Since we started doing this feature, I've used this space to say what's on my mind. Normally it's a lame joke, a quick state-of-play regarding what we're working on, and a genuinely enthusiastic introduction of our fresh slate of content. That's not the case this month. This month I'm just... I'm just over it.
For almost eight months now, myself, my team, and some of the other hardworking staff like Compalicious and ooga, have been working our asses off for you guys, doing our best to give you great content like this feature, user interviews, and site competitions, most of which is going by largely unnoticed or ignored.
Well, no. That's incorrect. You are noticing it - the thousands of views are evidence of that - but only a handful of you are showing us the small courtesy we ask for, which is that you spend less than a minute out of your day to leave a reply, a comment, or a vote. We're not asking for you to heap praises upon us - we're not all desperate egotists, begging for adoration from strangers. We're asking for our community, our friends, to engage with us, and I really don't think that's asking a lot.
The situation has gotten so bad that last month some of us resorted to literally begging you to post, and that's just undignified. I'm not the only one who feels this way, and I can't in all good conscience ask that people continue to put the effort in when it's so clearly unappreciated.
When it comes to big sites like IGN, Polygon, and Gamespot, it doesn't really matter if you post in articles. In fact, for the multi-million dollar organisations bankrolling them, it doesn't even matter if you read the articles. All that matters is the page views, because they are what generate revenue. For us, that's not the case. While the owners of this site might make a profit from advertising and such, we don't. Our only compensation - our only reward - is the interaction, the discourse, and the sense of community we hope to foster.
To all of you fantastic people who read our stuff and post each month, and vote in competitions: Thank you, truly.
For everyone else, this is the last time I'll ask: please, just post. If you like the content, support it; if you want to see it grow, or improve, tell us. If you are having trouble finding it, or just not seeing it, we want to know so it can be fixed.
Right. Well then. I'm glad I got that off my chest. You all feeling bummed out now? I was a bit melodramatic just then, wasn't I? Well allow me to cheer you up. This month we have a little something for everyone. Old games? Check. New games? Check. Artemis back to talk about JRPGs? Check and check. Read on and enjoy, but don't forget to tell us what you're currently playing, too.
That Game That I'm Currently Playing: Muramasa Rebirth
Throughout a busy month of Plat-chasing (by my admittedly low standards), I have continued to dip in and out of the PS Vita's Muramasa Rebirth, and it is fast becoming one of my favourite games on the handheld.
A port of a 2008 Wii game by Vanillaware (who went on to help make the rather good Dragon's Crown), Muramasa is a side-scrolling slasher with RPG elements, and it looks as beautiful as it plays. The hand-drawn art style gives the game real character, the story (despite its over the top silliness) is both interesting and witty.
You play as one of two characters in 17th century Japan. There is Kisuke, a warrior who is afflicted with the ''who am I?'' virus of storytelling; and Momohime, a princess possessed by a spirit. They begin unraveling their tales through the medium of slashing stuff up with a slew of pretty awesome swords. Cursed swords that can supposedly cause death, tragedy and madness. As plot devices go, that's right up there with the best of them.
The combat is ridiculously fun, with different sword combinations providing a touch of variety to the often repetitive nature of the hack 'n slash genre. It also employs a bit of the Metroidvania method, where multi-tiered levels carry multiple paths and certain swords' abilities can unlock new areas, creating a bit of backtracking, which is at least peppered with more fun battles.
If you loved Dragon's Crown and/or Guacamelee! then I would heartily recommend having a crack at Muramasa Rebirth.
Muramasa Rebirth is out now for PlayStation Vita both digitally and at retail.
The Game that Features the Most Rainbow Snakes this Month: Hohokum
One of the most ridiculously fun games on the PS Vita is the daft WarioWare clone Frobisher Says, a mix of barmy, colourful mini-games that implement the features of the Vita in various ways. So I was pleased to see that the man behind it, Richard Hogg, was back with Hohokum.
