Tag Archives: Vision Games Publishing

Surf World Series review

Games about surfing are rare indeed, but it’s a sport that can be gamified to success, something Surf World Series proves wonderfully. It’s not the most feature rich experience but it captures the atmosphere and excitement of the real world sport and makes it fun and accessible.

Surf World Series begins with a comprehensive tutorial for its mechanics and controls, and it proves intuitive and well designed. Riding waves is easy, as are performing tricks, the difficulty comes into play with chaining these tricks together into combos and maintaining speed. Indeed, these two elements work in tandem; without good speed you’ll struggle to gain enough air at the top of the wave to perform a trick without wiping out, meanwhile, the window to chain together tricks to form combos is narrow enough to rush you. It means you can very easily make a mistake, and that very much plays into the risk/reward of combo making that makes Surf World Series so intense and exciting.

Figuring out how to ride the wave to best build up and maintain speed, all the while dodging less stable parts of the wave and the crashing water, is a key skill that can take some practice to master. When it does all come together it’s splendidly satisfying and encourages you to take greater risks for greater score rewards. This becomes the primary game loop, limited by how long you can resist wiping out on free surf and time limits in the challenge campaign.

Those two modes make up the entirety of the singleplayer content, with no career to speak of and only the timed challenges, at increasing difficulties and across a variety of different beaches, providing anything resembling a tracked objective. It’s fun either way; the free mode allows you to experiment with the controls and learn reading the waves better, and the challenges live up to their name and soon require mastery to be completed. It’s a bit of a harsh difficulty curve but the experience feels responsive and intuitive enough to inspire hope of overcoming it.

Online multiplayer is also available but the three modes essentially boil down to the same score competition. Like the singleplayer component, it’s an arcade set of physics set on a realistic competitive stage, so score beating is the order of the day and the height of a jump can be pretty gravity defying, alongside some generous landing angles that in the real sport would definitely cause a wipe out. It’s a good balance but more modes would be appreciated.

What is impressively comprehensive is the board and outfit customisation options. More shirts, shorts, wet suits and boards are unlocked as you play and you’re free to customise their patterns and colours to a great degree of freedom, and can even adding some beat lighting to your board. It’s a great feature that builds on the already terrific sense of immersion.

The excellent sound design of flowing and crashing water, well implemented slowdown when performing tricks, a strong camera setup and excellent water visuals all do a great job of selling the ocean environment. Moreover, each location has a very different aesthetic and lighting, making them feel unique. Meanwhile, appropriate music helps pull you in further. It’s not the most visually impressive title out there by a long shot, but it’s smartly designed to keep you focused on the best parts: the water and surfer animations, allowing the background elements to be largely ignored.

Surf World Series does a great job adapting surfing to video games. The feeling of pulling off tricks on the intractable waves of the ocean is a great sensation, thanks to strong controls and mechanics. It does get a little repetitive, something more modes could help alleviate, but there’s no question that this is a well-designed and highly enjoyable title.

Thanks to Xbox and Climax Studios for supporting TiX

Surf World Series releases August 30th + Demo now available

Climax Studios have announced that their Surfing game, Surf World Series, will be released on the Xbox One on August 30th 2017, and also that a demo is now available to download. To save you lovely people time, click here for a link to the demo on Xbox.co.uk.

Surf World Series celebrates the thrill of pure arcade-style surfing, where players will be able to:

  • Ride monster waves at 5 of the world’s most iconic shorelines, from the infamous Bell’s Beach, Australia, to the extreme waves at Waimea Bay, Hawaii.
  • Become masters of the waves, learning increasingly difficult tricks along the way, from nailing kickflips and cutbacks, to landing massive aerials and navigating treacherous tubes.
  • Trick their way through 44 single player challenges, or carve up the competition online against 15 other players across 3 different online game modes.
  • Rank up and unlock thousands of customisation options to stamp their own style on their journey to become a surf legend.
  • Get that real surfing feel thanks to the expert input and support from renowned UK surfer Tom Lowe.

Climax Studios is an independent games developer based in Portsmouth, UK, with a mission to create games with guts that blow away gamers and reviewers alike. Throughout their 25 year history they have consistently delivered great games, from original IP to conversions and ports, across all genres and platforms, working on franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Silent Hill, Resogun, Serious Sam, Dirt Rally, Castlevania and Diablo.

Surf World Series will be published by Vision Games Publishing Ltd.

Blackwood Crossing Review

After checking out the trailer for Vision Games Publishing LTD’s Blackwood Crossing, I was expecting another typical mystery puzzle game, but it’s much more than that.

