Monthly Archives: November 2017

Bury me, my Love Review

By Jaime Skelton (MissyS), Editor-in-Chief

Video games are a potent story-telling medium. Prose, poetry, and song offer us words to offer introspection into our world; movies, television, art, and theatre offer us visual understandings of the narrative we may not have the imagination to perceive. Video games take this one step further, combining these arts with the additional element of interactivity. Through various methods of immersion, we find ourselves as part of a story, not just mere observers. And with the growing popularity of the medium, more artists are using the medium to reach people in new ways. Because of this, I feel it is particularly important to highlight some of these new storytellers, and encourage all of us to discover new narratives.

Bury me, my Love is one such story. Though a work of fiction, the story told is inspired by the real-world stories of Syrian refugees looking for asylum in Europe, including that of Dana, whose story was told through a journalistic piece that offered a view of her journey through WhatsApp (“Le Voyage d’une migrante Syrienne à travers son fil WhatsApp”, translated: “The Journey of a Syrian Migrant, as Told by her WhatsApp Messages”). Bury me, my Love takes a similar approach to the journalistic piece: it simulates an instant message environment in which the two main characters, Nour and Majd, may communicate through text, photographs, selfies, and recorded voice messages. Though the game does not use real photographs, it does use a lovely, flat art style with an earthy color palette that evokes the raw mood the story portrays.

Bury me my Love Nour Selfie Screenshot

In the game, the player takes the role of Majd, Nour’s husband. Due to a tragic set of circumstances in their home in Homs, Syria, the couple say their farewells, sending Majd in search of asylum in Europe while Nour remains at home to care for family who cannot make the journey. Using the simulated mobile application, Majd communicates with Nour – receiving updates on her journey, checking news for her, and assisting her with some of her difficult choices. Like a “choose your own adventure” novel, the player’s choices affect Nour’s journey and where it will end. Unlike these stories, however, there are multiple invisible factors at play, including her relationship with Majd, her morale, and her inventory and budget.

Bury me, my Love is set by default to take place in “real time” – meaning that real time will pass between conversations to simulate a more realistic experience. There is, however, also a fast speed option which eliminates these delays, continuing with the next conversation without a real time break. I highly recommend the default, real time setting – it provides more immersion and makes Nour feel more ‘real’ as a character. However, the fast mode is great for secondary play throughs, especially to get you ‘up to speed’ to a new choosing point in the story.

Bury me my Love Border Crossing Screenshot

As a white American whose ancestors came freely to the United States hundreds of years ago, I am sorely out of touch with the struggle of being a refugee, particularly in today’s modern climate. My mental image of a refugee making their way out of their country was simplistic: small groups of people trekking miles across landscapes far from battle and crossing a border unseen before approaching a government office for asylum. So, from the start of my journey with Nour, I was constantly reminded of how little I knew. Increased taxi fare for crossing through dangerous areas; managing a budget that seems minuscule to the privileged; smugglers and gangs; beatings and prisons for those found crossing borders – these are just some of the things that stuck out to me.

I was unprepared, entirely, when my first journey with Nour ended with a weeping, terrified voice message that left me only the worst possible conclusion; so much so that I took a couple of days to process what had happened. My second attempt was far more dedicated. This time, I was determined to take the game’s message seriously, to see Nour to safety. And still, while she lived – it was not the happy ending I had aimed for. I had still made mistakes. I had still made choices that, from my life experiences, seemed the best. I was proven wrong. I was humbled. Now, each time I make a choice, I think not only in terms of a gamer trying to find the right path – I also think about the consequences of each choice, stepping into the shoes of refugees far from my own home.

Bury me my Love Journeys End Screenshot

As a writer, editor, and storyteller myself, I have little objection to the gameplay of Bury me, my Love. I was initially surprised by the lack of some elements found in other visual novels – the ability to fast-forward or skip through dialogue already seen, for instance – which I can see being a detractor for some on multiple playthroughs, even using fast mode. One other element I found missing was any way to quantitatively “track” your progress; there are no ways to check Nour’s inventory or budget, for instance, or gauge her relationship and morale. Yet the lack of this sort of ‘metagaming’ enhances the story. After all, in the real world, we cannot so easily quantify our journey. Life is qualitative, malleable. So, too, is this story.

For all that it has to offer, both as a piece of art and as a humanistic story to broaden horizons and understanding of the world we live in, Bury me, my Love is highly recommended. It is available on mobile, both iOS and Android, and costs only $2.99 US (the same price as many novellas). As a complete story, it does not push any microtransactions, extra purchases, or advertisements. If you’re unsure of the game, you can also demo the game’s prologue. Find this, and much more information about the game and its design, at its website.

Final Rating: 5/5

Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.

