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‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’: A game with remarkable emotional intensity – Washington Post

By Christopher Byrd By Christopher Byrd August 9 at 2:01 PM

Hellblade: Senuas SacrificeDeveloped by: Ninja TheoryPublished by: Ninja TheoryAvailable on: PS4 and PC

Were all prisoners of our minds to some extent, though some of us more so than others. Hellblade: Senuas Sacrifice opens with a warning: This game contains representations of psychosis. People with experience of psychosis as well as professionals in psychiatry have assisted in these depictions. It tells the story of Senua a young, mentally-tormented woman who goes on an orphic quest to retrieve her lover from the underworld. Although the game is centered around a character who suffers from auditory hallucinations and delusional thoughts, I think it will resonate with many who have dealt with chronic depression, paranoia and other mental health issues.

From its opening scene, which calls to mind the journey up a foreboding river in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, I was struck by the games production values. As Senua paddles her way through a fog-laden landscape in a dugout tree trunk, the narrator, voiced by Chipo Chung, introduces us to the Celtic warrior and the other voices Senua hears. Chungs mellifluous narration is as mesmerizing as any Ive heard in a video game fully on par with the voice work of Linda Hunt in the God of War series and Logan Cunningham in Bastion and Transistor. When Chung says, This is a journey deep into darkness. There will be no more stories after this one, she imbues the lines with a pathos that would come across as silly if voiced by a less-skilled actor.

And then there is Senua herself, played Ninja Theorys video editor Melina Juergens. Juergenss performance feels proportionally unbridled. When Senua can no longer bear the voices swirling around her, mocking and hectoring her, she looks unflatteringly discombobulated. When she falters in a fight and struggles to regain her footing she appears as though she is summoning every last iota of strength to defend herself. Her displays of anguish, of which there are plenty, are operatic without being cloying.

Although the Cambridge-based, U.K. studio Ninja Theory is a relatively small in comparison to many of the blockbuster specialists in the industry, with Hellblade, they and their technology partners are paving the way for lower-cost motion capture technology. This technology allows actors to have their digital likenesses integrated into a games graphics engine in real-time. (An actor can have a different face and body altogether in-game, while retaining the expressive nuances that they bring to the table.) Because the developers dont have to wait for long periods to see how an actors performance meshes with their game world, as has been the case for most of the industry since the advent of motion-capture technology, the cutscenes feel more organic than in most games that leverage the physical traits of human actors. (Here, I cant help but think of the Call of Duty games.)

In terms of gameplay, Hellblade sticks to the old combat and puzzle-solving formula. Yet, what saves these elements from being wholly conventional is how they affect and illuminate Senuas mental state. Fail in battle or in overcoming environmental challenges too many times and a flesh-rotting disease will gradually spread up her arm to her head resulting in permadeath whereby the players save file is deleted. (If youre unwary of courting such risks, you could always upload your save file to the cloud if youre playing on PS4, or download it to a USB stick if youre running the game on PC. Though obviously youd miss that frisson that comes from negotiating higher stakes.) As for the puzzles, they serve not only as palate cleansers between action sequences, but also to underscore Senuas determination to find secret correspondences in her surroundings via her own unique way of looking at things.

Speaking of visuals, on the whole the game looks stunning. However, there are cracks that appear intermittently that can somewhat mar the illusion. Aside from the occasional pop-in graphics that I noticed on the standard PS4, I noticed that when you swivel the camera in front of Senua while she is standing still, she swivels her head back and forth like a marionette. Moreover, close to the end of the game, I believe I committed a game-breaking error. There is a part where you need a torch to solve a certain puzzle, which I foolishly left behind after Senua dropped it in battle. After making my way to the puzzle and having the game autosave behind me, I could not return to where I dropped it. Im not sure if the developers meant to illustrate another cruel trick that Senuas mind played on her, but with nothing in her hand she held her arm aloft while a faint trail of smoke flickered in the air. Even if this was a fluke, I like to imagine the game found an exquisite way to troll me that was consistent with its overall evocation of heartbreak.

In any case, few mainstream video games have tried, let alone achieved, anything close to the emotional intensity that courses through this game.

Christopher Byrd is a Brooklyn-based writer who has been playing video games since the days of the Atari 2600. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Barnes & Noble Review, Al Jazeera America, the Guardian and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter@Chris_Byrd.

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Original post:
‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’: A game with remarkable emotional intensity – Washington Post

Tri-town libraries announce upcoming programs – Wicked Local Rochester

Marion

The Elizabeth Taber Library is located at 8 Spring St., Marion. The phone number is 508-748-1252. The hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. More program information can be found on the librarys website at elizabethtaberlibrary.org.

Upcoming programs

Bike Lending Program: The Elizabeth Taber Library is offering a bike lending program for adults again this summer. Library patrons ages 18 and older will be allowed to check out a bicycle and helmet for three days with a Marion library card. Patrons will need to provide their library card and license, as well as sign a waiver form before taking the bike out for a spin around Marion. For more information, stop in or call 508-748-1252.

Seed lending library: The Elizabeth Taber Library, in partnership with the Marion Garden Group, has kicked off a seed saving and lending program. Community members may check out seeds for free from the Elizabeth Taber Library. The idea is that you plant the seeds, let some go to seed, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. For more information, call 508-748-1252 or stop into the library for some material on this new program.

