Although the vibrant world of roguelikes isn’t something I used to focus on in the past, it’s a genre that has slowly grown on me over time. It’s certainly not one that I excel in, but it’s one that I don’t mind failing in if I have a good time along the way.
A little while back, my good friend Greg gave me a copy of Barony that he purchased during a Steam sale. It seemed to be kind of a whim purchase to be honest, but he figured that it would be something I’d like to eventually try my hand at. The game is a 3D dungeon-crawler with pixel art graphics (pretty similar to Minecraft‘s style), but it works very well in recreating the aesthetic of a 1990s-era PC title. Released in June 2015 from Burning Wheel LLC, the game has gotten really good feedback in the time since its release on Steam and I can see why: the game is just plain fun.
Still, I’m not very good at it and I manage to die rather unceremoniously after the success of finally finding the staircase down in the first major floor of the dungeon. And, guess what? That means I’d have to start all over again!
Anyway, it’s a fun little game and for $9.99 on Steam it’s kind of hard to go wrong with this one if you enjoy a good dungeon-crawling adventure. So, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!
Dreadbit brings us a skills-based, acrobatic platform shooter in the guise of Seraph, a title that seems to marry the gameplay styles of Mega Man X and Metroid. In Seraph, the player takes the role of an angel who was imprisoned by humans decades before the game takes place. After years of being held captive, demons suddenly appear in the labyrinthine prison, slaying the guards and taking over. This appears to be both troubling and a blessing in disguise: although these abominations are now in the mortal realm, this provides Seraph with a means to escape.
Back in March 2016 I picked up a Razer Kraken USB headset to replace my dying Logitech G930 (a nice wireless set that had 7.1 surround support) and was quite happy with it. Recently, though, the Kraken started having issues with the surround sound feature dropping in and out and even with just “regular” stereo audio the sound quality was very flat and unappealing. I reinstalled all the drivers and did everything I was supposed to, but nothing worked. Finally, the microphone started having issues with bad feedback. In short, it was on its way out and sadly beyond the return period from the store I purchased it. Several people noted that five months was a pretty awful lifespan for a headset like that and Razer is normally a pretty respectable company. Regardless, I went on a short quest to find a good replacement set and after a couple returns I came across the HyperX Cloud Core from Kingston.
Now, a bit of an aside here:
It’s come to my attention that Windows 8/8.1 and 10 have some issues with USB microphone devices. It’s an issue that Microsoft appears to be aware of but has yet to fix after all this time. Essentially, my understanding is that it’s a combination of audio drivers, the actual USB device itself, and the type of PC sound card that you’re running. Some say that RealTek sound cards don’t jive well with Windows 8/8.1 and 10 currently. However, I had no real issues with the G930 during its lifetime (late-2012 to March 2016) and it was a USB-powered device. The Kraken, until its unfortunate demise, also seemed to be untroubled. However, many other devices (including two that I returned before getting the Cloud Core) have issues where even with the recording volume maxed out, the microphone sounds super quiet or has an awful lot of feedback. I verified this with two computers running Windows 10 and they both had these problems. So, it was for that reason that despite my general love of the easy plug-and-play nature of the Kraken or another USB device, I went with a 3.5mm headset this time around.
So, coming from the likes of the G930 and the Kraken, how does the Cloud Core stack up as both a listening device and audio recording/communication tool?
Like with a lot of the titles I’ve received over the years from Adult Swim Games, I had no clue what to expect from Headlander other than figuring it was going to be a strange, quirky experience. I’ll admit that my expectation was actually pretty accurate, but in a very good way!
Headlander was developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Adult Swim Games on July 25, 2016. It’s a trippy, 1970s-themed sci-fi adventure in the vein of Metroidvania games. The dialogue is fun and witty (and well-acted), the graphics are very detailed, and the gameplay is pretty spot-on. The only issue I’ve had so far with this one is that the aiming controls are rather lacking when using a Steam Controller, but the game has been so fun to play that I’ve been more than willing to power through that.
Headlander is currently $19.99 on Steam and if you’re at all a fan of these sorts of adventures, I highly recommend you pick this one up!
- TITLE: ABZU
- DEVELOPER: Giant Squid
- PUBLISHER: 505 Games
- PLATFORM: PC (also on PlayStation 4)
- GENRE: Adventure
- RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016
- PRICE: $19.99 USD
When I first saw the promotional screenshots and artwork for ABZU in a press release I immediately felt drawn to play this game. Once I found out that ABZU is a spiritual successor to Journey I felt like I really needed to dig into this game. But, hype really doesn’t matter, does it? After all, when the dust settles what really matters is what we think of the game.
ABZU comes to us for the PC and PlayStation 4 from Giant Squid, a new company helmed by Matt Nava, the art director behind Journey and Flower. While not necessarily directly related to the popular 2012 PS3 title, ABZU seems to draw an awful lot of inspiration from that game.
Much like its spiritual predecessor, ABZU‘s story is told wordlessly through gameplay and cutscenes. The main character (who many refer to simply as “the Diver”) awakens afloat in a relatively-shallow area of the sea near a sprawling reef system after a rather mystical and existential opening sequence. Beyond a couple minutes where the game prompts you with hints about the basic controls, no direct indication is given as to where you need to go and what you must do when you get there. The crux of the game is about exploration, reflection, and interpretation, gathering your own opinion based on the things that you discover and observe along the journey. Once you master the controls (a controller is highly recommended, though not required), swimming around the aquatic environments is fluid, fun, and quite relaxing. The environments are varied and well-crafted, taking the Diver on a journey through colorful reef systems, kelp forests, deep-sea caverns, jet streams, dark depths filled with bioluminescent creatures, ancient ruins, and much more. All manner of sea life can be encountered along the way, and while some creatures are scarier than others, at no time in the game do any of them pose a threat to your well-being. Near the beginning of the game there is a point where a large great white chomps down on one of your drones (and I admit, it was a bit of a natural jump-scare!), but outside of that most all of the interactions with the sealife are positive (which was one of the goal’s of the game’s designers).
There’s been a lot of talk for a while now about what the flagship card in AMD’s RX 400-series of cards could be. In their previous series, the 90 and 90X style cards were typically the enthusiast grade within the series, but AMD has previously stated that the RX 480 (released on June 29, 2016) takes full advantage of the Polaris 10 chip.
Recently, we received a teaser about an upcoming Vega launch event (Vega being the next GPU after Polaris, supposedly featuring High Bandwidth Memory 2.0) that has led many to suggest that the Vega line may see its debut sooner than its initial 2017 launch window. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that the first Vega card may be the RX 490, but that seems a little underwhelming to me. If Vega is a whole new architecture, then either it should get a name like “Fury 2” or should be part of a 500-series of cards that are marketed more for the higher-end consumer.
So, if the RX 490 isn’t Vega, and if Polaris is already taken full advantage of, what will the 490 (if there is one) be?
It seems very plausible that if a 490 is released, it may be a dual-GPU solution (most likely two RX 480 cards in one). This would make the 490 a powerful GPU (with a total of 16GB GDDR5) and a decent alternative to those not wanting to wait for a Vega card.
Like anything, though, at this point most of this is speculation and we just need to be patient and see what AMD has in store for us in the coming months. It should certainly be interesting, at least!
A little while back, I received a review code for indie physics-based puzzle/construction game Poly Bridge in order to provide some coverage for The Button Smashers. Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game, and I think it has some really unique aspects to it. Is this game for everyone, though?
You’ll have to watch the video review and read the full written review to find out!
Meanwhile, more fun content and coverage should be on the way soon!