Rack N Ruin coming to PS4 tomorrow (March 31st) on PSN!

Care for a bit of carnage and destruction?  Rack N Ruin has got you covered this March 31st (tomorrow), when it lands on PSN for the PS4!  This top-down action adventure let’s you play as Rack, a petite but powerful demon wizard with a talent for destroying entire worlds with the flick of his wrist or the snap of his fingers.  As a champion of the demon lord, he serves Ruin, his dark master.  Rack would destroy everything and everyone in his way rather than conquer and enslave the pitiful creatures he encounters.  This upsets Ruin, who would rather rule over the weak and helpless beings of the universe.  Finally, for not heeding his master’s wishes, Rack is banished teleported to the last living, peaceful world in the universe.  Drained of most of his destructive power, Rack is instructed to conquer this world for his master or perish along the way.  Rack on the other hand, has a different set of plans.

Rack N Ruin is a top-down action hack n slash adventure similar to Diablo, Deathspank, and perhaps the old Dungeon Explorer games (remember the Turbo Grfx 16?  What… No?).  Instead of being content to simply create another hack ‘n’ slash game though, the developers of Rack N Ruin, indie development studio LifeSpark, have decided to incorporate a healthy dose of bullet-hell style gameplay with magic and mayhem filling the screen at times.  The enemies are plentiful and the boss battles difficult, but Rack is able to wield powerful spells and artifacts he discovers throughout his quest.  Exploration is easy and discovering newer, more powerful items is always fun.  Even with it’s dark, rich atmosphere, Rack N Ruin is quite colorful and is suitably cartooney adventure for all ages.  The graphical style suits the setting and the gameplay very well.  Best of all, this PSN title for the PS4 boasts a 10 hour campaign that will surely satiate your hunger for action / hack ‘n slash with somewhat unique bullet hell mechanics and frantic battles.Be sure to check out the Playstation Blog for additional info and updates regarding the impending release of Rack N Ruin on March 31st!  You can also follow the Rack N Ruin twitter feed for frequent updates.

TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio – out now!

If you’re a fan of visual novel’s and if you’ve ever wanted to make a visual novel, then now is the perfect time to get started.  TyranoBuilder is a powerful but easy to use visual novel builder.  In fact, I was very surprised at how easy it is to get started on a project.  The visual editor uses a fairly comprehensive ‘WYSIWYG’ style toolset.  Even an amateur wannabe developer could whip up a short set of story scenes in minutes.  This is by far one of the most user friendly development tools I’ve played around with and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a plethora of new Visual Novels pop up on gaming sites simply because this software is so user-friendly.  It also allows experienced users to do their own scripting using the built in TyranoScript so that developers can create more advanced style novels.  On top of providing a streamlined set of tools and an easy to use editor, TyranoBuilder provides multi-platform development of Visual Novels for Windows / MacOS / iOS / Android / HTML5 / CSS3, right out of the box!  Last but not least, and one of my favorite aspects of TyranoBuilder, is that it there is no License fee and there are no royalty fees of any kind!  If the above doesn’t impress you then you might be surprised that for all of the above you can get TyrandoBuilder on Steam for a very low price of only $14.99!!

TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio Features:

“★ Easy & fast to Use! ★
No programming knowledge required! Fire up and start creating games immediately with TyranoBuilder’s simple and intuitive drag & drop interface!

★ Multi-platform! ★
Create games on Windows or Mac, and export for Windows, iOS*, Android*, smartphones and tablets, or browsers!

*iOS and Android require conversion using free third party software. See the TyranoBuilder Tutorial for details.

★ Fully featured! ★
Easily add scenes, characters, dialogue, story branches, music, movies and more!

★ Powerful! Flexible! ★
Customize every aspect of your game with the included TyranoScript scripting language!

★ Outstanding Value! ★
Create and sell your own visual novels for only $14.99! Requires NO license fees or royalties of any kind! “

As I said above, if you’re into visual novels, or if you’ve ever wanted to create a visual novel, then there’s no better time to get involved.  Although TyranoBuilder is heavily geared toward creating Anime style Visual Novels it is not limited to just Anime, you could create a visual novel in any style that your imagination can conjure up.  I highly recommend this simple but effective piece of development software for both amateurs and experts!  If any of this interests you then do yourself a favor and head over to Steam to check out the TyranoBuilder Visual Novel Studio.

Kill the good guys and fry helpless chickens in Nekro!