Afternoon Book Club: 2 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month. Stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

The Mystery Book Club: 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month. Stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

Museum passes: Heading to the museum with friends or family soon? Be sure to stop by the Elizabeth Taber Library first to check out any of our museum passes with your SAILS library card. The library currently has passes to Heritage Museums and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, Mystic Aquarium, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Plimoth Plantation, Roger Williams Zoo, and the DCR MassParks Pass. To reserve a pass or for more information, please call the library at 508-748-1252 or visit our website http://www.elizabethtaberlibrary.org.

Book a Librarian: Residents who have basic technology questions or need assistance with an electronic device recently acquired can call the library to book a one-on-one appointment with one of the staff members.

Home Delivery Services: The Elizabeth Taber Library, in partnership with the Council on Aging, is pleased to offer home delivery of library books to those Marion residents that need this service. To be eligible for this program, you must be a Marion resident with a library card in good standing. Before bringing materials to your home, a brief phone interview must be conducted with Libby ONeill, the Library Director, to discuss your areas and authors of interest. To arrange to have library books or audio books delivered to your home, please call the Elizabeth Taber Library at 508-748-1252.

Free Online Resources: With a Marion library card, residents now have access to free information online. The Elizabeth Taber Library now subscribes to the following e-resources: Instant Flix, access to thousands of streaming films and shorts from around the world; Universal Class, an online continuing education program with over 500 courses; Zinio Digital Magazines, access to 50 top magazines online; and A to Z World Travel, access to over 200 city travel guides online. For more information, call the Elizabeth Taber Library.

Mattapoisett

The Mattapoisett Public Library is located at 7 Barstow St. The mailing address is P.O. Box 475 Mattapoisett, MA 02739. The email address is mfpl@sailsinc.org. Check out the website mattapoisettlibrary.org.

Upcoming programs

LEGO Builders, Unite!: 1-2 p.m. Wednesdays. LEGO enthusiasts gather at the LEGO table in the Childrens Room to enjoy the latest LEGO challenge. Dig in and build.

Student Book Swap: Students in grades seven and up are encouraged to register this year for the Summer Reading Program upstairs in the Student Lounge. Summer reading lists are available for area schools, and students can borrow a book from the reading table to keep and enjoy. Stop in and see the new button making machine and relax in the student lounge. There are video games and DVDs here too.

Drop-In Chess: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Students are invited to play chess in the Childrens Department. Bring your own chess board or use one of the librarys. For experienced and beginning students.

Friends of the Library Jewelry and Accessories Sale: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 12, with a Friends-only preview sale from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 11. The Friends are now accepting donations for the Jewelry and Accessories sale every day during regular library hours. Any and all jewelry (even broken pieces), scarves, hats, handbags, belts, etc. are welcome. Sign up to become a member and get a first look at all the gems and baubles.

History Lecture Series with Seth Mendell: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Aug. 15 through Sept. 19. Historian Seth Mendell is back this summer with a six-part lecture series, The Years Between the Wars, 1918-1939. The series will cover the events of the period and the reactions of England, France and the United States as the structure established by the Paris Peace Conference and Treaty of Versailles crumbled, sending Europe and the world into another war. Attend one or all of these fascinating talks.

Photography of Heather Hobler: 7 p.m. Aug. 16. Local photographer Heather Hobler will present a program and slides of her beautiful local photography, which will also be on exhibit in the library reading room soon. She has recently exhibited at the Deedee Shattuck Gallery and at other locations. Not to be missed.

Ongoing programs

New Scrapbooking Group to Meet Monthly: 10:30 a.m. the first Friday of the month. Bring your photos, papers, tools and ideas to a new group Scrapbook Crop! The group will meet the first Friday of every month in the library meeting room. Ideas for designs will be shared over coffee and tea. All skill levels are welcome.

Tech Help: Get a new tablet, smart phone or ereader as a gift? Work with librarian Elizabeth Sherry to learn how to use it efficiently. Download free books from the library to enjoy any time, any place. For an appointment, call 508-758-4171.

Young Scientists Club: All children are welcome to drop in to enjoy the Science Exploration table where they can create a bird feeder, enjoy a squirrel scavenger hunt, and try other nature activities. A sensory bin is there for toddlers to dig in and enjoy.

Knitting is happening: The librarys Knitting Group continues every Thursday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Experienced and beginning knitters gather to share tips, patterns and projects. Everyone is welcome.

MOBY Backpacks: Explore the outdoors all year long with the whole family by checking out a MOBY backpack from the childrens department. The My Own BackYard creations are filled with equipment, activities, nature journals and fun. Binoculars, tools, collection kits and more are included, as well as books to answer questions about the seashore, invasive species, insects, wildflowers, rocks and fossils and other topics. Let the staff know what you discover as you explore the outdoors.

Signing Savvy: Want to learn sign language to communicate more effectively with a hearing impaired person or to begin a fun way to communicate with your baby or toddler? Visit the librarys website with your Mattapoisett library card and select Signing Savvy on the left side of the homepage. The free program enables searches for words and phrases you want to learn and saves your list of new signs.

