Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grim Fandango Remastered Is Out Now

Double Fine's Grim Fandango Remastered is now out for PC, Mac, and Linux at GOG.com and Steam, and for PlayStation 4 and Vita on PSN.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book of Unwritten Tales 2: Chapter 4 Review


The penultimate chapter of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is upon us, and it has a lot to live up to following the fantastic third chapter. Fortunately, it does manage to do just that and brings with it some subtle game play additions that are quite welcome.

Chapter four follows the elf princess Ivo as she tries to find a way to fix the magic that have placed our heroes in so much trouble.  She ends up in a location that was visited in previous chapters and learns that she needs the help of Nate and Critter, which brings our crew back together to work towards saving the world once again.  The task that is ahead of them is difficult, and requires travelling to several different locations to accomplish it, with the help of Nate's trusty air ship, Mary.

The locations can be visited at will, once you discover them, which is one of the best new game play additions to this chapter.  Nate has a map in his captain's quarters, and uses it to choose the destination.  Luckily, you don't have to visit the captain's quarters each time, or even be on-board  the Mary, to do so.  All you have to do is select the map from the inventory, and select a location from there.  The second game play addition that this chapter brings is due to the fact that there are now three active characters. All three characters won't be together at the same time, and there are some puzzles that require rescuing the other characters, but when they are together, they sometimes need work together to solve puzzles as a team.  The puzzles that required teamwork were my favorite of the previous chapters, and now they're even better as a threesome.  There aren't too many like this however, but such puzzles that are here are done quite well.

The art style continues to be excellent.  Most of the locations that are visited are new, and are treated with the same level of detail as the rest.  Some of the places that we have seen previously do get a restyle.  Even the locations that we have seen before are used excellently for the story, and since they came in early on, don't feel overused.  The music style continues to be excellent, and is varied here to fit the varied locations that we visit in this chapter.  The voice work continues to be great as well, with the returning characters giving excellent performances and the new characters delivering performances to match.  There is also a returning character from a previous game, who is quirky, and voiced to match.

The fourth chapter of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is another fantastic entry in this fantastic fantasy saga.  The art style, music, and voices continue to be excellent.   The new locations are fun, and the previously visited locations are used well.  The gameplay additions that are new to this chapter, multiple locations that can be visited at will, and three character puzzles, are a welcome change.  The best part of this game has been the story, and that trend continues here.  The story hit a high note with it's dark overtones of the last chapter, and that high note continues here. Our heroes are reaching the end of their journey, and the stakes continue to be high.  The story weaves between light and dark as well as the last, and like the preceeding chapter, it leaves a lasting impression, and gives you a strong desire to see how the story concludes.

Final Verdict:

5 out of 5
Chapter Three ReviewChapter Five Review

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Game of Thrones Episode 2 Release Dates and Trailer

The second episode of Game of Thrones, The Lost Lords, now has a premiere trailer and the release dates are set for most platforms. It will release on PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 on February 3rd, on Xbox One and Xbox 360 on February 4th, and on iOS on February 5th. A release date for Android platforms has not yet been set.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Coming February 20th

The King Art team is finishing making some bug fixes and polish on The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 as it will leave early access and all five chapters will then be available for PC, Mac, and Linux on February 20th.

Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum Review

The announcement that Telltale was making Tales from the Borderlands came as a surprise.  A cinematic adventure set in the world of a first person shooter seemed like an odd choice.  The results should put any remaining skepticism to rest, as Zer0 Sum manages to deftly craft a fantastic experience, blending the gameplay of The Walking Dead with some of the most important aspects of the Borderlands franchise.

As this is a Borderlands game, the game is set on the planet of Pandora, which is a desolate place full of psychotic people and dangerous creatures.  A company named Hyperion has become rich by supplying weapons to the planet, and is headquartered in a base in Pandora's orbit.  There are two playable characters, a recently downsized employee from Hyperion named Rhys and a woman from Pandora named Fiona who has been raised with her sister as a con artist in order to survive in the harsh conditions of the planet.  The story actually takes place in the past, as Fiona and Rhys are both recounting the the tale of their shared story.  Both of these people are unscrupulous individuals would would do anything to improve their station in life, so both of their stories are exaggerated and can't be taken at face value.

The graphical presentation fits right into the Borderlands universe, and the presentation of the story manages to do so as well.  The decision to opt for the two tale presentation of the story helps the game a lot.  It's a return to Telltale's comedic routes, and the fast pace, brought on both by the urgency of the stories, and by the nature of the way the stories are told, makes for a very enjoyable game.  All of the characters are well rounded, even this early in the season, and each is voiced extremely well.  Bay Area Sound has done their usual excellent job on the sound front, as in addition to the impeccable voice talent, the music in the game is superb as well.  The game's opening song, in particular, is a great choice.  The Borderlands games are known for having memorable moments in their introduction videos.  Zer0 Sum manages to stand up with the best of them, and the song choice is a big reason for that.

