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    Life Is Strange 2 Is Coming This Fall! Life Is Strange Summer Sale

    Square Enix and DONTNOD Entertainment have just shared some exciting news — Life Is Strange 2, the third game in the Life Is Stange series is due out this fall, on September 27th. Though we have very little info about the game, it appears to be a follow-up to the events of Life Is Strange, and will be comprised of a full five episodes. It's been a long time since I visited with these characters and experienced the heartbreak and brilliantly compelling story of the original game. This just shot straight to the top of my list of fall games.
    Watch the release date reveal:
    Life Is Strange 2 follows Life Is Strange and the three-episode prequel, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. 
    Life Is Strange is an episodic style adventure game that allows players to reverse time through the game. It's primarily a game based on choice, so often, those mechanics are used to see how your choices affect the outcome. When faced with an important dilemma, you can play the choices, rewind time, and go back and change your decision. Then, you choose the one you want. Still, your ultimate choice in each situation has a huge impact on the outcome of the game and even life and death. In a few instances, time travel is needed to solve a few puzzles and progress through the game. Some players choose to do a single play-through with no rewinds until absolutely necessary. However, even if a player chooses to rewind and explore every option, there is still replay value as your outcome will change with different choices.

    At the very beginning, I was unsure as to whether I would enjoy the time travel mechanic. I like the idea of simply having to make a choice and accepting the consequences. But, as I played through the game, I absolutely loved it and the unique ways in which it could be used. In so many instances, knowing the outcomes made the choice more meaningful and impactful.
    While the choice mechanic could be seen as gimmicky, whether you liked it or not, it never detracted from the fact that this is a brilliant game. The characters and storyline are beyond exceptional and I can think of very few other games that have been so emotional, engaging, and stunningly executed.
    If you haven't played it yet, Life Is Strange is currently heavily discounted on Steam. The complete season (episodes 1-5) is only $4.99 and episode one is always free to play. It's available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

    The second game in the Life Is Strange series, Before The Storm, is a prequel to the original game. It consists of three episodes and is set three years before the original game. Play as Chloe Price and explore the origins of Chloe and Rachel's friendship, an integral part of Life Is Strange. Before the Storm does not use the time travel mechanic. 
    Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is currently on sale for $8.49 until July 5th.

    LEGO Disney Pixar's The Incredibles Isn't Just For Kids – Watch The Launch Trailer!

    Having played many LEGO games over the years, I had developed the opinion that these games were for kids. That didn't mean that I didn't play them and enjoy their charming mix of humor, story, and super simple gameplay and mechanics, but I recognized that these were not the games to grab when I was searching for a challenge. So, when I was given a copy of LEGO Marvel Superheroes for Christmas, I started it up thinking I was in for a relaxing experience. What I discovered instead was a fully-fledged Marvel game, with the signature LEGO humor, but also a visually fantastic adventure with amazing worlds, challenging puzzles, and exciting combat.
    My hope is that Warner Bros. latest LEGO game title is more of the same. 

    From Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment:
    “LEGO® Disney•Pixar's The Incredibles brings together all the unforgettable characters, action and humor of the Incredibles films in an imaginative LEGO® world of non-stop adventure,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games Publishing. “Players will undertake an epic journey across action-packed levels from both movies as they guide the superpowered Parrs in their quest to fight crime, while surviving family life.”
    “Players will enjoy the teamwork involved in solving the creative, co-operative challenges in LEGO® Disney•Pixar's The Incredibles,” said Sean William McEvoy, VP, Digital Games & Apps, The LEGO® Group. “Friends and family can use team-up moves and a range of superpowers, from Elastigirl’s transformations to Dash’s lightning-fast speed, unleashing the heroes’ impressive abilities to overcome any tricky situation.”
    “New threats, new villains and new family drama await players in LEGO® Disney•Pixar's The Incredibles,” said Lisa Anderson, VP, Games, Disney. “Fans will explore their favorite locations from the first film, as they battle Syndrome on Nomansian Island and discover new exotic destinations such as the mysterious New Urbem.” 

    One of the great features of these games is the co-op mode that makes it fairly seamless for other players to jump in and out of a game. Solo play is fun and satisfying, but playing with a friend is extra entertainment. And, it's a great opportunity for parents to play with their kids, as the second player doesn't need to be incredibly skilled. In the Incredibles, co-op play is highlighted, as each member of the family has their own strengths and weaknesses that can benefit players.
    The Incredible also boasts a "hub world", featuring a series of "Crime Wave" missions with different objectives and Boss Battles with recognizable characters such as The Underminer and Bomb Voyage. Players must stamp out the crime waves to unlock accessories and easter eggs. The Edna "E" Mode allows players to modify their characters' abilities and physical appearance.
    While the LEGO games don't come with gritty action and thought-provoking storylines, they do offer a moment of respite from a world that can be just a little too ugly at times. A colorful, immersive game that centers on wholesome fun and fighting crime and injustice just might be what we all need right now.
    LEGO Disney Pixar The Incredibles is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
    Watch the official launch trailer:

    Review of Night In The Woods – The Little Game That Could

    After languishing in my Steam library for months, I finally grabbed a copy of Night In The Woods for Switch, hoping that I would play it on a different system. Truth be told, it's the type of game (indie, narrative, simple controls) that I prefer to play on the iPad, but I got impatient waiting for the mobile port to show up. Fortunately, the Switch, with the benefits of full-sized console gaming combined with seamless portability lends itself to this type of game, as well. This is something that Nintendo and developers have picked up on, filling the eShop with tons of successful indie titles that have found a whole new audience with the Switch.
    For an indie game, there's a lot of hype surrounding Night in the Woods. With its high Metacritic score, multiple gaming awards, and positive feedback, it had a lot to live up to and I was afraid that I might be disappointed. I was convinced that in a sea of promising indies to wade through that this was "the game" that I had to play. Fortunately, after a somewhat rough start, I wasn't disappointed.
    From nightinthewoods.com:
    "College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren't the same. Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.
    And there's something in the woods.
    NIGHT IN THE WOODS is an adventure game focused on exploration, story, and character, featuring dozens of characters to meet and lots to do across a lush, vibrant world. After a successful Kickstarter it's being made by Infinite Fall, a teamup of Alec Holowka (Aquaria), Scott Benson (Late Night Work Club), and Bethany Hockenberry."

