Whispering Willows review

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Starting off as a Kickstarter back in 2013 and reaching its target pretty quickly, Whispering Willows has made its way on to the Xbox One. The game is quite different from any puzzle adventure I have played – I can’t recall many games featuring astral projection other than Prey on the Xbox 360, and Second Sight on the original Xbox – the game is about a young girl named Elena whose father has gone missing. She has a vision of things to come and her father’s whereabouts, so she grabs his coat, the family amulet and sets off on the adventure of her life.

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The game begins with our heroine going to the mansion where her father works and quickly winds up in the catacombs after a seemingly unexpected encounter with a ghost. Elena quickly learns about her ancestors and the amulet’s shamanic powers that grants her the ability of astral projection.

When equipped, the amulet allows Elena to project her ghost and travel to places that her physical form cannot reach. Unfortunately you can’t travel through walls but you can squeeze through small openings and possess objects that can be manipulated so that you can progress through the story. When the amulet glows a bright green it means there is a nearby friendly ghost that will talk to Elena and help her. A bright red glow will warn of an enemy lurking around, which will sometimes be in a cage or a cave that you can only see in her ghost form or under a bright ceiling light. Elena has no means of attacking or defending herself against enemies, but she can pass safely past by studying their movements in her astral state and returning to her physical form when it is safe to pass.

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Through astral projection you will come into contact with a variety of interesting spirits that will give you information or send you in the right direction with clues. Most spirits require you to do some leg work first before they will help you – from finding items like letters or piano scripts, to solving puzzles, once you have helped them (and they have you) the ghosts will move on having found peace.

Scattered in and around the mansion are notes that are lined with an insight into some of the ghostly character’s motives and psyches. There are also a few entries from Flying Hawk, who provides a look into Elena’s ancestors and their victimisation. There are loads of entries to collect, which adds a little background to the story but it is entirely possible to go through the whole game without collecting or reading any of them.

I was expecting a lot from the types of puzzles in Whispering Willows and unfortunately the majority of them were too easy to solve, usually needing Elena’s ghost form to pass through a gap and possess an item to unlock a door or move something around to allow you to progress.

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Whispering Willows has a beautiful art style, hand drawn and vibrant in some cases, it sets the tone of where you are in the mansion but I felt the storyboard cutscenes could have received more love. In terms of the soundtrack, it is full of well-timed eerie noises that reside around a mansion that is haunted by its ghostly occupants. The floor creaks and the odd weird sound effect drifts in that will make Elena shudder with fear.

The game is really atmospheric, great to look at and features a unique and fun astral projection mechanic, but I felt it did not use this to its full potential. Puzzles were too easy to solve and didn’t have enough variety to them. The astral projection wasn’t used enough to make me feel satisfied with its inclusion in the game. Completable in a little over two hours, the story also fell short of my expectations and while the collectibles made for an interesting read, I felt that they needed to be more integrated into the storyline – you don’t have to find or read any of them, which left the story full of gaps. If you like collecting stuff as much as I do then I urge you to collect them all, plus doing so will mean that you will enjoy the story to its fullest!

Thanks to Reverb Communications for supplying TiX with a download code

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Disney Infinity 3.0 launches today

Disney Infinity 3.0 has finally launched, the Xbox One starter pack contains the Disney Infinity 3.0 video game software and base, the Star Wars Twilight of the Republic Play Set piece, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker character figures, and a web code card that unlocks content for PC and mobile devices.

Disney Infinity 3.0 features an updated and improved Toy Box mode where you will be able to mix and match some of our favourite Star Wars, Disney, Disney•Pixar and Marvel characters and play with them together.

The Toy Hub has been enhanced, making it easier for players to choose from a wider selection of gameplay experiences – including platforming, racing and farming simulation games.

We are receiving a review copy early next week so keep an eye out for our review.

Opposites attract with Magnetic: Cage Closed

Locked in a prison made entirely of metal, with various precarious platform hazards and devious puzzles, you must make full use of attract and repel manipulation via your Magnet Gun if you are to best Magnetic: Cage Closed.

Previously released on PC, Magnetic: Cage Closed looks like a cross between Portal and QUBE. The Xbox One edition  is available today for the very reasonable asking price of £11.99/$14.99/€14.99 and includes all the challenge maps from the PC’s Collector’s Edition.

 

Goat Simulator Mmore Goatz Edition

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Goat Simulator Mmore Goatz Edition dropped this week on Xbox 360 and Xbox One and includes the updated MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) version of Goat Simulator and the Day Z zombie survival game inspired version Goatz. Living life as a goat in a sandbox environment sounds bizarre enough to me as it is, but given the original Goat Simulator’s past success I wondered if this would be more of the same glitchy hilarious craziness we saw in the first place.

