Carrion review

Carrion is a reverse horror game, yes you read that correctly, a reverse horror game. You are not the hunted you are the hunter within this game. As an amorphous creature, you must wreak havoc on the people that have kept and experimented on you. Establish a foothold in the facility, spread your biomass as far as you can and kill anyone in your way. Waking within a testing container, you struggle to keep your rage as you see your captors all around you. You are smashing against the glass designed to hold you back, and over time you gain the strength to break free. Screams follow the smashing of glass as you realise the chain of power is in your favour. You use your body to form tentacles and start destroying and consuming everything around you; this facility will be yours.


Developer: Phobia Game Studio
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 23 July 2020


The enemies are typical, nothing out of the ordinary but that is okay, they are what you would expect to be within the facility. The humans will hear you if you are too loud and either investigate or run. You can use this to your advantage in many situations. Time and time again there would be what I would call “movie scene moments” as individual approaches a drainage pipe where you are lurking only to be torn apart in front of their colleges who either run or help. There is a sense of power that the game gives you, and it is a fun experience being the hunter rather than the hunted. What I found interesting with the humans within the game was the subversion of hope in the last stand. Typically, a human who is about to die and has taken it upon themselves to take the attacker down with them signifies a sense of hope. But being the attacker in this situation the game subverts that hope, it instead becomes futile as you continue your rampage through the facility. The game caters to your predator instincts, and there are frequently many ways that you can approach situations. Allowing you to stalk the humans as they stand there trying to find you, you can play to the horror aspect of the game.

The OST highlights this horror aspect well. With classic horror tropes of unsettling music and noises that accompany your rampage. Naturally, the sounds would make you feel scared, but as you are the monster, they make you feel that much creepier. You start to think more about how you are playing the game. It is a weird thought; Horror sounds make you more focused on being a monster.

However, enemies do get better. They start using machine guns and shields that make you think about how you’re going to approach a situation. In the beginning, you can launch into any room take a few pistol shots and destroy everyone in sight. Once they start brandishing shields that have electricity on them, you must consider how to use the space around you seriously. After all, you are an amorphous blob so you can fit anywhere. The change in difficulty is a jarring experience for the player. It makes you realise that you are not invisible, you learn that you are not as strong as you appear. I enjoyed this little aspect; it both serves to add difficulty to the game and applies a learning experience for both the player and the monster you are controlling. The monster is learning the rules of the world, just like the player. I thought that it worked quite well within the context of the game, I kept coming back to movies with monsters like this, and there is always a learning experience for them.

Trying to figure out how to approach the situation is quite fun.

The learning experience does not stop there. The monster/player also learns that as an amorphous monster that can gain more and more size, there is limitless potential. With three different sizes that affect how you play the game; the first being the smallest, which is the sneakiest, allowing you to be invisible and use a web to hit leavers form a distance. The second is the most useful, in my opinion, allowing you to break through barriers to get into new areas and still be a little sneaky if needed. The third is the overpowered broken destroy everything mode, allowing you to take a lot of damage, protect your body with a shield and shoot spikey tentacles all over the room devastating anything in their paths. The forms provide an exciting way to build puzzles within the game, with the ability to switch between them by either dropping off mass or picking mass up at specific areas. It is exciting and allows you to approach the game how you want. Do you want to be invisible and strike enemies from the shadows? Or do you want to be able just to burst into a room-filling it with your amorphous blob-like body and leave the enemies struggling to find room to fight you?

There is an attempt at a story with some flashback scenes that, unfortunately, takes you away from what makes the game enjoyable. In the flashback scenes you must take control of a human wandering through the same facility you are haunting. At the same time, I do appreciate the attempt to add a little story to the game. But I believe the game itself provides enough enjoyment that you do not particularly need it. 