    First off, players searching for fast-paced action, exciting combat, challenging puzzles, masterful platforming, may find this game far from their expectations. While it's artistic, atmospheric, and impactful, it is a game of discovery, exploration, and deep soul-searching. There is a haunting mystery, some horror elements, a well-developed story, unique visuals, and deeply relatable emotions, but it's a particular type of game for a particular type of audience.
    As I settled in to play, anticipating the brilliant experience I was promised, I was initially a little disappointed by the visuals. The 2D style is well-executed, the colors are muted, befitting the tone of the game, and the characters display little emotion. I had seen plenty of screenshots and videos of the game so I knew what it looked like, but I was still underwhelmed. At the very least, I wanted to see Mae's emotions in her expression. I just wanted something more.
    A quick tutorial and story introduction illustrated the game's very basic mechanics. Interact with characters and something will happen or the story will progress and jump, jump, jump to take advantage of the simple platforming elements. My initial reaction was "it's a puzzle-platformer with a cool story" but that wasn't it, at all. 

    As I explored Possum Springs and met characters including old friends, town residents, Mae's parents, and more, I became annoyed with the animals characters. I have no idea why Mae is a cat and Angus is a bear. And why are they bipedal animals with thoughts and feelings while normal squirrels, birds, and housecats populate the town. Is it like the land of Fillory from 'The Magicians' where talking animals are a superior, yet subjugated race and non-talking animals are simply livestock or wild creatures? Those questions are never answered, except perhaps as an explanation for Mae's fascination with death and violence, because everyone knows that cats are violent creatures. Regardless, those unanswered questions faded into the background as Mae's story and that of Possum Springs began to unfold.
    Before long, any disappointment or questions disappeared as I was drawn in by the atmosphere, narrative, and soundtrack. Mae is facing down a crossroad that many young people experience: returning home after a failed attempt at college (or any number of other circumstances) and finding their small town somehow unchanged yet different in so many ways, some glaring and some nearly unnoticeable. Friends from high school are growing up and changing, while Mae feels stuck in the past, though it's likely that many of her friends while they are moving forward, are struggling with many of the same feelings. Regardless of personal experiences, many players will recognize the difficult emotions that accompany this time of transition in a young person's life. As much as I see myself as an adult, simply playing this game unearthed an emotional landscape that I thought I had left behind, and it was wonderful and terrifying all at once.

    Though it's easy to get caught up in adolescent angst, especially at Mae's age, Night in the Woods doesn't ignore the greater problems of the world. Mae is deep in her own experience as you interact with friends, go on adventures, get too drunk, explore the secrets of Possum Springs, and begin a journey of cautious self-acceptance, but the crumbling infrastructure, the financial woes of residents left out of work after the mines closed and retail businesses fled, and the overall deterioration of a struggling town aren't ignored, and neither are questions of sexuality and mental illness. There's no dwelling on it either, simply a presentation of facts of life, available for exploration and thoughtful contemplation.
    At this point, you're probably asking "but what about the game?" Honestly, that's a lot of it. It's beautiful, thought-provoking, and as it ebbs and flows, both charmingly mundane and stunningly emotional. Mae's experiences from day to day vary greatly as you use the basic platforming mechanics to explore the town in completely unexpected ways, communicate with friends and secondary characters to form relationships, and unlock hidden areas and events are somehow unimportant and absolutely crucial all at once. Depending on my mood, I found myself sometimes working to progress the story or at other times, just hanging out with friends or playing engaging mini-games. I developed a daily routine from Mae and made an effort to at least play one day in Mae's world for every one of my own days, though it was rare to stop at just one. For a relatively simple design, there is a lot to explore, from secret passages to haunting nightmares, all while accompanied by one of the most impactful soundtracks I've experienced in a long time. It's a beautiful and haunting game with an exceptional story that deserves to be played.
    Night in the Woods is available on PC, all major consoles, and a mobile version is due out sometime this year.

    ARK: Survival Evolved's 'ARKaeology' Event Is On Now, 'Extinction' Expansion To Come

    Dinosaurs are everywhere! A couple of weeks ago, Jurassic World: Alive arrived on mobiles, allowing players to harvest dino DNA using a drone, then evolve, collect, and battle with their very own roster of dinosaurs. This particular game is notable in that is uses geolocation and AR features — it's basically Pokémon Go with dinosaurs. Its release date wasn't random, as it's very close to the June 22 release of the Summer movie blockbuster, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Once again, the dinosaurs are no longer on their island but are all around us. In case you haven't had enough of dinosaurs of the Jurassic Park franchise isn't your thing, ARK: Survival Evolved is there in all its gritty, action-adventure survival glory.

    From now until July 15, players can experience the 'ARKaeology' in-game event. True to its name, this event involves digging and searching the multiple ARKs for fossil mounds. Scavenge those mounds to unearth dinosaur bones which are then used to create special, limited-time skins in a cooking pot. These collectible skins include the popular "Skeleton Dinos" from previous Fear Evolved events, along with the following:
    Dilophosaurus Mask (Hat Skin) Brachiosaurus (Brontosaurus Costume) Stygimoloch (Pachycephalosaurus Costume) Styracosaurus (Triceratops Costume)  In addition to cool new skins, ARKaeology has a new battle beast for players to tame, ride, and breed — the sci-fi themed 'Tek Rex', a heavily armored T-Rex that can be leveled up higher than a normal T-REx.
    Watch the ARKaeology Event trailer:
    But that's not all! Studio Wildcard, ARK: Survival Evolved's developers, has just released news about the upcoming expansion, 'ARK: Extinction'.
    From Studio Wildcard:
    "Finish your journey through the worlds of ARK in ‘Extinction’, where the story began and ends: on Earth itself! An Element-infested, ravaged planet filled with fantastical creatures both organic and technological, Earth holds both the secrets of the past and the keys to its salvation. As a veteran Survivor who has conquered all previous obstacles, the ultimate challenge awaits: can you defeat the gigantic roaming Titans which dominate the planet and complete the ARK cycle to save Earth's future?"

    We have a few months to get ready for Extinction, as it doesn't release until November 6. But, players can start preparing now. The first set of 'Explorer Notes' dropped this past Friday and more Extinction-related Explorer Notes will be released in the game and its existing expansions, which will unlock new skins and Tek-themed dinos in the ARKs. The first set of notes included the first Extinction skin, 'Corrupted Helm'.
    About ARK: Survival Evolved:
    "As a man or woman stranded naked, freezing and starving on the shores of a mysterious island called ARK, you must hunt, harvest resources, craft items, grow crops, research technologies, and build shelters to withstand the elements. Use your cunning and resources to kill or tame & breed the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures roaming the land, and team up with or prey on hundreds of other players to survive, dominate... and escape!"
    ARK: Survival Evolved is available on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. A Switch version is currently in the works.

