Tag Archives: unity

Publishing: Repentant is releasing on the 9th Augustus 2018

Repentant is a dramatic point & click adventure game with hand-painted art. 

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General information

Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Platforms: PC, Mac
Players: Single-player
Engine: Unity
Developer: Anate Studio

Experienced criminal Oliver begins to suffer from strong remorse after the terrible deeds of which his family has suffered. Unsuccessful attempts to restore relations with his ex-wife further worsen his condition and alcohol dependence. One day in a small shop, he becomes a witness of a robbery committed by a young girl. At this moment, he gets the opportunity to atone for his sins by helping another person. But who really needs help and who is the victim? It remains to be seen.

Repentant is partially a sequel to the game Little Kite, but it can be played by a person who is not familiar with Little Kite.

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Features

– Explore atmospheric hand-painted locations with challenging puzzles

– Enjoy an intriguing story with an unexpected ending

– Listen to an amazing soundtrack by Abstracode and full English voice acting

Repentant now have a steam page https://store.steampowered.com/app/874370/Repentant/

Check out final video trailer https://youtu.be/gEBn_xNvZT8

Developer info

email: info@anatestudio.net – www.anatestudio.net
www.twitter.com/anatestudio – www.steamcommunity.com/groups/anatestudio
www.facebook.com/groups/anatestudio

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NekoJonez’s personal note

I have written a preview article about this game before. I’m very thankful for the developer reaching out to me when the sequel was in development. I’m a big fan of their work and I’m going to try get a review or first impression article out when this game released on the 9th of August.

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First Impression: Fort Triumph (PC) ~ How To Move?

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Steam page

So, I recently bought a Switch. One of the games I want to play on it is Mario + Rabbits – Kingdom Battle. Due to budget constraints, I’m unable to play that game now. Thankfully, I found Fort Triumph on Steam. A game that plays similarly to that game. Now, is it a good replacement or not? Let’s find out in this first impression. Note, that I got a press copy of the game but the developers requested that I give 100% my opinion on this game. This game is also in early access and under very active development. Every week this game gets a patch. This review is written on v0.7.4.5 & v0.7.7 so any complaints or suggestions might be invalid later in time. So, let’s go to FORT TRIUMPH

How to move?

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In this game, you play as Liandra Pageturner (or whatever random name the generator decides to spit out) and her crew of various warriors. You start out in a prologue where you learn the basics after talking to your horse. I adore the names in this game of the characters. It fits the funny writing of this game really well. While this game isn’t “LMFAO”-funny, it can crack you up from time to time and makes you put a smile on your face.

It’s a story where things aren’t taken too seriously. Which is quite surprising for this gameplay-style, since they mostly have very in-depth stories. It’s a breath of fresh air actually. A suggestion for the future development is that, in the final version of this game, you give also prologue chapters to each other character. This fleshes them out a bit more and gives the player the chance to get used to other playstyles each character brings.

So far, I have only played a few missions of the first campaign and I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I can’t wait to see where the story is going to take us. Storywise, they don’t need to make any improvements. The way it’s getting developed it perfect. Like I said earlier, a bit more introduction to the other characters would be neat.

I already mentioned this in my introduction, but this game is in early access. So, I can criticize it for bugs like freezing when you alt+tab out of the game during dialogues. These things get patched out since the developer is very active on the forums and listing to feedback from their players. It’s always a joy to see what will be changed after the next update. There is currently a built-in bug reporting tool which is extremely handy.

Now, this is a tactical combat game. At this point in time, I really think that it’s a good idea that you mention everything you think to the developers. Like, when the enemies almost never miss an attack and you seem to miss your long-range attacks all the time. There is a lot of polishing work that needs to be done. This game has a lot of potential but needs user input and playtesting.

Polishing with a cloth

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This game currently has 1 and a half campaigns. In the first “campaign” you get mostly introduced the basic mechanics of the game. The only issue I have is that most of this tutorial focuses on two characters. And not on the 4 characters you have at your disposal in chapter 1.

