‘Speed Brawl’ – The High-Speed, Momentum-Driven Rooftop Brawler – Hits Consoles & PC

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Press Release: Independent developers Double Stallion and Kongregate, a leading publisher of console, mobile, PC, and web games, today announced the launch of Speed Brawl, the stylish, anime-inspired 2D combat-racer. Gear up and get ready to tear through an otherworldly gauntlet in Speed Brawl, available now* on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Steam, and GOG.

Set in Victorian-era London, the world has been dramatically changed by a war with the insect-like lunar invaders called Selenites. After claiming victory, humanity created a vicious bloodsport, “Speed Brawl,” which has attracted would-be brawlers from across the world to compete for fame and fortune. After forming a tag-team of two, combatants run the gauntlet against an onslaught of Selenites and bad-tempered human enforcers. The faster the brawlers are, the better their rewards… and the bigger the roar of the massive crowds of fans and spectators. Here’s a quick rundown of the roster of brawlers that players will be able to tag into the fray.

Ebba

Ebba’s making her debut on the Speed Brawl circuit! She’s an all-rounder whose infectious optimism belies her venomous punch. As agile on the ground as she is in the air, if you’re looking for poise and balance, Ebba’s the brawler for you!

Bia

Bia is a seasoned fighter, slow and steady wins the race, her mighty mitts will break your face. Well known in the prize-rings of London and renowned for never turning down a challenge from any pugilist, Bia is bringing her technical prowess to the Speed Brawl scene. Those filthy bugs had better look out!

Johnson

Johnson is a heavyweight boxer whose fiery rampage has toppled all four corners of the European prize-fight scene. However, upon arriving in London, this legitimate contender seemingly vanished. There are rumours of a secretive underground Speed Brawl league, and Johnson’s shadow looms large.

Cassie

Little is known of Cassie’s backstory, least of all by herself. Brought up roughly on the streets of Paris, she has since fallen in with a bad crowd on the outskirts of London. Nicknamed the “Whippet Street Rat with a Cricket Bat,” would-be opponents and league owners would be wise to never turn their back on her.

Karl

Karl Freiherr Von Ambrose of Prussia rose to fame in his teens, fighting in exhibition bouts throughout Scandinavia, Prussia and the Baltics. He’s since set the Speed Brawl scene alight and continues to fight in the prestigious Florin leagues. Karl is a master manipulator who has broken as many hearts as he has noses.

Automatom

Buoyed by the pre-Lunar War industrial revolution, Thomas Reginald Hudson turned his considerable family fortune into an iron-forged autonomous behemoth. With the strength of ten men, the stamina of a long distance runner, and the speed of a large locomotive, the machine was designed to answer the needs of the modern industrialist.

Players will need to find what tag-team combination works best for them in every challenge that the world of Speed Brawl will offer. Build out each brawler’s skills, equip the best accessories and double down on determination for the fastest and most furious fight of their lives.

These formidable fighters are ready to rumble on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Steam, and GOG. *European launch dates will be available in the coming weeks. You can find additional information about the game at www.speedbrawl.com and get the latest news on the official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Layers of Fear + >observer_ Bundle Out Now!

Press Release: Halloween arrives early this year. Award-winning horror titles, Layers of Fear and >observer_, are now available as a single bundle. “There’s a natural connection between Layers and >observer_, whether it’s dysfunctional dads, easter eggs, or secrets, there are plenty of deeply disturbing and rewarding content in both titles,” Aspyr’s Michael Blair says.

Watch the bundle trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agERHsOM_F8

The bundle includes both games and all of their exclusive content on a per-platform basis, available for $39.99, on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

Steam: https://bit.ly/2OAFzIf

Xbox One: https://bit.ly/2Nk1974

PS4: https://bit.ly/2PG9y1e

For more information on each game, head to aspyr.com

 

(This page contains affilate links. If you click through and make a purchase we do get a commission on it that helps support the site)

Blind | Review | PSVR

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Blind is built from the ground up for VR.

Which is a phrase i don’t often get to say, but when i do, it always means you’re in for a little extra treat. Blind is no exception.

Why that little phrase means so much is because the developers took into consideration everything in the virtual environment whilst piecing together their vision. So everything from the visuals, the binaural audio, and very specifically the immersion level – go that extra mile.

In a case like Blind, they kind of have to.

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In Blind you play Jean, a young girl who has had a horrific accident and no longer has use of her sight. Bad time to wake up in a mansion with a creepy spiky-headed goon giving you the Jigsaw treatment then?