Wardog Fury Campaign Now Available for Raiders of the Broken Planet

Wardog Fury News

The second premium campaign for Raiders of the Broken Planet, Wardog Fury, is now available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Much like the first, it’s available for 9.99, and contains four new epic story missions, all playable in single-player, 4 player co-op, or the 4v1 Antagonist Mode. In this story, the Raiders will face the deranged General Marmalade and his Umbra Wardogs faction. General Marmalade conducts Aleph experiments on himself and his units, creating mutants that are as grotesque as they are deadly. Wardog Fury players will exclusively be able to recruit one of Marmalade’s rogue experiments, Loaht, in the first mission.

Another change is coming to the game as well, and now players can unlock missions from Wardog Fury and Alien Myths using gold, the currency from completing in-game objectives. All players can invest their gold rewards into unlocking mission they still don’t own for four hours. Players can also be invited into missions that they don’t ownand both players will reeive a reward in Mercury Points or Gold. Other aspects of the game’s economy have also been rebalanced, giving more relevance to Faction and Character points and the possibility of converting Mercury Points into Gold allowing more freedom to the players to unlock new characters and building weapon Blueprints. The final major change is now Antagonists will receive a reward for their efforts, even if they don’t win, as even the best Antagonist player can have a hard time playing against four other players.

Battlezone Combat Commander Remasters the Classic FPS-RTS

After Rebellion remastered the 1998 hit Battlezone, many have clamored for the sequel, Battlezone II: Combat Commander. Developed by Big Boat Interactive and published by Rebellion, Battlezone Combat Commander will be that remaster. Offering new visuals, mod support, cross-play online multiplayer between GOG and Steam for up to 14 players and more, it promises to be what fans have asked for. Dealing with a mysterious alien force, you will be in total command. A blend of Real-Time Strategy and First-Person action must be mastered to deal with these war machines, from hover-tanks, colossal mechs and so much more. It’s coming to both the Steam and GOG platforms in 2018.

Gang Beasts Releasing on Steam and PS4 in December

The brawler from Double Fine and Boneloaf, Gang Beasts, is coming to Steam and PS4 in December for 19.99! Featuring a cast of gelatinous characters and brutal melee combat, December 12th is the big day of the launch. Absurd hazards and locations in the fictional city metropolis of Beef City, batter, bludgeon and maim your opponents to your hearts content in this silly fighting game. Gang Beasts will launch with a whole glut of customization options, and with several new modes, including clumsy-yet-brutal 2 vs. 2 soccer matches, and a cooperative mode where up to 4 players battle against waves of thugs. Set to the slick, synth beats of Adam (Doseone) Drucker and Robert (Dirty Bob) Larder, Gang Beasts’ kickbutt soundtrack grooves with every fighting maneuver.

Soldiers of the Universe is now Live on Steam

Soldiers of The Universe Official Launch Trailer - YouTube

Soldiers of the Universe is the first game developed by Rocwise, and is on Steam right now. The Istanbul-based development studio has created a title inspired by the real-life war on terror in the middle east, by Turkey. It is the first story-driven FPS made in Turkey, and is focused on real-world problems. SOTU’s story revolves around “Hakan Kahraman”. The Republic of Turkey has a secret organization called “Akinci Warriors” who specializes in secret military operations. Our hero Hakan takes over his father Selim Kahraman’s place as “The Toyga” of Akinci Warriors. He will lead military operations to take his father’s revenge and he will fight against the enemies of the state. Having trained in military and various branches of science for many years Hakan will be fighting a relentless struggle against terrorists along with three other heroes that joined to his side. After meeting Mr. Barbaros and Akinci warriors, a lot will change in Hakan’s life. He will learn what “patriotism” really means and he will understand the importance of fighting for his own country but not for his personal devils.

Rocwise Team says “We are very proud of our achievements with the development of Soldiers of The Universe. Through the early access period of our game, we worked closely with our community to further refine the game. With our latest update, we added 4 player co-op system and a new operation map to the game. We’re taking every little feedback into account and still working day and night to make the game better.

It’s an important part of the world right now, and it’s imperative to raise awareness of the problems in the middle east and our world at large.

Tower 57 Review: Twin-Stick Dystopian Action

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

Tower 57 - Characters

Probably my favorite character. LIGHTNING!~

Tower 57 is a game I didn’t know I wanted until I saw and played it. It’s a twin-stick game with a style of pixel graphics, very much in the same style as the early AMIGA games. It feels like a tribute to Chaos Engine, with brighter colors. It’s gorgeous, and the gameplay itself is incredibly solid. The story is definitely interesting, in that it’s a dystopian, depressing future, but it’s done in a satirical, entertaining way. You learn about the story through a series of interactive objects in the world: Corpses, flyers, et cetera. You click on them, and you get a bit of a blurb that honestly, every time I read one, I’d at least chuckle, if not snort. The world is a huge series of towers now, and mysterious figures somewhere at the top of the food chain are doing some pretty shady stuff, and it’s up to your crew of badasses to step up to the plate and stop them; preferably through violence. There are six characters, and you pick up to three of them. This made me think that it would be some kind of Roguelite, where the world was procedurally generated, but this is not the case.

