The world is a circuit. Everything is connected, if it’s by handheld devices, home appliances and the cloud space. Whether you think it or not, we are all being accessed, evaluated and being led down a path by a marketing machine; if you like this, comment, share… Slowly we are losing our free will and we don’t even know it. People fear the machines taking over but they are unaware it’s happening right now, we are monetised. The game is question is Dex, developed and published (published physically by Bad Land Publishing) by Czech company Dreadlocks Ltd. Dex is an Action RPG, 2D side-scrolling platformer focusing on non-linear gameplay, exploration and conversing with NPC’s.
Set in the future, you play as Dex. A young girl who has been targeted by The Complex, an oppressive security organisation controlled by corporations. Hacker; Raycater, informs you The Complex are coming for you. Upon speaking with Raycaster he tells you that you are the Fragment of Kether whom is a supreme Artificial Intelligence developed by ‘The Complex’. You join the resistance in stopping The Complex oppression other Harbour Prime, the games location. But there maybe more to yourself than you originally thought…
Dex also features many side quests that really build Harbour Prime as a living location. Like many RPG’s, it’s these small contained stories that end up being more impactful than the main quest. Stories such as a young male drugged up working as a sex worker against his will, reuniting two long lost lovers or dealing with a stalker of a famous singer; it’s in these side quests that Dex’s narrative and world building really shines.
As a cyber-punk title, Dex art direction is heavily inspired by the pop culture reference within that genre such as Blade Runner, Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Light pollution merged with the grit of a contaminated cityscapes drench your screen like a layer of dirt. The team did a nice touch of each area having its own economic class, the further you leave the main city the more gentrification and depravity you come across.
The games art style is that of old 90’s PC’s adventure games as well as graphic novels, adapting a more hand drawn aesthetic than your typical pixel art sprite. It’s that hand drawn aesthetic that lends to the games polluted atmosphere and mature tone, providing a level of detail and depth pixel art cannot provide.
In Dex you’ll have main quests that will take place in Harbour Prime and locations outside of Harbour Prime just designated to a singular mission. Yet there are many side quests within Harbour Prime by conversing with NPC characters scattered around the various areas. Both main missions and side quests have various ways of completing them be it by stealth, speech -usually with various speech choices- or other means; example using a radio signal to shut down a formidable foe’s augments. Completing the quests will grant you with experience points that help you level up your skills, items and weaponry to use and money to buy augments. Augments provide you with powers to help your certain type of play, you want to be stealth well then how about a camo upgrade, you want to go in all action then how about body armour or if you want to play save go for the regen augment. You can equip several augments, but certain augments take a slot on your body part. It’s surprising how well and refined the RPG mechanics are in this game, as it is an indie title, the game can hold it own against some of the heavy weights in the genre.
Combat is either stealth approach by silently taking down foes by the good old sleeper hold, a good old fist fight or using the right analogue to aim with firearms. As the stealth and gunplay aspects work very well, there is much to be desired of the hand to hand combat as your sprite moves forward making you sometimes punch through and past your enemy.
You can also Hack with the mini-game being that of a twin stick shooter segment. Once again, exploration in these segments help as there are XP bonus to be found.
This game is exactly the definition of a hidden gem. As the main story may lack certain punch to it, some of the mission were enjoyable but it’s the side quests that are the real hero in this game. Watching my decision play-out -for better or for worse- in these missions really give the illusion that you shaped that entirely. You’ll meet a rich cast of characters along your journey and as the voice acting could be better, it certainly harkens back to those early PC games it is paying homage too.
Exploring Harbour Prime to find secrete areas, loot and other quests is a blast. The game world isn’t massive, yet it has the depth that so many open worlds games lack; this is the size of a puddle but deep as an ocean.
Though the game isn’t perfect, Dex more than makes up for it with polished RPG mechanics making it one of my favourite RPG experiences on this generation. Dreadlock pure absolute love into this game and it really shows, this is a game made by people who wanted to make this game.