In the first chapter, the difficulty curve is a bit, wack. At this moment in time, the game isn’t that balanced. I’m quite certain that in the future, this game will be more polished and we might get difficulty settings.

Now, before I continue, it might look like I’ll be bashing the game left and right. That I’m finding negatives all over the place. But, keep in mind that this game is still under development. There is a lot here already, the only thing the developers now need to do is to polish the game up in something quite unique. I’m not hating on the game, nor am I saying it’s a bad game. With that said, let’s move on.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I really like the art style of this game. The levels you visit are detailed and the animation is amazing. I really like how long-distance shots give you a zoom in on the action as if you were watching an action movie. Maybe it’s a good idea to disable those to give the game more fighting power on older hardware?

The UI of this game needs some polishing. Things I would love to see is, in what order you are going to move your units and the enemy units are going to move like in Stella Glow. Also, I would love to see where you could move with your character. You do see the boundaries, yes. But, I would love to see a visual representation on the ground how far you can go.

Besides that, I would love to have a sort of mini-map. And on that mini-map, you would see where certain protective places are and maybe easier see if you are in the enemy’s line of sight.

The biggest issue with the UI right now is the level up system. It works just fine, don’t get me wrong. The issue with it is, that it doesn’t jump directly in the eye. I didn’t always notice that I couldn’t continue since one of my units leveled up. Maybe a sound effect and a bit more visual flair would be great.

Now, I’m not going to review the mechanics too much in-depth since they are subject to change. For example, the leveling up system gives you two random choices of new abilities. This makes leveling up unique and interesting. But, the stats don’t increase nearly as much. I barely notice any change in stats apart from a very tiny bit of additional health.

At the moment of writing, I really don’t like the difficulty curve in this game. I’m not saying that the game is too hard. I’m saying that this game gets way to hard, way to fast. For example, some enemies drop healing items, but you can’t store them.

In addition to that, you can’t save during missions. You will lose progress. This is something I wish they changed. Now, I could possibly rant about this, but the changelog said: “added basic save game information”. So, here is my hoping they will expand this feature. 🙂

Randomised subtitle.

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Now, I know that this game isn’t the easiest one around. And honestly, besides some tweaks, I don’t mind it at all. Stella Glow was also pretty difficult and I loved the challenge in that game.

After I got used to the controls in this game, I was trying different strategies and replaying missions in the hope I was able to beat it this time. This game is a lot of fun to play and should be played in longer sessions. In addition to the music, this game’s atmosphere is a joy to see. The sound effects are really well done too. There should be a bit more, for example, some grunts and moans during conversations would be pretty welcome.

Speaking about the controls, I really have to get used to them. The big issue is that I played more of my tactical RPG’s on the Nintendo (3)DS and those use a completely different control scheme.

Something I would love to see is a rebind option for the camera controls. Yes, you can control the camera to see the amazing detailed world from various different angles. Now, the controls don’t recognize AZERTY as AZERTY but as QWERTY. And in the version I played, there were no options to rebind them.

So, it’s quite clear that this game needs a lot of polishing work and besides that, more content. At this moment there is only one chapter, besides the tutorial. The game has a lot of potential but needs play-testers. Please, I urge you to go and take a look at the Steam store page and if that interests you, go ahead and buy it and give it a try.

The game didn’t disappoint me at all. It made me think about things to help improve this game and drew me into its world. I can’t wait to play more in the future and see where the developers will take the game.

