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PAX Unplugged 2019: Crystal Chaos

In the hustle and bustle of PAX Unplugged 2019, we were able to sit down with Fawn of Ogopogo Gaming. We sent her a few questions to answer about her game, which is currently on Kickstarter! Video interview coming soon.

Q. Tell Us About Your Game

A. Crystal Chaos is a fast paced party game that takes 10-15 minutes to play. It’s all about finding and acquiring the Treasure card while your opponents sow chaos all around you. The game seems simple at first, but once players get used to the mechanics of moving cards and hands around and manipulating the draw deck, they realize how deep the strategy can really be.

Q. What Was Your Inspiration To Create the Game?

A. I was driving in my car one day and a wave of inspiration hit me. I wanted to make a game that would appeal to experienced gamers and beginners alike as well as children and adults. I used to play Old Maid with my grandmother and cousins, so I started to brainstorm ways it could get a major overhaul to meet my requirements. I went over all the options for rules and card mechanics in my head and pitched it to my business partner. We started play testing it and tweaking it to make it robust. In the end, it’s very much a collaboration that we are both happy with.

Q. When should we expect to see it? OR, if already released, how has the response been since release?

A. The target launch is late July or early August 2020. So far the response to customer demos has been overwhelmingly positive. Our kickstarter is live now and is 20% funded with 16 days remaining. We have a lot to go, but we are determined to see it launch.

Go check out Ogopogo Gaming’s Kickstarter for Crystal Chaos! Back it if you’re able to because it’s seriously an awesome game! Stay tuned for the video interview, where Crymson plays the game with Fawn!

PAX Unplugged 2019: Castle Siege

At PAX Unplugged this year, we had the pleasure of meeting Bryan Staudt, the creator of a “no table needed” card game called Castle Siege. We asked him a few questions. Check out his answers below!

Q. Tell Us About Your Game.

A. Castle Siege is a “no table needed” pocket strategy game of castle building and destruction (2 players, ~10 minutes). It can be played without a table, perfect for standing in line, or waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Players build their castles in the spaces between fingers on their left hand, using catapults and siege trolls to attack the enemy’s castle, and using archers, boiling oil, and fireballs to defend their own!

Q. What was your inspiration to create the game?

A. I designed it for one of Button Shy’s 18-card challenges: Design a game with only 18 cards that can be played without a table. I thought, “If I can’t play cards onto a table, what if I play them into my own hand instead?” Using the spaces between fingers felt like constructing the tiers of a building, like a castle, and the rest of the design grew out of that.

Q. When should we expect to see it? OR, if already released, how has the response been since release?

A. Castle Siege is currently on a crowd sale through The Game Crafter, a print-on-demand website. List price is $15.99, but the sale starts at $13.99. For every 10 people who back the game, the price drops by almost 50 cents. When the sale ends on Sunday, December 15th, 2019, everyone gets the lowest achieved price! Check it out here.

You can learn more about the game here.

The crowd sale over on The Game Crafter started yesterday, Dec. 9th and will end on Sunday, Dec. 15th. Go check it out today!

Review: FAR: Lone Sails (2017)

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FAR: Lone Sails
2017

FAR: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure game by Swiss developer Okomotive. Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Where you traverse a dried-out seabed littered with the remains of a decaying civilization. Keep your unique vessel going, overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions. How far can you make it? What will you find?

Now that that’s been said, I’ve beaten this game 5 times in 3 days and got 100% steam achievements. That’s something I rarely do. It isn’t a long game so beating it several times will only take a few hours. However, this game is full of magic.

Let me explain. In this game, you have an androgynous character traveling a grayscale landscape with red being the only other color. The art style is beautiful. As you side scroll in your large land vehicle, the scene is ever-changing. 

You start in a small house/workshop after taking a moment to honor the passing of, what I assume is your father or mentor. After leaving the building behind you walk until you come across a massive vehicle. It reminds me of many things, reminiscent of movies about a dystopian future, you do everything you can to keep your vehicle operating. 

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Stopping to gather items for fuel, solving puzzles to upgrade the vehicle, outrunning disasters. All while a quiet story is told in the background. A story without words, which can be the best story there is. As I travel, my mind races to try to fill in the blanks. Wondering if it’s a comment on our current society and where we are headed or it’s just a simple story to be interpreted how we wish. This was magic to me. 