To describe Hohokum properly is somewhat difficult, but I'll have a crack anyway. You play as a long, multi-coloured snake, known as the ''Long Mover'', and your goal is to simply fly around the game world, interacting with things based on audio cues. There are no high scores, and no traditional pass/fail progression; just you and your snake, exploring things by poking around them and seeing what happens (reminds me of my youth).
The game is basically a playground, giving you cute tasks to perform, such as lighting lamps, herding fish and making shapes, if and when you feel like it. If it calls back to anything, it would be Flower - it's a passive experience that transcends basic description. The soundtrack is quite beautiful too, all composed by artists from an indie label, with some tracks made especially for the game.
As gaming diets go, I mostly like blowing up things, scoring goals, and triumphing on a particularly bastard-hard game of XCOM, but every now and then I like to delve into something like Hohokum - a game that's to be played, not beaten.
Hohokum will be available digitally and at retail on August 12th for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
What I've been fooling around with: All of the games.
In the past few weeks I've been playing a lot of games across multiple platforms in a vain attempt at postponing finishing Persona 3, meaning there's a lot of crap to cover here so I might as well get started.
First of all, I played Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, an 8-bit beat 'em up that follows the story of Scott Pilgrim and his adventures as he tries to further his relationship with Ramona Flowers. If you've read the comics and/or watched the movie, you've probably tried the game already. However, if you haven't played it, I highly suggest that you do, even if you have never read nor watched anything Scott Pilgrim. The game is a great throwback to beat 'em ups back from the 80's and it is without a doubt a short but extremely fun game to play, especially with friends (it's one of those few modern games allowing co-operative play for 4 players on the same console).
Another game I played was Army of Two: The 40th Day, which could have easily been passed out as a Michael Bay movie. Featuring the protagonists from the original Army of Two, this sequel brings back all the stuff seen in the original: the bromance between the two main characters, the agro system, the hilarious back-to-back portions of the game where you can shoot indefinitely without running out of ammo, stuff blowing up all over the place, etc. Although the gameplay still felt slow and there were a few bugs and glitches, the game was a very fun experience on co-op, with my partner and I constantly screwing each other over and finding one of us was swarmed by enemies while the other one happily strolled around doing nothing - until getting all the agro and getting blown up due to an RPG. Fun times indeed.
As I said earlier, I played games on different platforms, and the last game I'll talk about here (ignoring all the other games I played this month for no more than an hour) will be one that's over 10 years old and that I'm sure many of you haven't tried (especially if you're Sony fanboy or didn't play games back then): F-Zero GX, on the lovable and unforgettable Nintendo GameCube.
If you've played a WipEout game there's not much to say except it was a copy of F-Zero, and if you haven't I'll just say it's a futuristic and chaotic racing game where you pilot huge and stupidly fast machines against a myriad of whimisical, hysterical, extravagant and sometimes evil racers. The game is one of my favorites (and one I don't think I'll ever fully complete), and it's renowned for its hard-to-master gameplay as well as its rubber-banded AI, not to mention the made-astonishingly-popular Captain Falcon (no, there's no Falcon Punch in the game). GX was also the first F-Zero title to include a storyline, but it's also the last console entry in the franchise, though it was followed by 2 handheld games, with the last one apparently becoming a franchise killer. I'm one of those that's still hoping someday Nintendo will release a new one, but alas, they're ****s.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is available digitally for PlayStation 3.
Army of Two: The 40th Day is available digitally and at retail for PlayStation 3.
F-Zero GX is available at your local garage sale or in that box of games you keep in the attic.
What I'm looking forward to laugh at: Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed
When Faust kindly posted a list of games to be released in August for me and my fellow editors to view, I immediately saw Sacred 3 and thought "Hey, that'd be nice to look forward it; I mean, Sacred 2 had flipping Blind Guardian in it!". However, the "Akiba's Trip" name rang a bell and I found myself curious about why. Immediately, I checked Wikipedia in search of information - and said information had me laughing like a madman for a short while and lead me to write about the aforementioned game.
