I Worry About Bleeding Edge's Lifespan


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)


With so many developers not getting the idea that chasing trends is a bad idea, you wonder why we keep seeing it happen. Hero shooters come out to try and take the Overwatch and Paladin’s crowds away, but fail, and studios shutter. Studios try to capture the hype and popularity of games like League of Legends and Dota 2, and many fail, servers shut down, and are now abandoned. Last year, we saw many studios trying to ride the coattails of Player’s Unknown Battleground and Fortnite, and guess what bloody happened? They failed, and studios like Boss Key Productions shut down, because even veterans of the game industry couldn’t be bothered to read between the lines. During Microsoft’s E3 2019 conference, Ninja Theory, who was going off of the success of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, announced that they were working on a new game. Instead of a strong single-player experience, they are making a four-versus-four multi-player experience known as Bleeding Edge. While early impressions have been positive, I do worry about Bleeding Edge’s future.


I feel like, while they might be easier to work with, I find multi-player-only-focused experiences to be a much bigger long-term risk. On one hand, you only have to focus on one part of a game, which is the multi-player mode. You don’t need to put resources into another mode, like a single-player mode, and it means you can work on making this one mode as perfect as it can be. There is nothing all that wrong with making a game that’s about multi-player experiences only, because a lot of the most popular games in recent years like Rocket League, Fortnite, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege continue to be wildly popular. This means Ninja Theory just needs to make sure the levels work for all of the characters, the characters are balanced, and can hopefully play the long game with this new game.


That’s the problem though, isn’t it? Like a new restaurant or a convenient store, you have to play the long game. You need to survive the launch of the game, and get enough players to keep making the work going into it worth it. If you launch and make a bad first impression, it doesn’t work, or has really shady practices that ruin the gameplay loop of the experience, then you will lose people fast. Multi-player games cost more money as time goes on, and you need to keep people invested, or else, that money is going to dry up. This entire generation has been nothing, but a bunch of high-profile multi-player experiences coming out, not doing as well as expected, and then dying slow painful deaths, or some studios shutting down entirely, like Boss Key Productions. Titanfall 1, Evolve, those failed Medal of Honor reboots, Lawbreakers, Radical heights, Anthem, The Culling 2, Inversion, Battlefield Hardlines, Umbrella Corps, Battleborn, Fallout 76, and you get the idea. Sure, I could take out Fallout 76, because it’s getting new content alongside Anthem, but both games are too much of a failure to leave off of the list. A lot of these games failed to grab audiences, or were of fairly mediocre quality to be worth investing into after one or two rounds. Once player-bases decreased and people went elsewhere for their multi-player fun, those games died. Servers are probably going to shut down soon for many players, or already have, and now you’ve got games in your digital or physical library, used game store shelves, and wherever that are now pointless to even bother with. We live in a market where instead of game companies competing to make unique or interesting experiences, they play ‘follow the leader’ and try to ape off of what is making one studio oodles of money.


This is why Bleeding Edge’s announcement was met with disappointment and worry. I get why they went with this game, and the characters looks fun, but how much content will be there at launch? How different will the characters feel? Will all of the characters be worth trying out? How many maps will there be? What about modes? Will the gameplay loop be so much fun, that we keep coming back? What are you going to be doing to keep gamers invested? Will you be using shady as heck triple-A gaming practices to keep the game afloat? How big does the player-base need to constantly be to be worth it? Why will I want to play this more than Overwatch or Paladins?


Bleeding Edge is heading into a market that is already occupied by Overwatch and Paladins, and while its third-person melee-focused combat does make it stand out, it really needs to hit it out of the park day 1. You only get one game launch, one first impression, and one moment to not screw this up. I love Ninja Theory, and I adore their work, and I want them to succeed, but I worry that they are going to run into a situation where it does well first week, but then people stop playing, because people went back to something that was already there. I want people to give this new game a chance, and I want to make sure Ninja Theory offers enough for people to keep playing it. Otherwise, Bleeding Edge will be bleeding players until the well dries up.

Thoughts on E3 2019


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Man, what happened at this year’s E3? I don’t think I have been this disappointed with an E3 since, well, forever. Sure, it’s a giant expensive way for studios to show off products that they want you to buy, but it’s a lot of fun to see what studios and publishers are working on, and I still get excited for games that are coming out. It felt like this year had no real energy or life to it. I’m probably not counting the incredible amount of indie games that were there, but for the major conferences, it was a lot of just shrugging and disappointment. I’m going to grade the major conferences, and I’m going to leave out PC Gamer Conference, because I honestly had no time to check it out. Sorry. Let’s get started!

EA’s Conference Grade: F


Big shock! EA is still pretty lousy with their conferences. There was simply no life to this one, and the lack of any real surprises made it a slog to get through. The new Star Wars game looks solid, and it’s by a developer that people love, but they got screwed over by EA, but it’s the fact that the alpha gameplay didn’t really wow anyone. It looks fine, but in this period of gaming, fine is not good enough, especially because EA is the publisher. They might have a few indie games they are helping publish and distribute, but that won’t matter if they can’t regain their core gaming audience after so many greedy shenanigans.

Favorite Games Shown or announced: Jedi Fallen Order, RustHeart, and Lost in Random.


Microsoft’s Conference Grade: A


Overall, I really liked the huge line-up of games they showed off. I wish there were more first-party exclusives that were not just Halo and Gears, but the line-up of big-budget and indie titles was a delight. Still wish I wasn’t getting slightly punished for now just buying their Xbox One X console, while they are going to make a new one for 2020. Still, I won’t get it day one, and I’ll just get it for the sake of multiplayer gaming with my buddy in Seattle.

Favorite Games Shown Off: The Outer Worlds, Bleeding Edge, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Minecraft Dungeons, Jedi Fallen Order, Cyberpunk 2077, Spiritfarer, Battletoads, The Legend of Wright, Dead State Drive, After Party, Unto the End, Psychonauts 2, 12 Minutes, Way to the Woods, Gears of War 5: Bound by Blood, Phantasy Star Online 2, Tales of Arise, Borderlands 3, Elden Ring, and Halo Infinite.


Bethesda’s Conference Grade: F


Talk about a conference that didn’t read the room, tried to deflect any recent controversy and criticism with “we love the fans”, and show off nothing that got people back in their good graces. I have no idea who was clapping loudly at Bethesda doing the bare minimum with the announcements for content like Fallout 76. Bethesda doesn’t deserve any love or support for finally adding content into the a game that no one likes, no one is really playing anymore, and should have been there in the first place! They then went on to show mostly downloadable content, and tried to hype people on that Elder Scrolls mobile game coming to Switch, when everyone has already called out Todd Howard for basically lying about that game. The best games that were shown off were the ones that Bethesda was publishing, not creating. Sure, we got one of the best stage individuals of all time, but that doesn’t cover up how utterly terrible this conference was. Go home, actually fix the bugs in your game, stop releasing unfinished games, and actually apologize with no coat of self-deprecation while doing so. 

Favorite Games Shown: Ghostwire Tokyo, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Deathloop, and Doom Eternal.


Devolver Digital’s Conference Grade: B+


It’s another E3, and that means that Devolver Digital is going to take another giant backed-up dump on the game industry with another conference. Well, at least part of it is. Oddly enough, this was probably their most straight forward conference that they have had. They actually showed off a couple of different games and add-ons for their already-released content, but also had the same snark and deprecating humor that they are known for from past E3 conferences. It’s a weird tonal mix, but I shouldn’t be surprised that this was one of the best conferences in a year full of disappointment.

Favorite Games Shown: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Devolver Bootleg, Carrion, Enter the Gungeon: House of the Gundead, and The Messenger: Picnic Panic.

Ubisoft’s Conference Grade: D


Man, another underwhelming E3 Conference? What is up with this year? Anyway, Ubisoft had mostly Tom Clancy on the mind, because a lot of what we saw was either relating to Wildlands or The Division 2. The only two announcements that were worth some kind of hype were Watch Dogs: Legion, where you control a mass group of rebellious rebel-rousers, and Gods and Monsters, but no real gameplay footage was shown for that one.  It’s a bit weird to see Ubisoft keep making these politically charged games, while constantly saying “our games are not political.” Remember people, politics are in everything, and you can’t escape that.

Favorite Game Shown: Watch Dogs Legion and Gods and Monsters.


Square Enix’s Conference Grade: B


While I have a few things I want to talk about with how Square Enix handles certain IPs, I did enjoy their conference. A lot of it was “here is a bunch of pretty footage and no real gameplay”, but at least there was variety and it wasn’t just a bunch of DLC, sequels, and mobile gaming. It had a bit of everything. I think how they are handling the release of Final Fantasy 7 Remake is awful, but it looks promising. I just think they are really going out of their way to make the game too big when they don’t need to. It was solid, but I think there were better E3s that they have done in the past.

Favorite Games Shown: Outriders, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Dragon Quest XI S, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Oninaki, and Marvel’s Avengers: A-Day.

Nintendo’s Conference Grade: A+


Big shock, Nintendo just pimped into E3 and won it all. They are always a highlight, and while you could argue they focused too much on Smash Bros. last year, I mean, why wouldn’t they? Anyway, Nintendo just had games, games, games and more games. Ports, sequels, exclusives, big games, small games, action games, shooters, RPGs, horror games, and some very nice surprises like the Panzer Dragoon remake, Dragon Quest’s Hero and Banjo Kazooie being in Smash Bros., and so on. It was easily the best conference, and they put their all into it. I was almost ready to cry half of the time with this one, and next year, every company needs to be like Nintendo in terms of scale and excitement.

Favorite Games Shown: Dragon Quest XI S, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Trials of Mana, Mana Collection, No More Heroes 3, Animal Crossing: New Horizon, Witcher 3: Complete Edition, Panzer Dragoon Remake, Daemon X Machina, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Pokemon Sword and Shield, Astral Chain, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Dragon Quest Builders 2, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, and Super Mario Maker 2.


Why Graphics Don't and Shouldn't Matter Anymore!

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

So, I have wanted to talk about this for a while, since it seems like it’s a topic of gaming that will probably never die, but it should be talked about. For this editorial, I wanted to talk about why graphics don’t and, in the end, shouldn’t matter. For some reason, it always seems like graphics are the end-all be-all for any console or mindset of most publishers. “Let’s make it super pretty to hide the fact the game is a hollow experience”. And yes, for a couple of gaming generations, graphics were a pretty big deal and a major selling point.

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While I was born in 1989, I can understand the wow factor when Pong came out back in the 70s and blew people away. Here are these two rectangles hitting a tiny square. Then you move onto the Nintendo Entertainment system, and I’m sure people were blown away by how the games looked then. They had more colors, and could actually make stuff look how they wanted them to look, and not force the gamer to use his or her imagination. When we jumped to the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Neo-Geo, and Turbo Graphics 16 era, games could pack in more details, more colors, smoother animations, and so on. Graphics then became an even bigger deal with the jump to the Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1, and SEGA Saturn era. We could now make 3D polygons, use clever technical skills to make faux 3D, and could make more vibrant worlds. We could make more detailed pixel art, but by that time, that is when people cared more about the graphics than the gameplay. It was small, but the seed was planted. When we moved onto the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 era, we finally had more advanced 3D models. We could make hands look like actual hands and not boxes, mouths that weren’t flat textures on the face, more details, actual facial movements, and we could do more with the graphics because the consoles got stronger. Graphics then took a huge step up when it came to the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 generation. We saw graphics that were getting to the point of being almost realistic. Facial movements could look more natural now, and we could do even better texture rendering. Now, in our current console generation with a new one looming in the future, we have some pretty incredible-looking graphics. You now have consoles and tech that can make even more realistic textures and better animations. However, the graphical leap isn’t all that huge from the last generation, and we probably won’t have a bigger graphical leap in the next generation. We will probably have better textures and stronger hardware, but it won’t really matter. What seems to have been lost on many publishers is that games should also be, well, games! I want to jump on a walking mushroom, fight giant boss fights with tight controls, wander a new and mysterious world, and play a racing game that makes it fun to play a racing game. It’s not that it isn’t impressive that the game looks so detailed and incredible, but if the gameplay suffers, then that’s not good for the consumers.

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For example, the big major selling point early on in the current generation for games like Ryse: Son of Rome and The Order: 1886 was how incredible the graphics were. Well, now that is all they are known for, because their gameplay was forgettable or terrible. Depending on how many people you talk to, some newer games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Metro: Exodus have been more praised for their graphical detail than the gameplay. Games like Doom 2016, Super Mario Odyssey, Monster Hunter World, and Okami still look incredible, but that’s because they didn’t simply focus on pure graphical power. They made sure the games had smooth framerates, rock-solid gameplay, a great visual style, or both. Games like Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 look incredible, but I’m having a delightful time zipping around the city, finding radio towers, fighting bad guys, and just playing the game. It looks nice, but the story and gameplay are what’s keeping me playing.

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Sure, to a degree, we have to show or warrant the reason to have new consoles and stronger tech, but if it’s all to show off prettier graphics, and that’s all that you want to show off, then that’s a bad long-term plan. With less big-budget games coming out that are just getting more money pumped into them than ever before, we are setting ourselves up for a potential video game crash that’s obviously built on much bigger problems than prettier graphics. You could say that the problem with just pretty graphics covers up the major problems with the game industry in terms of bloated budgeting, lack of real unions to protect the employees, and troubling elements. Consumers need to start being more open and vocal about how we don’t just want pretty graphics. We want games that offer up incredible experiences for the price-point, and not just graphical set pieces.  Ask for better games and better gameplay experiences, and not just better graphics.