Museum passes available: Did you know that with your library card you can check out passes to museums all over Massachusetts and Rhode Island that will give you free or discounted admission? The library also has passed for discounted Paw Sox tickets, zoos, state parks, aquariums and more. The list of passes is available on the librarys website http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. You can also reserve the passes online with your library card. There is currently a display about the pass program in the reading room. Call the circulation desk if you need assistance reserving a pass at 508-758-4171.

Free Videos: Library videocassettes are looking for new homes that have VCRs so they can still be enjoyed. Stop in and help yourself to the selection on the main floor near the Friends Used Book Sale shelves.

Ereader Assistance available: Still need help downloading ebooks and audiobooks from the library catalogue? Librarian Liz Sherry offers two free workshops each week to help patrons manage their ereaders, no matter what type they own. Stop in on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. or Fridays at 3 p.m. These times dont work? Give her a call and make an appointment to get assistance. If you dont have an ereader, but you are curious about them, the library has several that you can try during the workshop.

Teen Thursdays at the Mattapoisett Library: The library is staying open from 5 to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month for teens only. Library staff will be there with fun, homework help, and refreshments. Meet your friends to relax or to work on projects together. Music, food and teens only. Teen Thursdays are brought to the community with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Teen Advisors at the Library: Each Wednesday from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. students in grades seven through 12 are invited to meet at the library to help plan new library programs and services for students. Drop by and help choose new furniture, music and movies. Contact librarian Liz Sherry for more info at esherry@sailsinc.org. Come in and say hi to our gecko!

Teen Art Magazine: Make art together and help create a young adult art magazine at the library. Workshops are held the first and last Tuesday and Saturday of every month. Students may take contributions of writing, photography, art and design, or make their own creations at the workshops. Take your creative talent and ideas. For information, contact Elizabeth Sherry at 508-758-4171 or esherry@sailsinc.org.

Tech stressed?: Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Fridays at 3 p.m. the library staff holds informal workshop to answer questions about e-readers, tablets, and downloading books and music. Take the device you own or try one of the librarys e-readers to see if you like reading books in this format. Everyone is welcome.

E-catalog is now online: The electronic catalog for the SAILS Library Network is now up and running with a new, user-friendly look and feel. Log in with your SAILS library card and access millions of titles in a variety of formats. Stop by the library and speak with the staff if you would like help navigating the website sailsinc.org.

Letterboxing sleuthing: This fascinating activity for the whole family will take you to all corners of the library to solve a mystery while following literary clues from childrens books. Each month the book different, visit the library and join the fun. Details are available in the childrens department.

Ready to Learn the Language?: Log into Mango Languages with your Mattapoisett library card and begin your foreign language study. Over 20 languages at varying levels of proficiency are offered at no charge. Click on the Mango logo on the librarys website at http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. Before you travel, practice your conversational skills. Its fun and free.

Computer Know-How: Need a little help with computer skills? Call or visit the library and make an appointment to meet with a computer tutor. Sessions are free and can vary in length. Let the library staff know how they can help you with web searching, email, Microsoft Word or searching for library materials. Call 508-758-4171 to make an appointment.

Curious about downloading audiobooks and music?: The Mattapoisett Library has installed a Download Station to simply the process of downloading audiobooks or music to an MP3 player or iPod. Take your device into the library and let the staff assist you with the simple two-step process. Select a book or tune, download, and youre off. No more worries about downloading software to your home computer, firewall challenges, etc. Its simple using the Overdrive database of thousands of titles. Visit the Overdrive website via the librarys webpage for more information and to see what books are available, http://www.mattapoisettlibrary.org. Then, visit the library and let the staff help you get started.

Need help getting online?: Would you like help setting up email or using Facebook to network and share family news? Call the library for an appointment at 508-758-4171 and a staff member or tutor will work with you to get you up to speed in no time. Appointments are necessary.

Family Literacy Kits: Be the first to take home a messenger bag filled with the makings of a great story time. Themed kits have been prepared with books, puppets, and related activities for toddlers, preschoolers and older elementary grade students. Lots of fun, ready-to-go, for families, childcare providers and school classes. There are over a dozen themes from which to choose.

Childrens author book display: Visit the Childrens Department to see books on display that have been published by local children. Join the staff in celebrating the efforts of our youngest creative writers.

Have puzzles to share?: Why not contribute your finished jigsaw puzzle to the librarys Puzzle Exchange? The library staff is gathering puzzles to lend on a swap basis. There is no need to use a library card to check them out. Puzzles are great fun on a rainy day and will entertain children and guests for hours. Drop off your donations at the circulation desk.

Free legal assistance from the Massachusetts Bar Association: On the first Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., citizens can call for free legal assistance from an attorney who is a member of the MBA. Call 617-338-0610. The Dial-a-Lawyer program has been effective in assisting many persons with a wide range of legal questions. Veterans are assisted on separate dates. Topics addressed can include housing, access to benefits, landlord/tenant matters, family and employment issues and other concerns.

Rochester

The Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library is located at 17 Constitution Way, The Common, Rochester. The phone number is 508-763-8600. The hours are Monday and Thursday, from 1 to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information about these and other programs, call 508-763-8600, go to http://www.plumblibrary.com or email info@plumblibrary.com.