That is the main struggle with Carrion. There is a lot of pacing problems that I faced; for example, areas do not repopulate over time. Usually, this would not be an issue, but there is a lot of backtracking within the game. Rooms feel empty and make an already dull task that much more boring. The negative to the map is that there is no real direction; you feel like you are just exploring and hoping that you find the next area. At the same time, this can be an advantage in this style of games, unfortunately with Carrion if you combine that with the lack of repopulation. You end up just searching through the map regularly to desperately to get back to what the game does best and leads to weird pacing issues within the game. You have a bloody and fearsome fight to the death. Then you are left to travel through empty rooms where the game is reliant on just its movement being fun, which it is! But his is not enough to fill those slow moments in. The fun becomes few and far between towards the middle/end of the game, and it slows it down to a point where playing can become a chore. 

Overall, the gameplay is enjoyable and allows you to be a little creative with how you tackle situations. But the lack of repopulation and direction within the map itself leads to moments where you are just searching for the action. The game is an enjoyable play, but I would love to see some more enemies while you are roaming areas you have cleared. I understand that technically you have killed everyone, but maybe they could put SWAT-like teams who search the map for you. Or have them attack some of the nests you have made, forcing you to other areas of the map to defend yourself. There is a lot of good here, but also a lot to be desired. It is a fun game that works with its premise very well, and you will get enough out of it! It is currently on Gamepass, so if you have a moment, I recommend trying it!

Xbox Showcase Review

The Xbox showcase was yesterday and boy was it a good’un! Microsoft was in dire need of a good event following Sony’s PS5 reveal event, and Microsoft did what they needed too! 

There were some great games announced and a “Surprise” at the end, so let’s get into it!

What were my favourites from the showcase?

Halo Infinite

The main game they were peddling was Halo Infinite the next in the Halo series which will be one of the leading games to push the Xbox one Series X. THE MUSIC! Halo has always been able to amplify wonderful cinematic moments with beautiful music, and there is more of that here.

The pilot interests me; he looks to serve as potentially Chief’s new partner and I love the look of that. He gets angry with Chief and disagrees with him showing that there is a new opportunity to explore a new dynamic relationship for Chief. He has his own goals and motivations, and the two are working together to get home. 

The hud and the hit markers both look smooth, and together with the movement, it looks fluid. The grappling hook seems to be a fun addition to Chief’s arsenal, and I can see this being an incredibly useful tool in multiplayer.

The world looks more open within Infinite, and I like this. It may allow us to explore the map at our own pace, looking for lore dumps and easter eggs throughout the new Halo ring. Atriox is back, and that terrifies me. He calls Chief out for a final battle, and his speech only got me determined to finish the fight. 

State of Decay 3

State of Decay 2 held so much potential. It was a decent zombie survival game that focused on maintaining a group of survivors. I felt on my first playthrough that the game was exciting but felt like it lacked something. The mechanics were extremely repetitive, and it, unfortunately, did not live up to the expectations. I cannot comment on the state of the game as it is now, but State of Decay 3 has me interested in playing through the 2nd installation before this comes out. 

At one point in time, it seemed like every other game was a zombie game. As today the popular game mode is Battle Royals, a few years ago it was Zombie games. So a return to these is fun, nostalgic and always reminds me of some great games I played when I was a little younger. 

I have reserved hopes for State of Decay 3, but it is nice to see that they are having another shot at a franchise that interests me.

Avowed

Obsidian look to be on a roll at the moment revealing a short trailer for their upcoming game ‘Avowed’. The trailer did not show much only emphasising that the game will take place in a fantasy world full of magic. The only clue we have to gameplay is that it will be first-person and the player can dual wield magic and swords.  

One thing that piqued my interest was the way the magic looked, it reminded me of The Witcher  with the symbols and then when the spell forms over the characters hands, it had a Doctor Strange vibe to it. I can get behind that. I hope there is an interesting magic system or at least an aesthetically/mechanically pleasing one. 

Plus, it is Obsidian. The Outer Worlds was incredible, and I’m sure they can pull this off! 