Starting off in the world as a little goat you will be handed two game type options at the main menu, the MMO which is the original game but with lots more to do. There is a level cap of 101, new people to meet and more quests to help out the people of the community in weird and wonderful ways (one of them is dragging a man out of poop!). The quests are generally simple; ranging from killing a certain amount of enemies, destroying things or relocating people somewhere in the world. 

It is pretty much impossible to die in this game, instead you can get stuck in random places due to the glitches that are add to the comedic value but is easily fixed by the magic respawn button. You can explore the vast lands and find collectables, a lot of hilarious glitches, secret areas and defeat enemies with the glorious headbutt while levelling up your beloved goat. Being called the Mmore Goats Edition you can of course unlock a lot more goats each with special powers to use around the maps.

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Implemented into the MMO side of the game is the inventory system where you can store pretty much anything you decide to lick, from which your goat gain XP for, licking items will store them in your inventory. Items range from food, bits of wilderness and enemies you have defeated to people you wish to relocate for quest purposes. There are six variations of goat to choose from, you can pick your original goat in all its glory, the Tank class (which I chose) will grant you access to a butt-slam and a charge and also gives you a nice set of spiked armour! Rouge that has stealth and stunlock abilities, whereas the Hunter, whose ability is to fish. There is also the Magician (hat and suit included) that can produce card tricks and fire bawl or.. wait for it.. a Microwave! Genius. It is entirely possible to switch out the class you picked and try something new to continue your quests and progress, your goat is a jack of all trades!

On top of all the different goat classes to pick from you also have mutators which will range from double jumping, having a jet pack to becoming Zeus! Pick one or pick many, the outcome is always interesting, there are a few to unlock and find by doing certain things in the world.

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The Goatz (Day Z) option is a lot more survival based, you have a health and hunger gauge and will need to feed on normal human food or zombie brains to get to keep your health from depleting. Completing challenges that appear on-screen will give you a bonus of health and hunger fill. Your undead goat will be able to use its voice (BAAAAAAA!) emitting a green cloud to change unsuspecting humans into zombies, It is then your duty to use your goat powers of head butting, licking and kicking to defeat them as they come at you.

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Like in Dead Rising this game mode enables you to make weapon combos in specific areas by bringing certain items to the pad with your tongue, the pad will then magically generate a weapon for you to use and latch it to your goat for a few moments of attacking bliss. Blueprints do reside in the room so you can see all the weapon combos before you drive yourself nuts. Although the mode is not timed your hunger and health play the biggest part in your survival, how much of the city will you infect before you die.. again?

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Local multiplayer is in the game too. You can start a game with up to four players on Xbox One and two on the Xbox 360, finish quests together in MMO or go all out and survive the zombie apocalypse with your friends. The Goatz option will give you the option of a parachute race and races while in the MMO you will have to create your own personal challenges and go against each other in this glitch filled environment.

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Graphically this game is easy on the eye providing you with a colourful palette and amusing hidden extras, with the amount of glitches purposely left in this game anything can go wrong with the visuals at any time, but nothing game breaking, they are more hilarious if anything. One example included me walking down a path minding my own business to suddenly being launched across the sky after missing an enemy with an attack. The music is cheerful from the get go, as soon as the game loads to the menu you will hear upbeat medieval music, once in the game you will be able to appreciate the ambient sounds from the sound effects, explosions and the noises your goat makes.

I would like to have seen the quest givers to have a voice as sometimes you can run past while they are talking and will have to go to your quest screen to find out what you are supposed to be doing. While Goat Simulator Mmore Goatz does not seem to be anything other than a tool to make hilarious things happen it has not disappointed, from the original game. It has kept things simple and throwing in the ability to turn people into zombies and fight them only makes it better. You can walk around, wall run, find collectables, attack anyone you want to and trap defeated enemies in your inventory box. You would be maaad not to play this!

Thanks to Double Eleven for supplying TiX with a download code

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Ready your engines, Forza Motorsport 6 goes gold

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, tweeted out earlier today that Turn 10 Studio’s Forza Motorsport 6 has gone gold, and will bring with it 460 next-gen cars at launch.

 

 

Forza Motorsport 6 is set to launch on September 15 on Xbox One.

How to Survive 2 announced

HTS2_PAX_Still006Eko Software and 505 Games today confirmed that the sequel to this months Games with Gold title, surprise indie hit How to Survive, is not only on its way but will be hitting Steam early access before the end of the year.

Taking place in the universe of the successful first game, this new title offers more advanced graphics, hundreds of objects to craft, all with the appropriate backdrop of the French Quarter of New Orleans and the bayous of Louisiana.