My Conflicted Thoughts on Microsoft

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

So, I have pretty much missed out on a lot of the stuff going on with the Microsoft console, Xbox One. I have been rather harsh with how Microsoft has handled itself as a game console company and game provider, compared to what Nintendo and Sony have done. All three have business decisions that I think they need to change, but for one reason or another, Microsoft has disappointed me the most. Now, that isn’t to say they are the worst company in the gaming industry, because EA, Activision, Valve, and Warner Bros. have those spots on lockdown.

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Now, there are some things that I think Microsoft has done that are way better than most of the game companies. For one, I’m glad they are open to cross-platform play alongside Nintendo. It makes me happy that even if I didn’t have an Xbox One, I could still play games like Minecraft, Rocket League, and Fortnite with my friend Ian in Seattle. I think it’s the healthiest thing for all three big console makers to make cross-platform play across all three systems for the future and beyond until we make a one-in-all console. I also love that Microsoft has started to cater to a crowd with multiple alternative controllers for gamers who have disabilities. It’s something I’m so surprised Nintendo and Sony haven’t thought about doing. Not every gamer is able-bodied, and it would mean a lot if all three console makers were, you know, aware of that. Let’s also give Microsoft kudos that they are the only console to have proper backwards compatibility with older games from their previous consoles. I also like the Game Pass service. If I wanted to check out a game that I may have held back on, I’ll check it out this way. They also allow the modding community more freedom for games, like Fallout and Skyrim, something Sony is woefully shooting itself in the foot with. While they stepped with the wrong foot forward multiple times at the beginning of this console generation, with how anti-consumer the console was supposed to be, I do respect that they pretty much did not go through with the original plans for the Xbox One. That console would have been a nightmare and a half to deal with it, and I’m glad they backed down on the DRM and anti-consumer stuff.

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With all that said, Microsoft, what in tarnation were you thinking at the beginning with the Xbox One? While Sony and Nintendo were making sure you had a pro-consumer game console to play games on, you were going in the alternative direction that was going to make you the villain of the entire console generation. Sure, Sony still has stupid anti-cross-platform play practice, and Nintendo has those stupid copyright fetishes on YouTube, and a real lack of how to properly use the online cloud for gaming, but at least they weren’t trying to lock away games to the consoles, forced DRM and always-online connectivity, forced use of the Kinect, and look like the absolute worst console and company back in 2013. Oh, and good job on having a talking mouthpiece tell people that if they couldn’t afford the original Xbox One, that they could get an Xbox 360. Whoever thought that was a good idea has no sympathy from me if they lost their job, because of that train of thought.

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Let’s also look at their other biggest failing, their first-party exclusives. Back when the original Xbox was released, it had a slew of first and second-party titles that were varied in not only quality, but experiences. As time went on, and we went into the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, that variety started to dry up, because apparently Microsoft thinks it’s like Nickelodeon, and if it’s not Gears of War, Forza, or Halo, it’s an instant failure. Sure, other companies pull from the well multiple times, but Sony and Nintendo aren’t doing it as much as Microsoft. It seems like every year, there is going to be another Forza that’s going to gate off content behind microtransactions, which is disgusting. Why would you act like your first-party games are games from EA, Ubisoft, or Activision Blizzard? That makes them highly unappealing to me. They also happen to be not as well received as the first-party titles from Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft simply lacks variety, and they almost solved that problem a few years ago with games like Phantom Dust 2 and Scalebound, but either didn’t know what to exactly do with them or the developers that they had working on the console. Sure, they have a few games that stand out like Rare Replay, Cuphead, Sunset Overdrive, and Ori and the Blind Forest, but that’s simply not enough. Oh, and State of Decay 2 doesn’t count, because no one is talking about it. It’s like, not marketing your game, or making a sequel that doesn’t improve much will burn players. I want Microsoft to go back to having a bunch of different experiences, like they did with their first console. I want them to stop thinking like a third-party publisher, because up until recently, they have been doing a bad job at that, while Sony and Nintendo, despite their own faults, have been offering varying and high quality gaming experiences with the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, with their exclusives. Games like Sea of Thieves should have been a huge hit, and while they have added more content since its release, it should have been with that content day one! And yes, if Sony and Nintendo did this for their major games, I would call them out as well. There is also the concern about how they recently purchased a bunch of game developers, like Ninja Theory. Some of them were already making Microsoft-exclusive games, but you hope Microsoft doesn’t go EA on them. Just let them do what they do best, and the games will speak for themselves. If they knew what they were doing with Platinum Games’ Scalebound, they would know that they are a studio that works better with fast-paced action and smooth framerates. They are not ones to put a heavy emphasis on graphics and multi-player. Oh, and you sort of need major titles to show off your super console The Xbox One X, because, well, people lose interest very quickly if it becomes clear that there is nothing more than pretty graphics in a game. Oh, and no one really cares about 4K gaming.

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Despite all my issues with them, I am going to get an Xbox One S so I can play Fallout 76 with my best friend, because Microsoft still does a lot of things right, and they warrant an Xbox One purchase. I just hope they actually put in more effort to make more varied first/second-party experiences with as much focus and effort they put into their Gears, Forza, and Halo franchise. I don’t want them to fail, but I also want them to start doing better. It’s like how Sony needs to stop being so arrogant about their console, and Nintendo needs to catch the heck up to how people want full cloud support, and to stop with the YouTube copyright! Overall, just make more than just racing and shooter games, Microsoft. That is pretty much all that I ask!

Difficulty as a Selling Point


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The other day, I noticed that one of newest releases for the Nintendo Switch was Salt and Sanctuary, a 2D Metroidvania/Dark Souls-style game that I reviewed and played a few years ago on my PlayStation 4. Despite its tough difficulty level and a lack of a map that made exploring not all that fun when you run into a boss you weren’t prepared for, I remember enjoying it. However, while I definitely recommend supporting that game and the developer, something was just holding me back from picking it back up to enjoy. It took me a bit to realize what it might have been, but I realized it was the fact that the one level difficulty was what was keeping me away from it. For almost a decade now, ever since the likes of Demon’s Souls and Super Meatboy, a lot of games have wanted to make a massive bullet point in their marketing that they have a game that’s tough! It wants to break you! It wants you to “get good!” and all that jazz. Frankly, it’s as tired as an indie game using pixel art, or a big budget game saying it has an open-world. It’s not special anymore.


To me, I don’t really care if the game is hard, or if it’s easy, I just want to feel like I’m making progress as I play through the game, and that I’m feeling satisfied with said progression. Of course, I want some challenge, but the big problem that I see when games advertise as being brutal and hard, it’s never the right balance. You ever notice when a game comes out, and it’s been engraved into the marketing and preview editorials that it’s hard? Nine times out of 10, it is rarely a challenge that feels fair. You always see developers having to back-pedal a little, like Wulver Blade, Darkest Dungeon, Slain: Back from Hell, and you get the idea. The Last Remnant is a fairly enjoyable tactical RPG, with a unique look, and challenging gameplay, though for some reason, the director thought the game should be harder. The developer made the halfway point of the game one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had. No matter how much grinding you had to take on, the list of boss encounters at that point was insane. It made me not want to pick up the game again, when I found out how much of a slog the big major boss was. If I failed, I would have had to go back to an earlier point, and fight a different boss that could almost One Punch Man me into a game-over screen, before getting back to the boss I needed to fight.


The conflict of interest for me, when it comes to difficulty, is that if you are going to be tough, how are you going to balance it out so the difficulty doesn’t become too overbearing? Roguelites/roguelikes seem to fall into this problem all too often. They want to be tough, because the older games in that genre were tough, but don’t reward or reinforce the player to keep trying. I played a couple of roguelikes/roguelites last year, and after dying so many times, and not being able to upgrade myself, or find some way to make the playing field more even, I gave up. I get that is what comes with the territory of certain genres and franchises, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be like Dead Cells or Rogue Legacy, and give yourself a helping hand the next time you take on the challenge. It’s like some developers stop at “let’s make this game hard” and not go full circle. There is a reason why people love the Dark Souls franchise more than Battletoads. Heck, while I do think the Darks Souls series isn’t as perfectly balanced from what I played, it was still mostly my fault for dying. Battletoads was simply an unplayable wreck of levels with insane difficulty spikes and tricks that made it a nightmare and a half to get through.  Personally, I had to tone down the difficulty after multiple hours of playing 2018’s God of War, after I felt like Kratos wasn’t designed to be able to handle faster enemies on higher difficulty levels. Cinematic platformers are designed to be tough, and to go full-tilt on trial-and-error gameplay that punishes you for not being precise. Okay, that’s fine, but when the environmental storytelling isn’t interesting, or the puzzles and platforming isn’t all that interesting, then the difficulty is more of a sour point than a marketing point.


Again, if you have to patch in a mode or more balanced gameplay, then who the heck were you listening to when you were balancing it all out in the first place? It’s why I found Galak-Z to be way more playable after they patched in the ability to simply restart the mission you were on, instead of sending you five missions back every time you died. Because, you know, losing 45 or so minutes of progress because the game decided that you played the levels the wrong way is so much fun. When it stops being my fault for dying or not completing the challenge, that is when difficulty goes too far.


At this point in time, being hard, brutal, nail-biting, or whatever word you want to spice your game advertisements up with, that isn’t just “it’s super hard”, is not appealing to me anymore. It might actually turn me off to your game more than me wanting to put down the cash or rental to play it. Developers are simply having trouble finding ways to make challenging gameplay entertaining. I can play games like Super Meatboy or Dark Souls, but when they don’t properly offer you the means to be able to coexist alongside the difficulty, then that’s a problem. It doesn’t make it fun, it makes it a slog. No one likes a slog.


Sure, what can be considered difficult can mean a lot of things. Is the game based around challenging combat, twitch reflexes, trial-and-error gameplay, or are there gameplay elements that make the game feel artificially hard, like stamina bars, weapon breakage, clunky combat, or super tough enemies? If you want to add those to your game, then you had better be fully prepared at how to handle it so you don’t have to waste resources to fix it, because someone on your dev team didn’t think the challenge all the way through. It’s why I find the scoffing of difficulty levels to be odd. I know it’s going to sound weird, but to make games like Monster Hunter or Dark Souls easier to approach, I wouldn’t mind an easy mode, or a simpler combat layout so I don’t have to fiddle with a button dedicated to putting away your weapon, and an entirely different button to take your weapon out for combat. So many games have become better, because they made some form of compromise to make the experience better for everyone involved. Listening to only the hardcore of the hardcore is not always the best idea.

In the end, the game shouldn’t be hard for the sake of being hard, nor should it be one of the pristine selling points to your game. It will more likely turn me off than actually wanting to play it/purchase it day one. I know it’s all subjective in what will be found to be too difficult to some people, but if it’s a universal complaint, then that’s a big problem. There is nothing wrong with making a game hard, and marketing your game toward a certain gaming crowd, but you just have to be prepared to not be as widely approachable, and when the challenge becomes too much, then that’s when you messed up. Just take a little time and think it over before you start and stop at “I’m going to make my game hard”.

I'm Blacklisting Valve and Steam


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


To be frank, I have always had issues with Valve’s Steam service ever since I started to read up about its problems back in 2014. You would think after many years of negative press and scumbag developers getting on the service and breaking every single rule imaginable, Valve would step up and, you know, curate the store so asset flips, toxic developers, toxic individuals, and games that can’t even launch due to missing coding would not be an issue. Sadly, Valve is officially becoming the laziest group of people around, because they think that the community can take care of curating everything, and decided to open the floodgates to allow everything onto the storefront. This recent announcement from the company really just drove in that last nail in the coffin for me. You know what this means? Just like my editorial a few months back, unless something changes, I’m going to be blacklisting Valve and their Steam service.


I mean, how lazy has Valve become to be making literal millions every single day and not know that people are not happy with your service? Do you know how many asset flips make it onto the store? Do you know how many games launch with files missing that make the game work? Do you know how many toxic individuals make it onto the storefront, and delete or block anyone calling them out for their asset flips or disgusting behavior? If this was any other company, they would have been shut down, and all investors would back the heck away from them for future business. I simply do not understand why Valve is so stupidly stubborn to not have a wing or side of their company that specifically handles these situations. Instead, they take days or even weeks and months, to actually deal with any of Steam’s problems. That’s not a good thing. That shows how incredibly incompetent they are at handling their own storefront.


I don’t like blacklisting companies, because there was a time when so many developers could go to Steam and make a name for themselves. They would launch their game, watch as the positive reviews flowed in, and then watch the critical acclaim and financial success flood in, because Steam allowed them to find success in that area. Well, too bad that’s no longer the case. Developers have come forward to certain YouTubers, who follow Steam’s disastrous take on quality control, and have said Steam is too big of a gamble now, because so much garbage and games get on that storefront. Even developers like Image & Forms have told individuals like Jim Sterling that their game sold mucho bucks way more on the home consoles like Nintendo’s Switch than on Steam. Some developers even chose to be console exclusive, because you can’t make a living off of Steam anymore. When Steam can’t be a proper and easy plan to make a living as an indie developer, then that’s a massive problem! You don’t just sit back and let the community handle this situation, Valve!