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon.

Talking of The Outer Worlds, we have a DLC announcement! A narrative expansion to the corrupt capitalistic world that looks to add a new world and a load of new weapons! We do see a new crew member for the ship, but we do not get any real information. The trailer is the type of goodness you expect from Obsidian. Over the top narration and emphasis on the absurd, I love it! It will be available on the 9th of September! 

Everwild

One thing that Rare proved with Sea Of Thieves is that they can provide us with breathtaking environments. While the release of Sea Of Thieves was quite shallow, the game as it is now is full of content.We do not get much information about Everwild, but I am interested to see what Rare will do next.

The game looks to focus on the connection between human and nature, bringing forth the more magical aspects of nature and co-inhabitancy. Rare can build beautiful worlds I just hope this game will be full from release. Games as a service work, but they lose a lot of momentum if the base game is lacking, let’s hope Rare does this beautiful looking world some justice!

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

I’m personally not a huge 40k fan, not through disliking the franchise but rather unfamiliarity. I know that it is home to some awesome looking characters and this game is going to be a 4-person co-op horde fighting game. I am interested in taking a stab into the 40k world with some friends gunning down what looks to be zombies of some sort? 4-player co-op zombie games always get me excited as I’m overly fond of the Left4Dead games, so I am ever hoping to get a new entry into that style of game. 

Fable.

Just Fable. I don’t need to say much more. 

I know the rumours were everywhere, and people were sure it was all but confirmed, it is still nice to get a confirmation. I LOVED the fable games (Even 3). Honestly, I can’t wait. There was not a ‘4’ in the trailer, so from what I can tell this looks to be a reboot?

No gameplay for this, so we do not know where in the production of the game Playground are, but it is just lovely to hear that the franchise is not over.  

All-in-all it was a great showcase! What was your favourites from the reveals? I know it’s Fable… let’s admit it!

Thank you for reading!

Dale

Oirbo Preview

Oirbo is a 2-D platformer that takes the titular character to a metroidvania-inspired monolithic spacecraft. Which you must explore to discover its secrets and history. I’ve followed the development of this game for sometime via Imagination Overflow’s Instagram and it’s really nice to finally have some gameplay to further increase the anticipation for this game.


Developer: Imagination Overflow
Publisher:
Imagination Overflow
Genre:  
Metroidvania Platformer
Release Date:
TBC
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Switch


You are introduced to the titular character, a wonderfully hand-drawn robot who must face the threats of the spacecraft. Oirbo must explore the spacecraft discovering why its such a hostile place and collect upgrades to reach new heights. Each part of Oirbo can be upgraded, with various tools to help you progress. Initially, with his dash and jump, you must find new ways to take down enemies and use the environment to its advantage. The controls in the game are well mapped and pretty easy to get used to with few interactions. I’m expecting more buttons to be used in the full game as you earn upgrades.

Upgrade panel of the menu

You really get the feeling of weightlessness in Oirbo as when you jump you will slowly come down, giving you plenty of time to change the direction or alter your jump. Although this makes platform jumping easier, fast-moving enemies can be slightly tricky to land on top of, especially when dealing with multiple.

Most of the enemies are presented as obstacles or part of puzzles rather than actively aggressive in the game, making you think about how to interact with them and how they can benefit you in your progression. There’s one particular AI that got me a bit excited. A couple of minutes into the game, you are met with hornet-designed robots who harmlessly float around the platforms. However, once one is attacked, you are chased by a swarm until you can find cover. I thought this was a charming touch.

The health system ĺThe health system can be easily exploited by continually respawning enemies as they offer you a bar of health upon their destruction. There were many times I was caught farming to refill my health gauge. With the layout of the health bar, it would be interesting to see whether Imagination Overflow intends health to disappear between checkpoints when three bars are lost permanently. This would certainly add another level of difficulty to the game. These checkpoints are few and far between which again adds to the challenge of the game. Upon losing all health, you are respawned at one of these mechanical repair points.

