Indie Royale Shoe Bundle

It’s over a week since the last posting, but this was due to some technical difficulties, concerning my PC which finally broke down, writing from a borrowed laptop right now. So sorry about the scarce news. With other additional time-consuming stuff to do, there wasn’t even much of a chance to try out Indie Royale‘s latest Shoe Bundle, which is a shame, as it’s a rather excellent one.

indieroyaleshoebundle

With only a few hours to go, I’ll keep it short and give you some trailers and links to find out for yourself if this is to your taste. If platformers are your thing, then this bundle is definitely worth the purchase, with some wonderful pixel art and fun gameplay in all the titles. The music album also sounds extremely cool in an 80ies-kind of disco sense.

So don’t wait any longer and get it before the offer expires in a few hours.

Stealth Bastard Deluxe
(UK 2012, developer/publisher: Curve Studios, platforms: PC. Android)

stealthbastarddeluxe

Official Website

Savant: Ascent
(Norway 2014, developer/publisher: D-Pad Studio, platforms: PC, iOS, Android)

savantascent

Official Website

Mr. Bree+
(Brazil 2013, developer/publisher: TawStudio Entertainment, platform: PC)

mrbree

Official Website

Jack Lumber
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: Owlchemy Labs, platforms: PC, iOS, Android)

jacklumber

Official Website

Fly’n
(France 2013, developer/publisher: Ankama, platform: PC)

flyn

Official Website

Oozi: Earth Adventure
(Poland 2012, developer/publisher: Awesome Game Studio, platforms: PC, Xbox 360)

ooziearthadventure

Official Website

Akane the Kunoichi
(Italy 2014, developer/publisher: Haruneko Entertainment, platform: PC)

akanethekunoichi

Official Website

Doomed’n Damned
(Finland 2014, developer/publisher: Arc-Gen, platform: PC)

doomedndamned

Official Website

Daily Espada
(Brazil 2014, developer/publisher: Pidroh, platform: PC)

dailyespada

Official Website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Indie Royale Apollo Bundle

The sun seems to take a holiday and lets the rain reign supreme, but even if the greek dude in the logo of Indie Royale‘s latest Apollo Bundle hasn’t got the proper attire (just notice where the logo is actually placed within the logo), it’s a bundle dressed to play.

indieroyaleapollobundle

Included are RPG rogue-lite customizable-weapons FPS Rogue Shooter, strange experimental pixel-art adventure in nature Echo of the Wilds, fantasy board card strategy Talisman Digital Edition, 3D co-op tower-defense with balls (seriously) Terrorhedron, arcade-jumper in mine carts Swipecart, and frenetic multiplayer ice puck shucking (again seriously with fun) ClusterPuck 99.

In addition to the soundtrack of Rogue Shooter, paying 5 Euros or more unlocks the extremely easy-going-and-listening chiptune album Showtime by Popskyy.

Even if the titles don’t bear very well-known developer names, the amount of fun and originality here can’t be dismissed. Be it the Into the Wild inspired Echo of the Wilds, the tongue-in-cheek Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike or the awesome 8-player-action ClusterPuck 99, it’s difficult NOT to love this bundle. I would even go so far to say that the chiptune album is one of the best of the countless Indie Royale Bundles I’ve reviewed so far.

So don’t wait and get it before the offer expires tomorrow.

Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: Hippomancer, platform: PC)

rogueshooter

Official Website

Echo of the Wilds
(Netherlands 2014, developer/publisher: caiysware, platform: PC)

echoofthewilds

Official Website

Talisman Digital Edition
(UK 2014, developer/publisher: Nomad Games, platforms: PC, iOS)

talismandigitaledition

Official Website

Terrorhedron
(UK 2014, developer/publisher: Micro Macro Games, platform: PC)

terrorhedron

Official Website

Swipecart
(Canada 2014, developer/publisher: Micro Factory Games, platforms: PC, iOS, Android)

swipecart

Official Website

ClusterPuck 99
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: PHL Collective, platform: PC)

clusterpuck99

Official Website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

GOG Weekend Promo: Nordic Nobility

With some unexpected computer problems (spending most of the weekend trying to fix them), there was a short break of reviewing, but now’s the perfect time for highlighting GOG‘s Nordic Nobility weekend promo.

gogweekendpromo

With courtesy of Austrian publisher Nordic Games, there’s a whole bunch of classic games on offer in GOG’s Weekend Promo. It’s a pretty long list of discounted titles, so going into detail with each one isn’t the best way to handle this, especially since the offer ends tomorrow, Tuesday, July 22, at 3:59AM GMT.