Heck, even when Steam had a sort of defense against the flood of bad games, and everything I listed above with Greenlight, even if troll users would up vote intentionally garbage games just for the laughs. Do you not understand that you need to ban and expel people like this, Valve? Do you not understand why people are saying you have a quantity over quality issue? If developers, who have made you money because their hit games, are now struggling because of your incompetence and not bothering to greenlight a quality control team, that means something is wrong!


It’s amazing at how unaware Valve is about Steam, or not really caring. Their “we leave it up to everyone else to run the system” doesn’t work, and will never work at this point in time anymore. As a major company, you need to take responsibility in all of this! It shouldn’t have taken you two days to shut down a school shooting simulator! An AIDS simulator shouldn’t have even gotten on the storefront in the first place! Toxic developers should be instantly banned in every single way to never be allowed on Steam again. You have the money for it. It’s not that hard to hire a team of people to go through Steam individually to get rid of the garbage that’s in your store, and to ban developers who are being awful human beings. You know what, Valve? If it’s simply too hard to even do that because Gabe can’t be bothered to do anything anymore, then I will quit my job if you give me a big paycheck with all the benefits and do it myself! It will take some time, but I am willing to challenge you to actually start doing what people want you to do. No one wants you to open up the storefront to everyone, because not everyone there is earnest in wanting to make a good game for people to buy and play. Not everyone deserves to be on Steam! Yes, you can’t simply rely on a couple of games a month to keep your doors open, but you also can’t make a living, when developers, who have made you money are not able to make a living anymore on your storefront. This also means that any developers who would like me to cover their games will have to get on consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, because I won’t be using Steam anymore for reviews. I know Steam was the easiest way to get known, but since Valve can’t be bothered anymore to regulate their own storefront, then I have no other choice than to not support them. I know I’m one person, but everyone is starting to get sick and tired of Valve’s incompetence.

Sony Needs to Play Nice with Cross-Platform Compatibility


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

There are probably only two people in the gaming world who didn’t know about the Fallout 76 announcement. It’s going to be a brand new Fallout game that will be focused more on a multi-player experience, where you can play with up to four people in a team, and scavenge the land and survive what dangers there are. It looks great, and hopefully, there is enough to do that makes it a fun game. When this was announced, my best friend asked if I had an Xbox One, because he wanted to play this game with me and his main squeeze. I was hoping to not have to buy another console, because 1. It costs a lot of money and 2. Microsoft said they are working on a new console. Sure, the new console probably won’t be here for a couple of years, but I could avoid all this hassle if Sony would allow cross-platform play between consoles. Sadly, Sony decided to be stubborn and thick-headed, because they still, for one reason or another, won’t allow it. Does Sony not see how this should be progressing gaming, and just because you allow cross-platform play, doesn’t mean people won’t buy your console?


To me, this should be a no brainer. Not everyone can afford the same consoles and games, and people, whether you like it or not, have console preferences. I like my Nintendo and Sony consoles, because they tend to have the games that I want on them and Microsoft doesn’t always offer something that I want. However, the one part that has been holding Sony back is, well, the topic of this editorial, the lack of real cross-platform play. During last year’s E3, Microsoft and the devs behind Rocket League announced that Rocket League and Minecraft would be cross-platform compatible with other Microsoft, PC, and Nintendo consoles. That sounds great doesn’t it? That means people who own those games on those consoles can play together. No real hassle necessary. This year at E3, Epic Games revealed Fortnite was coming to the Nintendo Switch, and people who own the game on Xbox One, PC, Mobile, and Switch will be able to play with each other. Notice the missing console throughout those two massive announcements at the two E3s? Yeah, Sony isn’t there.


I can understand if there is some kind of technical legal stuff they have to go through, but how much easier would it be for me to buy games like Fallout 76 or a game collection like the Borderlands compilation on my PlayStation 4 and not have to worry about not having an Xbox One to play both games and pay for another online service? They need to start getting with the times. It’s already nuts that Sony won’t allow the same freedom of mods like the PC and Xbox One does, but now they won’t let PlayStation 4 players play with their friends who own other consoles? That’s just nutty.


You know what kind of damaging long-term consequences this will have? It’s making me want to quit my PlayStation Plus service, and purchase an Xbox One and an Xbox Live subscription instead. “Oh, but what about all the free games you will miss?”. Yeah, because PlayStation Plus has always had stellar free games on offering…oh wait, no they haven’t. I’ll just play through the free games, delete them, and then buy the ones I liked. I’ll make my Nintendo Switch and Xbox One my multi-player gaming and third-party consoles. I mean, what will happen when the next generation of consoles comes out? Will Sony still be this stubborn goat of a company to not allow it? Then that means I’ll be more likely to buy Microsoft and Nintendo’s newest console over theirs, because they will have cross-platform compatibility. Sure, I might get a Sony console for their variety of console exclusives, but it won’t be for the multi-player!


Overall, this seems like a bad idea to not do what the other companies are doing with cross-platform online play. It makes it easier for everyone to have the console they want, and to be able to play those games with their friends, no matter what. Sony looks like Nintendo before they released the Wii U, or when Microsoft was telling people that couldn’t afford the original nightmarish Xbox One to buy an Xbox 360. It doesn’t make Sony look good, and it sure as heck is really convincing me to buy an Xbox, so I can play Fallout 76 with my friend.

Grading the E3 2018 conferences.


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

E3 2018 came and went. There were a lot of very interesting big-budget games and smaller projects between the three console makers and their second and third-party developers/publishers. I don’t know if I can say it was as good as certain years, but besides maybe two conferences, I saw a lot to like from each of them. Instead of doing a list of my favorite games shown off, I’m going to do a quick opinion on each of the major conferences. The only one I’m not going to count or talk about is the PC Gamer conference. I just couldn’t bother with them this year. Now then, let’s get started!


EA’s Conference: I mean, I’ll have more to say in a list I’m making, but what was the point of them getting their own conference? I get they probably had to do it for the sports games, but they did an awful lot of “we are working on stuff, but we aren’t going to show it.” You can tell the annoyance with the company, because when they revealed that Battlefield V was going to have a battle royale mode, the loudest noises heard were annoyed groans. Even when they promised not to pull any stunts like they did with Star Wars Battlefront 2, there was no real clapping, besides the strategically placed employees in the audience. Now, they did show off two games I can’t wait to personally check out, Unravel 2, which was made available on that day, and a new indie game called Sea of Solitude. However, I would also say there were downsides to this, because they weren’t coming to all consoles, which is mind-boggling, because the two games shown would be perfect for the Nintendo Switch. Overall, it was just really boring and pointless. They could have easily shown their games off in the major three console maker conferences.

Grade: F

Favorite Games Shown: Unravel 2 and Sea of Solitude.

Devolver Digital’s Conference: Devolver Digital had one of the biggest moments of last year’s E3, when they decided to pretty much take one giant snarky dump on the industry and E3 as a whole. It was hilarious, and caught everyone off-guard. This year’s conference was still very funny and amusing, but it felt lacking in a couple of ways. They didn’t have the surprise or the shock that made the first one such a showstopper, and while I did laugh, I felt like their edgy attitude is going to tire out in the next couple of years. It’s going to be tough to keep doing this type of gag, and we will have to see if they actually decide to keep taking large dumps on the industry, or decide to actually function like a conference, and show off more than three games.

Grade: C+

Favorite Games Shown: Metal Wolf Chaos and My Friend Pedro.


Bethesda’s Conference: I really only mildly enjoyed this one. While it had way more interesting offerings than EA, they also relied too heavily on talking instead of showing. I did enjoy some of the announcements, like their mobile projects, The Elder Scrolls Legends and Elder Scrolls Blades are going to come to consoles, a sequel to 2016’s Doom, Fallout 76 being an online multi-player experience, a new IP called Starfield, and The Elder Scrolls VI. I wish they could have maybe made an announcement that Fallout 76 could be cross-platform, but I know Sony is being a real jerk in that situation. Still, I enjoyed the small bits that I saw, and it was better than last year’s conference, but they could have easily shown off all of their stuff on the other conferences.

Grade: C+

Favorite Games Shown: Fallout 76, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, and Doom Eternal.


Microsoft’s Conference: I’m always a bit more critical with the three major console maker conferences, because they not only need to sell games, but sell me, as a potential customer, their console. At first, I felt mixed on the overall conference. On one hand, they showed off plenty of firstparty, third-party, and indie titles coming to the console. On the other hand, I’m fairly concerned about their recent purchase of studios like Ninja Theory, and their over-reliance on Forza, Halo, and Gears of War. I always wish they could go back to the days of the very original Xbox and the first half of the Xbox 360 lifespan, where they had so much more variety. I then thought about some of these more, and I might have just been mad at them for starting to feel like the big third-party game industry side when that’s not 100% true. I still liked a lot of the games shown, and unless Sony decides to drop their grip on cross-play between Xbox One and PlayStation 4, I might have to get an Xbox One S for Fallout 76 to play with my friend.

Grade: A

Favorite Games Shown: Tunic, Devil May Cry 5, Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition, Shadows Die Twice, Cyberpunk 2077, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Crackdown 3, and Metro Exodus.


Square Enix’s Conference: This almost got the same grade as EA, because they were fairly pointless as well, with announcements or games that were either shown off already, or had very little to actually show off. I can’t wait for Kingdom Hearts III to be out, so I don’t have to see another E3, where I see the same trailer three times in a row. Still, what Square Enix did better than EA was to be interesting, and keep the conference short. Babylon Falls looks really promising, and it’s from Platinum Games, I like seeing Nier Automata coming to the Xbox One, Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks fun, Dragon Quest XI looks amazing as usual, Octopath Traveler has me really excited, and The Quiet Man looked really interesting. It just felt like these could have been shown off at the Sony or Microsoft conference.

Grade: B-

Favorite Games Shown: Dragon Quest XI, Kingdom Hearts III, Octopath Traveler, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Quiet Man, and Babylon Falls


Ubisoft’s Conference: This one was hit-and-miss for me, because of Ubisoft’s recent ventures into live-services, bad PC ports, and with their massive focus on open-world games, I’m concerned about games like Beyond Good and Evil 2. On the other hand, I found quite a few games I’m looking forward to. Like I said, Beyond Good and Evil 2 looks great, even with the concerns, Starlink looks like a fun flight combat game, Skull and Bones looks like a promising multi-player experience, and the DLC for Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle looks awesome. Plus, they convinced me to get the Starlink starter bundle for the Switch, so I can play as Fox McCloud from Star Fox. Even Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, while probably going to have what a lot of people hated about Assassin’s Creed: Origins, had some gameplay elements I liked. It had its flaws, but was still amusing to watch.

Grade: B+

Favorite Games Shown: Beyond Good and Evil 2, Starlink, Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle DLC, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.


PlayStation Conference: This one was also weird. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t as good as previous years. It felt poorly paced, with it starting in this church building, but then, moving everyone into another building hurt its flow, and the fact that they weren’t planning to wow us at E3 anymore was disappointing. Still, with all that said, The Last of Us Part 2 looks good as usual, Ghost of Tsuhima is probably the game I’m looking forward to the most that stars a samurai, and seeing Remedy Entertainment’s newest game, Control on a Sony platform was surprising. The Resident Evil 2 remake looks scary, Trover Saves the Universe looks silly as can be, Death Stranding finally gets some gameplay, and I still have no idea what kind of game it is, and Spider-Man was swinging around with some fast-paced action gameplay. The games themselves were pretty stellar, but I wish the conference was better executed.

Grade: A

Favorite Games Shown: The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Control, Resident Evil 2 Remake, Trover Saves the Universe, Death Stranding, and Spider-Man.


Nintendo’s Conference: I saw a lot of people dumping on this one, because it didn’t have certain games like Animal Crossing and Metroid Prime 4. Well, what were you expecting? Nintendo is only going to tease and show what is going to happen this year, along with maybe a few teases for stuff coming next year. Don’t judge these conferences, because of what you didn’t get. That’s incredibly immature to hate on it because you didn’t get your precious Animal Crossing game. Could they have shown off a few more games instead of focusing the entire back half on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Yeah, sure, but at least they were showing off games with gameplay, unlike Bethesda and EA. I got excited for a lot of their announcements, like Daemon x Machina, Overcooked 2, the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC, Fortnite coming to the Switch is a big flipping deal and a super smart move, Super Mario Party looked really entertaining, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks jam-packed, Fire Emblem: Three Houses looks like a tactical RPG I want to play, and some of their indie games coming or are already available, like Killer Queen Black and Hollow Knight were the cherry on this sundae. Like I said, they could have added maybe one more game, or mention they are working on something, but can’t show off a lot, but I enjoyed it.

Grade: A

Favorite Games Shown: Daemon x Machina, Overcooked 2, Killer Queen Black, Super Mario Party, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Fortnite, Pixark, and Ninjala.

Even after all this, this isn’t even counting the indie games that are being shown off, SEGA’s release of Valkyria Chronicles 4, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, and Team Sonic Racing. Sony’s Days Gone, Namco Bandai’s Jump Force and Twin Mirror, Nintendo’s Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Mario Tennis Aces, and so much more. It feels good to be a gamer again.

Radical Heights and the Risk of Chasing Trends


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial/list!)