As I stated, I played the game over and over, hoping to grasp more and get all 14 achievements on steam. Each playthrough I noticed something different, something I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. Honestly, these discoveries excited me and now that I’ve achieved everything I may slowly go through one more time to see if I’ve missed anything else.

This is definitely a comfort game for me and I could see myself booting it up after a long/bad day. It’s stunning, well worth the price and time. I can’t wait to see what else this developer has to offer.

TL;DR: Great Game, Must Play

Games to Get Excited About: January 2018

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I had to take a short hiatus, which meant less game-type excitement over the last half of the year.  Now I’m moved, settled, and looking forward to bringing you all sorts of great stuff in the new year.  Here we go!

January is always a little slow for game releases.  The holidays are booming with new things as studios and publishers try to catch those gift-giving sales and last minute shoppers.  That doesn’t mean we are without anything to look forward to as we ring in the New Year.  In particular we have several releases for consoles, most of which are based on anime titles, as well as current Japanese games getting released in the states.

The one that’s looking the most interesting to me is Lost Sphear.  It’s being called the spiritual successor to I Am Setsuna, also from the developer Tokyo RPG Factory.  It is being published by Square Enix and has been available in Japan since October.  It will release for us in North America on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4.  Despite good reviews and praise for its similarity to Chrono Trigger, the Japanese release of Lost Sphear didn’t sell as well as the previous title.

Why We Should be Excited

Square Enix created Tokyo RPG Factory for the sole purpose of creating JRPGs with a 90’s feel.  Some of you may be too young to remember the 90’s, but that era gave us some of the best and most influential RPGs.  Many set the stage for the games we have today –  the primary reason I showcase them on my own YouTube channel every Monday night.  It may be a good reason to pull Lost Sphear and its predecessor into my Saturday show to explore a new game built in a classic style.

The game’s story follows a familiar theme for a JRPG.  Young Kanata and his friends must discover the cause of something plaguing their home and eventually save the world.  Looking through the screenshots it appears to be built like a classic top-down game with turn based combat mechanics.  The graphics are more modern while keeping the feel of games like those early in the Final Fantasy series.

Notable Releases for January

Death Mark – Coming to the Switch and PS4 on the 19th, Death Mark is a horror adventure game previously released on the Vita.  The game centers around a group of people who have received a strange mark, driving them toward a mysterious mansion to find answers.

Dragon Ball FighterZ – A fighting game that borrows from other popular titles like Marvel vs. Capcom, this game comes to PC, PS4 and XBOX on the 26th of January.  It will be a tag team style game where players select three characters and can use one in an assist move against their opponent.

Monster Hunter: World – This open world action RPG is coming to XBOX, PC and PS4 on the 26th.  Much like the other games in the franchise, the game centers on capturing creatures to be studied.  Players will have single player as well as multiplayer available as well as many of the features, weapons and skills found in previous Monster Hunter titles.

As I said, light on the releases but it’s early in the year and close to the holidays.  I’m sure we have more exciting games coming as the year marches on.

Guest Post | The Final Station: A Review

Written by: Sage the Cosplaya

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I am a sucker for a good indie game. A nice game that can have a wonderful impact on you, unlike many mainstream games. I’m looking at you, Call of Duty. 

A few days ago, I stumbled upon The Final Station, an indie game from Tiny Build. This developer has made a good amount of solid games in the past.

So, what is this game about?

I’d love to tell you, but I don’t know myself! The story is actually the biggest issue. You are not given a prologue or any indication of what the world is like before you begin. You wake up and begin your journey to ride the worst Thomas The Tank Engine ever made.

Okay, it’s more that you travel and deliver cargo that is supposed to maybe save the world from another invasion? Along the way, you pick up rescuers, keep them alive, and drop them off. You also fight off mysterious blackened slimy creatures that were once human beings; that, too.

So what is the good in the game?

What story there is seems fascinating. It has a unique premise. One of the best levels is a mansion, which seems empty at first. You see a few hints of the story in this level. Then, once when you go underground, the real story of this house and its owner, begins. The music is beautiful; it adds the necessary ambiance that makes you feel as though this tragic world is at the end of its days.

