Little Gamer plays Little Nightmares

Now I’ve been looking forward to Bandai Namco’s horror puzzle-platformer for a while now, ever since playing the demo at EGX. When someone tells me a game is coming out in a control style I enjoy and then tells me, on top of that, that it’s basically set in Bioshock’s Rapture, then I’m going to be hyped for it.

Now the reason I bring this up is because I am not much of a critic but when I’ve been looking forward to a game this much then my standards are going to be pretty high.

Yet even with these high expectations to meet, I have played Little Nightmares to completion twice now today.

I found it that good.

So, let me get down to saying why exactly I thought Little Nightmares is a fantastic game.

Spoilers obviously.

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Little Nightmares does not hold hands when it comes to storytelling. Within ten seconds of being in the game you already have control of your character and are left to your own devices to figure out the story. Players who care about it can take their time figuring it out from the scenery, pacing, and characters, whereas people who are more gameplay focused can blitz the game without obstructive, unskippable cut scenes. Albiet, this doesn’t work for all games. Some games need the story to thrive, and others don’t need them at all, but here, it works perfectly. The environment is rich and allows for exploration, not locking the player into a set path that they must immediately follow. Exploring is often rewarded with collectables, but not so many that the player feels overwhelmed to collect them all. In my two playthroughs I could piece together my own interpretation of the story as I went along, each time finding more clues to what is going on. I can see this game having many competing theories of stories between players, many potentially involving Marxism (but that’s a topic for another time).

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Secondly, the atmosphere is intense and the monster design is reminiscent of Silent Hill, another one of my long standing favourite franchises and another reason I am attached to this game. The creatures of the game are downright disturbing, and the design works perfectly with shadows and sound to keep you on the edge of your seat. The horror is also very effective as a driving force through the game. From the start, you just want to escape. The contradicting environment also emphasises this, every part of the background is larger than life, intimidating and looming, but it manages to bring an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. This may be down to the setting; the ship is enclosed and gives the idea of something to be escaped.

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All in all I’d give this game a solid 8/10 with the lacking points coming from issues I had with controls and the lack of multiple endings. This issues I had with controls was that they seemed clunky and sometimes cost me that split second I needed to get away from enemies. This wasn’t much player error though and I think the game could be accessible to people on a wide spectrum of controller skill. The multiple ending gripe is just a personal thing, I felt that the game could have benefited from having the choices you made in collectables affecting endings. However, it could be argued that changing the ending could undermine the feeling of helplessness that the game puts you in. Either way it’s not something I will let stand in the way of my experience.

Happy playing!

Bringing Justice to Injustice: Wonder Woman at Insomnia 60!

As a regular at Multiplay’s popular LAN festival I usually find it hard to settle on a definitive highlight to talk about. With all the spectacular games being showcased from AAA to indie titles, retro gaming sections in which to reminisce and challenge friends, and clans galore filling up the BYOC hall, Insomnia has something for everyone and more than enough going on to entertain over the multi day event.

This season for me, however, the highlight was a clear choice. The Injustice 2 Wonder Woman Showdown.

For Insomnia 60 I was given the incredible opportunity by WB to represent my fighting game ladies during their stage show, in which I challenged Greek legend EG Nivek alongside my fellow UK players ED UndeadJim and PND OmegaK.

The show began with trailers for the new Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, both of which I believe go perfectly hand in hand with Injustice 2. Unlike Mortal Kombat, the DC universe is more widely known and accessible. Many women idolise Wonder Woman regardless of their age group in a similar fashion in which they adore other strong comic book women. This goes for men as well, but Wonder Woman was the star of this show because, let’s face it, she is one of the coolest and most inspirational icons from the DC universe.

NetherRealm’s other successful game, Mortal Kombat X, was my first competitive game, so in terms of Injustice 2 I am a newcomer although I did casually play the first Injustice. I decided to go with my #1 guy, Aquaman, and was happy to find a lot of his moveset still familiar from the first aside from a squid sidekick to help me beat down my opponents. However, this is not universal for all the returning characters, as Nivek mentioned to me during games that Wonder Woman’s moves had changed considerably. This alone speaks highly for the competitive life of Injustice in the future, at least, in my opinion. Newcomers like me find it considerably easier to pick up returning characters from the first game, as it will be easier to pick up the basics (Trident Rush for life)! The roster, almost fully confirmed now, will contain many new characters too, adding a high amount of variety to the franchise, as well as a range of different playstyles for players to choose from.