Indeed, Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is a game that's anything but typical and that will have many people thinking to themselves "damned Japanese and their weird and bizarre culture", and that's a very spot-on thought regarding the game, for it is without a doubt one of the most hilarious and extravagant ones I've seen in recent years.
Set in Akihabara (a district inside Tokyo, home to everything Anime/Manga/Videogames/etc), the game's main character is trying to eliminate a bloodsucking demon invasion, and to do so he must rely on one of the most original and unexpected demon-slaying methods to ever be featured in any media: he must undress people and expose them to sunlight. That's right people, in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed you must go around Akihabara stripping people. It goes without a saying that this is a Japanese game being localized, and one that no doubt many people will be buying for the sole reason of how the player's supposed to beat those demons.
That aside, there's also supposed to be some intrigue or conspiracy involved in the game's story, so that might offer a bit more seriousness to the game's whimsical gameplay. Aside that, it seems the game features a realistic portrayal of Akihabara itself, including around 100 actual stores that the player can visit, so this might as well be an stereotypical Otaku's wet dream come true.
If you're one of those people in love with Japanese culture, a lover of stripping people down or simply a jerk like me that just likes to laugh at whimsical stuff like this, Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed might be a game worth checking out.
Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed will be available for PlayStation 4 on August 12 in North America and October 10 in Europe. It will be available digitally and at retail for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It is already out in Japan, and is coming to PlayStation 4 in December.
What Iíve Been Playing: GRID 2
Well, everything has been boring me at the moment, so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to go back and platinum a game that I had previously given up on - not because it was hard, mind you; it just couldn't keep my interest. That, or something better came along - I can't remember which (old age).
So... GRID 2. What is it? As you clever sausages have probably worked out, itís a racing game. Itís more of an arcade racer than a sim, and plays pretty similar to the current DiRT Series.
As I decided to finally pull my finger out, I chucked the game on to the easiest setting and just smashed and crashed my way to first place. That was until I got to the online sectionÖ people who smash and crash their way to victory online, in a lobby full of people actually racing, need a slapÖ with a brick.
There I was, being the current best driver in the World Racing Series, which is basically GRID 2's Championship Mode. You gain "fame" by winning races and this sees you getting invited to higher Tiers of racing and different race types, such as Elimination, Drift Events etc. I finally came first in my final race of all five World Racing Series and decided to check the GRID 2 Trophy Guide to see what I had to do next.
There they were... Rocket Mankski (reach 230 mph), Shaken Not Stirred (roll the car 7 times and land on the wheels), and a load of other miscellaneous trophies I'd missed out on. This was to be an easy task, I just needed to select Custom Event and get rid of each trophy one by one. But then, "Missable Trophy"... Balls... I missed a trophy that I needed to get during my World Racing Series. This filled me with the dread of knowing that I had to replay the damn Single Player again until I got to the race that I needed to do. Fear not though, a few hours later the trophy popped and a few hours after that... my platinum!
So there you have it, if you want a fun arcade racing game to just pass away time, then GRID 2 is worth picking up... even if it's just for a relatively easy platinum.
GRID 2 is available digitally and at retail for PlayStation 3.
I Currently Can't Wait to be a Badass Demon Hunter in: Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition
As some of you might be aware, I've been moaning in most threads about the PS4 getting constant "Remastered Editions" (and damn indie games), instead of actually getting "Next Gen" PS4 games. Well today, I'm being a massive hypocrite, because Diablo III is coming to PlayStation 4, including the new expansion, packaged as Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition!
Now, I've played the PlayStation 3 version on my friend's account, purely to help him collect 5 million gold for one of the trophies, but I also accidentally loaded it on my own my account, leaving that stuck at 0%. So now I have the chance to play and platinum this refreshed, shinier, PS4 version with all the added awesomeness.