You have two options if you enjoy TRPG’s. You either play the game and give feedback to help the game grow. Or you either wait until the game goes out of early access and play it then. Don’t let the cartoony graphics fool you. This game is good and it’s cheap, only 20€.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. When this game is in a more complete state, I’ll take another look at this but for now: thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Questr (PC) ~ Smartphone Game

Questr Logo Official homepage

Earlier this year, I played a game on my phone that’s a sort of back and forth texting adventure. In this adventure, you guided a character to the end of the story. But, it didn’t take long before I uninstalled that app on my phone since the mini-games were rigged in my opinion to encourage microtransactions. I still believe that the concept might work really well. So, when I came across the Questr, I was happy to see the concept return in a bit of a different light. Full disclosure, in order to review this game, I got a review code for free from the developers. Don’t worry, you will only find my opinion on this article! So, let’s go questing! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Choosing your party – Tinder Style

20171218224722_1Your goal is to complete quests with a party you put together. Putting together a party is simple, you either swipe left or right. Just like on Tinder. Be careful though, each party member has his/her likes and dislikes. When you pair a house lion up with somebody who hates house lions, your party morale will go down. The lower your party morale, the more difficult completing your quest will be. There is one thing I would like to mention. The button to get new party people for 150 goal is broken. If you click on the card, nothing happens. Thankfully, clicking the heart button does the trick. Maybe something for the next patch?

Before I continue talking about the gameplay, I want to talk about the writing of this game. The writing in this game is pretty well done. It really captures the atmosphere of a group of adventures going on a quest. Expect, that all adventures have the attitude of the youth of today. The writing is full of charm, character and humor, it’s a joy to read and I always wonder how certain characters will react to certain situations.

During your quests, random events will happen. It’s up to you to choose who’s response is the best and will give you the best outcome. In most cases, you are unable to tell and it’s a guessing game. Sometimes this can be really frustrating since you know that another character had the right answer.

You lose party morale when you take the wrong decision and you gain party morale when you take the right decision. Party morale is extremely important since without it, your chances of survival and thereby the completion of the quest will get slim to nonexistent.

Tickets and contracts

20171218231008_1If you think that, that is the only gameplay in this game, you are wrong. At certain spots, the game will give you the option to start with a ticket or a contract. The ticket will only be valid for the current quest and the contract will be effective for the whole path. With these, you can challenge yourself even more and tempt faith even more.

So, when you put your party together and you didn’t get cat fished or rejected, you can start your quest. Together with great visuals. The game has a pretty clean and colorful look. Everything has this nice polished polygon look to it. Something that I didn’t like about the visuals are some events cards. Like the card for a monster and a person doesn’t show at all a person or a monster. This is a real shame since I really like the artwork of the characters.

The other problem I have with the visuals is that sometimes a tutorial bubble can go over some important information. This very rarely happens but when it does, it’s annoying.

The quests you embark on are rather short and sweet. Whenever you have to quit the game in the middle of a quest, beware. You will lose your progress of that quest. But, this brings me to a point the developers could improve about this game.

I think a more clear “continue” option would be nice. To continue you have to start a “new” (notice the bunny ears) game and select the quest you left off to load your game. Now, it’s clear which path you are playing, since it’s right above the path. But, a continue option would be nice.

A nice feature is that you can spend your gold you earn during your quests to upgrades. These upgrades range from better matches during the party gathering process to better bonuses. They are all worth to invest in.

Early Access

20171218234814_1Something pretty surprising is that there is a feature you can stream your game directly to Twitch from the options menu. While I haven’t tested this, I think this is very helpful for people who want to stream this game.

In the same options menu, you have a bug report button and a feedback form. This is a great feature to have in game, since this game is in early access. Now, don’t be alarmed, the developers are working on more content for this game and they are aiming to release it in the near future.

They are trying to release a new content patch in December, but the developers told me this might be pushed back a bit. I hope they are able to succeed and finish the new content patch without a lot of delays.

Now something I wish they updated as well in the new content patch is the addition of more music. So far, I  have heard only one music track in the game. While it not bad, I would love to hear more music in the game.

Speaking about the music, this brings me to the sound design. There aren’t many sound effects in the game, but the once which are, are pretty good and add to the atmosphere of the game. I think it would be more fun if some events have special sound effects. Like when the explosive scroll gets read, you actually hear an explosion. It would add just that bit of additional atmosphere.