I may have lost my set in the Wonder Woman Showdown but this is only the start of Injustice 2 and there is plenty of time for me to cover the long way I have to go.

I’m happy to have had this opportunity to play and that so many people turned up to cheer me on.

So, to finish off, all DC fans out there can look forward to playing their favourite hero in the roster, and we still have many DLC characters to look forward to for fan favourites to come forward. Personally, I’m hopeful for Huntress.

It’s a new game and a new scene can emerge. I hope to see many new players at future tournaments.

How Little Nightmares steamrolled my EGX experience

I have been pondering for some time now how to write up my experiences at EGX this year. Out of the whole incredible experience, as EGX rarely disappoints on quality of show, I experienced so much in only three days.

I got to meet the team behind YookaLaylee, I experienced the hype of the Capcom Pro Tour at a top class event hosted by Unequalled media and I got to play a tonne of cool indie and large studio games alike.

However whenever I reminisce about the good times, one thing always brings itself to the front of my mind.

Little Nightmares.

If there is one way to get a hard-core Bioshock fans attention and that is a horror trailer that begins with “Deep below the waves”.

Due to my busy schedule recently, Little Nightmares had slipped completely under my radar until EGX and when I saw the booth I was blown away. Firstly, the booth itself looked fantastic. I felt dwarfed by all the bookcases and setting around the queue and instant inquired to a friend about what the game was about. I was told a cross between LittleBigPlanet and Bioshock and I walked straight into the queue.

From the off the game was inviting. The booth staff were friendly and approachable, answering questions and allowing everyone to complete the demo before they left. I at one point had the games protagonist creep up on me in the queue and hand me sweets.

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Legit.

It sounds petty talking about the queueing experience, but for an event like EGX where you can spend hours waiting for fifteen minutes on one game, it made the world of difference.

The gameplay was also no disappointment. The character controls were fluid and easy to use, with very little awkward jankiness usually found in demos. The demo included stealth, platforming and puzzle solving, giving the players a decent taster of what appear to be the main mechanics of the game. The demo showed no story narrative, but the mystery of the characters and setting are engaging and pull the players in with their curiosity especially the ending of the demo.

The character design was simple, yet fascinating and engaging. The protagonist’s simple raincoat and bare feet does not distract the player and creates a sense of mystery. We want to know what she looks like under that hood, or better yet, we can imagine what she looks like for ourselves. Also her bare feet give us a sense of vulnerability, which is important for a stealth horror game that relies on avoiding combat situations and enemies. It also links to the cliff hanger that the demo ends on. The enemies were grotesque caricatures of nightmarish creatures, fitting perfectly with the theme of the game we are given. The protagonist is small and all of her surroundings are large, and more importantly, exaggerated. The monster chefs are like a child’s nightmare rather than realistic characters.

In short, I look forward to seeing the finished project and will be following updates from here on out.

If you enjoy horror puzzle games like I do, keep an eye out for Little Nightmares.

Top 5 Overwatch Mini-Games

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Sometimes the best thing in a video game, isn’t the main game mode. Whilst experimenting with the vast possibilities custom games offered, reddit user and gamer, SuperBongoTime created mini games that anyone can set up with their friends. Although he may not necessarily be the first to come up with these ideas, he was the first I heard them from and the person to teach me them.

  1. Genji Tennis

What you will need: Two Genjis on opposing teams and a Symmetra on either to serve. Custom game, no cooldowns. Another friend also recommended point B on the Hanamura map as a court.

How to play: The two Genjis stand opposite each other and the Symmetra serves at the Genji that is not on her team, she constantly fires orbs at this Genji and they reflect them at each other until one of them dies.

  1. Hot Potato

What you will need: Two Genjis on opposing teams and a Tracer to serve. Custom game, no cooldowns.

How to play: Along the same lines as Genji tennis however this time the ball is Tracers time bomb. The added stress tends to cause some extra swearing, so be prepared for an intense game.

  1. Fly Swatter

What you will need: Tracer on one team and between 2 and 6 Roadhogs on the opposing team. Custom game, no cooldowns. For added fun, pick a map with lots of edges to fall off.

How to play: The Tracer’s goal is to not die, the Roadhog’s goal is to kill Tracer. Tracer can blink to her hearts content and to avoid Roadhog, she will need to. Roadhog can kill Tracer in one hook, but you’ll have to be fast and predict where she will be to catch her out.

