“GWENT: The Witcher Card Game” public beta live now

With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – GOTY Edition having presented the ultimate version of a very comprehensive game, CD Projekt RED‘s GWENT: The Witcher Card Game takes the next step in fantasy card-battling with the beta version now playable for everyone.

I still haven’t come around playing the actual third instalment of the The Witcher series (although I reviewed the first one), but this game can be a good compromise concerning time management. After already having a lot of fun with digital boardgame The Witcher Adventure Game (also reviewed here), getting into a free-to-play battle card game is the next logical thing to do.

Discussing all the various strategies and cards would take too long, but suffice to say that it seems that the game is a good mix of easy-to-learn and difficult-to-master gameplay. Picking a side with different fractions, building one’s deck and trying to gain more points than the opponent in two rounds means that playtime isn’t too tedious. Of course what sets it apart is the world of The Witcher that is represented with an astonishing amount of detail when one looks at the individual cards. The cinematic trailer shows how great they look in motion, while the soundtrack is as great as ever. It remains to be seen how cool the single-player campaign turns out and how the in-app purchases affect progression, but if it’s done right, this could very well be one of the best alternatives to other card battling titles.

The free beta version of the game is now out on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. As an interesting side note, when you use the GOG Galaxy client, you will be able to play with console users as well. So make sure you’ll create a GOG account and download the game.

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 LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG link also helps ;).

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Humble Bundle free game “Rising Storm: GOTY” + Spring Sale Encore

It hasn’t been more than two weeks since Dungeons 2 was given away for free with the spring sale of the Humble Bundle store, and there’s another game up for grabs again: Tripwire Interactive‘s FPS Rising Storm: Game of the Year Edition.

Think what you will of morally questionable World War II shooters, but like anti-war movies, they have a place in today’s gaming market if done right. I’ve never played the Red Orchestra series, tactical shooters that are more realistic and difficult than your standard FPS, but I only heard/read good things about them, so it’s great to finally be able to try one out. Rising Storm features battles of the Pacific Theatre in the time frame between 1942 and 1945. Being able to play Americans and Japanese in online multiplayer is again morally ambiguous, but being the GOTY, it’s at least the complete package. The game still looks quite good and sounds even more terrifying with realistic shooting sounds and orchestral set-pieces, so it should be a no-brainer for fans of the genre.

The game is now available for free, but only until tomorrow, so be quick to get your copy. Also play close attention to the Spring Sale Encore which has more titles back on sale until May 29th, 10 AM Pacific Time.

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 LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.

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Adventures made in Germany: “The Whispered World” (PC)

Daedalic Entertainment has been prolific in producing point-and-click adventure games, but is one of its first titles, The Whispered World, still enjoyable and remarkable after all these years?

The Whispered World (PC)
(Germany 2009, developer: Daedalic Entertainment, publisher: Deep Silver, platform: PC)

Clown Sadwick becomes part of a prophecy which says that he is going to destroy the world, so he makes his journey to the ill king of Corona to prove it wrong.

The story of a sad clown
Like in many Daedalic titles, its heroes are rarely happy or joyful characters, and Sadwick is certainly the pinnacle of the philosophy that troubled souls or sarcastic personalities make for more interesting storytelling. Unfortunately, just as with Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, and Goodbye Deponia, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one sympathizes with them. Despite being more likeable due to his circumstances, Sadwick’s constant whining can become repetitive as well as annoying. There are quite a few instances when the writing features laugh-out moments, but if one has a problem with the clown’s attitude, following his story can become a problem in and of itself.

The slow progression of the seemingly simple plot doesn’t help matters. Only with an ending that opens up different interpretations and that is quite touching does it turn out to be deeper and much more imaginative than up to the final moments. I’m not a big fan of spoilers, so I won’t go any further, but replaying the game with that special knowledge in mind made both Sadwick, the characters, and the story better to relate to and more interesting than before, something that can’t be said about most adventure games.

Another dreamy world
But even for a first playthrough there’s quite a lot to like about the world Sadwick lives in. It offers a fantastic sense of place with a dream-like atmosphere. Talking about individual parts of the story would take away the wonder one feels when new locations are discovered. While it’s not as epic as maybe The Longest Journey, it’s just as imaginative, even if the characters aren’t as memorable or fleshed out as in other classic point-and-click adventure games. It’s clear that Daedalic tries to imitate the weird-characters-style of LucasArts, but despite offering some witty writing, the dialogues are often too long. If only the characters would have been treated with the same attention to detail, then one would have become completely lost in this world.

Puzzling and head-scratching
Daedalic has always struggled with implementing logical puzzles in its games, and while these are usually well-integrated to move the story forward, fewer and especially less obscure ones would have made the whole experience much more enjoyable. Granted, there’s a good variety of inventory and dialogue-tree based puzzles, with a few imaginative solutions, especially when using the different forms of Spot who is a magical (non-talking) caterpillar-like creature that learns different shapes throughout the adventure in order. Using it to solve problems can be quite tricky, but the idea of switching between a fire, balloon, small balls, and other forms adds a lot of fun to the otherwise run-of-the-mill puzzles.