Jean soon comes to terms with her predicament and her captor is relatively calm and actually a little soothing, considering the situation.

He explains that you will need to partake in a bit of puzzle solving to find out why you are trapped in this house, but does not leave you alone in the dark. So far you’ve been relying totally on environmental audio to use your Daredevil-esque echolocation abilities. Ole’ spiky lends you something better for the journey.

A cane.

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You can whip your cane out in either hand by simply pressing the Move button. The fact it comes up so quickly and is so easily interchangeable is a god send given the amount of times you’re going to be using it over the next few hours.

Blind does indeed control solely through use of the Move controllers. The button layout isn’t terribly confusing, but it is a shame about the lack of VR control options. The most similar scheme i can think of is The Solus Project. You use the left controller buttons for Forward, Backward, Menu & Centering yourself. The right controller turns you 30 degrees incrementally in either direction and allows you to crouch – which you’ll use more than you think.

Hopefully later on the developers will consider adding a smooth turning option – frankly it should be standard at this point.

Although, it is worth pointing out you can kind of steer a bit with the direction your head is facing. Another welcome option when in the thick of things.

The game can be played standing up or sitting down, however if you have a couch set up similar to mine and are as care free with flinging useful items around as I am, you’ll be doing a bit of both. Honestly it’s only a short game, so if you’re looking for a recommendation – try standing first.

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After getting a handle on how to move, you have to get a handle on how to move in the dark. After all, you are blind.

To put it quite simply, you whack your cane against things to see the surrounding area. The bigger the whack, the more sound you make, the more you see. Sequential whacks will make it brighter, but don’t push it too far, you can actually hurt yourself if you go too cane crazy. As pointed out by Ole’ Spiky (correctly referred to as “The Warden“) you tend to get into a rhythm pretty quickly.

It does, however, take a lot longer to get into the rhythm of the puzzles.

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Early in the game i picked up a gem stone of some kind from a toolbox, which prompted an audio line – “I’m on the right track” I thought.

Wrong.

The gem promptly disappeared from my grip, leaving me to believe i had dropped it, glitched something out, and was now stuck forever in a dark room. As it turns out, I was being melodramatic. There are many of these stones dotted around the place. I’ve no idea what they mean, but once i figured that out i felt a lot better about the situation and decided to proceed as normal.

The game does little in the way of holding your hand, which i suppose is appropriate given your situation. Occasionally you might get lucky with a voice line that hints at something, but largely you just have to be very observant of your environment. Plenty of things are DEEPLY hidden away, in draws, behind books on bookshelves, behind innocuous paintings. Dig deep friends.

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“But Tom”, you may ask. “Why the hell am I in this mansion to begin with?” Great question. Unfortunately that’s on you to find out. As you make your way through the labyrinth of doors and staircases you’ll begin to discover things about your family.

Bad things.

When you were in your accident – the one that left you blind – you had your little brother in the car with you. He is seemingly nowhere to be found. So that is pressing issue number one. Everything beyond that is an intricately woven narrative of domestic abuse and disfunction. One that The Warden seems dead set on having you relive, to some extent.

Things definitely get a little intense towards the end. I won’t spoil it, but if you were wondering if you’d be ok playing this if you did not like horror games. I might steer clear.  Just to be safe. Even I was a little on edge at times, Anything that hunts by sound is inherently terrifying right?

I’ve said too much…

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Of course Blind isn’t the first of its kind. An earlier PSVR release by the name of ‘Stifled‘ claimed a similar mechanic and vibe, but the two are innately different in presentation and play style. It’s an unfair comparison outside of the echolocation mechanic. Blind is leaps and bounds ahead of Stifled in terms of presentation, and i really liked Stifled.

The voice acting is welcome, but stiff in places. With the exception of Jean’s mother, who nails her scenes well and brought about genuine emotion in me.

My only other major complaint is that the ending definitely could have been stronger. The entire game took me around 2 to 3 hours to complete, I did it in one sitting. Considering how strong the family drama narrative was at the beginning and throughout most of the middle sections of the game, despite the big reveal (which was well implemented stylistically) and the overall change of pace (which was stellar) the *actual* end was kind of….meh.

Maybe i built it up too much in my head? Maybe it should have ended on the reveal?

It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just felt a little like it was shoe horning existentialism into something that already had strong, dramatic roots in reality.