Fans of Diablo-esque, Dungeon Keeper-esque, and Myth: The Fallen Lords-esque style games might be interested in checking out Nekro, which is available through Steam’s Early Access program.  Nekro has a dark tone and setting, but it also has it’s own dark sense of humor.  The gameplay is more about having fun and less about taking things seriously.  Players get to be the villain for a change, causing wanton violence, carnage, and destruction, all while summoning demons and gathering blood in order to increase and replenish your power.

When originally released as part of Early Access, Nekro had a nice bite-sized bit of gameplay that gave gamers a taste of what’s in store.  The good news is Nekro has also received a rather large update which includes a number of extra goodies such as new levels, an additional boss, extra content, and additional tweaks and balancing to the gameplay.  I hadn’t played Nekro since it was first released on Early Access, but after spending some time with the updated version, I’m pleased to see that the gameplay has been tightened and improved, the interface has been updated, and the rest of the game is coming together nicely.

What is Nekro:

  • Upgradable Nekromancers: Choose between powerful Nekro specializations!
  • Customizable Summons: Customize minions and create the perfect demonic army!
  • Unlockable Skills: Harvest corpses to strengthen your unholy followers!
  • Trinkets: Equip powerful items to truly specialize your Nekro!
  • Levels to Explore and Dominate:Watch as limbs snap, blood permanently stains the battlefield and bodies explode with Nekro’s unique Chaos System!
  • Original Soundtrack: Over 20 blood-pumping music tracks!

What you’ll find in the most recent update:

  • 2 New Levels: Fight against waves of enemies in the Bootcamp Holdout to call forth the fearsome General Tso – Nekro’s first true multi-stage boss.
    This is one of the hardest fights in the game. You’ll have to use skill, cunning and chicken to win! These new levels can be found after the High Priest of Katheros level.
  • New Enemy – The Templar: Replacing the Townie is this upper level melee unit the Templar. He has huge range as well as a massive health pool. He stun locks targets in close range so it’s advised to not take him in melee combat.
  • New Boss – General Tso: This massive enemy wields an even more massive sword. Despite him being a melee unit, this enemy has such long range he can hit a target from half way across the map. Dealing enough damage to him in a row will snap his sword in two, cutting his damage and his range in half!
  • New Trap – Spike Pit: The spike pit is a touch-based trap that deals huge damage. It’s very easy to avoid, but don’t get knocked into it!
  • New Trap – Training Dummy: Use a Scourge on this trap to activate the trap, causing it to smash any unit around it. Though it deals only medium damage, this trap is great for zone control and combos nicely with the Spike Pit Trap.
  • New Environmental Hazard – Cactus: Easy to avoid, but don’t stand too close or you’ll get a butt full of spines.
  • New Control Scheme – Left Click to Move: Diablo fans will find this control set up very familiar as it utilizes click-and-hold mechanics to move your Nekro, no longer requiring the keyboard to move. Find this setting in the Gameplay tab of the options menu.
  • New Music: We have 3 new music tracks each almost 10 minutes long!! They are themed to metal bands like Dragonforce and Wolf and have 8-bit breakdowns inspired by games like Megaman, so be sure to turn up the volume!

If you’re a fan of top-down isometric Action, RPG, and Strategy type games then be sure to check out Nekro over on it’s Steam Early Access page.

 

Ironcast – Review

developed by Dreadbit

&

published by Ripstone

After reading up about Ironcast and watching a few gameplay trailers, I was expecting something along the lines of another Bejeweled type game mixed with a heavy dose of Puzzle Quest’s style and substance.  What I instead discovered was that Ironcast is much more than just a combination of other clones and casual gameplay.  It’s a complete blend of RPG, Puzzle, Strategy, and Roguelite that delivers a full campaign which is both deep and rewarding.  And, if that wasn’t enough, Ironcast includes an engrossing story with a rich Steampunk theme that revolves around a mechanized war set in an alternate history during the Victorian Era.

The core of Ironcast’s gameplay is played out like a Match-3 puzzler, but you don’t just match up a few gems in order to proceed to the next level.  The gems in this game are used in a much more dynamic way.  Each gem type does something different such as providing power to weapons and defenses, or coolant which is used to keep those weapons from overheating.  It might sound a bit like some of the mechanics were adopted from a game like Puzzle Quest however, Ironcast is a much more strategic game that forces players to be thoughtful with their moves.  There are similarities to games like FTL and other modern roguelites, and these combined gameplay mechanics make for a surprisingly fresh and uniquely stylized gaming experience.