    Two Awesome Games Are Free To Play On Steam This Weekend

    The weekend is upon us which means Steam's free weekend games and weekend deals are active. It's easy to find decent sales and Free to Play periods nearly every weekend but this one in particular features two really cool games. First, we have Killing Floor 2, for which Tripwire Interactive just released their seasonal event, Summer Sideshow: Treacherous Skies. Second, the still in early access Quake Champions  is also Free to Play. These are very different games, but if you're a fan of first-person shooters then you're in for a busy weekend. As an added bonus, both games are heavily discounted, and the case of Quake Champions, the price of the Champions Pack is lower.
    The Killing Floor 2 Summer Sideshow: Treacherous Skies event is actually a sequel to a 2013 map called Steamland, and it definitely has a circus/freak show/steampunk theme. If that sounds like a lot to take in, it is. But, just suspend your disbelief and accept that you'll be fighting circus-themed Zeds and nearly invincible robots on a flying airship as you attempt to reach an island where the Ringmaster's home is located. 
    In addition to this intense event, a few upgrades have been added, including Endless Lockdown, a fan-made community map, a new playable DLC character name Mrs. Foster, a new weapons upgrade system, and several new and powerful weapons.

    About Killing Floor 2:
    "Just one month after the events in the original KILLING FLOOR, the specimen clones are everywhere and civilization is in disarray; communications have failed, governments have collapsed, and military forces have been systematically eradicated. The people of Europe know survival and self-preservation too well and lucky survivors have gone into hiding. Not all have given up hope though... A group of civilians and mercenaries have banded together to combat the outbreak and established privately funded operation bases across Europe. Upon tracking specimen clone outbreaks, players will descend into zed-laden hot zones and exterminate them."
    Killing Floor 2, complete with the Summer Sideshow event, is Free to Play on Steam until Sunday afternoon and both the main game and the Digital Deluxe Edition are 60% off for a limited time.
    Watch the Killing Floor 2 Summer Sideshow: Treacherous Skies Update Trailer:
    Once you're done fighting your way through waves of Zeds, try your hand at Quake Champions, the newest Quake game, still in early access.
    About Quake Champions:
    "Quake Champions is a return to the frenetic, fast-paced competition that established Quake as the originator of the multiplayer shooter genre more than 20 years ago. Quake Champions delivers the dark mythos of the first Quake combined with the groundbreaking multiplayer mayhem of Quake III Arena with a major modern twist – Champions. These fierce warriors each wield unique attributes and abilities, enabling players to compete in their own distinctive style, while adding an additional layer of strategy to the game."

    Quake Champions is a return to familiar Quake gameplay, with the added element of collecting "Champions" with different strengths, weaknesses, and skills, which brings an added level of strategy to the game, as well as a "collectors" aspect. Skill will still be rewarded, but the Champions add greater depth and playability.
    Though the game will eventually be Free to Play full-time, playing during this early access period requires the Champions Pack, unless you were one of the lucky people to receive an early access code while they were available. But, it's free to play for everyone this weekend and the Champions pack contains a host of other desirable items like the full roster of current and future Champions, three Loot Chests, an exclusive Early Access Ranger skin, and the ability to play in custom games. The Champions Pack is 34% off until June 21.

    Get Drunk With Satan In Afterparty – Watch The E3 Gameplay Demo

    While we were watching and waiting for big games from our favorite franchises to be announced at E3 2018, a few very promising indie titles may have slipped under the radar. One of those games is Afterparty , an upcoming game from Night School Studio, which brought us the simple, but highly acclaimed and brilliantly atmospheric Oxenfree . In Oxenfree, players solved puzzles and made choices that affected their characters, but it looks like Afterparty has expanded on that concept with a bigger world, neon-infused graphics with much greater detail, and a more in-depth experience overall. I'm hoping that it will be a multi-layered experience, building on the atmospheric feel of Oxenfree, but expanding the story and giving the characters a greater range of emotion and humor.
    Details aside, Afterparty promises players the opportunity to get plastered with Satan. That in itself brings the game to the forefront of completely original storylines and if it's done well and the game is entertaining and playable, it just might be a hit. With a combination of uniqueness, atmosphere, humor, and nuanced themes like friendship and good vs. evil, this will be one to watch.

    Sean Krankel, co-founder and studio director of Night School Studio, gives a colorful description of the gameplay:
    “I think it’s fair to say that if any of us turns up in Hell, our first priority will be to GTFO and get sloshed with our best friend. We want to give players real agency in accomplishing those goals,” said Sean. “Players can chat up demons and the deceased using a new dialogue system, challenge them to Satanic bar games, and drink from a huge menu of infernal cocktails, all with game-changing abilities.” 

    Dark but with a sense of humor, Afterparty appears to be driven by the immersive story, and every compelling story must have engaging characters that players can relate to in some way, or at the very least, hope to see succeed. Janina Gavankar (Star Wars: Battlefront II, True Blood) will voice Lola, one of Afterparty’s two playable characters.
    “Milo is a lost puppy without Lola, and Lola loves him for it. She’s protective to the death, and even after death,” said Janina of her role. “She didn’t even like drinking when she was alive, but how could anything get worse? When in hell, do as the demons do.”
    Alternatively, players will split their time and also play as Milo. From Night School Studio:
    As both Milo and Lola, the player will experience a neon-drenched vision of Hell for a wild, bar-hopping night. Exploring an interconnected network of underworld islands via the River Styx, players will be sucked into the lives of a variety of hellions’ storylines, each of which ripples into the next. What happens by the end of the night is completely up to the player.
    "We wanted to merge a heavily player-driven narrative with outlandish comedy that feels surprising and spontaneous," said Adam Hines, co-founder and lead writer. "So the player not only defines their adventure, but directly creates the outrageous situations that make any great ‘crazy night out’ story worth telling." 
    Watch the E3 Gameplay Demo of Afterparty:
    Afterparty will release in 2019.

    Cyberpunk 2077 Brings A Classic Pen & Paper RPG To Life

    Of all the news and demos that dropped at E3 2018, the premiere of the brand new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer was one of the most hyped moments of the entire conference. From CD Projekt Red, the famed creators of The Witcher Series, comes this open world, narrative-driven role-playing game set in the universe of the classic pen and paper RPG system of Cyberpunk 2020. Cyberpunk 2020 released in 1990 as the second edition to the original Cyberpunk, which was published in 1988 by R. Talsorian Games. 
    Cyberpunk 2020 takes place in the year 2020 after the world has endured a socioeconomic collapse. For some, this storyline and time period may feel just a little too relevant at this point in time, kind of The Handmaid's Tale of role-playing games. The United States is now completely reliant on mega-corporations to survive and maintain some shaky semblance of order. The RPG characters classes are referred to as "roles", but are similar to the character classes of Cyberpunk 2077. Night City, the setting of the original Cyberpunk series of games, is also the setting of Cyberpunk 2077.

