Borrowing ideas liberally from numerous inspirations can often lead to games that lack either an identity or a clear focus, and in the worst cases a bit of both. This isn't at all true for Unsighted, a pixelated, top-down metroidvania that combines its many familiar gameplay mechanics into a cohesive adventure that is regularly more than the sum of its parts. It's a remix that also blends gracefully with Unsighted's original ideas, adding the necessary tension to a time-sensitive mission that works both thematically and mechanically. Although it can falter in some areas, especially with its persistence to hold your hand in some regards, it's a tightly paced action game with sharp combat and inventive puzzles that are a delight to enjoy.
Unsighted puts you at the center of a civil war between humans and automatons, a sentient race of robots that gained their self-awareness via magical dust dispersed by a meteor that crashed into earth decades before. This meteor has since been closed off by the humans in a last-ditch effort to rob the automatons of their lives, eventually reducing them to base killing machines without emotion. This process, known as "going Unsighted," is something none of the automatons want and a fate you, playing as freedom-fighter automaton Alma, seek to stop for good.
This sets off a familiar hunt for a series of MacGuffins--in this case, powerful crystals--across an expansive map, each of which takes place in a distinctive biome with its own inventive dungeon. As you travel through the map, you'll encounter paths locked off by obstacles your current loadout can't overcome, encouraging you to find the tools you need to progress. It's a standard metroidvania trope that will feel immediately familiar, but combined with intricate dungeons, Unsighted breaks up the standard progression with entertaining pit stops and doesn't let you linger on any frustrating backtracking that is required.
News on Niantic’s latest AR title has been scarce recently. The company first announced the project back in March but has been relatively quiet about the app since. For this iteration of the developer’s familiar formula, the Pokémon Go creator partnered with Nintendo to make the titular creatures in the Pikmin series your walking buddies, and it looks like they’re ready to take their first steps.
The newly titled Pikmin Bloom rolls out in select regions today, with its worldwide release coming in the following days. I took a stroll with the upcoming title recently and got a sense of its early gameplay. So far, Pikmin Bloom feels like a gamified exercise app as opposed to Niantic’s Pokémon Go which feels more like a mobile game that happens to involve walking, and it seems like this is what the creators were going for. Niantic Tokyo Studio director of UX design Madoka Katayama explained in a recent preview event that the game’s goal is to enhance your typical walking experience. So, if you’re already hoofing it to school or work, Pikmin Bloom is there to make your journey more delightful. The app nails the charming feel of the Pikmin series, and the helpful plant-based beings are just as adorable on your smartphone as on Nintendo platforms. Whether that makes its gameplay compelling is still questionable.
You begin Pikmin Bloom by setting up your avatar, though the range of customization is limited to a few pre-created options. Even before getting into the meat of the experience, it’s easy to see how the game captures the original IP’s pleasant mood. The music is gentle, though upbeat, and the recognizable sounds of the Pikmin are as endearing as ever.
First, you receive red Pikmin seedlings. By planting them in your special Pikmin-growing backpack and walking the specified amount of steps, you’ll grow fully-formed creatures. If you are a fan of Pokémon Go, this process works a lot like egg incubators. These Pikmin can then follow along with you on your excursions, finding more seedlings or picking up fruits along the way. Harvesting these fruits for nectar allows you to feed your little group some snacks and make the flowers on their head grow, giving you a supply of flower petals.
Flower petals fuel the game’s most unique aspect: planting flowers. When you open the app and have petals on hand, you’re able to turn on flower planting. This will leave a trail of blooms behind you, helping your Pikmin grow faster and marking your path as you wander through the real world. Other players in the game will be able to see these blossoming pathways and add their own flowers. This comes in handy when you come across a giant, unopened flower bud in the game. So far, I’ve seen them appear in places that are also Gyms or Poké Stops in Pokémon Go, and Pikmin Bloom’s version of these locations asks players to plant a certain number of flowers in the designated space around the large, closed bloom to make it blossom.
At the end of each day, the app will catalog your daily steps, award achievement badges for things like growing a set amount of Pikmin and give you the option to make a kind of memory log with notes and pictures. Your actions convert into points that help you level up; reaching higher levels grant perks like letting more Pikmin join your active walking squad, unlocking different colored creatures, or gaining a few useful items.