All in all, Blind was time well spent. The thing about virtual reality is that an experience as unusual as this one will stick with you. It almost becomes a false memory of “that time you were blind and fumbling ’round a mansion with Ole’ Spiky” Weird how that works. If nothing else i have new found respect for those of us in society who don’t get to take the headset off, and really do have to use a cane to *see* the world around them.

There is no other medium that can give you that experience.

Built from the ground up.

Tom’s full gameplay experience (with no commentary) was captured above. If you plan on picking this up, avoid watching too far in for fear of spoilers.

You have been warned. 

Blind is now available for PSVR. Oculus Rift & HTC Vive.

 

Grunt 1914 | Indie Game Showcase | PC

Welcome to the Indie Showcase for Grunt 1914

Grunt 1914 is being developed by Johanne Nienaber and has been a passion project for him over the last 3 or so years.

Developers like Johanne put so much work into creating their projects, we felt that sharing some of his work was the least we could do.

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The top video contains the IndieGoGo campaign video, some feature videos and some gameplay videos all rolled into one.

Please check it out if you have a moment, and consider supporting Johanne on the IndieGoGo link listed below, or simply sharing with friends who might be interested.

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About the game:

Grunt1914 is a first person shooter multiplayer game currently in development. The title features a World War 1 theme.

With a focus on mixing arcade shooter gameplay and military realism, but mostly just being hella fun.

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You can learn much more about the game and its development on the IndieGoGo campaign page, and also support the development phase if you wish to see this become the best game it can possibly be:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/grunt1914#/

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Social Links for Grunt 1914:

Discord : https://discord.gg/Tc5b7D9
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Grunt1914/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/grunt1914
IndieDB : https://www.indiedb.com/games/grunt1914
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKfm34iEuHrFCduvV4OZpag

Catch & Release | Review | PSVR

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I remember fishing.

I only went once or twice back in England, but always had a good time.

Admittedly that had more to do with the copious amount of drugs partaken in before getting anywhere close to sticking a maggot on a hook, but i still look back fondly on those trips and remember the rush of catching my first carp with a wry smile.

The worst part about fishing was always a combination of the weather and the wait. England is wet, dull, miserable even, so hanging around on the side of a lake for HOURS at a time in the small hope that you might get a nibble on the end of your line was somewhat of a chore.

Hence the drugs.

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I have since grown up (arguably) and no longer need recreational substances to enjoy a trip to the river. To be honest though, i rarely feel the call of the wild. I’d much rather just hang out in my basement and do things on my own terms.

Catch & Release is perfect for me.

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PSVR has had a few fishing games, although none of them really hit the nail on the head. I mean unless you like demon fish in a Final Fantasy setting or Dream Angling…whatever the hell that is.

Catch & Release seems to be the first game of its kind to actually get the idea of fishing right. Just you, a lake, and a mixture of relaxation and excitement for when you eventually do get a bite.

After the initial “what button does what” breaking-in phase, and a quick glance at the options, I was ready to hit the lake. Mercifully, everything is relatively simple and explained well. The VR settings don’t run awfully deep, but why would they need to? It’s not like we’re ripping around a futuristic racing track at 200mph. Rowing a boat is fairly intuitive and definitely doesn’t need a vignette for sharp turns.

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After rowing out to the center of the lake it’s time to get to grips with my surroundings. I notice a couple books, a sandwich, a beer, a stone, a radio, a cooler, some bait and of course, my rod.

The tutorial does a great job of explaining the opening salvo. So i thread my bait (much less icky than real life) and cast out. Within a minute or so i get a bite, and before i can even really register what’s going on, my line breaks.

Apparently this is going to be a little tougher than first thought.

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I need some tunes. So i reach for the radio and find the least audibly offensive station i can (hope you like country) and give it another shot. This game is all about give and take. If your fish is pulling hard, slack the line. If your fish isn’t doing much, reel it in. This to and fro is what eventually tires your enemy and allows you to pull it aboard. Once aboard you have two options – stick it in the cooler, or let it go.

You get cash either way, but the amount varies. Smaller fish should be thrown back, bigger fish kept and sold. You can even buy a small weighing station for the boat to determine if a fish is worth it or not, In fact you can buy a lot of things. Bait, food, drink, stones, hats, rods, all from your handy dandy magazine. Think the lake equivalent of Sky Mall.

Lake Mall…if you will.

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Honestly this is pretty much all there is to it. Which in my eyes, is fucking great!

Row boat, catch fish, buy stuff, catch bigger and/or more interesting fish…repeat.

Mix in some decent music and some fun VR distractions, like drinking virtual beer, and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. Pun intended.