Something I think the game lacks too is a back button. What I mean with this is, that when you are on a path and you want to continue a different path, it takes a click too many if you need to go to the options menu and then have a button “main menu” and then click on “Play Game”. It’s a bit too much clicking for a simple task.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. While I haven’t talked about everything, I have left a few things for you to discover like how the gold system works, how the quests are chosen, steam achievements and other things. I really recommend this game to casual players who are looking for something different.

I’m so happy that this game exists. It really fills the hole left by that game that was ruined in my opinion by micro transactions I talked about in the introduction. Currently, this game is 15€ on Steam. I highly recommend that you give this game a try. I enjoyed my time with it. Also, the developers are really open and listen to your feedback. So, if you find a bug, typo or something… Report it. Have a suggestion, go to the Steam forums and suggest it.

I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Little Kite (PC) ~ Daddy…

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Steam store page

Today, I want to take you on a journey. A journey that tells the story of an unsuccessful family of three. Beware, this game handles have themes that might trigger some people. This game contains family violence and alcoholism. So, if you are sensitive to that, I highly recommend that you proceed with caution since this game doesn’t back away from using these themes. Thanks to the developer, I got a review code for this game. This doesn’t mean that the developer censored anything about this article. This article is completely my opinion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below!

The intro is strong in this one.

Little Kite (3)When I was playing this game and when I was taking notes, one of the first things I wrote down was that this game has a strong intro.

The game doesn’t have any voice acting, but the voice samples used in the introduction and the cutscenes between chapters make the game even more powerful.

For real, the game drew me in with the introduction alone. I’m quite a big fan of point-and-click games and this game doesn’t disappoint. The story takes some interesting turns and I really got interested in the characters.

The story is pretty well written and the pacing is good. The only thing that I would change is the fact that in almost all dialogue boxes, the final “.” or “!” is missing. It just something I found annoying while I was playing this game. Sometimes the “End” option to exit out of a dialogue tree was written in “end” instead of “End”. It’s those little details that can annoy me but I think a patch can fix.

Something that I really liked in the launcher was the fact it recognized that I had two monitors running and I was able to choose which one I was going to play the game on. One thing I didn’t like was that the game doesn’t pause when it loses focus. I was writing the article while I was playing the game and taking notes, and the game didn’t pause when I clicked on my word document on the other screen.

In some cases, I was also under the impression that the text automatically went to the next dialogue instead of waiting for a click. While I have seen it happening here and there, I wasn’t able to recreate it.

Pretty mess

Little Kite (2)Visually, this game is amazing. I really like the art-style in the game and the comic book cut scenes are just eye candy. If you enjoyed the games like Hotel Dusk or Trace Memory, you will love the artwork and gameplay of this game.

The UI is extremely handy too. The cursor turns red when you hover over something that is interactive. For some puzzles, you will have to pick some objects that are in the background. But don’t worry, you are able to click on the eye-icon in the bottom left corner to show all hot spots.

Speaking about the puzzles, they are all set in reality. Something I found really strange is the fact you can still interact with objects of puzzles that are already solved. For example, you need to trade something for an action figure. When you found the right toy and trade it with him, you can still trade toys you find with him later. I found this pretty strange. This could be fixed with either changing the dialogue to adjust the fact that the puzzle is already solved or make those objects not being able to be clicked. But let’s be honest here, this is a nitpick.

Something that could be disappointing to some players is that this game is rather short. If you know what you are doing, this game is only about an hour long. Personally, I don’t mind it. Since the story that’s being told is told in a pretty strong way and the message it brought is really memorable.

You would think that this game would be pretty easy since it’s over in an hour, but you would be mistaken. The puzzles are pretty clever and for some, you will need to use your point-and-click skills to the max. Thankfully, there aren’t any puzzles that require moon logic. Some puzzles also have an explanation on what you need to do to solve them, but they don’t tell you the solution outright. This is a good thing.