Gothic 2 Gold Edition
Gothic 3
Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods Enhanced Edition
Painkiller Black Edition
Spellforce Platinum
Spellforce 2: Shadow Wars
Spellforce 2: Dragon Wars
Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past
Red Faction
Red Faction 2
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Desperados 2: Cooper’s Revenge
The Book of Unwritten Tales
The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles
The Guild Gold Edition
The Guild 2
The Guild 2: Pirates of the European Seas
Summoner
The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief
Full Spectrum Warrior
Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers
Silver
Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within
Aquanox
Aquanox 2: Revelation
Dark Fall: The Journal
Dark Fall 2: Lights Out
Chaser
Alien Nations
The Nations Gold Edition
Panzer Elite Special Edition
Neighbours From Hell Compilation

Still, what can be said is that the weekend promo includes some of the finest games in their respective genres, some must-have titles like RPG Gothic 2, strategy-RPG Spellforce, wild-west strategy Desperados, point-and-click adventures The Book of Unwritten Tales, The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief, Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within, medieval simulation The Guild, and underwater-shooter-simulation Aqanox. As you can see, these are only a few of the titles which offer long playability and an awesome great time for everyone’s favorite genres.

So don’t wait and head over to GOG before the offer expires.

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).
Using one of the GOG links and buying the products also helps ;).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Classic adventuring: “Broken Sword: Angel of Death” (PC)

After going a bit too 3D with QTEs and stealth segments, will Revolution Software (with the help of Sumo Digital) return to old form with Broken Sword: Angel of Death?

Broken Sword: Angel of Death (PC)
(UK 2006, developers: Revolution Software, Sumo Digital, publisher: THQ (defunct), platform: PC)

brokensword4_cover

George Stobbard discovers the secret of the Lost Ark and what the church, a gang of mobsters and a mysterious and attractive girl named Anna Maria have in common, while his old friend Nico is also met along the way.

Conspiracy this, cliché that
Mystery and crime stories are difficult to write without diving into the depths of clichéd conspiracy theories and Italian mob gangsters. While the plot is engaging to a certain degree and how an old manuscript is used for investigative purposes works extremely well, being reminiscent of the first game, the title ultimately suffers from neglecting what made the series great in the first place: an adventuring duo who complement each other. So instead of Nico and George, there’s too much George Stobbard and Anna Maria whose relationship is superficial.

brokensword4_1

When Nico finally comes into play (way too late), their interaction is forced, while their conversations are often less entertaining because of George’s pseudo coolness which is further complicated by some chauvinistic remarks. Few emotional scenes help this characterization at the end when the player doesn’t care anymore about George, Anna Maria or Nico, while the plot gets more convoluted and nonsensical. NPCs are also less interesting with few exceptions, like a priest who loves violent movies. Except for this, conversations with other people aren’t that fun anymore, compared to the older titles.

brokensword4_2

Returning to gameplay roots…of the problem
The gameplay is less action-oriented and focuses on inventory object combinations and environmental interactions in addition to the typical conversations with various characters. There is also a bit of research to be done on specific topics in a historical data base where connections have to be made, while the aforementioned manuscript provides clues to certain puzzles. These are varied, but they can also become frustrating, because their solutions aren’t always clear. Especially the object combinations are difficult when running from one place to another for a very obscure interaction with the environment, which gets extremely annoying when these have to be done on time as well.

brokensword4_3

Even if there are no QTEs or stealth sections, the classic point-and-click adventure gameplay receives a problematic hacking mini-game that outstays its welcome very soon. Here players are tasked to direct one or more data streams through various computer terminals (or gateways) with a select number of mirror-like devices. This gets more difficult when other obstacles have to be avoided. There’s no timer, but it’s still a rather unnecessary mini-game that is more frustrating than it is fun to play. Defusing a bomb at a later stage of the game is even more infuriating, because it is time-sensitive and gives a very limited amount of information to the player in order to solve this problem in a very short time.

