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Games to Get Excited About: November 2016

by Michael Wells

November is here with the usual flood of new releases. Here’s an in-depth look at one upcoming title we’re excited about and a rundown of notable releases in the coming month.

2016 is seeing the release of two games that have been in development for so long that you would be forgiven for assuming they would never actually come out. One is Final Fantasy XV, the much anticipated new entry in Square Enix’s cultural juggernaut of a series that was first announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII all the way back in 2006. The other is…

The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian has been a fixture on vaporware lists for years. The game was originally announced as a PS3 exclusive at E3 in 2009. Even at the time of its announcement it had already been in development for 2 years. The Last Guardian generated a lot of buzz because it was the next, and possibly final, game from Fumito Ueda. Ueda is best known for his previous two games, the cult classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Both games are known for their minimalist presentation and stark, beautiful visuals.

The Last Guardian showed a young boy protagonist and a large fantastic creature that seemed like something between a bird, a cat, and a deer. The boy seems reminiscent of the protagonist of Ico and a focus on working with a companion to move through the game evokes that earlier title. The creature was incredibly detailed for the time and promised to push the graphical capabilities of the PS3. The original release window came and went and news of the game slowly dwindled to a trickle. Most of it was rumors and most of the rumors were bad.

Members of the team left to pursue other projects, Ueda himself stepped down to become a creative consultant, and the press began to speculate that Sony had quietly canned the project. Despite the rumors, Sony continued to insist that the game was being developed and that it would be worth the wait. Still, with each year that passed with no news, a release for the troubled title seemed less and less likely. Had it been too ambitious? Was the detailed model and complex behavior for the creature too much of a technical hurdle to overcome? Even if it was possible, could the aging PS3 hardware handle a game that lived up to the original vision?

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In 2015, Sony brought The Last Guardian back to E3 and announced that it would be released in the 4th quarter of 2016. It joined other long awaited announcements such as Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII remake. As we approach the game’s release date, details remain scarce but there is no denying that the game looks striking and very much in the spirit of its forbears.

The game still seems to be an adventure game that keeps the austere and crumbling environments of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The protagonist must work together with the creature that the development team has tried to model realistic animal behavior for. This means that players should be able to entice it with food, sooth it when it is frightened, and care for it when it is hurt. The central goal of the game is to forge an emotional attachment to the creature.

Skepticism is warranted for any project with a history as long and troubled as The Last Guardian. The questions that plagued it throughout its development remain relevant even as the game nears release. With that said, I have been waiting for this game for eight years and I love Ueda’s previous work. I am glad that the wait is nearly over. The Last Guardian is currently scheduled to release December 6, 2016 in North America, exclusively for the PS4.

Notable November Releases:

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare

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Infinite Warfare is certainly shaping up to be one of the most contentious entries in Activision’s Call of Duty series. The title doubles down on the sci-fi themes the series has been trending towards and introduces space ships, dog fighting, and battles in zer0-G. Some fans of the series are disappointed at the direction taken by these once fairly realistic games while others are excited by the change of pace. Activision has also stirred up controversy by packing in a remaster of the first Modern Warfare game that will only be available to gamers who purchase the new title. Love it or hate it, CoD is likely to be another huge sales success this holiday season.

Watch Dogs 2

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The first Watch Dogs rode a wave of hype and excitement to a resounding “meh” on release. What had promised to be a freewheeling open world title with strange and interesting hacking abilities that affected your environment ended up being another also-ran Grand Theft Auto clone with a humorless plot and an unlikable main character. The developers have decided to take another crack at the concept, moving the action to the more colorful and interesting San Francisco and introducing a new main character that promises to at least have something like a personality. We’ll be waiting for reviews to see if the second time is the charm for this one.

Pokemon Sun and Moon

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Pokemon is back! You probably didn’t need me to tell you that. The first and by far the largest monster fighting and collecting game returns for its seventh generation with Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. This time the games are set in the tropical Alola region and Game Freak has cooked up another batch of weird and wonderful creatures to go catch. If you want a taste before the game releases, there is currently a demo available on the Nintendo e-Shop.

