Creepy A.I. architects Ultra Ultra (ex-IO Interactive) today announce their debut game, ECHO, a nightmare-fuelled sci-fi adventure, will launch on PS4 in the US on Tuesday, October 10th, and Wednesday, October 11th in Europe.
ECHO is a Third-Person Science Fiction Adventure.
After a century in stasis the girl En arrives at her destination: A Palace out of legend, a marvel of the old civilization eons gone, still awaiting its first human occupants. Out here, using forgotten technologies, she hopes to bring back a life that shouldn’t have been lost. But nothing could prepare her for what she’ll face in the ancient halls below.
The experience starts as a character driven journey of discovery, but as it unfolds it evolves into something altogether more punishing. The Palace studies everything you do, everything you are, to use it against you. Gameplay revolves around stealth, action and manipulation, as you face off against the ultimate enemy: Yourself.
THE WAY YOU PLAY SHAPES THE GAME
In ECHO everything has consequence: As you try to wield its magical technologies it becomes apparent that the Palace has a will of its own… It creates “Echoes” – exact copies of you in every way – that behave like you and only do the things you do. So the way you play the game shapes your enemy. If you sprint, soon the Echoes will get faster. If you sneak, they will get stealthier. If you shoot, they will learn to shoot back. The game constantly reacts to your every choice and input.
The Palace “reboots” every so often, resulting in a blackout. This blackout-cycle is the rhythm at which the Echoes get updated with your latest behavior, learning and unlearning from your actions. During the blackout the palace is blind, giving you the freedom to act without consequence. This is the time to run and gun and do all the things you don’t want the Echoes to learn.
The experience is one of being up against your own choices from the last blackout-cycle, giving you a way of shaping the game from cycle to cycle. So no matter if you prefer to go stealth or action one thing is certain, you need to keep your wits about you if you want to survive the Palace.
RICH STORY AND ATMOSPHERE
At the heart of ECHO is the story. The game starts as a narrative experience, focused on En and her journey into the Palace and her past. Who is she and what is her connection to the Palace? Who is this man that she needs to revive, and what was the circumstances surrounding his death? Slowly these things are uncovered as she descends into the dark halls below.
ECHO has been out on Steam since September 19th, with a fairly solid following. Can ECHO emulate the same on PS4? Time shall tell.
Parental Warning! This game is NOT for kiddies or those with sensitive eyes and ears. I had to hit mute quite quickly during the first main cut scene of the game. Arse shots for you, me, and everybody.
Your ship swoops in, teleports you down to the surface of the planet, then leaves in as quick a fashion. A formless voice gives you a set of instructions, a little bit of exposition, then you are on your merry way. No, this isn’t a stealth Destiny article. This is the opening moments of MercurySteam’s Raiders of the Broken Planet.
I like to believe that Harec, the leader of the Raiders – who are an ill-fitted, partially formed, band of hired guns, rogues, and worse – has a stash of videogames somewhere in his living quarters. Chief amongst those is his Metal Gear Solid collection, for which he draws inspiration when designing his raiding gear – Harec is an uncanny blend of Snake from both MGS4 and Phantom Pain. His desert-appropriate attire, form fitting stealth suit, sniper-rifle, techno-eye patch and more.
During the tutorial section, which is a part of the free to play section of Raiders, the inspiration of other games shines through. Though, not as heavy as MGS, you can’t help but feel the developers played a good chunk of Borderlands, too. Absolutely zero of this is a detractor, far from it, it adds to the title.
The hook and line of Raiders is the combat, though challenging at times – mostly due to enemies being far to numerous for a single player – it is the lifeblood of this intense third-person shooter, designed to be played asymmetric. Raiders takes the player and their team (if you can find any players via matchmaking) to various locations on and around the planet, which is broken by the way, to recruit more of the arguably less nefarious people to their cause, whilst also seeking a mysterious group called the Protectors.
Core to the combat is managing your Aleph – seemingly pronounced olive – this will allow your unique character abilities to be more or less effective, depending on your stress levels. My favourite character, Alicia, recovers her HP at an increased rate and her agility is also improved with good Aleph management. Those reasons aren’t why I prefer to play as Alicia, it’s her attitude and weapon of choice, both can be described as shotgun.