As for you collectors, the physical copies for PS4 and Xbox One come with manual and CD soundtrack.
In short, Dex is worth your time.
Guest Blog Post by Jack @ThePnutbean and YouTube
It's safe to say that Far Cry Primal is a World apart from Far Cry 4. Yes the pun was intended. Far Cry Primal does a lot of things right where Far Cry 4 went wrong and it seems rather ironic that Far Cry Primal seems light years ahead of Far Cry 4. I’ve ben asking myself: why is that? What does it do so well that Far Cry 4 neglected?
Gameplay and setting
Far Cry Primal is set in 10,000 BC in the fictional setting of Oros Valley, Central Europe. When I first heard about this Stone Age setting I felt underwhelmed to say the least. I’ve never really been a fan of books, games or movies from this period so why would I devote my game time to it? How wrong of me to judge. Far Cry Primal feels electric and it felt electric from the get go. Takaar is the main protagonist who is a part of the Wenja Tribe. Taaker feels strong and fearless from the get go as one of the first tasks are to create a bow. That only meant one thing: we became the Predator and the hunt was on; no messin’, no overly baked introductions; straight in to the action. Taakar’s hunting skills are somewhat refined from the outset with his heightened senses. In laymen’s terms Taakar's ability allowed us to easily detect threats and items of interest pressing R3. I wondered if this made certain quests too easy but again I was wrong. Seeing the objects were only viewable if they were in a certain radius and within a level viewing plain. That’s right Taakar can’t see though rock, around corners or through hills which meant I had to move fast if I was going to keep, say, a Goat, within my senses.
Guest Blog by Adam @Adam Miller
Let’s face it. Aliens: Colonial Marines sucked. Big time. Gearbox promised the world, and delivered a shambles. Alien fans everywhere were disappointed. More than disappointed, they were angry. Sega had to make things right next time. Flash-forward to the announcement that Creative Assembly would be making the next game for the franchise; Alien: Isolation. It would be a horror game with a single Alien starring the daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley, Amanda Ripley. People were understandably sceptical. With a single Alien, would the focus be on androids or even worse mercenaries? How would they include Ripley's daughter in a way that wouldn't feel forced? Can a developer who have only made Total War games really make a decent Alien game? Creative Assembly nailed it. They absolutely nailed it. Alien: Isolation is the redeeming game of the series.
As aforementioned, Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game starring Amanda Ripley, the mechanic daughter of Ellen Ripley (from the movies), who joins a crew heading for Sevastapol station to pick up the flight recorder of the Nostromo. Amanda has a personal interest in this mission because it may help her locate her mother, who has been missing for a long time. After a rocky landing on Sevastapol, you realise that something bad has happened. The place is falling apart, blood and graffiti cover the walls, the androids are acting a little weird, and the survivors don't seem too pleased to see you. Things go from bad to worse as you soon realise that you are stuck on Sevastapol without communications, and there is something lurking in the ventilation above you. Something bad.
Guest Blog by Ronald K@MusicManiac1965
Before the Current Generation release of Grand Theft Auto V, I had the Xbox 360 version, and finished the story five times even before the Xbox One version came out. GTA online was a ton of fun too but there where no heists. I was eager to find out what a more tweaked and more detailed version could add to my gaming experience, as I knew, I love this game a lot!
The first thing I noticed was how much smoother the frame rate was. Billboards next to the freeway could be read far into the distance. In poor parts of the city, you see more worn out houses, bad paint jobs, tagging, and litter on the ground. All those small details give the city a more realistic look as no streets are as clean as they where on the Xbox 360 version. The sharper textures, more cars on the road, more pedestrians, and much thicker foliage in forest areas gives the game a finished and polished look. All that I can find that I don't like to much, is how close to the screen the shadow gets more detailed. This is mostly noticable on the freeways around the city, and it does not really ruin the look of the game, but it could have been a more smooth transition from a blurry shadow to a sharp one. I'd much rather have a less sharp edge closer to the car, than a shadow that has a hugely noticeable swap in detail, close to the car.
