Dec 15
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

This year commenced in the best possible fashion. Unusually for the quiet season of spring, we received several highly acclaimed hits in quick succession. Things settled down in the run-up to summer, leading to what has been a sporadic winter. A few quality titles, the usual solid but unspectacular annual updates, and more than a couple of games ruined by publisher greed.

If only this year had continued the way it began, eh?

Of course, lots of hidden gems fell by the wayside over the past twelve months. Maybe not quite as many as years prior – the digital storefronts are a hubbub of activity nowadays – but certainly a few games deserved more attention than they received.

We’ve handpicked five below. They may not be outright classics, but you should certainly give them consideration next time there’s a digital sale on, or if you’re ever hankering for something different.

Slime Rancher – XO

New releases that debut as PS Plus/GwG freebies are often overlooked. It seems that the bigger gaming sites see little point in giving them the review treatment – presumably, their thinking is that these games are free, so gamers will download them regardless of quality.

PR firms and publishers tend to be lax when it comes to promotion, too. There’s no point in sending out review codes to the press for something that’s currently free, after all. Recent Xbox One freebies Runbow and SpeedRunners, for instance, have just two critical reviews on Metacritic. While Slime Rancher did gain more press coverage than those, it was still deserving of more attention. It’s one of those rare games that’s hard to pigeonhole, offering an experience far removed from anything else.

The idea, like the name loosely suggests, is to manage a ranch for slimes. Beatrix LeBeau comes clutching an upgradable vacuum, able to inhale anything in her path – the colourful titular slime balls included. Partly for research, partly for monetary gain – the slimes produce valuable crystals, known as Plorts, when fed their favourite foodstuffs. Ingeniously, there’s an in-game economy in place. Over time, common Plorts become less valuable, forcing you to explore the wilderness around the ranch to find rarer critters. Upgrading Beatrix’s equipment allows access to more areas, taking you deeper into the wilderness, with new items slowly unlocking as time progresses.

We spent around ten hours in Slime Rancher’s pastel-hued world before penning our review, and still felt that we’d only just scratched the surface. It’s a colossal, surprise-filled time sink, and easily one of the best family-friendly titles on Xbox One.

Read more

Dec 14
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

You’ll hopefully forgive us for not listing this week’s eShop discounts – over 250 games are currently on offer across Switch, 3DS and Wii U, just in time for the festive period.

Switch highlights include Rocket League (£11.28) and SteamWorld Dig 2 (£10.99), while on 3DS you’ll find SteamWorld Heist (£3.99) and Project X Zone 2 (£7.49). Wii U owners can grab Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for a bargain £4.99.

Yet again, it’s a pretty busy week for new Switch releases. Fourteen games are due, along with a demo of next week’s Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.

Then on New 3DS there’s RCMADIAX’s BLOK DROP CHAOS (£1.39), while the Wii U receives three more TG-16 titles – Battle Lode Runner (£5.39), Bomberman ’93 (£5.39) and Lords of Thunder (£7.19).

Yooka-Laylee (£34.99) is arguably the biggest release of the week. We spoke of Playtonic’s platformer more highly than most other critics, awarding it a 9/10. Word has it that the Switch version runs incredibly well, suggesting it has been worth the wait.

Then we have a surprise release of the Square-Enix JRPG Romancing SaGa 2 (£15.99 until 8th Jan, £19.99 thereafter), the three-game-strong Mutant Mudds Collection (£10.99), and two belated Wii U conversions – 2D dungeon crawler Unepic (£8.99) and Plantera Deluxe (£4.99). The NeoGeo re-release for this week is the 2D brawler The Last Blade (£6.29), meanwhile.

Read more

Dec 13
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s easy to forget Capcom’s delightful Okami has seen an HD re-release once before – Okami HD graced the PS3 back in 2013. This week’s release marks the first time it has made it to Xbox, however. Those who have overlooked it in the past are in for a treat.

In a nutshell, it was Capcom’s answer to Zelda: The Twilight Princess and every bit as magnificent. The meagre £15 price tag seals the deal. As noted below, reviewers claim that it’s just as wonderful all these years later, with the heavily stylised visuals holding up remarkably well.