Combat is also the sinker, as really isn’t as expansive as it first appears. Yes, you can unlock additional weapons, blueprints and the like. However, I rarely felt they made the combat much easier. This could be again due to most of my time being spent solo? I sure hope so.
An absolute saving point for Raiders of the Broken Planet is the Antagonist portion of the asymmetric gameplay, which does match make a little more often than the protagonist side of the coin.
You can queue to join the enemies on any given mission, which outside of the tutorial is five, and aim to stop the Raiders from achieving their mission. Sounds simple? It most certainly is, yet is very effective. You can select static spawn points around each stage of the level, then from there it’s all bets are off. Do you head back and wait for the Raiders to be weakened by the overwhelming attacks of the enemy? Do you go balls-to-the-wall attack yourself, with the aim to just keep them in place long enough for the objective timer to countdown to zero? Or, do you wait until they are all on the lift to the next area and unleash a devastating attack to reduce their life-pool by 4, then repeat another handful of times?
Answer: All of the above. And it feels insanely satisfying knowing you are ruining the game for four, most certainly lovely, people who managed to get into match made games before you!
Speaking of matchmaking, the queue system in general is good. You can queue for each map individually, and you can blanket queue as the Antagonist. In theory this will allow for rapid games. That theory isn’t sound, however. I found that queueing for all available maps as a Raider, I often had queue times of over 20 minutes. Whereas either adding the Antagonist to the mix, or queuing pure as the big A, had me in-games in under 5 minutes, if not even quicker.
Why is it so bad, then you are connected with the Windows 10 players, too? Hmm. I’d have to say it is because of the initial difficulty of the free to play section. I’d have struggled to want to pay the £10 (or the regional equivalent) after the brutal opening levels. Over the coming months, Raiders will be fleshed out with additional paid content packs, all of which seem to offer an equal amount of content to the Alien Myths pack, which picks right up after the tutorial and opening level.
Whilst queuing for games, you can go visit the archive section of the menus, it is filled with so much story and detail. From the discovery of Aleph on a moon of Saturn, not IO, to the evolution of the warring factions that establish the lite-governments of the Broken Planet.
For me, the hidden gems within MercurySteam’s Raiders of the Broken Planet is the cinematography and hugely fleshed out universe that is on display. Cut scenes are as brutal as the gameplay, in all the right ways. I don’t think I’ll be unseeing a steel harness over a penis, attached to a prisoner’s chair, paired with dance music, for a long time!
We are really pleased to hear the news that Size Five Games and Curve Digital’s upcoming game The Swindle will be released on Xbox One next month.
The Swindle is a mixture of platform, action and stealth gameplay where players take the role of a master thief and break into procedurally-generated buildings, hacking their systems, stealing their cash and then charging to the nearest exit to the sound of alarms and breaking glass.
Earlier today Krillbite Studio announced that their award winning PC title; Among the Sleep, will be coming to Xbox One having now sold over 100,000 copies on PC. The decision it seems was made last week during the Nordic Game where Among the Sleep also won Best Artistic Achievement, a massive achievement for the small studio.
We don’t have any dates for the releases yet, but we’re working closely with Microsoft and will release more information as soon as we have it.
In celebration of this announcement, winning the award at Nordic Game, and the 29th May this year being exactly one year since release on PC, Krillbite have released the official soundtrack to buy, previously a Kickstarter gift.
Greetings and welcome to Issue #3 of our crowdfunding spotlight. As with last week, we’ll be kicking off with an update on last week’s spotlighted projects before taking an in-depth look at a new crowdfunding system announced earlier this week; Gamer’s Edition, set up to create awesome collectors editions for games that previously couldn’t deliver them.
It’s always good to start with great news, right? Last week we featured Slain! by Wolf Brew Games, who were aiming to raise $12,000 towards development. They’ve done it and with time to spare. As of the 12th of this month these guys have raised $13,059 with 15 days still to go. Congratulations guys, we cannot wait to see this gore soaked Hack n’ Slash title reach Xbox One.