This goes for the in car radio stations and the music but also the voice acting, and sounds of the city. I noticed a better sound quality in the music, but also the voice actors sound a bit more clear on my 5.1 surround set. You can leave it up to Rockstar Games to give attention to detail in the sound and music department. The hustle and bustle of the streets, the conversations all around you and the story of the main three characters are of a high caliber. For me, this feels like I'm playing a action movie. The extra music in the next generation version is nice, and ads more variation to the radio stations. When I play the story, I leave the radio where the characters are listening to, but when I play online, I listen to Los Santos Rock Radio, and Non Stop Pop the most.
At first, when I came from GTA IV, I was not to fond of the way they changed the handling of the cars, but now after putting a lot of time on the 360 and One version, the car handling grew on me. I love it how you now can get faster around corners, and some cars can even be put on two wheels when you hit the curbs and proper direction of the front wheels. The smoother frame rate sure gives the handling a boost compared to playing it on the Xbox 360. I love the fact you can choose different aim assist, or even turn it off completely. When you play in first person mode (new to the next generation versions, this is not available on the Xbox 360), it's cool to turn off the aim assist if you want to challenge yourself a bit more. I finished the game twice in first person mode, and only the parts where you have to shoot while driving (think about the boat from Michael being stolen and you Chase it on the freeway), I switch back to the far view and then aim the crosshair on the target, but other than that, I love how this new mode gives the game a fresh feel. Also it's cool to see Rockstar Games put lots of time and effort in the extra animations, as it's not just a matter of slapping on a new point of view.
Guest Blog by @DanRush
From the first start up screen, it’s clear that Fallout 4 is a quality game, designed with a real focus on user experience. Throughout the installation, you’re presented with a series of humourous videos showing the benefits of each of the game’s core SPECIAL statistics; Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. Not only does this serve as an excellent explanation prior to setting these stats for your character, these shorts set the tone and kickstart that immersive experience from the moment that you load the game. Bethesda Game Studios finest hour perhaps?
The main quest plays out as a role reversed Fallout 3, tasking you with finding your missing son. This is far from a simple retread, however, with part of the setup throwing in a unique twist for the series that will keep you guessing exactly what’s going on throughout your play through.
The numerous side quests play a fantastic role in creating a unique player experience. I’ve enjoyed talking to gamers who’ve had a completely different adventure to me, simply because they headed in another direction at one point. From pirate obsessed robots who need help fixing up their ship to ages old laboratory research in need of completion, there’s so much to do here that you will undoubtedly have plenty more to discover after dozens of hours of playtime.
Throughout your journey, you’re tasked with managing an ever increasing number of settlements, and while optional in the main, it is beneficial to do so. The most immediate advantage is the generation of currency through trade, so build up shops, plant crops, and ensure they’re adequately defended. Everything build-able has a list of required materials, and this is a game changer for the series. The junk that litters the world now has a real purpose. I’ve never felt more like a true post-apocalyptic survivor as when wandering the wasteland looking for old plates.
Notably absent when compared directly to Fallout 3 is the karma system. In its place, your companions will either like or dislike your actions based on their personality. For example, the synth detective Nick Valentine likes when you hack terminals and dislikes when you act in a threatening way. This feels far more natural than the rigid good or evil choices presented before, and contribute to that unique experience depending on player choice.
Graphically, Fallout 4 isn’t the most beautiful game of this generation, and there was one moment that I experienced a severe drop in frame rate (I’m playing on PS4), but all of this is easily forgiven when you look at the scale of the title. There is so much to see and do here, and it’s all of such high quality, that if a choice had to be made between content and aesthetics then I’d choose the content every time.
