Alloys and Scrapings of coral gives you a fire extinguisher, (for the moment when the ocean planet suddenly becomes a fire planet) and other bits and bobs to make your lonely stay a bit more bearable. As you progress through the tech tree you gain access to deeper regions of the planet and in turn, more resources to cram into the fabricator, which gives even better tools, to help you access even deeper regions.

 

 

There is also the crashed ships to explore, the lost habitats of the first ship to crash here and the presence of an intelligence that is not our own. I use the term ‘intelligence’ loosely because who parks up that close to an unknown planet where one ship has already vanished?! You can build submarines to explore deeper and further, discover habitats to survive in, and manufacture tools to do all kinds of funky stuff, as you explore the story as much or as little you want.

 

The story is read through data you find on PDA devices. These explain bit by bit what happened to the previous explorers to add to your immersion of the game if you so choose. In my case, I ignored the PDA and tried to figure out what happened through exploring the visual world and making my own mind up about stupid humans parking so close to planets with a history of vanished ships. Seriously with all that tech you couldn’t just send a probe? It didn’t ruin the game for me in any way and actually added to the experience. The story is light but being the only human alive, that is acceptable.

 

 

The game plays so well to the lone survival feel. There is no real tutorial and as you gain new equipment and vehicles you are never really shown how to pilot them. The immersion became so real for me that I imagined Ryley Robinson, (the protagonist you play) was part of the Domestic Crew (he mopped the corridors), as he seems to know little about anything he is building. As it turns out he is a Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief… so in actual fact the guy who gets to scrub out the engine while the real engineers are doing the real work!

 

I shouldn’t be too hard on him though, together we conquered Iantopia! From Giant Leviathan attacks to nearly drowning him when I found shiny stuff WAY to deep down for my air tanks, we spent hours of gameplay exploring and literally getting lost in such a huge world. It is a beautiful game that was well designed and blends a great mixture of breathtaking underwater beauty, scary oversized monsters nipping at your tiny self, and even comical little fish that smear across your submersible vehicles as you speed away from things trying to eat you.

 

 

I really felt for this planet and when I saw the damage the crashing ship had done to the area, I really believed I deserved all the giant predator fish chasing after me! Throw in the strange alien technology that looms out of the darkness as you float towards it, and you just can’t get enough of the visual. This becomes important when playing a solo game, as you take time to stop and look at these details.

 

The dark overtones are broken up by the various different AI personalities that live inside your own PDA unit and the machines you build. I got an overwhelming sense of pride when I got aboard my first Submarine and heard “Welcome aboard captain!” I had been promoted from Engine scrubber to captain and it only took me being marooned on a planet to get the position I always wanted! The main AI on your PDA reminds me much of Portal’s sense of humour. Whenever you discover a new place, device or vehicle, her voice chimes up to tell you something interesting about it, and the occasional witty banter added to my immersion.The unsettlingly human computer and the lack of other people made me wonder if Ryley was starting to lose it a bit and the computer was just him talking to himself in a robot voice.

 

 

Now no game is without its flaws and though I didn’t see many glitches, some of the ones I did see were game breaking. I left the first mini-sub I had ever made and cherished, to explore a deeper cavern system it couldn’t reach. When I got back it was inside a nearby wall. This meant I would have to start the game all over again because I couldn’t make it to the surface without dying. Console commands saved my play through but also gave me access to tempting cheats, and I lost some of that immersive feeling. I later found out one of the creatures had tried to teleport me out of my PRAWN suit and into its clutches, but instead teleported me outside the environment.

 

Most glitches are simple and often don’t ruin the game and sometimes played into my idea that Ryley was going mad. On another occasion I was walking down the access tunnel from a nuclear power plants to a fish display cabinet and though I didn’t think their proximity would be an issue, I witnessed a very odd fish, a giant eyeball with fins, swimming towards me! It was at this time I decided to go back to Earth and seek some professional help.

 

 

Those glitches came few and far between and once I got passed my frustration of the incident of HMS Nippy Shrimp and the wall, I got back into the game and was once again captivated by the beauty of it all.

 

It is possible to become lost and confused, where nothing makes sense and you are sure you missed a small detail somewhere. If this happens, I recommend checking the wiki out because it was very helpful and didn’t spoil anything waiting ahead for me. I had to use the wiki several times, but I feel that that was more a reflection of my ability as a player.

 

 

The game is left so open that you can play it anyway you like; valiant hero desperately trying to get home, scared engineer doing what he can to survive on little training or my Ryley, who was an engine room janitor who got super lucky. Once the game was complete, and I had put the finishing touches to my underwater resort (yes, I built an underwater resort!), I decided to craft my rocket and get back to Earth. I planned to start advertising and make a killing on the adventurous holiday maker who would love the dangerous Iantopia! But what then?

 

The game offers different modes and I originally played it on “easy”. If you just fancy a nice ride a sort of ultra-easy mode exists which helps you to learn how everything works in a safe environment. With endless resources at your disposal, all the blueprints unlocked and being immortal you don’t need to worry about anything other than learning to play the game! On Easy mode you are trying to survive but all you need to worry about is your health and your air, plus you now have to find everything to get you up and back into space. Hard mode introduces the need to eat and drink and though you can die you still re-spawn somewhere safe, minus the materials you just collected. If you want to feel like every moment could be your last then hardcore mode is for you! You get one life and no warnings about your air supply and I am leaving that for when I feel like giving myself a heart attack! This gives every level of player a nice entry point into the game though.

 

 

In addition, though there doesn’t seem to be a date of arrival, Subnautica, Below Zero adds another chapter to the game, which will bring a whole new element of tracking your heat, along with the original gameplay mechanics that made this game so much fun! Set in the polar icecap on the same planet, you now have frozen land masses to contend with, not to mention creepy penguins!

 

Subnautica deserves a go if you like Survival games, as it did feel like me against the world because it was! If you like building mechanics that allow you to construct your own living areas then at some point you can forget the story and escaping, and build yourself your own underwater resort with aquarium, two nuclear reactors and a medical bay set up for injuries sustained from handling dangerous fish and radiation burns. If you just like open world exploring then it is really easy to get lost in all the different areas of Subnautica as each place has its own particular wonder from the various planet life and it’s glowing auras to the beasties that lurk among them.

 

 

Now excuse me, I have to finish setting up the VIP apartments at my resort as they keep getting eaten by leviathans.

 

 

Subnautica is available now on STEAM, XBox One and Playstation 4!

 

A solid and fun 6 out of 10!
~ IanABlakeman

 

[Edited by Scarlet_Dragon]


January 31st, 2019 by IanABlakeman
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Real Time Strategy, Xbox | No Comments »

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