Tag Archives: Wales Interactive

Knee Deep review

Knee Deep takes a SWERY approach to its storytelling, filling the small gameworld of a Florida swamp town with enough quirky characters, odd storytelling techniques, a peculiar framing device, and an ‘out there’ tale, to invoke Deadly Premonitions, to a degree. However, it doesn’t quite commit to the wackiness, and this becomes part of its undoing, resulting in a tale that’s not as gripping as it could be, and character’s that aren’t memorable.

You take ‘control’ of three characters in this three chapter tale of murder and mystery: a print journalist past his prime, a desperate private detective, and a young blogger. Each are attracted back to their hometown after a Hollywood actor commits suicide at the local water tower. However, as the three start independently investigating, they discover some strange and sinister goings on that draws them together as they question townsfolk and search for clues to figure out precisely what happened.

It’s a murder mystery, one that’s not concerned with fail conditions, in fact it doesn’t have any, and instead, no matter the dialogue choices you make, you’ll eventually reach the conclusion, with some unique events along the way depending on your choices. It’s of a similar vain to a Telltale adventure; interactivity is limited largely to dialogue choices, although the occasional, very simple puzzle pops up asking you to arrange objects in the right pattern or crack a code, but don’t expect to do any walking, it’s very much a point ‘n click kind of adventure without that genre’s item inventory and frequent puzzles.

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This makes it very easy to fall into a stupor, hammering the face buttons to simply progress the dialogue with little care for the responses you’re actually giving, and unfortunately, despite some twists and oddness, the tale fails to hold your attention for long.

The most prominent cause for that is the bad pacing of the first chapter. It takes its time establishing the characters and location, and feels utterly incongruous when compared to the much shorter, succinct second and third chapters. Moreover, where the oddness in Deadly Premonitions was charming, nostalgia inducing, and omnipresent, in Knee Deep its starts off too shallow and fails to fully immerse you in its world. The two standout oddballs of the cast, the third-person talking Remy and the limited vocabulary mayor, are only touched on in the first chapter, but are far more heavily present in the second and third, making the first feel all the more out of place. Mind you the framing device goes a long way to helping alleviate this identity crisis.

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The whole story is told as if it were a play on a rather high-tech stage. Buildings fold up or have their walls and columns shift to present indoor scenes, meanwhile, many of the trees and non-talking characters consists of cut-outs, while painted backdrops make up the sky and backgrounds. It’s a neat and unique aesthetic. It also helps with what are otherwise mediocre visuals. Textures throughout are very simple, as is the colour palette. Meanwhile, the characters are low polygon with stiff, unnatural animation and lip syncing, with the same basic textures and colours. The camera keeps enough of a distance so it doesn’t show up the visual flaws too severely, and the poor lightning fits the theatre theme and helps hide some of the visual flaws, but that in itself is visually off-putting. On the positive side, all characters are voiced, although their voice-overs and scripts are run-of-the-mill. In fact, that describes Knee Deep accurately; average through and through.

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There’s 4-5 hours of murder mystery to solve here, and enough dialogue choices to facilitate some replay, but the interesting elements are fleeting. There’s just about enough of a mystery to the town, characters, and of course the murder, to tempt you in, but you’re likely to find the presentation and overall story off-putting. It’s certainly not awful but it’s a long way from being good.

Thanks to Xbox and Prologue Games for supporting TiX

Episodic adventure ‘Knee Deep’ almost here

Independent games publishers Wales Interactive have announced a release date for the episodic crime thriller Knee Deep. The story is based on a struggling actor who commits suicide on set and you become the detective who has to investigate the truth. Knee Deep has been described as a test of your observation skills and deduction.

Knee Deep is set for release on the 3rd of February 2017 and you can pre-order your copy right here, and has set to promise all of this:

Uncover a swampland conspiracy — Use your skills of observation, deduction, and cleverness to pull back the curtain and reveal the true story behind this backwater community.
Dynamic storytelling spotlights choice and consequence — Engage in realistic conversations that evolve based on your choices, but beware as critical decisions could lead to a breakthrough…or someone getting hurt.
Gaming goes to the theatre — Vivid voice acting, imaginative set transitions, and melodrama specifically designed for the digital stage.
No fail-state: You can’t lose Knee Deep. No matter what choices you make, the story unfolds until it reaches the finale.
Atmospheric musical soundtrack: A mix of bluegrass and blues, the soundtrack by SkewSound adds another amazing dimension to the story of Knee Deep.
Full voice cast: You’ll meet more than 30 fully voiced characters during the show.

Look out for the TiX review of Knee Deep coming soon.