In Issue #2 we also looked at Albert & Otto and although it didn’t list an Xbox One release in the description, it did mysteriously include Xbox One custom controller skins as a tiered reward. Surely that could only point towards an Xbox One release? Regardless, it doesn’t look good for Albert & Otto having only raised $1,230 of its base goal of $15,000. There is still 10 days to go (at time of publishing) for things to turn around for them. Fingers crossed.
Our third title was Hot Armor: Brothers war from ARGAMEDON Studios. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t look like this game will be funded via Kickstarter having not even broken past the £100 mark of the required £3,000 to develop. I won’t lie, I am rather relieved we won’t be seeing this any time soon.
And finally last week we took a look at Hera and Sooky, which according to the description, is being developed for every platform other than Xbox One… well it did have a footnote about other platforms being a possibility based on funding. Either way, this cute tale of two dogs who set out to find their owner would be an interesting title to see. Unfortunately it seems no one else agrees with me (story of my life!) as 6 days since we first found the project and they still haven’t moved from $481 of the $30,000 required.
So, what’s new?
Wormhole City is what. If you’ve been a long time reader of TiX you’ll know how much I love my RPG’s so this Kickstarter project just has to be included.
Wormhole City is a single-player sci-fi adventure game with third-person platforming, racing, puzzle and action elements developed in Unreal Engine 4 primarily for PC. Zenrok Studios LLC are looking initially for £7,500 to complete development of their title. So what will it take to bring Wormhole City to Xbox One? Zenrok have set a second stretch goal of $22,000 to see their title developed for our favourite not-so-little black box.
Zenrok Studios LLC was founded in 2014 by two professional game designers with specialities in graphic design, programming, teaching, and music. They’ve experience across Game Maker, Unity and now Unreal Engine 4. You check out the project page here.
Likeliness of happening – I’m going to be optimistic with this one considering the experienced team, they might just pull it off… for PC. Unfortunately as much as I would like to see it happen, I don’t think we’ll be in for an Xbox One release.
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Gamer’s Edition – in-depth look
We received an interesting press release this week from Gamer Network updating us on the launch of Gamer’s Edition, a new unique way of enabling digital releases and indie games the same physical special editions as big budget titles through the use of crowdfunding. An interesting concept for sure.
Each Gamer’s Edition is a run of one-of-a-kind, one-off production run set of collectibles developed and designed between collectibles producer Idea Planet and the games developer and community members. The crowdfunded pre-order system means that production only commences when there are enough orders to cover the manufacturing costs. I think this is a brilliant idea!
Idea Planet don’t come into this with zero experience you’ll be glad to know. For over 12 years, Idea Planet has been developing award-winning collector’s editions for gaming industry giants including Microsoft, Gearbox, Activision, Bungie and 2K games.
To kick off the launch of Gamer’s Edition there are two iconic indie game collectible bundles for you to spend some money on; Papers, Please and Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2 double pack. Full details below:
Papers, Please – the Gamer’s Edition for this multi-award-winning dystopian document thriller is modelled on the kit the player receives when they win the Labor Lottery in the grim nation of Arstotzka. Each inspector’s case includes a Steam key, Arstotkan stamps, inkpad, poster, passport, Immigration Rule Book, paperwork set, Labor Lottery keyring and inspector’s pin badge. The Papers, Please Gamer’s Edition retails for $70. Details here.
Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2 double-pack – in celebration of Hotline Miami 2’s release, this special Gamer’s Edition has been created to the exact specification of series creator Dennaton Games, which is designing bespoke packaging elements specifically for Gamer’s Edition. It includes both games on DVD for the first time, presented in custom DVD packaging, along with Steam keys for both games, a C90 soundtrack mixtape, comic, “Cameo” trading cards, 50 Blessings spray paint stencil and custom art card. The Hotline Miami Gamer’s Edition retails for $60. Full details here.
Due to the nature of these one-of-a-kind items all pledges must be accompanied by your payment details, in the same way it does on Kickstarter. All campaigns will run for a set period of time, which is currently 30 days and must fulfil a minimum order total. If by the end of that period the campaign has reached its minimum order target then the Gamer’s Edition package goes into production. Oh and don’t forget at this stage you’ll also be charged.