Diablo III is a hack and slash action, RPG by Blizzard Entertainment. The game is set in dark fantasy world, called Sanctuary. RPG's aren't usually my "thing", but what I've played, I've loved. You're given a choice of multiple different character classes to choose from, all giving different pros and cons and then you're thrown into this gorgeous yet eerie, dark but vibrant, vast open world. You'll be completing quests, collecting gold, saving your fellow beings and ultimately going after the "Lord of Terror", Diablo.
Along the way you're going to need to kill a hell of a lot of enemies and loot as much as you can carry. Looting is a big part of Diablo III, as you need to equip yourself with all the best gear needed to survive (and to look damn cool). The gear you equip yourself with has different properties, such as collecting gold from further away. To add to that, you can add gems into different parts of your gear, again adding different attributes, giving an endless list of customization.
While it's a game that is fun and challenging to play by yourself, I often found myself wondering if only they'd implemented a drop-in, drop-out, 4-player co-op mode... Oh wait, they did! As you can imagine, this makes the game more hectic, more challenging and a lot more fun. With the different classes to choose from, you'll soon have your screen filled with (and nowhere near limited to) flying fire arrows, magic lightning bolts, chaotic smashing clubs and lots of death! What's not to love?!
Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition releases for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 on August 19 worldwide, and will be available digitally and at retail.
Diablo III vanilla is also available now for PlayStation 3.
Currently playing: Demon Gaze
Demon Gaze peaked my interest after I read a review in Playstation Magazine. Iím pretty sure that I never would have heard of this title, if I didnít read that magazine, since this game is pretty niche (even to my standards).
You wake up in a dungeon and you have no clue where or who you are because you lost your memories (sounds familiar). It turns out that youíre a demon gazer, which means you are capable of subduing and controlling demons. Your task is to visit dungeons every time, control all demon circles in there and when that is done, fight and capture the demon of that dungeon. You have to map dungeons out yourself as you progress through it and some dungeons later in the story can be a real maze.
Everything from healing/reviving, buying armor/weapons/items, forging weapons and even getting new party members happens at the inn. You rent a room there for yourself and your companions, so every time you return to the inn, you have to pay money. Fan-service is strong in this game and the characters are an odd bunch. One walks in her panties for no reason, collects skulls and sleeps in a coffin, while another one strips downs her clothes to prove to you that sheís a human.
Itís fun to map out dungeons and find the best treasures/loot (weapons/armor) there by using gem stones on demon circles. That makes the game pretty addictive to me. Thereís no use to buy your weapons at the inn, since they are weak and expensive. You can also use the demons that youíve captured to aid you in your fight. Demons usually look something like this:
What I also like is that you can pick your own characters and pick a race and class for this character, for example: dwarf Ė palladin or ney Ė assassin. It really does matter what class you pick for the different races (dwarfs are strong, but suck at healing/using magic).
What annoys me is that some bosses are really overpowered (and cheap). Thereís kinda a big leap in difficulty later on and itís not hard to die in this game. This game is definitely not for everyone.
Demon Gaze is out now on PlayStation Vita, and is available both digitally and at retail.
Looking Forward to: Tales of Xillia 2
Ever since I started playing Tales of Graces F on PS3, I was sold on the ĎTalesí series. I like the anime feel the game has, the characters and the storylines so far, but where those games really shine is with their gameplay and battle systems. I really enjoyed Tales of Xillia, as well, so I pre-ordered Tales of Xillia 2 as soon as I could.
Tales of Xillia 2 is set a year after its predecessor and revolves around Ludger Kresnik, a run-of-the-mill man who lives with his brother and cat, and Elle Marta, a young and dependable girl who Ludger meets by chance. Throughout the game the player will have to make decisions for Ludger that will cause the story to branch out in a new direction.
The game sees the return of the linking system from ToX, in which players can link to any active party member in battle to team-up with in order to destroy enemies with support attacks and powerful linked artes attacks. ToX2 also features a new Weapon Swap mechanic while in battle, meaning that players can switch between three main weapons; a sledgehammer, dual pistols and dual blades in real-time during combat.
Tales of Xillia 2 releases on PlayStation 3 on August 19 in North America and August 22 in Europe, and will be available both digitally and at retail.