Soul Axiom review

I first saw Soul Axiom two years ago at EGX in London and the game really caught the attention of not only myself, but many of the crowd there and I was excited to hear of its formal release and couldn’t wait to get stuck in. However what I discovered was a real mix of exciting creative gameplay and frustrating niggles.

Set in the cyberspace world of Elysia, Soul Axiom developed by Wales Interactive is a first-person story driven adventure, based in what can simply be described as a digital afterlife. Elysia is a state of the art Digital Soul Provider which allows you to upload your soul, making your dreams and memories into a reality. Now this idea of a digital afterlife has been touched before in games like ‘SOMA’, so again I was keen to see how Soul Axiom, who has made this the main focus for the game, delivered it.

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The game opens up with you free-falling though an electrical storm, with visions passing you by. Are you dead? Is this a dream? What do they mean? No sooner have you started wondering what’s gone on, you find yourself landing on a boat. A quick search around reveals a galleon type sail ship and once you fire up the engines you are coasting through the air. Well that’s until some huge winged creature comes and trashes it, sending you plummeting to the ground. Waking on a strange neon Tron-like world you start to discover the true concept of the game, exploring, solving puzzles and environment interaction. A great start to the game and this had me really excited as I believed I had only just scratched the surface.

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As you walk around, what you will discover in Elysia is that you get the first of your four powers, the ability to control the environment by phasing objects in and out of existence, or as the game states, you give with one hand and take with the other. This allows you to create bridges, phase through what were solid walls and interact with various environments. However this is where the game started to come apart. The use of your abilities is very linear, there is no opportunity to go out on a limb and do something different. Nearly every puzzle was very obvious and most of the initial interaction could be solved by randomly pulling the left or right trigger until something happened. Shortly after this, a Rewind and Pause ability becomes available to you, followed finally by a Fireball option. Colour coded accordingly, you can switch between the various abilities to interact and transform your surroundings and solve puzzles. This again seems very controlled and linear as the colour of the puzzle matches the colour of the skill you have to use against it, making most of the puzzle solving very point and click and not investigation based.

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Upon arrival in Elysia, via a very nice mono rail, you are ushered to the HUB and it is from here that you gain access to the various portals to other resident’s memories. These are basically huge puzzle areas forming up the bulk of the game. The puzzle areas themselves are a little bland and dark in comparison to the Tron style HUB but they do enough to keep you interested even if some of the puzzles within them don’t. As you progress further through the story though I did find one or two great places, keep an eye out for the Space Station. With over 20 hours of gameplay, 100 physical puzzles and 40 distinct locations to explore there is enough content to keep you going but at some points it does feel a little mundane. While playing I did seem to forget the underlying story line, that feels separate and even disjointed from the puzzles, but every so often I would be reminded via a memory flash, some other random persons memory or via a very strange collectible monkey with cymbals. On top of this you are constantly followed around by a large beast hell-bent on sabotaging your progress.

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The soundtrack is great and really puts a cyber futuristic feel to the game but this cannot make up for the sometimes erratic visuals, painful loading times between environments, and puzzles that in the end feel like a chore and not a challenge. I had huge hopes for Soul Axiom and feel with a little more time this game could have been great but in its current state it comes across as more ok’ish. For those who love puzzles in any shape or form with a cyber futuristic feel to it then give it a go. For those of you who are looking for a real challenge and something to stimulate you for hours then personally this is not the one.

Thanks to Wales Interactive & Xbox for supporting TiX

 

Coffin Dodgers review

Sometimes, there are some titles that I can’t really wait to get my teeth into. Then there are some that make me yearn for the cold embrace of death, or at least the opportunity to take my teeth out and soak them afterwards. When Milky Tea and Wales Interactive revealed Coffin Dodgers, I was mildly optimistic for a decent effort at replacing the Mario Kart shaped hole in my Saturday evening drunk entertainment schedule.

Coffin Dodgers starts off by introducing you to the residents of the Retirement Village of Sunny Pines. This village has four distinct districts to race across. The story goes that the Grim Reaper has arrived in Sunny Pines to claim the hardy souls that survive there. A bargain is struck and the chance to survive is granted. All you have to do is finish as high in the race as possible and beat the Grim Reaper in a race, quite literally, to the death.

So, four districts to race around. Sounds easy, right? Not as easy as you’d think. The action is made more interesting by the introduction of defensive and offensive pick-ups for your motorised shopping scooter of doom. As you progress through the levels, the Grim Reaper, hungry for your soul, introduces an army of the undead to hinder your progress. There are also other obstacles in your path, like the local law enforcement or shuttle trains, which always seem to crop up in the most inconvenient places at the most inconvenient times.