Upcoming programs

Solar Eclipse 2017: 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 14. Join us for a family program about next weeks eclipse. Roger Menard, a member of the Astronomical Society of Southern New England, will be at the library to present a brief video, slides and an interactive demonstration of how the eclipse occurs. He will also demonstrate our telescope and answer questions about how the eclipse will look for us here and how best to view the eclipse safely. Attend the program and receive a free pair of eclipse safety glasses. Register on the Events Calendar.

Watch the eclipse: 2-4 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Plumb Library. All attendees will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses, sent to us by StarNet. Learn how to view through a pinhole viewer. There will be a demonstration of the librarys telescope and MOBY Stargazing backpack. Register on the Events Calendar. Weather permitting.

August Walk-and-Talk: 1-2 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Churchs Field Trail, Mattapoisett Road, Rochester. All ages are welcome to join Library Director Gail Roberts and walk this beautiful Rochester Land Trust trail. Shoes and socks are required. Bring bug spray and water.

Build a Better Reading List: 3:30 p.m. Aug. 10. Learn how to use NoveList and Goodreads to add to you to-be-read List. Adults only. Register on the Events Calendar.

Build a better you: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 14. Chair yoga with Marsha Hartley of Studio 105. Adults only. Register on the Events Calendar.

Build a Better Library Patron: 11:30 a.m. Aug. 15. Learn how to use the Plumb Library website to take a class, practice a driving test or check out a magazine. Adults only. Register on the Events Calendar.

Council on Aging Book Group: 10:15 a.m. Aug. 15, Rochester Council on Aging, Dexter Lane. The group will discuss The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Bring your library card to the meeting.

Just the Facts: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17. Plumb Librarys Nonfiction Book Group will meet to discuss Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips.

Cafe Parlez: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31. The group will discuss Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry.

Announcements

Friends of Plumb Library renewal notice: If you are a member of the Friends of Plumb Library, watch for your annual renewal notice in the mail. Fill it out, add a check, and either mail it back to us, or drop it by the library. Your membership pays for the programs (story times, book groups, Summer Reading Program, etc.) and some museum memberships at the library. Forms are available at the desk, and on the website. Call us at 508-763-8600 if you have any questions.

Friends seeking books: The Friends of Plumb Library are seeking used books and other items for their annual book sale that will take place on Sept. 23. Please bring your clean used copies of books, DVDs, CDs or games to the Plumb Library during library hours. Last date to drop off books will be Sept. 21. Please call the library at 508-763-8600 for more information.

Power vampires: Did you know there are vampires in your house? Dont start wearing garlic just yet, though. These are power vampires, using up electric power just sitting there, turned off. They could be the coffeemaker, the computer, the game system or the printer. You can borrow our Electric Usage Meter to see how much power these vampires are consuming in your home and take steps to unplug them, if possible. This will cut down on your electric usage and save you money on your next electric bill. Thanks to Eversource for the donation of this meter. Call the library at 508-763-8600 to reserve the meter or for more information.

Plumb Library Knitters (and Crocheters): 6:30 p.m. Mondays. Bring your latest project, get advice on a problem or a new project or just have fun hanging out with other knitters. Chocolate is always served.

COA Book Group: 10:30 a.m. the third Tuesday of each month in the activity room of the COA Building, Dexter Lane. Books are available at the library or at the meeting. All attendees are requested to bring their library cards. You need not be a Rochester resident to be a part of the book group. Call the library or the COA for more information.

Tumblebooks: E-books for E-kids: Parents! Do you want a website that will be safe and educational for your preschool or early learning child? Do you need a website that will help your pre-reader to learn to read? Does your older child need a book for a book report or wants to try an audio or ebook? Then try Tumblebooks. Check out the link on the Plumb Librarys website to access Tumblebooks, or access it here: http://asp.tumblebooks.com/library/asp/home_tumblebooks.asp No library card necessary! Youll find picture books, chapter books, nonfiction books, graphic novels, childrens classics, short videos from National Geographic, puzzles and games that help with language skills, and much, much more. Accelerated Reading and Lexile Reading levels are listed for each book. There are books for preschoolersfifth grade, all free and accessible from any computer or device. Ask us for a demonstration. Its fun; its easy; its free. Try Tumblebooks now!

Computer instructions: Do you own a laptop or other portable device, such as an iPad, iPod, etc? Want to learn how to download free ebooks from Overdrive, log into the new Enterprise online catalog from SAILS, or use one of our computer-based services, such as Zinio, Atomic Training, Universal Class, or Transparent Language? Take your device or laptop with your library cards and we will go through the log-in processes, downloads, or whatever it takes to get you connected. Starting at 6:30 p.m., we will go over the new library search site, Enterprise, then move to Overdrive. Next will come Zinio, the new magazine download site. If time allows, we will take on the other sites: Universal Class, Transparent Language, Law Depot, Atomic Training, and Tumblebooks. We will also briefly touch on Freegal, the upcoming new service that will allow you to download music to your computer or device free of charge. Pre-registration is required, as space is limited. Call the library at 508-763-8600, or email us at info@plumblibrary.com to register.

