The Present and Future of Drinkbox Studios


You may not know the name Drinkbox, but you should learn it. They’re the devs behind Mutant Blobs Attack, Read more

Pax East: Hands on Deadlight: Out of This (Undead) World


Games are all about empowerment. They stick the player in perilous situations where most real-life people would almost certainly Read more

PAX East: Hands on Super T.I.M.E Force: A Blast To The Past


Canadian dev team Capybara (Capy) Games, most notably known for their recent iOS hit Super Brothers EP: Sword and Read more

Armless Octocast Episode 95: An April Christmas Story


  ITunes: Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes MP3: Direct Download Hosts: Taylor Bliss, Mike Wall, Dave Voyles Music: Paul Weinstein - Chipocrite Twitter: @TaylorBliss, @MikeJWall, @DaveVoyles Join the Facebook Read more

PC Reviews

Trine 2 Review: Trine Harder

Posted on by Dave Schectman in PC Reviews, PSN Reviews, Reviews, XBLA Reviews | 5 Comments

These days, it seems like there’s been a concerted push by the video game industry towards the fantasy genre. From big names such as Skyrim to indie releases like Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders, you can hardly turn around without being overwhelmed by options to get your fill of goblin and dragon slaying. But with so many titles to choose from and a limited budget, you may be wondering where to start. To that, I say look no further than Trine 2.

A little history, first and foremost: Two years ago, Frozenbyte Software tried their hand at a fairytale storybook plot in a puzzle game with platforming elements, layering stunning graphics and a brilliantly arranged soundtrack on top of it all. Throw in more than a few word-of-mouth reviews praising it as a return to the design of games from over a decade ago like The Lost Vikings, and they effectively captured my attention. Considering the budget-conscious price, it wasn’t as though I was breaking the bank by taking the plunge.

Several hours later – maybe days, really – I found myself scratching my head, wondering what the hell I had been thinking. The environments were appropriately themed and extremely lush, with such well-designed levels, clever puzzles, and the music was an excellent mood-setter. But even with all of this, the game felt so damn flawed. The plot was thrown together from a fantasy word generator, and the characters were extremely cliched and managed to feel less than two dimensional, which is an impressive feat to achieve in a side scroller. The enemies were also boring and unimaginative: limited to skeletons and skeletal archers, while the combat system’s controls also felt sluggish (and I imagine are also a skeleton). There was also a multiplayer mode, provided you don’t mind a half-assed local co-op system.

And that brings us back to the present. Yes, the characters still feel bland and lacking. And yes, the plot (“Hark! The Trine is back! We must adventure!”) is still as banal as the last time around. However, seemingly everything else has received a laser-like focus in attempt to refine and polish the game, shedding it of the weaknesses present in the original.

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Serious Sam: The Random Encounter Review: Seriously Scrambled

Posted on by Alex Esten in PC Reviews, Reviews | 3 Comments

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter is the kind of game that you enjoy while not really understanding why you’re enjoying it. It’s a Dude Where’s My Car title, where there’s something compelling and entertaining, but pinpointing those qualities is difficult and explaining them is even harder. At least initially.

At a base level, TRE offers a truly unique gaming experience with a refreshing, if completely bizarre and atypical, approach to “standard” RPG formatting, a profound sense of manic creativity that permeates the game design through and through, and pitch-perfect humor. It’s different in a good way…mostly.

While the story is nothing to really write about (Mental is attacking again, and Sam has to shoot things to stop him), and the two additional characters are basically just extra firepower and offer little in the way of character development, the game still tends to win you over on account of the little throwaway jokes and puns. For example, there’s a blink-and-you-miss-it joke involving a post-swim afro. The notion of puzzles in a game about shooting things is ridiculed constantly and mercilessly, almost to the point where I was wondering if it was all still in good fun. Even the puzzles themselves are ultimately solved by “shooting things.” The game consistently breaks the fourth wall but never feels too awkward when doing so, mostly due to its tongue being planted firmly in cheek the entire time. TRE’s action sequences lampoon the RPG genre, and its RPG elements lampoon the action genre. It’s a strange combination, but it absolutely excels in many ways. It kept me grinning almost the entire way through at least…a difficult feat, to be sure, given that I’m a hardened, cynical, antisocial bastard. Read more

Rock of Ages Review: Not One for the Ages

Posted on by Erron Kelly in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews, XBLA, XBLA Reviews | Leave a comment

This piece of work has taken me longer to write than anything I have ever written before in my entire life. That includes, but is not limited to, a boring as hell essay I had to write back in high school that I managed to string out for an additional two weeks before finally being ordered to hand it in. That essay eventually got written solely because my intense distaste for that particular subject and teacher drove me to weave a bit of wordsmithery that could both convey the factual points it needed to get across while still letting that teacher know just how much I detested writing it.

I was able to eventually spit that out because of those negative feelings. Emotions, whether negative or positive, are an amazing driving force for me to do something, simply to get it out of my way. It’s when something doesn’t strike me as particularly good or particularly bad that I have the most trouble. Even with the blandest of offerings I can normally find something on one side of the spectrum or the other to grasp at, and elaborate from there.

Rock of Ages did an impressive job of keeping me incredibly neutral for the whole experience. The gameplay consists of rolling a ball down a track to smash through a giant gate protecting whatever historical figure you are doing battle against. In between rolling your boulder you are placing a small variety of towers on your side of the track to prevent your opponent from doing the same to you. Unfortunately, this is practically a futile effort. The computer will hit your tower, eventually get past them, or break through them and hit your door. As long as you hit their door first, the time between rolling your boulder will end before theirs, and you can roll again. Simply repeat the process a meager three times and you will win.

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Orcs Must Die! Review: Genocide Never Felt So Good

Posted on by Taylor Bliss in PC Reviews, Reviews, XBLA Reviews | Leave a comment

so many orcs!

Tower defense is a genre that had an odd evolution. Similar to the MOBA, it began in RTS games as custom maps but because of its popularity grew into much more. Orcs Must Die! is a glowing example that tower defense has every right to be its own genre and not just a mode thrown in to an otherwise good game.

After your master is killed due to an unfortunate accident, you leave the title of apprentice behind you and become a full-fledged War Mage, but apparently the one that nobody wanted. This tone is conveyed throughout the game in the sparse narrations between levels. “If only it had been any other apprentice,” the old master dictates posthumously. It seems like an odd setup, but it works, with your character mostly filling that role with a very “dude-bro” attitude behind him. The only reason it feels out of place is a result of the sheer number of orcs you ceaselessly eradicate. Especially in the early levels, taking out the orcs is pretty easy, making it all the more satisfying. But it makes you wonder, “Why are all the other War Mages having so much trouble? This orc killing thing seems pretty straightforward.”

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Wizorb Review: Still Wizorbin

Posted on by Mike Wall in PC, PC Reviews, xblig, XBLIG Reviews | 2 Comments

what is that?

Loads of indie games face that critical dilemma of being completely competent and functional, yet just not something that you’d actually want to sit on your sofa and play on your fancy HD television.  After all, how many space shooters with Atari graphics or first person shooters that look like they were birthed on a 386 can you really play on a Saturday afternoon? Up until this point I would have thrown basically every console incarnation of Brickbreaker into that pile of games that aren’t quite worthy of prime time. They might be okay in a pinch when you’re stuck on a bus, but I never imagined having any interest in kicking back and playing for more than five minutes at a time. And along bounces Wizorb.

Wizorb attempts to do for Brickbreaker what Puzzle Quest did for match-3 puzzle games. It takes the somewhat mindless task of completing random level after level adds a bit of depth in the form of a loose story and some new abilities. It’s not a perfect amalgamation and the RPG elements aren’t as pronounced as they could be, but the new abilities, inspired level design, and snazzy retro graphics make moving the paddle horizontally back and forth and deflecting the ball back into the bricks more fun than its ever been.

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Astro Tripper Review: You Must Be Trippin’

Posted on by Mike Wall in PC, PC Reviews, PSN Reviews, Reviews | 4 Comments

boom

The past few years have seen several coin-op classics such as Pac-man and Space Invaders revitalized by infusing new energy into the gameplay and injecting them with an unhealthy dose of neon, strobing lights. The new remixes were wildly popular with critics and gamers alike, and now PomPom Games has taken a similar, albeit less official, route in updating the classic arcade game, Defender. I hope you’re wearing your Hank the Tank T-shirt, because we’re kickin’ trippin’ it old school with Astro Tripper.

In case the tiny spaceship shooting insane beams of energy didn’t give it away, Astro Tripper is a side-scrolling shoot-em up. It was originally released back in 2009 on PSN and it has now received the full Steam treatment complete with a 100% higher price tag.  Astro Tripper ditches the continually scrolling levels of most shooters and focuses the combat into long, narrow arenas. As in Defender, players can switch the direction the ship is facing. While I appreciate the attempt to update a classic, Astro Tripper’s immensely frustrating difficulty caused largely by anachronistic design choices make it a game that should be relegated to only the most hardcore shmup fan.

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Serious Sam Double D Video Review

Posted on by Taylor Bliss in PC, PC Reviews, Reviews | Leave a comment

Duke Nukem, Deux Ex and now Serious Sam? It looks like 2011 is the new 2001!  Croteam’s muscle-brained hero gets the 2D treatment courtesy of Mommy’s Best Games, and we’re here to let you know which end of the retro-revival spectrum Sam falls on.

Serious Sam Double D was provided for review by Mommy’s Best Games, and it is available on Steam for $7.99. 

Achron Video Review: Who Needs a DeLorean?

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

Hazardous Software wants gamers to put up $30 or their hard earned cash for the new RTS title, Achron. With a clever time travel mechanic, the game brings something new to the table, but is it enough to warrant the steep indie price tag? See for yourself and watch the latest Armless Octopus video review. This review is based on the single-player portion of the game.

Achron was provided for review by Hazardous Software. It is available for $29.99 on Steam.