I’ve only had a short time with Pikmin Bloom, but my initial impression is there isn’t much to do, though that might be by design. You are not actively searching for anything, and there’s no combat. In fact, if you connect the game to a fitness app to record your steps in the background, you don’t really have much reason to open the game except to pluck Pikmin out of your backpack or turn on flower planting. It’s entirely possible that might change as you level up, and Niantic has promised a monthly Community Day, which may add more to the gameplay. However, if daily walking is already a part of your routine, or you just want to lead a herd of leafy buddies on a stroll, Pikmin Bloom will add a dose of cheer to your day. The game is out on Android and iOS as a free app in Singapore and Australia today, and the creators promise Pikmin Bloom will release in other regions soon.
The Good Life is exceptionally silly in all the right ways. It's not just the absurd premise: Naomi Hayward is a young photojournalist from New York who has inexplicably run up a personal debt of £30,000,000 and is somehow trying to work it off by uncovering the secret of the sleepy English village of Rainy Woods, where the inhabitants transform into cats and dogs with the full moon.
Of course, that is part of it, but it's also more that The Good Life--part life sim and part detective RPG--takes a gleefully frivolous approach to its every aspect. From the oddball delights of its cast of characters to the increasingly preposterous demands of its relentless fetch quests, there's surprisingly little here that merits being taken seriously--even the central mystery. Naomi may constantly refer to Rainy Woods as a "goddamn hellhole," but she's quick to settle in and soon finds herself caught up in the nonsense, whether she's smashing through barrels on a cross-country pig ride or helping the local butcher perfect his meat pie recipe. With the stakes pitched low, The Good Life carries itself with a breezy, knockabout charm befitting its title.
Yet despite the abundance of infectious whimsy, there are significant caveats. The quaintly playful tone belies a quest structure that leans heavily into grind, as you scour the countryside for crafting materials and, at times, painfully rare drops. Unassuming tasks, like buying new shoes or making a salad, can require serious up-front investment. Fully exploring The Good Life's myriad systems is a lot of work and the rewards for doing so aren't always as satisfying as you might hope.
It's not everyday a new, big-budget MMORPG arrives, much less one developed by Amazon. In recent years, the MMO genre has largely been forgotten, with only new expansions for the biggest names in the genre to satisfy fans. But back in the mid-to-late 2000s, new MMOs felt like they were a dime a dozen, with game publishers all looking for a piece of the massive pie that Blizzard had carved out for itself starting with vanilla World of Warcraft in 2004.
It's fitting then that New World in many ways feels like it originated from that particular period of gaming history. Old-school in many of its sensibilities, New World is a social, player-versus-player-focused MMO the likes of which largely hasn't been seen since 2001's Dark Age of Camelot. Based on the more than 100 hours I've played so far, there is definitely some enjoyment to be had, particularly for those interested in PvP. Unfortunately, New World is also held back by a largely boring leveling experience and a few particularly annoying design choices that may turn off even the most dedicated MMORPG fans.
The setup of New World is simple: After creating a character, you wash up on the shores of a mysterious uncharted island somewhere in the Atlantic ocean called Aeternum. Turns out, people have been washing up there for thousands of years and are unable to return to their homelands thanks to a mysterious storm surrounding the island. People don't really die, or even age, in Aeternum, but that doesn't mean life is easy. Those who have lived on the island for ages run the risk of becoming soulless husks known as the Lost, or even worse, are in jeopardy of being brainwashed by an ancient evil spreading across the land known as the Corruption. It's up to players to rebuild and lead an order of guardians known as the Soulwardens if Aeternum is to stand a chance against the encroaching darkness. As you embark on your adventure to level 60, you'll gather crafting materials, fight monsters, equip new weapons and armor, complete quests, and level up your character.
Are you ready to brave ill-lit winding roads and take on misshapen aberrations? Of course you are. So come join us on a caravan ride through an apocalypse in Darkest Dungeon II! Darkest Dungeon II contains some of the same characters and combat from the original title, but it’s an entirely new experience.
