INDIKA Review – Playing Devil’s Advocate

I have played video games since I was old enough to hold a controller. I cut my teeth on the Sega Genesis and my parents’ Apple Macintosh computer. I’ve been a console and PC gamer ever since, and I’ve played thousands of titles over the years. I say all of that because I’ve never played anything quite like INDIKA in all that time. While you can pick apart the elements of INDIKA and categorize its gameplay, once you put everything together, it becomes more than the sum of its parts. It’s wild, weird, funny, and even profound. It’s not for everyone, but is it for you? Let’s find out. A Fever Dream of a Game INDIKA is a third-person adventure set in an alternate version of 19th-century Russia. You play as a nun named Indika, who is a bit of a black swan among the others at her convent. From the beginning of the game, it’s very clear that the other look down on her. As if this wasn’t enough, Indika also hears a voice she’s convinced is the devil himself speaking to her. I told you this was going to get weird. There are a few odd moments from the beginning, but the opening is purposefully simple from a gameplay standpoint. You run simple errands and perform chores for a few other nuns as the devil’s voice waxes poetic and chastises you. You collect points, contributing to a simple skill tree that offers abilities that ultimately earn you more points. From the beginning, the game informs you that these points don’t matter, and they don’t. You won’t get any special endings or secret unlocks from collecting them (or the collectibles you can find), but the presence of the whole system reminds you that you’re still playing a video game at the end of the day. There’s also something surreal about doing something simple like filling up a bucket of water from a well, only to be rewarded but retro-style pixelated coins that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mario title. As the game progresses, INDIKA leans into the surreal and strange nature of its character and the world around her. This alternate version of Russia is bleak and filled with strange side characters. It’s also violent, as she soon crosses paths with a wounded soldier companion who is seeking help. The two become an unlikely duo as the game goes on, venturing through various environments, from a dilapidated village to a canning factory. At certain points in the story, you’ll also see flashbacks that flesh out Indika’s backstory. These are presented in a retro pixelated style and often require precise platforming or simple arcade-style gameplay. They offer a nice variety to the main game, mainly exploration and puzzle-solving. When you combine both pieces, even though the entire experience only lasts about 5-6 hours, you get a lot of variety across INDIKA. I particularly enjoyed the moments when the devil’s voice in Indika’s head becomes overwhelming, leading to strange … Read More

New Report Claims GTA VI Will Have a Female Protagonist and Take Modern Events into Account

The Grand Theft Auto series has always been one that bucks cultural sensitivity and general tact in favor of bombastic characters and wanton violence. To some, it could be seen as a purposeful exaggeration, but to others it could be viewed as downright insensitive. There’s a reason this series has always courted controversy, after all. Now, a new report from Bloomberg suggests that Rockstar is taking some steps to make GTA VI more culturally sensitive, including the addition of the series first playable female protagonist. How will these changes affect the overall tone gamers have come to expect from the series? Let’s dive in and find out! Bringing Self Awareness to Grand Theft Auto VI Rockstar as a developer has been slowly taking steps to repair their image as both a business and a game maker. They recently removed transphobic jokes from GTA V, and the company has also taken steps to narrow the gender pay gap internally. According to the Bloomberg report, the studio has already shelved at least one game mode for GTA VI in light of recent events. The mode, which would have been a variation of the game “cops and robbers,” was deemed inappropriate after the death of George Floyd in summer of 2020, so the company decided to take it out of their plans. New information from anonymous sources claims that GTA VI will include a female protagonist as a playable character. The woman, who is Latina, will be one of two main characters that are supposedly inspired by the classic “Bonnie and Clyde” story, while taking care not to “punch down” by making jokes about marginalized groups. This type of approach is somewhat shocking, given Rockstar’s penchant for insulting just about everyone and everything in the name of satire. Issues in the studio also came to light over the years, despite GTA V being one of the most successful games of all time. While it’s easy to applaud some of these changes and additions, it does make me wonder if a softer GTA VI that’s less offensive will have the same resonance with its long-time fans who have grown accustomed to a look and feel that, while questionable, defines the brand. GTA VI Aiming For 2024, With Post-Launch Updates in Tow/h2> Due to internal changes, the pandemic, and other factors, development has been slower than expected on GTA VI. Even so, the Bloomberg report shares new details on the setting as well, which is expected to be a fictional version of Miami, Florida. The game was originally planned to include large portions of both North and South America, but these ambitions have been scaled back. According to sources, Rockstar plans to add additional areas and cities after the launch of the main game. For what it’s worth, this particular gamer is happy to see Rockstar taking a step back and becoming more self aware about the world as it stands today. Parody and satire are not only fine, but are essential to truly sending … Read More