That’s all it ever needed to be. Just you and the lake. The fish genuinely feel massively procedural. It is exciting to get a whopper…and they do exist.

Being able to travel to different areas and make use of your little guide book to discover exactly what your fish likes bait-wise and its whereabouts, is fun, and makes you feel like you have to do a bit of detective work to truly get what you’re looking for. This makes it vastly more enjoyable when you finally hook it and start the fight to reel it in.

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Catch & Release is everything it needed to be. Light on exposition, fun mechanics, replayability, decent graphics and actually benefits from a VR setting. It’s the ultimate palette cleanser after digging into something more spooky or adrenaline peaking. If you’ve been looking for a relaxing fishing sim in VR…look no further.

You can see 30 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay right here and make up your own mind.

Catch & Release is available on PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive & Windows Mixed Reality.

Ninjin: Clash of Carrots | Review | PC

Ninjin: Clash of Carrots by Pocket Trap is a retro style indie side scrolling beat-em-up available now on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

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The Shogun’s minions stealing the carrot crop

Ninjin takes place in a fantasy realm inspired by Feudal Japan and inhabited by animals. In the opening scene, the peaceful village of Usagi is attacked by the minions of the evil Shogun Moe who steal this year’s entire crop of carrots. The village shōya tasks two ninjas, Ninjin the rabbit and Akai the fox, with retrieving the carrots at any cost so the people won’t starve. Choose your ninja (or grab a friend for some co-op) and fight your way through the ranks of the Shogun’s armies, lieutenants, samurai, warlords, and eventually Shogun Moe himself to get back as many carrots as possible.

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Gear up for battle

 

Gameplay: The controls for Ninjin are fairly simple and perfectly responsive. While it allows use of either keyboard and mouse, or a controller, both have their advantages and disadvantages. The controller is nice for having everything right in your hands, but makes precision ranged attacks harder to execute. The keyboard and mouse setup is better for aiming ranged attacks, but makes dash attacks and movement a bit harder. Also the mouse cursor used to aim projectiles can easily get lost on the screen if there’s a large number of enemies. Overall the gameplay is well polished and smooth as butter.

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Fight through the frozen mountains

Sound: The soundtrack for Ninjin is very well done and it’s easy to hear the influence of retro games such as Zelda, Double Dragon, and even Mario. The game also has a large assortment of music, which keeps it from getting stale. The sound effects only serve to drag you further into the retro nostalgia of this game. Your character has a number of sounds for various weapons, attacks, and movements and that’s only the start. The many enemies each add their own movement and attack sounds into the fray, making for a symphony of commotion at times, but not to the point of being disruptive. One of my favorite sounds in the game is the burbling noise made as the text scrolls through the speech bubbles. I love that they chose this instead of having spoken lines because it pays homage to so many of the classics that this game pulled inspiration from.

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Spend your carrots at Corgi’s roadside shop

Visuals: The visual style of Ninjin is nothing short of spectacular, it perfectly combines ancient Japanese ukiyo-e art, old school video games, anime, and 2010 Cartoon Network. The level selection screen is an overworld map similar to Super Mario World, with new bits being revealed when you progress. As you travel from your village to the Shogun’s castle you ninja run through a number of scenic locations, including vast forests, snow covered mountains, the big city, and even a spooky graveyard. Each level has a bit of foreground, the path where the action takes place, and the background. The backgrounds are composed of multiple layers of cutouts making it look like scenery from a theatrical production or a painstakingly intricate pop-up book. Each new NPC and enemy that you encounter have their own unique look, weapons, and attacks to add to the palette of the game. Also you can unlock weapons and accessories to customize your character that range from authentic to hilarious and even downright bizarre.

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Some of the weapons are… interesting

Story: Ninjin’s plot borrows aspects from many familiar tropes and weaves them together in a way that, while not necessarily completely unique, is definitely enjoyable. After the opening sequence, most of the story is played out in cut scenes every so often in between levels, although occasionally bits of plot are interjected mid level by an NPC or enemy character. Most of the dialogue portions in the game are skippable, but I would say that they are worth taking the time to read as they are well written and quite amusing.