You start your journey staring out of the window of what appears to be a traditional English train… Your younger brother is being typically annoying, so you go to investigate the trouble he’s causing… Gradually, you realise that this is no ordinary train journey, as things start to become more and more surreal.

As time went on, I grew more and more frustrated with little elements of Blackwood Crossing. The design of the train carriages didn’t quite seem right; a classic Victorian carriage, with sockets? Finn, the younger brother, was becoming increasingly irritating (as I can imagine younger siblings can be). I also found the movement speed too slow, especially during a particular sections which involved puzzles which require you to go back and forth between elements. Without any option to increase the movement speed, only the look sensitivity, I had to just persevere.

Blackwood Crossing

Another frustration with Blackwood Crossing is that sometimes it feels like the story loses its way. Scarlett, the young lady you play as, gains these special powers, but you’re not entirely sure how or why. You soon realise that they’re to solve particular puzzles, but even now I have no idea what the relevance of these abilities are.

Then, it suddenly clicked. Without spoiling anything, the purpose of the story suddenly became clear. It was at this point, about half an hour before the end, that the emotional aspect of Blackwood Crossing hit. And it hit, hard.
Blackwood Crossing calls itself a “story-driven adventure game”, which I’m not disagreeing with. However, the “adventure” plays much like a puzzle-adventure game of the point-and-click variety. A particular scenario, which I felt worked really well, had you matching up different sides of a piece of dialog between two NPCs. It made you concentrate on what they were discussing, and really take in the story. This is a mechanic used throughout the entire game, and really drives the story forward.

Blackwood Crossing

Graphically, Blackwood Crossing is a good looking game, employing the “stylised-reality” theme seen in games such as We Happy Few and Bioshock Infinite. This style plays well with the surreal-fantasy elements of the game, and allows the story to take precedence. The styling of additional characters instantly grab your interest, and portrays each personality perfectly. For example, because each additional character wears a mask (I won’t tell you why, you have to wait to find out), each are instantly recognisable, and allow you to easily identify who are members of your family.

One slight let down was the voice recording. There appears to be times when the actor playing Finn loses his accent, pulling you out of the immersion. Other lines, for other characters, sometimes came across as slightly disjointed from the conversation, and didn’t portray the emotion fully that you were expecting. However, the soundtrack which accompanies the adventure stays true to the overall feel of the game. Giving an excellent base to the emotion of specific scenes, and allowing you to roll through the adventure beautifully.

Blackwood Crossing

In summary, I felt Blackwood Crossing lost its way at points, but never fully lost me. The constant pull of finding out what the hell was going on, was too strong. The story, itself, is an emotional rollercoaster, one minute leaving you cursing the antics of Finn, the next finding yourself chuckling at his endearing stupidity. This is a game that you must play to truly understand just why it is such an emotional rollercoaster. I can honestly say, that Blackwood Crossing is the first game to ever make me shed a tear, it was that powerful.

Blackwood Crossing isn’t a long game, taking around two and a half hours to complete, but it’s one you can certainly go back to. Sure, the story won’t have its original twists and turns, but there are items strewn throughout for you to collect, and dialogues to revisit to really understand your first experience. If you enjoyed the story-driven wonder that is Firewatch, you won’t go far wrong with this.

Blackwood Crossing is now available on Xbox One for £12.29.

Thanks to Vision Games Publishing LTD & Xbox for supporting TiX

Blackwood Crossing coming to Xbox

Blackwood Crossing

I like it when UK based developers announce a new game. It fills me a small sense of pride that we can produce so many amazing titles from out nation of tea-drinking folk. Brighton based PaperSeven have today announced a new title heading to Xbox One.

Blackwood Crossing is a story-driven first-person adventure game. This will explore the relationship between Scarlett and Finn. These orphaned siblings are growing apart as Scarlett comes of age and leaves childhood behind. When they cross paths with a mysterious figure, a seemingly ordinary train ride evolves into a magical story of life, love and loss.

PaperSeven are a newly formed studio made up of and founded by former Disney Black Rock Studio developers. The studio’s aim is to create games with emotional themes to take players on meaningful yet unpredictable journeys.Blackwood Crossing looks to be ticking those boxes from very early on in the Studio’s life.

Co-founder of PaperSeven, Alice Guy;

This is our first game since forming PaperSeven and we are immensely proud to be announcing it. There’s been some fantastic narrative adventure games coming out in recent times – we’re hoping to take a place at this table whilst offering something different to what’s come before. Blackwood Crossing is evidence of our desire to explore experiences with depth and meaning, and create characters that challenge the often cliched gaming landscape.

PaperSeven will be partnering up with Vision Games Publishing to bring Blackwood Crossing to Xbox One in 2016. There’s a little bit more about the game, here.