Much has changed, and gone is the peaceful ever-growing hamlet. Instead, you must forge your way with different tools each run, hoping to make your way to the mountain and put an end to an ostensible ancient evil that’s unraveling the entire world. Will we survive? Probably not. But with perseverance, we may just find our way. Come join us for a very early look at Darkest Dungeon II with this episode of New Gameplay Today. Darkest Dungeon II is available on Early Access on PC starting tomorrow.
I'm a big fan of the "found family" trope. There's something so heartwarming about watching complete strangers finding a place to belong by sticking with each other. It's the basic underlying principle of practically every superhero or vigilante team, including the Guardians of the Galaxy. Developer Eidos-Montréal's Guardians of the Galaxy builds off this premise to deliver an incredible story about what comes after the found family trope. In the game, the family has been found, its forging hinted at in conversations throughout the game's campaign. But as anyone who is a part of a family (found or otherwise) can tell you, forming connections with people isn't the hard part; it's the regular struggle to maintain those bonds that really takes effort. And that's at the heart of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a game that says that a family, once found, is worth fighting for.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy picks up following the creation of the titular team, all of whom have some sort of history with one another. It plays out a lot like developer Insomniac Games' Marvel's Spider-Man in that way--the origin story has already occurred, and the player is now catching up on what the characters already know. Though I can see how this setup could confuse players who aren't familiar with Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, and Drax (if you don't know their backstories, you might be confused as to why Drax distrusts Gamora when he is the one who killed her father, for example), this setup ultimately works to the game's benefit. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy regularly moves beyond familiarity, digging into the wonderfully bizarre cosmic side of Marvel's universe, all of which is so absurdly alien.
And yet, it's all very human too, and that's why it works so well. These might not be the Guardians you're familiar with--heck, you might not be familiar with the team at all--but the issues that they're attempting to deal with and overcome are all deeply relatable. The same can be said for the increasingly strange assortment of allies and enemies the Guardians meet. You latch onto their issues and pay attention to them because they're the parts of the story that make the most sense from a human perspective. That, more than anything, captures the sensation of being Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, a human who finds himself regularly exploring a galaxy far removed from the goings-on of Earth, and yet, as an Earthling, is ideally suited for navigating these galactic issues because he can bring out the innate humanity of these aliens.
Age of Empires IV lands this Thursday, but you can join the Game Informer crew today for a look at some huge elephants and a conversation about the iconic real-time strategy franchise right here, today! That’s right, it’s another action-packed episode of New Gameplay today featuring Dan Tack, Alex Stadnik, and John Carson. Come on in and enjoy the show.
Age of Empires IV features eight different civilizations on launch, with many different ways to play each. Whether you want to try some aggressive economic expansion as the Mongols or just build forty farms and sell all your food at the market for cash is up to you. In this video, we make elephants as the Delhi Sultanate, because they crush pretty much everything.
Age of Empires IV is available on PC and Xbox Game Pass for PC this week. Could it ever come to a console environment? Traditionally, RTS has been difficult to move over to console due to the control scheme, but it’s not unheard of.
Remember Resident Evil 4's original GameCube case? The one that said "Only For" in the corner? It's hard to imagine now, considering the game has been ported every which way, to the Nokia phone and back. But despite its acclaimed status, all its ports, and the modest visual facelift it has received over the years, one thing remains woefully unchanged and firmly cements Resident Evil 4 in 2005 when it was originally released: those damned tank controls. Even the Wii Edition (the best port of the game, I must say) was shackled by its rigid movement. That is, until Resident Evil 4 VR, which presents the game in its best light since its original release.
Playing through the action-horror classic on the Oculus Quest 2 has given me a feeling I've wanted since first finishing RE4 16 years ago on the GameCube: the sense of experiencing it for the first time all over again. And that feeling is downright awesome.
From the ground up, the game has been meticulously recreated in Unreal Engine 4 in uncanny detail to fully function in VR, and the result is so impressive; it's nothing short of magic. From upscaled textures, to sound effects, and animations, RE4 can now be seen--quite literally--through an entirely new lens. Stepping into the shoes of protagonist and pretty boy Leon S. Kennedy on a mission to save the president's daughter has never felt cooler, nor has the horror representation of eastern Europe ever felt more frightening.
Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Ever since Saints Row's humble beginnings, cooperative play has been a trademark element of the series. Running around and completing missions with your friends helped distance the series from its open-world counterparts in the games industry, and the feature set has only grown more robust over the years.
"We had done multiplayer in Saints Row 1, and we did multiplayer in Saints Row 2 as well, and that was, almost like the tiniest kernel of what GTA Online came to be – they just knocked it out of the park with anything that we attempted back then, of course," chief creative officer at Volition Jim Boone says. "The big imagination we had was, 'Can you imagine playing this game with a friend, through the entire campaign? Every bit of it.' That took a tremendous effort. Those were the kinds of lessons we learned from Saints Row 1 where we were thinking, 'How can we innovate and how can we expand?'"
In the upcoming 2022 reboot of Saints Row, you can participate in two-player, drop-in/drop-out online co-op as you explore the city of Santo Ileso. When you join a session, each co-op player looks exactly how you have them customized without limitations. Co-op play is untethered, meaning you can explore the city independent of one another, but if one player enters a mission, the other warps to them and joins the task at hand.
When a mission starts, progression is tracked on a per-player basis. Collectibles, customization, vehicles, and weapons all follow you back to your single-player game, but Volition didn't stop there. Any mission progress you make in the co-op session is brought back into your single-player save. For example, if you're in the early-game missions and you join a co-op partner who is deeper in the story, you won't have to replay any missions you play to completion in the session. "The game will remember you have played this late-game mission once you naturally work your way to it in your own campaign, and you will not be required to play that mission again," says Boone.
On top of standard play, Volition tells us you’re able to prank your partner. We don’t yet know what that means, but the development team is excited about the feature. "It’s something totally different that we’ve never done before that players are going to absolutely love," says creative director Brian Traficante. "When they get together, they get access to the pranking system, and you can just let your imagination run with 'What would you do to prank your co-op player?'"
We don't exactly know what the pranking system is, but we're looking forward to learning more about Saints Row's co-op as we get closer to the game's February 25 release date. For more on Saints Row, be sure to check out our exclusive coverage hub at the banner below.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes has to justify its setting in a way few horror games do. While Supermassive Games' unsettling anthology previously tapped into teen horror tropes and Puritan-era paranoia with Man of Medan and Little Hope, House of Ashes looks further afield in terms of both influences and geography. Taking place during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, its setting is a far cry from the ghost ships and witch trials featured in the series thus far--tackling a recent conflict with ramifications that are still felt to this day. Fortunately, House of Ashes uses the Iraq War as more than a simple backdrop for jump scares, focusing on both sides of the war as allegiances fall by the wayside in the face of a more terrifying threat.
Much like its predecessors, Supermassive's latest also uses real myths and historical events to flesh out its supernatural elements. House of Ashes begins in the ancient Mesopotamian city of Akkad in 2231 BC, with a compelling prologue that takes inspiration from the "The Curse of Akkad," a poem detailing how the Akkadian Empire was destroyed after its king, Naram-Sin, declared himself a god and plundered the chief god Enlil's temple. Naturally, this angered the Sumerian deity, who exacted revenge by summoning an invasion from the neighboring Gutian people. House of Ashes deviates from the Akkadian myth, however, by making this a temple to Pazuzu, the king of the demons. This sinister spin, and the appearance of frightening underground creatures, poses a much greater threat to the remaining Akkadians than the attacking Gutians.
Fast forward to 2003 and a mission to find Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction leads to a group of marines discovering the dilapidated Sumerian temple and the monsters hidden within. Throwing a group of heavily-armed jarheads into a fight with supernatural miscreations is a classic genre trope, but it's a fresh perspective for Supermassive's brand of cinematic horror. Switching from civilians to soldiers results in a significant change of pace when you encounter its antagonists. You're still outmatched, and the winged monstrosities aren't overly fussed by bullets, but that doesn't stop the cast from expending a veritable bucket load of ammunition almost every time you meet.