New CRYENGINE trailers: Licensee + Tech Showcase

I usually reserve this space to write reviews or news about recent releases. But of course when one talks about games, one can’t deny the importance of the engines driving them. Crytek, well-known for their FPS games, is certainly a driving force showcasing the power of their CRYENGINE in these new trailers.


Fresh from the GDC, the first trailer exemplifies what some games being in development are capable of, and it’s not only the graphical fidelity that’s impressive, but also how it is used for different genres by various companies. Highlights are certainly Civilization Online, Rolling Sun, Wander, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and Legend of Yulong.

It’s amazing that this engine looks just as great in shooters as it does in RPGs and strategy titles, while having a Sonic game is also an interesting move, even if it doesn’t look much different from other titles so far.


If you want to get more tech-y, then this trailer is for you, explaining the CRYENGINE in more detail, e.g. what it can achieve from the get-go:

What is most awe-inspiring are not only the facial expressions, but how physics work (seeing that ship torn apart is really quite something to behold), It certainly comes very close to what one sees in blockbuster cinema. But then again it’s CRYTEK we’re talking about, and they’ve always done things a bit more graphically-mindblowing… than storytelling-wise. The change of weather and the day/night cycle is something else entirely, opening up all sorts of interesting ways to player immersion and above all else atmosphere.


So if these trailers prove anything, then it’s to soon upgrade your PC or hope that the console versions come close to what’s on display here. At least the PS4 and XBox One still have to show their graphical muscles to convince modern gamers that next-gen is truly here.

Official CRYENGINE Website

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Modern horror: “Kristy”

What if the university campus is your home and it is invaded by bad people wanting to kill you? That’s what Oliver Blackburn’s horror thriller Kristy wants to find out.

(USA 2014, director: Oliver Blackburn)


College girl Justine spends Thanksgiving alone at campus and becomes the target of a group of masked psychopaths who kill the innocent.


Sometimes the most effective way to evoke fear in the audience, hold its attention and feel sympathy for the characters is to keep it simple. There’s not much of a story here, and except for a few scenes, it all plays out in the confinements of the campus, which is a suitable setting for isolation and the stalkers who hunt Justine.


The premise of the movie is quite hard to swallow with its idea of people only killing innocent girls and giving them the name of Kristy. It’s made even more controversial with the allusion to Christ(ianity). But that’s what makes this horror more realistic and unsettling than your standard slasher movie. Of course it still abides by its rules of having a survivor girl who has to fight against unknown assailants. But it just works here, which has much to do with the main protagonist being both likeable and relatable. Being on a deserted campus is also a strong atmospheric element that is not only used for suspense, but also for some rather interesting what-would-you-do scenes.


Despite having more thriller than horror elements, the kills are still quite vicious, and like 13 Sins, it’s strange to again see the 16+ age certification on the German BD. Violence may not be as explicitly gory as in You’re Next, but there are a few rather unpleasant in-your-face moments. However, the violence and bloodshedding never feel gratuitous, and the transformation of the main protagonist into a threat to her aggressors is just as convincing as her former vulnerability, making it all the more satisfying to see her take things (or nails) into her own hands.


The great soundtrack with a good selection of catchy songs, but also with a very strong score is another highlight, and unlike You’re Next, it’s not annoying but adds to the atmosphere without coming across as too brutal. What makes the movie also stand out is that it doesn’t try to be too clever (except maybe for an extra ending after the credits roll).


Kristy is certainly not a contender for most original slasher or home invasion thriller, and it won’t be for those who like a stronger story with many twists, or even an illustrious cast of memorable characters. It’s simply a very entertaining but also scary flick with even the first 20 minutes or so building up the atmosphere without boring the audience with too much irrelevant talk. It might be considered sick due to its subject matter, but that makes it even more disturbing and stand out from other home invasion horror movies.

It’s surprising to see that it also hasn’t seen a release outside of Germany, so if you get the chance, import it, as it includes English audio as well. It’s even available as a 3D BD, but as it wasn’t shot this way and certain German 3D conversions are nothing more than a quick cash-in, I’d be careful about that one (although the setting would lend itself to this format).