This War of Mine: Final Cut Review – Close to Home

I’ve followed This War of Mine for a long time as a gamer, but never had the chance to really sit down and play it until now. It’s hard not to associate this game with current events in the world. Indeed, the game’s developer, 11 Bit Studios, recently donated £520,000 to the Ukrainian Red Cross using sales from the game. Playing a game like This War of Mine: Final Cut comes with its own emotional attachments, but knowing that this is reality for many people right now makes it even more haunting. There’s no other game quite like this this one, so does that make it a must-play? Let’s find out. War Through The Eyes of The Innocent This War of Mine: Final Cut, is coming to PS5 on May 10th and brings with it a collection of DLC that adds three story-driven campaigns to the freeform base game. The PS5 enhancements include 4K resolution and sharper graphics, all of which look exquisite with their washed out pencil-drawn style. For the uninitiated, This War of Mine: Final Cut is a survival game at its core, but it has a setting wholly unique in the genre. Where most games that even contain a hint of war place you in the shoes of soldiers and super-powered secret weapons, This War of Mine places you in the shoes of everyday civilians who are caught up in the chaos and the horror of war. This is survival at its most basic, and its most human. The procedurally generated areas are always some sort of dilapidated structure, bombed out house, crumbling apartment building, or the like. You start with very little, and unlike other survival games, you won’t ever find that things get better. At least, not significantly. Each day in This War of Mine involves managing the needs of your people, or in some cases your children. Things like hunger, thirst, and rest are all factors you need to account for, but mental states come into play as well. Characters can become sad, depressed, or worse. It’s an important dimensions to highlight in a game like this, because war and survival is mentally taxing in addition to being physically exhausting. During the day, you can navigate your shelter, make or eat food, craft new items at your workbench, or rummage through unexplored rooms. When it’s time to end the end, you assign roles. Who will get to sleep? Will they sleep on the floor or in a bed? Will someone go out to scavenge for valuable items and crafting material? If so, will they go with any weapons or supplies, or carry as little as possible to maximize their inventory space? Scavenging itself is a tense and unpredictable part of the experience that really brings home the atmosphere and tension in This War of Mine: Final Cut. One night while scavenging, I came across a young man who was hiding from a sniper in the nearby park. Without spoiling the rest of the scenario, … Read More

Dying Light 2 – Review

Ahhh! It’s great to be back in Harran! Am I right? Beautiful views, plenty of work and hordes of zombies! I tell you, if a zombie apocalypse ever comes to be within my lifetime, I’ll be just fine. Wink, wink!   Anyway, for starters, if you haven’t played the first Dying Light, you’re missing out. Not only is Dying Light a great game, it helps you appreciate and understand Dying Light 2 much more than you would a newbie. So, if you haven’t played the original, I suggest you go pick it up and play it out! It’s worth it.   Moving on, let’s go over the good and the bad until we reach my final score of the review.   Graphics are pretty good on the PS5 and the game doesn’t seem to stutter and buffer when playing through and of course, there are no real loading times to contend with on current Gen consoles, so we’re happy there.   Parkour games don’t always play well, and it’s far from my favorite type of playstyle, but Dying Light does it so well, I forget just how much I hated Mirrors Edge. The developers at Techland definitely offer great parkour gaming!   The controls work great all the way around. Very responsive and the button layout works well without needing to make changes, at least for me. You’ll find that as you level up and upgrade your character, the controls become much more important than meets the eye, so pay attention to those upgrades!   The storyline is alright, but not great. I thought the story in the first entry of the series was better, but that’s just my humble opinion. The story is just fine and as you play on, it does get better. I found myself becoming more emotionally invested half way through my playthrough. We may not always realize we are invested with characters we play, but it goes to show just how good a game can be. Sometimes you just don’t care about the characters or stories because a game is just that bad. Thankfully, that’s not the case here.   The audio is also spot on. Sound effects and music together really make the setting come to life. There is some licensed music in the game, so if you’re streaming, check the audio settings and turn off licensed music to avoid any copyright issues you could run into.   Upgrading your character isn’t the only upgradable thing in the game either. You can mod your weapons which is practically an upgrade in itself. You can also upgrade crafting recipes. If you have a recipe for medicine to heal yourself, you can upgrade that recipe and make the medicine more powerful and quicker to use. You can also upgrade your weapon mod recipes for even more powerful weapons all around.   As far as the bad goes, I haven’t had too much trouble with bugs, but I have had my instances where I couldn’t complete a … Read More

Aliens Fireteam Elite Review?

Some of you have been wondering where our Aliens Fireteam Elite review is. I’m here to clear that up for you. It just wasn’t good enough to bother publishing a review. No, it’s not a 1 out of 10 title, but it is closer to a 4 out of 10. It feels and looks unoriginal and doesn’t come close to providing a long run experience before it becomes repetitive.  Graphics are bottom barrel and controls aren’t that tight. Sure, it costs less than your typical triple A title, but even a lower cost can’t justify paying full price. No matter the price (even if it was free), it would still be a disappointing third person shooter that would be better as a poster and not much more.  Granted, that’s my opinion and not all of us will agree, but that’s my stance. 4 out of 10 and even that’s giving it too high of a score for my taste. What did you think of the Aliens Fireteam? Were you lucky enough to pass or did you play? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

DeathLoop Review

DeathLoop is a masterpiece that should be played by anyone that has even the smallest interest. Playing through DeathLoop only saddens me further when I think about Microsoft buying Bethesda, but at least we got to play DeathLoop.    Ok, enough of the sappy and more of the happy, right? Right!    DeathLoop is a fun first person shooter that dives deep into the concept of time. It’s complicated in ways and can be confusing at times. It can drag on a little of the repetitive side, but for me at least, there is little to complain about.    I have heard a lot of players complaining about how they had to try and keep up with unfolding the storyline through side missions and the main game and I kind of surprised anyone would think this is something to complain about. A lot of games use side missions to expand the game and offer more options to the player. You don’t have to play all the side missions to understand the story. Playing them just gives you a better understanding of the story on top of it.   To sum it up, the story is really good. Well written and mind boggling at times. I would love to meet the minds behind the storyline because there was a lot of creativity with this one. I can respect that the storyline isn’t for everyone, but I think if someone wasn’t interested in a sci-fi story type about time and assassins and borderline rewind and try again scenarios, they probably wouldn’t pick up the game. That being said, it’s a good story… Let’s just leave it at that.    Gameplay mechanics are responsive and not complicated to learn. This isn’t really a surprise because most games have tight responsive controls, it’s still important to mention. If the mechanics were not so up to par, I’d have to mention that too. Just sayin.   Graphics… boy oh boy are the graphics something to whistle about. Now I know that if someone has a nice PC rig, they’re gonna find a way to mention it because they can’t help themselves, but this is about the PS5 and this machine can deliver quite the experience. DeathLoop is gorgeous on a million levels. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it is beautiful to say the least. It really does take talent to put something like that together.    Without spoiling the story, you are an assassin that is being antagonized by another assassin. You’re out to eliminate your enemies, while surviving everything in between. You will have to use your thinking cap to get ahead of the game (no pun intended) and solve a lot of puzzles to get there. Don’t worry though, you’ll be in a “death loop” that allows you to learn from your mistakes. It’s sci-fi fun with a lot of twists and I highly recommend anyone with a PS5 to try this game, unless of course you just don’t like First Person Shooters.  … Read More