Despite all of this praise, when I finished the game I didn’t feel entirely satisfied. I was hoping to experience the same sense of wonder that came when I left Vault 101 in Fallout 3. I’d never experienced anything like it before, but with Fallout 4 I had, in its predecessor. This was more Fallout 3, with added polish and gameplay refinement. More Fallout 3 is no bad thing, but a magic trick is never quite as impressive the second time you see it.
Guest blog by @ DanRush
My experience of playing every Call of Duty game has always been dominated by playing multiplayer. Whilst I am far from the skill level of Optic Pamaj or Optic Scump (or in fact any of the Team Optic members) I have been enjoying various grinds on Call of Duty Black Ops 3 Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed. That enjoyment level peaked again last week with the release of the Black Ops 3 Awakening DLC on the Playstation 4 which includes four new maps and one new Zombie map: Gauntlet, Skyjacked, Splash and Rise. If you’re in to Zombie mode then you’ll know that Der Eisendrache is the new map there. But is the Awakening DLC worth buying yet? I have not played the new Zombies map yet so I cannot comment. One thing is certain with any Call of Duty DLC and that is that it reignites my passion to play. Anything new will always do that to a game.
By Gemma @JuicyGameReviews
It has been a fantastic year for video game releases at least in my humble opinion. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 camps hosted a plethora of games to keep us busy well in to 2016 and beyond. I've been particularly impressed with Polish developers. It seems fitting to discuss some of the cream of the crop as 2015 draws to an end so let's take a look at my top five as well as my honourable mentions. Pausing slightly, I created a Youtube Video on this topic but figured this blog would run nicely alongside it.
5 - Dying Light
Dying Light was released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Linux in January 2015. Techland, the Polish development team behind Dying Light dropped us right in to the thick of a zombie apocalypse in the fictional city of Harran. Our main protagonist, Kyle Crane, is sent out to Harran to source a political figure who went AWOL. Kyle's priorities soon change as he quickly finds himself learning the art of Parkour in a bid to tackle the undead and save survivors. Straight of the bat it seems like the classic Zombie Apocalypse storyline: One man on a mission against the undead but it worked incredibly well. The open world, Harran looked stunning and felt so vast in both day and night. Day and night were a pivotal aspect of the game dynamics. During the day it seemed a whole lot easier to meander around Harran without receiving too much damage. I never felt at threat during the day. Dying Light felt manageable. As soon as night arrived the vibe changed. Monsters as well as zombies became the predator. Monsters had a stark agility that made me feel as though I was always being hunted. I enjoyed the way I connected with Dying Light at night as I felt the Physiological change in me (sweaty palms, increased heart rate). Naturally, this increased the games difficulty which in turn, altered the fluidity of Dying Light's experience. Consider it as, The Opposite of Monotony. That's right, I started to witness the many layers of Dying Light.
Amidst the day to night transition, we were able to craft new weapons, mods, abilities and more. As with any zombie game I would expect this so I don't have too much to say about it. Dead Island had a similar feature but it didn't feel as appealing. I found Dead Island's upgrades to be too accessible at times whereas I preferred the increased difficulty in Dying Light. After all, evasion is the biggest weapon we have right? Fight or flight? Dying Light gave me these options whereas Dead Island seemed more about fighting.
4 - Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a Playstation 4 Exclusive and was released in August 2015. Critics slammed Until Dawn just after release for being too short but with a multitude of endings Until Dawn can keep you entertained well in to 2016. Until Dawn does a lot of things very well which completely eclipses the short story campaign. Eight friends find themselves trapped on a frosty mountain and seek shelter in any log cabin they can find. There are the typical cliche´ personalities that weave in to the hide and seek horror storyline which would typically make me cringe. Nonetheless, the overly eccentric, Frat and Sorority personalities work beautifully.