Oirbo is undoubtedly an exciting and beautifully hand-drawn game. There is a particular element of cuteness to the game that seems shrouded in mystery as you travel through the spacecraft. With some attractive AI designs and some challenging puzzles, I think Oirbo could be an excellent game, and I’m excited about the full release. I am certainly excited when this hits Xbox, Switch and Steam soon. You can follow Imagination Overflow on Instagram and Facebook to keep updated.

The Isle of Armor Review (Pokemon Sword)

After becoming the champion of Galar what is left to do? Why not take a (Short) trip to the beautiful Isle of Armor? Where you can meet a new partner, catch some new (Returning) Pokémon and take in the sights!

Without holding anything back, the wild zone that they have implemented within the Isle of Amor is excellent! It stretches the whole map and is full of caves, forests and islands in the sea. This new wild zone truly makes you want to explore, there is so much to see out there, and this is the most substantial part of the DLC.

The Story

The Isle of Armor story kicks off right as you leave the train station. A man who is looking to join the Dojo on the Island will tell you that he is afraid to go outside because a menacing person is waiting outside. The game wastes no time in introducing your rival for The Isle of Armor, Klara (Sword) Or Avery (Shield), a star student at the Dojo. The rivalry is set in place when you beat her, and she realises that you could outshine her at the Dojo, she then tries to stop you from coming to protect her own identity. Defying her misdirection, you are welcomed into the Dojo with open arms and your adventure begins.

There is an interesting dynamic between you and Klara (Or Avery if you play Shield), which I genuinely liked. Klara realises that you are stronger and will do everything within her power to stop you, even if that means cheating! You are set three challenges to complete, in which your rival is directly behind you at all stages.

After completion, you are introduced to the new Legendary Pokémon Kubfu. After meeting Kubfu, Master Mustard sets you the goal of becoming the best of friends. Using the in-game heart system, we must get our Kubfu to 5 hearts so that we can progress. Usually getting a Pokémon’s happiness up can be quite a tedious task, but the DLC offers you the option to go visit scenic areas within the game to boost your friendship. Thankfully, you only have to visit two or three areas to do this, but it gives you another reason to explore the Isle.

I won’t carry on about the story too much just in case people would still like to play it, so avoiding any spoilers, I will conclude here. The story is shamefully short… what took me around 2-3 hours, only because I was catching new Pokémon, looking to build a new team for the challenges ahead. The game, if you play the story solely must be around an hour… maybe an hour and a half’s worth of gameplay… That is not great at all. Once I had finished it, I wandered around for a while to figure out who I had to talk with to continue the story. Looking at my quest bar, I was disappointed, it read “Adventure to your heart’s content!”… it was over. It honestly took me longer to build a team that I did not need than complete the story.

The Isle of Armor

While I think the story, itself is not worth purchasing the DLC for, the map itself is pretty good. It is full of life, and one thing that I absolutely love is the sea. There are islands scattered around the main Island, and they are full of their own mysteries. It was more an “Oh, I wonder if anything cool spawns on that Island over there” and you would have to go check it out! But one thing that I did not expect was the Sharpedo in the water. When riding around in the water you will see an object jetting its way towards you. At first, I was interested so let it initiate the fight. After catching my first one, I avoided them… but that does not mean they don’t try to get to you and wow they are fast! Another surprise was seeing a Wailord… just out and about… casually living its life! I knew it was big, but damn, it puts the size of these creatures into perspective. I loved this moment, combined with the Sharpedo we see how the world is formed and it was awesome to see. There is just not enough of it.

The world is scattered with Dens for Max raids… and I mean scattered with them! They are a little ugly and jarring when looking at the beautiful scenery they have created.