brokensword4_4

Newer technology with mixed results
Despite the return to its point-and-clicker roots in gameplay, the controls are less than perfect due to the 3D environment. Not only do the camera angles obscure one’s vision, but there are too many obstacles where George and Nico get stuck, while the hotkey/interaction spots aren’t always clear either. Graphically, there’s definitely an improvement of the character models over the third game, but the environments are still rather empty. The cinematic presentation is also less engaging here with fewer set-pieces, while the soundtrack and especially voice acting are a bit disappointing as well (even in the German version where some sentences sound offkey).

brokensword4_5

Not a classic, but still a good game?
Broken Sword: Angel of Death is the low point in the series and a disappointing game in its own right. While it tries to tell an engaging mystery story, the suspense takes a backseat most of the time and the plot drifts into ridiculous scenes the more time is spent with a rather unsympathetic George and boring Nico whose teamwork hasn’t much to do with the older titles. It’s also riddled with control issues and obscure puzzles. This is not a bad adventure game per se, as it does some historical fact and fiction storytelling and mystery solving aspects right, but it’s still not worthy of the title the other games have carried before.

Score: 6.5/10

Buy the PC game on
GOG

Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Official Website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Classic adventuring: “Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon” (PC)

When adventure games made way to first-person-shooters and other genres in the new millennium, was it really such a good idea to go all 3D for established classics? Revolution Software tried it with Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, but did it succeed to bring together consoleros and PC playas?

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (PC)
(UK 2003, developer: Revolution Software, publisher: THQ (defunct), platforms: PC, Xbox, PS2)

brokensword3_cover

George and Nico join investigating and adventuring forces again when looking for the mysterious Voynich manuscript and the key of Salomon whose connection can change and destroy the world by the hands of Neo Templars.

Mysteries to solve and stranger people to meet
The plot and theme now return to the roots of the series with Templars and mysterious artefacts plus quite a bit of Indiana Jones-like globe trotting. For the most part, the story is quite engaging and the way Nico’s and George’s storylines come together is much better handled than in the first games in terms of balance, i.e. the female protagonist does more than just a few scenes of work and is therefore less of a side kick than she was before. Unfortunately, the story gets more nonsensical with a higher amount of trash value the more it progresses. The duo’s conversations are well written and have their funny moments, but there are also some awkward scenes when the forced humor is simply too juvenile.

brokensword3_1

The same lower quality can be found in the other characters. Whereas there were always likeable NPCs in the first two games, here they end up as caricatures of themselves. An extreme example is Lobineau, the historian, who finds a strange attachment to a punk/goth/alternative-dressing girl who just lost her boyfriend, but after some very short grieving time seems to forget the old one and simply adores the new one. But this is not an isolated instance if one looks at a man-eating runaway girl whose father, a highly influential political character in the village of Glastonbury, is the epiphany of military opulence, while there’s a sleezy shopkeeper who sells stolen poetry of famous authors as his own. If this sounds like fun, it’s only fun for a short time, as the conversations are usually add odds with the gameplay and puzzle design.

brokensword3_2

Moving puzzles, move-it puzzles or action/stealth mixing it up
For a game that looks more like an action-adventure, there are quite a few interesting puzzles to solve which are more in line with point-and-click titles. Involving object combinations and interactions with the environment, these aren’t always logical, but they’re still varied enough to be entertaining with their solutions. Unfortunately, there are way too many scenes in which moving crates, stones or other objects are involved, turning the game more into a Sokoban puzzler than a classic adventure game. Even if they’re not that difficult, their inclusion is forced, and the gameplay becomes repetitive. This isn’t helped by a clunky inventory system, because the old mouse-based selection of items is replaced by keyboard/gamepad controls.