Several months have passed since the episode in the archipelago of Los Riscos. Now the infection has spread and turned into a global pandemic. All around the world people are trying to survive from day to day, hoping regain a semblance of normal life. The player starts the adventure in Louisiana; to maximize your chances of survival, you will have to build a secure camp and quickly develop your ability to survive in this hostile environment.

How to Survive 2 will include co-op of up to  4 players simultaneously, while 16 players in total can join your camp.

Crafting  and levelling returns in force, with expanded inventory and blueprint lists, and an even more elaborate skill tree than before. Build, upgrade and protect your camp from zombie incursions.

Although at this stage there is no word of a console version on the cards, the success of the first title in the series could indicate a repeat of form, with a console version appearing quite soon after its pc release.

I have reached out to the PR teams at 505 Games and Eko Software for further information. For now, lets hope they can see the benefit of a multi-platform release and enjoy the prospect of once again following the sage advice of Kovac as we face off against the hordes.

Giana Sisters: Dream Runners review

Earlier in the year we took a look at upcoming multiplayer speed running title Giana Sisters: Dream Runners, and found its offering of superbly designed, and strikingly detailed levels of thrilling acuity a splendid experience. Dream Runners has now hit digital shelves, but have the few glitches and oddities we found in its preview build been ironed out?

Marvellously it seems they have, and Dream Runners looks, feels and plays superbly. The simple focus of a four player race around a complex, looping level is full of exciting competition, as well as frequent and intense platforming risk/reward decision-making and combat, offering precisely the kind of experience titles of this ilk feed on. It’s a compelling mix that can take hook of a party of players for quite some time, complimented by excellent level design and variety to keep the experience fresh.

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You and up to three additional players take to a level and race around it over endless laps, with racers who fall off the edge of the screen being eliminated and the surviving lone player scoring a point. First to three points wins. Power-ups are strewn across the levels, offering temporary boosts to your character or a weapon to launch against your opponents, meanwhile, a refillable sprint can be charged by passing through certain specific areas of a level, and an intractable fireball ability can boost you forwards and save you from elimination but is also at risk of causing you to bounce unfavourably and hurt your progress just as much; it’s a very clever addition.

Multiple paths subtlety branch within each level offering different obstacles and/or collectible power-ups for you and you foes to compete for, and choosing which path to take as you’re dashing through the level is a curtail aspect of the tactics and strategies you need to consider to win those precious points. Weighing up the risk/reward factors of longer routes for potential power-ups and staying out-of-the-way of your opponents who may launch weapons at you, requires quick thinking, and your initial runs through a level are inevitable going to be full of trial and error as you figure out their layout. It’s wonderfully intense competition, and with nine levels to choose from, all of which are lengthy and complex, learning their optimal routes for each situation is a monumental task.

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Moreover, much like in the previous Giana Sisters title, Twisted Dreams, the environments can be altered dramatically, but instead of being able to change your surroundings at will, you need to run through switches scattered amongst the levels. Doing so not only makes for a visually different aesthetic to the location, but also adds new hazards and obstacles. It’s terrific, and essentially turns the 9 maps into 18.

Unfortunately a couple of issues we picked up on in the preview remain. You’re frequently respawned elsewhere to where the last point was won, not far but significantly enough to confuse you a little. It’s a result of specific spawn points that otherwise prevent you from potentially spawning in terrible locations, so it’s a quirk we can forgive. Helpful arrows are littered around each level to help you stay on course at least, but it’s a visually busy and fast paced setting that can still leave you overwhelmed and confused.

Mind you it’s a stunningly beautiful game, with highly detailed textures throughout and spectacular lighting. Falling of screen and watching the action is almost as rewarding as winning the point. It also runs smoothly with no hint of frame rate issues.

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Local and online options are available for finding players to compete with, either ranked or friendly quick matches. Meanwhile, any empty slots can be filled by bots with the option of multiple difficulty levels for each. The AI is, however, very aggressive even on easy, offering up a stiff challenge that better prepares you for skilled human foes but can also lead to frustration in solo play. Playing with others is certainly the best option, and is tons of fun, especially with friends.

Giana Sisters: Dream Runners is a terrific multiplayer title. The level design is impressively complex and beautiful, offering a challenging and diverse set of locations and obstacles that are enhanced even further by the environment switching mechanic. It’s strongest when played with others but is content rich enough to keep solo players happy if speed running takes your fancy. It is possibly a bit too complex with its level design to appeal to everyone, but it’s an impressive title nonetheless.