Until Dawn was developed by Supermassive Games. The gameplay seems to borrow vastly from Heavy Rain in that choice is everything. Every choice we make will affect the ending. You can see the many different endings here. Who survives is up to you and even then Until Dawn is likely to shock you. Emily pissed me off so badly that she had to go! (SPOILER ALERT). Emily in fact survived the fall in to the cavern and proceeded to frustrate me for a few more hours. Joking aside, Supermassive Games did a phenomenal job allowing the story to evolve with plenty of plot twists. The script is excellent and voice acting is high end stuff. My only gripe is that the camera angles are fixed. Upon reflection I believe this adds to the sense of helplessness and fear. There's a lack of control with fixed camera angles in Until Dawn so whilst it's a minor offset it's an advantage too. If you having played Until Dawn then I highly recommend you pick up a copy. I'm looking forward to seeing other titles from Supermassive Games.
3 - Destiny The Taken King
Destiny The Taken King was released in September 2015 and is impressive piece of DLC for Bungie's current generation masterpiece, Destiny. When I initially put the video out for this topic commenters indicated that The Taken King didn't apply as "it's DLC so it doesn't count". I disagree. I genuinely struggled to fit in to Destiny before I played The Taken King. Admittedly I hadn't played the previous two pieces of DLC, House of Wolves and The Dark Below but the Taken King really changed the way Destiny felt for me. The Taken King offers players a chance to level up to level 40, offers new enemies, a fresh campaign and more. Here's what Bungie had to say about The Taken King:
Destiny: The Taken King, the next great adventure in the first person shooter Destiny universe, introduces a new story campaign and quests, new enemies to fight, new locations to explore, new Strikes and Crucible maps, a new Raid that will put players to the ultimate test, and more. To stand up to the challenge, players will have access to three new devastating Guardian subclasses, and a massive arsenal of weapons, armor, and gear.
In answering those comments about The Taken King not being allowed I ask you to re-think your thoughts. It's clear to me that The Taken King offers a lot more than the previous two pieces of DLC and takes the campaign to a whole new level. I've never felt so powerful in other first person shooter games. The entire universe connects with players on a level like no other. Thank you Bungie! Erm, Halo what?!
2 - Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in May 2015 by CD Projekt RED. I remember unboxing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a fine addition to the Role Playing Game family alongside Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Oblivion. What separates The Witcher 3 (aside from it being a next generation video game) is that the world is so much more fulfilling. I wrote a comparison between Skyrim and The Witcher 3 and here's what I had to say about the open world in Wild Hunt:
The world in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks absolutely stunning. CD Projekt RED made the transition from day and night very smooth to the point where dusk and dawn are very noticeable by the colour changes. I noticed a lot of burnt orange coming through at sunset in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, which made the transition to night a little more realistic and tasteful. Skyrim’s world is not as aesthetic. Before I played The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt I wouldn’t have noticed at just how drab Skyrim’s world feels. The colour palette leans more towards colder colours like blues and greys. Now I’m fine with this but it’s important to recognise at just how bright, rich, warm and alive The Witcher 3 feels in comparison.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt starts out with a fully comprehensive tutorial mode. Prior to stepping out in to my first mission I felt fully equipped for the challenge. What flawed me was how impressive the start was in terms of storyline, graphics, character interaction, suspense and richness of the world. If first impressions last then The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt left a bruise on my face! For more of an in-depth dissection on The Witcher 3 check out my blog here.
1 - Fallout 4
Fallout 4 was released in November 2015 much to the delight of fans across the world. I don't think I've ever been so excited for a gaming release and it's fair to say that we waited a long time for Fallout 4 to be announced by the mighty Bethesda.
Fallout 4 has already been pegged to be Game of the Year 2015 so it's no surprise that it's at my number one. Exploring the Wasteland never felt so good. The vast barron, post apocalyptic wasteland of Boston is jammed packed full of wonder that encourages player's to venture. And venture we do! I've barely scratched the surface of the main campaign and I'm over thirty hours in. I'm continually tempted to side track in to the depths of the extras on offer. I believe I've tackled more side missions compared to the main story but that's okay. Who needs to fine Shaun, our tiny little bundle of joy, anyway right?! Fallout 4, or any Fallout game, is about exploration. The thrill is not knowing what is over the next hill, not knowing what lays behind the locked door or chest, not knowing what loot you're going to find on the Radroach is all a part of the majestic lure of Fallout 4.