Capcom also dishes up new Resident Evil VII DLC, ready to coincide with the all-encompassing ‘Gold Edition’. Not A Hero – starring Chris Redfield – is available for free, as a means of compensating for its lengthy delay. End of Zoe, on the other hand, will set you back £11.99 and aims to tie up Zoe Baker’s unfortunate story.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t just the biggest release of the week, but perhaps the biggest Xbox One release of the year. Don’t expect to see any reviews of this last-one-standing shooter as it’s still in ‘game preview’ status, meaning development is still ongoing.

First impressions aren’t exactly glowing – many critics claim that it’s rather rough and clunky, although it does feature the same addictive qualities as its PC counterpart. Eurogamer really wasn’t impressed at all, going as far as to suggest Xbox One owners should approach with caution while also claiming that it “performs badly” on both Xbox One and Xbox One X.

This week also sees colourful party game Gang Beasts finally arrive on PS4. It should be a firm favourite over the festive period – many gamers have had a beady eye on it since its reveal.

That’s joined by Nine Parchments, from the creators of Trine, and a re-release of Square-Enix’s cult JRPG Romancing SaGa 2 for both PS4 and PS Vita. Sony’s handheld sees quite a bit of love this week, in fact, with both Papers, Please and Zero Escape: The Nonary Games also due.

Whimsical 2D adventure Night in the Woods also makes it to Xbox One on Wednesday. As anybody who played the PS4 version will tell you, it’s really quite magical.

We’re gutted that putting paper cups over your ears didn’t become one of 2017’s biggest fashion trends.

New release showcase:

Okami HD – PS4/XO

Reviews:
5/5 – Dark Station: “After all these years after the original game’s release, I have no qualms in awarding Ōkami HD a perfect score. If only I had given it a chance back then…”

9/10 – PSU: “This is another chance for one of the most underappreciated adventures to appear on a PlayStation console to gain a new, much deserved, audience. Time has been fairly kind to Okami despite minor gripes. If you’ve yet to experience the wonderful world of Okami, then this is as good a chance as any”

9.0 – God is a Geek: “Okami HD is still as wonderful as ever, and now it has 4K resolution. Grab yourself a Sake, close the curtains, and sink into one of the most immersive and beautiful games ever”

8/10 – The Metro: “Still one of the most beautiful video games ever created, not to mention the best Zelda game that never was”

Nine Parchments – PS4/Switch

Reviews:
8.1 – VideoChums: “If you’re looking for a cooperative twin-stick shooter then you can’t do much better than Nine Parchments. The fantastical world and challenging yet rewarding gameplay is perfect for having a magical time with a few chums by your side”

7.0 – IGN: “Nine Parchments may be light on interesting loot, but this enchanted top-down shooter goes big on whimsey fast-moving action”

6.5 – Critical Hit: “There’s fun to be had here, if you’re able to play it with others. Alone, Nine Parchments is a dull slog. Play with others, and it becomes an electrifying slice of pandemonium”

Read more

Dec 11
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Despite a 41% drop in sales, Call of Duty: WWII manages to hold onto the UK chart’s top spot for a sixth week running.

EA still has two titles in the top five, with FIFA 18 remaining at #2 and Star Wars Battlefront II at #3.

Super Mario Odyssey leaps to #4, while AC: Origins holds onto #5. GTA V remains as popular as ever, moving up three places to take #6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also rose a position last week, moving to #7.

At #8 it’s WWE 2K18, up from #12, while The Sims 4 moves up from #18 to #9.

Then at #10 it’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2.

Rival racers GT Sport and Forza Motorsport 7 both depart the top ten, meanwhile.

Gearbox’s Hello Neighbor on Xbox One was the week’s only new arrival, making #37. Rocket League: Collector’s Edition did make a return at #21, but it’s debatable as to whether it can be considered a “new” release – the evergreen sports title recently vanished from the chart, following a change in publisher from 505 Games to Warner Bros.

Finally, in the Switch chart the physical release of This is the Police made #39 while the golden oldie Syberia 2 slipped in at #50.

Dec 09
By Richard In Blog No Comments

There are a few different origin stories for the ‘Nintendo Seal of Quality’ found on Nintendo games.

One of the theories states that after the American video games ‘crash’ of 1983, Nintendo wanted to reassure purchasers that what they would receive would work. Too many games on other consoles failed to meet the basics of quality control. Anyone who wanted to make games for the Atari 2600 could, for instance, make a game without any need for permission from Atari and put it out to market. This lead to a flood of games and no quality control.