Each district has three races to win and a mini league table. Depending on the level you’re on, you’ll have to finish higher than last, third from last, and so on. Beat your goal and you’ll progress onto the next district with the encroaching apocalypse that progress entails. Fail in your goal and you’ll be pushing up daisies in the most final of ways.

Racing your upgradeable shopping scooter is not as easy as you think though. The scooter’s handling is odd to say the least. There doesn’t appear to be any feeling of speed about the game at all. In fact, the handling of the vehicle is somewhat akin to a local supermarket shopping trolley. You know, the one with the dodgy wheel. There’s no drift function in the game either. The total lack of this feature makes the whole racing side of the game feel top-heavy.

coffin dodgersThat’s not all that’s wrong with the actual gameplay. The collision detection physics seems more than a little off. For example, I (completely by accident; honest officer) speared into the side of one of my competitors. Now, having seen many Police! Stop! style programs, I know that the laws of physics states that both vehicles should spin out at the very least. Did this happen here? No. I ended up rag-dolled across a picket fence while my adversary carried merrily on their way.

This in itself is surprising, seeing as some of the development team for Coffin Dodgers were behind the excellence of Blur. It’s definitely a head-scratcher.

Vehicle handling and collision physics aside, the graphics are pretty. They’re a blocky-cutesy, almost Crash Bandicoot style and each character has a personality of their own. It’s almost as if the developers have concentrated so much on piling all of their effort in to character creation that they’ve forgotten that getting the gameplay right is also a necessary part of a successful title.

While this is by no means a game breaker, it certainly doesn’t give the game any less of a frustration factor given the fact that the circuits, made from the roads and pathways of Sunny Pines, are so short. This often leads to repetitive tracks with frequent confusion as they are as well signposted as a hasty Motorway diversion. That aside, if you can fight your way to first often enough you can earn enough XP and coins to upgrade your scooter. I’m going to take a moment out her to describe how I felt this affected the gameplay. I couldn’t tell. Honestly, really, couldn’t tell.

coffin dodgers 1I chose a speed up option and a dual power-up slot (shopping basket) upgrade. The theory goes that there is a way to switch between the two power-up slots, although I’m yet to discover how this is done.

The campaign is a fairly short if not minty boiled-sweet hard affair, then, with the final stages being the chance to face-off against the Grim Reaper himself. If you’re good or patient enough to beat this anthropomorphic personification then not only will your geriatric have cheated Death himself, but you’ll also get to play as Death in both campaign and Multiplayer.

Wait, Multiplayer? Yes. There is a local co-op option for Coffin Dodgers and to honest, it’s probably the most fun in the entire title. That’s if you can get a friend to enter the game with you of course. For some unknown reason, the Guest option is absent in Coffin Dodgers. This makes Local Co-op a total pain in the replacement knee if your couch adversary cannot remember their Xbox Live ID, as happened to us. Quite why the guest option is missing is anyone’s guess. Perhaps some form of elderly forgetfulness has made the developers neglect to pop it in. Who knows?

Audio-wise, the game has the standard tiny-electric motor style whining. Each character has their own unique victory groans and while the weapons are not FPS realism, they are more than adequate for the target audience. The accompanying soundtrack, rather than being the expected lift-music styled folk songs, thumps along and it very catchy indeed.

coffin dodgers 2Wrapping up, Coffin Dodgers is a fairly competent kart racer, in the style of Mario Kart. The game is presented well overall but lacks a cutting edge and some polish to make it a really stand out title. It’s not quite in the same league as the Nintendo classic, despite some nice features. But for the addition of gameplay elements, like the drift ability, we’d be looking at a must-buy for some local co-op fun. The lack of a guest option and the baffling collision detection physics don’t necessarily spoil the game, but it does warrant a grid-penalty in the overall standings. Persevere with the game though, and you’ll uncover some short-lived fun in it. You will need to have some patience, and preferably a friend who can remember their Xbox Live ID, obviously, but if I’m completely honest, the game just isn’t long or difficult enough, without being completely frustrating, in the long term.

Soul Axiom arriving in June

soul axiom

Back in February, Wales Interactive released a new aventure puzzler into the market on Steam. Called Soul Axiom, it tells the tale of a haunting cyber-world named Elysia. There was hope that Soul Axiom would be coming to Xbox One soon and happily, the developer have now announced the date that we can all be uploaded into Elysia.

Soul Axiom is a first-person, story-driven adventure game. As mentioned, it is set in the beautiful, haunting cyber-world of Elysia. You are what appears to be, a soul, uploaded into the digital ether, with all the strange abilities you’d expect of a world where pretty much anything might be possible. So, you need to collect unique hand powers in order to solve puzzles, manipulate the environment and unlock the path to your adventure in this compelling cyber-thriller.