Recently, Boss Key Productions, the studio founded by Cliffy B., announced that they were working on a brand-spanking new game after the utter failure wrapped up into a 50-car pileup disaster that was Lawbreakers. When failing to ride on the Overwatch/Team Fortress bandwagon, they are now chasing the trends with Radical Heights, a battle royale-style game to compete with Players Unknown Battlegrounds and Fortnite. While they made sure to show that the trailer was using early footage of the game, it’s a terrible first impression. It looks lifeless and tired, with its “remember the wacky 80s” theme to everything. So, chasing one trend failed, why would you try that again with another? It screams of desperation, and Cliffy B. trying to chase trends. Like, I get it. Something came out and became super popular, and you want to try and one-up them. Competition is healthy, but on top of failing to deliver on your previous efforts, why would you try and go with the same strategy, but a different style of game? This just screams of a major risk that sounds ridiculous to me. I’m not a business major, but this feels like a bad move. It shows the danger and risk of chasing trends, or not being careful.


I mean, we have seen what happens when trends get chased, and publishers are not careful. Do we need to be reminded how bad Battleborn did when it tried to get an upper hand on Overwatch? Say what you will about Overwatch, and it deserves a good chunk of the criticisms aimed at it, but people are still playing Overwatch. It had so much hype and pre-release positive word of mouth that it was just insane and sad for any other game to try to compete in the same genre at that time. Even when Battleborn was about to go free-to-play, which also killed Evolve and would kill Battleborn, a free-to-play multiplayer game called Paladins came out and took its thunder. It happened when for what felt like three years in a row, there was a slew of multi-player-only games coming out to try and one-up one another with new and interesting gimmicks. Examples were Evolve’s four-versus-one multi-player, Titanfall’s giant mechs, and so on, but no one really talks about them, unless it’s to bring up the sad states of those games.


Remember when Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty were the biggest games on the market? Remember when the clones and industry pushed for this to be the only genre making profit? I can name multiple first person shooters that tried to dethrone those two. Haze, Homefront, Brink, Inversion, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and you get the idea. Remember how the clones came and went like nothing happened, and the publishers/studios suffered for it? Say what you will about Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty, but if I’m trying out an alternative to the fat cat of that genre, and it doesn’t work out, I’m going to stick to the games of that genre that know how to make it work.


What seems to be the major problem is that people are trying to pull off the same success, but not try anything new or interesting. The reason why people love Dragon Quest Builders is because it adds in a story mode, better combat, and the colorful and charming world of Dragon Quest into the Minecraft mix. Silent Hill might have at one time competed with Resident Evil, but it did that because it went into a different direction with its horror going more psychological horror than just fighting monsters with little ammo. Fortnite is able to compete with Player’s Unknown, because it has a colorful art style, and isn’t just a battle royale game. Sure, more people care about the battle royale part, but still. Paladins is only being able to compete with Overwatch, because it’s a free-to-play version of that game style, and if people were getting tired of Overwatch, until the newest character came along. Darksiders, while being very much a Zelda-style game, was able to differentiate itself due to its God of War-style combat and fun art style. Wolfenstein The New Order/New Colossus and Doom 2016 were able to stand out among the flood of  Call of Duty clones, because they were offering something that other studios weren’t willing to offer much anymore for some unknown reason, single-player experiences.


My point is, showing up on time is not the only thing you have to do. If you want to make a game like Fortnite, then fine, but give me a reason to check out your game. Do something that makes it different/better. If you are just going to be Fortnite, then I’m going to be playing Fortnite. It’s like how I am with the recent film, I Kill Giants. It’s very similar to A Monster’s Call in almost every single way, but I didn’t connect with I Kill Giants, and felt like I could have gotten this kind of experience by simply watching A Monster’s Call again. That’s why so many multi-player games, whether they are shooters or fighters, end up dead or expired by the end of the year. If they weren’t being able to compete or be as good as the kings, then I’m going to stick with the kings. I’m also pointing this out to the indie devs, because if I see another Metroidvania-style game or another roguelike that’s not stepping up to compete for my attention, then I’m going keep going back to the games that made them constantly fun to play.


In general, will Radical Heights be good? It’s too early to tell, but as of right now, this feels like a terrible idea, and the studio doesn’t seem aware at how risky this is, when no one else is able to survive against the two big titans in this game genre. I don’t want them to shut down, but you would think a person like Cliffy B., with so much experience in the game industry, would, you know, not do this. Why not make a single-player shooter with some tight polish and fun gameplay? No one is competing in the single-player market, so the gap is big enough to make your game stand out. I hope for the best, but everyone should remember, simply getting your foot in the door is not enough. Prove to me that you are as good or better as the others, and do something that will make you stand out.

SXSW Gaming 2018


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial/list!)

So, on March 15th, I went on the first day of SXSW’s gaming event for 2018. I was curious about how this event would turn out, because when I looked at the line-up of who was going to be there, I was concerned, because there were so few developers. Well, I bought my pass anyway, walked on down to the convention center, and, sadly, I was correct. While this was not a bad showing of games, it never felt like a true video game event. Sure, it had the massive amounts of PC multi-player gaming and streaming of League of Legends matches, but the “Indie Corner” of the show, was literally a corner. There were more stalls for PC tech, art and 3D modeling schools, table-top games, board games, and card games than actual video games. Why where there so few developers? I want to know, because if I didn’t play a couple of these games, I would have found my $25 that went to a one day pass a waste of money. I would have been mad. Still, it was a decent showing, and I found a couple of games worth talking about. I won’t be doing these in any order of favorite to least favorite, and I was able to play the demos all the way through.

Once Upon a Coma


This is a 2D action/adventure/puzzle game developed by Thomas Brush, and his follow-up game after his fan-favorite Kickstarter hit, Pinstripe. You play as this young boy that has woken up in his small town, and all the adults have disappeared. It is up to you, with your daddy’s trusty shaving razor, to solve the mystery. The demo was fairly short with the main puzzles being getting your dad’s razor, and getting a fat kid unstuck from a well. The controls were simple with an attack, interact, and jump button. The lead character, Pete, controls a touch heavy, but he moves around fast enough. The graphics are lush, with soft evening-colored hues and gothic doll-like designs. The music is also well-composed by Thomas Brush himself. It matches the fantastical, yet unnerving atmosphere. The tone of the game has a little quirk to it, and while some of the darker tones will creep in, it still has a slight innocence in its humor and dialogue. I will be honest that my major concern with the game is the combat. It’s pretty simple, and while I’m not going to get or expect a Bayonetta-style experience, this was also the weakest aspect of Brush’s last game, Pinstripe. Still, I found the game to be charming, and I was apparently the first person at the event to actually beat it. I definitely recommend keeping this game on your watch-list.


AER: Memories of Old


Next up for me was this 3D adventure/exploration game developed by Forgotten Key, and published by Daedalic Entertainment. You play as a young woman going through a rite of passage. After picking up a magical lantern, you then set off on a journey to explore your land, and find memories about the people before you.

This game’s biggest gimmick outside of its colorful and vibrant seafoam/water-colored minimal polygonal graphics, was the fact that to get to these floating islands, you need to transform into a falcon and get there. You will be interacting with certain villagers, animal deities, and solving simple puzzles. From what I played, a lot of this game’s strength was its majestic, if empty atmosphere, fun exploration gameplay, and gentle music. It made for a calming gaming experience, with a story that I was interested in. The only thing I didn’t like was that the flying controls felt wonky, because of the inverted controls. I don’t really need to say much else, because this game did come out last year, but I’ll definitely try and get in contact with the publisher and get a review code for my PlayStation 4. I would also love to see this game come to the Switch.

Yoku’s Island Express


If I was making a list of what my favorite game(s) were from SXSW, this charming platformer puzzle game from publisher Team17, and developed by Villa Gorilla would be my favorite. You play as a dung beetle with a ping pong ball, and you traverse to an island for a mail delivery job, but then shenanigans ensue! When I first saw the trailer for this game, it simply didn’t look like a game I would enjoy. Not a bad game or anything, but something I would have no problem skipping over for another game. Surprisingly enough, I had a blast with this game! The controls were tight, and the pinball mechanics work very well. It can be a tad finicky at times to go where you need to go, but I never found myself frustrated as I explored these large and beautifully painted levels. These levels have a lot to do, and when I was done with the demo, I knew I didn’t do everything. I just hope the variety in activities within the levels is varied enough to not simply be repetitive. This was easily my favorite game from the event, and the biggest surprise. I can’t wait to get it on my Nintendo Switch.



Up next was the slimy, yet bizarre puzzle platformer, Semblance, by developer Nyamakop. You play as this blob that can jump, dash, and manipulate the platforms around you by dashing into them. Need to get to an item higher up? Then go under the platform and dash up into it to make the platform higher up. Need to avoid the green crystals and green beams? Then by all means, manipulate the platforms so you can avoid them. You can even manipulate your own body, like being flat, to get through tight places. This was also a rather short demo, and I ran into a bug where I got stuck on a platform. It was a charming demo, but I wish there was a bit more to it than just the platforming sections. Still, I enjoyed the game, and I can’t wait to see what the full game was like when it comes to PC and Nintendo Switch.

 My Memory of Us


This adventure puzzle game, developed by Juggler Games, takes the story of two kids and their lives during World War II. The two kids, a brother and sister, have their own abilities. The sister can shoot stuff and run fast. The brother can sneak. You can also have the kids hold hands to stay together, and swap between them. You will definitely need to know how to solve each puzzle, and two of the puzzles I played required them to be separated. It was a tricky little game, but I kept playing the demo, because I was having fun. I also liked the 2D art style that reminded me of a bit of that Cartoon Network show Kids Next Door. I will say that the one part I didn’t like was the driving aspect. It felt unresponsive, and the obstacles that got in the way felt too close to one another. However, I was impressed, and I can’t wait to see how the full game turns out later for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I also hope it comes to the Nintendo Switch.

Death Coming

And finally, we have the darkly comedic puzzle game from last year, Death Coming, by developer Next Studio. You essentially play death going around different locations, and basically reenacting Final Destination-style death sequences. You have a main goal of killing certain people, but you also have a meter to fill up to get a better ranking for all the creative ways you murder everyone. However, be careful. If you start killing a lot, the level will call in angels that will try and stop you if they catch you setting up a killing. The sprite work is solid, and everything has a cute look to it, even though you are brutally killing people. It’s more charming than creepy, and I know how weird that sounds. The levels I played had variety, in terms of how puzzle-like the deaths can be, and there is a definitely a good layer of strategy to go along with how you handle everything. I did find that you could easily screw yourself over if you are not careful, but I did find myself once again, having fun. It’s available right now on the PC and app store, and if you are into a bit of creative and murderous puzzle-solving, then definitely check it out.

I Don't Trust Third-Party Developers/Publishers


(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

So, after 2014, I have been having a bit of a different mindset about third-party video game companies. I mean developers/publishers like EA, Square Enix, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, and you get the idea. What is this thought that I have been having? Well, to be upfront, I don’t really trust them anymore. I have grown to dislike them and the way they handle gaming.

I believe it started in 2014, because that was the year when third-party games were bombing left and right. Sure, a few slipped through the cracks and were amazing, like Shadow of Mordor, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Wolfenstein: The New Order, but those were few and way far between releases that were really hyped up, but couldn’t really deliver. This was also the same year we got games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, The Sims 4Destiny, The Crew, The Elder Scrolls Online, Dark Souls II, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XII, Sonic Boom, and when Call of Duty was starting to lose sales numbers (not enough to tank, but still noticeable). Ever since, third-party developers/publishers have been getting worse. I mean worse than they already were by that point in the gaming industry, but still. Something major happened during that point in time, and that sudden shift is still going on. There is just something about those companies that are personally not worth trusting.


Yes, at the end of the day, video games are expensive, and these companies want to make money. They want you to buy the game, pay for the DLC, preorder special editions, spend cash on microtransactions, and so on, so they can make money to make more games. However, it does seem like it’s now more than ever coming at the cost of consumers and the overall quality of the games themselves. Consumers are forced to spend more, while getting lackluster projects or projects that were not as advertised to the public. Sure, projects change over time, and sometimes for the worse, but I feel like there is only so far that as consumers we can go before we have had it.


Here are just a handful of examples. 2K’s Evolve was supposed to be the next big multi-player game from the developers behind Left 4 Dead. It had a cool concept of four players going against a fifth player that played as a giant monster that could evolve to become stronger. Unfortunately, 2K thought it was a good idea to put preorder offers up and multiple collectors’ editions before any actual gameplay was shown off. Once the game was released, if you didn’t buy any of the special editions, you were left with a slew of DLC that didn’t really do much to change up the game, and were more there to change the color of your gun. It didn’t help either that many players didn’t find the game that fun, and player bases dropped quickly after 2K went down the road of “DLC and Microtransactions make a game.”


Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs franchise might have been saved by the pretty well received Watch Dogs 2, but the first game is going to go down in history as the game that pushed graphics first, and everything else came second. It was supposed to be the true game to launch next-gen gaming, but after the big surprise reveal, the game’s graphics were downgraded. After it was released, it was laughed at and ridiculed for being a rather mediocre experience. I don’t care if it does a good job at recreating Chicago, the game was still underwhelming, and didn’t live up to its promises. Assassin’s Creed Unity was the first big push for a co-op Assassin’s Creed experience, but what we got at launch, was a pretty broken game. That was on top of a game that also got riddled with microtransactions.


