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Category Archives: News

Have You Played… The Blackwell Epiphany?

Point and haunt

Featured post A screenshot from Blackwell Epiphany showing Rosa Blackwell and ghost Joey Mallone confronting a priest, who is standing in a magic circle

The Blackwell series began in 2006, a collection of 5 proper good point and click games featuring a girl and a ghost solving paranomal-ish mysteries. The Blackwell Epiphany is the finale of them, and is actually the first Blackwell game I ever played.

Rosa Blackwell has a kind of love/hate relationship with her familial ability of mediuming. By The Blackwell Epiphany, she’s pretty much accepted it, and her spirit guide Joey, an appropriately wise-cracking 1930s trenchcoated ghost. As a capper to an almost decade-long series, Epiphany is great, with stories resolved and emotions flying all over the place.

But it’s also a great game in its own right, and playing it first is what made me want to go back and try the whole series. The writing is great, the puzzles are cool and challenging but not too obscure or weird – but most of all, the art is gorgeous. It’s expressive and beautiful in that way that only very good pixel art is.

The Blackwell series as a whole is the work of Wadjet Eye games, what done Unavowed, another very good, paranormal point and click adventure. I’m not sure there’s another studio doing ’em better, to be honest.

Game Maker developer YoYo Games bought by browser developer Opera

Game Maker is an entry-level game development tool which has been used to create several indie megahits, including Undertale, Hyperlight Drifter, Heat Signature and Katana Zero. Since 2015, its developers YoYo Games have been owned by gambling software creator Playtech. There’s been no official announcement that this has changed, but a report on Reuters states that Playtech have sold YoYo Games for “about $10 million”.

The report doesn’t mention who they sold YoYo Games to, but some investigative folks on the Game Maker forums noticed that employees at Opera, developers of reasonably popular browser software, have been appointed as YoYo Games directors. Companies House has filings which confirm that.

This kind of acquisition is nervy stuff for game developers. Game Maker and its various iterations is a popular, vital tool for creating games, particularly 2D games, and relatively inexpensive when compared to some of its peers. A new owner could mean changes which impact a lot of game developers, many of whom might be years-in on a project with years of work still to go. Heck, I’m several years into a Game Maker project, even if it’s been several years since I last worked on it.

There were similar fears when Playtech bought YoYo Games in 2015, but the gambling firm didn’t change the core software. Over the past several years, YoYo have tried to diversify their business, including announcing a game publishing division in 2018 which closed down the following year. The last major iteration of the Game Maker software, Game Maker: Studio 2, launched in 2017.

I’ve reached out to YoYo Games and to Opera for comment and will update this story should they respond.

Darkmoon Races Mini-Set Coming To Hearthstone This Week

Hearthstone is getting a significant update in just a few days with the Darkmoon Races Mini-Set on January 21. Over the past few years, Hearthstone has become not just the core game, but many different experiences under one roof.

Don’t like Standard and dealing with the metadecks? Hearthstone’s take on auto chess, Battlegrounds, might be a nice escape. Still want the familiarity of cards but with an “every run is different” feel to it? Duels lets you play a roguelike run against other players, a natural progression from the dungeon delves that they were experimenting with a while ago. Arena lets players engage in a small scale format where single-card analysis and synergies can come to life outside of a constructed deck zone. And of course, there are still cozy Tavern Brawls that present strange game modes each week. 

The Darkmoon Races Mini-Set lets players pick up all the cards in the set at one price for $14.99 or 2000 gold. Alternatively, they can also be found in Darkmoon Faire packs once it launches. There are 35 cards in the new infusion, including cool characters that can really tie together strategies. Tapping into the powers of corruption? Dark Inquisitor Xanesh has a plan for you!

Battlegrounds is getting a few new heroes in this update as well. Tickatus is a premium source of Darkmoon prizes, gaining one for free every four turns. That sounds like it could get out of control! If you’ve been tinkering around with a taunt build trying to utilize many of the newer Battlegrounds cards that have “whenever your minion with taunt [does things],” Greybough looks like he’s the perfect treant hero to take some chances on there. Some new Demon cards are also getting stuffed into the mix, so maybe Demons will be a viable faction (yeah right).

Duels is getting a bunch of new options with this patch. 10 new hero powers(!), 25 new treasures, and a ratings reset (both heroic and casual) are on deck. Duels is a fantastic way to inject a little variance and a lot of fun into classic archetypes, if you haven’t had a chance to try it yet. It takes the dungeon run theme that began with Kobolds and Catacombs and ramps it up into a competitive PVP experience!

Are you playing Hearthstone? And if you are, what mode is your jam? Let us know in the comments below!

Ratropolis is a tower defence deckbuilder about commanding rats

A screenshot of Ratropolis, showing a card named "Cheese" being held over a 2D background of rats milling around.

Like Omori before it, Ratropolis is another game we missed because it snuck out over Christmas. This is much like the rats I used to live with in an old house share, who snuck around every trap we laid down for so long they became like friends. Horrible, noisy friends who’d steal our pasta… Much like all housemates.

Ratropolis is also a roguelite tower defense citybuilding deckbuilding real-time strategy game, though. I’ve never met a housemate who can say the same.