    From CD Projekt Red:
    "The game follows the story of V — a hired gun on the rise in Night City, the most violent and dangerous metropolis of the corporate-ruled future. A robust character creator will allow players to choose V’s gender, visual appearance, character class, as well as historical background — all of which may influence the shape of the game.
    With dozens of hours of main story arc quests, and many more of additional activities, there’s always something to see and do in Night City. Players will experience all of it entirely through V’s eyes, with an interactive dialogue system that gives them greater narrative agency."
    Details surrounding the exciting new open world RPG popped up throughout E3, and a gameplay demo clarified many of the details. During Gamespot's E3 Stage Show, CD Projekt Red's Kyle Rowley explained why the creators chose a first-person perspective to tell Cyberpunk 2077's in-depth narrative story. According to Rowley, the highly detailed nature of the visuals was the reason for the gameplay choice:
    "We're spending a lot of time on this very detailed cyberpunk world set in Night City," he said. "It's all handcrafted, there's a lot of atmosphere. We really want players to feel this depression and the fact that these mega-corporations are kind of stamping down on people's lives. To really showcase that and immerse the player in that world we decided the first-person perspective was the best way to do it."

    Cyberpunk 2077 also takes advantage of the popularity of a choice-based narrative, something that CD Projekt Red is known for in their games. In addition to a first-person shooter style experience, players will find themselves immersed in the world of Night City and their choices for their character will affect the way the game unfolds. Every action has a consequence, and because you are not given a choice of character roles at the very beginning of the game, one can hypothesize that this may be affected, as well. At the very least, your choices surrounding your character will influence the game somewhat. Not only is this type of character customization a way to draw in a wide range of players, but it maximizes the game's replay value.
    Cyberpunk 2077 will be available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
    Watch the Cyberpunk 2077 Official E3 Trailer:

    Some Of The Coolest Trailers From E3 2018

    E3 2018 is winding down, and this year's conference was an action-packed few days with non-stop gaming news from the biggest names in the industry, like EA, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Sony, Microsoft, Square Enix, Nintendo, and more. There's all kinds of amazing news in regards to upcoming releases, like Battlefield V, Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls 6, Kingdom Hearts 3, Super Mario Party, and more information on the upcoming Pokemon games for the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Let's Go Evee and Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu. 
    The great thing about this year's conference and the current state of the gaming industry and general is that there is something out there for everyone, regardless of your gaming tastes. Sure, there are a lot of Battle Royale style first-person shooters flooding the market, but there are also compelling platformers, challenging puzzlers and strategy games, huge open-world MMOs, and plenty of old favorites given new life in their most recent versions and packages. We have our choice of consoles, digital and physical games, unprecedented graphics, sound, and connectivity, and our pick of awesome accessories. There has never been a better time to be a gamer.
    Everyone experiences a huge conference like E3 differently. There are plenty of people at the venue, right in the thick of the action, but most consumers are watching it from home. We all have something different that we pay attention to. Whether it's new DLC for our favorite games or the announcement of a never before heard of title, these highlights appeal to different people. For me, I am always most excited about all of the new trailers. It's important to remember that many of the trailers are simply cinematic and don't contain any actual gameplay footage, but they are still a wonderful way to generate hype for the games and give players just a little taste of what's to follow.
    With that in mind, here are a few of the best game trailers from E3 2018:
    The Last of Us Part 2
    With almost 12 minutes of gripping video including actual gameplay footage, the trailer for The Last of Us Part II gives players a taste of what's in store for Ellie, the main playable character. Stealth and survival will both play a role in the second game in this acclaimed series.
    Marvel's Spider-Man
    Marvel is dominating the movie box-office this year and with the September release of Spider-Man, they may manage to reach the top of the list in new games, as well. We've known this game was coming for a while, but the E3 demo video gives us a better idea of how the actual game mechanics will play out.
    Fallout 76
    Perhaps one of the biggest announcements this year was the first news surrounding Fallout 76, the newest game in Bethesda's Fallout series. This iteration takes the popular franchise to a new level with multiplayer. Everyone who joins in will have to decide whether they want to work with others or fight it out.
    Sable did its best to stand out as one of the most unique games to appear at E3. The trailer basically introduces the one-of-kind artwork, but there's a lot more to come from this intriguing new title.
    Super Mario Party
    It's official, Mario Kart will no longer be the only game on the Nintendo Switch specifically designed to destroy relationships. Super Mario Party is releasing in November and promises to use Nintendo's newest console and controls in completely unprecedented ways, something that this lighthearted party game is known for.
    What was your favorite trailer from E3 2018? We'd love to hear from you!

    Beware – An Upcoming Indie Horror Game About a Lone Driver and a Lost Babushka

    The horror game market is becoming oversaturated with games that offer cheap and unimaginative scares. The lack of creativity and innovations by the developers resulted in most modern horror titles heavily relaying on jumpscares and music spikes in order to startle the players, rather than on scenarios and environments that evoke dread and fear.  
    As a big fan of horror games, I believe that there are certain requirements that every horror game needs to fulfill in order to earn the epitome of being scary.  
    First, the game needs to be set in an environment that is going to make you feel lonely and unprotected. Being isolated from the rest of the world and knowing that help is far away, makes the player vulnerable and more observant to things around him which drastically adds to the game’s immersion.
    Second, the main character needs to be at a great disadvantage against whatever is out there. Having an experienced and trained soldier in the main role can be fun, but it is much scarier being a ordinary folk stuck in a extraordinary scenario. This kind of concept brings the protagonist closer to the regular players, testing their resolve and ingenuity throughout the gameplay. Besides that, knowing that you are weaker than your opponent prevents you from going in guns blazing, making every encounter intense and more difficult.
    Third, the storyline has to be non-existing or make absolutely no sense in the beginning. Antoine De Saint-Exupery said ''Only the unknown frightens men'', so being kept in the dark and not knowing who you are, how you got there or what’s ahead of you makes you theorize what is actually happening, thus creating a more engaging and suspenseful gameplay.
    As many modern horror games simply ignore these and enforce loud music and scary faces appearing in a split second, I was pleasantly surprised when few days ago I came across Beware, a demo of an upcoming indie game that managed to quickly meet all the requirements from above.
    Beware is a very unique game and can be considered a pioneer of a new genre - horror driving simulators. It is being singlehandedly developed by Ondrej Svadlena, and is currently running on the Unity engine, with car physics and movement being based on the CarX engine.