Destiny was the next big game from the original Halo developers to be this big sweeping MMO-style first-person shooter with an engaging story and fun gameplay. What happened? The story was locked behind lore and backstory bits on a website, and Destiny was just an alright shooter. Nothing new, amazing, interesting, or to some degree, fun. Yes, it has probably gotten better after expansions and updates, but you ruined your first impression, and now everyone is hesitant to be hyped for Destiny 2, because Activision and the developers betrayed the trust of gamers and consumers.


EA hyped Titanfall as the next big multi-player-focused shooter, by for some reason, making it a console exclusive to the Xbox One, and shortly after it was released, people realized that while the game was fun, there wasn’t much to it. They even had a season pass available to purchase before you knew what was in that pass. Due to this, the player base died off fast, and now, no one really plays it anymore, unlike other multiplayer games like Overwatch. EA then tried to pull the same stupid business plan with their acquired Star Wars license for a multi-player-focused Battlefront reboot. Not only was the game still priced at $60, but they wanted you to go and buy the $50 season pass that went with it at a total of $110 plus tax on a game with barely any content at launch. It may have looked downright amazing in terms of graphics, but when people are expected to drop that much onto a game they don’t know is good or not, that’s a problem.


For newer examples, Activision has a whole saga of screwing over the intention and definition of what a video game remaster is supposed to be about with the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remaster. By hiding it initially behind the newest Call of Duty, you had to buy the new one to get this Remaster. Then they sold the multi-player content separately, and added microtransactions. Yeah, you can’t really call it a remaster when it doesn’t have everything in it. 2013’s Sim City reboot was a trainwreck at launch, since it needed to always be online, causing players to not being able to play the game. The funny thing is that a year or so earlier, a game tried to do that by the name of Diablo III, and it almost killed that game’s player base. So, why do something that can and will do massive damage to your game’s longevity? I don’t know, maybe the ones who decided to do such a thing were stupid and ignorant to the problem at hand. Hell, EA fired a social media person for telling a potential consumer who was concerned about the always online design basically “sucks to be you. Not our fault you have crappy internet.”


And this is not even going deeper into the problems, like developers and publishers pushing graphics as the only thing that matters, going after certain genres too much, and not realizing why people like those genres, horrible PR nightmares, and putting in microtransactions into full-priced games that could break the balance. Heck, I could talk about how EA killed any potential and passion for the Mirror’s Edge franchise, releasing Titanfall 2 too close to its other big franchises, and how it doesn’t get why consumers don’t trust them. Square Enix killed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with microtransactions that broke said polished difficulty and gameplay experience, while giving players a game that was considered good, but incomplete.


It’s getting maddening to a point where they act shocked when games like Bravely Default and Resident Evil 7 prove them wrong with genres that the big companies thought were dead. Dishonored and the immortal Elder Scrolls: Skyrim show that single-player-only games can sell well when big companies are saying they don’t. It’s aggravating because these publishers and developers don’t take responsibility, or admit that they were wrong. Apparently, their pride is more important than a healthy consumer base. Do I even need to bring up how Valve, while slowly improving, is still dumping games onto Steam that use pre-brought assets, are made by volatile developers who can’t take criticism, and so on? It’s hard to feel like as a consumer, your time and money are being respected and handled well. I don’t want to trust a developer or publisher that lied about projects like Aliens: Colonial Marines. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen where publishers go too far, and games won’t sell that are full of the reasons why gaming is becoming such a chore. Instead of doing things that are pro consumer, they keep doing the opposite, and I’m losing my patience with them.

So, am I going to shrug them off forever, and not buy anything from them? Well, yes and no. Sometimes, no matter how rare, I will buy a game from third-party publishers. It’s mostly to support a brand or a developer. For example, I love Dragon Quest and will buy games from that franchise to support its western appeal. Nier: Automata was amazing, and was made by the fan-favorite Platinum Games. I want to support that developer because they have made games I love.


So, what’s going on with my passion for games? It’s leaning more toward first-party titles, indie titles, and from time to time, I will buy a third-party title. I will use Gamefly to try out third-party games I want to try. Yes, third-party games are needed to keep consoles alive, but I’m starting to not really believe in that. People will go where the good games are going, and if they happen to be first, second, or third-party, then that’s just the case. I don’t plan on buying third-party games anymore, and would rather focus on games I know will be good, or try out genres that I wasn’t fond of, but am now because I have a console like the Switch. However, that is just me. If you like any of these games, or do trust or love third-party publishers or developers, that’s perfectly fine. I think there needs to be a push for better games and business ideals within the industry, and unless we stop buying the games, the publisher won’t listen. Maybe they will, like how many times EA made it clear about how many people complained about a lack of a single-player mode for the original Battlefront at E3 2017.  Maybe they will change, but as long as money talks, I wonder if they will ever change.

Thoughts On: The Sad Tragedy of Mafia III

mafia01 (If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

There is a great sadness when a game comes out, and it had so much hype and potential behind it, but then squanders all that good fortune and intrigue on a rather middling experience. Every year, we have a couple of games that do this, like 2016’s No Man’s Sky being the biggest example. However, for me, my biggest disappointment gaming-wise was probably 2K and Hangar 13’s Mafia III. You can tell that there was a lot of effort put into the game’s setting, dialogue, characters, and story. However, the rest of the game was not thought out or fleshed out enough to be on par with everything else.


So, what happened, exactly? To me, it was like I said above; they focused too much one element, which was the story part. To give Mafia III credit, the story and writing of this game is superb. I was really hooked on the story, following Lincoln Clay as he got revenge on the Italian Mafia that killed his friends. You really feel engulfed in the time period of 1968 New Bordeaux, a reimagined version of New Orleans. The city itself has the New Orleans charm, but with a much grimier and non-progressive group of citizens. You can tell the studio did a lot of work to get the tone down, and write the kind of people you would encounter at this period in time. The actors are fantastic. You really believe that they are the characters they are portraying, and you get the chemistry and comradery between the characters you follow. In terms of an open world action game, it’s easily the most believable voice work I have had heard in a while.


So, what exactly happened? This should have been a home run. Unfortunately, that focus on a good story, writing, and a believable open world set in the 60s took over priority, and let the gameplay and everything else suffer. While I wouldn’t call it an ugly game, it just doesn’t scream PlayStation 4, but more like a high-end PlayStation 3 game. A lot of the characters will also at times have a case of the Uncanny Valley where they look real, but then one off movement makes them creepy. While I didn’t personally run into any bugs or framerate issues, I knew when this game launched; there were glitches and performance issues run amuck, on top of the game taking up so much space on the console. It also took forever to install for some people, and I’m sorry, but that’s not okay, publishers and developers. You have to either find some way to have install times go faster, or don’t have such silly or annoying things happen when we pop in this game to our consoles or PC.


The gameplay was so middling that it was aggravating. You can tell there is a good third-person action game in the overall gameplay department of Mafia III, but either they put in too much to do, testers weren’t putting up suggestions, or the designers were putting in only the bare minimum, in terms of how a third-person shooter is done these days. It’s not that the gameplay is broken or terrible, but it’s so average. How is the shooting? It’s pretty average. How is the stealth? It’s pretty basic and average. How is the driving? You guessed it, average. It doesn’t do any of these elements well, and it just leaves a forgettable experience gameplay-wise. Yes, you have memorable characters and missions, but when I don’t remember the fun gameplay attached to it, it feels hollow. It also makes for a soulless experience when the AI isn’t smart enough to come get you. It seems like this game’s definition of “difficulty” is putting swarms of enemies at your feet, and realizing that you are weak as Hades. You can’t take a lot of damage, and health items are not very abundant in the overall game. It feels like a half-baked third-person survival game with bland stealth elements. Yeah, you can argue Uncharted 4 didn’t push the gameplay enough, but it was well crafted and tight. I loved playing that game, due to the game and levels being memorable and fun. I also find it funny that the police are after you, but when they see a mass crash happen because of a dump truck not moving, they don’t go after the driver there. I remember in Grand Theft Auto V, where you could encounter random crimes happening, and you aren’t the one involved in them. It made the world feel alive and bustling. The world of Mafia III felt, once again, inconsistent. Some parts felt lively, but not in other areas.


So, Mafia III started with promising ambitions, an interesting story, investment-worthy characters, and a setting with themes being tackled in a very O.J. Made in America-style documentary. Sadly, it’s all almost undone by combat that isn’t up-to-par with everything else. I guess to me, the moral story of this situation is to make sure the overall game is well-rounded, and not just one part. If it’s not fun to play, then why should I play it from beginning to end? Hopefully if there is going to be a Mafia IV, they learn from their mistakes, and make an even better game.

Thoughts On: SXSW 2017

thoughts01 (If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Once again, I went to South by South West this year for a day to see what everyone was offering. It was a pretty good showcase with a lot of great indie games, and Nintendo decided to drop by with their newly released console and a couple of demos for upcoming and already released games. I had a terrific time, and hopefully made a lot of connections with the developers and publishers there. As usual, I’m going to give you my thoughts on the games I played at the event. Here we go!

Nintendo Switch/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.


I finally got to get my hands on the Nintendo Switch, and while I know it’s doing well in sales, some people are having some problems. I however was having a blast. At first, it was a bit weird holding the Switch, since I didn’t realize how thin it was. I honestly don’t have a lot of experience with iPad-style devices, so it was fairly new to me. After a minute of feeling it, and holding the undocked version with the joy cons on the side, it was pretty comfortable. I know I won’t be representing everyone in terms of how it feels, but it was a blast to hold. I have slender hands and fingers, so it didn’t feel clunky or awkward, like a lot of old handheld devices that weren’t the Nintendo Gameboy or SEGA Game Gear. As for the Switch port of Mario Kart 8, it ran great, and it was still the amazing Mario Kart experience that you recognize, but with a new battle mode with a lot of varied modes. I got into quite an epic match with another player playing a “keep away”-style mode. It had fantastic, and I even got to bring back a cool little hat. It was probably the greatest part of the event outside of the indie games. I will definitely pick up one of these Nintendo Switch consoles in the future. I’m just going to wait for a couple of more games to come out. Still, I loved it.

Mages of Mystralia


This was the first indie game I checked out at the event after the Nintendo Switch stuff. Mages of Mystralia is an isometric action adventure game with RPG elements, being developed by the team of Borealys Games. You play as a young girl who one day finds out that she can use powerful magic, and must go on an adventure to save the land from an evil force. So, what makes this game stand out? Well, for one, the story is written by Ed Greenwood who famously wrote the Forgotten Realms world of Dungeons and Dragons. The second element that makes this action adventure game unique is the spell-crafting system. While it doesn’t sound new or unique, it truly deserves those two words. You get some base spells, but then essentially multiple augmentations to customize each spell and give them varying abilities, like raining ice from the sky, shooting multiple fireballs, dashing, making a decoy, explosive thunder, and you get the idea. You can do whatever you want as long as you find those items that will let you augment your magic. It’s a very creative system, and while you could go very basic with the customization, you can do some crazy fun and helpful things with the spells, too. I found this out by playing the tutorial sandbox mode before the main demo, and had a hoot and a half making new spells even if they didn’t really work. Now, you can’t spam them due to a stamina meter below your health, and the bigger the custom spell, the more stamina it drains. It regenerates on its own, but you don’t want to be fighting a boss with no way to attack it. I thought the graphics looked great, and it really gave me The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past vibes. And that shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that, since everyone is calling this game a mash-up of Zelda and Harry Potter. The music is also rather outstanding, with some great tracks done by the super talented Shota Nakama, who helped out with Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom hearts II.5 HD Remaster.

I can’t speak highly enough of this game. It was fun to play, controlled great, there were side objectives, the gameplay felt polished, and it was satisfying to play from the beginning to the end of the demo. As of right now, team launched a Kickstarter (they just got funded, but keep supporting them for the stretch goals) for additional funding to polish up the experience, and if they get more funding, they will maybe add in new features like a level creator. Still, if you can find some way to play this game, I highly recommend it. It’s coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. They are also going to see what happens, and release a version for the Nintendo Switch after the launch of the other platforms.



Now, as a precaution, I did back the Kickstarter for this game that was looking for additional funds to polish up the experience. Let me tell you, this was my next favorite in terms of indie games after Mages of Mystralia. Sundered is a 2D action game with the developer’s iconic 2D animation, as you go through a Lovecraftian hellhole to fight monsters and bosses. You have light and heavy melee attacks, a dodge, and a long-range-ammo-using weapon. The game is set up like many metroidvania-style games where you traverse large levels, gain new abilities, and fight massive bosses and hordes of enemies. When you die, you will use what you gained during the play-through, and upgrade yourself to be stronger, hardier, and gain new abilities. In the fuller version, you will have to choose if you use your abilities one way or the other. Do you want to be tainted by the darkness or not? The 2D animation is fluid, and I’m sure many painstaking hours went into the smooth movements and the hellish designs. It’s a beautiful game that really brings you into that world of madness and monsters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t try out a lot of the mechanics, but the game was still a fantabulous time. It’s coming out to the PC, PlayStation 4, and Vita first in July, and I’m sure more consoles will be on the horizon after said release.