brokensword3_3

Being more action-centric without actually using shooting and beat-em-up mechanics, the game also features time-sensitive scenes in which specific keys have to be pressed in order to succeed. These QTE-segments are frustrating (as are the stealth ones), because there’s not always enough time to react at first, and in some cases, certain cutscenes (which are annoyingly unskippable) have to be endured before starting them again. Certain puzzles also require fast reflexes, turning the usually relaxing slow pace of adventure games upside down. In addition to these problems, the camera and character positioning can also lead to some unnecessary disorientation. Despite trying to make the keyboard-controls as logical as possible with recurring keys for jumping, climbing and other actions, it’s still not the best way to move Nico and George, especially since not all buttons of modern gamepads like the Xbox 360 controller are supported.

brokensword3_4

It’s all in 3D, but does it look and play okay?
Graphically, the 3D engine isn’t so bad, but like many other titles, it hasn’t aged very well. Facial animations and lip synching aren’t that good, and while walking and interacting with the environment looks realistically enough, the often empty locations are less acceptable. Environments have a few details, but they’re far away from the quality presented in the hand-drawn style of the older games. However, cutscenes are more cinematic, and the different camera angles during conversations make the scenes livelier as well. Music and voice acting are great as ever, although some voices could be better, because there are scenes in which they sound as if read independently from the current situation.

brokensword3_5

A 3D reimagining gone almost great
Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon is a worthy addition to the series when it comes to unravelling a mystery involving Templars, travelling the world, solving mostly fun puzzles and having entertaining conversations with characters of different cultural and social backgrounds. But the plot and character development can’t keep the high quality for the whole playtime of roughly around 10 hours, while the puzzle design is hindered by too many pushing-blocks sequences.

The more action-oriented approach is welcome in the cinematic presentation, but less enjoyable to play in QTEs and stealth pieces. The transition from 2D to 3D isn’t without its problems, either, resulting in clunky controls and character animations with backgrounds which would have looked much better with the older technology. It’s not a bad game per se, as it’s quite suspenseful and offers enough varied puzzles. But without jumping on the 3D bandwagon and more work done on the script, this would have turned out much better.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy the PC game on
GOG
Steam

Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Official Website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Indie Royale Donut Bundle

Why not take a break from all the stressful daily proceedings and grab yourself Indie Royale‘s Donut Bundle? And while you’re at it, sing that cheerful Donut song from the fun Splosion Man Xbox Live Arcade game.

indieroyaledonutbundle

Included in this tasty bundle are colorful fairy-tale like time-stopping puzzle-platformer Chronology, casual horror adventure Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren’s Call, classic JRPG The Book of Legends, multiplayer top-down carnage action Guns’n’Zombies, rogue-lite RPG Quest of Dungeons, and quirky arcade save-the-cats-avoid-the-fire oddity Jones On Fire.

There are no extras to be unlocked this time, but for 5 Euros or more, the strange but also danceable electro album Walk The Line by e:o:nity can be bought.

Despite the lack of some killer apps or very innovative ideas, a great-looking title like Chronology or weird Jones On Fire are enough as an incentive to buy this bundle. So don’t wait and get it before the offer expires tomorrow.

Chronology
(Sweden 2013, developer/publisher: osao games, platform: PC)

chronology

Official Website

Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren’s Call
(Poland 2014, developer/publisher: Artifex Mundi, plagtforms: PC, iOS, Android)

nightmaresfromthedeepthesirenscall

Official Website

The Book of Legends
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: Aldorlea Games, platform: PC)

thebookoflegends

Official Website

Guns’n’Zombies
(Russia 2014, developer/publisher: Krealit platforms: PC, iOS, Android)

gunsnzombies

Official Website

Quest of Dungeons
(Portugal 2014, developer/publisher: David Amador, platforms: PC, iOS)

questofdungeons

Official Website

Jones On Fire
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: Glass Bottom Games, platforms: PC, iOS, Android)

jonesonfire

Official Website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Classic adventuring: “Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror” Original+Remastered (PC)

Sequels to classic games can be a bit tricky, especially when they look almost the same, and if the main theme is changed, oh my… But maybe that’s a good thing and Revolution Software’s Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror is a great game on its own, plus the Remastered version of 2010 is an improvement over the Director’s Cut of the first game?

Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror (PC)
(UK 1997, developer: Revolution Software, publisher: Virgin Interactive (defunct), platforms: PC, PS1)

brokensword2_cover
Nico and George find themselves entangled in a world of drugs and the resurrection of an old Mayan god.