The scenery in the train sections are great. It is pixelated art, but when you see it in terms of story for locations or events, it really leaves a impact. The mood and how it changes is done very well.

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So what is so bad about it?

As I’ve said before: THE STORY. To me, any game, regardless of graphics, can be great as long as it has a compelling story to tell. So, lets break this down.

In each level, you get scraps of paper and messages about the people in that level. That is nice, but it rarely contributes to the overall story. You do get some story-driven dialogue from the passengers on the train. This story-driven dialogue would be great to hear… but you can’t because you have to rush to feed the passengers and give them first-aid kits to prevent them from dying. Also, you have to rush to keep and maintain this train from hurting the passengers. You can not listen to all of the dialogue, which is frustrating.

Also, when you can speak to people, you don’t say anything. Instead, the game just displays, “….” and they respond to it. But not like Groot and Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, where you do get what they are saying despite them not saying anything.

There is honestly a part to the climax of the game where you have to talk to people about changing plans in order to save everyone. The exchange is bascially:

“Hey, glad you made it!”

“…”

“Really? Well, go to this place.”

“…”

“I agree. I hope this plan works.”

What plan? What was wrong with the original plan? What made you want to come up with this new plan? How can we execute this plan? EXPLAIN, GAME!

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The ending is another huge flaw (spoilers at the end). It feels rushed and, at parts, abandoned. Even after completing the game, I have watched others play and still have the same reaction. I have a lot of questions that do not get answered.

“Its the journey, not the destination,” you might say. NO! FALSE! When you spend hours getting involved in a game or in a series like LOST, you’re dedicated. The story has you. There are mysteries that you want resolved. You get to the ending and it is such a let down that it ruins the journey and you feel like you just wasted so much of your life. That is this game.

One final flaw: the money/craft system. Throughout the game, you raid bodies, lockers and bathrooms for loot and money. The loot allows you to craft ammo and first aid kits on the train, which you have to do when everyone is talking about the story. Also, if you keep the passengers alive, you get some cash or ammo as rewards. After every act, you get to a city where you can you buy food, meds, and ammo. At one point though, you go to a city and you can no longer buy anything. Ok? But afterwords you still need meds, and you still go to loot for money and crafts, which is pointless because you can not use them again, and there is not a New Game+ to use them on. It’s pointless.

Overall, I give The Final Station a 3/5 trains. It has so much potential for a good ride, but it derails and crashes.

Ending Spoilers:

Read the rest of this entry

Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

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Indie Developer Spotlight: Beneath Nexus

by Michael Wells

Disclosure: I am a backer of Beneath Nexus on Kickstarter. Also, while I have not worked on this specific project, I have been in discussion with Silverclutch Games to provide writing for a future project.

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It’s time for another developer spotlight! This time around we’re talking about Silverclutch games about their upcoming release Beneath Nexus. We had a chance to talk to Tom and Chris from Silverclutch at Too Many Games in Oaks, PA (check out our convention impressions here and here) and now we’re pleased to feature them and their project on our site.

The Project:

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From their website:

Beneath Nexus is a dungeon crawling card game for 4 to 6 players. Discover powerful treasures and unlock forgotten secrets in your quest to reclaim the city of Nexus. The Heroes combine their unique skills and powers to overcome the trials of The Blight Lord who uses fiendish monsters and dark magicks to destroy all who delve Beneath Nexus.

Beneath Nexus is a tabletop card game that offers an exciting roleplaying experience in a quickplay format. It is inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs and aims to recreate the feel of those games using predetermined heroes with decks of unique abilities. One player takes on the traditional GM role and plays the Blight Lord, a boss character for the other players to take on. To do so, the other players choose heroes that are drawn from traditional role-playing class archetypes and must strategize how best to use their complimentary abilities to overcome the monsters and spells that the Blight Lord arrays against them.

Beneath Nexus is currently up on Kickstarter and has nearly reached 75% of their goal at time of this writing. Take a look and consider backing this exciting project.

Developer Interview:

I sent a few questions to Silverclutch Games and Chris took some time away from their Kickstarter and Convention schedule to respond.

What made you want to get into game development?