Hollow Knight


Yeah, the first three games on this list are going to have a pattern. Hollow Knight, the popular Kickstarter hit developed by Team Cherry, is a 2D action game where you play as this small bug called, well, Hollow Knight, as you travel across a dead world of bugs. It’s yet another metroidvania-style action game, in which you use special moves and combat to traverse the decrepit world. You gain something called Geo, the game’s currency, and like in any Dark Souls-style game, if you die, you lose it all and must re-obtain it after you beat the ghost that was your previous self. You also gain souls that are used to recover health. Expect the enemies to be tough, and bosses to be tougher, as this was probably the most challenging game I played at SXSW. The game’s graphics are beautiful, since everything is 2D animated like in Sundered. The world you live in is beautifully rendered, and you will wonder what happened to the world of Dirtmouth. The game is already out on Steam, and will be coming to the Nintendo Switch. And yes, it will also be heading to other consoles in the future, if the negotiations go well.

Crossing Souls


Being published by Devolver Digital and developed by Fourattic, Crossing Souls is a top-down action adventure game about a group of kids in the magical year of 1986, in which they discover a mysterious item that can somehow let them see the dead. Each of the kids will have their own abilities, like a fast dodge, being able to push large objects, hover boots, climbing, and bomb-making. You will need to use each of them to win against the typical and the atypical enemies while solving puzzles and exploring your town. The game looks great, and its sprite art reminds me of Party Hard. Personally, everything controlled well and it was a lot of fun. I kind of wish there was voice work, since the game can be text-heavy, but the writing and characters do make it all interesting. If you like Stranger Things or shows with a retro vibe to them, then you will love Crossing Souls, since it’s one of those games that perfectly encapsulates that decade, and isn’t just a visual thing. The game is coming out this spring and will be coming to PC, Mac, Lunux, and PlayStation 4, and I’m sure more consoles in the future.

Night in the Woods


This recently released Kickstarter hit is developed by Infinite Fall and published Finji. It is a 2D-exploration-heavy adventure game where you control a cat named Mae as she returns to her hometown to find quite a few things have changed. The puzzle-solving to me felt very simple, but easy to get into. I don’t have time these days to get into adventure or exploration games with obtuse puzzle-solving. However, that is what I got from what I played. Night in the Woods is a beautiful-looking game with a whimsical art style and a cynical yet amusing real world setting. From what I experienced, I only found one puzzle that kind of bugged me, and it was before you got picked up by the police. Even though I just played a tiny bit of this game, I fell head over heels for it. I hope it can come to other consoles. As mentioned above, it’s already out now and is available as of March 17th on PC and PlayStation 4.

 Katana Zero


This is a neat little action game with a neo-noir twist by Askiisoft. You play as a samurai who lives in a grimy modern day world, where you must use your fast reflexes to get tasks done. Oh yeah, everyone dies in one hit. That means you do as well. The demo I played wasn’t very long, but I found the animation on the sprites to be expressive, and the combat to be satisfying to play. You really felt the weight of every move and mistake you made. Granted I don’t know what slow-motion (one of the game’s mechanics) feels like, but it was brutal. When you die, you start back from the beginning of the room you are currently in. It’s a game that does one thing, and does that one thing well. You even get this Telltale-style story element, where you can say this one thing, or wait for a different option to appear. I got to talk to the founder, and he said whatever you say in these sequences will change the outcome of each level. In general, Katana Zero is a fantastic action game that might have a bit of a puzzle twist in there due to how you tackle the levels. It’s being published by Adult Swim Games, and is, so far, just for PC. I haven’t seen any word on a console version yet.

 Striker’s Edge


While there were a few multiplayer-focused games, I decided to check out the one that I first came across at the event, Striker’s Edge. Imagine if you will, the combination of dodgeball and throwing actual heavy metal weapons at people. Well, that is what you do in this game. You get into teams of two, and choose from a slew of characters as you try and beat the other team. The game’s art style is yet again very sprite-based, which seems to be popular among multiplayer-focused indie games, but it looks good, and doesn’t go overly simplistic with its designs. It’s a pretty intense and fun game to play when you have friends over. The developer Fun Punch is bringing this game to PlayStation 4 and PC.



This was a surprise to me. I wasn’t originally going to play this game, but then I saw someone else check it out, and, well, I had to check it out for myself. Haimrik by developer Below The Game, is an action puzzle game where you travel across literal lines in a story, and solve puzzles by using the literal words beneath your feet. Need a torch? Then all you have to do is lift it from the word. Need to strike someone with lightning? Then all you need to do is lift up the word lightning, and case closed. It’s a cute game with a fun 2.5D art style and a dark sense of humor. It definitely stood out among the games at the event, and it’s going to be coming to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I would highly recommend following this game’s development, and supporting it once it is released.

Legrand Legacy


The final game I checked out was a Kickstarter success that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Legrand Legacy is a PlayStation 2-style RPG where you play as six different heroes that must save the land from an evil force. The combat was probably my favorite part outside of the nice graphics and backgrounds. If you have played any turn-based RPG like Shadow Hearts or Lost Odyssey, then you should be familiar with the game’s mechanic of timing a button press within a circle to do more damage. It also sort of plays like Suikoden, where everyone performs their actions at the same time, instead of just standing there and taking the damage. I love the fact that the developer went with the PlayStation One-style of RPG where you have 3D models, but beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds. It was a very good RPG that keeps the players moving, and I would definitely recommend checking them out and supporting them.

Well, that was my time at SXSW. I had a ton of fun, and I want to thank the developers big and small for being there, and showing off what cool projects are coming out! I will definitely be going back next year.

Thoughts On: SXSW 2016

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

SXSW 2016 was a blast. I was rather hyped for it, because last year was so good in terms of how many great games were there. The lineup of developers this year definitely did not disappoint with some of my favorite games at the event being total surprises. I will say though that it did seem like they wanted more board game and merchandise vendors, instead of more big and small indie developers, but then again, GDC was happening around the same week in San Francisco, so I don’t blame the absence of certain developers. I’m going to go through the games that I considered the best, so that means no games that are already released. Unfortunately, I didn’t get time to try out any of the PlayStation VR stuff, but I did get to experience one Virtual Reality game. Let’s begin.


Ray’s the Dead

Awhile back on my series of Kickstarter articles, I wrote about this awesome game being developed by Rag Tag Studios, and was excited to see them at the event. To no surprise, the demo shown did not disappoint. If this is the first time you have heard about this game, it’s pretty much a zombie version of Pikmin. You play as a newly risen zombie from the grave named Ray, who has the ability to raise corpses from the dead. An interesting part of the game is that you will play as Ray before and after he becomes a zombie. The controls were pretty well-executed, where you can shoot zombies at enemies to attack them, dig through holes to take down structures, or group up with them to avoid danger. I loved the cartoony art style, the constant references to 80s horror, and the funky music. It’s a fun game that PlayStation 4 and PC gamers should definitely be on the lookout for.


Masquerada: Songs and Shadows

This is an isometric RPG from the developers at Witching Hour Studios, and is being published by Ysbryd Games. The demo showed off its action-oriented combat that reminds me of an isometric Xenoblade Chronicles,where you can move in real time, but all of your attacks have cool-down meters. You can also switch between the three characters given to you.  The combat took a little bit of getting used to, but once I did, it was a lot of fun. The graphical art style that was inspired by French comics is gorgeous to look at, and the voice acting was top-notch. I can’t wait to play this game in the near future.


YIIK: A Post Modern RPG

Developed by Ackk Sutdios, and being published by Ysbryd Games, this was yet another promising RPG that was fun. The gameplay is basically a love letter to RPGs, like Persona and Earthbound mixed with a more interactive turn-based battle system. If you love games with more to their turn-based systems like Paper Mario or South Park: The Stick of Truth, then you will get how the combat system works. The art style was charming, and the writing was witty. It’s an RPG that oozes charm, and is another game PC, PlayStation, and Wii U gamers should grab when it’s released later in 2016.



Developed by Game Swing, this is a multiplayer-arcade-style dodgeball game that is played from an isometric point of view. It has you playing as these quirky rectangular/square-looking individuals as you compete to knock each other out with a dodgeball, while avoiding traps and environmental hazards. Stikbold is a silly, fast-paced, and really entertaining multiplayer game. There is even a single-player mode that will be in the game. I just got to play the multiplayer mode, but I am really looking forward to this game, since I can see it being a popular game alongside other multiplayer-focused games like Gang Beasts. Speaking of Gang Beasts,


Gang Beasts

If you are a part of the indie scene, this multiplayer fighting game is not some obscure game, it’s one of the better examples of Steam’s Early Access program. You play as these doughy-looking individuals, as you wobble around trying to throw your opponents off the stage, or let an environmental hazard take them out. You don’t use typical fighting game combos, you punch, kick, headbutt, and carry your opponents to victory. I wish the controls were easier to understand, but this game can get so chaotic and wacky, that it doesn’t really matter. I also heard that they are working on some single-player content, which is nice since this game would otherwise fall into the same trap most multiplayer games fall into, with being just about multiplayer and nothing else. It was a fun game that really impressed me.


Song of the Deep

Song of the Deep is Insomniac’s newest digital-only game. It’s an action-oriented game, with a heavy emphasis on exploration. You control a tiny sub as you explore the dangerous depths of the ocean. I was a little concerned that the game was going to have really floaty and physics-based controls, but I was happily surprised by how fluid the controls were. No one should feel screwed over by an enemy attack because the controls were fighting against the player. I didn’t get to play a lot of it, but I liked the claw weapon and being able to grab onto torpedoes to make an offensive shield around you. I hope I can get a review code for this game in the future.


Enter the Gungeon

This new game being published by Devolver Digital is a top-down 2D dungeon crawler, but with a heavy emphasis on long-range combat. You go through randomized dungeons with enemies that shoot bullet hell-like attacks. Throughout the dungeon, you will be fighting off enemies, finding weapons, and can even encounter a shop to get more ammo and health. Your main goal is to find the boss in each dungeon and take it out. The game is tough! You definitely need to have quick reflexes, and the enemies can easily swarm you with bullets. The pixel artwork is charming, but I do think how you aim the gun looks a bit too much like Nuclear Throne, but that’s just me. If you are looking for a fast-paced dungeon crawler, you will definitely want to keep an eye out for this game if you are a PlayStation 4 or PC owner. It comes out soon, actually, so be on the lookout for it! Oh, and you get to choose different characters with varying skills and can play in co-op!


Rivals of Aether

This is another popular Early Access game, that if you are big into the indie scene, you already know about this upcoming Xbox One/PC game. It’s 2D Super Smash Bros. with animal characters and sprites instead of 3D character models. The characters felt diverse, and as usual, playing this game with other people makes for some intense and entertaining matches. I’m definitely keeping my eye out for this project to see if it comes out on other consoles.



Miss the days of Doom and Quake? Want a first-person roguelike with intense action? Strafe by Pixel Titans is your game for those needs! From the demo I played, you start out with one of three weapons, and you make your way through each semi-generated level, and shoot anything that would look as good as jelly on the floor. This is another game that is definitely tough, and you need to keep on your feet unless you want to be the new pile of meat on the ground. If you love intense shooters, then you will be in love with this game.



Pollen by Mindfield Games was the only Virtual Reality experience I got to try out since the other games that use VR were taken by large crowds. I was lucky to try this one. It’s a solid-looking first-person exploration game where you play as an individual arriving on a space station that is now abandoned. It was really cool to turn my head, and actually see the room around me by not just using the control sticks on the controller. The graphics were solid as well. My only real complaint was that there wasn’t much to do in the demo, and the slow framerate or pop-in of the level gave me a lot of motion sickness. I could still feel it a few hours after taking off the headset. It’s one of the biggest concerns that developers won’t be able to find ways around motion sickness to make playing with these headsets a long-lasting thing. It’s a cool gimmick, but I still am not fully convinced about the whole fad. Still, the game was impressive. Just wish there was more to it.


VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

To round out my favorite games from the event, I have a game that quite honestly surprised me. VA-11 HALL-A is a visual novel/bartending game where you talk to individuals, and serve them drinks that they need. You can make what the recipe asks for, or if you want to super-size it, just put double what the recipe asks for. It’s rather complex for a bartending game, and talking with the character in the demo was fun. The sprite work might be limited compared to more action-oriented pixel-focused games, but it’s well done. It’s honestly a nice surprise when you can find a game these days that surprises you, and this visual novel/bartender simulator was that surprise for me.

Even though the venue was smaller than last year, and I do blame it on GDC happening the same weekend, I still had a lot of fun. The games were satisfying, and seeing the upcoming Virtual Reality Trend was promising, if a bit motion sickish. I can’t wait for next year!

Thoughts On: Satoru Iwata and Child-like Excitement/Wonder

On July 12th, 2015, Nintendo of Japan President/CEO Satoru Iwata passed away at the age of 55. A great and influential man is gone from us way too early, and he will surely be missed. I wanted to talk about this specific topic for a while, about child-like excitement/wonder, because I feel like Satoru Iwata, Shigeru Miyamoto, and everyone at Nintendo represented that, and now due to Mr. Iwata’s passing, it’s a great time to bring this up. As a gamer, no matter how bad it can get for the industry, it’s important to keep this part of you going, and not let the cynical hate for certain companies keep dragging down your love for video games.

Why do I say that? Well, how cynical have we gotten with the gaming industry as a whole these past few years? Companies abusing DLC practices, under-delivering games that had huge amounts of hype behind them, season passes, ruining the potential for free-to-play to be a good thing, and so on. It’s been hard at times to feel like gaming can still be this fun hobby/job when it seems like companies don’t think of us as gamers but more like walking wallets filled with debit and credit cards. However, Nintendo never really felt like that to me. Whenever I would see what kind of announcement or what kind of game they were working on, I never saw or felt like they were thinking “What kind of game could we make to screw you out of money”.

Every time I watched their Nintendo E3 conferences or Nintendo Directs, I always got this positive vibe from them. It was as if they were thinking, “What kind of game could we make, and how could we make it fun for the player? How can we make sure they have a blast and an experience to remember?”  There are two quotes by Satoru Iwata that I want to use in this article because it sums up how I view video games. "On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer." The other quote is “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for Everyone!” That really resonates with me, and is why I wish more executives of game companies would think like this. I get it, you have to be profitable and make sure you don’t go belly-up, but if that is the only reason you are making games, just to make money, then why are you even here? Sure, I like different gaming experiences, but I want to have fun! Fun has always been the number one thing I look for in gaming, and for good reason. Satoru Iwata and everyone at Nintendo knew that more than anyone. Satoru Iwata was such a great person. Charming, likable, funny, always knew how to put a smile on your face, and was a guy you could just sit down with and play some Mario Kart 64 or Balloon Fight. He might have made a few odd decisions in terms of business, but he was also a man that took a price cut on his paycheck to make sure no one got laid off. He always knew that even though you are running a game company, you have to have fun and show that you love what you do.  Another element I respected from him was that he embraced the internet memes made with his quotes and gestures, and ran with them. How many execs do you know have fun with the memes or the jokes the internet has made about you? How many execs make sure to use words like “fun” to describe their experiences? How many execs still had an excitement and wonder for what gaming could be?

Nintendo might have a few problems here and there, but Mr. Iwata always made sure to be positive, come out if something went wrong and address it, and had fun with his job. Satoru Iwata, you are already missed, and I raise my tear-filled glass of peach tea for you. Rest in Peace. Now then, if you will excuse me, I need to play some Earthbound. Thanks for reading.

Interview with Rage Squid, the Creators of Action Henk!

Back in March, I went to the SXSW event and met some very nice developers. One of them was Rage Squid. I got to play their Early Access game Action Henk, a 2D platforming/speed running game that reminds me of a combination of Joe Danger and Speed Runners. It was one of the best games I played at the event, and it is easily one of the best examples of how to do Early Access right. I got a chance to talk to these talented individuals and ask them some questions!

Cam’s Eye View: Where did the inspiration for Action Henk come from?

Rage Squid: It started a few years ago, when RageSquid got offered to show off a game at a local event. We happily agreed, even though we didn't actually have anything ready. We've always loved skateboarding and that feeling of momentum, so decided to go with a completely physics-based platformer. The ensuing gamejam resulted in the very first prototype of Action Henk!

Cam’s Eye View: Was making Action Henk this fun combination of Joe Danger and Speed Runners the original plan, or did Action Henk start out as something else?

Rage Squid: We've definitely always had a love for games like that, especially Trials. However, most of the inspiration comes from spending a lot of time skateboarding, and getting a good feel for momentum and speed. We really wanted to get that feeling transferred over into the game.

Cam’s Eye View: What made RageSquid want to do a 3D game instead of something 2D, which is what a lot of indie developers do these days?

Rage Squid: It's something that sets us apart from a lot of indie developers for sure, 3D art has always come naturally to us. We're simply not as experienced at producing 2D art, so it seemed obvious to roll with this and see how far we could take things! Nowadays, it's gotten easier to create 3D games too, thanks to tools such as Unity, which we happily make use of.

Cam’s Eye View: Where did the toy theme come from?

Rage Squid: Our artist Gabrian always loved very colorful things, but also wanted to go for quite a realistic style. Since toys are both real and colorful, things moved quickly from there. One of the team members actually bought a giant crate of Action Men, kind of our version of GI Joe, and we decided to fill our office with all kinds of toys from our childhoods. It looked quite a bit like the Action Henk playroom, and I'm sure a lot of that put us in the right mood during hard work! (http://www.ragesquid.com/press/images/security.png)

Cam’s Eye View: Did you consider going to crowd funded sites like Kickstarter before making the game?

Rage Squid: We actually have quite a low burn rate at RageSquid, and have been able to make Action Henk with a small core team and part-time help from a lot of friends. Before making the game, we managed to save some money with work for hire, giving us about a year to get started on the game. I guess we never really needed to do crowdfunding!

Rage Squid: What we wanted to get from Early Access was feedback from people actively playing the game, and community input to really help our speedrunning aspect shine. It's been great for us to figure out the things that work and the things that don't, all while the game is actually getting played by super supportive people!

Cam’s Eye View: With Steam’s Early Access having a rather infamous reputation for overpriced unplayable/unfinished games, and developers acting like a bag of sour patch kids towards negative criticism, was there some concern about putting the product on Early Access? Were you concerned about Action Henk, which is, by the way, one of the best examples of doing Early Access right, getting overlooked with all the rest of the content that gets on Early Access?

Rage Squid: We mainly think it's important to communicate clearly with our community, and be super open about development! Once people understand what they can expect, things seem to kind of run themselves. Other than that, we wanted to make sure Action Henk had a solid core and lots of replayability. That way we could start with a game that's actually small and polished, instead of something huge and broken. That way you can always expand, but the core experience will be fun from the start!

Cam’s Eye View: Since you have put your game on Early Access, and you don’t need to pick any specific examples for this, what would you like to see change about Steam Greenlight and Steam Early Access?

Rage Squid: I just hope Early Access slowly builds up a bit of a better name, and people come to realize there are really some gems in there! Other than that, it seems like Valve are taking things in a good direction.

Cam’s Eye View: What kind of game or games would you personally like to see less of getting on Steam/Greenlight/Early Access?

Rage Squid: The big and broken ones. ;-)

Cam’s Eye View: Any other Early Access games are you excited about?

Rage Squid: There's quite a few, but some of our recent favorites would be Besiege, Kerbal Space Program, and Gang Beasts! Rage Squid: Kerbal Space Program is a load of fun to play, and even teaches you things about space and physics without you even realizing! We love Gang Beasts because it's just a completely ridiculous slapstick brawler that's almost guaranteed to give you hours of fun with friends, and Besiege mainly for its beautiful art style and letting you build anything you can dream up! Cam’s Eye View: Since Action Henk is almost complete, have you gotten contacted by any publishers that would like to put Action Henk onto home consoles? What kind of projects could we see next from you all? Rage Squid: The game definitely lends itself well to consoles, and we've developed most of it with that in mind! We'll hopefully have more news about this in the future!

Thoughts On: Albino Lullaby

I have said in the past that I am not too fond of horror games in general, but I think the market has become oversaturated with horror experiences that are in the first-person. Sure, games like Outlast and Alien Isolation have shown the best ways to handle these kinds of games, but it seems like there has been no real innovation thrown into this genre. However, I always like to stay optimistic, and if I see one of these types of horror games, I am sure to check it out or keep up-to-date with the game. For example, last year, I tackled five different first-person view games that were mostly horror-based, but stood out to me due to how the game looked or how the set-up was executed. One of those games was Albino Lullaby. At the SXSW 2015 gaming event, I got to see the game in action, but unfortunately, didn’t get to play it due to how popular it was. It probably helped that they brought the demo that can be played with the Oculus Rift. However, the developer of Albino Lullaby, Ape Law, sent me a playable demo to check out and write about. Before I continue, I want to thank Ape Law for this opportunity, and besides a few concerns in terms of the game’s design and the style of game Albino Lullaby is, I enjoyed my experience. Consider this article a follow-up/Thoughts On: Albino Lullaby

The plot of the game puts you in the shoes of an individual who ends up in a car accident. You then wake up in this weird mansion-like building, with rooms that will shift and change when you press certain buttons. It is up to you to find out where you are, get out, and avoid contact with the mysterious beings of the building called Albinos. The best part of this game is the setting and the atmosphere. You don’t get too much told to you about where you are, or who owns the building you are in. It reminds me of a film that Tim Burton would make when he isn’t making live-action versions of “Dumbo”, but don’t get me started on that subject.

Albino Lullaby is a first-person horror game. You can walk, run, stealth your way through sequences of the game, and interact with the world around you. From the demo I played, you don’t really get a lot of items to carry around. You can find some notes that are scattered everywhere, and about a third of the way through the game, you will find these blue matches that can light up certain lamps to distract the Albinos that will want to capture you. Yeah, how about we talk about these demonic Tiki heads? You will encounter them during one point in the demo, but they don’t really start popping up until the last third of the demo. If you have played games like Outlast or Amnesia, then you should know what to do! Run and don’t let them catch you! At the end of the demo, you get a device called Buck’s Clicker, which looks like some retro-designed remote control. Unfortunately, you only get to use it at the very end of the demo. The overall demo took about 40 minutes to complete.

Graphically, I know Albino Lullaby is still in development, but it looks pleasant. I think it stands out from other horror games with its bright colors and interesting set-up. The game’s sound design and atmosphere were really engrossing. I felt pulled into the game’s world instantly, even though everything was blocky. Even then, some of the blocky elements of the setting were charming. If you are going to make a horror game, your sound design and atmosphere better pull you in.

Now, even though I enjoyed my experience with the demo, and again, I know the game is still in development, I have some concerns. Even though the setting and the creatures are very interesting, and not the usual kinds of monsters you see in these types of games, it is still a horror game that we have seen, in terms of design. It’s first-person, you try to evade monster/monsters, and the story is not spoon-fed to you through cutscenes. Granted, I didn’t see any obvious jump scares, and they have said they won’t rely on them to produce the scares. I like that, since it seems like most horror games that are in the first-person are designed to be played by big YouTube gamers who make a living screaming at jump scares. I just like the idea, and I don’t want people to shrug this game off because of other upcoming first-person horror games like Grave and Everybody’s gone to Rapture. I also hope that the story is intriguing, since this is supposed to span three different episodes. Will I be instantly hooked due to what tidbits of the story I found? Or will I be annoyed that the story was vague at best, and not a whole lot of thought put into it? I want Albino Lullaby to do well, but I have seen so many mediocre first-person horror games that were made for a soulless intention, or using an already preexisting intellectual property like Slenderman to rest on its laurels and not have to put too much work into the overall product, like in Slender: The Arrival. My final concern is that I wonder how they are going to stretch this out for three episodes. What kind of variation can we see from the gameplay given to us in the demo? Will there be enough substance to the overall product to warrant three episodes?

As a whole, I enjoyed my time with the demo of Albino Lullaby, and I think it has a lot of potential for being a good horror experience. It might not be my cup of tea, but I am glad I at least got to try it out. If you are at all interested in trying this game out, or want to know where you can get the first episode, you can go to Ape Law’s website and you are offered a couple of different preorder specials. You can either preorder just episode one, episode two, or get all three episodes; either way, you can get access to the demo. If you love first-person horror games and want to see something different, then I would recommend checking this game out, or at the very least, keep an eye on it.

Thoughts On: Games from SXSW Part 2

Here is part 2! If you have not seen part 1 of this series of articles, go here!

Action Henk

Since Sonic the Hedgehog has been doing pretty dang terrible, even with the success of Sonic Generation, it feels like we have to look at other games that can fulfill that need for fast arcade-style platforming, but cut all of the fat that holds Sonic’s games back. You know, like Action Henk and a game I may or may not mention after Action Henk. Basically, Action Henk is a 2.5D physics-based fast platformer. If you have played games like Trials or the Joe Danger franchise, then Action Henk is basically a continuation of those games’ ideas. You run fast along a Hot Wheels-style track, making sure you use your momentum to make those jumps, or slide on your rear to gain more speed to go through that loop. You will also be racing against other toy figures in “boss fight” races.

Honestly, I can see why people love this Early Access game. It’s simple, but satisfyingly fun and polished for a game in the dreaded sea of Early Access garbage. If you do have $10 to spare, or want a game to satisfy your cravings for another Joe Danger-style experience, then you should definitely check this game out.


Take the best parts of Sonic’s fast-paced platforming, and combine it with the superb level design and challenge of the recent Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. That is what you get with this 2.5D platformer starring a bunch of mechanical animals. The game uses the fast-paced style of Sonic the Hedgehog, but the Donkey Kong Country-inspired levels compliment the speed, and make sure you are going at a solid pace while listening to very David Wise-inspired music. From the demo I played, I was a mechanical frog, armadillo, and kangaroo. Each of the three animals had their own special talents, like the frog could swing from poles and mechanical flies, the armadillo could go around loops and curved platforms, and the kangaroo could wall jump as well as jump really high. You will be switching between these animals quite frequently, and I have to say, this was a lot of fun to swing, roll, and jump through the neon-colored levels, while getting a little funky listening to the bongo drum beat in the background. My only real issue is that the kangaroo was a little harder to figure out than the other two animals. It took me two different days to find out how the animal actually works. Maybe I missed something, but I enjoyed playing as the frog and armadillo a lot more than the kangaroo. Other than that, this was a super fun game. It’s coming to PC and consoles in the near future, and if you love games like the already mentioned Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, then you should fall head over heels for this game.


I wrote about this game two weeks ago, and I was so excited to finally get to play this spiritual sequel to the famous adventure game, The Neverhood. The story centers on Tommynaught and his dog Beak-Beak getting stuck on a planet and being forced into a massive tower known as Armikrog. The beta build only allowed me to go through a very small chunk of the game. The only puzzles available were a simple find-a-lever puzzle, and having to use Beak-Beak to get through small areas. A fun little element added into the game is the fact that Beak-Beak is a dog, and any area he goes through will be colorless since, well, dogs are colorblind.