    Beware is very early in development, so do not let the main menu looks putt you off.
    As mentioned above, Beware is a game about driving and exploration of an abandoned Soviet camping grounds, the nearby forest and the surrounding countryside. The players are not given any backstory and no indication of who they are or what they are doing there, so unless you go over the readme file you get with the download, you won’t even know that there is a hidden mission that needs to be discovered by using ''logical thinking and intuition''.
    The game starts out on the camping grounds, with players put in the role of a driver whose car is in between a dozen of abandoned RVs. The foggy weather combined with the silence of the night and lack of any street lightening make the atmosphere very eerie, and turning on the car’s headlights doesn’t do much except show that the road ahead is muddy, slippery and filled with potholes.  From that point on players are free to go wherever they please, but expect the ride to be a bumpy one due to the condition of the roads, with frequent instances of getting stuck in the mud, crashing and skidding even when driving on asphalt.

    Abandoned RVs, ruined store and one of the roads in the starting area.
    I do not want to spoil too much, but soon after the beginning of the game, there is a good chance that your car might be spotted, resulting in a pursuit between you and four gentlemen with wobbly heads. The pursuing car will be faster and have much better traction than your old tin can, and the driver will be aggressive and constantly try to run you off the road. As such, players would need to turn off their headlights and use skillful maneuvering and side roads in hopes of escaping. If you fail and your car gets boxed in or stuck in the mud, the pale-faced-head-shaking-oversized gentleman are going to leave their car, point their flashlights at your mirrors blinding you completely and break into your car, following which a black screen will simply say ''Death''. If you do manage to escape your pursuers, you can keep on exploring in hopes of finding the hidden mission.
    I downloaded Beware two days ago, so I still haven’t discovered everything, but so far, I came across an abandoned town that is littered with trash and broken cars, a factory (or at least I think it is) that is surrounded by huge platforms that look like offshore oil rigs and the most interesting discovery, a lone creepy looking babushka that flagged me down in the middle of the woods. She did, however, start running away as soon as I stopped, so I believe she is a part of the hidden mission, but my attempts to follow her have so far been unsuccessful as I kept getting stuck in the mud and losing her. I am not giving up on her though, and will continue my search again as I am very interested as to where she might lead me.

    Unknown figure in the window, ensuing chase and the close up of the wobbly head gents.
    From everything described above, Beware is definitely on a path of becoming an excellent horror game. It clearly satisfies all my personal horror requirements as it is set in Russian forest at night with no help in sight, there is no backstory and no indication of what is happening, and your character is at great disadvantage as he has to drive down the slippery roads in a car with the worst traction in history, while your enemies drive a Lada with suspension and control of a Mercedes McLaren. Bad roads and controls make every chase nerve breaking and tense, while exploration of foggy forests and abandoned towns is bone chilling and eerie. As such, Beware is a perfect example that sudden spikes in music volume and appearance of scary faces is not needed to make a game scary, but that unsettling environment and a scenario which resembles real life and in which all of us can find ourselves is more than enough.
    Beware has some hiccups of course, but it wouldn’t be fair to go into those, as this only a free demo and the game is being developed by only one person (for which Ondrej gets all the kudos in the world). Worthy of note is that the game looks excellent on the Unity engine and that the light and glare effects are some of the best ever. Besides that, there are is also some wonderful piano scores which were composed specifically for this game, and which greatly enhances the in-game chases and the encounters.
    Overall, Beware is must try for any horror fans. If fully developed, it has a great potential to become an excellent horror game and maybe even a pioneer of a new horror genre.
    Beware demo can be downloaded here, and if you have some money laying around you can also support its further development by visiting author’s Patreon page.
    Bonus picture of the lost babushka:


    Highly Anticipated Owlboy: Limited Edition Postponed Until August 31

    Owlboy, the critically acclaimed pixel art platformer released a physical edition for Nintendo Switch and PS4 on May 29th. On the same day, publisher SODESCO announced that a Limited Edition game box is in the works and would be released on July 13th. However, because of logistical details, the publisher has pushed the release date back to August 31st.
    Marten Buijsse, Community Manager at SOEDESCO, shed some light on the delay:
    “We want everyone around the globe to receive their Limited Edition at the sale time. This was proving to be a challenge, so we decided to delay the launch so that we can have one worldwide launch date. However, I’m sure true fans will agree that it’s worth the wait!”

    The Limited Edition of Owlboy includes the base game for either Nintendo Switch or PS4, along with some pretty cool collector’s items, all packaged in an exclusive Limited Edition box. Each of these boxes includes the following:
    Owlboy base game for either Nintendo Switch or PS4. Certificate of authenticity with a unique Limited Edition number. Original Soundtrack physical copy featuring the majestic Owlboy sounds Owlboy notebook for logging all your adventures. Owlboy manual full of useful information about the game. Two pins one of the Owlboy logo and one of main character Otus. Two metal coins inspired by the collectible 'Buccanary coins' in the game. Pin box to safely store your pins and coins. Sticker sheet with seventeen magnificent Owlboy stickers. There will only be 6,000 Owlboy: Limited Edition boxes available for each platform.
    About Owlboy:
    "Owlboy is a story-driven platform adventure game, where you can fly and explore a brand new world in the clouds! Pick up your friends, and bring them with you as you explore the open skies. Overcome obstacles and greater enemies, in one of the most detailed adventures of this era."

    Play as Otus, a mute Owlboy, struggling with the expectations of "owlhood". A sudden appearance of sky pirates forces Otus to deal with his own issues as he battles dangerous enemies. In this coming of age adventure story, travel with Otus and his friends through monster-infested ruins, cities, and ancient temples as they seek the answer to the mystery behind the sky pirate attacks. You'll have to make full utilization of both flying and platforming game mechanics.
    Owlboy spent 10 years in development and that attention to detail shows. Its pixel art style appeals to fans of this popular retro-gaming style as well as people who tend to shy away from the trend. Players note that it is the perfect combination of artwork, mechanics, story, and soundtrack. The experts agree, and Owlboy has won multiple awards, including a spot on Time Magazine's Top 15 Games. It has amassed a legion of devoted fans, and thanks to experienced players and new converts, the Limited Edition Boxes are certain to be snatched up quickly.
    If you're waiting for the Limited Edition to be released before purchasing your copy, enjoy the Owlboy trailer while you wait:

    Insane Robots Is A Brand New, Unique Card Battler Coming To Consoles And PC

    Playniac , an award-winning games studio, is bringing a brand-new sci-fi card battling experience to PC and all major consoles this July. Insane Robots was originally developed as a tabletop prototype using old business cards. From those humble beginnings, the game was completely transformed using inspiration from both physical and digital design processes. The game is a bright and entertaining take on the card battler, with some unique features that are certain to please many gamers.
    If you've played many multiplayer card games, you know that it usually involves a fair amount of card collecting and the fact that you need to sink significant amounts of money into a "Free To Play" (read: "Free To Start") game to remain in any way competitive, especially as you move up through the levels can be incredibly frustrating. Publishers need to make money, and while that is completely understandable, this system can easily put off casual players who otherwise may have enjoyed the game. Insane Robots seeks to remove the roadblocks that many players encounter in multiplayer card games. Specifically, Playniac has eliminated "expensive card expansions, time-consuming customization, farming, and an ever-rising bar that excludes players who don’t purchase more cards". It's not a collectible card game at all, and the developers have provided every player with a streamlined battle deck. Insane Robots is truly a test of skill, strategy, and luck, with the same gameplay opportunities afforded to every player.

