Friday, March 24, 2017

Salt and Sanctuary Vita launches ON MARCH 28th!!!

Feels like it's been a very, very long time coming.  In fact, it's been just over a year - but mad, mad, MAD props to Ska Studios (and Sickhead Games, who handled the port) for sticking with it.  Ska Studios were teasing the announcement for the past few days, with a few pictures of progressively-less pixellated Vitas on their Twitter feed.

They said, last year, that they were shooting for Q1 of 2017, and I'll be honest - I didn't think they'd make it.  I mean, it's the fucking twenty-fourth of March - time is pretty much up - but here we are.

You'll be able to play what is seriously the best riff on the Souls formula (taking into account the unfortunate Lords of the Fallen and the not-quite-there Nioh) on the best darned handheld gaming platform in FOUR DAYS!

Honestly, Salt and Sanctuary is ridiculously good. #5 on my list of best games of 2016, just behind the incredible DOOM, the incredible Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, Game of the Year Overwatch and other Game of the Year Darkest Dungeon.

And I quote,
"As phenomenal and beautiful and pretty-darned-perfect as Dark Souls III is, though, it’s not new.  Enter Salt and Sanctuary from indie dev Ska Studios (Charlie Murder, The Dishwasher), who’ve taken the core combat feel of Dark Souls (the stamina bar, a slew of impeccably balanced weapons and absolutely vicious enemies), and squeezed it into two dimensions.

The game has the structure of a Metroidvania (delicious!), with all that satisfying exploration and platforming, but combining that with all the core pleasures of Souls turns both of those familiar joys into something that’s so damned gratifying it’s almost shocking.   I wanted Salt to be awesome.  I had no idea it would or could be this awesome.  For Ska to nail open-world design, Metroidvania design, 2D platforming and the supremely satisfying feel of Souls combat is… well, it’s ridiculous – but here we are."
Dig it.  

Dark Souls III: The Ringed City launch trailer.


Styx: Shards of Darkness - accolades trailer.

Styx has an accolades trailer?!


Well I...

Hm.  What're my options?  Wow, full-price physical release on Amazon.  Hm.

What does Metacritic say?  Hm.  75.  I'll wait for a price drop.  Which is very weird.

This is the second time today I have possessed myself with a need to wait - which, if you know me well, you would understand represents nothing less than a bizarre aberration of my characteristic character.  Earlier today I was window shopping for a 4K, HDR-capable TV - mostly to better-bask in the glory that is Horizon: Zero Dawn.  Chamberlain's sagacious consult yielded - a site that tests the input delay on the newest, hottest TVs (of paramount import for gamers).

I browsed, checking what DisplayLag had to say on each interesting unit, and settled between a very-reasonably-price 50-inch LED and a 55-inch OLED - both from LG, which has earned my loyalty and custom over the years.  Their cost is low and their quality is high.  The OLED is like twenty-six hundred dollars - and that's on a sale that ends in six days.

Now here's the crazy part.  I can afford that.  But I don't want to pay it.  I can't rationalize a three thousand dollar investment in a TV (after taxes), regardless of the impressive amount of time I tend to invest in mine via this hobby of ours.  A grand or under a grand or just over a grand is perfectly reasonable to me, though.  But...

...I think of the difference between an LED Vita and an OLED Vita, side-by-side.  And the difference is fucking huge, to my eye.  I want an OLED TV - but three grand is stupid.  I'd rather spend a thousand and get a Hugo Boss overcoat (I've always wanted a Hugo Boss overcoat - it's a lifelong ambition).

If I bought the LED - knowing me - I'd just return it and pay another two grand for the OLED.  So, instead of doing that, I will do neither.  I will - I hope! - wait until the OLED I actually want comes down to a reasonable price.  Which tends to happen sooner than you'd think.

Or maybe I'll swing by Best Buy at the next opportunity and see how much I like the LED version.

Either wait, this whole patience thing is freakin' me out.  It's like suddenly discovering I had the fuzzy tail of a lemur. A fly lands on my nose, I swat it with my tail and it's like, "ohmiGod, where the fuck did this come from?"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chamberlain & Chance 64: The End?!

It's true.  This is our last podcast.  We get into the whys of it around the forty-five minute mark - and we weren't planning on having this discussion! - but the boys and I basically agree that we can make some fatt buxx by leveraging our powerful profiles as influencers and content creators via three individual Patreon pages.  More on that in the coming weeks!  But this week the podcast is...

...wiiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunes

Chamberlain and Chance - The end?!

  • Alex doesn't have uniformly and hyperbolically positive things to say about Horizon: Zero Dawn, and this offends the fuck out of me. 
  • Alex does have nice things to say about Mass Effect Andromeda, and he has poisoned me with a mustard seed of desire for that shitty-looking game. 
  • Chamberlain has finished Zelda, tried a titty-shmup and is now knee-deep in Gravity Rush 2!
  • And why hasn't Chance played Overwatch in a month?
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Prey - Only Yu Can Save The World.

I had no idea Prey would have multiple endings, but given how much this thing smacks of BioShock (in a good way!) it makes a lotta' sense.  Here's hoping there's more than two endings!  When is this thing launching again..?

Wow, May 5th.  Wait, when does Persona 5 launch?!

April 4th.  Okay, a month should be enough time.  Those things are only like... a hundred hours...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Horizon Zero Dawn's 1.10 patch changes EVERYTHING.

Praise Allmother.  This is (was, I guess) literally my biggest complaint about the game.

Check out the trailer for Tale of Ronin.

Now... this is being made by Dead Mage - the folks who still haven't finished Children of Morta and have heavily suggested it won't actually honor its second fucking stretch goal (Vita) - so I'm more than a bit suspicious.  But... samurai... and an involved story...


