From the painstaking recreation of 15th Century life in the Kingdom of Bohemia and its notable inhabitants, to the need to eat, drink and sleep in order to continue your day-to-day existence, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an RPG that shies away from the fantasy side of things in favour of a more authentic medieval experience. As the game’s tag line puts it, this is ‘dungeons and no dragons’.
The opening chunk of gameplay I was given access to was set not long after Henry, the game’s young protagonist, woke up in the town of Rattay after being nursed back to health following a raid on his village that destroyed his home and family, and left him gravely wounded. One of the first things that struck me as I began to explore was the way the landscape, and even most buildings, looked almost photorealistic at times; it’s clear a lot of research and effort has been put into making the world feel as authentic as possible, though an inconsistent frame rate did spoil the immersion a bit.
I soon bumped into Peshek, the miller whose daughter had kept Henry alive. He wasn’t blessed with quite the same generous streak as his offspring, however, and wanted payment for his hospitality; namely the illegal moving of a buried body, an act that was considered sacrilegious at the time (and is, probably, still frowned upon today).
This was an early example of the many choices players will face throughout the game, with most decisions you make having a knock-on effect in some way. For example, by turning down Peshek, I was informed that he would send men who would harass Henry throughout the rest of the game unless he was payed off or they were killed.
One of the first things that struck me as I began to explore was the way the landscape, and even most buildings, looked almost photorealistic at times.
It’s a rule that can be applied to a large chunk of your interactions within the game world; while doing the rounds as a newly employed member of the Rattay night watch (the culmination of my time in the opening chapter) I came across a heated dispute between the local blacksmith and a beggar, which ended in my ordering the ‘smith to be a good chap and give the poor girl some alms, in this case a couple of coins.
This was a decision that could have a negative influence on a player’s reputation within the town, specifically with the traders, who, as a result, may give Henry bad deals or even refuse to trade altogether. Thankfully, Tobias (the Warhorse rep) did assure me that it's possible to reverse a poor reputation, whether through completing missions for the townsfolk or by tipping traders some extra cash while haggling.
Given my limited playtime, it’s hard to tell how far reaching some of the consequences of my actions could be. I can’t be sure that the animosity between Henry and the irritatingly smug Lord Hanush – one of many Game of Thrones-esque characters lurking amongst the walls of Rattay – would have been so great had I not bested him in an archery contest and won his expensive hunting bow in a wager.
Perhaps I could have rebooted the chapter and deliberately lost, but after spending two hours exploring the town, talking to the locals, giving drunk guards a good rollicking and even finding time for a nap in a tavern, I’d had my fill of peaceful medieval life. My sword arm was growing restless, and to channel a certain Robert Baratheon - I needed to hit someone.
Luckily, hitting people is what the second act was all about, as I was to take part in a siege on a bandit camp hidden in some woods. The three-staged attack consisted of taking a lightly guarded bridge and then razing the main camp, before a showdown with the imposing bandit leader.
For a game that encourages you to favour diplomacy over violence, battles in KCD are pretty darn fun, although, as I quickly found out, Henry is no super soldier. On more than one occasion my eagerness to rush ahead of my allies led to a quick (and bloody) death, as I either ended up surrounded by enemies and cut down, or picked off by archers as I tried to limp away.
Once I got used to the fact that I wasn’t a medieval Master Chief and learned to advance with others, battles became a much more tactical affair as I carefully picked my moments, taking on weaker, unaware or injured enemies in quick, hit and run attacks, whilst keeping an eye open for archers, who I would take out with my own bow.
While this section of the game was deliberately chosen to showcase the combat system in action, there were still hints of the freedoms KCD gives players to tackle situations in different ways, from the recce information Henry presents Lord Radzig regarding the best way to storm the fort, to more subtle and stealthier ways.
“Before this fighting quest, you could have snuck into this camp and poisoned the food, then most of the people would be a one hit kill,” said Tobias. “You can also burn the arrows of the archers, but this is super tricky because you need to sneak in and try to not get caught, though you can try to kill one of the bad guys and dress as him and they will not attack you.”
Although my afternoon with Kingdom Come: Deliverance was cut short, it encompassed far more than I could fully recollect here, and left me wanting more.
Combat in KCD uses a similar method to the one seen in For Honor, in that players can adopt a number of stances – high, low, left, right, etc. - while wielding a melee weapon to counter or attack an enemy. Dealing out damage felt accurate and weighty; I was able to target weak points in enemy armour and exposed areas, such as a bandit leader's completely unprotected head, which lead to him dropping very quickly. As for defence, I found it easier to just dodge an enemy attack rather than try to stop it with a correctly-timed block.
After my glorious victory came the third and final chapter, which tasked players with sneaking their way into a monastery to find a murderer who was posing as a monk, but by now reality was calling (also known as the last EasyJet flight back home to Amsterdam) and it was time to say farewell to medieval Bohemia.