  1. Hunt the Ice Witch

What you will need: Mei on one team and between 2 and 6 Reinhardts on the opposing team. Custom game, no cooldowns.

How to play: The Mei is not allowed to use her damaging abilities and attacks, only her ice block and ice wall. Mei’s goal is to survive. The Reinhardt’s goal is to kill Mei, however with no cooldowns, Mei is a raid boss to kill and a royal pain. Only two hits consecutive hits are needed from Reinhardt to kill her, but good luck being able to land them.

  1. McCree Rolldown Showdown

What you will need: Two McCrees, one on each team. Custom game, no cooldowns.

How to play: The McCrees must face off in the battle of ultimate skill, only being able to use fan the hammer and his roll. As a word of warning, this game mode has caused intense rivalries between the two original players and can lead to heated games.

 

Have fun on your custom game adventures.

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Top 5 Games From E3

E3 may be over, but I’m still not over E3 and I highly doubt I am the only one. In the time it has taken me to get this article out I have placed three game pre-orders and started on a cosplay for another. However the event left us overwhelmed with content to talk about, there was something for everyone. An article which would contain everything everyone wanted to know about E3 would take months to write, so instead I give you my top five personal favourite announcements from E3.

  1. Call of Cthulhu

One thing you may gain from this article is that I am a great fan of the horror genre in all forms of media. The H.P. Lovecraft mythos is loved by many, and game adaptations of his works have been attempted before. Whereas none of those games, such as Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, have been disappointments in the least, they are all trapped within the limitations of the time of their creation. The 2016 E3 Call of Cthulhu trailer hints at a traditional horror game in the mythos with all the innovations of gaming we have made in current gen consoles. Cyanide Studios have presented us with Edward Pierce, an investigator not unlike Jack Walters and a town called Dark Water. The few hints this trailer gives us implies that the story may follow the original Call of Cthulhu plot line, unlike the other games which followed The Shadow Over Innsmouth and their own original plots. Not much more can be taken from this, but still it incites excitement in every Lovecraft fan out there.

Call of Cthulhu

  1. Fe

Part of the EA originals initiative was Fe, an abstract game involving a cute animal protagonist and quirky art styles. This game reminded me of Shelter, where you play as mother animals seeking shelter for their children and leading them through hazards and predators. Fe, however, didn’t give much indication of game objective, yet their focus on stealth, combat and communication could hint that it’s a moral choice survival game.  Either way, the aesthetic of the game was truly breath-taking and I look forward to playing it once it is released.

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  1. Resident Evil 7

The words everyone was hoping to hear were said out loud at last. Resident Evil 7 is returning the franchise to its survival horror roots. As a fan of the Resident Evil franchise that was first introduced with Resident Evil 4 and 5 this is incredible news. The trailer does not show any of the established franchise characters so far, so the game might be attempting the Biohazard plotline from a new angle, or perhaps even re-writing some of it. However, only time will tell. I won’t be happy with it though unless Leon gets at least one witty one liner off.

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  1. Recore

There are few things I love more in life than adorable canine companions and one of those is adorable robot canine companions. After hearing no follow up from the 2015 Recore trailer I was afraid that the game had been scrapped. The 2016 trailer not only lit up my day with the news that it was still happening, but also treated me to an amazing gameplay trailer revealing the Joule’s core bots and their functions. The trailer gave us an insight into a fluid game that mixed interesting combat with robot puzzle solving on the planet of New Eden. This is, no doubt, a game to check out for September.

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  1. Death Stranding

It was hard to keep calm watching the trailer for this. Any fan, like me, of the Silent Hill franchise will understand the roller coaster of emotions that came with the announcement, cancellation and constant rumours regarding Silent Hills. While no one knows the full story why, the Silent Hill franchise is over, but it was clear after P.T. that Hideo Kojima still had plans for it. Death Stranding is the embodiment of those plans. It may not be Silent Hill, but Hideo Kojima has never failed us in the past and now has the interest of fans everywhere. It says a lot when a three minute trailer of a naked Norman Reedus is enough to get an entire fan base screaming over your game. This game was the breaking point to get me to buy a PS4, so it had to come the top of this list.

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Obviously my views and interests will differ from anyone reading this right now, but I hope I have peaked your interest in at least one of the games which grabbed mine. Comments about your favourite announcements and moments are also welcome.

With steam summer sales fast approaching and so many good games announced at E3, it’s going to be a trying summer for all of our bank accounts. God speed my friends, be strong.

