Reviews

90s arcade inspired shmup, NEO: XYX hits Dreamcast and Neo Geo

Posted on by Dave Voyles in Reviews | Leave a comment

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This is the 2nd Dreamcast shmup I’ve received for review in the last 30 days. Who says the Dreamcast is dead? If the box art doesn’t raise a sense of nostalgia from within your soul, then nothing will.

I would have sworn that this 2D shooter was produced by a Japanese team in the 90s, but the mailing address on the package label told me otherwise. Truth be told, the masterminds behind this 90s arcade inspired shmup are two German brothers, Timm René Hellwig, who have been running NG:Dev since 2001. This is their 5th title, and most of which have been released for the Dreamcast or Neo Geo at this point.  I’ve always been interested in what inspires developers to build games on older hardware, especially at a time when platforms with large, established user bases are prevalent.

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Redux: Dark Matters finally hits the nostalgic button on our Dreamcast

Posted on by Dave Voyles in PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment
Redux Dark Matters boss

The frustrating first boss

Redux: Dark Matters is a side scrolling shmup which was successfully funded via Kickstarter 18 months ago, after greatly surpassing its goal of $25,000 by about $28K. While the gameplay is not lightning fast, there are more than enough enemies and bullets to dodge, proving itself to be a challenge to even veteran players of the genre.

There are two difficulty settings, Normal and Veteran, and each offer a different ship for the player to use. I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of the enemies when choosing Veteran, although that ship’s weapons certainly had a larger spread on screen.

Once I understood that I had a bullet-absorbing shield, the game became a bit easier, but that highlights one of my key issues with the game: its lack of instruction to the player. For example, the ship used on the Normal difficulty setting could refill its shield by collecting what could best be described as Corn Pops® throughout the level. However, I never saw the meter increase with the Veteran ship.

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Armless Octopus Video Review: State of Decay

Posted on by Daniel Campbell in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews, XBLA, XBLA Reviews | 1 Comment

State of Decay is a game…a game about zombies…there haven’t been many of those…right? Of course the truth is, there are FAR too many zombie games on the market. The real question; is State of Decay worth the $20 or is this one twitching corpse you should avoid? Let’s watch and see!

Armless Octopus Video Review: The Walking Dead (Game): Season 2 Episode 1

Posted on by Daniel Campbell in PC Reviews, PSN Reviews, Reviews, XBLA Reviews | Leave a comment

Season 2 of The Walking Dead has started! Is it any good though? Please join us for a look at the newest entry into the series as Armless Octopus shakes the video review stick in the direction of The Walking Dead: Season 2: Episode 1. Please enjoy.

The Swapper Review

Posted on by Alex Esten in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

the swapper cover

The Swapper is an interesting title because it is as derivative as it is unique. For every element it has borrowed from other games or movies, it introduces something completely fresh and new, and wraps it all up within a brilliantly subtle epistemological and ontological treatise on the nature of gaming. It is a product of an industry that uses focus groups as design tools while simultaneously boldly going where few titles, mainstream or indie, have ventured.

The major industry tropes are definitely present here, with scripted events, one-sided conversations between our mute hero (let’s call him “Jack”) and supporting characters, a platforming object collectathon, and a game world that gradually opens up, but it is all presented so smartly and beautifully that the first few hours of The Swapper are absolutely magnificent. Read more

Armless Octopus Video Review: Knights of Pen and Paper +1

Posted on by Daniel Campbell in PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

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A game about gathering a bunch of nerds around a table and have them all casting magic missiles at fictitious fantasy enemies? Straight ballin son. Alright, maybe it shouldn’t be classified as “Ballin” but the game is good enough to warrant a review from the Armless Octopus crew. Please watch and enjoy.

 

 

Gone Home Review

Posted on by Gil Almogi in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

2013-09-15_00015Imagine coming home from a long trip overseas to find nobody home and a vague note letting you know that it could be a while before you can expect someone to return. Oh, and this is your family’s new home — they moved during your trip — so you don’t have a key to the front door, and you don’t even know where your bedroom is. Such are the circumstances Katie Greenbriar finds herself in at the start of Gone Home, The Fullbright Company’s first game, on an extremely rainy June day in 1995. She doesn’t even have a giant grey cell phone to call her family and check on them. So much for her surprise return and politely getting her own ride from the airport.

After conveniently finding a key to the front door, Katie and the player, from a first-person perspective, explore the Greenbriar home to find out where everybody is or might be. Gone Home resembles old first-person perspective adventure games like Myst and The 7th Guest, games from the 90s, in this regard. With no people around to fill you in, you are forced to piece the story together by finding clues left in notes, recordings, letters, and journal pages. However, unlike the old genre, there are no puzzles, no antagonists, and no conflict present for the player to engage in. This is pure exploration, and your only abilities include picking things up, examining them, throwing them aside, and crouching to gain better perspective.

2013-09-15_00006Although this bare-bones approach to gameplay sounds like it’d be a turn-off to some, the mystery at hand is engaging enough to make the three or so hours it takes to finish extremely worthwhile. The Fullbright Company found a reasonable excuse to rummage through a person’s home like we’ve done on so many occasions (in video games), and it becomes almost liberating to throw objects left and right in hopes of finding a scrap — some kind of clue as to what happened. It may seem silly to trash your own home, but eventually you become one with the defiance Katie might feel about coming home without anyone to explain her abandonment. The player and Katie become one in their rebellion towards the situation and, barring hunger or exhaustion, feed on each piece of information like it is life-restoring bread.

Where Gone Home succeeds is in the realism of its story and setting. The home is just a really large house, and the fates of Sam, Jan, and Terry Greenbriar are all revealed to be perfectly normal. However, the house is not without its tricks, and the story, as it is expertly unfolded for the player, is not without its twists and intrigue. I found myself feeling betrayal, disappointment, fear, and worry more times in the course of a few hours than I have over some larger budget games with bombastic twists. Although there are no cutscenes, CG or otherwise, upon finding key items, the player is treated to ruminations from the journal of the younger sister, Sam, read out loud. These entries are smartly written and revealed so as not to create a situation where the player knows more about what did or did not happen any better than Katie; they just elaborate a little bit on your findings, and their source is revealed eventually.

2013-09-15_00007The immersive and realistic setting does give way to my few complaints about the game. You’d imagine that throwing a glass down on a hardwood floor would break the glass and emit a sound for both textures, but not here. You can throw anything you pick up, and all objects hit the ground and walls with soft thuds and fully intact. Materials appear to be for show only, which is unfortunate because that kind of feedback would go a long way towards further immersion. If a player knew that throwing whiskey bottles at the TV would break both in a loud calamity, it would dictate the player’s treatment of the house from then on. Either you’d go about breaking everything with abandon anyway, or you’d find yourself respecting the house even though it’s not real. Also, though I can make this complaint about many games, indie or not, every room appears too sterile regardless of the messes the developers tried to create.

These criticisms aside, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Greenbriar home on a dark and stormy night with Katie. Gone Home is still incredibly immersive and engaging with a well-told story to top it off. If you ever wanted an experience where you just explore without any of the other expectations games typically bring, I highly recommend it. What I don’t recommend is satisfying your temptation to rummage through other people’s real homes as a result.

Rating: ★★★★½

Game Dev Tycoon Review

Posted on by Daniel Campbell in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

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There are literally hundreds of management simulators on the market for PC but only a one (to my knowledge) about managing a video game development studio. So if that’s the kind of thing that tickles your fancy, your options are very limited. The question is if one such entry, Game Dev Tycoon, is worth your time and money. Please watch the Armless Octopus Video Review of Game Dev Tycoon to find out.

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