There isn’t a hint-system in this game as far as I can tell. But if you keep focusing on what you need to do and what’s stopping you from achieving said goal, you won’t get stuck too soon.

For the people who are interested, this game has Steam Trading Cards. You will need 7 of them to craft the badge and you get 4 cards dropped during gameplay.

Some minor tweaking

little-kite.jpgTo be honest, I feel pretty mixed about the saving system of this game. While I’m glad that this game has an autosave feature; I’m pretty sad that I can’t save just after solving a puzzle.

But that’s a minor issue again since the game automatically saves when you start a new chapter and that happens frequently enough.

Speaking of saving, something I think would be nice is that when there is a save file present, that the default option is “load” when you enter the main menu. In the current version I played, v1.09 is the default selection “new game”.

This game has the same problem that Rogue Quest: The Vault of the Lost Tyrant has.  In some cases, when you double-click on an item that is on the other side of the room, your character teleports to that location, skipping the walking animation. This caught me off guard on several occasions. It just feels so unnatural since the animation in the game is pretty well made.

The soundtrack and sound design of this game are pretty good. The soundtrack of this game really fits the mood that has been set by the game. While there is nothing memorable, the soundtrack really helps the atmosphere of the game. Also, you can buy the soundtrack on Steam. You can be sure that I bought that directly when I saw it!

Something pretty strange I found is that the Steam Overlay bugs out when you play the game in full screen but not in the full resolution of your screen. My laptop has such an awkward resolution… But, this is another nitpick since when you play it at full resolution, this issue isn’t present.

Something I don’t like to say is that this game is made in Unity. I know that Unity has a bad reputation since a lot of bad games were created in it, but I think that this game is a perfect example of a good game created in Unity. So, please, don’t let this be a factor that makes you not want to play this game.

The game is also translated into various different languages. They are Russian, Ukrainian and Dutch. So, if you want to play this game in your own language, you can. Personally, I think it’s a strange selection of languages, but I’m under the impression that more languages are coming in the future.

Currently, this game is 7€ on Steam. To be honest, this is a rather cheap price. For real, this game is a steal for that price! And let me summarize why.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Some minor typo’s at the end of the sentences.

-No manual saving.

-The default option in the main menu is new game.

 The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great visuals.

+ Great puzzles.

+ …

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed myself with Little Kite. I was a game I’m glad that I experienced and reached out to the developer to cover. Thank you so much for giving me a code for this amazing experience.

I bought myself the soundtrack and I hope that thanks to this article, other people are convinced to give this game a go.

While it handles some heavy subjects, that can be very sensitive to some people; I think it’s handled in a respectable manner.

You would think that this game would be bad if you look at the price of the game, but this is only another reason why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or a game by its price.

Score: 80/100.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Preview: Pillars Of History (PC) ~ Time for History!

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Official website

Today, it’s time to take a look at a game that’s still in development. A game that interested me as soon as the developer emailed me about it. Tritan Studio presents an Action RPG in medieval Europe. And in this article, we are going to take a look at the game and I’ll tell you my wishes for the game as well. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article. 

Personal note

Before we start, I want to stress that this isn’t a paid article. This game interests me so much, that I decided to write an article about it.

Also, the studio is going to start a KickStarter campaign for this game. I advise you guys and girls to take a look at it. Since this game is going to be worth it from what I have seen in the trailers and screenshots they released on Facebook.

Check their website/facebook page on the 20th June 2017 for more information about their KickStarter.  The KickStarter will run for a bit more than a month. So, please support them. Game development is hard and costs a lot of money.

You can also follow the development on their YouTube channel and their Twitter.

What is this game about?

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So, you choose between one of seven characters that each have their unique storyline and background. Since this is an RPG, the actions you take decide the fate your character.

Your character development is based on your level progression. There will be also a class-system. Each class has its own basic stats, perks, and weaknesses.

But, you can also develop skills. You can improve these skills with skill points you earn from leveling up. So, you will have to choose wisely on which skills you spend them on.