Pixel hunting, many downright silly solutions and some filler logic puzzles (that fortunately can be skipped) make progression frustrating, especially for beginners. But even seasoned gamers will find themselves wandering around screens trying to figure out what to do. Even if one knows what the main goals are, the way to achieve these is blocked by all sorts of trial-and-error moments without enough clues. It doesn’t help that there are some screens that feature labyrinthine doorways without the option to simply jump from one location to the next with a map. Of course there is one, but first exiting a screen with scrolling as slowly as Sadwick’s walking turns it all into a quite tedious experience.

Looks and sounds out of a dream
It’s a good thing that the presentation makes up for the game’s shortcomings, although it doesn’t come without its problems. Backgrounds and characters are lovingly drawn and show that Daedalic is almost unchallenged in the detailed hand-drawn style. Cutscenes also look very good and match some animated movies’ quality. Animation-wise it’s a two-sided affair. On the one hand, there are many great moments when characters move fluidly as if taken from a cartoon, e.g. when Sadwick embraces Spot, making this a heartfelt scene, or when he walks around with his cap flapping (not taking into account how much time it takes). On the other hand, NPCs simply repeat the same animations which becomes especially noticeable during long dialogues. No facial changes and lip-syncing being off, there isn’t much dynamic to speak of.

Sound design is also partly great and partly disappointing. The music is simply amazing with contemplative, dream-like orchestral pieces with an emphasis on flute playing as well as a few more uplifting or less serious tracks. They could be longer, though, because one soon notices they’re playing in a loop. Voice acting is problematic as well. The German voices are great, the English ones are pretty good, too, but both suffer from a few sound problems, i.e. sentences are cut off too early or transitions aren’t as smooth as they should be (due to bad editing of the sound files, according to the developer). There are also a few cases when the voice actors don’t seem to know in what situation they’re in, resulting in some off-key moments. However, the biggest complaint and (for some) deal-breaker is Sadwick’s whiny, high-pitched voice. One can get used to it, but in both language versions, it can become very annoying and off-putting.

No classic, but a memorable experience
The Whispered World is a special game in both a positive and negative way. It’s certainly not a classic, but it’s a perfect showcase of Daedalic’s artistic proficiency. It simply looks and sounds great, while the dream-like storytelling makes it easy to fall in love with. However, puzzles are often obscure to the point of making the player give up. The same holds true for Sadwick’s whining and NPCs that aren’t very memorable. Slow pacing and a sometimes too-melancholic-for-its-own-good atmosphere will put many players off. Still, if one perseveres and forgives its shortcomings, it’s a very unique title in the canon of (German) adventure games that comes recommended.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy the digital version on
GOG
Steam

Buy the retail version on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG or Amazon links and buying the product also helps ;).

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Game release: “Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days” (PC)

Quentin Tarantino’s penchant for violence can often be seen in various videogame forms, but Big Star Games‘ top-down arcade strategy shooter Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days seems to get the movie adaptation right this time.

There was a pretty bad PS2 game back in the days, but it passed me by, which just shows how far movie adaptations have come that indie developers have a go at them, despite Lionsgate being involved as well. I have to say that the original movie wasn’t really my thing, probably because I’m not into heist movies (even if I love the GTA games), but I found the concept of gangsters being named Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink and Mr. White, quite hilarious. The famous cutting-ear-off torture scene also stuck to my mind, so the release of this game caught me by surprise, to say the least.

If you’ve played Hotline Miami (reviewed here), then the top-down perspective with lots of blood splattering will be familiar to you. But even if the frantic, gory action shares the combo highscore arcade heritage, the gameplay of robbing banks and being involved in shoot-outs is different, mainly because of a time-rewind mechanic. Controlling different characters at the same time also adds to a more strategic approach. It all looks and sounds extremely good and makes me even more excited to play it than watch the movie.

The game is out now for PC with a 10% discount that will last until May 26, 5PM UTC. It’s also possible to buy the soundtrack that is pretty cool as well. Hopefully the collaboration with Lionsgate bears even more interesting cinema/gaming fruits.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

Buy the soundtrack for PC on
GOG
Steam

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 LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG links and buying the products also helps ;).

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Game release: “Inner Chains” (PC)

FPS games are often brutal and violent by nature, but Telepaths Tree‘s Inner Chains is something quite special when it comes to (mechanical) body horror.

Modern shooters live and die by their mechanics, but in an industry where graphics are as important as the setting, a game like Inner Chains still sticks out of the crowd. The idea of having a superior human race ruling others isn’t new, but presenting a world where nature and machines became one is quite unique (although there is obviously Horizon: Zero Dawn). Trying to break the circle of a higher caste, it’s the player’s goal to leave a dark, uninhabitable place and find refuge in a better world without religious fanatics.

Story-wise everything seems quite obscure and trailers as well as press info further complicate matters, but this is refreshing considering how much PR can spoil surprises. First looks can be deceiving, but the game’s graphics and especially sick art direction are outstanding. Not sure if it will run properly on my current setup, and there seem to be a lot of people with better PCs who have experienced performance issues. Add some game-breaking bugs, sound problems, and this doesn’t bode well. However, the developers are already working on patches and are open to customer’s/community’s complaints, so hopefully the game will be playable as it was intended. It would be a shame to miss this different, almost “walking simulator”-type of FPS exploration action approach.

The game is now available on PC with a launch discount of 10% that will last until May 25, 4 PM UTC. Console versions for PS4 and Xbox One are planned for the future as well.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

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 LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG link and buying the product also helps ;).

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