The title boasts over 20 hours of gameplay, 100 physical puzzles and 40 distinct locations to explore. Choose your destiny and discover all of the multiple endings as you unravel the mysteries of your digital afterlife.

The Xbox One version will also contain some exclusive items for it’s purchase price of £15.99/$19.99. There will be hours of bonus content containing a never-before-seen Chapter. This Chapter will contain three unique levels. The extras don’t stop there, though. The Xbox One version will also come with a digital copy of the 82-page art book. This features character, environment and storyboard designs from Wales Interactive, giving a great insight into how the developer evolves their product from concept to finished article.

So, when are you likely to be able to get your hands on Soul Axiom and it’s bonus content? Wales Interactive have revealed that their already successful title will be arriving on Xbox One on the 8th of June 2016.

Here’s a little taster of the action you can expect from Soul Axiom.

Coffin Dodgers coming soon

coffin dodgers

A few months ago, we brought you news of a new, wacky racer coming to Xbox One. Coffin Dodgers is the story of eight geriatrics, on a never ending quest to race around their neighbourhood. OK, so it’s actually seven old age pensioners, plus the Grim Reaper, but who’s counting?

Developer, Milky Tea Studios, along with Wales Interactive have now revealed the release date for this Mario Kart-a-like on Ralgex. Coffin Dodgers will see life in the slow lane become more than fast and furious as they race for their very soul. You’ll take on the role of one of the seven quirky retirement village residents. Each character will pilot a pimped up mobility scooter, armed with a variety of home made weapons and gadgets. These aid the rider in the racing battle against The Grim Reaper and his army of zombies to quite literally save their soul.

Coffin Dodgers will feature “Road Rash” style player-to-player gameplay with odd geriatric gadgets and wacky weapons. Two-to-four player split-screen multiplayer mode will allow you to cause havoc with your family and friends. Each character will be affected by proper ragdoll physics and their souped-up mobility scooter can be upgraded with modifications to suit your driving preferences.

Battle your way through the story mode to unlock and play as The Grim Reaper himself, all set around the beautiful and relaxing setting of Sunny Pines retirement village. You can also challenge yourself, which is like the way actual old people talk to themselves, with the 3D open world, ‘Crazy Grandad’ Mode.

Meet the residents of Sunny Pines:

Coffin Dodgers will be under starters orders on Xbox One on the 6th of May 2016, 3 days after the PS4 release listed in the only launch trailer available so far, below.

Coffin Dodgers coming soon to Xbox One

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We all know that the original kart racer, Mariokart, is getting on a bit. I didn’t expect that we’d be seeing wrinkly racers tearing around a track on motorised shopping scooters any time soon though.

Milky Tea and Wales Interactive have revealed the comically named Coffin Dodgers will be coming soon to Xbox One. This Mariokart-a-like pits you as one of eight playable geriatric characters riding around 13 unique tracks on a customisable shopping scooter. Take out your competitors with rockets and machine guns, presumably for allowing their aging cat to poop on your lawn. Take out the occasional zombie horde, looking to induct you into their bridge club.

Race against the likes of Death, avoiding track obstacles and collecting power-ups. Race for your life, however much left of it there is. Race for your very soul.

Coffin Dodgers should be pushing up daisies on Xbox One soon.

Get ready to run for infinity

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UK developer, Wales Interactive have announced their Steam game, Infinity Runner will be coming to Xbox One.

The Infinity, the largest space vessel built by mankind, 150 miles long and 30 miles wide. It was flung into space to secure the future of man. Instead of securing paradise, the crew of The Infinity unlocked the door to a long forgotten nightmare. You are a prisoner, desperately trying to escape the horror within the vast bulk of this space-going leviathan.

This first-person runner has been called parkour in space, although I hope that the reported control issues have been rectified in the upcoming Xbox One release on the 22nd of April.

ID@Xbox has got soul

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So, what delights can I bring to you today? Sort of fresh from the ID@Xbox big reveal at the GDC is UK-based Wales Interactive’s Soul Axiom.

This was picked by Microsoft to be the showcase game in the Xbox Lobby Bar at the conference, so it can’t be bad. It’s already out on Steam and has been described as Bioshock meets Tron.

Set in the world of Elysia, a digital soul server, where you can upload yourself and your memories and cheat death, in a manner of speaking. Explore the game’s rich environments and immersive story to unravel the mysteries of your life and digital afterlife. Go on an intriguing voyage of discovery, facing challenges that will lead you into danger on your mission to unlock your destiny.