On the FAQ’s page of Gamer’s Edition they go on to mention that each edition, is as intended, a one-time thing. Therefore if you don’t purchase the edition first time round, tough luck. Interestingly however they have gone on to state that if there is high demand and the first edition was popular enough, then they may consider a different edition, with different items.
As this service is aimed at indie titles, Gamer’s Edition are currently only issuing Steam Codes with their collections as this is where the majority of indie titles are released. There is mention of looking to offer Xbox Live redeemable codes in the future however due to distribution agreements etc. this might not happen until money has been made and Gamer’s Edition are able to afford more account managers to run the operation and negotiate. That doesn’t mean that some of our favourite indie releases on Xbox 360 and Xbox One won’t be getting a Gamer’s Edition collection, it just means it won’t come with an Xbox redeemable code.
For our US readers you might like to know that all editions are shipped from LA whereas for everyone else in the world, your orders are shipped from here in UK. Leicester to be precise. That said, currently rest of the world only includes UK, Canada and Australia. We hope this will increase in the future.
You can read the full FAQ’s page here which goes into much more detail on what to expect and how the system works from start to finish.
So what do you think of Gamer’s Edition? Are there indie games you would like to see with a special edition released? Let us know in the comment section below.
With Season 4 of the TV show now officially under way on FOX it was only a matter of days before we heard an announcement around Season 2 of Telltale’s BAFTA Award winning series based on the same comics from Robert Kirkman, the Eisner Award-winning creator and writer of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead: Season Two – A Telltale Games Series will continue the story of Clementine, a young girl orphaned at the outset of the undead apocalypse, now left to her own devices to seek safety and survive in a world gone mad. Now assuming the role of an ordinary child, players will struggle to outwit both the dead and the living in situations that will test their morals and control the flow of the story through their decisions and actions.
The terrifying nature of Robert Kirkman’s world has allowed Telltale to push the boundaries of interactive drama in video games to a place that has had fans anxious to know what will happen next in this series. Today we can finally lift the veil, albeit only a little, on how this story will continue, and we’ll soon be putting players in the shoes of a lead role that will challenge their expectations of how to survive in a world where no one can be trusted.
said Dan Connors, Co-Founder and CEO of Telltale Games.
Expected to premier later this year, The Walking Dead: Season Two – A Telltale Games Series will consist of five episodes that will be released over the course of the season and will conclude in 2014.
An official announcement trailer and additional screenshot are included below for you enjoyment.
The Bridge focuses on bringing players into a new gameplay experience, beyond what they may expect from the usual puzzle game. Following in the footsteps of non-traditional titles like Braid and Limbo, The Bridge offers a uniquely cerebral approach to gaming. With detail-oriented, hand-drawn environments that resemble architectural design, more than level design, players are asked to look beyond just the protagonist and into the environment to solve each puzzle. The ability to control the world around the protagonist offers a plethora of options for strategically positioning both the character and the world to achieve success. Critical thinking is a key to player progress and is not limited to just the environment; players will face off with “The Menace,” gravitational vortexes and parallel universes adding twists for additional layers of gameplay in this award-winning title.
At its heart, The Bridge is a 2D logic puzzle game that forces the player to re-evaluate their preconceptions of physics and perspective through 48 increasingly-difficult levels. Created to be both an intellectually stimulating experience and accessible game, The Bridge uses a minimalistic control scheme so both gamers and non-gamers can easily jump in and enjoy. To allow for experimental efforts, the “rewind” feature allows players to travel back in time to critical moments in the problem-solving process for a colloquial “re-do.” From the very start, The Bridge is designed to foster outside the box and critical thinking skills, leaving the player with a pronounced sense of intellectual accomplishment at the end of each level. Players willing to take on the game a second time will be treated to a secret ending reserved for the most dedicated of players.
The Bridge was developed by game designer and programmer Ty Taylor and artist Mario Castañeda; together they are known as the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild.
The Bridge is rated E for Everyone and will release on Xbox Live Games Store on November 13th.