    From Playniac:
    "Insane Robots finds players leading a robot rebellion through randomly generated survival arenas. Full of fiendish card battles, it’s FTL meets Battle Royale in a card game. Overthrow the malevolent robot despot, The Kernel. Save robotkind in an epic 15+ hour single-player campaign full of peril and twists, as a decaying robot dystopia is revealed."
    Players utilize their battle deck to the best of their abilities in single-player, online, and local battles. "Hacks" and "Glitches" can be employed at just the right moment to get ahead in the game or defeat your enemy. You can even taunt your opponents with in-game communication.

    Game Features:
    This is card battling HACKED with no costly expansions and time-consuming customization. Compete in intense local and online ranked 2P multiplayer battles. Experience the epic 15+ hour single-player campaign, overthrow the megalomaniacal Kernel and save robotkind. Unlock 46 robots and find over 100 augments to boost their abilities. Explore your tactical options to survive randomly generated survival arenas. Master the 22-token battle deck and define your own style of play. A compelling narrative with over 150 branching story events. Explore five types of hazardous environments from lush jungles to barren Moonscapes.
    Insane Robots launches on July 10, 2018, on PS4, followed by Windows and Mac (via Steam) on July 12, and Xbox One on July 13. You can add it to your Steam wishlist, today. Pre-orders will also be available soon on the PlayStation Store and Microsoft Store for $15.99 (20% pre-order discount) for the base game and $23.09 for the Insane Robots Deluxe Pack (30% pre-order discount), which also includes a Season Pass with six DLCs.

    Hatch Is The Cloud Gaming Service Might Change Mobile Gaming Forever

    For months now, a quiet revolution has been starting in the mobile gaming industry. Mobile gaming has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. We went from playing games that were merely touch-screen novelties like Fruit Ninja, moved on to addictive match-three games like Candy Crush and Bejeweled, and finally, we have recently been able to play mobile ports of full games that are actually very good. Fortnite Battle Royale is an example of a large-scale game going mobile and the mobile version of Final Fantasy XV is absolutely brilliant. Mobile gaming opens up the world of gaming to consumers who often wouldn't even consider themselves a traditional "gamer".
    With bigger, better games being released on mobile, the landscape is changing. Developers are introducing full console and PC games as mobile ports. These games are usually purchased individually and they often take up a lot of space on a device and the prices of these types of games can vary widely. A new gaming service, Hatch , is hoping to streamline the mobile gaming experience for its users through cloud gaming. Their goal is to make streaming games on your mobile device just as seamless as streaming movies or television.

    Hatch is currently in beta, but is quickly growing as more developers recognize a space in the market for mobile cloud gaming. Hatch boasts no in-app purchases on their games and a download free way to play. They are also experimenting with some unique social features. Hatch will record your gameplay so that you can save and share clips. In addition, you can invite friends into your games and share the controls to play games together. 
    As of now, more than 100 developers and publishers have signed up for the cloud gaming platform and more are coming, including notable publishers like SEGA and Noodlecake Studios. They are new additions to the ever-growing roster of major names like Bandai Namco (PAC-MAN CE DX), Square Enix (Hitman Sniper), and Ubisoft (Rayman Fiesta Run), and popular indies like ustwo Games (Monument Valley), Frogmind (Badland), and Headup Games (the Bridge Constructor franchise). Noodlecake Studios has recently added Chameleon Run, an infinite runner, to the Hatch library and is promising to add some of their most popular games like Death Road To Canada, Lumino City, Island Delta, Wayward Souls, Framed, and Framed 2 very soon.
    “We are super excited to support publishers like Noodlecake, who are showing the world just how delightful and different mobile gaming experiences can be,” says Hatch co-founder and Head of Content Vesa Jutila. “Free-to-play games obviously have a place in the market, but their dominance means that mass consumers have been missing out on other types of games that are not designed around in-app purchasing. With instant play via our unique streaming tech and monetization via advertising or subscription, Hatch sees an opportunity to grow the mobile games market and offer consumers a painless, low-risk way to discover and play great games they never knew existed or were even possible on mobile.”

    There is a lot of excitement surrounding the addition of some of SEGA's most popular mobile games. Sonic Jump, Sonic 4 Episode 2, Sonic CD, Crazy Taxi, and Virtual Tennis are all coming to Hatch in the near future. 
    “We are excited to be part of Hatch’s pioneering effort to deliver entertainment in a new and frictionless way,” says Naoki Kameda, COO, SEGA Networks. “With Hatch, we see an excellent opportunity to allow players to engage with five of our classic games in a new way.”
    With improvements in mobile technology, it makes sense that mobile gaming is taking this step towards the future. It remains to be seen if players will see the benefits of cloud gaming services and change the way they purchase and play their games.
    What do you think about mobile cloud gaming? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

    Team Sonic Racing Is Coming To Consoles This Winter – Watch The Trailer!

    SEGA recently announced that Team Sonic Racing will release to consoles and PC this winter. Developed by Sumo Digital, this brand-new racing experience promises fast-paced action, phenomenal graphics, and some of your favorite Sonic characters behind the wheel of cool, customizable vehicles. Does the formula sound a lot like Mario Kart, but with SEGA characters? Yes. Will people still buy and play this game? Absolutely.

    It has been forever since Nintendo released a new Mario Kart game. Mario Kart 8 released to the Wii U way back in 2014 and the game was ported, with a few improvements, to the Nintendo Switch in 2017. With its array of fantastic courses, recognizable characters, and unique options, it's an amazing game. Having purchased the game for both the Wii U and the Switch, I can tell you that it is one of the most replayable games out there. But, even Mario Kart 8 can start to feel a little stale. I've mastered all of the courses, experimented with every route, and unlocked nearly everything (except a few amiibo outfits from amiibos I don't own). It's time for a new Mario Kart.
    But, since that announcement hasn't happened yet, I'm thrilled about Team Sonic Racing. It appears to follow much of the same Mario Kart formula, but it's available for PS4 and Xbox One, instead of being Nintendo exclusive. It also has some pretty cool features like "Adventure Mode" (story mode), lots of items, characters with different racing styles, and the ability to play as a team. The team feature is a welcome addition for those that have ruined friendships and relationships through Mario Kart competition. Now, instead of red shelling your competition a split-second before they cross the finish line, you can simply be angry at your friends and family for ruining things for the whole team. Overall, this looks like a solid addition to the character racing genre.

