The Escapists was developed by Mouldy Toof Studios and will be published on Xbox One by Team 17 Digital. It is set for release on February 13, 2015 for $19.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.
The Escapists positions itself as a kind of craft-em-up roguelike set across a number of fiendishly designed secure facilities including prisons and POW camps. Think of it as somewhere between Terraria, Monaco and any number of top down action-RPGs. The main difference is that in order for you to be successful, The Escapists demands significantly more time and patience than almost any other game I’ve played — and what’s more, it’s perfectly suited to being a cute 8-bit indie title.
With only a very small number of simple core mechanics to rely upon, The Escapists turns the table on the typical sandbox approach taken by similar games. Instead, players are literally forced to adhere to a strict regimen of roll calls, mealtimes, break-times and work whilst simultaneously plotting their escape. It’s an inspired system that asks an awful lot from players and results in the rewards being all the sweeter.
“It’s like Gone Home,” my roommate tells his curious D&D buddies of the game I’m playing for review. A cursory glance at the screen would lead you to believe that he wasn’t wrong, either. The game in question, Life is Strange: Chrysalis from Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix, does feature a similar protagonist. Main character Max Caulfield is a young, confused girl looking for answers about the disappearance of another girl. After five years away in Seattle she’s returned to her small hometown of Arcadia Bay, OR to attend a prestigious boarding school. Chrysalis‘ setting puts Max in classes, at the school dormitories and at an old friend’s home. She’s not literally alone like Kaitlin Greenbriar in Gone Home, but as the shy kid in the back of the class, Max often feels like it.
If you stopped reading this review after that first paragraph, no one would blame you for describing Life is Strange as that game that’s “like Gone Home.” The two titles have one big difference, however: Gone Home is about solving puzzles, while Life is Strange is about solving conversations. And whereas video game puzzles usually only have one correct solution, conversations have room for many possible options to carry a game forward.
Riptide GP2 was developed and published by Vector Unit. It was released on Xbox One on January 23, 2015 for $4.99. A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
In Riptide GP2 you take control of a hydro jet and take to the waterways to put your racing skills to the test against AI, your local friends and/or the Xbox leaderboards. The better your racing skills are, the faster you will rake in the winnings and progress to the next set of challenges. You can use the money you’ve won to upgrade your current hydro jet or purchase one of 10 others that unlock as you progress higher in rank. With over 25 stunts at your disposal, and with doing stunts being the main way to increase your boost, finding the right line to hit a jump at max speed will take some time and patience but will ultimately help you win events.
Even before playing Riptide GP2, the mere mention of its developer, Vector Unit, immediately made me think of Hydro Thunder Hurricane (HTH), an Xbox Live Arcade game released in 2010. Hydro Thunder Hurricane is also made by Vector Unit. Unfortunately, Riptide GP2 is so similar to HTH that it feels more like an updated port or unreleased HTH downloadable content than a complete game in itself, which is what it should feel like.
Unmechanical: Extended Edition was developed and published on Xbox One by Grip Games as an improvement to Talawa Games’ and Teotl Studios’s Unmechanical. It will release on January 30, 2015 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Talawa Games for review purposes.
Up until January 21, 2015, I didn’t even know this game existed until I happened to come across an achievement list for the Xbox One version. The game peaked my interest, and I’m glad I saw that achievement list. Unmechanical was originally released on Steam and Android in 2012 and has been rereleased to home consoles with a new extra side level called “Extended”.
Unmechanical: Extended Edition claims itself as a simple game with a variety of puzzles. After starting the game and looking at the controls, it was definitely simple. The left or right stick can move the character and every button and trigger besides the Y button was a tractor beam. That’s it. What can a simple game bring to the table?
#IDARB is scheduled for release on Xbox One in February 2015 and will be free for all Xbox Live Gold subscribers. It was developed by Other Ocean Interactive (and the people of the internet) and published by Other Ocean Interactive. A copy of the game was provided by Other Ocean for review purposes.
Based on what I have read over the past week or two, the gaming press have been generally disappointed by a lack of both quality and innovation across almost all platforms in 2014. Many of the most anticipated games of last year were sequels or remakes. Worse still, almost all of the triple-A holiday releases were clearly rushed, unfinished and in some cases almost entirely unplayable. It seems fitting to me then that one of the first key indie releases of 2015, #IDARB, is the complete opposite of these bloated, cynical big-studio productions in every way. Let me tell you all about it.
The newest Marvel villain to have their own table in Pinball FX2 is Spider-man’s arch-enemy, Venom. With previous Marvel-themed tables, Zen Studios has gone one of two ways: they either incorporate the theme of a recent Marvel movie or they follow a theme from the comics. Released on December 12, 2014 for both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One, Marvel’s Venom table for Pinball FX2 goes the latter route and incorporates a theme straight from the comic books.
Funk of Titans was developed and published on Xbox One by A Crowd of Monsters. It was released on January 9, 2015 for $12.49. A copy was provided by A Crowd of Monsters for review purposes.
It’s motivational speaking at its finest, and it comes from main character Perseus, to whom Zeus has assigned the task of defeating the Music Titans. The player is sent to clear three different worlds of music consisting of Pop, Rap and Rock. At first glance of screenshots and trailers of the game, I assumed this was another traditional platformer in which the player runs and jumps and attacks on command. Nope. Funk of Titans is actually a runner-type game in which the character automatically runs, and the player commands the jumping and combat. This revelation completely changed my outlook on the game. Let’s dig into the finer details of how it did so.
Tetris Ultimate was developed by SoMA Play Inc. and published by Ubisoft on Xbox One. It was released on December 17, 2014 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Ubisoft for review purposes.
I’m a huge Tetris fan. Ever since summer camp and the original Game Boy version (1989), I’ve probably played 20 or more different renditions of the classic puzzler across every system I’ve ever owned. So when the opportunity came to try out a brand new version, Tetris Ultimate, for the new next-generation Xbox One, of course I jumped at it.
You probably already know the basics, but just in case you didn’t, Tetris has you dropping different-shaped blocks into a playing field in attempts to create and clear lines of blocks. It’s simple, fun and addictive. So how does Tetris Ultimate add to the formula?
Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams – Director’s Cut was developed and published by Black Forest Games on the Xbox One. It was released on December 12, 2014 for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.
The Giana Sisters started off in a title known as The Great Giana Sisters which was released in 1987 on the Commodore 64. The title caused many controversies as the game’s design was incredibly similar to another popular platformer released at that time, Super Mario Bros. As a result, the brand went quiet for many years. Fast forward to 2012, Black Forest Games was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign for a project known as Project Giana. After more time passed, Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams was released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for the Xbox 360 on March 20, 2013. Moving ahead to current times, Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams – Director’s Cut was released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for the Xbox One on December 12, 2014.
When I first got a hold of Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams – Director’s Cut, I thought to myself, this is going to be great. Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams for the Xbox 360 was a blast and I’m excited to see the new improvements and extra content that is included in the Director’s Cut. After playing through the game extensively to provide a quality review, I’m at a loss for words to describe my experience. Then I found it. Let me show you below.