Monster Harvest Review – Farmer’s Déjà vu

Like so many others, I was one of those gamers who sunk a ton of hours into Stardew Valley, the breakout farming sim that revitalized the genre. Having spent about 100 hours in that charming world, I found myself on the hunt for more games that hit the sweet spot between farming routines, making friends, and exploring dungeons. You can imagine my excitement then when I saw Monster Harvest. A game that combines farming, dungeon crawling, and creatures not unlike Pokemon that you can bring with you for turn-based battles. It’s a winning combination on paper, but does it translate into the ultimate monster mash? Let’s find out. A Familiar Set of Ideas With a Slow Start While Monster Harvest combines several great ideas in its premise, it also borrows heavily from the games that inspired it. Upon first starting the game, you can choose from a few character variations, but there’s not much customization to be found. You arrive on your Uncle’s farm after receiving a letter from him (sound familiar?), but in Monster Harvest your Uncle is alive and well. He’s been experimenting with slime, which is an integral part of the town, and no longer has time to run his farm. After a simple introduction, you’re sent off to begin the process of breaking rocks, chopping logs, cutting down trees, and the usual first steps in any farming sim. It’s all very similar, but it is possible to get a glimpse of future opportunities as you explore your farmland. Specified locations for various structures give you a glimpse of what’s to come. Of course, you have al limited pool of stamina, so those early days in the game are going to be short and very similar to one another. When you go to sleep, you’ll have the option to sleep until nightfall and regain a portion of your stamina, or you can sleep until morning. The reason for this choice comes down to the game’s other half. As part of the storyline, you soon find out that the local slime that’s used for all manner of things also has the ability to mutuate your crops into “Planimals.” Slime comes in three colors, Red, Green, and Blue. Red slime will turn your crops into Planimals when they’re full grown, based on the plant. Green slime will speed up the growth process so you don’t have to wait, and blue slime will turn your crops into livestock or a mount depending on whether it’s the upgraded variation. There are a respectable number of Planimals to mutuate and harvest, though again, things start fairly slow. Eventually you’ll be able to take six of them along with you into the dungeon, but you can only enter it once per day and at night, hence the option to sleep through the daylight hours. Interestingly, Planimals die permanently when they fall in combat, but they do drop a sort of essence that allows you to upgrade your soil, and progress carries over to … Read More

Psychonauts 2 Review – A Mental Magnum Opus

As someone who is almost entirely defined by the terms “gamer” and “writer,” games are a huge part of my life, my personality, and my outlook on life. We all have those games that truly changed us in ways both major and subtle. For me, that game was Psychonauts back in 2005. Now, in 2021, Microsoft graciously provided me with a review code to play and review Psychonauts 2 on PS5. It’s a surreal feeling, to have finally played a sequel I was convinced would never exist. Not only that, but to have it live up to my almost impossible expectations, is nothing short of a miracle. Grab your Psi-pops and your dream fluffs, let’s get started. After All These Years, it Feels Like Raz Never Left The year was 2005. I had just left the mall after visiting the local EB Games. With little to no funds to speak of, I just bought the latest copy of OXM magazine to get a demo disc that I could use to fill up my gaming time until I could afford a new game. That demo disc contained the first level of a game called Psychonauts, and I honestly cannot remember how many times I played that demo and loved every minute of it. I spent countless time and hours working on chores and the like to save up for a copy of the full game. As someone who played any and all games I could get my hands on, it was truly a unique experience. Name one other game that features a psychic summer camp, levels deep within the minds of its characters, and psychic bears? You can’t, but the true charm of Psychonauts was how it balanced unmatched creativity with heartfelt characters and deep dives into mental health long before the subject became commonplace in video games. It was and still is one of my favorite games of all time, so you can imagine my sheer shock and excitement when Psychonauts 2 was announced in 2015. I was like a fan at the super bowl, throwing tables stampeding around my living room like a giant nerd. I regret nothing. Since then, I was privileged to review the PSVR title set directly after the events of the first game called Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. It was the first time we had seen anything past the ending of the first game, but it only made me more excited for the full sequel. In the time since, Double Fine was purchased by Microsoft, which led to concern about whether the game would still come to PlayStation consoles. It will indeed, and Microsoft provided me with a PlayStation review copy to test on PS5, which features a higher resolution and 60 FPS gameplay. The Xbox version has a few exclusive features that we’ll discuss later on, but the PS5 version is excellent, so no need to worry there. Now, my fellow gamers, it’s finally here. For those who are fans, and those … Read More