From a side-on perspective, you drop cards to place buildings – turrets, resource gatherers, and more – and then defend yourself against waves of oncoming enemies. The systems click together in neat ways, as the buildings you construct give you access to new cards, card upgrades, and so on.

That it’s real-time, rather than turn-based like most card battlers, reminds me a lot of Overdungeon, which similarly mixed cards amd tower defense. There’s none of the same spectacle here, but from the streams I’ve watched, Ratropolis seems like a more strategic game as a result. (I’ve been watching a lot of tower defence streams recently and everyone is playing either this or Bloons TD 6.)

We’ll have a review of Ratropolis in the near future. If you can’t wait that long, it’ll cost you £14/$18/€15 from Steam.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive custom level has 30 million possible permutations

A screenshot of a custom level for CSGO which is procedurally generated.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has some of the most famous, popular, and beautifully handcrafted maps of any multiplayer game. But there’s still only a finite number available, so it’s cool that someone has built a procedurally generated level with “tens of millions” of possible layouts.

There are limtations. For one, it’s an Aim map – a map with no hostage or bomb defusal objectives, so-called because they’re good places for players to practice their aim. But otherwise, this is impressive stuff by OrelStealth:

As the trailer explains, this isn’t the first map to experiment with levels being different in each round, but previously this was only used to (annoyingly) open or shut some doors on de_havana. Aim Rogue Inferno changes entire layouts, including rooms, floor levels and cover positions. It looks architecturally fairly simple to accommodate the shifting floor plan, a little like an infinite fy_iceworld.

I’m particularly impressed that it gives players options to customise the kind of level it generates, selecting whether it should be symmetrical or half-symmetrical, and even generating a seed you can then share with other players. It’s even got bot support.

It’s been a while since I’ve played CS:GO, but I wish more people – or Valve – were experimenting with it in this way. You can download the level and try it for yourself via the Steam Workshop.


What’s the best trilogy of PC games?

A screenshot from Hitman 3 onto which Commander Shepard from Mass Effect and Phoenix Wright from Phoenix Wright have been superimposed.

Hitman 3 is out later this week and if Brendy’s review is any indication, it’s great. He calls it “as capable and pleasing as its trilogy-siblings,” and names the trilogy as a whole, “one of the most fun-loving games of the previous decade.”

That got me thinking. What is the best trilogy in PC gaming?

There are only a few series which can maintain quality over the course of three consecutive games. Normally because games take so long to make that shifts in technology and game design principles cause series to change a lot along the way.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t obvious contenders, though. There’s Mass Effect 1-3, for example, which tells a continuous story and lets you carry your decisions from one game to the next. Perhaps the ending of the trilogy spoils it all for you, though.

Maybe you’re a Batman Batfan, and liked the way that series opened up from Arkham Asylum, to the more open world of Arkham City, to, uh, the barely playable mess of Arkham Knight. Or maybe you’d take the roughly one billion Assassin’s Creed games and boil them down to just the three starring Ezio, as a set of charming neck-stabbers about a cheeky Italian and his famous pals.

Oh! Oh! What about Metro, which grew across 2033, Last Light and Exodus while holding on to its own special flavour. Or maybe you’re yelling “Objection!” at each of these suggestions, a reflection of both your disagreement and your support for the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, which was released on PC a couple of years ago to much renewed acclaim.

Me? I don’t know. Spelunky/Spelunky HD/Spelunky 2 probably doesn’t count, right?

Tell me what to think in the comments.

Learn How To Become The Medium In New Gameplay Trailer

Bloober Team’s The Medium straddles the thin veil between reality and the spirit world. A new gameplay trailer focuses on how players, through protagonist Marianne, can interact with the game world around them by using her supernatural powers. You can watch the video above. 

First and foremost, Bloober Team sets out to answer an often-posited question: What does a medium do? Marianne can notice and feel things that other people will never be able to pick up on. These moments of sensory overload drive her intuition and choices. Players can highlight important objects or passageways in their surroundings in order to gain deeper insight into the context of any specific situation. Additionally, Marianne can tune into key items so that she can relive the past (or “echoes”) – you can see examples of this above with the dress shoe. 

More importantly, Marianne can cross over to the spirit world – a waiting room of sorts where spirits dwell before moving on to the afterlife. Players are tasked with revealing fragments of these lost souls in order to bring them peace. I’m definitely not looking forward to conversing with that creepy little girl in the mask. 

In addition to the gameplay footage, Bloober Team released an updated PC System Requirements chart for those who’d prefer to enter the spirit world on mouse and keyboard. You can see the image on those specs below: 

The Medium debuts on January 28 on Xbox Series X/S and PC, with a day one release on Xbox Game Pass alongside a bevy of remastered Yakuza titles

Time-Bending JRPG Cris Tales Gets Impressive Collector’s Edition

Some of you may recognize Cris Tales as one of the more eye-catching indie titles of 2021. For those unfamiliar, the game blends a striking, hand-drawn art direction with time-bending JRPG gameplay. It looks extremely promising, and those planning to pick it up should perhaps consider upping the ante with the game’s newly announced collector’s edition.