The gameplay is mostly like the style found in all of their main games since The Walking Dead.  The gameplay is mostly choice based, and as usual there are decisions that affect the fate of the characters.  There is also action mixed in, which, as usual, are quick time events.  Telltale has managed to blend their style with Borderlands quite well in the action aspect, as the action is dispersed with heavy weaponry and machinery.  Telltale also makes good use of the bionic eye implant that one of the main characters, Rhys, is outfitted with.  Every object which can be viewed with the usual look command can also optionally be viewed with the bionic eye.  This gives a detailed readout of the description of each object, and is used to great extent in both providing more insight into the game's universe as well as a unique opportunity to deliver some funny jokes.

Zer0 Sum is one of the best cinematic adventures that Telltale has produced yet.  The two story, big fish tale presentation leads to some clever ways to deliver the story, and the well written and well voiced characters help to make that story memorable.  The graphical presentation and music are also top notch, and the choice based mechanics are used to great effect.  The thing that brings this game up to the heights of the best games in Telltale's cinematic adventure catalog is the addition of features that are new to Telltale's arsenal.  The choice of weapons to deploy is nice, and helps to give this game a real Borderlands feel.  But the real gem of this game is the bionic eye.  It's mostly totally optional, but it really adds to the game, as it is used well to provide story background and humor.  Hopefully Telltale goes even further with it's use in further installments, as that gameplay mechanic has great story telling potential.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5
Episode Two Review

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Second Wave of LucasArts titles Now On GOG.com

Update January 27: The rest of wave 2 is more Star Wars games, as suspected: Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Star Wars Republic Commando, and Star Wars Starfighter. Hopefully wave three will bring more adventure games, or at least more games that don't use the Star Wars intellectual property.

Update January 22:  The second part of wave two is here, and they too are all Star Wars games: Star Wars: Empire at War Gold, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3D, and Star Wars Rebellion.  We won't know for sure until the final part of wave two hits in a few days, but it looks like we might have to wait for wave three for LucasArts games that aren't Star Wars.

The second wave of LucasArts titles has been released on GOG.com.  This time they're all Star Wars games: Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, Star Wars: Galactic Battleground Saga, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords, and Star Wars: Battlefront II.

There is also a 20% off sale on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the adventure games The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition and Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis.  If you aren't interested in any of the games from this batch, the good news is that this time we don't have to wait very long for more LucasArts games to be released.  More LucasArts games are coming on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Grim Fandango Remastered Now Available For Pre-order

Update: January 22: It's available to pre-order from Steam now as well.

It's not much longer now until Grim Fandango is available for purchase once again, this time in a remastered version by Double Fine complete with improved textures, improved lighting, and bug fixes over the original. Grim Fandango Remastered is now available to pre-order for PC, Mac, and Linux at GOG.com and for PlayStation 4 and Vita on PSN.

You'll get HD wallpapers with your purchase from GOG.com as well, so if you enjoy the art from Grim Fandango, head over to GOG.com and pre-order now. It will be released on January 27, 2015.

ScummVM Testing For Zork Nemesis and Grand Inquisitor

ScummVM has just announced full support of two new games in their daily builds, Zork Nemesis and Zork: Grand Inquisitor.  In order to support these games in the next stable release, they need people to help them out by playing through them and reporting any bugs they find to their bug tracker so the ScummVM team can squash them. They also need people to submit screenshots for the games.

When you're done testing, don't forget to let the team know whether you could complete the game and post links to any bugs you submitted to their tracker in this post on the ScummVM forums.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Am Now Helping Out the ResidualVM Wiki Too

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of the 2D adventure game interpreter suite ScummVM and its sister project for 3D adventures ResidualVM. I have been helping out the ScummVM Wiki since 2006, since I really wanted to help out the project in a big way, and I can only submit a few minor patches since I'm not skilled enough in programming to help out the project that way.

I have decided to ask if I could help out on the ResidualVM wiki as well, since I want to help out that project in a bigger way than my minor compilation fix patches, but as with ScummVM, I'm not skilled enough to do much more than that, programming wise.  Happily, the ResidualVM team has also graciously taken me up on my offer to help out.

It was fun watching ScummVM grow while I was a part of the documentation side of the project.  It will be even more fun to watch ResidualVM grow, as it's at an early stage of multiple engine support at this point, and there's a lot of buzz going around for more potential future engines all the time. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 Chapter Three Review

The third chapter of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 picks up steam, delivering a solid story with a great cliffhanger, that works perfectly as the middle frame of this epic saga.

