Category Archives: VIDEO GAMES

Is Severed a cut above the rest?

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Developer Drinkbox Studios has once again brought a vivid art mosaic onto the gaming landscape. In the past, DrinkBox Studios was responsible for such games as Guacamelee and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. I haven’t played Mutant Blobs Attack, but Guacamelee is truly a treasure of a game.

Similar to Severed, Guacamelee blends Metroidvania gameplay with a unique art style that’s bound to leave you dazzled. The world of Severed is covered in colorful fungi, eyeballs, and trees that shift from indigo to bright neon purple.

As I mentioned, the animation style of Severed is definitely borrowed from studio predecessors. Unlike games like Guacamelee, though, you’ll find Severed to be full of demonic imagery and endless insanity.

In Severed, you follow a protagonist named Sasha. Sasha is a one-armed young girl turned warrior on a quest to unravel the mysteries of a dark fantasy universe. She’s also looking for her family, but finding them is no easy feat. Fortunately, you have a supremely powerful living sword by your side throughout the harrowing journey.

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The story starts when Sasha is pushed into this insane world when you learn Sasha has lost her arm and her family along with it. A demon informs her that this world isn’t her reality, she’s a long way from home and if she’d ever like to return she must reunite the bodies of her slain family.

Severed is in the style of Legend of Grimrock or the Etrian Odyssey series, maps are laid out in grid format and Sasha must move through them one square at a time. The game is a first-person experience, moving through forests, and dungeons, enemies could just be around the next corner of the map for you to battle them.

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You’re allowed free rein to look in any direction to choose which way to go next, adding depth and awe to the environments when you’re free to look around to plot your way through. It makes the art style come alive and enhancing it by making it look more 3D than it actually is.

There’s a tendency to do backtracking for previously missed goodies, in the same vein as Guacamelee and other games of the Metroidvania style. Unfortunately, the mechanics are limited so the puzzles aren’t all too difficult to solve.

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When in combat Severed is reminiscent of games like Fruit Ninja where you swipe your finger/stylus across the screen and slash whatever is in your way. Although the creatures of this world definitely do not resemble apples and oranges, this I can assure you. I don’t remember any of the fruits in Fruit Ninja blocking my slashes or fighting back.

This mechanic makes the fight feel frantic and engaging like a Fruit Ninja stage, but provides you an opportunity to think how to best take down your enemy. You feel a similar satisfaction with your swipes due to the thoughtful sound design and integrated touch controls.

On the Wii U version, Severed is thankfully played on the tablet portion of the console, and the TV is used to keep track of the map. It’s pretty difficult to go from looking at the tablet then to the TV to get a good sense of what’s happening, so this solves all the problems when your actions and the visual cues you need are all in one place, rather breaking away from the tablet screen to look up at your TV.

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In combat you’ll be faced with multiple enemies or single tough targets to deal with. Each enemy has a health meter and an attack gauge to keep well informed about your next move. You must choose wisely when facing down a tough opponent with his minions and focus on who to attack first. Fortunately, enemies have tells so you know when to strike, the game provides meters at the bottom that fill up with a yellow color indicating when they’re poised to strike back at you.

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The yellow ring surrounds the enemy’s health gauge as well, this makes for an intuitive system for keeping track of the combat pace. And every enemy has a particular area of weakness to exploit, Severed will make demands of you to have precision aim on different enemy types.

As you slash at enemies you have your Severe Time gauge that fills on the top left, the more hits the enemy receives the sooner you can unleash your full power onto them. You then tap onto an enemy that’s stunned and it’ll open the way for your fury to be unleashed in a bullet time sequence where you can dismember your opponent’s limbs and claim items to use as currency for the game’s upgrade system.

You can upgrade your Severe Time, (the slow-mo state you initiate for the hack and slash fun to begin) your health, or damage. It brings it full circle, your arm was cut off, now you get to exact revenge on the mobs of enemies that stand in your way of being reunited with your family.

The only negatives are the handful of monster types, with those few monsters getting only upgraded in the late game. So moving forward the punches of the early game seem to bring less of the same power they packed, a shame but not a deal breaker in the slightest. It just makes me excited for what this indie developer, DrinkBox Studios, can bring out next. Severed shows the impact this game has on me to just want more dungeons and monsters to fight!