Final Fantasy XV

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Here it is, the other game that seemed like it might just never come out. Final Fantasy XV has gone through a lot of changes in the decade since it was announced. Much like The Last Guardian rumors have followed its troubled development almost from the start. There have been two demos available for the game, and if those are any indication the game feels like a fusion of things that feel undeniably connected to the series’ roots with other elements that can seem almost jarringly out of place. Soon we’ll be able to see if Square Enix managed to pull it off. Here’s hoping it won’t be another decade until the next one.

 

Games to Get Excited About: July 2016

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Games to Get Excited About: July 2016

Here we are in July. Summer is in full swing. Hopefully you are having some fun this summer. Whether you choose bonfires, beach trips or staying safely indoors (ahhh! The sun! It burns!), there is one thing that would make your plans better. Games!

So without further ado, here are some games, listed in no particular order, that gamers should be getting excited about in July.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter

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Kicking off July, and this list, is Ethan: Meteor Hunter. This game is due to be released on July 1st for Xbox One. Players play Ethan, a rat who touched a meteor and now has powers. Ethan is searching for more meteors so that he can gain more power.

Lost Sea

LOST SEA

Lost Sea will be released on July 5th for PS4. Set in the Bermuda Triangle, Lost Sea is an action-adventure game that heavily features exploring. Players can go to different islands. Each island has different creatures, crew and landmarks.

Moon Hunters

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On July 12th, Moon Hunters will be released for PS4. This game can have one to four players. One night, the moon, the source of all magic and power, does not rise. It is up to the player to decide if they set off alone or in a group in this myth-based game to find out what is wrong and restore balance in the game.

I am Setsuna

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I am Setsuna is finally set to be released on PS4 and Steam on July 19th. This game is a Japanese RPG set in perpetual winter. The player follows and mercenary and the maiden in his care, Setsuna.

Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force

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Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is another RPG set for release this month. It will be released for PS4 on July 26th. The conflict in the game is brought about because a goddess and an evil god clashed, but could not fight each other directly, a long time ago. They both have chosen powered weapons. In modern times, these leftover weapons are highly sought after by the Fencers, who are the only ones who can control them.

Here’s hoping you found something that piques your interest this month. If not, trust me, there are many other great games coming out this month.

Happy gaming!

Indie Developer Spotlight: Splitmind

Indie Developer Spotlight: Splitmind

Written by: Rendal Studios

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ABOUT OUR GAME:
Splitmind is a 2D adventure game starring Kaplan, an amnesic shadow awaking in Mnemosyn, “the land of memories.” From this strange place, Kaplan will be able to project himself in his lost memories and then investigate his own past to answer all the questions he has.

During his identity quest, Kaplan will meet several odd characters, all of whom are related to his past. But beneath the appareances lies some terrible events.

Splitmind is a game playing with mysteries and misleadings; a game where nothing that seems to be true really is.

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WHAT INSPIRED US:
First of all, we’re big fans of old point & click games, like the Broken Sword or the Monkey Island franchise. So, when we started our company, we thought, “Hey, what if we make an adventure game?”

Then, we needed a strong story because it’s hard to innovate in a game genre that is older than 30 years. One of us came with an idea he started working on a few years ago: “What if I woke up one day, in a strange place, without any idea of who I am or how I got here?” Something between the Christopher Nolan movie Memento and the Jean Paul Sartre Huis Clos play.

We finally started to work on the concept and the script. Then everyone on the team brought some ideas about the designs. What will Kaplan look like? What will the Unamed City look like? And then we got this strange black & white shadow, wearing private investigator clothes, and walking in a city where no one can tell if it’s daylight or evening.

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We also wanted to give the game an interactive comic book look, with speaking bubbles and action bubbles appearing whenever an action is possible (speaking, observing, etc…).

We hope we did a great job and that our prospective audience will enjoy our game.

THE RELEASE DATE:
There is no fixed release date for now, but we can assure you our game will be released during 2016. We’ll soon announce our Kickstarter campaign, then we’ll communicate about our release date for PC. The releases on iOS and Android will follow.

Here’s the trailer: