In these modern footballing times it’s not uncommon to see expertly coiffured hair, diamond encrusted earrings, and luminous-boot-wearing defenders alongside the beautiful game itself. Hope does exist for those of you that miss the golden age of perms, headbutting the ball/goalkeeper into the net, and John Motson’s ghastly jackets, though, as legendary developer Dino Dini returns with Kick-Off Revival, the plucky underdog to title-challengers FIFA 18 & PES 2018.
This is football boiled down to its simplest form - and it’s as hardcore as you’re ever likely to get in a sports game.
Anything else hamper Kick-Off Revival’s title challenge?
Well, the severe lack of options holds the game back from the opening whistle. To only provide players with three modes in exhibition, European Cup (based loosely on Euro 2016) and online play (no problems with lag, but it’s no FIFA Seasons/PES Divisions) would have been stingy twenty years ago, but is downright criminal in these modern times.
So, it’s safe to assume the underdog won’t be winning the cup?
KOR tries its best to stand up for the little man, but unfortunately finds itself knocked out of the competition at the group stages. The lack of modes and sheer difficulty of mastering the controls ruin what could have been a joyously simple return to pure football. If you’ve got a pal for local fun then perhaps consider going for it, otherwise, fire up that dusty old copy of Sensible Soccer for your retro footballing fix.
Dino Dini’s Kick-Off Revival is available now for £7.99 on PS4 and PS Vita, and £6.99 on Steam.
You might already be familiar with Raiders of the Broken Planet if you’ve seen our EGX 2017 interview or our Game Chat feature. If not, Raiders is a unique shooter independently developed by the folks at Mercury Steam (Castlevania: Lords of Shadow & Metroid: Samus Returns), which places a focus on intense, asymmetrical multiplayer missions.
Ongoing development is the reason you aren’t reading a full review, though we’re nonetheless going to take an in-depth look at what Raiders currently has to offer.
The titular Broken Planet is the Universe’s single source of Aleph, a powerful resource that attracts droves of Raiders to its surface in an attempt to claim it for themselves. War breaks out between the invading factions, and thus, a simple premise lays the groundwork for a well-humoured story told through a cast of flawed anti-heroes.
Mercury Steam are committed to implementing feedback from the established player base in order to build a better game together. The developer goes as far as to say they expect Raiders will look very different a year from now.
Over-the-top dialogue and confident delivery imbue the ugly, foul-mouthed characters with an eye and ear-catching quirkiness that should grow on you in time. Though the Raiders are undoubtedly the stars of the show, the game as a whole is awash with a bizarre and grotesque aesthetic that takes inspiration from the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil and Mad Max while feeling unique in itself.
Story segments are kept relatively light, due to multiplayer serving as the backbone of the experience, but there’s plenty of lore to read up on in-game as you wait on matchmaking. On that front, while finding a match on a Prologue level is snappy, expect to wait a while longer when looking to play the paid Alien Myths campaign. It’s not terribly bad, thanks partly to Windows 10 players getting in on the fun with cross-play, but it can be annoying to wait it out and then spawn into a laggy session due to the antiquated peer-to-peer hosting.
Going solo to bypass this is an option, but not a particularly attractive one. The premier way to play is 4 vs 1, as the game blossoms twofold with the addition of close cooperation and challenging competition. There are currently seven Raiders to choose from, each of which have a simple, customisable loadout that consists of a primary weapon, an ability, and passive buffs. While it might not sound like there’s much at your disposal, considering many games offer sidearms, grenades and ultimate abilities, there’s still a definite knack to mastering each of them and best fulfilling your role within the team.
Playing your part while remaining focused on the current objective is vital; enemy grunts and the player-controlled Antagonist respawn endlessly, whittling the Raiders’ limited life pool away as they delay. Constantly facing heavy opposition often makes the frenetic combat encounters - in which you might carefully shoot from cover, break away to run and gun, then launch into a rock, paper, scissors-style CQC encounter (dodge beats strike, grapple beats dodge, strike beats grapple) - a messily-choreographed, desperate struggle for survival. Expect to do your fair share of dying, though accept that and persevere and the victories are extremely gratifying.