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The music of the game is provided by an Indie Canadian group: YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN they fuse noise, metal, pop, and folk music into their unique tracks. It provides an additional layer of ambience to the dark fantasy setting. They also have the OST from the game to peruse through.

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DrinkBox Studios has done a remarkable job of making this adventure memorable, through the striking imagery. The character design is genuinely interesting, haunting and beautiful. The combat is fun, frantic, and challenging when dealing with different enemy types all at once. DrinkBox Studios has made a game that the touch based interface is fun to use which by itself is astounding to someone who prefers a control or keyboard and mouse combo. Without touch I would say the mechanics would not be nearly as fun as they are. Hopefully in the future we’ll see more from DrinkBox Studios on the Nintendo Switch platform.

Severed was voted 2016’s iPad game of the year, and is currently available Nintendo eshop. If you buy the game on your linked Nintendo account, you’ll receive a copy on both Wii U and 3DS. You can also buy a copy on the PSVita or download it on iTunes.

Will you be buying the SNES Classic Mini this Christmas?

Although, we can’t buy the NES Classic Mini without giving up an arm and a leg for it at an ebay auction; we can look forward to SNES Classic Mini coming this Christmas.

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This could potentially explain the NES Classic Mini cancellation even though the popularity of the tiny retro console hasn’t died down. Apparently, Nintendo was looking to clear the market out this Christmas for the SNES Classic Mini. As such, Nintendo never intended to keep the NES Classic Mini in stock past last years Christmas.

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I’m pretty jazzed for the SNES Classic Mini, as I grew up loving the SNES games more than NES games. For many, it’s difficult not to look back fondly on some of the best console games ever created on the SNES such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, and Chrono Trigger, to name just a few.

Can we really justify the price of the little console when we have the Virtual Console filled with SNES and NES classics? Although, for anyone who hasn’t bought a Nintendo console since the Wii this could be a great way to snag some nostalgic adults with a SNES Classic Mini who want to relive some of their childhood experiences without a high barrier to entry price.

It’s best to pre-order as soon as possible seeing that the NES Classic Mini sold out and became discontinued shortly after. Let’s hope the supplies don’t run dry too soon, but as we already know Nintendo has a bad track record with keeping up with demand.

Do you think Nintendo will give us more than 30 titles for the SNES Classic Mini? What games would you like to see pre-loaded on the tiny nostalgia box?

Are You Interested in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series?

No one really asked for a Guardians of the Galaxy game, but it’s coming. The first episode is due out on April 18th on Xbox One, PS4, Steam, and GOG.

I watched the trailer and I gotta say, it’s not very funny, at least to me their attempts at a couple of jokes fell flat. You’d think they’d get it right since the humor in Tales From the Borderlands is on point. But that’s okay if you can’t have jokes then at least Telltale is known for making games filled to the brim with choices; to be fair most if not all of these choices don’t actually go anywhere significant in terms of the core plot in any of these games.

I hope no one new to the Telltale line up of games falls for that trap like so many of us have in the past.

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I guess I’m just not convinced with this trailer. I mean it’s fun to see the Guardians of the Galaxy square off against Thanos, which they reveal in the trailer, but if it’s anything on par with the Telltale Batman series I think I’ll sit this one out.

If this is the trailer for episode 1 of the series then there definitely isn’t going to be a resolution to that fight anytime soon.

I much rather Telltale focuses on titles such as The Wolf Among Us, or even the next Borderlands series of games. I feel like to preserve quality they should focus on finishing one series before beginning the next one. Although the time to strike the iron is while it’s hot, and with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 set to release May 5th it makes sense financially to pump this out now.

Do you think Telltale has a hit with the Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series? Or should they go back to their other titles that have garnered a lot of success and respect which they haven’t finished with?

Find out more about Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series and more by visiting their site.

I’m Excited For Arms On The Nintendo Switch

So with Nintendo Direct presentation over with we got a little more information about the up coming game Arms. Nintendo announced today that their motion-controlled fighting game will be releasing June 16th.

Finally, is what I had said after hearing the news, an original project for the Switch that isn’t 1-2 Switch. Although 1-2 Switch was a mediocre at best party game, you honestly need to have drunk adults milking cows and manipulating the joy-con’s in provocative ways to get any fun out of it since most of the games fall flat otherwise.

1-2 Switch the tech demo wrapped in a $50 price tag was not a system seller. I already had Zelda: Breath of the Wild to do that for me, which is by all accounts a marvelous product on the platform, but not original to the Switch.

You also have Snipperclips, now this one turned out to be a bit better than I had expected. The aim of the game was to solve some puzzles by cutting your paper characters into shapes. You or 4 of your friends will play some basketball, pop balloons, or transport office supplies. The game is cute as all hell, and only $20 but again it wasn’t something that would have sold me on the Switch.

Now Nintendo is finally releasing a game that could really hype the way people feel about the Switch, again aside from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is amazing but not exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.

Arms uses the Joy-cons, which are motion controllers, by using button combinations and movements of your hands to simulate a boxing match. PSA: You will not learn how to box by playing this game so don’t try it out on your next door bully.

Players tilt the controllers left or right to move in the direction of the nod. When pulling the controllers back toward yourself the character on-screen will move backwards. Using the buttons on the Joy-cons will allow you to unleash special attacks and ranged attacks, while to punch your opponent you have to thrust the Joy-con forward.

All the characters are interestingly designed, and as we learned today they’ll be full of customization options. All of the characters have different arm-related accessories. The newest character unveiled during the Nintendo Direct, Min Min, comes equipped with ramen noodles for arms!

Each character will come packed with their own stats, so you’ll want to think closely on who your main is going to be. Do you want an agile sprite of a character, or a massive hulking beast with gigantic mitts?

There’s a surprising depth to the frantic fighting. You’ll be throwing these spring-loaded punches throughout the map. Watching out for the next punch that’ll K.O. you in a flash. The game can be a cardio routine, akin to the Wii Sports boxing game.

The game rely heavily on the Joy-con controllers working in perfect sync with one another, and you as a player having an enjoyable experience using them. Like I mentioned before I believe Arms will be the true indicator of the longevity and viability of the Joy-con control scheme. We all know the waggle of the original Wii controllers become quite a nuisance after a while, but this game has so much cool flash and potential that I am hoping it’ll make players fall in love with the combat.

Time will tell if we’ll see an Arms 2 when this game lands in stores and Virtual Console on June 16th. It can easily be my next Splatoon, aside from Splatoon 2 which is also coming out July 21st. I’m excited for this new IP from Nintendo and for the Switch. Learn more about this game and where to buy it June 16 by visiting the official site.

What do you guys think of this new Nintendo IP? Are you going to pick it up? Do you think it’s got “Legs” to stand on? Leave a comment below.

Xbox Scorpio: Are Console Exclusives Necessary?

The Xbox Scorpio had a few moments in the sun last week. We learned about the impressively powerful machine, but we haven’t heard anything about the price point just yet. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it might be steep.

Then the groans started, software drives the gaming workhorse, and PlayStation has been sitting on their mighty throne made of some excellent titles. Horizon Zero Dawn springs to mind with its recent release selling as many as 1,829,337 in its first week alone.

Microsoft on the other hand has had a few set backs, such as the Platinum game Scalebound being cancelled before it had the exclusive spot light from Microsoft. And games like Quantum Break not being as revolutionary as people had hoped. We shouldn’t expect Microsoft to be able to catch up. So far Microsoft hasn’t announced anything remotely close to replacing Scalebound but is that okay?

The console is a mid-cycle upgrade for this console generation, this means that games on the Xbox One need to be played on the Scorpio. The Scorpio will come with improved frame-rates, load times, and resolution over its predecessor and that’s a strong reason to buy a Scorpio in my mind. I want games to play smoother, look gorgeous, and stay consistent with high frame-rates.

Let’s forget the performance for a second, maybe you’ll buy the Xbox Scorpio for that massive 4K display and be blown away by the beauty displayed on screen.  But for the rest of us who already have a PS4 or PS4 Pro what’s going to make us take the leap to the Scorpio? The price point will likely be steep, I don’t think 4K TV’s will be cheap enough by the time the Scorpio comes out to make it affordable, and finally there aren’t exclusives yet to speak of since “No one gets left behind,” said Xbox boss Phil Spencer when Project Scorpio was announced.

If the Scorpio brings out amazing performance that the PS4 Pro can’t match, and isn’t as expensive as a $600 graphics card, I may consider it. I mean hell I have to consider it. But penny pinchers will need a game to sell them on the product, maybe even several, and time will only tell if the Scorpio brings it. I want more games, and the more fantastic and creative they become I’ll look past the consoles shortcomings when it comes to the price point.