My only real disappointment with the demo was that it was short. It took me at most 10 minutes to beat the main puzzles that the demo offered. Granted, the puzzles showed me how the game will work, and if you have played The Neverhood, then you will be super comfortable with Armikrog’s design. Even then, I still had fun with what I got. I enjoyed my short time with the game, and it was a rather beautiful-looking game in motion. This is definitely one game to be on the lookout for later this year.

Chroma Squad

Okay, we are in the home stretch, and that home stretch will start with this tactical RPG that is a gigantic love letter/parody of shows like “Power Rangers.” Chroma Squad puts you in the shoes of managing a team of stunt people who are making their own “Power Rangers” show. The tactical RPG combat is pretty much the same kind of gameplay you see in a lot of titles like Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics. You control five characters on a grid-like battlefield, as you fight the evils goons and then fight a monster of the week villain. The boss I fought was basically a giant cardboard box with boxing gloves. It was hilarious, and reminded me of a lot of the crazier designs from the “Power Rangers” shows from the 90s, or the really old “Kamen Rider” shows like “Kamen Rider Super-1.” During the fight, you can turn into the “Power Rangers”, and use your individual abilities to take down the bad guys. As you beat down the goons and bosses, you will be gaining items to craft your own costumes and weapons. Outside of combat, you will need to make sure to keep your business in check and not go bankrupt. Oh, and of course, since this show is making fun of/paying homage to this popular show, you can also get into giant robot battles, and compete against other groups of players in multiplayer to fight for views.

This game has a lot to offer, and it’s by the same team who made Knights of Pen and Paper, a popular indie game on Steam. Chroma Squad is actually coming out on April 30th for PC, and for consoles during the summer time. This was one of the best surprises from SXSW, and you can count on me reviewing the game in the near future. Oh, and this is another successful kickstarter game, so yeah!

Super Slam Dunk Touchdown

Here we go with the last game on this list, Super Slam Dunk Touchdown. If you love games like Ice Hockey on the NES, and any arcade-style sports game, then this game will be for you. You can choose from different sports characters like a hockey player, a basketball player, and so on. Each of the individual characters has their own special abilities, like the hockey player can dash at opponents and knock them out for a few seconds. The main goal is, of course, to get to the other side of the field and score a point, whether it is shooting a puck in the goal or making sure that basketball makes it into the hoop. You can dash to tackle your opponents, or to get to the ball faster. You can even perform a timed button press to make a slam dunk. Seeing a hockey player do a slam dunk with a puck was rather hilarious. You can play with up to six people with two teams of three. Let’s say that the games can get quite chaotic and extremely satisfying.

Sure, it might be another sprite-based game, but it’s easily one of the most fun games I played with different gamers at SXSW. The game is currently on Steam Greenlight, and I think it is very deserving of your vote and money.

Thoughts On: Games from SXSW Part 1

I honestly mean this from the bottom of my heart that 2015’s SXSW’s video game scene here in Austin, Texas was the best I have ever seen. I think it was because a majority of the games that were there were the indie games, which I really dig. Sure, big budget games are still a thing, but if 2014 was any indication of how underwhelming the Triple A industry was, indie developers and the ones that appear on Kickstarter are going to be the next big thing. My favorite games were from the smaller teams, and the teams that appeared on Kickstarter. This article is going to go over my impressions of my favorite games from the event. Some of them might be ones that I have talked about before, but some surprised me, since they were normally from a genre I don’t play. I am also not going to go into any specific order, because even though I might have enjoyed one demo or beta build of a game more so than another, I love them all for very specific reasons. Let’s get started!


The first surprise of the event was Shield Break Studios’ Bierzerkers. This is a multi-player arcade-style action game where you choose from four different classes of Vikings, with their own styles of combat. Two of the examples were the sword and shield wielding Raider, and the keg hammer armed fat Drunkard. I know I am going to repeat this, but each of the four classes has special powers. For example, that Drunkard class can do a keg stand and have a fountain of booze spin around him, and can use that as a healing station when playing with other players. The combat, while more arcade in gameplay, still requires the player to pick and choose their attacks. Think of it as a cartoony version of Chivalry.

Graphically, even though I have just been playing the demo that the team brought to the event, I love it! I think games that are more artistically pleasing or more cartoonish should be used more often, since hyper-realistic graphics can only give you so much. I like both, but if you look at my video game collection, it’s mostly cartoonish-looking games. They just come off more attractive looking than games that look like Call of Duty or Battlefield.

My only concern is that when I talked to the developers, they haven’t really set up whether they will make this a free-to-play title or a digital download. If they do either, make sure to have enough in game content to warrant the price or the free-to-play model. Make a game first, and make sure it’s fun. Other than that, this was a really enjoyable surprise to me. If you are at all curious about the game, you can sign up for their alpha. I don’t normally play these types of games, but rest assured that whether Bierzerkers stays on PCs or comes to consoles, I will definitely be checking it out.

Darkest Dungeon

Out of all of the demos that were being shown off at the event, Darkest Dungeon probably was the most polished, and one of the most satisfying and most frustrating (in a good way) gaming experiences from the event. I have already written an editorial on the game itself, but I will give a quick summary about the overall game.

Darkest Dungeon is a 2D turn-based RPG with heavy dungeon crawler/roguelike elements. The main gimmick of the game is to travel through challenging randomized dungeons, while keeping the character’s stress down. If your party of varied heroes from clerics to bounty hunters stress out, side effects start to pop up that could help or hinder your progress. It made getting to some of the boss encounters rather difficult, since I had constantly gone into battle with the characters with no food, and a lot of them at their highest stress level. One side effect made a character that was good from long range move forward making him unusable, and another side effect attempted to keep everyone’s stress level down. However, even though this sounds extremely difficult, and maybe a bit too much to handle for a lot of gamers, Darkest Dungeon is a lot of fun. It might take some micro-managing and some luck to get past the dungeons, but you will have one of the most rewarding and beautiful-looking RPGs to go through. I even made it to one boss with some health and high stress levels, and was able to beat the him.

There is a reason why so many people love the Early Access form of this RPG. It’s polished, well designed, and while the difficulty degree might be cheap here and there, the game is definitely worth keeping your eyes on.


Like Darkest Dungeon, I have written an article for this game, and I did an interview with the designer of the game so I won’t go into too much detail, but this was one of my favorite games that I played at SXSW. The summary of this action adventure game is that you play as a female Viking named Thora, who is stuck in purgatory and must take down the giant elementals known as Jotun to get into Valhalla. The gameplay is basically the top-down The Legend of Zelda games combined with the boss fight-focused Shadow of the Colossus. While you won’t be able to climb onto the giants themselves, you will still need to attack the Jotun, and get out of the way of their attacks. The demo I played only had the Ice Jotun that you have seen in the game’s newest trailer and in the advertising. The battle was exciting and really tough. With that said, I played this one boss fight so many times and died every single time, but had so much fun with it!

I think my only nitpick complaint is that I wish the dodge animation was a little longer in range, in terms of how far I moved when I rolled out of the way. It got especially hard to do proper dodges during the midway point where the ice turns black and movement is much more slippery. I know it’s ice, and it should be slippery, but I think having a much longer dodge roll would help out a bit more during the second half of the fight. If you love any of the games I described Jotun with, then I think you will love this game. For now, it’s coming to PC only, but the lead designer of the game, William Dube, said that they have plans to bring it to home consoles.

Salt and Sanctuary

From the creators of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, and Charlie Murder comes Ska Studio’s newest game, Salt and Sanctuary. This is a 2D action game, with RPG and platforming elements that puts you in the role of a sailor that is shipwrecked on an unusual island. If you have played action games that had more “pick and strike” kind of combat systems like Strength of the Sword 3 or the famous Dark Souls series, then imagine those games on a 2D plane. You really can’t button mash your way through this game or else you will die horribly at the game’s bosses. You can choose from a multitude of characters, with different weapons like a sword or mace. I played the character with the shield and mace, and could wield both, or use both hands for the mace. The game also has a Metroidvania-style to its level design, where it wasn’t just a straight forward path to the boss. You can also gain items like health potions, or sub-weapons like throwing knives or bombs.

This was one of the most interesting looking games from SXSW. It had a very imposing atmosphere with the world looking like it has been covered in cobwebs, soot, and the bodies of warriors long gone. It’s basically if Dark Souls was flattened into a 2D format. I also like the art direction for the characters. They remind me of a gothic version of human Muppet characters.

The only concern I have is the balance in difficulty. I want the gameplay to be so that when I die, it’s because it’s my fault and not the controls or cheap attack patterns. If you loved any of Ska Studios’ past work like Charlie Murder or The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, then you should definitely be on the lookout for this game. It’s coming to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita as a timed exclusive.

Road Redemption

I was waiting quite some time to play this Kickstarter gem, Road Redemption. Think of it as the spiritual current gen version of those Road Rash games from the 90s. You will travel along dusty roads and city rooftops, taking down other bikers on the road. You can swing melee weapons at them, shoot at them, or if you are lucky enough to pull it off, push them into ongoing traffic. You will have to deal with other obstacles like falling cars, logs falling off the back of a truck, and the police. You can choose from multiple riders, and can even play as Shovel Knight, and when you gain cash from completing certain events, you can buy upgrades for your motorcycle.

Now, a lot concern that comes with games from Kickstarter that ends up on Early Access means it won’t be polished and will probably be a buggy mess. Luckily, Road Redemption misses the garbage pail, and ends up as a rather polished product with tight controls, satisfying combat, and it feels great to play. Sure, the graphics might not be super high-end, but when I play games like Road Redemption, the controls, and how satisfying the gameplay is comes first. The game is on Early Access, and it is really fun. If you miss playing games like the Road Rash series, and need something to wash out that awful taste that Ride to Hell: Retribution left in your mouth, then check this game out. It’s going to come to PC and home consoles in the future.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Thoughts On: Armikrog

You know what? I love talking about Kickstarters. I mean, I love talking about the ones that cover video games. My love for these Kickstarters honestly started with one lone adventure game, Armikrog. It was the first official Kickstarter I put some cash on, and I am so happy to see that such a game exists. Here is a little history. The game is being made by a studio called Pencil Test Studios, and is led by the famous artist, Doug Tenapel. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the guy behind Earthworm Jim, the universe of The Neverhood, and Boom Bots. So then, how about I finally give this game some face time and give my thoughts on Armikrog? Let’s get started!

The story revolves around Tommynaught, voiced by Michael J. Nelson of “Mystery Science 3000” and “RiffTrax” fame. Tommynaught ends up crashing on an alien planet along with his best friend/blind dog-thing Beak-Beak, voiced by the always entertaining Rob Paulsen. After said crash, they get attacked by the local wildlife, and are forced to take shelter inside this giant fortress called Armikrog. It is up to Tommynaught and Beak-Beak to find their way out of the fortress and get off this crazy planet.

Armikrog is an adventure game in the same spirit as The Neverhood. You will travel across this giant fortress as both Tommynaught and Beak-Beak. Tommynaught is, of course, bigger than Beak-Beak and can hold a multitude of inventory items inside him, as well as move heavier objects. Beak-Beak is smaller than Tommy, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and can go through areas Tommy can’t go through. You can apparently feed Beak-Beak a certain item for him to grow wings and fly around. Just like a lot of inventory-based adventure games, you will need to make sure you have what you need to solve the puzzles in this weird world. The types of puzzles in Armikrog include environmental puzzles, first-person puzzles, puzzles that affect more than one location, and puzzles that may not be required to finish the game, but will help engross you into the overall world that you are on. In the original Kickstarter, they talked about features that could be implemented into the Wii U version, like using Beak-Beak to see things that you can’t, or being able to use the GamePad to fix rails that are broken. Overall, it looks like this adventure game will be complex, and bring the player a good challenge with the puzzles.

How about we move onto the graphics? I love with a passion that this game uses claymation. I know we just got the recent Wii U hit Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, but you don’t see many games that have claymation as their art direction. It’s definitely worth using the word unique to describe this game’s claymation and art direction. The entire world is weird and has a sense of the unexpected in terms of what Tommynaught will find next as he traverses the massive tower. Of course, no world is complete without a soundtrack to envelop you even more into the game’s world, and who else to compose quirky and weird songs for the world of Armikrog, but The Neverhood composer and famous musician, Terry Scott Taylor. If you want to get some idea of what the potential soundtrack will be like, I would highly recommend looking up the soundtrack for The Neverhood or Skull Monkeys. It’s some of the strangest, but most memorable music you will ever find.

Now, I do have some concerns about the final product. For example, one concern is about the pace of the puzzles, and how the game should have fluid momentum to it without stumping the player too much, which halts everything. However, I will not talk about any of these concerns. You know why? Well, I will be able to play this game in the very near future at the SXSW gaming scene here in Austin, Texas. Since I am going to try the game out myself, I will move onto my final conclusion!

I don’t think I need to further explain my excitement for this game. I have put it onto my most anticipated lists from last and this year. It’s a game that stands out from the rest, from its art style to the overall vibe of the game. Make sure you prepare your PC, Wii U, or PlayStation 4 for this game, because it’s coming to all three systems with the help of Versus Evil, the publishing company behind Stoic’s The Banner Saga.  Grab yourself some Aardman stop-motion films, and be prepared to play Armikrog!