What I'm Going to Huff and Puff About this Month: The Wolf Among Us
I briefly wrote about The Wolf Among Us back in our April 2014 edition, but now that the season is over, I feel much more confident in assessing it. My verdict? It's fucking awesome. While not without a few missteps, The Wolf Among Us is one of the most engaging, engrossing, stunning, and genuinely shocking games I've ever had the fortune of experiencing.
Based on Bill Willingham's comic book series Fables, The Wolf Among Us is an episodic, narrative-driven adventure game from Telltale games, the guys behind the fantastic Walking Dead seasons one and two. Now, I know not everyone is a fan of the whole survival-horror cross relationship simulator thing (think Resident Evil 4 meets Hatoful Boyfriend), but allow me to assure you that The Wolf Among Us is nothing like TWD. Well, actually it's a lot like it, in terms of visuals and controls etc., but it's very different in the ways that matter.
The Wolf Among Us is a violent, hard-boiled thriller where the characters and creatures of myth, lore and legend (known as Fables) are not only real, but live among us in Fabletown, a community located in lower Manhattan. You play as Bigby Wolf, formerly known as The Big Bad Wolf, but now the sheriff of Fabletown. What starts off as an investigation into the murder of another Fable quickly unravels into a sinister and shocking conspiracy that you must solve before it tears Fabletown apart.
Each episode is full of awesome characters, fantastic lore, and intense action sequences, and always manages to end with a genuinely shocking revelation that'll have you howling for the next episode. Telltale's trademark cell-shaded visual style is complimented by the sweet art-style that strongly evokes the 80s, just as in films like Drive, or games like Hotline Miami, while also maintaining the aesthetic of the original comics, creating an authentic atmosphere that really sucks you into the world.
If you love a good story, have an appreciation for episodic games, or are a fan of Telltale's other works, definitely check this one out.
All five episodes of The Wolf Among Us are available digitally, either individually or together with the season pass, for PlayStation 3.
PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 releases are expected before the end of 2014.
Where I wish I was this Month: Cologne, Germany
No, it's not because I'm a grammar Nazi. If you love games, there's really no better place to be in the month of August than Cologne. Why? For a start, it's the home of Gamecom, Europe's answer to E3, which, among other things, has historically been a huge event for Sony, who continue to dominate the European games market.
On top of all new trailers and gameplay demos, you can expect to see big reveals from Sony's European first and second-party developers, like Media Molecule, Guerrilla Games, Quantic Dream, and Supermassive Games. Personally, I have my fingers crossed for Guerrilla's long-rumoured RPG, and Supermassive's illusive Until Dawn. Gamescom runs from the 14th to the 17th of August.
In recent years, Gamescom has also hosted some massive esports tournaments, and this year is a big one: ESL One for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Sixteen of the world's top teams will be competing over four days for a share of the $250,000 prize pool, and it promises to be very entertaining.
Unlike other esports like League of Legends or Dota 2, CS:GO is very easy to watch and understand. Twitch streams will be running throughout the entire event, so if you've got some time to kill, why not tune in and see what all the fuss is about. Teams to watch are Virtus.pro (the defending champions), Ninjas in Pyjamas (currently ranked #1 in the world), Cloud9 and iBUYPOWER (the two American teams), and if you like underdogs, make sure to watch Epsilon and London Conspiracy, the two dark horses that have been causing some major upsets in recent competitions.
Finally, I should also give a mention to inFamous: First Light, which releases later this month as a standalone expansion for PlayStation 4. Not only did it inspire our banner this month, but it launches on my birthday, and if that doesn't make you want to go and buy it, I don't know what what will.
Gamescom and ESL One will run from August 14 to 17.
inFamous: First Light releases digitally on August 26. European gamers will be able to pick it up at retail on September 10.
That's it from us for this month. Thanks for reading. Don't forget to tell us what you're currently playing, and if you've got some spare time, why not pop on over and vote in our current Member of the Month and Staff of the Month competitions.