Although my afternoon with Kingdom Come: Deliverance was cut short, it encompassed far more than I could fully recollect here, and left me wanting more. Medieval Bohemia feels ripe for exploring, and there looks to be a progression and choice system in place that allows players the freedom to approach the game however they wish.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is just around the corner, releasing 13 February on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
When Raiders of the Broken Planet launched back in September, comprised of the free Eternal Soldier campaign and paid Alien Myths add-on, it also came with the promise that independent developer MercurySteam would continue to expand upon that base experience. Refreshingly, at least in the current gaming climate, the Spanish studio have been true to their word. A bevy of free updates and the new Wardog Fury campaign have taken this unique shooter-come-brawler-come-stealth-‘em-up from strength to strength.
Each objective-based mission is frantic fun.
Newcomer Loaht is a stubborn warthog of a man and steals the show in terms of both his character and gameplay. Wielding a devastating grenade launcher (once you’ve grasped its arced trajectory, at least), a suite of professional wrestling moves, and, most intriguingly, the ability to transform into a powerful beast for a very limited time, fans of mid to close-range play will likely find themselves a new go-to.
Loaht is exclusive to Wardog Fury owners, who can enjoy playing him in the latter three missions of the campaign, or in any mission after beating Wardog Fury in whole. The mystical Iune was recently added to the game and is available for all to purchase, regardless of what paid expansions they own, while CQC specialist Doldren and the mysterious H.I.V.E. are due the same fate soon. Considering it’d take hours to earn enough Gold for Iune (the cost of unlocking characters is our biggest gripe with Raiders, whether measured in time or monetary investment) we’ll have to let the trailer do the talking on this one.
Whilst a bit stingy when it comes to handing out currency at the moment (again, Raiders is very susceptible to change), the supply of free game updates has been anything but. UI tweaks make for a more streamlined experience all around, whilst Xbox One X enhancements give the game a significant performance and visuals boost for owners of Microsoft’s new console.
HDR and increased resolution make Raiders noticeably sharper, bringing the game’s lumpy-faced character to the fore, while faster load times and an improved frame rate round out what’s a much better experience on the whole. Being an Xbox Play Anywhere title, we’d previously opt to play on a Razer Blade laptop over the Xbox One S, but now the tables are turned, with Xbox One X taking precedence.
Finding a co-op match to experience Wardog Fury at its fullest can be a challenge at certain times of day, which is unfortunate, but going solo is still good fun. Raiders’ second premium campaign offers up more of the unique and enjoyable action gameplay that makes the game so intriguing, regardless of how you engage with it, posing fans a tempting call back to arms. Not only that, but multiple enhancements, a great new character in Loaht, and a more engaging narrative should be enough to draw newcomers into the fold.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming co-op let's play to see Raiders of the Broken Planet’s Wardog Fury campaign in action.
It’s that time of year again, chums; ridiculous high-budget John Lewis adverts make the news, Strictly Come Dancing peppers staff room TVs, and Ubisoft’s long-running salsa series returns to sweat a pound or two off our pre-Christmas waistlines. Is this year’s edition a Brendan Cole masterclass or a Dad-dancing disaster? Let’s find out!
Has much changed since last year? Are we being ripped off?
As with any series that’s done the rounds, not a huge amount has been altered, and perhaps for good reason. The presentation doesn’t need changing, as it really works, so it honestly comes down to song selection. The problem here is that outside of the 50-odd included on the disc, everything else is hidden behind the Just Dance Unlimited membership.
Ubisoft has been good enough to include a free 3-month pass here, but after that you’re looking at £25-30 a year depending on your platform of choice. Not a completely horrendous price point, but certainly something to think about for the amateur jive-ist.
With that in mind, would you recommend it?
For us, this is a cracking Christmas party game, especially if you can find it at sub £20. You don’t need to shell out on expensive controllers, as your friends/family/enemies can use their phones, the Just Dance TV footage is both hilarious and cringeworthy, and, honestly, even for an oft-cynical shit like myself, it’s just bloody good fun.
Join us as we take Flying Carpets Games' charming puzzle-platformer, The Girl and the Robot, for a wistful quick one.
The score’s truly ethereal too, carrying you forward on your melancholic journey through the castle. Trust us when we say: The Girl and the Robot is worth playing for Eiko Ishiwata Nichols’ melodies alone.
Is there anything we should be wary of?
The only real grievance we have with the game is its short length - around two or three hours - which some may feel is a touch rich in spite of the relatively small asking price (between £7 and £12 across the available platforms).
With that in mind, would you recommend it?
We thoroughly recommend The Girl and the Robot to puzzle-platformer fans, as there’s a lot to admire in the gorgeous music, charming art and gameplay - even if it's lacking in a bit of originality. For everyone else; definitely take a punt when the price comes down.
Join us as we take Crescent Moon Games’ sci-fi adventure come FPS, Morphite, for a low gravity gruntfest.
Don’t hold back now, is there anything else we should be wary of?
It doesn’t take a genius to notice that Morphite wears its influences a little too obviously on its sleeve, which left us with the distinct impression that we’d encountered many of the planets and creatures in the game elsewhere.
Some tedious side-quests and resource management don’t help proceedings either, leading to tedium eventually setting in.
With that in mind, would you recommend it to anyone in particular?
Sci-fi lovers and fans of exploration games will definitely find some enjoyment here, as there’s many hours on offer to keep folks going until Metroid Prime 4. Everyone else will most likely be left cold by Morphite’s offerings, though.
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...