Excerpt from:
Tri-town libraries announce upcoming programs – Wicked Local Rochester

‘Unbalance’ is a Really Clever Looking Minimalistic Puzzle Game … – Touch Arcade

With so many games coming out on the App Store each and every day, it feels like pretty much every genre has gotten oversaturated. Puzzle games have been a natural fit for on-the-go play for decades now, and that’s probably the largest genre on iOS too. But there’s a subset of that genre known as minimalist puzzle games that has also become quite crowded, but is still consistently providing some great new experiences. These puzzlers look to strip away all the flash and focus on straight up mechanics. Unbalance is a new minimalistic puzzler from Turkish developer Tvee Games where the goal is incredibly simple: Get the red dot that’s living inside a variety of shapes to fall down to the goal below. The way you do that is what’s interesting to me. You’ll add your own dots into the different compartments of the shape to throw off its balance and hopefully get that red dot to worm its way through the maze inside and eventually out into the goal.

This would probably be a fun game even if all you did was rotate the shape to free the red ball, not unlike some little plastic puzzle toys I used to play with as a kid, but by using weight and gravity it takes it to a whole new level. Throw in the red and blue weights which can eliminate like-colored lines from within the shape and I’m sure there will be some serious brain-busters mixed into the 96 levels in Unbalance. Even more impressive is that the game is entirely the work of one person, from the programming to the design and even the art and ambient sounds. Unbalance is set to launch next Thursday, August 17th as a 99 premium app so keep an eye out for it!

Continued here:
‘Unbalance’ is a Really Clever Looking Minimalistic Puzzle Game … – Touch Arcade

Eighties-Inspired Game Collection From the Creators of ‘Spelunky,’ ‘Downwell’ – RollingStone.com

UFO 50 looks like it could easily become the indie darling of 2018. The collection of 50 retro-themed 8-bit games are the work of a group of game makers responsible for a slew of indie greats like Spelunky, Downwell and Super Crate Box.

It looks like Spelunky studio Mossmouth is publishing the collection sometime next year. A video released today offers a tantalizing glimpse of a slew of the titles, which look like they were plucked directly from some lost Eighties’ vault. Developers working on the games include Mossmouth’s Derek Yu and Paul Hubans, Quibble Games’ John Perry, Downwell creatorOjiro Fumoto and composerEirik Suhrke,

The collection will “explore a variety of genres, from platformers and shoot ’em ups to puzzle games and RPGs,” according to the site. “Our goal is to combine a familiar 8-bit aesthetic with new ideas and modern game design sensibilities.”

Roughly a third of the games will feature multiplayer and all will be fully-realized games, not micro games. No price nor an exact date has been announced. The game is expected to hit PC first and other platforms, potentially, later.

Original post:
Eighties-Inspired Game Collection From the Creators of ‘Spelunky,’ ‘Downwell’ – RollingStone.com

Win a Steam key for new, mysterious, story-driven puzzle game … – PCGamesN

Do you prefer story or puzzle games? Silly question, really: why not have both? That’s what you get with Peregrin, which is described as a “story puzzle game” that that combines myth, sci-fi, and fantasy.

It might sound like the developers of Peregrin are trying to combine too many things at once. But rest assured that the reason for that is because their ideas for the game don’t fit neatly into a single genre label. This applies to its theming and art style (borrowing from sci-fi artists including John Harris and Moebius) as much as it does to its game design.

A description of how the Peregrin plays and what it’s about will serve you much better than trying to squeeze it into a term. It follows Abi as she leaves her scavenger tribe to visit the monoliths and other strange artefacts in the wastelands. She does this in order to discover the secrets of these fallen lands and fulfill an ancient prophecy.

In order to reach these landmarks, Abi needs to use her arcane powers, taking temporary control of the creatures she encounters. They range from simple animals to hostile guardians, each with their own attributes and abilities, which act as combat and puzzle mechanics that unlock new paths in the environments and help Abi survive battles.

We’re giving you the chance to win one of 30 Steam keys for Peregrin. All you have to do is enter our competition via the widget below.Every action you complete is worth one entry into the giveaway, and the more actions you complete the more chance you’ll have of winning. We’ll also need your email address so we can send you a code upon winning – we won’t send you spam, we promise!

Peregrin giveaway

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Win a Steam key for new, mysterious, story-driven puzzle game … – PCGamesN

Puzzle & Dragons publisher partners with Signal Studios to announce new AAA mobile game – App Trigger

Remember the beloved puzzle stylings of Puzzle and Dragons, including the spin-off it sparked with the Mario Brothers? As enjoyable and popular as it was (as the first mobile game ever to reach 1 billion dollars in revenue), it has faded from our minds in the last year as match-3 game after match-3 game overtakes the app store and our consciousness. GungHo is ready for a new direction, it seems, which is why they announced a partnership today with Signal Studios for a brand new, AAA mobile title via press release. But what is it? We have no idea.

We can glean some clues from the past work of both studios. We can safely assume we wont see another match-3 puzzle game, though more puzzle games certainly arent out of the realm of possibility. Still, Signal Studios is fairly tightly wrapped in its Xbox and PC action and strategy game, Toy Soldiers, and its RPG, Ascend: Hand of Kul. So that leaves a pretty wide variety of game types the partnership could explore.

Whats in it for Signal? Resources. Toy Soldiers and Ascend both relied on Xbox Live Arcade, meaning their reach was limited. Going both mobile and under the umbrella of a major publisher may just give the studio the boost it needs to become a better-known studio, allowing them to explore console options again at a later date.