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Take down General Jam’s tank

Replay Value: I would say Ninjin has an upper middle range replay value as there are a decent number of things to keep you coming back. First off it has a good amount of stages of varying difficulties to fight through and depending on the enemies encountered you may need to rethink your strategy and change up your equipment before trying again. This of course could mean grinding through previous levels to “farm” enough carrots to buy something new from the store (pun intended). That brings us to the next reason: equippable items. There are over 200 unlockable weapons and accessories, most of which can have an impact on your stats and attributes and can give you the upper hand in the next boss fight, or get you a better rating on that last stage. Because when you do finish a level you are given a rating based on your performance, which is stored along with your best times, giving you reason to continue trying to better yourself. Also you can try your luck on The Oni TV Show, the game’s endless mode, which presents new challenges and has exclusive rewards that can only be unlocked by getting as far as possible. Last but not least is the fact that the game has local or online co-op so you can grab a friend and open up a can of carrot flavored whoop-ass on some baddies, just like the good old days.

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Co-op mode, now with twice the ninja goodness

Summary: I saw some promise when I first heard about Ninjin, so I was excited when the folks at Pocket Trap sent me a copy to do this review. I’m not sure what I expected the first time I fired it up, but I surely got more than I bargained for. As someone who grew up playing game series such as Ninja Turtles, Battletoads, Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon this game was a huge wave of nostalgia for me, although I feel that it’s modern aspects make it relevant in today’s market as well. So whether you’re an older gamer like me looking for a trip down memory lane, or a young gamer looking for something quick and new to play when the Fortnite servers are down, I would highly recommend this game.

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Win special rewards on The Oni TV Show

Claybook | Review | PS4

I sat down with my five year old to try this game for the first time. The moment the tutorial loaded and we rolled our “not Playdough” ball around, my son started to giggle. I knew we were going to have an afternoon of silly surprises. The following hours were full of laughter, smiles, and a few frustrations. It’s never a bad time though when a kid can laugh uncontrollably and scream,

“I turned into…banana rocket ship!”

“Look dad! I’m a duck! WAIT! I’m a BUNNY!”

“Why am I a nom nom nom chocolate!?

You just can’t help but laugh when telling a kid to “Go eat that candy bridge with that huge marshmallow!”

The entire game takes place in a child’s play room on tables full of clay. You are a ball, a square, a sphere, or even the aforementioned rocket ship, controlled by yourself, but through a little boy avatar sitting at the edge of play table in the room. It’s a bit creepy as he just stares at the clay object you’re controlling, with no emotions showing on his face. My daughter (who is 3 and loves to watch us play games) said “He looks sad because he’s sad!”

His emotionless, dead eyes still follow every flick of your left stick. Something as simple as a small smirk on his apathetic visage would release the feeling of it being a pre-rendered, storyboard, creepy Pixar character. Seriously though, I’m half expecting to see toys in the background from Sid’s room.

Each level has a set of objectives to complete and when you complete them, a waypoint pops up with your “exit”. After finishing, you are rated with a star based scoring system on how well and how quickly you performed the tasks. Upcoming levels are unlocked using your earned stars in a very similar way that they are in Angry Birds. Locking progression behind this barrier isn’t very encouraging for a young child.

“I already beat the level, why can’t I do the next?” My kid asked me.

Having to tell a 5 year old they “didn’t do it good enough” just seems like bad parenting.

It’s also bad game design.

The progression lock is very steep right off the bat for a game marketed at kids. This could be eased up in a future update.

The control system also isn’t very intuitive. For example, every kid presses “X” or “B” or “A” to try jumping when they first play a game. Having to explain there is no jumping in this game, and that X pauses the game, then allows you to rewind and make copies of your current ball of clay, can be very confusing for a kid…or myself. I found that even if I continued to try and press a non-existent jump button while rolling around.

The camera can really be quite a hassle at times as well. In the video you can see how the camera gets “stuck” if your dough ball shape thing is in a weird location.

These frustrations aside, Claybook is really quite charming, and must be seen in action. Screenshots cannot give this game its due display.

The color palettes are pleasing, the music (although repetitive) creates a whimsically pleasant atmosphere, and a physics engine that’s truly fascinating.

It reminds me of the graphic and physics demos that GPU developers showed off throughout the early 2000’s. Playing with the alluring liquid dynamics creates a temptation to ignore the level objectives, and just carve around in the dough to see what happens.

The creative team at Second Order knew this and had the forethought to put in a sandbox mode that’s available from the start in any level. It’s an absolute delight exploring this game engine, especially in couch co-op mode.

Regardless of the games problems, I’ve found myself going back a few times this week (without my kids) to romp around the clay. It does make me feel like a kid again. I can almost smell the fresh opened plastic container of “clay dough” now.

Played on PS4 Pro (with a 5 and 3 year old “helping“)

Available on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.