Thanks to Xbox and Black Forest Games for their support 

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Bungie strikes the Dreadnaught in latest Twitch reveal

Bungie have just wrapped up their second reveal stream on Twitch, and this time it focused purely on the new mechanics for strikes.

Special guest Mr Fruit, of YouTube fame, joined Community Manager Cozmo and Gameplay Designer Claude Jerome as they explored the Dreadnaught, showcasing one of the new strikes coming next month.

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The Shield Brothers takes place in the new Dreadnaught environment, as Guardians are tasked with stopping a Cabal onslaught against Oryx and the Hive. Based in the rings of Saturn, players will be hunting down the Cabal brothers, and taking on both Cabal and the new Taken enemies as they make their way to them.

The emphasis on new strikes for The Taken King is how the final boss encounter has changed, and players will no longer be facing bullet sponges, such as Valus Ta’aurc in the original Cerberus Vae III strike. Instead, they will have to think through strategies to take down this new adversaries.

Once your fireteam has made it’s way through the twisted corridors of the crashed Cabal ship, guided by the Hunter mentor Cayde-6, they will enter an arena-style final room where they will face the Shield Brothers. Both Valus Mau’ual and Valus Tlu’urn have their own personalities, and much like arcade games of old, it is up to the players to devise a strategy to take them down.

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First up is Valus Mau’ual, whose attack is very similar to the Titan Fist of Havoc, ground pounding his way around the arena in an attempt to stop the Guardians in their tracks. Once you fight him down to approximately half health, he retreats, and his brother comes in to play. Valus Tlu’urn has a much more range to his attack, barraging players with his mortars, and once he too is down to around half health, will retreat. This starts the third phase of the battle, where players will have to have their wits about them, and fight both brothers at the same time. It is in this third phase where they develop new abilities, such as Valus Tlu’urn’s bubble shield, forcing the players to rethink their strategy.

Oh course, what’s the use of strikes without rewards? Bungie have said that strikes will reward players with activity-based rewards, which reflect the strike you have completed, but no further details have be released at this time.

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Along with the strike, we did get to see the new sword in action, which sits in the Heavy Weapon slot. It appears that ammo behaves much like a charge, allowing the player to deflect incoming attacks, as well as wreak havoc, but at a much closer range.

We also had a chance to have a good look at the skill trees for each of the new subclasses. It seems that a lot of previous abilities, especially grenades and jumps, have been recycled between subclasses, but there are some new additions. For example, Sunbreaker Titans will now have access to the previously Warlock-only Fusion grenade, as well as its brand new Thermite grenade. We also see the return of Lift, Increased Control, and Catapult jumps for the Sunbreaker.

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Immediately after the stream ended, I felt a little disappointed as the new strike seemed so easy, but you must remember that they were running a level 36 strike, as level 40s. It was great to see the new subclasses, and I personally can’t wait to go all Hammer Time with my Titan on September 15.

Make sure to check out the stream, at the official Bungie Twitch page, and check out all the awesome new changes coming with The Taken King from last week’s reveal stream.

Next Wednesday, we will have the opportunity to explore the new Dreadnaught environment, and we’ll get to see the new Patrol activities coming our way.

The Taken King is released on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Playstation 3 on September 15.

Grab three hours with Dying Light’s playable demo

Are you yet to step into Techland’s world of zombies with Dying Light? You must have missed my review then… it’s a must buy for any zombie fan, even more so now that there’s going to be a sizeable piece of DLC dropping. The new content is called Dying Light: The Following and includes dirt buggies, a huge new area to explore and a brand new progression system.

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Need more convincing? Then why not see for yourself because there’s now a demo available that will let you explore the first ‘Slums’ area of the game. There’s three hours of unique content – so quite the demo – and includes one story quest chain, some side quests, challenges and random encounters.

With online co-op for up to four players and the full day/night cycle, if you aren’t hooked after playing this  this demo, then there’s no hope of enticing you to this superb parkour survival zombie romp.

 

 With the demand for Dying Light still high after more than half a year on the market, we wondered what else we could do to help players decide which game to buy. Then we thought: demoes were pretty much a standard in the previous generation, but suddenly they’ve become few and far between. So we decided to use some of our resources to release a demo now and let everyone experience our game first-hand.

says producer Tymon Smektała.

Rise of the Tomb Raider collectors edition revealed

Square Enix has announced the Rise of the Tomb Raider Collector’s Edition, and it’s a beauty.

The Collector’s Edition contains a 12-inch statue of Lara, a steel book case for the game, a model of the jade necklace that Lara first discovered and a replica of Lara’s journal.

The bundle is available exclusively via the Square Enix e-store and the Official Tomb Raider store, and is currently only confirmed for the Xbox One edition.

Will you picking one up? I’m so very tempted!

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