Score: 8/10


Buy the BD on
Amazon Germany
Buy the DVD on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK (import)

Official Tiberius Film Website

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Modern horror: “You’re Next”

The new wave of home invasion movies is pretty much summarized in Adam Wingard’s horror thriller You’re Next.

You’re Next
(USA 2011. director: Adam Wingard)


Celebrating the wedding anniversary of their parents, the family is suddenly attacked by people wearing dog masks, and it’s up to a woman who had enough survival training to fight back and discover a sinister plot.


The movie starts promising, although quite formulaic and also surprisingly without showing a killing scene in full detail. Then it again commits the eternal crime of introducing characters one has seen so many times before and also including a lot of whining and screaming after something finally happens (30 minutes into the 90 minutes runtime). So far so clichéd and also slightly annoying.


Being marketed as a horror comedy with innovations to the genre, this also comes across as a bit forced and far-fetched. Most of the time, proceedings are pretty bleak with some over-the-top violence and gore thrown in. Part of the humor comes from weird actions or reactions by all participants with snappy one-liners. They’re not the most memorable, but there are a few disturbing scenes that make you wonder if you have to laugh or not.


Despite its mostly forgettable cast with only the lead female taking the initiative and being slightly more likeable, the movie succeeds in creating tension, which stems from the frightening masks the intruders wear and also from jump scares and more subtle suspense scenes. It’s in no way innovative, but it almost makes one forget about the first 30 minutes, and also how clever it wants to be with various twists.


Of course one doesn’t necessarily watch a slasher movie for its story or characters, but because of the way people get killed. Here the movie doesn’t disappoint, although the killing methods are anything but original. It’s great to see the lead behave in a more down-to-earth manner (due to her childhood) and avoid the trapfalls so many heroines or unlucky victims in horror movies fall into. Some boobytraps she lays and the way she viciously fights back are add to this more realistic behavior, although the gratuitous violence and certain cool camera positions can be a bit overused and come across as forced. And it’s not that one hasn’t seen this all before.


The soundtrack also needs some getting used to. While the catchy song “Looking for the Magic” by the Dwight Twilley Band (or Mind The Gap, hard to tell as it really sounds exactly the same) is pretty cool and is implemented in a twisted way, the ambient noise and synth score is not only unsettling, but also unnerving.


As it is, You’re Next certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre or bring much originality to the table. But it’s entertaining enough with a strong female lead who really knows how to handle bad guys in a survive style way. If the other characters or any character would have received a bit more attention and reasons to like them, it would have made some parts of the movie more enjoyable.

Score: 7/10


Buy the BD on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Buy the DVD on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Official Splendid Film Website

Official Lionsgate Website

Even cooler is the implementation of that special song in this twisted way:

And for those who can’t stomach this trailer and want to have “that song” without the weirdness, check out the MTG remake:

And if you can’t get enough of that catchy song (or want to find out more about the movie, check out the official Tumblr Website.

The promo material is actually more original than the whole movie, just looking at this here ;):


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GOG Double Insomnia Sale 2015

Taking a short break from reviews, here’s some brandnew piece of info about the craziest sale of the year from GOG with its DoubleInsomnia Sale.


For 96 hours straight, a massive selection of games is and will be discounted (as from now, 2 pm GTM!), but only with limited codes available (although now with different titles on offer simultaneously). This means that some can already be sold out in a matter of seconds, as happened last year. Still, some will be back, while few will also be available for free! So without further ado (listing all the titles would both be impossible and pointless), head over to the page and get those bargains while they’re hot. And don’t forget to use these referral links. If you haven’t created an account, now’s the chance to do so.

There’s also a 96-hour stream on the GOG Twitch channel, and that’s always a lot of fun to watch with those playing the games and the GOG crew ;).

GOG news


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Modern horror movies: “13 Sins”

US remakes of Asian movies aren’t always the best way to do the originals justice, but Daniel Stamm’s horror drama thriller 13 Sins is more than just a great flick and an improvement over 13: Game of Death.