    From SEGA:
    "Team Sonic Racing lets fans speed through vibrant circuits from the Sonic Universe as Sonic, Shadow, Tails, and more while taking part in an electrifying multiplayer racing competition. Compete solo or play with up to 12 drivers online in various exhilarating single and multiplayer game modes, including Grand Prix, Time Trial, Team Adventure and more.  With unique character types, game modes, and car customization options, Team Sonic Racing blends the best elements of racing games."
    Game Features:
    Online Multiplayer & Local Co-Op Modes – 12 players per race, 4 player split screen, and various offline/online race modes including Grand Prix Mode, Exhibition Mode, Time-Trial and Team Adventure Mode. Team Racing – Race as a team, win as a team. Use various team moves to assist your teammates, knock out opponents and unleash your Team Ultimate. Performance & Skin Customization – Alter the appearance and handling of your vehicle. Wisps - 14 spectacular offensive and defensive items to help overcome rival teams and get ahead! Adventure Mode – Unique story experience where players are introduced to basic game features and characters. Various Characters and Types – 15 playable characters from across the Sonic Universe and 3 distinct character types including Speed, Technique, and Power. Team Sonic Racing comes to PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC (digital version only) this winter.
    Watch the full reveal trailer below:

    Is It a Chair? Is It an Audio System? How About Both? - Check out GameNader’s First Product Review – X Rocker Pro 2.1 Audio Gaming Chair

    When setting up a work or gaming station, people quite often overlook the importance of having a comfortable chair. While most of us worry about having a good enough graphic card that can run the most demanding games or enough RAM to have dozens of open programs, not much concern is given to proper posture while sitting at your desk, often for hours at a time. While lack of RAM can slow your multitasking, having a bad chair can cause physical ailments such as muscle cramps, back pain and neck strain, and those can ruin your work and game time entirely. So, unless you want to look like the hunchback of Notre Dame in a few years, it should be equally important to pick a comfortable chair when building your station, and if that chair manages to enhance your gaming by having built in-speakers and vibration feedback, you know you made the right choice.
    That is why, we present to you X Rocker Pro 2.1 Audio Gaming Chair that we had the pleasure of testing out at our GameNader offices for the past week.
    The reason why we picked Pro is because of its pretty looks, mid-range pricing, as well as because we wanted a modular chair that has some unique features not encountered elsewhere.
    Starting with the looks, Pro is a chair to behold. The design is very modern, with the black vinyl surface making it look very upscale and high tech. As such, it can equally blend in both a modern office as well as in your room. The gunstock armrests fit in nicely with the rest of the design and are made of a soft, rubbery material meaning they are not hard on your forearms and elbows, allowing for a longer exposure without causing skin irritation and redness. Pro also has an elevated head rest and lumbar support which make the chair very ergonomic, so sitting in it for longer periods of time is not an issue. A nice touch, not seen in many other chairs, is the thigh support, which lifts the user’s legs by just couple of inches making the sitting in the chair feel like being in a nice and comfy big-man cradle.

    X Rocker Pro Angle and Side View
    Unlike some other X Rocker chairs, Pro comes with a round pedestal that is adjustable in height. The pedestal feels very sturdy and keeps the chair steady on the ground. This means that larger users will have no problem using the chair, as the risk of flipping over or breaking seems very low. If you don’t like the pedestal you can always take it off, as the hard-shell bottom allows Pro to also be used as a classic rocker. Removing the pedestal significantly lowers the height which can be useful when playing games on your TV, as most TV stands are usually much shorter than a classic computer workstation. If using the chair as a rocker, users should be careful not to swing back and forth too much, as Pro is not as stable and can easily flip over if enough pressure is exerted.
    The audio panel is conveniently located on the right side of the chair, right underneath the armrest. It features an A/C adapter plug, headphone and MP3 jack, along with the knobs for adjusting the volume, vibration and bass, as well as a switchable button for selecting different wireless bands. Although controls are easy to reach, it might take some time to learn to operate them blindly, as it is impossible to see them without leaning over. This is true of all the knobs and plugs, except for the main volume button which is the largest of all, thus easily recognizable, and is encircled by a bright power indicator light that looks rather cool in the dark.

    Side view of the hard-shell bottom that allows the chair to be used as a rocker and the Audio Panel 
    Pro also features a 2.1 audio layout, meaning that is has two built-in speakers and a single subwoofer. The two speakers are located on each side close to the headrest, while the subwoofer is on the back. This kind of layout makes the sounds very immersive, giving you a feeling of being in the middle of the action, besides, the subwoofer in the back also enhances the vibration module in the lumbar area, making the vibrations even stronger. The effect is very noticeable when playing shooters - we tested it on Battlefield 4 and we were BLOWN AWAY! The vibration felt with every hit combined with the surround sound effect of explosions and helicopter rotor blades buzzing above made this an incredible gaming experience! It is also possible to pair multiple chairs together allowing for simultaneous audio transmission, which can make watching a movie with friends a true cinema experience, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to test this out, as we only have one chair.
    Wireless pairing is relatively easy trough Bluetooth and the connection is very stable. During our testing we experienced no significant delays nor any breaks, as was the case when connecting trough cables. In terms of power up, Pro can be powered by 4 AAA batteries or by the Power Adapter which is included in the package. Although having a cable stick out the side of your chair might look ugly, we still recommend using it, as batteries last for 15 hours and it can get pretty expensive going through four of them every day.

    X Rocker Pro features a subwoofer in the back that enhances the chair's vibration.
    X Rocker Pro is a very heavy chair but it is foldable in half allowing for easy storage. It does come disassembled but putting it together is not very hard, as the instructions are clear and you get an Allen wrench in the package, which is all you really need when it comes to tools. Cleaning the chair is not an issue either and vacuuming is just enough, as there is no webbing where dust or food crumbles can get stuck.
    In general, we had the X Rocker Pro for a week and we are liking it so far. It is very good looking and comfortable, with the built-in 2.1 audio being a unique feature not seen on similarly priced chairs. The sound and bass are amazing and really add to the immersion when playing games or watching a video, so this is a definite high point. The vibration module is also fun, although we noticed that it can sometimes nag your back if the lumbar cushion moves or you take a weird sitting position. This might be a problem for larger users as they apply more pressure to the back when seating. The audio panel is also easy to reach, and we found the pairing to be pretty straightforward with most of the modern devices. We also think that using the chair with the pedestal is the way to go, as it is definitely more stable than the rocker, although we would advise that you place something underneath to prevent it from scratching the floor.
    Overall, the X Rocker Pro currently costs 169.00 USD at Amazon, and we recommend that you definitely take it into consideration if planning to make a chair purchase in the near future, as for that price, there is no gaming chair that can offer more features while at the same time being exceptionally good-looking and comfortable.
    What we liked:                                                                                                                         What we didn't like:
    - The design                                                                                                                              - The power cable sticking out of the side 
    - The comfort                                                                                                                           - The vibration module which can nag your back
    - The 2.1 Audio
    - The price

    Oxygen Not Included Is The Frustrating Colony Sim That I Can't Stop Playing

    There are currently a number of colony building sims available, like Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, and Rimworld, another early access game. However, Oxygen Not Included brings something special to the genre. Klei Entertainment is the game development studio that brought us Don't Starve and its various expansions as well as Don't Starve Together, the online co-op version of Don't Starve, and Don't Starve Pocket, a well-done mobile port. With Oxygen Not Included, they have ventured into the sci-fi colony management genre while maintaining the survival, building, and crafting aspects of their most popular game. The graphics style is similar to that of Don't Starve, and it's that charming and quirky aesthetic and characters that truly bring this particular game to life. Still in early access, at this point in the development process, Oxygen Not Included is entirely playable, with very few bugs, primarily related to audio and visual glitches.
    From Klei Entertainment:
    "In the space-colony simulation game Oxygen Not Included you’ll find that scarcities of oxygen, warmth, and sustenance are constant threats to your colony's survival. Guide colonists through the perils of subterranean asteroid living and watch as their population grows until they're not simply surviving, but thriving... 
    Just make sure you don't forget to breathe."
    At first glance, Oxygen Not Included appears similar to many other space colony development and building sims but also shares some of the mechanics of survival games. A couple of characters are dropped someplace in space, in this instance on an asteroid, and it's your job to guide the characters to excavate the area, begin to build and establish the colony, implement essential systems like power, water, food production, and living space, all while keeping your tiny humans, fed, hydrated, disease free, and relatively happy. It seems simple at first, but while basic survival games focus on procuring necessary items as you wander around and try not to get killed, a colony sim has the survival aspects to overcome, as well as a growing population. Your attention shifts from the well-being of a single protagonist to the colony as a whole. Players keep their humans, called Duplicants or "Dupes" alive, but there is an emphasis on building and maintaining systems. This type of game is great for multitaskers and players with attention to detail, though it suits many gameplay styles. Depending on how you choose to progress, you can focus primarily on a single aspect of the game — whether you play as a builder, an explorer, or even a decorator, you'll be equally satisfied with your options.

    After you begin your first game and shuffle through a few suitable settings, or in my case, just leave everything on default because I wanted to learn by playing, you'll be asked to choose the first three Dupes that will start your colony. Each Dupe has a set of attributes, some negative and some positive, that will determine the tasks they will excel at and even their viability in the colony. Depending on your play style and what aspects you wish to focus on in, certain dupes may be better suited. Sometimes, it doesn't really matter if you choose three Dupes that appear to be absolutely perfect, they may not be suitable for the particular environment or better suited for others. For instance, in one of my playthroughs, my Dupes were dropped on an asteroid with practically no breathable oxygen and at least one Dupe with "Diver's Lungs" would have been helpful. Having not had much of an issue with oxygen production up to that point, it didn't occur to me as a very useful trait. This type of randomness is one of the game's major strengths, and if you enjoy that aspect, it will certainly keep each playthrough unique. However, you can eliminate much of the game's random nature by choosing a particular "Worldgen Seed" in the Settings dialogue box at the beginning of your game. In addition, you'll be able to shuffle through your Dupes until you reach a combination of attributes you want to start the game with.
    For me, it is the Dupes that make Oxygen Not Included more enjoyable than other colony building sims. I tend to be an unforgiving taskmaster and with push my characters to the brink of death if it means more efficient systems and production. But, the Dupes are so charming and adorable that I actually want to make them happy. I tend to their needs and even decorate their spaces to please them. Watching them run around, working, operating machinery, and even sleeping is endlessly entertaining.

    At first, the beginning stages of the game are overwhelming and confusing. There are a lot of controls, overlays, and stats to manage. It's necessary to keep a close eye on the upper left-hand corner of the screen for alerts and helpful hints and mini tutorials. It took me the first hour of the game to just figure out the basics because I made the mistake of attempting to learn every control and aspect of the game in those first moments. In reality, it wasn't necessary — I needed to start with the basics and move forward from there. Just dig. And dig some more. Then, more digging. After the first few cycles, things will start to fall into place.
    There's no tutorial and players are meant to figure out things for themselves, which some players enjoy and others may find incredibly frustrating. Most of the mechanics are pretty straightforward, but some don't come as easily. I spent a full three hours struggling with running my power generators and other machines because I didn't understand how to connect the wiring. It was actually very simple, but for me, not entirely intuitive. Games like this are meant to be about discovering and developing your own systems and means of survival, so too much guidance would actually water down the experience. If you're a player that absolutely needs a tutorial or just want to research other players' strategies, there are plenty of guides available online.

    After the initial stages of setting up your colony, the middle game hits a little bit of a snag. There's a steep learning curve and all of a sudden you can't keep up with your colony and everyone dies. Over and over... and over. But, unlike many games that are easy to give up, Oxygen Not Included kept me coming back. I wanted to try different strategies, explore the various biomes, do new research and build new machines. After a while, I stopped caring if everyone in this colony lived or died, because I would use what I learned in my next colony. Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it fun? Absolutely. This stage of the game requires attention to detail in is the time to start learning the finer mechanics of the game's technical management. Later, it is possible to acquire a state of automation where players have the ability to expand, tweak, and refine their colony. 
    Oxygen Not Included strength lies in that it truly offers players the ability to make the game whatever they want it to be. It is more than just a survival game, a colony management sim, or a building sim, it's a balanced combination that allows players to focus on the aspects they enjoy the most. It is difficult and challenging, with ups and downs of periods of relaxation followed by fast-paced life or death scenarios. With so much to offer, Oxygen Included feels, at this point in its development, to be a finished game, though it has the potential to grow into something even better as it moves beyond the early access phase.
    Oxygen Not Incuded is available on Steam . 
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