Constantly facing heavy opposition often makes the frenetic combat encounters a messily-choreographed, desperate struggle for survival.
In the event that the endless action becomes too stressful, either in reality or in-game, hiding will lower your character’s anxiety and allow you to go unseen for a while. All combatants in Raiders use Aleph to boost their combat performance, though a notable side-effect sees physical exertion betray your position, even through walls. While maintaining an entirely slow and steady approach isn’t necessarily realistic, you’ll definitely want to take a breather when you can to regenerate health and, critically, afford yourself an opportunity to stealthily take down an enemy in melee combat, replenishing a portion of your limited ammo supply in the process.
The same exact rules apply when you play the role of Antagonist, as you select from the same group of standard Raiders, rather than a separate suite of baddies with their own weapons and abilities. This is atypical of asymmetrical multiplayer games - just look at the likes of Evolve and Friday the 13th, both of which see the solo artist play as a comparatively overpowered monster - and somewhat stacks the odds against you in Raiders, even with the AI on your side. Winning as the Antagonist isn’t out of the question, and playing the part is still intense fun in spite of the slight imbalance, but we do feel this is an area in need of tweaking.
Raiders’ fun factor combines with a drip-fed rewarding of currencies - which are used to upgrade and customise character loadouts, whereas flashy skins require a further paid currency - to make its levels highly replayable. Varied enemy types and objectives keep things interesting as you bounce between missions, with repeat runs often proving more satisfying as you strategically pick a Raider (provided someone else doesn’t annoyingly insta-lock them) and tactically handle now-familiar layouts to ace sections that had initially proven to be a real struggle. The lengthy boss fights never cease to be an entertaining spectacle, either.
Once you surmount the initial weirdness and learning curve, which can, honestly, be quite off-putting, you’ll uncover something unique and exciting in Raiders of a Broken Planet, which is one of the reasons we handed over our Best Newcomer Award at EGX. Mercury Steam have taken risks to produce a commendably different entry into a crowded genre, that only looks set to improve as it continues to develop with the input of its community.
Let Them Come is reminiscent of a flash game I used to play at school, poised to hastily tab out when Mr. Phillips established line of sight. Nostalgia aside, does the same simplistic corridor defence experience work in the context of a paid console game? Join us for a quick one and we’ll find out.
While Obligatory Stationary Turret Section: The Game might not sound immediately enthralling, Tuatara Games have done a lot to make Let Them Come exactly that.
More subjectively, some players might not appreciate the fact that failure doesn’t carry any real consequence. This largely makes the campaign a breeze, even on the hardest difficulty setting, though there’s something cathartic about just blasting away without worry.
Oh, and three of the achievements are currently unobtainable - completionists beware!
On the whole, would you recommend a purchase?
For a mere £6.39, Let Them Come is a quality, over-the-top sci-fi shooter that we’re confident will scratch the itch of anyone with a case of arcade addiction.
Let Them Come is out now on Xbox One and PC, the PlayStation 4 version will follow later this month.
The Domaginarium describe their third-person horror platformer as (old) Tomb Raider meeting Lovecraft, in space - a pitch we found difficult to resist. With The Nightmare from Beyond’s final release slated for Q3 2018, the current Steam Early Access build is far from content complete, but does it seem poised to deliver on the promising concept?
The Domaginarium describe their third-person horror platformer as (old) Tomb Raider meeting Lovecraft, in space - a pitch we found difficult to resist.
As Sanja, a young D’nyg woman in search of her sister, Dajana, you’ll traverse environments that seamlessly shift from stoney fantasy to techy sci-fi. While starting out linear, things open up to reveal some solid, looping level design that’s complimented by platforming and light puzzle solving elements straight out of a classic Tomb Raider game (as promised).
The disparate-yet-connected world, which houses interesting architecture and artefacts that make it enticing in the absence of impressive graphics, definitely has us curious to explore more in the hope of uncovering how exactly the scattered sections came to coexist. It serves as much more a driving force than the beginnings of the bland story, which isn’t helped by a reliance on nonsense fantasy terms that haven’t yet been explained.
As a D’yng, you're marked with tribal patterns that emit a neon glow, dimly lighting your way through the bleak nightmarescape. When you encounter the mysterious creatures within, you’ll need to hold your breath to extinguish the light and sneak past them, avoiding a swift and inevitable death.