The story picks up where the last chapter ended, with Wilbur contemplating his life.  He doesn't have long to do so, however, as he is soon joined by one of his previous companions, the elf princess Ivo.  The group is finally getting back together, although they are separated by a border that they must figure out how to overcome.  While they are doing this, they still have to try to piece together the story behind the events that brought them back together in the first place.

The puzzles here are among the most well done of the game so far, especially a puzzle that occurs in the middle of the chapter that involves ancient gods.  The gods themselves are quite humorous, and excellently voiced, and the puzzles related to them are quite fun to finish.  The rest of the characters are well voiced as well, as usual.  The voice of Wilbur, especially, does a great job here expressing many different emotions as he is in an inner turmoil over exactly where he fits in things.  The locations are all once again well done, with a bleak look to fit the tone of the chapter, but with a lot of detail that makes them fun to explore.  The music is once again also a high point, delivering the excellent film quality score that lends to the epic nature of the story.

The story itself is the most engrossing of the game yet, as things are starting to look pretty bleak for our heroes.  King Art Games stated that this could be the darkest chapter of the game, and it certainly is that.  However, all is not gloom and doom, as the trademark humor of the series is in full swing here.  The aforementioned gods do a lot to bring much needed light to the proceedings, as do Wilbur and Ivo themselves, especially in their interactions with each other.  The excellent balance of humor and seriousness is a major factor in making this chapter the best yet.  The cliffhanger at the end also manages to outdo the already excellent cliffhangers of previous chapters, with an ending that tugs at your heartstrings and then leaves you anxious for more.

The third chapter of The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is the best yet, with excellent puzzles, interesting new locations, great new characters, and a story that deftly balances humor with seriousness.  The voice work and film style orchestrated soundtrack continue to be in high form here, and the cliffhanger is the best of the game so far.  The game is now at the middle of it's story, and it has really hit its stride here.  If the rest of the game continues the high standard set here, we're in for quite a ride.

Final Verdict:

5 out of 5
Chapter Two ReviewChapter Four Review

Broken Age Coming To Retail From Nordic Games

Those who didn't back the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter at a tier high enough to get a boxed copy have a chance to get a retail version of Broken Age (although not the same one as the one on the Kickstarter, as that one is a Kickstarter exclusive).  Nordic Games will be publishing Broken Age at retail in Europe and North America shortly after Act 2 is released online.

The Kickstarter boxed collector's edition will be arriving at some point after that, since it also includes the documentary, and that can't be mastered until the final episode of the documentary is released.

In other Double Fine news, they have started a new YouTube series with 2 Player Productions called Devs Play, where Double Fine developers play through and talk about games from time gone by, and sometimes are joined by the developers of those games.  They've covered Aladdin and Lion King for Genesis, Mother, Earthbound, and Mother 3, and Gauntlet for the Nintendo DS so far.  They'll be playing through The Legend of Zelda, Doom, and speed running through Psychonauts with a YouTube speedrunner who has found some techniques to speed through the game by way of glitches (and the Psychonauts team will be there to talk about the glitches, which should prove interesting).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Aviary Attorney on Kickstarter

Aviary Attorney is a rather interesting Kickstarter campaign.  It aims to tell a story of a bird brained attorney named Monsieur Falcon, who will attempt to bring criminals to justice through gameplay like Capcom's Ace Attorney series.

The thing that makes it unique is that it uses characters, items and backgrounds from public domain 19th century literature, with character art by J. J. Grandville in the "Public and Private Life of Animals" books. The music is also from the public domain, as it will use transcriptions and adaptions of French romantic composers, most notably Camille Saint-Saƫns. Even the font used in the game is over a century old.

The kickstarter has reached £6,000 over its £7,000 goal, and there is four days left in the campaign. So if it sounds interesting to you, head over to the Aviary Attorney kickstarter and pick a pledge tier.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Adventure Gamers Interview With Dave Grossman

Adventure Gamers has posted an informative interview with Dave Grossman about leaving Telltale, joining Reactive Studios as chief creative officer on their interactive audio dramas, working with Bill Tiller on Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler, and hints at future projects.

On the subject of the latter, he's going to be helping out with another game project that had a successful Kickstarter, but he can't talk about that yet.  Even though he's working from home now, 2015 certainly looks to be a busy year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

SpaceVenture Coming In 2015, Josh Mandel Will Co-Write It

The SpaceVenture team finall posted an update with news about the space themed game by the Two Guys from Andromeda, the creators of Space Quest.  They've hired Josh Mandel on as a writer.  If you don't know who Josh Mandel is, he's honorary third guy of Andromeda, who co-directed Space Quest 6, as well as Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist, and most recently Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded and Fester Mudd: Curse of the Gold.

The bumps they have been having have been ironed out, as the main problems have been on the programming end, and that is going much more smoothly now.  They are now on the final third of game development, and feel confident that the game is on track to be released some time in 2015.