I thought about the Nintendo Seal of Quality this week when I bought The Sexy Brutale on Nintendo Switch, a game we were looking forward to.

Unfortunately, the game has not arrived in a good state. The frame rate is massively variable. At times the frame rate is so bad the main character can appear to ‘blink’ across the screen. There’s also additional loading in odd places and the music has some sync issues. For a game that relies so heavily on atmosphere the end result is incredibly frustrating. On Switch gamers simply do not get a good experience, and I would recommend that people wait for a patch (if one ever comes) before their purchase.

Read more

Dec 08
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

We’d like to think the development of post-launch DLC is relatively easy going. Work on the base game is done and dusted, release dates are seemingly more flexible, and both critical and fan feedback provide developers with something to strive towards.

Significant DLC – as in, new missions and extra chapters – tends to be a little outlandish too, aiming to draw players back in by offering an experience unlike anything found in the main campaign. The Surge’s A Walk in the Park DLC is a good example of this. Not only does it offer something remarkably different, it also goes some way to fixing the faults found elsewhere.

We quite enjoyed Deck 13’s sci-fi take on Dark Souls, awarding it a 7/10 at launch, but found the abundance of dark corridors and dull industrial complexes to be far from thrilling. Ticking one fault off the list,A Walk in the Park takes place in the bright and colourful CREO World theme park. Around the park, audio logs that flesh out the character traits of protagonist Warren can be found, and so he now comes across less of an uncharismatic bore too. That’s another fault off the list.

The theme park wasn’t left unscathed from the main campaign’s events. Far from it, in fact – the robotic mascots also had their circuits sizzled, and as such are now more murderous than merry, and the park has been struck by sinkholes, causing parts of it to break away. One survivor remains, holed up in a teetering Ops Centre. He calls the shots, giving out missions as well as a few helpful pointers.

The first port of call is getting the park back online, which requires the power to be reactivated and the comms server reset. These two tasks can be completed in any order, giving chance to explore both ends of the park at free will. The parading robot mascots – based on various fast foods – go down easily, taking just a few hits to defeat. They have slightly different attack patterns to one another, and if you manage to perform a takedown there’s a chance to add their oversized novelty headpiece to your armour collection.

The park guards put up a tougher fight. The indoor facility containing the comms server sees several of these larger enemy types attack in waves, and it’s here that the camera problems return – this location is far too cramped, causing the camera to rapidly swing around and reposition itself as it tries to cope with the high volume of enemies. Thankfully, the remaining part of the DLC is set outside. Amongst the merchandise stalls, attractions, the wrecked rollercoaster track towering high above, and the bloody remains of the park’s last guests, there’s a lot to take in.

Read more

Dec 07
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Considering the Switch is tipped to sell out during the run-up to Christmas, it’s no surprise to find developers tumbling over one another to get their new releases on the eShop before the big day.

Fans of all things retro are particularly well catered for this week. The Switch gets the cult 2D Psikyo shooter GUNBIRD for Nintendo Switch (£6.99), the excellent Rayman/Metal Slug hybrid ACA NeoGeo Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy (£6.29), and the Joe & Mac inspired Caveman Warriors (£8.76 until 28th Dec, £11.69 thereafter).

We reviewed the Xbox One version of Jandusoft’s caveman caper back in September and found it to be pretty good. It’s a bit of a slog when on your lonesome, though, so it’s only recommended if you’re planning to play co-op.

The Wii U receives a couple of Virtual Console corkers too – Gradius’ sequel Salamander (£5.39) and falling block puzzler Bomberman Panic Bomber (£7.19).

Then we have Slain: Back From Hell (£17.99), a Castlevania style 2D hack ‘n slash platformer. Despite holding much promise, it’s hard to recommend – an unfair difficulty level sucks all the enjoyment out of it, leaving pretty pixel art and little more.

We can at least vouch for Tennis in the Face (£4.49), a fun little Angry Birds style physics puzzler. The Xbox One version garnered 7/10 from ourselves roughly a year ago.

As for the biggest Switch release of the week, it’s a toss-up between WWE 2K18 (£54.99) and The Sexy Brutale (£17.99). No reviews of WWE are pinned down at present, but it sounds like 2K Games has given it their all – all the major features are present, right down to a dreaded season pass.