The one creature you directly encounter can’t be combated - though you do get some bombs used to open a shortcut later on, so it’s possible you might eventually be able to put these to use - and is obscured by a black smog to preserve an air of mystery, with otherwise indirect encounters seeing you relentlessly pursued or your ankles snapped at from an off-screen presence to push you through platforming sections at pace. What you don't see is often more unnerving than what you do, and that's the case here.
The disparate-yet-connected world has us curious to delve deeper, serving as much more a driving force than the beginnings of the bland story,
If you're caught, you’ll need to go back to the last manual save point. These are fairly frequent, so you’ll never lose too much progress, and help to highlight the game’s '90s inspirations by feeling very Resident Evil.
Weighing in at around two flawed hours, what we essentially have at the moment is a paid proof of concept demo. As a result, we’d recommend waiting to see how The Nightmare from Beyond develops before laying down your hard earned, especially considering the price isn’t set to increase once the game leaves Early Access. There’s reason to remain optimistic in the interim however; The Domaginarium have put in a decent first showing and hold both a commitment to frequent updates and a development roadmap that looks set to iron out the acknowledged issues.
The Nightmare from Beyond is scheduled for release in Q3 2018 on PC, PS4 and PS Vita. It’ll set you back £14.99 or your regional equivalent.
Milkstone Studios’ White Noise 2 looks to horrify players, but are the shudders it induces brought on for all the right or wrong reasons? Join us in our eerie, torch-lit tent for a spooky quick one.
Investigators are progressively driven insane when observing the creature, leading to intense hallucinations that cause confusion as individual members of the team begin to see and hear different things.
How does playing as the creature fare?
Naturally switching from hunted to hunter saps the scares, but it’s nonetheless devious fun being the one to inflict them. While it’s an entertaining means to mix things up now and then, it can feel quite solitary, which had us missing the camaraderie of working in a tight-nit team to overcome the odds.
Does it get your stamp of approval, then?
White Noise 2 has plenty of maps, creatures and investigators that can be taken in on your own, cooperatively or competitively with any combination of players - adaptive balancing seeing to it that things remain challenging but fair - making for an accommodating and long-lasting experience in which you can both be terrified and inspire terror. If that sounds at all like your bag, it’s an easy recommendation at just £7.99.
Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming let's play in which Sam and James fumble their way through a few early rounds of White Noise 2. It doesn't end well for them...
Wetsuits on, shake that hair and, like, totally grab your board, dude! Let’s hit the waves with Portsmouth-based developer Climax Studios’ Surf World Series.
Sounds sweet so far, but what about the bad?
If you’re not a huge fan of surfing or combo-based, arcadey games, Surf World Series definitely won’t be for you. If those elements do tickle your fancy, there’s nothing much to complain about; it’s a great sports/arcade mash-up that’ll give you a good few hours of fun for not much money.
Safe to assume it’s a winning run and not a wipeout, then?
For us, it’s definitely a winning run. £11.99 gets you a generous, challenge-filled single player campaign and a fun online component that’ll keep you in the water until your skin wrinkles.
Surf World Series is available now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
If it sounds like your thing be sure to keep your eyes peeled for next week’s giveaway, in which you could win a copy on Xbox One!
Of all gaming’s many genres, fighters are my least favourite. They’re just not my forté. Back in the early 2000’s I was known to boss a game or two in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and going back further still I could just about hold my own in Street Fighter II on the SNES thanks to some full-on button mashing (so many blisters!) but my appreciation for fighters piqued with those two.
Even a rookie like myself had no trouble dismantling the AI opposition, which got boring very quickly.
It’s not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with Pokkén Tournament DX, it’s just the demo’s lack of online multiplayer did not feel like the best way to advertise the game’s arrival on Switch. Failing to include an online component was a particularly significant missed opportunity, as even a rookie like myself had no trouble dismantling the AI opposition, which got boring very quickly.
The unpredictability of human combatants is, in my admittedly limited experience with the genre, what makes fighting games - and multiplayer in general - engaging, challenging experiences. A simple control scheme coupled with a surprisingly in-depth tutorial means Pokkén Tournament is very easy to learn, but with the demo’s lack of a human element, it was impossible to tell if it would be difficult to master.