Ironcast is made with the single player experience in mind so players shouldn’t expect a multiplayer mode in the same vein as Puzzle Quest. You do get a full campaign with numerous mission paths and levels to choose from including some challenging boss battles.  Between these missions you’ll head back to base where you’ll be given opportunities to repair, upgrade gear, buy new weapons, and spend ability points that you earn by levelling up and gaining XP after each battle.  Before all of that though, you’ll begin your quest by selecting an Ironcast commander.  Each commander has their own unique abilities and upgrades, so it’s important to choose based on how you’d like to play.  The gameplay becomes ever more detailed and varied as you progress, but the strategy involved is surprisingly deep and important to the core of the game’s mechanics considering this could be mistaken for a mere Match-3 game at a glance.  The learning curve is reasonable though and both avid and casual gamers should be able to dive in once they’ve finished the comprehensive (if somewhat lengthy) tutorial.

Replay value is another reason to appreciate Ironcast.  A new campaign might appear longer than it actually is in the very beginning, but once you’ve wrapped your head around all of the key gameplay mechanics you’ll discover that this is a game meant to be played over and over due to it’s somewhat randomized “level-design”, the levelling up, and the plethora of unlockables.   There is an addictive loot-drop like quality that will have gamers coming back with that feeling of “just one more turn, just one more turn”.  Even though Ironcast is a Match-3 hybrid of sorts, it doesn’t hurt that the game looks and sounds incredible.  There’s a tremendous amount of detail in this Steampunk universe, and the developer has obviously spared no expense when it came to artistic assets and design choices.  Factor in a sleek user interface, a well written work of Steampunk fiction, and you’ve got yourself a finely designed game highlighting some familiar but fun mechanics that are applied to a unique combination of gameplay styles.

Ironcast is available right now on Steam!

Story
Gameplay
Graphics
Sound
Overall

Infinite Space: Sea of Stars (Early Access) Preview

My god, it’s full of stars!

First off, what do the sci-fi movies and television series 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, and Planet of the Apes all have in common with each other?  They’re almost as good as the Infinite Space series of games which have been created by the small indie development studio, Digital Eel.  “Why’s that?” – you might ask.  Well, it’s simply because they’re fun, smart, humorous, and easily accessible, and they can be enjoyed by both hardcore and casual gamers alike.  They’re also something of a cult classic, much like the Red Dwarf TV series.

Sure, every campaign can be completed in the time it takes to enjoy an “extended” coffee break, or plunge a toilet filled with a bad case of explosive diarrhea, but that’s beside the point.  The real meat and potatoes of the Infinite Space series is found in it’s exploration, discovery, simple yet strategic combat, randomness, and the near infinite replayability it grants the gamer with.  It would be hard to directly compare the series to any one game, but it’s gameplay is spread over multiple genres such as 4X turn based and real-time strategy, mixed in with a hint of Roguelike and RPG-lite elements that contain item discovery, loot-drops, NPC’s, some dialogue, and a dash of diplomacy.

Having played the first two games in this epic series, I had an idea of what to expect when going into the third and latest adventure in Infinite Space: Sea of Stars.  The good people who work at Digital Eel know that they have a well-oiled and working formula, so rather than tinker to much with the overall gameplay, they instead enhance and add-on to a solid foundation while also modernizing the mechanics and bumping up the presentation.  Like-minded gamers obviously appreciate this about Digital Eel and their game development, because the studio was able to draw enough attention and enthusiasm from the public in order to successfully fund their Infinite Space III: Sea of Stars Kickstarter Campaign, which also surpassed it’s humble funding goal I might add.

Veterans of the Infinite Space series can expect the same gaming goodness with a graphical overhaul, a handful of additional features that enhance the Infinite Space universe (without breaking it), but also a more detailed and focused layout in terms of helpful statistical information in regards to weapons and item descriptions, planets, and races, to name but a few.  Newcomers will appreciate the pick up and play mechanics coupled with a friendly user interface.  As with the other games in the series, Sea of Stars includes a helpful set of tutorial and hint screens that efficiently do the job of getting the player involved in the game right away.  These hints can be turned off once the player understands the ins and outs of the game, which really doesn’t take very long, but they can also be turned back on in case an aspect of the game isn’t quite clear yet.

One of the major differences in the latest game is that players will start the game by purchasing a ship, rather than choosing a loose plot at the beginning which determined your starting ship type, as was the case in Sea of Stars predecessor which was aptly titled Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space.  This time around you’re given a bit of starting cash and a number of ship types to choose from at the beginning.  You won’t be able to afford all of the ships right away, but knowing that you can come back and buy the more powerful ships later is certainly enticing.