In the meantime, sadly, we dont know much more about what type of mobile game this might be or when we might hear more info about it. Hopefully, GungHo and Signal Studios will have more information for us soon.

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Puzzle & Dragons publisher partners with Signal Studios to announce new AAA mobile game – App Trigger

‘Mozak’ Lets Online Players Beat Brain Scientists At Their Own Game – WBUR

It seems simple enough: Your task is to trace lines with your computer mouse while listening to soothing music, drawing the branches of aneuron. You canrotate the block where the spideryneuronis embedded, and zoom in to see the details. Its fascinating stuff, if you think about how youre piecing together the parts and wires of your brain.

But as you followfaint signals consisting of blurry white dots, you realize that this game is less connect-the-dots, more hide-and-seek –its often about guessing where the branches lead and erasing mistakes in the process, wondering if your work is even remotely correct.

Even if you feel like youre failing, though, you keep trying for one heartening reason: youre helping advance brain science. And you’re at the forefront of a 21st century trend: “citizen science” initiatives that use data from game players to further ongoingresearch, including brain research.

This neuron-tracing gameis called “Mozak,” the Serbo-Croatian word for brain, andis among the latest entries in this category. Created by the Allen Institute for Brain Science andthe Center for Game Science, the free online game has attracted around 2,500 players since its release last November.

They’re helping to fill a major scientific gap: We still don’t really understand how neuron circuits in our brain are structured or how they work.From images of 3-D neurons inside living brain tissue, players can trace and reconstruct shapes of human and mouse neurons, which can then be classified and studied. This information may eventually help scientists understand and develop cures for brain diseases like Alzheimers.

Already, after just six to eightmonths, ‘Mozak’ has accelerated the neuroscience reconstruction of neurons by 3.6 times compared to what scientists were doing up to now, Center for Game Science director Zoran Popovi said. Now we’re looking into helping not just the Allen Institute for Brain Science but seven or eight different international labs across the world. So we’re hoping to make an impact on a global scale.

Other successful examples of such “citizen science” include “Eyewire,” from Sebastian Seungs lab at Princeton, and “Foldit,” a protein-folding game that Popovi previously worked on. Boston-based “Eyewire,” which is similar to “Mozak” in that players tryto reconstruct 3-D neurons from stacks of slices made by a diamond knife, is the granddaddy of citizen neuroscience games to date: More than 150,000 people from 145 countries have contributed to its attempts to map neurons in theretina, according to their website, and the data set has resulted in three published papers.

We have a very committed community, where some of these people have been playing for years and are really invested, Eyewire developerWilliam Silversmith said. We also had really nicely made renderings of some of our cells by our designers that even made it into textbooks.

The Eyewire team is working on a new game called “Neo,” to be released this year. It aims to have players find missing links in the brain and fix mistakes made by an AI companion called “MSTY” as it automatically builds neurons. To make the game more engaging, “Neo” will add othersuperhero characters and storylines as well.

As important as the work is, [“Neo”] is a little bit repetitive, Silversmith said. So we wanted to give people a fun story with “Eyewire” heroes and characters to relate to.

After creating “Mozak,” the first thing Popovi noticed was that neuroscientists themselves were working significantly faster with “Mozaks” new tools because they were so easy to use, he said.And since “Mozaks” scoring is based on a consensus, he said, the science coming out of it is more accurate and robust than what the experts were initially doing.

Even though we designed for complete novices, [researchers] decided to ditch their state of the art tools and use our mechanisms instead, Popovi said. And then we rolled it out to people who, over time, became better and better at this reconstruction to the point that now they’re finding mistakes in what experts originally labeled.

“Mozak”community manager Saira Mortier calls these proficient people the power players –they spend hours on “Mozak” almost every day, and are usually at the top of the leaderboard.

These people are the true game experts, she said. They know when something is amiss, and they provide crucial feedback on both existing and new features.

But why are these people, many of them non-scientists, volunteering hours of their time to play such a slow-paced game? One common misconception is that these games are addictive or give you an adrenaline rush, like “Candy Crush” or “Minecraft.” But according to Mortier, most people who play “Mozak” are interested in science, not necessarily video games.

Everyday people are making headway on understanding the most fundamental part of being human it’s incredible, and thats a real motivator, she said.

One thing that makes “Mozak” different from other citizen science games is that it takes more time for players to start making meaningful contributions, Popovi said. Its designed in a way that youll need more than just 10 minutes to become a decent player, but you can reconstruct neurons at a faster speedthan in “Eyewire.” On the other hand, “Eyewire” is more detailed, and works only with neurons in the mouse retina.

Another unique feature of “Mozak” is that players can interact with scientists in real time, so they getdirect feedback that helps them understand what theyre doing correctly or incorrectly. If youre stuck or confused about a particular puzzle, for example, you can look at hints that scientists have posted or ask other community members.

So there’s kind of a mass-scale apprenticeship process where one expert is training hundreds of people to become much better, Popovi said.

Through this online apprenticeship, the neuroscience community is growing and reaching more people.

It’s not just scientists working with the outcomes of ‘Mozak,’ but really, people are slowly pulled into deeper and deeper processes of neuroscience, Popovi said. It’s really kind of an avenue towards increasing the population of neuroscientists working on this problem by a factor of 10.