Yes, the Joy-Cons do facilitate couch co-op, and getting two Switches in the same room would also allow you to take part in local multiplayer matches in the demo, but unless you’ve got people on hand ready to jump into a game at a moment’s notice (and of a similar skill level) these weren’t really viable options.
In the end, the Pokkén Tournament DX demo served only to reinforce my desire to see Nintendo pull their finger out and get Super Smash Bros. onto the Switch in some form. If not as a new entry in the series or some sort of virtual console offering of Melee, then at least a port of the Wii U’s release, another well-received title from the doomed console’s back catalogue that remains frustratingly out of my reach.
Vivid Helix’s Semispheres releases on Nintendo Switch today, so we’ve taken the meditative parallel-puzzler for a quickie to see how it fares on the hybrid console.
It’s almost worth playing Semispheres solely in handheld mode for the easier headphone use, letting you really appreciate the mesmerising soundtrack.
Don’t worry, there are only a few fiendishly difficult puzzles, with most taking only a few minutes to beat, and the game is good at easing you in as new abilities are introduced. If you do end up stuck though, you at least get to enjoy the excellent soundtrack while you mull over the solution.
How’s the presentation on the whole?
Semispheres is described as having a “soothing” art style, and it’s hard to disagree. The soft, warm colour palette and impressive use of light, coupled with composer Sid Barnhoorn’s atmospheric score, can feel almost hypnotic at times.
While it may look best on a bigger screen, it’s almost worth playing Semispheres solely in handheld mode just for the easier headphone use to really appreciate the mesmerising soundtrack.
Is there a story to go with all this?
Sort of. After every few levels, you’re presented with a storyboard sequence depicting the tale of a young boy and his robot. There’s no dialogue, with the story simply told through a series of images.
What relevance, if any, this side-story has with the rest of the gameplay isn’t obvious at first, but it does at least serve to break up the sequence of levels.
Would you recommend it?
Yes. With more than 50 levels on offer, there’s plenty of value for money here. And if you’re willing to sacrifice a portion of the challenge when playing solo for some local co-op, the Switch’s Joy-Cons facilitate that.
Semispheres is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $9.99/€9,99/£8.99. If you don’t own a Switch it’s been knocking around on PS4 and Steam since February, and is also making its way to PS Vita in October and Xbox One soon after.
Knack was Sony’s flagship title in showcasing the PlayStation 4 pre-launch, which meant the console-warring Internet had a field day when it turned out to be a flop. Knack’s now back, but is it better than ever? Wade on through that sea of memes and join us for a quickie.
Knack 2 really feels like the globe-trotting adventure the original was intended to be.
The game’s a decent looker - pretty good, actually, we’ve just been spoilt by Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - with HDR available to all PS4 owners and 4K an option for Pro users. There’s also a 1080p/60FPS mode available to the latter group that trades in the higher resolution for a more consistent technical performance (this is how we’d recommend playing).
A varied and orchestral OST complements the action, succeeding in rousing some enthusiasm for events where the narrative fails.
Is it worth picking up, despite the weak story?
Oh yeah, the gameplay really shines and that’s what’s important. Knack 2’s a budget release that doesn’t feel like one, boasting numerous significant improvements over its predecessor, a lengthy campaign, collectables and challenges to keep you coming back, and local co-op that adds unique new abilities to the mix.
Knack’s turnaround is admirable, and Sony should be commended for sticking with the series so that it could make good on its promise.
Join us in taking Soedesco’s musical-themed RPG, AereA, down into the orchestra pit for a rhythmic quickie.
Any other concerns or complaints?
In spite of the presentation niggles, like many games before it, AereA doesn’t require lifelike graphics to be fun to play. The single player option can get a little repetitive, but get a friend to join you on the sofa (there’s no online co-op) and you’ve got an entertaining little number.
With all that in mind, does it come recommended?
It doesn’t take Mozart or Beethoven to see/hear that AereA isn’t an all-time classic, but don’t let that dissuade you if you’re a fan of isometric action RPGs, as you’ll definitely find something to enjoy here.
AereA is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.