Once you’ve purchased your ship it’s simply time to explore and get lost in this vast universe of strangeness and wonder.  Players can fly from star to star or planet to planet, all with the simple use of their mouse and easy to understand interface.  During my first game I encountered a number of hostile races, some of which I needed to flee from because I simply didn’t have the shields or weapons necessary to deal with them, but on a couple of occasions I was able to defeat some of the weaker enemy ships and reap the rewards of new and mysterious items.  Sometimes I’d find a new weapon, or a shield, while other times I’d gain an item that seemed superfluous at first but ended up proving to be quite useful later in the game when I encountered an enemy who decided not to attack simply because I was holding said item.  Much like the first two games though, Sea of Stars features a randomized star system filled with nebula and both hostile and friendly races to deal with.  The replay value is nearly infinite and if this title turns out to be anywhere near as good as its predecessors, then I’ll be playing it often and for many, many years to come.

While the game still has that classic feel of the Infinite Space series, it’s easy to see that Digital Eel wants to make an even bigger and better sequel, with more options, and all new 3D graphics, and the same catchy ethereal music and sound fx.  However, the game is still in its early development phase, meaning it’s still got a lot of kinks and blemishes.  Although the game is available on Steam through early access, the core gameplay is still rough around the edges, and for obvious reasons, doesn’t feel complete yet.  That’s just fine for me though, and I think fans of the previous games can be confident if they decide to pick the game up early, in order to try out the current build and follow the production of Sea of Stars and it’s development right up to the finished product.  Newcomers and gamers unfamiliar with the series should definitely keep an eye on this particular title though.  Just understand that if you do decide to pick the game up, it isn’t finished yet, and there will be A LOT of new elements, tweaking, bug squashing, and polish added to the game over the coming months.  If there’s one thing I can say about the Infinite Space series though is that so far the games have been worth every cent, and then some.

You can head over to the Digital Eel website for info on their complete library of games but be sure to keep your eyes on the Infinite Space: Sea of Stars Steam page for a current list of detailed updates and release info!  Currently you can purchase the game in it’s early access stage for $9.99 US, which is cheaper than it’s predecessor was when it first came out.  So far, the game is only available on PC, but will hopefully become available on multiple platforms in the not so distant future.

.

Croixleur Sigma – Now Available (Steam, GamersGate, Desura, and the Humble Store)

Croixleur Sigma, formerly known simply as Croixleur, is now available on many of your favorite game distribution networks such as Steam, GamersGate, Humble Store, and Desura, to name but a few.  Published by Nyu Media, who are best known for their frenetic Shooters or Shmups, have now delivered an Anime inspired arcade hack and slash arena-based brawler.  The story is your usual fair of lighthearted anime fluff complete with the requisite sexual innuendo.  However, you’ll be focusing more on the action, rather than the exposition, in this fast-paced, sword-swinging, magic wielding, combo-fest of a 3-D arcade style beat’em up.

I’ve spent a good hour playing the game and it feels just as slick as it looks.  The controls are tight and responsive.   Although players can enjoy the game using the default keyboard setup, it is highly recommended that gamers play this one with a controller or gamepad since the action is almost non-stop and becomes more intense with each new stage or level.  However, the game is currently only available for Windows users.

Croixleur Sigma Features:

  • 5 modes of blistering pace 60 FPS hack-&-slash arcade action!
  • 2 playable characters – play as either Lucrezia Visconti or Francesca Storaro!
  • Take on the Adjuvant Trial in Story Mode with separate stories and multiple endings for both characters!
  • Test your mettle and hone your skills in Score Attack, Survival, Challenge, and Bonus modes!
  • A well-featured combo system including move canceling, attack collisions, invincible dashing and action locks!
  • 20 weapons to collect, each with a unique special attack! Pick the load-out that suits your fighting style and the battle ahead!
  • 42 in-game achievements, Steam Trading Cards, and online leaderboards!
  • Local 2 player co-op! Take on the monster hordes with a friend in Dramatic Battle mode!

For more information and detail on the story and characters, head over to the Croixleur Sigma website where you can also purchase the game.  For your convenience you may also buy the game on Steam, GamersGate, Desura, and the Humble Store, all for the low price of only $7.99 US.  If you like Hack & Slash games and Arcade-style action, definitely check it out.