Oh, and Master Mustard grants you the authority to have your Pokémon follow you outside of their ball. Which leads me to many questions: is he the leading authority on Pokémon and ball rules? What are the Criteria to allow a Pokémon to follow you? Does Ash have permission from him? If not, is he breaking any laws? Did we have permission from him in older games? I do not want to be on the wrong side of Master Mustard, so I need to know!

The New (Returning) Pokémon

Pokémon Isle of Armor brings a plethora of new Pokémon… well Old Pokémon… but new to Sword and Shield. I did not realise how many Gen one Pokémon was cut from the base game… well… I know now because it seems that the Island is full one Gen one Pokémon. Or maybe that is just me noticing them more than the others? I do not know. The returning Pokémon is nice. I suppose, but it makes me wonder how many people will just buy the DLC for the returning Pokémon? You can get them without the DLC, but you must have them traded to you… and not too many people will have friends who can give them the entire Isle of Armor Dex.

We are introduced to a trainer that has caught 150 Alolan Diglett, and I do not blame him, they are adorable. Unfortunately, they have decided to explore the Island without him and are now missing. He asks us to find all 150 for him, which sounds like a daunting task, but from casual play, I have discovered over half, so it does not seem to be too much of a chore. It is quite fun and gives you another reason to explore. 

What I enjoyed, however, was this is how we get our hands on the Alolan versions of Pokémon. Once I found this out and figured that Alolan Vulpix would be in there, I went straight out and found as many as I could! Alolan Vulpix is better than normal Vulpix… and the majority of Pokémon… Do not argue with me… it is adorable. 

Fundamentals that are still broken

What really irked me, however, is how bad the online system for raid battles still is. During the Pokémon Showcase, they announced a Zeraora event in which if one million were defeated, every player would receive a shiny Zeraora. I loved this, it gives old players a reason to return… but when you are faced with the constant messages that state a raid is closed or full when they are showing you give up quickly. It seems, for me personally, that I struggle to get more than one other person in my raids, but everyone I try to join is continuously full.

This is one area of the game that is seriously just flawed. It is counterproductive. I enjoy raid battles and want to be in as many as possible. It is just a nightmare to join anyone who is asking for help! This needs to be addressed, but I doubt it will.

Pokémon Sword and Shield’s first DLC is a weak entry. Unfortunately, the story holds little substance, but its countered by a fascinating map. We can only hope that the next installation will have a better storyline and keep the strengths from the Ilse of Armor. I mean, it is not like any of us have a choice, most of us had to purchase both DLC together, so we have to play it!

Those are my thoughts on the Isle of Armor. HOw was your trip to the Isle? Did you enjoy it? Who is your new instant addition to your team? Is it the new legendary or a returning face?

The Steam Game Festival: GhostRunner Preview

First up in my Steam Game Fest preview series has to be GhostRunner from One More Level. A hardcore FPP slasher which requires you to build up momentum to avoid your enemies and slash them down. I got my hands on the free demo last week, the demo only last around about 10 minutes or so but it’s got me excited to get this game later this year.


Developer: One More Level, 3D Realms, Slipgate Ironworks
Publisher:
All In! Games
Genre:  
Hardcore FPP Slasher
Release Date:
2020
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One


Set in a grim cyberpunk world, you a cyborg assassin must ascend tower-city to take on the tyrannical Keymaster. The Dharma Tower is humanity’s last hope at survival, but the Keymaster shows little regard for his subjects and chaos assumes in the fight for resources. The demo takes places during the tutorial phase of the game, where you must escape the prison, presumably at the bottom of this tower. On your way, you must rescue the whisper.

The demo shows off some of the basic skills which are available in GhostRunner you can wall run, jump, slash, dash and even manage to slow time to dodge your enemies. You must combine these skills, to not only slay your enemies but also build up speed. You must always be moving. The enemies can lock onto you, and one-shot means your down, so the stakes are high. The skill in GhostRunner is very much based on your reaction times and choices made under pressure.