Tower 57 - Battle

Pew Pew! And dodge. But pew pew!

As I said, you have six characters to pick from: The Don, The Scientist, The Officer, The Beggar, The Diplomat (Lincoln!?) and The Spy. You can see what their weapon and their tool is, but you can’t “read” what they do. If you wait, you can see a brief video of what they can do, their special ability, but this is not enough for me. I need to know what they do so I figure out what group to bring. You also can’t change the team without starting over, at least that I’ve seen. This is where the game has a lot of replayability. The game itself isn’t incredibly long, but each character has their own paths they can take using their skills/abilities, so there’s that at least. There are characters I enjoy more than others like Scientist for the Laser/Lightning Gun, The Officer with the Spreadshot but everyone is useful for something. And each of these characters has a main gun with infinite ammo, a secondary (better) gun with limited ammo (there are ammo drops you can find in boxes, etc), a cool dash, and a skill/tool, like a Claw to grapple. The combat’s very simple. It’s a twin stick, so one stick aims, the other moves, you have a few buttons that shoot, swap guns, dash, et cetera. It’s standard fare, not hard to comprehend, and the aim was pretty good. I find myself using the limited shot weapons more, because ammo was not hard to come by.

Tower 57 - ARMS

Abuse this early for a lot of power, from regen to damage.

Now I enjoy this game, but the game felt pretty difficult at first. The damage you initially take is pretty high, and if you get swarmed under by a group of enemies that explode, or shoot spikes, or summon things, you can lose all three of your characters pretty damn fast and have to start from the last checkpoint. In Tower 57, you can also lose limbs, such as arms and legs. There’s a tutorial for that in-game to show you that it can definitely and will definitely happen. This is when I found the use of the all the currency that exploded out of each enemy that I came across was coming across was for: The ARMS machine. Hah. I get it. You can repair your limbs that are eaten, that get exploded, what have you, but you can also improve them! You can replace them with cybernetics, a’la Shadowrun. You can, if you want, spend a time in the very first stage it’s offered, running around, killing enemies and breaking boxes to cap the character you’re using. This will make the game incredibly easy because this does give you stat boosts. Even without this, the game is unfortunately pretty easy even alone, in Normal difficulty. It won’t take you long to get through it, but it is still quite a fun romp, for me at least. The major downside for me was that I could not find people online to play with, so 100% of my gametime was alone. And that’s fine! I don’t mind single player games, and this one wasn’t made harder for having to do it solo.

Tower 57 - Alas, Copperpot

“Fun” is a Buzzword: 4/5

But is this really such a bad thing? There are already games that are insanely challenging, and if that’s your cup of tea, they’re really quite easy to find. Oh come on, I thought that was clever. Anyway, this does feel like older games, minus the horrific challenge. The game’s short, but you know what? It’s still fun! Isn’t that the point of a game, to enjoy your time playing it? I think so, anyway. Visually it’s wonderful, it has a lot of options and different ways to play. Sure, you can beat it in a few hours. Then you can try again with other characters, doing different things! Sure, you’ll probably just win again, but as long as you’re having fun, that’s the key. I feel like you as the player will certianly get your money’s worth out of Tower 57. But while it is fun, you can make the game too easy if you want, and I do feel like they missed the boat with this “three characters” thing. Instead of treating it like having lives, why not have two or three characters out at once, or cycle through them as the player needs? I just feel like something is missing. If there is a way to do it, I haven’t seen it. Tower 57 has the feel and look of an early AMIGA/Arcade games of old which is lovely. It made me feel like I was playing Smash TV, or any of those style of games of my youth. I’ve heard there have been updates to the game, but I have not seen them, but I’d like to see them for myself. I hope more stages, more things to do will come to the game, which is the beauty of online gaming. As a kid, you’d be stuck with this, but now? The sky is the limit! The game is fun. It’s not the best title I’ve played on Steam, but it was sincere, honest fun.


Note: A game key was provided for review purposes.

Revelation Online: Shadowblade Update Arrives With New Trailer

Today, Revelation Online revealed a new CG trailer to celebrate the launch of the Shadowblade Update and the Assassin class.

The star of the Shadowblade update is the new Assassin class. Founded by Night Shadow, a follower of the Yellow Warden, the Assassin’s school is dedicated to the execution of those found guilty by the Warden.

The Assassin uses primarily dagger and chain, focused on single-target burst damage against vulnerable enemies. With a focus on stealth and subterfuge, the Assassin is best taking out targets in the back line.

The update also introduces Class Areas, specific refuges for each of Revelation Online’s classes. These areas include class-specific vendors that offer Skill Cultivation items, Flying Skills, drinks, and raid respawn runes. The areas also offer bankers, repairs, materials vendors, and Soul Grid Panel vendors. They also offer a quest offering Class Reputation, which can be spent on class-specific costumes, mounts, and other items.

There’s much more in the Shadowblade Update, including a quest for a mutated motorbike, so make sure to check out all the details here!