Bob Bondi, a retired software developer and active bass guitar player in a local band in Bend, Oregon, is one of those people who have been sucked into the world of neuroscience through “Mozak.”

Its made me pay attention to the news that has to do with neurons and the brain more, he said. Some of the discoveries have been absolutely amazing.

Bondi has been playing “Mozak” since it came out,normally logging around 10 to 20 hours a week. While he doesnt enjoy other video games, heplays “Mozak” because he finds it both calming and mentally stimulating, he said. He sometimes likes to think about the neurons on the screen as pearls or streams of stars.

Im pushing 69 now, so I just need something to keep my mind active, not video games that require a lot of energy to play, he said.

When players become really advanced, Popovi argues,they should be hired and paid for their work.

Some of these people have become so good that there’s a really strong rationale for a lot of these labs saying, ‘Hey, we want to pay you to do this because youre highly skilled and we desperately need that,’ he said.

While he doesnt know any labs that have actually hired players, Popovi thinks that it will happen in the near future. Hes even suggested that labs provide incentive structures for players by including funds to pay them in grant proposals.

It would pay off for researchers significantly, and its also a novel way of creating academic professions, hesaid.

Along with the traditional route of going to grad school and working in a lab, there could be an evidence-based fast track where you join the apprenticeship process, and then you become better at the task to the point where you become an irreplaceable part of the scientific process, he said.

Maybe eventually, games like “Mozak” will lead to new jobs andprofessionals, the way traditional video games have created eSports.

But even if hes not getting paid, Bob Bondi said, he plans to continue playing “Mozak.” He likes being part of a community of other players and scientists, in which he gives and receives help. After consensus is reached, he likes that he can check his work and improve. But most of all, heplays “Mozak” because of the knowledge that hes contributing to neuroscience as a citizen scientist, he said.

Maybe,” he said, “somehow, part of my tracing will be something that makes these guys sit up in the lab and discover something they didnt know before.

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‘Mozak’ Lets Online Players Beat Brain Scientists At Their Own Game – WBUR

Cartoon Network’s new series OK KO blurs the line between games and animation – The Verge

The first time Ian Jones-Quartey met up with the game developers at Toronto studio Capy, it wasnt what youd call a typical pitch meeting. At the time, Jones-Quartey a writer and animator who has worked on series like Steven Universe and Adventure Time was still early in development on his next project, OK KO! Let’s Be Heroes. He liked the idea of turning the series into a game as well, and was a big fan of Capy games like Super Time Force and Sword & Sworcery. But when the two sides met up at E3 in Los Angeles, there was no formal pitch involved: instead they spent a few hours just chatting about their favorite movies and cartoons. We just sort of hung out and got to know each other, explains Jones-Quartey, with Capy president Nathan Vella adding, We didnt even know if we were going to make a game together.

The OK KO show debuted on the Cartoon Network this week, and the game is expected to launch later this fall. But unlike most tie-in game projects, the two are inextricably linked. The show and game were created simultaneously, with the teams collaborating on ideas and sharing progress along the way. As new episodes of the show were completed, they influenced the game; as the game continued to progress, some of its ideas made their way into the show. We didnt want to make something that felt like they were following our lead, or we were following their lead, says Jones-Quartey.

OK KO takes place in a world where everyone is a superhero. It stars a budding, perpetually enthusiastic hero named KO, who works in a bodega and dreams of becoming even stronger. Its inspired in part by Jones-Quarteys own life. When he was young, hed have to spend time at his moms office, and as a teenager he worked at a supermarket. Its also a show clearly influenced by the kinds of entertainment he loves, with plenty of references to anime, games, and comic books. I just sort of figured if I was going to work on this thing for a long time, I should make it something thats really fun and expansive, and that Ill never get sick of, he says. I just reached in and tried to be true to myself.

The idea has been in the works since 2011, when he pitched the concept to the Cartoon Network, which eventually greenlit a pilot. It was put on hold shortly thereafter, as Jones-Quartey shifted his focus to working on Steven Universe, but eventually he returned to the concept. It was during those early days that he first started thinking about expanding into games. In fact, when he began talking to Capy, there wasnt a lot of OK KO to show off. When we started the process we didnt have a show at all, Jones-Quartey says. We only had a couple of really rough storyboards and designs. And we basically just sat down, showed them what we had, pitched the idea, and explained, The worlds not really fleshed out, its not like there are episodes you can go to and copy for ideas. We just sort of gave them the keys to the world and the characters, and said Go crazy.

In a lot of ways Capy seems like a natural fit for a project like this. The influence of animation is evident in the studios work, whether its the Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic of Super Time Force or the vibrant, rainbow-hued world of puzzle game Critter Crunch. But the studio was wary of working on a licensed game. Capy got its start creating cellphone titles based on popular movies like Cars and Happy Feet, which often meant dealing with lots of strict rules and guidelines from bigger companies. Since then, the studio has focused on creating original work, like the upcoming adventure game Below. So when it came to OK KO, it wasnt just the property that excited the team it was the process. Part of it was like, Okay cool, its Ian and [OK KO co-executive producer Toby Jones], theyre amazing creators making stuff that were super inspired by, says Vella. But I think more if it was that it was super chill. Usually theres a process that game developers are given in order to create a licensed project. And we just had none of that.