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There will be an exploration system. Since this is an RPG, this is a given.

Remember, like I said in the introduction, this game is set in the Medieval times. What were we doing back then? Of course, we were exploring new territories, nations, acquiring knowledge and such things.  In this game, you will be able to explore settings based on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. And here comes the first interesting catch. When you treat somebody badly, he or she can be serious trouble if you enter their homeland. So, be careful who you anger.

Of course, since we didn’t have the same technology back then, then we have now, exploring is a risky business. You will have to take care of yourself, your horses and your stock. Also, you might have to rely on a pathfinder or other people. So, that will be interesting.

What would an RPG be without interactions? A boring one, no? Like I said before if you anger somebody, it’s quite possible that you aren’t allowed access to a rich town that sells strong weapons or great items. Also, it will be possible in this game that if you play the nice guy, you will receive great rewards and serious discounts.

You will also have to survive from the land. That’s why the Tritan Studio focused heavily on this aspect. There will be a stamina system that can be recovered by rest and food. Nowadays, this might sound easy, but remember, we are back in the time of castles and knights.

So, what happens when you die? Well, you get robbed. Sort of. You lose part of all of your belongings. It’s better than losing your life isn’t?

Finally, let’s talk about the equipment. This will be quite important to your quest. Since, what’s the point of putting so many points in a sword skill, if you aren’t carrying swords? That’s common sense. But be careful, since the class that you choose can change which equipment you can use. For example, priests can’t use the heaviest armor, since they lack the training for that.

My wishes

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So, this game has elements from games I really like. For example, the survival and stamina mechanics reminds me to the stamina and survival mechanic in The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild. The losing of money and gear upon death reminds me of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. Other games that come to mind are the Elder Scroll games, FallOut, Europa Universalis IV and others.

The reason why I’m so interested in this game is that it mixes elements from games I like to play. So, I’m quite sure it will turn out quite fun.

Another reason is that I’m interested in the history of Europe. When I go on a city trip or on vacation, I love to visit historical sites. As a child, I often imagined living as a sort of superhero in those times. Yeah, those were fun times.

Because the concept of this game interested me when I read the mail, I wanted to write an article about this. But as soon as I saw the screenshots, development videos and other released material… Well, I think I’m getting somewhat hyped for this game.

So, here are something I hope that will happen in the game. The following things are my suggestions to the developers. This might or might not be in the game.

I think it would be amazing if there was mod support for people to create their own quests. This would be an amazing way to give the game some love and make it more alive.

Also, I think it would be great if there is a system to “sort quests”. The mechanic in The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild is perfect in my eyes. You have a list of main quests, a list of side quests and such. And you can select a (side) quest and this will give you a marker on your map.

If there is a map system in place, it would be amazing if the map system looks like a map drawn on old parchment. Maybe even a feature where you can draw on the map. But you can’t erase your mistakes, since how are you going to erase ink in those times? So, that would mean that you have to buy a certain map again if you messed up.

A fast travel system would be interesting as well. But make it risky. I think it would be an interesting mechanic if you gave the fast travel mechanic seen in this kind of games a spin. For example, you might loose a horse traveling to a far off location in the mountains. Or, that you need a certain amount of resources to travel to a certain place.

The developer told me that this game will help you to learn a thing or two about history. I think it would be a great idea if you were able to play through some of those stories instead of finding scrolls of those tales.

What I have seen so far, the game looks amazing. The game will be playing in a 2,5 top down view. I can’t wait to play a demo build of this game. This game is certainly going on my wishlist.

Check out their social media and their website if you think that this game looks interesting. Help the developer out by sharing and giving a like if you like the content. I’m looking forward for more screenshots and maybe even a demo. All their links are at the top of this article. But, here they are once more:

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So, that’s is everything I wanted to say about this interesting game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Eighth Gen Talk – Thoughts So Far

A year and a half ago, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, and with E3 on our doorstep, it is perhaps a good idea to look at what the eighth console generation has brought to the table thus far. Has it succeeded or did my reservations prove to be true?