FORECLOSED Review – Putting The Punk in Cyberpunk

While the term “cyberpunk” may remind most people of the rocky launch of Cyberpunk 2077, other games have leveraged the sub-genre over the years to great effect. It goes beyond a style, however, and invokes a deeper look into futuristic societies and the things that can happen if we’re not careful to keep the powers that be in check. FORECLOSED, a new comic book style cyberpunk action game, leverages the style to great effect, but does this sleek look translate to compelling gameplay? Let’s find out. Stylish Looks Can’t Hide Less Than Ideal Story and Gameplay One thing no one can fault FORECLOSED for is its style. The game oozes comic book cyberpunk style that’s immediately eye-catching. The premise too is interesting. You play as Evan Kapnos, who wakes up one morning to find out his company has gone bankrupt and as a result his entire identity has been, you guessed it, foreclosed. While he starts out trying to do the right thing, Evan is quickly pulled into a conspiracy that has him on the run and dodging bullets very quickly into the story. The story itself is solid, but not incredibly compelling. There are some moments of downtime where you can choose dialogue options, but the game goes through long stretches of fighting rooms of enemies between exposition, so it doesn’t quite have the narrative-focused feel the game’s official description would suggest. One thing that’s really exciting in the opening hours of the game, are the ways that it transistions between comic book styled cutscenes and gameplay. For example, you’ll often see the screen split into panels before transitioning seamlessly into gameplay. An early chase sequence also has you running from armed enemies through the perspective of security cameras, allowing for a visual treat beyond the standard third-person gameplay. FORECLOSED is stylish, and it knows it. For a while, that was enough for me to look past some gameplay issues, but when we stop and break it all down, there are a number of problems with how the game plays. For starters, there’s a sort of hacking minigame that involves pressing directional buttons in sequence. It works perfectly fine, but it never gets more complicated than that. The same goes for these hidden switches you can find inside of walls using your vision, or ones that are scattered across an area. You’ll need to find and hack them all to move forward once the enemies are down They’re interesting at first, but soon become a repetitive aspect of progression. Combat is a mixed bag as well. No matter how much I adjusted the aim sensitivity and aim assist in the options, I could never get the gunplay to feel responsive enough. It was always a little sluggish and difficult to make precise movements. More often than not, I would just resort to strafing to line up my shot. Enemies also flood areas and just stand in place, which leads to simple shootouts. On the default difficulty, you’ll also find … Read More

Horizon: Forbidden West State of Play Highlights!

Sony is hosting a Horizon: Forbidden West State of Play with all new gameplay on May 27th, and you can watch the full event below. We’ve also included all the major highlights from the event, so let’s dive in! All the Major Highlights From Sony’s May 27th State of Play Here are the key takeaways from the event in case you missed it, or you need to quickly understand what news we have on Horizon: Forbidden West. The showcase gets right into it with PS5 gameplay of Horizon: Forbidden West. Graphics are incredibly detailed, and lighting in particular is stunning. We get a glimpse of raiders riding velociraptor machines that sport feathers and a pair of chainsaws in their lower jaws. A striking creature design that fits well into the world. Aloy is forced to flee as the raptors surround her. Traversal looks smoother and the enemies chase her upwards into some ruins before she divews into the water to escape. Underwater environments are equally stunning, and we catch a glimpse of a massive water-based machine creature as well. Swimming mechanics include a push-off dash maneuver that Aloy uses to push past strong currents. A massive elephant machine referred to as a Tremortusk, makes its debut in another cutscene where one of Aloy’s allies from the first game has been captured by raiders. Combat looks as agile as ever. At one point, Aloy attached some sort of temporary boost to her bow, allowing her to shoot through an enemy’s thick armor. Aloy uses a holographic paraglider to glide down from a tall distance similar to Breath of the Wild. She then tames one of the raptors with her staff, allowing her to ride it. Aloy takes on the Tremortusk, shooting out enemies on its back witr her bow. The enemy is formidable, with laser cannons on its tusks. She uses some new projectiles to slow the beast down before knocking out its weak points in due fashion. She continues to use a grappling hook to move quickly through the environment as the Tremortusk gives chase, destroying entire sections of ruins during the fight. Her ally gives Aloy a device that pinpoints a new location in the United States for them to journey to. The pair discuss a coming storm before we cut to the title. A deep dive into the footage confirms the use of a diving mask to navigate underwater, and new mounts, along with new traversal methods. Weapons like special arrows, spears, and fallen weapons from machines are all back with new variations. No word on release date, or any news on a PS5 update for the first game, but compelling gameplay nonetheless. Stay tuned for more updates and information on Horizon: Forbidden West right here! Article by – Bradley Ramsey Insert date – 5/27/2021