This physical bundle comes courtesy of Maximum Games Store and comes chock full of goodies. It runs for $99.99, and you’ll have to pre-order it fast as only “very limited” quantities are available. Cris Tales doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but the bundle is scheduled to release sometime this spring. Per the product page, the package includes the following: 

  • Collector’s box
  • An adorable Matias plush
  • Lithographic art prints
  • 3 character stickers
  • Set of 4 enamel character pins
  • A 60-page artbook
  • 4 desktop wallpaper downloads
  • 8 phone wallpaper downloads
  • 10 character avatars

Cris Tales tells the story of Crisbell, who has the unique ability to peer into the past and future and manipulate events to her liking. The game is an unabashed love letter to classic JRPGs such as Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Super Mario RPG. The classic turn-based gameplay is freshened up, though, thanks to the ability to battle across multiple time periods simultaneously and how players must strategically use different eras to their advantage. For example, Crisbell can send enemies into the past, which makes them younger and physically weaker, but also faster. This can also backfire, such as transporting a baby dragon into the future where it turns into an older, more powerful adult. Cris Tales looks great, which is why we consider it one of the year’s hidden gems worth watching

Look out for Cris Tales when it comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC sometime this year. Watch us take the game for a spin in this episode of New Gameplay Today.

Watch Online Arguments Get Transformed Into Hilarious Ace Attorney Scenes

Reddit drama and courtroom drama can now collide thanks to a clever bot that takes Reddit exchanges and stages them as scenes from the Ace Attorney series.  

As reported by Mashable, the bot comes from the mind of software engineer Micah Price, who is a fan of Capcom’s lawyer-themed games. The bot takes comments in Reddit threads and transmutes them into hilarious back-and-forth dialogue, with lines being delivered by iconic characters like Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth. You can watch one example below:

[embedded content]

You can use the bot on certain supported subreddits. All you need to do is add “!objectionbot” (or “!objection-bot”) to a thread, and the bot automatically generates and links the video for your enjoyment. You can enjoy several examples collected under Objection-Bot’s user profile. They aren’t all pure gold, but you’re bound to find some gems that capture the straight-faced absurdity of the series.

Ace Attorney may have dubious quality as a legal reference, but the games (especially the original trilogy) are full of clever characters, sharp writing, and intriguing mysteries. The internet isn’t necessarily as well-crafted or satisfying as Capcom’s narrative-heavy adventures, but we’ve all stumbled across ridiculous arguments in comment threads that seem to defy all logic and sense. Those are the threads especially well-suited to the Objection-Bot’s capabilities; dismantling questionable assertions is the core of Ace Attorney, and watching it happen in a fake courtroom setting is both entertaining and delightful.

One important and amusing detail about how this all works is that it isn’t just about transferring comments from a thread into text boxes; the bot also captures the sense of changing fortunes with musical variations and other flourishes. For example, if a comment has a negative score, it could trigger the series’ signature “Objection!” graphic, along with a soundtrack shift to heighten the excitement.  

Did you find a particularly wonderful example of Objection-Bot’s power? Share it in the comments below!

[Via Mashable]

Team Ninja Is Working On “A Lot Of New Titles,” Confirms No Nioh 3 Or Ninja Gaiden

Team Ninja is working on a ton of new games for the future, but before the speculation gets too high, the studio did confirmed that a new Ninja Gaiden and Nioh 3 aren’t among them. The bright side? The former title’s continuation wasn’t technically a hard “no.” 

The folks over at The Gamer recently sat down to speak with Nioh producer Fumihiko Yasuda to talk about what the future of Team Ninja looks like and what it won’t include. 

When talking about any new games in the works at Team Ninja, the topic of Ninja Gaidan and Nioh 3 will always come up. When asked about a possible new Nioh title, Yasuda said that it’s just not a goal right now. “In terms of a sequel right now, Team Ninja would like to focus on working on new titles, so there really isn’t a plan for Nioh 3 at this point,” he says. “But after creating some new projects and gaining some new experience and skills from those new potential projects, I would like to go back to the series at some point, utilize all the experience and new skills that we gain from some new projects, and then potentially, go back into the series at that point, and create an even greater game to surpass Nioh and Nioh 2 and to create something even better.”

For Ninja Gaidan hopefuls, Yasuda confirmed that there is nothing to announce “at this time.” The good news? This wasn’t as clear-cut as the Nioh 3 statement. While the producer did say that the team doesn’t have anything to announce at this moment, he added that the Nioh franchise wouldn’t exist without Ninja Gaiden, and the series is “really important” to the studio. He fanned the hope a little more by adding, “While we don’t have anything specific to announce at this time, I would like to say just look forward to some potential news for some kind of announcement in the near future.” 

That “some kind of announcement” will be among several on the way, as the Team Ninja dev confirms that the team is working on several big games currently. We don’t know when the reveals will begin rolling out, but Yasuda did make it sound like the first announcement could be arriving soon. 

From talking about the long road to Nioh 2’s release to talking about the historical influences that inspired the games this studio has created, the latest sitdown with the company is a wonderful read that you can check out for yourself right here