A good yarn with fun characters, but without conspiracies
Unlike the first game, the story doesn’t follow the path of old and Neo Templars, but is influenced by Mayan culture with a mix of crime investigation and even a pirate tale. It’s less mysterious, but still suspenseful enough to keep the player curious. Travelling the world and seeing different places and people isn’t as prominent as in the original, but there’s still a strong sense of place and there are enough interesting characters to meet. This time, the conversations have a more comedic tone to them. Fortunately, the dialogues are witty and seldom end up in terrible punch lines, always teetering on the edge of dry humor before landing on memorable quotes.

brokensword2_1

In addition to a welcome return of a prototypical American tourist couple, the other characters are just as well written: two old ladies who trust a suspicious architect with no backbone, a priest living in his treehouse because of some touchy problems with the locals, a governor’s son who is patronized by his mom (the governor), are some of the likeable characters. Only the really bad guy and whole demon plot feel a bit too clichéd and trashy, and the ending is also rushed. On the plus side, Nico is a playable character and despite the missed opportunity to work together simultaneously to solve puzzles, this adds variety to proceedings.

brokensword2_2

Puzzle harder
One small criticism of the first game was the lack of challenging puzzles. Even if the inventiveness of a Monkey Island is never reached, the similarities to a McGuyver-style object combination of George and Nico are obvious. Most of them are fun and logical, while others can be trickier and also slow progress in certain instances. Except for one puzzle, the puzzle design relies on object combinations with the investigation/interview part. Unfortunately, the historical aspect which made the original stand out is less intriguing here, making research in most parts of the game sorely lacking. This is a shame, because the story has a lot of potential when it comes to finding certain stones strewn around the world to thwart the evil Mayan god’s resurrection plans. Going on a pirate treasure search with George is a lot of fun, while Nico’s participation is usually less involving by simply talking to people in closed environments, although it gets better at the end.

brokensword2_3

Same old tech
The presentation of the game doesn’t surprise at first, as the engine is only a refinement of the original, exemplified by smoother character animations and better-looking cutscenes, although the slow walking animations are still annoying. The backgrounds are also vibrantly realized with a hand-drawn comic-style, while the music and voice acting (except for Nico’s forced French accents; even with a new voice actress) are again of the highest quality. But one shouldn’t expect a new look or many improvements in the graphics and sound department, compared to the first game.

brokensword2_4

Remastered and reimagined?
In 2010 Revolution Software also released Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered for PC and mobile devices (iOS and Android) which addressed a few problems of the original with a higher audio quality, enhanced graphics, and fully animated facial expressions, according to the press release spreadsheet. But comparing the two reveals that the changes are ever so subtle. Something which made the Director’s Cut of the first game controversial was the inclusion of new story content and puzzles. This remastered version has none of these and is the better for it. There are some character portraits included during conversations with courtesy of Dave Gibbons (who is known for the Watchmen comic and also for artwork of Revolution Software’s earlier title Beneath A Steel Sky), but these stay true to the characters on screen without creating any discrepancies. Gameplay-wise, the addition of a diary and hotkey feature are welcome as well.

brokensword2remastered_cover

An enjoyable game, but also a worthy sequel?
Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror is a sequel which improves on the original with more, sometimes quite inventive but frequently fun puzzles. It might look the same, but the mix of mystery and crime story in addition to some likeable characters still works quite well. This time, the dialogues are even more humorous, which has an unfortunate impact on the overall suspense of the plot, despite it having a darker background with the Mayan sacrifice and demon culture. One also shouldn’t expect any Templars references, making the title Broken Sword misleading.

Still, with its great presentation and fun gameplay, this remains an accomplished adventure game. Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror – Remastered does only some small cosmetic and gameplay changes to the title, therefore deserving the same score as the original (in contrast to the discrepancies between Broken Sword and Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut.

Score: 9/10

Buy the PC game (Original) on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Buy the PC game (Remastered) on
GOG
Steam

Buy the iOS game on
the ITunes Store

Buy the Android game on
Google Play

Official Website

For the original version:

For the remastered version:

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every Facebook LIKE or comment is appreciated :).

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment