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    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 . 

    Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven – A Digital Offer You Can’t Refuse

    We must all admit that every single one of us had a thought about what it would be like to be a gangster, or at least, be a member of a gangster family after watching the Godfather movies. The seeming closeness of the family members, the loyalty of friends, the pretty women, the shiny cars, the tailored suits and the unlimited supplies of spaghetti, pasta and garlic bread made the life of an Italian mobster seemed like the one worth living. However, if we were to dig beneath the surface, we would also discover the bad side of a gangster’s life such as the daily violence, the frequent betrayal of those ''loyal and close'' friends and family, and almost constant uncertainty of whether you will wake up one day to find a horse’s head in your bed or you’ll go out with your buddies to get some cannolies and end up with one of them shooting you. Now, although all three Godfather movies, as well as the movie GoodFellas, managed to masterfully depict the lives of gangsters, it wasn’t until 2002, that we get to fully immerse ourselves and actually control one in a virtual world.
    In 2002, Czech-based Illusion Softworks released and open-world action-adventure game titled Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. Heavily inspired by both of the above-mentioned movies, Mafia’s plot revolves around Thomas Tommy Angelo, an ordinary man who unwillingly gets involved in a war in between two rival mob families.
    The game starts off during the early years of Prohibition and is set in the fictional City of Lost Heaven, located on the US East Coast, where Thomas Angelo works as a taxi driver. One night, while taking a smoke break, Thomas encounters two well-dressed gentlemen, who hijack his taxi and force him at gunpoint to drive them “anywhere, fast”. Soon, Tommy’s taxi starts getting shot at, and he discovers that the two are being pursued by a rival gang, which leads to a high-speed chase around Lost Heaven. Upon successful escape, Tommy drives the duo to Salieri’s bar in Little Italy, where he is given a hefty reward for the car repair and his services, as well as an offer to stop by in case he needs any help or wants work. Shocked by the encounter, Tommy goes home and decides that he won’t even consider the mobster’s offer as for him, it is better to be ‘’poor and alive, then rich and dead’’.

    Chronology of Tommy's first encounter with Paulie and Sam.
    Few weeks after the incident, Tommy has returned to his regular job of faring passengers around the city. While waiting for the next customer, Tommy gets attacked by two mobsters who remembered him from the night he helped their rivals escape. Faced with the prospect of being killed, Tommy realizes that he is close to the Salieri’s bar and decides to make a run for it, using the side alleys as a cover from the gun-wielding mobsters. After a short pursuit, Tommy reaches the safety of the bar where he finds Paulie, one of the mobsters he drove the faithful night. Paulie and his crew quickly ''take care'' of the pursuing gangster, with the following cutscene showing their lifeless bodies being loaded onto a covered flatbed truck. At the same time, Tommy, Paulie and Sam, the other mobster Tommy helped escape, are seen in the bar, laughing and drinking, indicating Tommy’s induction into the organization and his change of attitude towards it. From that point on, Tommy is sent on various missions, slowly making his way up in the mobster chain of command.

    Tommy being attacked and running to the Salieri's Bar and the aftermath.
    Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is played from a third person perspective and features a wide variety of missions. There are those that require stealth, as well as those that involve bank heists and massive shootouts. Driving is an important part of the game, so players can expect to participate in leisure driving, many high-speed chases and even an instance of professional racing. Although the missions are linear in terms of progression, players are able to freely move around the city before starting or upon ending a mission.
    The City of Lost Heaven is a pleasure to explore both on a vehicle and on foot. It is very big and heavily inspired by 1930’s New York, Chicago and San Francisco, with some of the real-life landmarks from those cities being present in the game, albeit in smaller scale. It is divided into districts such as Little Italy, China Town and Central Island (and many others), some of which are reminiscent of their real-life counterparts and have a very distinct charm. The city also feels very lively, with NPCs driving and parking their cars, crossing the streets and walking around the sidewalks. The police are also enforcing basic traffics laws, so players need to respect them unless they want to be pulled over and fined. Speeding, running red lights and getting into accidents all attracts police’s attention and can result either in a fine or an arrest which automatically fails the mission.
    Surrounding the City of Lost Heaven is a countryside that the players can also visit. This area includes some picturesque scenery, as well as landmarks such as the Lost Heaven Airport which is packed with propeller planes and zeppelins, the Clark’s Motel and Gas Station, Racing Circuit and even an Electricity Dam.

    View of Lost Heaven's Central Island, and the Airport.
    Besides the beautiful city and the countryside, driving in Mafia is also enhanced by the large selection of vehicles. There are about 70 different cars that the players can drive, including hot rods and old-school racing cars that look like arrowheads. To add to the immersion, the vehicles are introduced periodically throughout the game, with older 1920’s models being available from the very start, while 1930’s models appear later on. Driving is also very realistic, meaning that the players can run out of gas or get their fuel tank punctured by a bullet, they can get flat tires, overheat the engine and even break the transmission, if they were to shift gears improperly.
    Mafia was also among the first games to have a Freeride and Freeride Extreme mode, both of which are an equivalent to the modern day New Game Plus modes. These modes become accessible following the conclusion of the main storyline and feature new side missions, such as chasing alien spaceships, jumping off ramps and driving an explosive-rigged truck at a certain speed. Also included are all the weapons, cars as well as the lack of police, giving the players the ultimate freedom in roaming around the Lost Heaven.

    Just a small fraction of the cars that players can drive in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven.
    When it comes to the weapons, Mafia doesn’t offer a very wide selection, but those that are present are true to the timeline and include Colt 1911, .38 Police Special, 44. Magnum Revolver, Tommy Gun, Shotgun, Mosin-Nagant and Springfield rifle and the Italian mob favorite – the Lupara. There are also melee weapons such as brass knuckles, baseball bats and switchblades. Players usually start armed with the Colt 1911 and can then collect other weapons around the map, but in some instances, they will also be equipped with a mission specific weapon from the very start, but be careful not to sport it in front of the police, or you will be arrested. Although most of the weapons are generic and there is nothing special about them, they are really fun to use with recoil and sounds that mimic their real-life counterparts.
    Speaking of sound, Mafia is probably one of the best games ever in terms of audio features and the soundtrack. Car horns, police sirens and background murmur of people, enhance the overall acoustic vibe of the city, giving an impression of a livable environment with actual things happening in it. There are also many random street encounters between the NPCs that spike up very quirky conversations further amplifying the city’s ambient. Every section of the city also features distinct background music, some of which are compositions from famous artists from the 1920’s and 1930’s, like The Mills Brothers, Django Reinhardt and many others. This really sets the mood of the game, there by bringing to the players the unique charm of the Prohibition-era America.
    Another strong suit of the original Mafia is its very active modding community, which even after 16 years from the release, still supports and releases new mods for the game. Although there not as many mods as there are for Skyrim or Fallout, the ones available can really enhance the original game, as well as Freeride and Freeride Extreme modes. For example, there are mods that add new interiors, NPCs, character looks, vehicles, and even multiplayer racing!

    Some in-game screenshots of melee action, shooting and mobster pursuit.
    All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend Mafia. In terms of visuals, the graphics are dated but even so, the game has aged perfectly and still look very good when compared to some other games of the time. On that note, car breaking physics can easily match more recent games, but don’t forget that you can always install one of the mods that improves the general textures and get even a better experience. Gameplay does have certain limitations such as the inability to stick to the cover, so you have to awkwardly crouch or stand and hide behind it. Nevertheless, the shooting is still very fun with players having to pay attention to the recoil and effective firing range of every weapon. Mafia’s main storyline is long and immersive with many twists and turns, and has about 21 missions total. While some missions are short and last about 10 minutes, others can take up to two hours to complete, with some even allowing for different approaches, such as using violence or not. Overall, to complete the main storyline it takes anywhere between 15 and 20 hours, but that is when Freeride Extreme comes with 18 new missions that further prolong the play time. Throw in some mods, and Mafia easily offers about 30 hours of actual story gameplay, but if you are a fan of old cars like me, you will be back to this game for many more hours just for some joyriding while listening to the 1930’s jazz hits.
    Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was voted the Game of the Year for 2002, it holds Very Positive Ratings on Steam and 4.5 stars on GOG, and is available on both platforms for 14.99 USD.
    *Do note that in the Steam and GOG versions of the game, some music has been removed due to licensing issues, but that is not a problem that a small mod cannot fix
    Map of the City of Lost Heaven