13 Sins
(USA 2014, director: Daniel Stamm)


Salesman Eric Brindle loses his job and gets a mysterious phone call which gives him the opportunity of a lifetime to win the money that will secure his family’s future if he participates in 13 challenges.


The capital sin most horror movies commit is to introduce characters in the first 30 minutes and one has to wait until something actually interesting happens. Then there’s the typical downtime and some disappointing ending. But this movie avoids all these trapfalls.


Characterization is kept simple and if one wants to sum up the plot development, there’s not much but having the protagonist running, stumbling and also falling to his next challenge, while the mysteries of who’s behind this stay in the background. Comparisons to the Saw series are not to be ignored, and even if the term torture porn was and is an overused and often inappropriate one, it can’t be denied that there’s a certain wickedness about the challenges and voyeurism on the part of the audience.


Despite a 16+ age certification in Germany, the violent scenes are quite gory and disgusting, so it’s definitely not a movie for the squeamish. But like Saw, it’s the fascination of how far one would go in order to achieve certain goals, in this context money one is in desperate need of. It becomes a bit questionable why the challenges should represent 13 sins, as this is never explained and they seem quite random, so it’s not really as developed a plot as Se7en presents. But almost each poses a moral dilemma, starting small and then getting more existential.


However, the movie shouldn’t be taken as an ambiguous morality tale. Being more a thriller than a horror movie with lots of black humor, 13 Sins works extremely well, which simply has to do with its slick pace and no unnecessary dialogues, scenes or characters (even if those who are there aren’t very memorable). The twist at the end (after many others) also work despite a certain predictability. Unlike the original Thai movie that had a very anti-American but also rather silly ending, this one is just right with a satisfying, touching conclusion, therefore making it the preferred version to watch, something not many remakes achieve.


The picture quality of the BD release is quite good, but due to its indie roots, there are some scenes which look worse than others. Still, it has a nice grainy feel to it, while the thumping soundtrack is particularly good with great sound effects as well. What’s also interesting about the BD release is the inclusion of “Anatomy Of A Meltdown”, in which a Skype conversation between the German director and his writer can be seen, the latter not being particularly happy about the exclusion of a scene (that can still be found in the deleted scenes section). Of course there’s the typical audio commentary, making-of and trailers treatment, but this one stands out, showcasing an honesty to deal with the editing process not many directors/writers would be happy about sharing with their audience.

Score: 9/10


Buy the BD on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK (import)
Amazon USA
Buy the DVD on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Official Koch Media Website

Official Anchor Bay Website

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Bad movies too good not to watch: “Demonic Toys”

What do a foul-mouthed baby doll, a psychopathic Jack in the Box and a gruesome teddy bear have in common with a demon inside a boy’s body? Find out in Peter Manoogian’s campy horror Demonic Toys.

Demonic Toys
(USA 1992, director: Peter Manoogian)


A police woman, her captured criminal, and a chicken fastfood delivery boy have to fight against the demonic forces in a toy factory at night.


If the plot summary sounds crazy and trashy, then you have to see what the twisted mind of Charles Band (the man behind the story of Dollman and this here) has come up with, mainly in the incarnations of baby doll Oopsie Daisy who constantly curses while killing, a scary Jack in the Box clown going at its victims’ throats and a not-so-cuddly teddy bear among other dangerous toys. Children on tricycles with gas masks seem normal compared to this, but not any less surreal.


As can be suspected from such a trash movie, there isn’t much of a plot, although there are a few twists and turns, some more surprising than others, mainly due to unexpected and typically illogical appearances and disappearances of people. Acting is negligible, although most of the actors do a pretty good job, as far as campy horror goes, except for the child actor who needs some getting used to. Still, some characters are actually quite likeable, especially the rude delivery boy who says the funniest one-liners.