Fallout 4's storyline stems around revenge. In the beginning we are lured in to Vault 111 only to be frozen alongside our spouse and baby. Unfortunately, we are the only one to leave 111 hundreds of years after entering. Where's Shaun? becomes a common question of our main protagonist and who took him? drives the main story across the wasteland. Speaking of, we are quickly greeted with out canine friend, Dogmeat. He is a great addition to Fallout 4 for company, battle and carrying items when we are over-encumbered. I'm sure we all know by now that Dogmeat was modelled from the lead level designer's real life dog, River. Check out this video to go behind the scenes with Dogmeat:
Fallout 4 is near perfection for me. I totally lose myself from the stresses of daily life. I'm eager to hear about your thoughts on what games take your pick from 2015. Honourable mentions are at the end of my video below.
2016 is pegged to be a strong year for video game releases. Drop me a comment and let me know what you're looking forward to. In the meantime you can check out these videos from my youtube channel:
By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews
There’s no doubt in my mind that The Rise of the Tomb Raider is a great game. Crystal Dynamics produced an epic adventure, this is true. I’ve read and watched numerous reviews that ranked the new Lara Croft adventure as an eight and in some cases nine out of ten and I’ve been left wondering why? Before you read any further, know that I, like many of you, was a teenager when the first Tomb Raider game got a release on the Sega Saturn and Playstation 1 and one thing is very, very clear to me: Tomb Raider is one of the most evolved series on the market. The Rise of the Tomb Raider seems nothing like the very first Tomb Raider game. I can hear many of you say “of course it’s not” and especially since the franchise was sold to Crystal Dynamics years ago. They’ll always be a part of me that wants that Tomb Raider game back but the rational part of me knows that Tomb Raider is forever changed and it’s a new generation of gamers sat behind their controllers meandering through the Tombs.
Fallout 4 dropped two days ago. We're already seeing news of glitches, mods, reviews, moans, rants and personal journeys from the Wasteland. It's amazing how much information can circulate in two days. Fortunately, most of the Fallout 4 news is positive and crawling the wasteland is once again, an awesome experience.
I went to a midnight launch of Fallout 4 at GAME in Chesterfield, England. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Pipboy Edition on the Playstation 4 too. Here are all of the pictures from the evening as well as the video. Drop me a comment and let me know some of your tales from the Wasteland. My full review will be up in the coming weeks!
Do you want to be a part of my Fallout 4 community review? For details of the Fallout 4 Community review, click here and get involved.
-Gemma (thanks to Jess for the shots)
By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews
The most common question I'm being asked on my Assassin's Creed Syndicate Twitch streams is: "What is the game like?" I give a nuts and bolts answer that skirts around outer barriers of my in-depth feelings. After all, it can be quite difficult to talk with an exceeding level of depth whilst concentrating while playing. That leaves me with the perfect opportunity to open up in this blog about some of my intricate thoughts of Assassin's Creed Syndicate.
Developed by Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Syndicate joins a confusing series that left my head spinning after Assassin's Creed 3. Syndicate is the ninth game in the main series since 2007. That's an average of over one game every 12 months which is quite staggering considering we have to wait a lot longer for sequels of alternate triple A titles. This is where the whole series falls down for me. There's quantity over quality. That's not to say the likes of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Rogue or any of the other titles aren't good but I've always noticed a lack of polish amidst the race to get the game to market. Assassin's Creed Unity was far from finished as I'm certain we can all recall the technical glitches from launch? I believe this was a the lowest point in the series; needless to say that Syndicate really pulls the series back to greatness. Greatness is a bold word when discussing a game so I use it lightly but in the case of Assassin's Creed's credentials vastly improved gameplay mechanics, less glitches and the new twist of interchangeable characters (Evie and Jacob) really ramps up the overall experience.
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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