Top 5 MKX Season Finals Moments

Last night marked the finale of the season three MKX pro league and hopefully the beginning of NetherRealm’s next title, Injustice 2. The event was a scramble of upsets, come backs and surprises from almost all of the players.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 memorable moments from the MKX Pro League season 3 finals:

  1. BEN/HeeyGeorge giving the EU titan a run for his money.

Out of the woodwork came HeeyGeorge and took the pro league by storm. By the end of the night this guy was a definite crowd favourite and pleaser. Anyone who follows anything about Mortal Kombat X knows that it’s not often we get a Jacqui player compete, and even rarer to see a Jacqui player compete with results like HeeyGeorge. The lesser known Santiago representative was highly anticipated by the crowd from his reputation and his character, but stopped all viewers breathing during his intensely close set with AF0xyGrampa. Bringing it down to the last round, HeeyGeorge nearly caused the biggest upset of the tournament by threatening to send F0xy to loser first set. It’s safe to say that of all the MKX scene looks forward to seeing more of HeeyGeorge in the future.

  1. St9rm eliminated by his own hitbox.

Heartbreak for the EU struck as Austrian player, St9rm was forced to forfeit his last games due to a hitbox malfunction. Although many would say the situation was dire for St9rm, we have seen him come back from worse situations in the past. Either way, if you support St9rm or not, it’s never a fun way to see a player go, especially considering how hard everyone who made the finals worked to get there. All I can say is I look forward to seeing St9rm at more tournaments in future under more favorable circumstances.

  1. PND/Madzin Vs Sakron. The game of patience.

Due to most characters we often see in the pro league, games are often quick, explosive and over before viewers have a chance to figure out what happened. Without commentators there to walk us through the plays made, a fair few of us I’m sure would be lost. However in this set the audience was treated to an incredible showing of patience and zoning. Although these sets can be seen first off as slow or boring, the change of pace actually brought more hype to the set. Every move was carefully thought out and we got a chance to see each player catch out the other or make an amazing read in this intense standoff. The set had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, but then, most of Madzin’s sets do.

  1. When every trailer defined us.

We can’t talk about the season finals without mentioning the big gameplay reveal that Ed Boon presented for Injustice 2. Among the characters shown were Supergirl and others from the first trailer, as well as some new faces. These included Gorilla Grod, Atrocitus and Black Manta. Ed Boon also revealed that the roster of Injustice 2 would be larger than that of Injustice 1 and he would be opening up to fans at some point to pick characters to join that roster. The game play showed the audience some moves from the game, including cool looking combo enders such as Aquaman summoning tentacles from the floor, as well as cinematic moves that practically confirmed that super moves are definitely back. It would have been cool if the game could have been there for a demonstration from the players, but time constrictions and the games current completion state probably prevented that. We can hope for the future. The trailer had something to interest everyone.SHARK

  1. The Fox showdown.

No one will be surprised to hear that the finals came down to CR/SonicFox vs PXP/AF0xyGrampa. Although the season finals saw a truly extraordinary collection of players from their respective scenes, these two have consistently proven to be the best. As F0xy took his third game from SonicFox it looked hopeful for the EU scene that we might have a reset and SonicFox’s victory streak would be cut short. However SonicFox took the set, although F0xy did make him work for it. It was the set we all expected to see, but it didn’t make it any less hype and no one was left disappointed.

I’m sure these aren’t the last tournaments we will see these players at, and I’m hopeful in the future that players worldwide will have the chance to compete again. ESL said they had heard the voices from Australia, South America and South Africa, so we could see the fighting game crowd expanding in the future. I can only say this. The EU will up its game, and I’m sure one of our boys will take SonicFox down at some point.

Who knows, Evo is just around the corner.

Blizzard Overwatching Rage Quitters

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Don’t worry loves, Blizzard has called in the cavalry at last to deal with match deserters. We all know the pain of having that one person on our team rage and flame, or repeatedly under-perform before the dreaded ‘player x, y or z has left the game’ message announces that you are one person short. It’s an experience none of us want to repeat and even in a perfect world, you won’t always have a six man team on standby whenever you feel like jumping on for a game.

So how to Blizzard intend to stop, or more likely deter, rage quitting?