When Sanctum was released on Steam in 2011, it was met with mostly positive reviews. A sequel seemed most likely. So of course, unsurprisingly, in 2012 a sequel was announced for Xbox LIVE. Fast forward a year and here is Sanctum 2. Sanctum 2 is a first-person, tower defense shooter developed by Coffee Stain Studios, who are responsible for the predecessor. The Xbox 360 is a bit oversaturated with tower defense. It’s a long list comprised of Grid Defense, Trenched, Orcs Must Die, and South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play, and many others. All of which are great games in their own right. Jumping into a niche genre doesn’t automatically make it a worthwhile, game however. Plain and simple, regardless of genre, it’s either a good or bad game. Read on to find out whether it’s worth your time or not.
So what with a bevy of other tower defense games you can choose from, you might find yourself asking just why Sanctum 2 would be worth buying over any of the others. Well Sanctum 2 is also a first person shooter, and a pretty good one at that. It plays just as smoothly as the rest of the AAA titles that you might be into. Of all the shooters, it’s most reminiscent of Halo. The art style and the enemies bear a striking resemblance to the weird little creatures of the Halo universe. Like most shooters, your character is limited to a two-weapon loadout. You will unlock more as you progress through the 20 levels of the game. Most of the weapons are futuristic phaser type guns, as you might expect. All the weapons have a more explosive secondary fire option and will reload themselves if you switch to your other weapon. The enemies come at you in waves, of course and after each wave, you have the opportunity to collect resources. That’s where the tower defense comes in.
Coffee Stain Studios hit the nail on the head with the gun-play, but what about the tower defense? Well it’s not overly innovative or fresh. But it works just like any other tower defense games. You require resources to build defensive barricades and automated sentry guns. You’ll find yourself making tough decisions as to whether you should upgrade your sentry gun, add another gun, or carry on building barricades. Mazing is certainly key as it makes your enemies take longer to get to you. But that’s where you make the strategic decisions on whether defense is the best offense, or whether going all-out John Rambo with the ammunition is the best offense. I opted for a bit of both, and it seems to work just fine. Those that are more in tune with tower defense may like to get more tactical with it, which can definitely be done. Mazing enemies into a thin tunnel is an excellent way to bottleneck the hordes and take them down with the utmost efficiency. So the core aspect of the game is solid, and works extremely well. Better than the few other tower defense games I have played, in fact.
You can choose between four characters in the game. Each of which have their own special abilities and an arsenal of unique weaponry. Hagen Hawkins carries a shotgun, and has more health than the other characters. He is more suited to taking down the heavy opponents, and the ones that need to be eradicated before they do any major damage. The other characters have their own blend of special abilities and weapons. This means that in co-op play, every member on the squad will be of the utmost importance, and will have their own special task to carry out. This plays into the games heavy strategic style of play.
The art style on Sanctum 2 is absolutely gorgeous. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s eerily similar to that of Halo. The enemies get more and more gruesome as they come out of the woodworks. The weapons all have a sleek look about them. They look like believable weapons of the future. Hell, even the ammo that flies out looks quite pretty. I’d go as far as saying that Coffee Stain Studios have made a game that looks worthy of a full retail release. If there was a bit more depth to it, I’d say that the game should be a full retail release. It’s definitely of a higher standard than most XBLA titles.
Sanctum 2 does have a bit of a story. Full emphasis on ‘bit’. Between missions, you’ll be met with a simple comic strip during the loading screens describing the current happenings and the reason for your mission. There is no real narrative to the story, but I get the feeling that it’s all about the gameplay. The comic strips are just a nice extra for you to have some understanding as to why this world exists. The lack of a real story becomes apparent immediately as you are thrown into a tutorial level with no explanation of why or what you’re doing.
Overall, Sanctum 2 is a delightful and very different entry into an already rich genre. The first-person shooter aspect invigorates the game with a real fresh take on the tower defense game. The tower defense works just as it should. Any tower defense aficionados will feel right at home playing this game. Throw in a beautiful backdrop and an amazing art style. Along with a campaign that can take 20-25 hours of solid gameplay. As well as 4 player co-op, and you have a game that’s been bred for success. Sanctum 2 should be a successful outing for Coffee Stain Studios, and I look forward to seeing what they produce in future. The game should be a welcome addition to fans of tower defense, shooters, and all gamers alike.
Sanctum 2 is currently available on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 1,200 Microsoft Points.