From an economic standpoint, it is an obvious success. This generation of consoles is the fastest growing of all. Demand for both consoles was high from day one and sales have vastly surpassed both manufacturers’ expectations. As of this writing, and the most current data available, Sony announced having sold 20.2 million units early March, but Microsoft’s figures aren’t as comprehensive. Sources vary, but it’s somewhere between 10 and 12 million. Sony’s platform is in a clear lead and it makes some sense. From the beginning, the PlayStation was the cheapest console, as back then the Xbox shipped with Kinect. Microsoft also had many policies people did not agree with; always having to be connected to the internet, not being able to lend games to friends, and so on. Sony happily attacked these policies and it worked. For a while at least, because luckily, Microsoft has been smart enough to make significant changes, including selling the Xbox without the Kinect as mandatory. Sony’s platform also appears to be the most powerful, at least on paper.

But is it enough? Two years ago both consoles were announced, in great detail, and their architecture is remarkably similar. This is where things get a bit technical. Both SKU’s use AMD hardware, for both CPU’s and GPU’s, and feature an eight-core CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, similar GPU’s clocked at 800MHz and 8GB of RAM. There were some differences, though, with Sony’s platform seemingly standing out. First and foremost, the 8GB of memory in the Xbox is DDR3, significantly slower to the PS4’s 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The Xbox does have 32MB of ultra-fast ES-RAM working in tandem with the other 8GB, hoping to close the performance gap. The PS4, though, has an additional 256MB of DDR3 memory and a second small, low-power CPU for background tasks. Later, Microsoft announced it would increase the performance of their consoles by increasing the clock speed of the CPU from 1.6GHz to 1.75GHZ, while also increasing the GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. This closed the gap even further, but Sony’s platform still stands out. The GPU is inherently faster, with 18 compute units compared to the Xbox’s 12, and is coupled to faster memory. As it stands now, Sony’s GPU outperforms Microsoft’s at 1.84 TFLOPS to 1.31.

That brings me to my reservations. These figures are impressive when compared to the seventh generation, but don’t wow me. These consoles felt outdated before they were even launched. It is certainly true that the architecture of a console should not directly be compared to a PC. Developers can code games for a closed system, therefore using the components to their fullest potential, while also being able to optimise the code for that one specific system. To get a similar graphical fidelity and performance on a PC, we should compare it to a computer with a third to half the performance increase. At first I thought the relatively low performance figures wouldn’t be such an issue, since – as I said – this is dedicated hardware. It’s also very close to PC hardware, making coding even easier and thus allowing developers to optimise their games even more. But eighteen months after launch, I am worried this generation will not turn out as great as the one we just left behind us.

Launch games never really impress us, that much is true, but we have passed the launch window a while ago and there’s not much out there that makes me hungry for this generation. There’s Microsoft’s Sunset Overdrive, a game that knows it’s a game and runs with it. It’s silly, bright, colourful and fun. Very much unlike the gritty, brown and gray “realistic” games we mostly get. There’s also Sony’s Bloodborne. True, it’s Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls in a new skin, but it’s a good game nonetheless. Both games are not really my personal taste, but I can acknowledge them as good games. This console generation has already seen a multitude of games being re-released. It made more sense in the previous generation, where we saw a plethora of HD-remakes. There at least, the games came from the SD-era. There’s GTA V, Borderlands, The Last of Us, Diablo 3, DmC, Tomb Raider, the horrendously plagued Master Chief Collection and many more. It’s also not stopping, with games like Devil May Cry 4, God of War 3 and Final Fantasy X/X-2 remakes coming along shortly. And let’s not forget that the majority of games that have been released until now, have been sequels, prequels or some form of re-imagining of previously existing material. Are you enjoying your “new” games so far?