The press release states, “As the most advanced blade fighter ever created, you’re always outnumbered, but never outclassed.” This is very much the case, your move set feels flawless, as you can quickly come out of time and slash down your enemies. Despite its frustration, you the player must look around for different ways of taking down the multitude of enemies.

I really enjoy the cyberpunk setting, and GhostRunner has a stunning version of it. Combining it with a slashing game takes it away from the shooters that are typically associated with the genre, makes it something different. While the combat is somewhat akin to what we’ve seen before, it is still enjoyable, and I really enjoyed the sword vs gun take on the cyberpunk world. However, it feels like the sword is used as a ranged weapon, due to the speed of your character.

I’m certainly excited to see what other skills you can have in your arsenal to progress the game. In the demo it is said that your hardware is damaged, so it’s going to be interesting to see what your fully able cyber warrior is capable of.

With further delays to Cyberpunk 2077GhostRunner may be the perfect cyberpunk filler to keep you going till November. With an absolutely stunning setting, some excellent combat and hopefully a phenomenal story, GhostRunner can be one of the top releases of 2020.

Steam Games Festival: Grounded Preview

Since Obsidian announced Grounded back in April at the Xbox Series X event, we’ve been super excited to play the game. Steam Games Fest offered us a 30-minute preview at the brand new survival game that will be released on 28 July 2020.


Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher:
Xbox Game Studios
Genre:
Survival
Release Date:
28 July 2020
Platforms: PC, Xbox One


Taking influence from Honey, I Shrink I Kids and The Ant Bully, Grounded introduces you to four characters, all of who, have been shrunk and wake up in a garden. It seems that you are on a search for a way to get back to full size and return to normal life. Of course, the garden now presents new threats, ants, ladybugs and spiders. You must lead these characters to survival through day and night of the garden.

You can play as a group of four, selecting one of the characters, to aid your journey or you can choose to play alone. I’d assume that the enemies are levelled depending on the number of players, therefore meaning it is not any more challenging to play on your own if you wish. You must maintain your hunger, thirst and tiredness levels to ensure you are ready for all the dangers that come your way. But you must be careful to make sure you are eating the rights foods and drinking from the right source to make sure you stay healthy and avoid poisoning.

Grounded is a very cartoonish game but looks incredible as you get overshadowed by the common grass and critters that lay within. The scenery allows you to climb up and down while you can use objects such as dandelions as a parachute to move freely around the garden.

Obsidian has done an outstanding job with the AI, with each creatures having its own behaviour. Ants, for example, tend to sniff around you rather than an attack on first sight and only do if you attack first. While mites will only attack in dark places. Grounded is a fresh take on the survival genre, moving away from forests and zombie Apocalypse but managing to create that feeling of danger and anxiety but in a more child-friendly manner.

I love the building mechanics in this game. You must collect items around the garden which in turn give you new recipes to aid in your survival. Things such as plant fibre, sap and rock pellets all give you new tools, and it’s a pretty simple menu system. Selected into different groups, medical and food, crafting tools and weapons, it is straightforward and accessible.

However, you must build an adequate shelter to survive through the tough nights in the garden. This requires more abundant building materials such as grass and weeds, these don’t fit in your backpack. Instead, you must carry planks back to your base and store them for use. As you can only carry five planks at a time, the game introduces a unique building mechanic, where you can partially build parts of your structures dependent on the materials you have and then come back at a later time to finish them. For me, this is such a fantastic mechanic, as you no longer have to horde millions of items around with you to complete a piece of a wall. This a welcome change from games such as Fallout 4, where fitting anything in your backpack based on weight meant that often you were left stranded without the necessary resources such as health and water.

Obsidian has made sure that Grounded was accessible for all by including an arachnophobia setting, meaning that those with the phobia can still play the game. It also states that players who chose this setting will not lose out on the lucrative rewards that Spiders give as high levelled NPCs.