Despite its low budget and some dodgy special effects with bad make-up, there’s a surprising amount of blood and gore in here, mainly because of Oopsie Daisy’s killing methods. The sequences aren’t the most original, but they’re done well enough to entertain. All in all, this is a fun, bloody romp through 90ies carefree horror comedy with only few problems. It doesn’t set the genre on fire or stay in the mind for too long, but while it lasts, it’s a blast.


The picture and sound quality of 88 Films’ BD release is quite good, considering the source material. Only the lack of special features is a bit disappointing, with only the original trailer in HD, some more Full Moon promos and a making-of plus the typical reversible cover art and booklet notes.

Score: 8/10

Buy the BD on
Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Buy the DVD on
Amazon UK
Amazon USA


Official 88 Films Website

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Indie adventures: “Supreme League of Patriots” (PC)

When does patriotism and social injustices collide, that’s what No Bull Intentions tries to find out with its comic point-and-click adventure game Supreme League of Patriots.

Supreme League of Patriots
(UK 2015, developer: No Bull Intentions, publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing, platform: PC)


American Kyle Keever and his British sidekick Mel try to get into a superhero reality TV show, but things start to get a little bit too patriotic and weird when Kyle’s alter ego The Purple Patriot takes over his head.

A series of comic(al) pages
The game is divided into three episodes or rather issues, to take the correct comic book reference: A Patriot Is Born, Patriot Frames, and Ice Cold in Ellis. These usually end with a cliffhanger where the self-conscious narrator addresses the player in an exaggerated way and even interacts with the main characters. This is a nice touch, but it also shows that the game tries to be too clever for its own good by having very long dialogue scenes with lots of references to popular culture, outside the obvious comic book influences.


A bitter taste of sarcasm
Its self-referential humor is often too much, with the main characters commenting on the adventure game genre, something many other titles have tried and failed at before, especially since many puzzles one solves aren’t made any more clever or funnier when they’re ridiculed. The pop cultural references are difficult to keep track of as well with many of them being unknown to a lot of players outside the US or UK. What Supreme League of Patriots also tries to do is to deliver political and social commentary, but the satirical high standard is seldom kept up for very long.
Some social injustices like racism or certainly worth commenting on, while sexual orientation (and freedom) is also a topic seldom dealt with in games. Sometimes this works with the exaggerated use of the Purple Patriots’ harsh remarks being so over-the-top that one questions the reason behind them. But there are enough instances when things get a bit out of hand. This is especially true with computer geek Mel who for example makes a comment about a jury member with “Goebbels in Germany! I’m a Jew, get me out of here!” His constant sexual allusions are also extremely annoying and repetitive, and he’s not the only character who talks like this.


Talk, talk, talk to other more important people or not
Even unimportant points of interest are commented on in such an effulgent way that one can’t do anything but skip the whole descriptions altogether. This makes for a very boring start with two main characters who are so uninteresting and annoying that it’s difficult to continue. However, after this failed attempt of making the player feel any sympathy for a British sexually frustrated wise-cracker and an American who’s as fat as he’s stupid, things pick up a bit, even if it means meeting other characters who have even more dialogue to deliver.
But at least the illustrious cast of superheroes is original to a certain degree, and it’s here that the social/political commentary actually works. There’s a Russian who doesn’t like the prejudices against his country while paradoxically showing signs of his own hate. Then there’s a homosexual superhero who also has his problems to fit in. What makes these characters more interesting is that they actually have a backstory, something Mel and Kyle lack. To be honest, it’s never a a good idea for an adventure game when one would rather play the NPCs than the main protagonists.


Origin story, but not original story
The main plot isn’t anything to write home about, though. It’s nothing more than what so many other superhero comics have done before with their origin stories. The first episode only turns this into a casting show. The second one is simply about building a reputation and finding the appropriate gear, while the third one puts Purple Patriot and his companion(s) into action against a super-villain. So far so cliché, only with satirical elements with targets like unoriginal TV shows and the aforementioned political (in)correctness. But compared to superhero movies like Kick-Ass, there’s not much of suspense or clever humor here to really draw the player in.