The Sexy Brutale meanwhile became a sleeper hit over the summer. It’s a murder mystery set around a 12-hour loop, with the idea being to solve and prevent murders – including your own – as the story unfolds in real-time.

The PS4 version receive a whopping 10/10 from Jim Sterling. “I fear this one will get lost in the shuffle of big budget games, but make no mistake – The Sexy Brutale deserves as much attention as any Horizon, Zelda, Nioh or Persona,” he said.

Read more

Dec 06
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We don’t recall Frank West blurting out innuendo during Dead Rising’s cut-scenes, but that hasn’t stopped Capcom from subtitling Dead Rising 4’s PS4 debut Frank’s Big Package.

While Dead Rising 4 wasn’t a bad game – we awarded the Xbox One version an above average 6/10 – it’s easily the weakest in the series, watered down to appeal to a wider audience. We whizzed through the whole thing over the course of just a few evenings and found it to be utterly forgettable.

The new Capcom Heroes mode is apparently good fun, however, gaining comparisons to Dynasty Warriors. Good enough to make Frank’s Big Package worthwhile? Perhaps, but certainly don’t expect anything to put your finely tuned gaming skills to good use.

Ubisoft’ Steep: Road to the Olympics is another 2016 releasing making a return. The first review out the door is a 3.5/5 from Hardcore Gamer. “Steep: Road to the Olympics brings enough new content to the table to make it a worthwhile acquisition,” they said.

We’re still waiting on reviews for Hello Neighbor and Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris. Humorous stealth adventure Hello Heighbor – which receives a retail release via Gearbox – isn’t out until Friday, so expect reviews in a day or two.

Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris doesn’t seem to be going down well with fans. Despite the £17-odd price tag, it’s reportedly slim on content and most of the Exotics are lifted from D1. It doesn’t fix the faults of the main game either, although that’s perhaps to be expected.

The sci-fi Dark Souls alike The Surge receives new DLC too, in the form of A Walk in the Park. We’ve rounded-up reviews below and have our own piece in the pipeline. First impressions are positive – the theme park setting is fun to explore, adding some much-needed colour and pizzazz, and the new audio-logs help to expand on Warren’s backstory. A ‘Complete Edition’ has just launched, too.

‘90s throwback platformer A Hat in Time also hits consoles this week, while the stylish pixel-art turret defence shooter Let Them Come reaches PS4. We gave the Xbox One version 7/10 back in October, making comparisons to Acclaim’s well-regarded 16-bit Alien 3 tie-ins, of all things.

New release showcase:

The Surge: A Walk in the Park – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
80% – Gaming Trend: “The Surge: A Walk in the Park is an over-the-top, hilarious expansion to a great game that sadly ends far too quickly”

4/5 – True Achievements: “Overall, “A Walk in the Park” is easy to recommend — if you liked The Surge and you want more of it, that’s what you’ll get here and you’re in for a great time at the theme park”

3.5/5 – Windows Central: “If you’re looking for a reason to get back into The Surge, this will give you a new area to explore. However, A Walk in the Park doesn’t add anything revolutionary to the experience which makes it a must-buy”

A Hat in Time – PS4/XO

Reviews:
8/10 – The Metro: “A hugely entertaining 3D platformer that channels the imagination and unpredictability of older games without becoming a prisoner to the past”

8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “A Hat in Time is delightfully charming and always manages to take a left turn, surprising and challenging even a storied gamer like myself”

7.0 – God is a Geek: “Despite some frustration with the camera and some platforming issues, A Hat in Time is a decent game that captures some of the magic of classic 3D platformers”

Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package – PS4/XO

Reviews:
9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While not all of the DLC is a home run, the tweaks to the main game are all a net positive. The new Capcom Heroes mode is also a blast, and basically turns Dead Rising into a crossover musou title”

7.5 – God is a Geek: “It’s certainly the best version of the game to buy, and Capcom Heores is fun, but their are some technical issues, and it does make you wonder just how many more games Capcom can get from a fading franchise”

6/10 – The Metro: “At times it feels like a reanimated corpse itself, but as mindless and predictable as it may be Dead Rising 4 can still offer hours of inoffensively dumb entertainment”

Read more

© 2001-2017 Games Asylum