    The Sinking City Is A Promising Lovecraftian Adventure – Watch The New Behind The Scenes Video With Gameplay Footage

    As someone who enjoys playing video games, I have spent some time researching what actually goes into making a game. What I've discovered is that it takes time, talent, dedication, money, and even a little bit of luck to produce a successful game. Exposing that game to the public and finding an audience that will play, enjoy, and share it with others is a challenge in itself.
    Indie games don't have the same backing and built-in audience that AAA games enjoy. But, that doesn't mean that many indie games aren't just as enjoyable or even more so than the larger game franchises. They also don't have the heavy weight of expectation placed on games from the big publishers. They do, however, have a different set of challenges. Currently, the indie gaming market is huge and great games are being released all the time. The oversaturation of the market and a wealth of games that appear very similar means that it is hard for indie developers to find an audience for their games. That means relying on creative marketing to get their game noticed. Some publishers and developers are going one step further and allowing consumers a glimpse into the process of creating what they hope is the next big hit.
    Video game publisher Big Ben Interactive, together with Frogwares, is venturing into new territory with their latest behind the scenes video. In the revealing footage, they're allowing viewers a chance to see part of a game's development process, specifically the work and process that goes into producing a public demo. Frogwares plans to showcase their Lovecraftian adventure, The Sinking City, for the first time to the public at GDC San Franciso and EGX Rezzed London.

    “We wanted to show our community, and the gaming community in general, a perspective which hasn’t really been shown to the public that much — the process of preparing an event demo of a game that’s still in production,” said Sergey Oganesyan, Frogwares Community Manager.
    The team started the challenging demo production process back in November and encountered their fair share of difficulties, including an "ethical dilemma", detailed in the video.
    “It’s tempting to spice up the demo and make it look better than the final product. But this will be short-term gain for long-term loss,” said Wael Amr, the CEO of Frogwares. “We don't want unfulfilled promises haunting us. We want to show as much truth as we can.”

    From Frogwares:
    "The Sinking City is an open world, open investigation game set in a Lovecraft universe. The player steps into the shoes of a private investigator who finds himself trapped in the city of Oakmont Massachusetts — a city suffering from unprecedented floods of supernatural origins. The player must uncover the source of whatever has taken possession of the city, and the minds of its inhabitants."
    The Sinking City is currently in production and will be available in 2018 on PC and consoles.
    Watch the behind the scenes video, complete with never before seen gameplay footage and a brief look at the actual demo:

    Unicorn Dungeon Is An Absurdist Point And Click Adventure That I Have To Play

    Last year was the first time Unicorn Dungeon appeared on my radar, in the form of an itchio devlog by the game's creator, Stand Off Software. It was the title that grabbed my attention first because you don't often see the words "unicorn" and "dungeon" together in the same place.
    Described as "an absurdist comedy point & click adventure game set in the strange (and often silly) magical land of Artovya", Unicorn Dungeon looks like a silly romp that is heavy on the ridiculous entertainment and light on the actual skill required to play. It's meant to be bizarre, irreverent, and unquestionably odd, and in a world of games that share the same mechanics and similar storylines, it's refreshing to come across something completely different. The best part about embracing creative absurdity is that it removes many of the traditional limitations placed on games, as long as the writer is willing to embrace it — Unicorn Dungeon appears to have not only embraced it, but made the craziness a constant companion.
    The first chapter in a planned six chapters, there are no limits placed on genre either throughout the series. Unicorn Dungeon may be primarily a point & click adventure, but brings in elements from turned-based dungeon crawlers and future chapters will include an even wider range of gameplay and mechanics. 

    From Stand Off Software:
    "King Haldrin is dying…
    Whoever successfully brings a unicorn to the castle will be crowned the next king of Artovya. Only one person has what it takes. And that person is… well, who knows? No one’s done it yet. I just assume someone will at some point. In any case, play Unicorn Dungeon and follow the adventures of Sir Typhil of Creulor, one of many to take up the challenge.
    Artovya can be quite a silly place what with roving hordes of hillbilly goblins and trolls who are usually too drunk to murder, but this quest is no laughing matter. Finding a unicorn is not a task for the weak. It takes perseverance and determination the likes of which few mortals possess."

    Throughout their journey, players are sure to encounter weird characters and unexplainably crazy situations. You will have to solve puzzles, rescue a princess from goblins, and defeat the dungeon beasts. It's a unique adventure rife with tropes but peppered with humor inspired by the comedy of Monty Python and Firesign Theater. The visuals aren't particularly stunning, but my hope it is the story and humor that will bring Unicorn Dungeon to life.
    Unicorn Dungeon sounds delightfully confusing and since this is only the first chapter, I'm hoping it will be an introduction to a new series that is a respite from uninspired, repetitive storytelling. I'm always willing to give new indie titles a shot, especially if they don't take themselves too seriously. If humor is their strong suit, they shouldn't be afraid to lean into it. Somehow, Unicorn Dungeon will have to find a way to exist in the gray area between uniquely creative and too strange to make any sense. At any rate, it's only $4.99 on Steam .
    Watch the release trailer below:

    Play As A Deep Space Salvage Hunter In Xenosis: Alien Infection — Greenlit For An Early 2019 Release

    It's official — as of May 25th, Xenosis: Alien Infection is fully funded on Fig , the community publishing platform responsible for such games as Phoenix Point, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, and Wasteland 3. The original goal for the game was $25,000 and at the time this article was published, more than $29,000 had been raised. If you're interested in becoming a backer for the game, there is still time. Funding will continue until June 21st.
    Becoming an early backer of the game offers a lot of bonuses, beyond just a copy of the game. For as little as $35, backers receive a Steam key for the game, soundtrack, storybook, exclusive in-game items, beta access and more. If you're willing to spend a little more, there is alpha access and even the opportunity to become a boss in the game.
    The upcoming release promises a sci-fi adventure and survival game with a retro feel highlighted by modern game design elements. 2D pixel graphics are accented with 3D lighting, dynamic shadows, and 3D positional audio. Inspired by games and movies like Alien Breed, System Shock, Aliens, Dead Space, and Event Horizon, Alien Infection focuses on a single-player, immersive story experience.

    From NerdRage Studios:
    "You are a deep space salvage hunter in Xenosis: Alien Infection who discovers the remains of the Carpathian, an apparently abandoned interstellar Starship built to terraform mineral-rich planets on the edge of the known solar system that vanished over 50 years ago. Taking place on the Carpathian, you must retrieve the valuable data core. Life support systems are down and there are traces of an unidentified toxin. As you explore, you begin to learn what happened to its crew and must prevent it from happening to you.
    As players explore the Carpathian’s multiple themed, hand-crafted decks, each with areas to investigate and secrets to discover, the game’s main storyline unfolds, but players have the ability to follow side stories and lore as well.  Xenosis: Alien Infection offers five core gameplay pillars: Combat/AI, Survival, Crafting, Lighting/Stealth, and Immersion."

    Trapped on the ship it's up to you, playing as the protagonist, to unlock the secrets of the Carpathian. Your original goal is to make money in your salvage business. If you can get a hold of the lost ship's data core, you'll be set for life. But, it's not going to be that simple. Not long after you board, an alarm sounds, signaling that you're not alone. This is only the beginning of a creepy storyline, with subplots and unexpected twists and turns.
    Resource management will be necessary in order to survive — oxygen is in short supply, there are dangerous toxins present, and a suit without rips or tears is the only thing between you and the extreme temperatures and radiation. Crafting supplies, weapons, and upgrades is an integral part of survival.
    You'll need those weapons for the intense combat situations against your AI enemies, or avoid them altogether with a stealth approach, utilizing the game's light and shadow system. Explore the ship, solve the mystery, and survive the exciting space adventure of Xenosis: Alien Infection.

    Hunt: Showdown Early Access is On Sale but my Feelings are Mixed

    In my yesterday’s article I mentioned that I have had a horror game marathon for the past month or so. In continuation of it, I had the pleasure of playing the Early Access version of Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown. I have been following this game for good four years or so, or in other words, ever since the original Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age gameplay was shown off at E3 2014.
    The original concept of hunting folklore monsters in four player teams fascinated me, and I created this image in my head that Hunt will be a mix of Left 4 Dead teamplay and Witcher 2 monster contracts. The gameplay footage and trailer also showed that the game will be set in Louisiana’s murky swamps, which was the perfect setting for such a game, both because Louisiana’s folklore is full of disturbing monsters, haunting rituals and voodoo customs, and because being in a swamp with water up to your knees, in a middle of a night while surrounded by growling zombie-like monsters is damn scary.
    Although at first, I did not like the third person view, as I think that it really numbs the scare factor and takes away from horror immersion, the in-game characters with all their cowboy hats, old-west dusters, and the lever-action rifles looked pretty badass. Besides, the developers further promised fully customizable looks thus justifying this approach.

    Concept Art released back in 2014 when Hunt: Showdown was still called Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age
    After the E3 showing everyone went silent on the Hunt, and beside the announcement that Crytek took over the development following Vigil Game’s bankruptcy a month later, we got practically no new information on the game for the next few years. In 2017 we finally got a new trailer, and we discovered that the game was now renamed to Hunt: Showdown and it went from being PvE to a mix of PvE and PvP. The gameplay camera was also changed from third to first person, meaning that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our custom characters outside of the selection screen anymore. Nevertheless, the game looked much better than before, with weapon design and light effects being absolutely marvelous. In February of 2018, Hunt: Showdown was released on Steam as an Early Access product.  
    Although I am very skeptical of unfinished games, mostly due to DayZ’s ongoing fiasco, a close friend got it and recommended we play together. As I was done with Nosferatu, and my emulator was still not working, I decided to pull the trigger and buy Hunt: Showdown. Ever since then, I played a couple of rounds with my friend and I must say that I have mixed feelings about it.
    Good things first.
    The graphics in the game are spectacular! I do not have the most powerful rig out there, so I only get to play on medium settings, but even so, the environment and light effects, and especially the fire, look exceptional. What was promised in the trailer was delivered by the developers even in early access, which is very important for the future, as there were many cases such as The Division and Watch Dogs, were graphics were significantly watered-down in the final release.
    Developers also paid a lot of attention on the weapons and their design, as Hunt: Showdown sports a wide selection of weapons many of which are based on real-life ones. Weapons are very detailed with many scuffs and dirt marks on them, and the reloading animations were individually made, making the use of every gun a unique experience on its own.  
    Sounds are also a strong suit of the game. Gunshot echo was nailed by the Crytek team, as the sound of every bullet travels throughout the map alerting other players and enemies of your position. Same goes for the animal noises, as well as enemies’ growling which can be heard from some distance away, and serves as an indicator that someone is around.

    In-game screenshots featuring different weapons and environment and i just wish sound can go with these pictures.
    Gameplay-wise Hunt is very satisfying in the first few hours. It is fun to both shoot and sneak around the enemies, especially during the night time missions as they are very dark and require player’s full focus. Lack of disposable ammunition also means that players must ration their use of bullets, as running out of ammo will not just put you in disadvantage against other players, but will also make the boss battles impossible to finish. Hunt: Showdown also allows for tactical approach to final boss hunts. Players can either go in guns blazing, but with limited ammo they need to be careful not to run out of it, or they can strategize and pre-plan the final encounter. Upon arriving at the location of the final boss, players have short time frame to prepare before the creature arrives. This gives them time to set up barbed-wire barriers or light fire in order to limit the battle area, which is a neat mechanic as it allows hunters to make their own hunting grounds and lure the prey in.
    Now for the bad things.
    First - Matchmaking takes too long.
    As the game format was changed and is now playable only in teams of two, it is not possible to join the game on your own, and players need to wait matched with a buddy with whom you are to play. As the game is still in early access, the gaming community is not that big, meaning that this concept really prolongs the waiting time. There by, if you are playing on your own, be prepared to wait.
    Second - Two player teams are not very fun unless you are with someone you know.
    Maps in Hunt: Showdown are huge and very detailed, and it comes natural that players want to explore them. Because of this, do not be surprise if you wait for ten minutes and then get matched with someone who just wonders off instead of trying to hunt the creature with you. This will put you in an immediate disadvantage as you won’t have a healer, nor a fire support against enemies and other players. Therefore, I think that four player teams would make much more sense, as there will be more comradery as was the case in L4D series.

    Map and Character selection screen
    Third - PvP elements are completely unnecessary and should be optional.
    Unfortunately, Hunt: Showdown also fell victim to the Battle Royal craziness that is currently going around, as every game needs to be played against ten other players grouped in teams of two. As every team hunts the same creature, it is inevitable for players to eventually meet and be forced to gun each other down. This makes room for exploit, as players could simply camp outside of the battle zone and wait for the fight to be over, and then run in and mow down the already injured players who just put all the effort in killing and banishing the monster and steal their bounty.
    Fourth and final - The enemies are still very dumb and lack variety.
    The Hunt: Showdown currently has only two bosses, one is an overgrown spider and second is a Bucher monster, that somewhat reminds me of the Keeper from the Evil Within, except this one wears a dead-pig’s head instead of a safe on his head. The spider is fast, attacks melee and shoots poison from afar, while the Butcher follows you are around and tries to hit you with his meat hook. Both available bosses are just giant bullet sponges that will go down after being shot or set on fire for long enough, so although I mentioned that it is fun making tactics, in the current stage, it is not very necessary. Regular enemies are also unimaginative, dumb and slow. There are currently only five types of enemies, one of which is just a mini version of the Butcher boss. They lack any dangerous attacks and move very slow, so getting overwhelmed by a large group or getting attacked by an unexpected monster is the only way to really be hurt.

    Two of the bosses available for hunt as of the current release
    Summarizing everything, the Hunt: Showdown is a fun game in the first few hours. It is visually stunning with great sounds and gun mechanics that are going to fascinate most of the players at first. However, the game seriously lacks any content at the moment. Although it is fun experimenting with different weapons and perks, hunting for only two available bosses gets rather tiring after a while. Nevertheless, this game is being built on interesting ideas and by a powerful company that has some excellent games behind it, and I believe that Crytek will fix all of the issues I mentioned above. I also hope that in the final release, players will be given the freedom to decide what mode they want to play, instead of being forced to participate in this Battle Royale-like-PvPvE gameplay. Overall, I do not regret buying Hunt: Showdown, but I am sure to be taking a break from it, at least until more enemies and bosses are added and until matchmaking times are cut shorter.
    Hunt: Showdown is currently 20% off on Steam and is available for 23.99 USD.

    Craving for an Old-School Horror Shooter? Check out Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi

    I’ve had quite a lot of free time in the past month, so I decided that the best way to spend it is to do a little horror game marathon. During the run, I have completed newer titles such as Evil Within 2, Resident Evil 7 and Outlast 2 and then moved on to my all-time favorite Silent Hill 2, which I play through an emulator. Just as I was getting ready for the first encounter with the Pyramidhead, in which James creeps from the closet while Pyrmidhead does ''stuff'' to the mannequins, my emulator broke. Controller inputs stopped being recognized and despite numerous reinstalls, I couldn’t get it to work to this day (So if someone has a tip on how to fix this, share it in the comments section). I started browsing GOG in hopes of finding a game that will sate my hunger for an old school horror, and that is when I came across Nosferatu: Wrath of Malachi. I immediately remembered this game as it was very popular when I was in elementary school, but I never got around to playing it at the time as I was a sensitive Nancy and I was too scared to even try. Now that I am a big, strong and grown I decided to buy it and test it out, and I must say that I am very glad I did, as Nosferatu has aged awesomely and still managed to give me creeps and a few jump scares.
    Nosferatu: Wrath of Malachi is a first-person horror shooter, developed by Swedish IdolFx and published by IGames Publishing way back in 2003. Heavily inspired by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, and the 1922 German silent movie Solace, the game takes place in the year of 1912, in the Romanian region of Transylvania where British blue-blooded family Patterson is getting ready for their eldest daughter Rebecca’s wedding to a rich Romanian count.
    The game’s main protagonist is James Patterson, Rebecca’s oldest brother and a professional swordsman, who arrives to the castle one day later due to participating in a fencing tournament in Sweden. Upon his arrival, James discovers that his family is missing and that the castle is engulfed in a dark energy. He soon discovers the family’s priest, Father Aviile, who tells James of count’s real identity and his evil plan to sacrifice his family members in order to free Count Malachi. The priest then gives James his Crucifix as ''the vampires will back away from it'' and instructs him to go inside the castle and save his family. Before entering the castle, James also arms himself with his grandad’s trusty old cane sword which he finds in a discarded suitcase close to the castle’s entrance.

    James's family members that need saving, plus doggo Buster who gets a separate screen for being the cutest and most damage-dealing sidekick of all the others!
    From that point on, the players take full control of James and can freely explore most of the castle, which consists of four parts – Main Castle, East and West wings and the surrounding courtyard. Near the entrance to the courtyard is the Sanctuary, a designated safe zone where “the spawns of hell do not venture’’ and where James can bring the family members he saves. The player has only one night in order to save James’s family, with the game starting at 11:00 PM at night and lasting until the first sunlight at 6:00 AM in the morning. Although I haven’t exactly measured, one in-game hour is a bit longer than a real-world hour, so in total, players have between 7-8 hours to explore the castle and save all the family members.
    James’s family members can die if not saved on time, and they are also killable while being escorted to the Sanctuary. Although there is no particular order in which they need to be saved, every member gives James a unique weapon or a service, which can be permanently lost if they die. For example, family’s physician, Dr. Amersfield can heal James for free every time he is visited in the Sanctuary, so it is advisable that he is saved among the first. Family members are also placed randomly around the castle on each playthrough, and although players get hints as to where they are, it is necessary to explore the castle in order to find them.

    Count Nosferatu's castle as seen from the courtyard
    What makes the exploration interesting is that, while the exterior of the castle stays the same, the interior rooms are randomly generated and the same is true for monster spawning. This means that in every playthrough, players get a different looking castle interior with different enemies and hidden treasures. Although random enemy spawning might cause some balancing issues early in the game, this mechanic sure keeps players on the edge at all time as they can never be sure what enemies await in the next room.
    Speaking of enemies, Nosferatu has quite a lot of them, with some being Ghouls, Gargoyles, Feral Zombies, Lesser and Higher Vampires and many others. There are also few in-game bosses such as the Foul Beast, Succubuses Moraie and Draija, and vampire Desmodaui. Interesting fact about both regular enemies and the bosses is that they all have unique vulnerabilities, meaning that only certain weapons will work on them. For example, Ghouls are more vulnerable to bullets than Vampires, so Vampires have to be taken down with the combination of the Crucifix, Holy Water, garlic and a stake. If the player lacks some of the weapons required, the fight will become challenging if not impossible, making every encounter unique as it requires experimenting with different weapons and tactics.
    In terms of weaponry, the game has an interesting selection. Besides the mentioned cane sword and Crucifix, players can also obtain a flintlock pistol, a musket, a revolver, a machinegun, bunch of garlic and wooden stakes, as well as the most interesting and powerful weapon of the game – the Holy Water. While most of the weapons need bullets, except the obvious ones such as the sword, garlic and stakes, Holy Water needs to be made with the Crucifix. Namely, in order to recharge the ancient chalice which holds the Holy Water, the players need to find regular water, bless it with the Crucifix and then pick it up with the ancient chalice. The chalice only holds five charges and has a very short range, but it can one hit kill most enemies and is very effective against vampire bosses.

    Some of the weapon choices - The Crucifix stopping a lunging vampiresse, Flintlock Pistol and firing Machinegun at one of the succubi 
    Randomized interior, random monster spawns and interesting weapons make Nosferatu an excellent game with high replyability value. Even tho the graphics are outdated, the grainy textures and the sepia-like effects are in my opinion just perfect for this kind of game, as they are make it more immersive and more like the old silent movie it was originally inspired by. On the other hand, this game is anything but silent. High pitched musical scores are present throughout the game and are composed in such a way that they send chills down your spine. Besides, the higher they get, the closer you are to being attacked which adds to the sense of dread while exploring the dark castle corridors as enemies are often hiding and the music is your only indicator of the impending battle. Although the encounters are fast and short, they are brutal and incredibly tense as enemies often lunge at you from the most unexpected places, there by making room for some good jump scares. As such, I recommend Nosferatu to any horror fans who are looking for an old school game that will keep them on the edge of the seat throughout the playthrough. Besides, if you really fall in love with it, you can always come back to it and feel anew as randomized interiors will completely change the game in your new playthrough.
    Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is available on GOG for 5.99 USD and please scroll down for a bonus in-game moment were Count Nosferatu is trying to give you a hug.
    Oh hai gorgeous!

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