When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were released, both consoles were claimed to be capable of playing 1080p games. In actuality, those platforms were more like 720p consoles. There are some games that run at 1080p, but most of them are smaller titles. A lot of games – even console exclusives – ran at an even lower resolution than 720p. Halo 3 is one, at 1152×640. The very popular Call of Duty series often ran at an even lower 1024×600. Again, with this generation, 1080p gaming is promised and already not being delivered. Lots of games run at lower resolution settings, often 1600×900. This is also where we see the disadvantages of Microsoft’s platform, with games running at a lower resolution than their Sony counterpart. Battlefield 4 runs at 900p as compared to Sony’s 1080p and Call of Duty: Ghosts produced a meagre 720p, though this was later changed in a patch. Even the Xbox exclusive Titanfall runs at the odd resolution of 1408×792, on an engine that is essentially a modified version of Valve’s Source engine; a very stable, scalable and reliable engine. Still, the console struggles at maintaining its targeted 60 frames per second.

0Let’s take Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as another example. This game is yet another title that was first released on previous generation consoles and is now released again on the current one. Looking at the PC system requirements of this game shows us this is not a very intensive game. Minimum requirements are a low-powered Dual Core CPU, with recommended settings asking for a low-powered Quad Core CPU and medium-range graphics cards that were released four(!) years ago. It makes sense that this game doesn’t require a €1000 gaming rig, since it’s built on a modified Unreal Engine. This is – like the Source Engine – a well established, stable engine. And yet, these brand new consoles that are supposedly so powerful struggle with this game. Performance dwindles around 45 FPS in areas where you need it most: during combat. This also brings with it a great deal of screen tearing. While not a bad result per se, not a result we should expect from these consoles.

Obviously, I am also aware many people can’t afford high-end PC’s or prefer to play on consoles. It is especially for them that I am worried, since they can’t find a better experience of multi-platform games elsewhere. They have to play them on closed systems. They can’t lower graphical settings, or enable or disable V-sync, to change the look or performance of the game. I can choose to go for the PC version. Of course developers get more comfortable with consoles and manage to squeeze out more as time goes on. Look back at Naughty Dog’s games and look at the difference in quality between the first Uncharted and The Last of Us, running on the same, but tweaked engine. Or even Uncharted and its sequel, the release of which was only two years in between. It’s a world of difference, but if consoles already seem to struggle with games across the board, whether it’s performance wise, visually, or – in case of games Assassin’s Creed: Unity – both, what’s next?

All of this doesn’t seem to bode well for these consoles. Initially, I had reservations on the technology being used, but I imagined with this being dedicated, and from PC originating hardware, the theoretical shortcomings would be proven wrong in reality. However, after eighteen months, I’m not convinced (yet). Graphics are good, but not impressive. Especially when compared to the jump in quality from previous consoles to their next generation. Think back to the difference from PS1 to PS2, or PS2 to PS3.

Shiny graphics are nice, but what we need, Image result for no man's skyand really need, is innovation in gameplay. Not yet another cover-based, gritty, third person shooter. Not innovation in quality of visuals, but innovation in mechanics. One game I do keep my eye on, is No Man’s Sky; ambitious and innovative. I surely hope it lives up to its claims, as that might – at last – convince me to buy a current generation console. We need innovation in things like physics and AI; larger, more varied worlds full of life and little details that make it all feel rich in atmosphere. Frankly, I am bored with the triple-a games as of late. I sorely hope I am mistaken and things turn around for the better, but looking at the release schedule for the coming months (or even years), I’m afraid I may be right.

To close this article, I’d like to add a little something. I am a big fan of RedLetterMedia and their gaming part: Previously Recorded. Rather than stealing what they have to say about games, I want to link to their YouTube channel. Particularly to their reviews. The ones that I think lie closest to what I agree with are the reviews on The Order 1886, Alien: Isolation, Bloodborne and their video called “Why Mario is more Immersive than Call of Duty“.

EDIT: I wrote a follow-up article here.