Alrighty. I care about Battle Princes Madelyn now.

The Battle Princess Madelyn Kickstarter has been kickin' around my social media for the past week - it's kind of a Super Ghosts N Goblins game, but with a girl knight instead of a boy knight - which is cool!  But I can't bring myself to care about Kickstarted indies in a post-Hyper-Light-Drifter world.  In a world where the Children of Morta folks haven't said a word about the platform in like a year.

Fuck those people.

That said... Battle Princess Madelyn has doubled its initial goal of sixty grand.  It has twenty-six days to go in its campaign, and its $150,000 stretch goal is... a Vita port.

...rather have Hyper Light Drifter and Children of Morta but... siiigh...  I mean, I've been burned by battle princesses before.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rumors spontaneously surface about Momodori: RUtM on Vita!

How?  Why and wherefor?

(Playism hearted that last one too.)  So here's hopin'!  A VITA PORT IS BEING CONSIDERED.  Oh, maybe it's worth noting - Playism is Momodora's publisher.

Maybe it's also worth noting - I did not hold my breath for the Vita port.  I checked it out on PS4 because I'm a lying liar.  Who lies.  And lays, when there is a couch of reasonable length available.

And I like it!  Upon completion, I may actually come to love it, but for now I just find it lovely - comfortable and comforting.

Your combat abilities are pretty darned limited, for the most part.  Basically, there are four attacks (and that's reaching a bit!)  You can slash at enemies with the divine maple leaf that is your main weapon - you have (1) a three-hit combo, where the final strike is importantly far more damaging than the two that precede it, (2) a single aerial slash of the leaf that you can execute while airborne that deals heavy damage, (3) shots from your bow, which don't do nearly as much damage as you'd like, and (4) a charged shot from the bow.

The charged bow shots are actually kind of interesting - if you charge it a bit, it does more damage.  If you charge it to max, it will fire three stronger arrows in a gentle spread, and - after unlocking a certain ability - with further charge, you'll fire a perfectly-accurate torrent of arrows in a straight line.  The default control scheme puts the arrow button on R1 - which seems weird, at first - but once you begin charging the powerful arrow shots, if you hold the button down, you can keep it charged up while jumping, dodging or attacking with the leaf (you'll get knocked out of the charge if you take damage).

This allows you to create powerful if simple combos where you'll like charge your shot, jump (X) in with an aerial slash of the leaf (square), go into the three-hit combo and end it with a WHAM from the bow.  It's... satisfying.

At the same time, it doesn't remind me much of my favorite Metroidvanias.  In terms of control and combat dynamics, it feels more like (the similarly retro) Shovel Knight.  It's simple and sharp, and is okay with killing you.  Mechanically, in the hand, it feels more like the simplicity of Mega Man than the supple combat and locomotion of Guacamelee or Hollow Knight - it's just way, way better-looking than Mega Man or Shovel Knight.

Aesthetically - and this is gonna' sound crazy - what it brings to mind most of all is actually Bloodborne.  You explore an ancient, cursed city that is largely devoid of sentient life - gothic and stately here, beautiful and overgrown there - and the citizenry you meet seem to have abandoned hope that things will ever improve.  There's something... sad and mournful about it.

So - the action is simple, but tight, and satisfying.  The presentation is lovely - excellent music, too - and the game, overall, is some rather pleasant retro comfort food.  It's a little light on mechanics, I'd say - but that simplicity is also part of its comfort and appeal.

I can dig it.  And I want this on my fucking Vita.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A cool article about Guerrilla Games and their office culture.

This article popped up on Twitter today, and I loved it.  First off, it gives the name of the Fallout: New Vegas writer I couldn't remember on the podcast - John Gonzalez, who lead that writer's team, and the one on Shadow of Mordor (meh!) - second, I had no idea Guerrilla had such an open, creatively-minded culture.  Third, I love this paragraph about how they ended up producing (what I determine to be) the most successfully-feminist triple-A video game I've ever played.  And the answer is exactly what you'd hope:
"Aloy was always a woman right from the initial concept. While no one at Guerrilla expresses any kind of agenda when it comes to gender equality, as technical lead Michiel van der Leeuw notes, there was an awareness that female leads in games are often sexualized – a precedent the team had no intention of following. "She had to be agile and athletic. She's an outcast but she's also brought up lovingly," he says. "There were so many elements we had to balance to make her the person she is. I like that people have picked up on her teeth being a bit crooked, her face being asymmetrical – I think people pick up on her imperfections because she's a real person.""
The article gives a really excellent impression of Guerrilla, perhaps most notably from Horizon writer - and new Guerrilla hire - Gonzalez, who moved from the States to Amsterdam to join the team, and now refuses to leave.
"I've seen a lot of things and experienced a lot of things in the industry that would lead you to become cynical and disillusioned. I don't find that to be the case here. I feel like the level of ambition here is really high, but I don't feel like the ambition is high for external reasons, like wanting to be masters of the universe. It's high because people really care about the quality of the product. I just feel like I don't want to step away from that, you know? This is a place where I can improve myself, can bring myself to the work. I want to stay as close to that as I can."
A nice example of this is the ants on the trees.  You may have seen a GIF or video of the leafcutter ants you'll find on trees, here and there - it was kind of a big deal when the game first launched.

Y'know why those are in the game?
"It's a level of attention to detail most won't notice, but one Guerrilla appears to do without consideration – even to the point where animators took time out of their day to render ants climbing up tree trunks, all of their own volition. ... "They felt like the environment needed something to make it come alive.""
So yeah, check the article.  S'good stuff.