Blizzard plan on implementing a program that tracks matches played. It watches to see if a player consistently leaves matches in a row, as to not unfairly punish players with connection hiccups or dogs unplugging their computer screens. True story. Players whose leaving rates fall below a certain percentage are faced with a 75% experience drop. Pretty heavy for those of us above level 20 and edging towards those sweet, sweet loot crates.

The problem with this being is that it doesn’t really help the players left short on the first few matches of the quitting rampage. Right now Overwatch has a huge player base, so the problem doesn’t seem to be game breaking. I’ve had countless matches with deserters’ slots being filled within seconds of their departure but long term fans may find this being a major problem in the game’s future as the player base may dwindle. Also, as heavy as the 75% experience drop may seem on paper, how affective is it really as a punishment? It doesn’t stop you playing the game and the loot crates that levels unlock can be purchased through micro transactions. So what does it achieve other than to hinder level progression?

Blizzard also announced on their forums that getting rid of this penalty will be redemption based, rather than timed based. Some games, Hi Rez Studios Smite for example, have a penalty of players being banned outright for queueing for half an hour. Overwatch’s leaver penalty will only be lifted if the player’s full match percentage goes above the threshold of punishment. I can’t argue with that one at all.

All in all we have to hand it to Blizzard for listening to the community and aiming to fix issues in the game before they become a major hindrance to players. Yet as much as a deterrent this leaving punishment will be, I’m sure there will still be rage quitting in games as long as online PVP exists.

Not that it will stop us from enjoying Overwatch. Now if you will excuse me I have to go learn how to be a better enraged scientist ape, because that’s a sentence I can say in this context.

First Thoughts on Injustice 2

Well pick your hero and prepare for people crying about Deathstroke because Injustice 2 has been officially announced. This latest NetherRealm title has sparked cries of joy from fans all over the internet after the glowing success of their last game, Mortal Kombat X. So far, all we have to go on is one trailer which you can watch here. Here are my thoughts, feelings and wishes for Injustice 2.

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Image from @noobde

Injustice 1 introduced a dynamic environment, in which players could interact with objects around them to give them an advantage in a match. However, some of these design choices brought by interactables gave some characters too much of an advantage over others. The Watchtower stage, for example, gave Player One a respawning interactable which did unblockable damage to the opponent and made it highly difficult to get in. Many power and gadget characters had similar hitboxes to the nimble characters, and made the advantages of playing nimble characters almost non-existent. My point being, as hilarious as the Arkham Asylum pig fights were, the interactable system in Injustice 1 left a lot to be desired and refined. NetherRealm studios, thankfully, have already refined the system wonderfully in Mortal Kombat X, creating a more balanced game for both their casual and competitive audience.

Speaking of similarities to Mortal Kombat X, one thing that caused a stir of excitement and Iron Man jokes among fans were the Gundam-style transformations in the trailer. The dynamic changes of costume and attack style in the trailers leads me to be hopeful that Injustice 2 plans to have a variation system similar to Mortal Kombat X. The variation system not only provides more content in the game per character but also rewards character loyalists in competitive play. The variation system will be a good addition to Injustice, allowing NetherRealm to add more to their game as well as explore these well known and loved characters in more depth.

The story mode, although not the main focus of any fighting game, is sure to entertain -NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat franchise has a strong lore which many fans follow and adore, but a few of their games in the past have disappointed in terms of story. One improvement however I hope they will implement is not forcing the player to be Batman for the majority of story missions. In my opinion, the story mode should allow the player to experience a wide variety of characters in the roster. Injustice 1’s story was made stale by the Batman repetition. Perhaps we will get a story mode which allows us to play as the villains too. Either way, with a plethora of DC plot lines to choose from, we can be assured of a decent and engaging story.

Finally, my last wish for Injustice 2 is that I hope it will have a thriving competitive crowd. The booming success with the MKX pro league has allowed the game to grow, reward players for their dedication and ability at the game and expand the community exponentially. New players have joined the FGC and, by the time the pro league moved to the PlayStation 4, entrant numbers were reaching hundreds each week from the EU, NA and CIS scenes. With DC fans getting interested and involved I hope that the competitive crowd will grow. NetherRealm’s refinement of their online net code also speaks highly for the future of their games.

All of this is just my speculation but with E3 less than a week away I’m sure we will have our answers soon enough. Either way I’m hopeful that NetherRealm will once again provide a game that appeals to both a casual and competitive audience, enjoyable and balanced.

On a personal note, I’m writing a letter to Ed Boon to ask for more costumes for characters that aren’t Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Please Ed, I have been good this year.