Tom and I have both played games since early childhood. Tom developed his passion for gaming when he was introduced to Magic: the Gathering in the 3rd grade. I played the classics with my father, and he was relentless. Instead of a healthy hobby, my passion for gaming lies more so in my hunger for revenge against my dad for absolutely decimating my brother and me for years in Risk, Stratego, Checkers, and Uno. We began gaming together when Tom joined my Pathfinder RPG group when we were in college. Both of us have always been curious about how games work and have been ready to criticize any game that comes our way. We ended up making games because we knew what we wanted to play and wanted to share those ideas with our friends.
How did Silverclutch Games get started?
Silverclutch Games is a product of my desire to own my own business and Tom’s desire to create awesome games. Tom was developing an introductory dungeon crawler for a handful of months when I approached him with the idea to start our own game design business. That was June of 2015. We incorporated in August, 2015, with the plan to create accessible, easy to learn games that engage the hobbyist gamer.

 

What were your inspirations for Beneath Nexus?
Tom and I are huge fans of D&D, Dungeonworld, etc. We play roleplaying games regularly, but many of our friends can’t be bothered with the hefty rulebook and long playtimes. That bums us out! Beneath Nexus was created so that new players and casual gamers can get a taste of the fantasy adventure genre without having to do homework in the meantime.
What about Beneath Nexus is most interesting/exciting to you as a designer?
We tried a lot of different things, mechanically, with Beneath Nexus. We wanted it to be easy to learn, quick to play, and interesting for both hobbyists and newbies, so we had to experiment with a bunch of different ideas. What excited me most about the process was translating player feedback into mechanical changes. A lot of hobbyists tested the game, so their comments were very direct and specific. The casual gamers that had much more general feedback were the most fun for me because the playtesting notes became a puzzle of vague notions after a few play throughs. Tom seemed most excited by the balance of the asymmetry of the game. Making sure the Blight Lord wasn’t too weak or too strong was a huge task when we incorporated it. Tom dug into it immediately and really shined there.
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I had the chance to play two games of Beneath Nexus at Too Many Games and was very impressed by how polished and balanced the game is. A great deal of obvious care went into the design of the heroes, their abilities, and the ways that they interact with each other. Using the whole party’s abilities in just the right way to overcome a challenge feels a bit like the moment in Magic: The Gathering when the cards in your deck line up and play just right for that devastating combo. Meanwhile, the Blight Lord’s abilities and Monsters keep players on their toes and can easily punish careless or reckless play. The game looks like it is rewarding for players on either side of the table.
The game is already available in a print and play format if you want to give it a go. I can’t wait for the physical game to be released. For more information about the game and Silverclutch Games, check out the Beneath Nexus Kickstarter and their website.

Review: Gone Home (2013)

Dev./Pub.: The Fullbright Company
Platform(s): PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: Aug. 15, 2013

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Gone Home is a visual novel that focuses on exploration. According to the Steam store page, this game does not have any enemies or puzzles that must be completed to beat the game. The player simply must explore the house until they learn the whole story.

What’s it about?
You are Katie Greenbriar. You return home after a long trip abroad in Europe to find a note from your younger sister, Sam, instructing you not to go looking for her. It is your goal to explore the house to find out what happened to your family through notes, letters, books and pamphlets. The game ends when you learn the whole truth about what happened while you were abroad.

What did I think?
This game is beautiful. Not only are the graphics amazingly detailed, but the gameplay is flawless. As Katie, you are able to see and interact with every nook and cranny in this mansion that is your family’s new home, including messy beds and strewn about clothing.

The story is a powerful one. You learn early on that the house, which used to belong to Katie’s great-uncle, is referred to in town as the Psycho House because the previous owner went crazy and killed himself. The ambiance screams horror game as a thunderstorm rages outside and the old house creaks as you explore. Despite all this, my favorite part about this game is that it’s not horror at all. The devs could have fooled me.

There is a lot of reading to do, but what else can you expect from an exploration game that focuses on finding notes? The journal entries from Sam, written as letters to Katie and voiced out loud, are a nice touch. They pace the story quite well so that you are able to explore the entire house before you know exactly what happened.

The game overall reminded me of Life is Strange, which, I think, is a compliment.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I definitely do. If you have a PS4, it’s the free PS Plus game for June. Otherwise, you can find it on Steam and Xbox One.