Funny conundrums to solve with humor, Part I
Comic adventures don’t only depend on their humor, but also on their puzzles. However, Supreme League of Patriots also has some problems here. The first episode starts slowly when it comes to mundane tasks like opening certain data on a computer. Fortunately, it gets more interesting with some crazy ideas to convince the jury members that one has superpowers.
The only problem is that certain actions have to be done in a specific order, and even if one knows the solution to a puzzle, one first has to talk about it with Mel or another character, or do something else before. This makes proceedings extremely cumbersome, especially since there aren’t a lot of locations to visit and people to talk to, while conversations are too repetitive and rarely helpful. The rather unoriginal puzzle design isn’t made any better with repeated actions, like stuffing toilet paper into… well, a toilet, three times in a row. Taking the entire roll with one mouse click would have sufficed.


Funny conundrums to solve with humor, Part II
However, things improve in the second episode with more goals to follow and puzzle chains to solve in any order. There’s actually a whole city to explore, and with more locations to visit and characters to interact with, the puzzle design works much better with almost genius solutions. If it weren’t for the constant comments about how stupid certain actions are and what’s so annoying in adventure games or what comic heroes have to do…


Funny conundrums to solve with humor, Part III
The third episode shows a lot of promise with a couple of great puzzles which usually result in funny slapstick scenes. The timing is actually right here. But again the emphasis on fewer locations and characters means that it’s not as motivating to tackle the often mundane tasks. What’s also something of a missed opportunity in all three issues is that one can control both Kyle and Mel, but not at the same time. This could have made for an intricate puzzle design, but as it is, either it’s Mel on his obnoxious own or Kyle who can ask Mel for advice. At least the hint system works quite well for most of the time, something both beginners and advanced players will appreciate, because some solutions are really hard to find out without trial and error.


Looks a bit funny and sounds a bit weird
Technically, the game suffers from same problems other Phoenix Online titles have suffered since the company’s humble fan adventure beginnings (and still do: jerky animations with unintentionally funny character faces. Although this is less of a problem in a comic adventure game with slapstick scenes, the excruciatingly slow walking animations are a big problem, especially since these movements can’t be stopped or skipped. Already long conversations become even more boring with repetitive animations, while there are instances when the characters have pathfinding problems. The graphics are certainly colorful with varied, well-drawn locations and characters. But the lack of real cutscenes (here the trailer’s a bit misleading) make transitions in the story even less exciting than the lame plot itself.


Music is rather good and varied with funky tunes and rhythmic guitar parts, coming straight out of a campy 70ies or 80ies TV series. Voice acting is also pretty strong, although the British actor of Mel can be grating on the ears with his overlong remarks rarely leaving their tonal comfort zone. Kyle or the Purple Patriot on the other hand sounds just right with an exaggerated self-important tone that perfectly captures the spirit of past superheroes. The other voice actors do a good job as well, although each one of their specific theme songs can be both disruptive and repetitive when the main music stops and their musical parts begin.


Episodic method in madness
Supreme League of Patriots is a game that doesn’t make it easy for the player to love it, although a lot of love seems to have been put in its comic look and feel. The satirical elements are commendable, but they’re overshadowed by dialogues which are way too long, while the general timing of jokes is off. This isn’t helped by the main protagonists who are sometimes a pain to play as, while the plot and other characters rarely step out of mediocrity.

However, after persevering through the first episode, the puzzle design takes many steps forward, and it actually becomes fun exploring the world, while Kyle and Mel don’t necessarily become best buddies with the player, but at least one can laugh with or about them more. There’s not much of a story, either, but the whole superhero parody works.

The third episode drops somewhat in quality, although it’s not nearly as bad as the first one. It has its moments, especially with some great puzzles being almost on par with some (of the okay) puzzles of old Telltale games. So with a cliffhanger, what does the game leave the player with? Hope for a continuation with the same controversial humor? Hopefully with shorter sentences, that’s for sure.

Score: 6/10
(5/10 for Issue 1,
6.5/10 for No. 2,
and 6/10 for the third one)

Buy the PC game on
the Phoenix Online Studios store

Official Website

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