For game director Dan Vader, the fact that OK KO was still in such an early state was also a large part of the appeal. If it was just Hey, you know OK KO? Its this huge hit show thats been out for three years. Do you want to make a game for it? we could even be fans and I think the answer would be, Well maybe. In that situation, what youre making is prescribed by the fandom of the thing, he explains. With this, the pitch was, theyre making a show right now, you can come in and be part of that whole process and make a game alongside it.

Part of the reason the process appears to have worked so well in my brief time with the game, it felt like a solid mix of beat em up and RPG is that Jones-Quartey has been unusually open with his creation. Vader describes it as a real mixtape vibe. Instead of instilling rules around style or story that partners have to follow, Jones-Quartey has instead left his world in the hands of trusted creators, and left them to do what they want with it. For me, the best part about making the show is opening up the idea and giving it to other people, he says. Im really, really a big fan of being open with my ideas and giving them to as many people as possible. Vella adds that [Jones-Quarteys] goal is the opposite of how brands are normally handled.

This openness has been ongoing. Capy and the animation team utilize Slack and weekly calls to share ideas and progress, and as new episodes and builds of the game are ready, everyone gets a chance to check them out. The sharing even extends to staff: when one Canadian-born animator was unable to get a US visa to work on the show, Capy brought him on board to help out with the game. The result is two projects that are clearly inspired by each other, yet remain distinct. Theres plenty of video game DNA in the show, even down to its structure, which has KO on a game-like quest to level up and get stronger. The in-game quests, meanwhile, are designed to act like short episodes of the show, three-act structure and all. The two have different art styles, and sometimes even conflicting stories, but they share a similar vibe.

This more open style of collaboration is something the Cartoon Network hopes to continue. Theres already an OK KO mobile game, and the network has held game and animation jams to let creators go wild with ideas, potentially generating new projects as well. The idea is that all of these different voices, from different fields, can continue to take the OK KO concept and expand it in new and interesting ways which is exactly what Jones-Quartey was hoping to do. Its like a creativity multiplier, he says.

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Cartoon Network’s new series OK KO blurs the line between games and animation – The Verge

Geek of the Week: Ty Taylor solved the puzzle and found success with his indie video games – GeekWire

Ty Taylor, Seattle-based creator of The Bridge and Tumblestone video games.

The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild sounds like an organization where scientists might gather to stare into telescopes. In fact, Quantum is a 6-year-old Seattle video game company a shining star, if you will, among small independent studios.

Ty Taylor, our latest Geek of the Week, is the founder and creator responsible for the success of the studio, which has put out two of the most award-winning and highly rated independent video games in the world: The Bridge and Tumblestone.

Taylorgraduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, earning both a BS and MS in Computer Science in only four years.

After university I immediately started working at Microsoft as an engineer on the Xbox One speech recognition team, Taylor said. But while working my 40-hour weekdays at Microsoft, I was also working 40-hour night and weekends to create my own games on the side.

Taylor kept that up for three years, eventually shipping his first game, The Bridge, in 2013 while still at Microsoft.

I was immediately making more money from the sales of this game than my Microsoft salary, so I decided to leave that company to grow my own, Taylor said.

In just the three years since leaving, Quantum has earned over a million dollars in gross revenue and has grown from just me to over a dozen contributors to the projects, selling copies of our games in every country in the world digitally, as well as creating physical discs that have been sold in Toys R Us, Target, and Best Buy.

The latest creation is the action-puzzle game Tumblestone, which just had its mobile launch on Monday.

Learn more abut this weeks Geek of the Week, Ty Taylor:

What do you do, and why do you do it?I make independent video games. Unlike major AAA games like Call of Duty or Skyrim, which have millions of dollars of budget and hundreds of people working on them, independent games are created by very small teams with very limited budgets. Like most indie game developers, I started creating them as passion projects. Playing video games was always a hobby of mine growing up, and Ive always enjoyed building things, so creating games is something that I naturally gravitated towards. But starting out, I didnt view making independent games to be a sustainable job, especially with AAA competitors who have more marketing budget to spend on a single commercial than an entire indie games budget. But once Steam (Valves digital PC game distribution platform) started to become popular, the ability to make money on a game that I created by myself in my living room on evenings and weekends suddenly became possible. And thats exactly what I did when I released The Bridge early in 2013. That enabled me to leave Microsoft and grow my own company. Weve recently released our second game, Tumblestone, which is one of the highest-rated independent games on Metacritic.

Whats the single most important thing people should know about your field?A big misconception is that game developers spend all day playing video games. In fact, its quite the opposite over the past 12 years that Ive been making games, my desire to regularly play them has dropped significantly. As a designer, I will play my own game, but only very specific sections of it as Im designing, developing, and testing the product. There are so many people whose response when I tell them that Im a game developer is that must be the most fun job ever. Well, it might be a cool and interesting job, but with over 80 hours a week put into the job, spending years on the same project, and sacrificing sleep and sanity at times to finish a project, the job transitions from fun to obsession very quickly.

Where do you find your inspiration?For game ideas, I find much more inspiration in art and the world around me than I do from other games. I like all of my creations to be very original since with so many games releasing every year, its important to stand out from the crowd. With that said, I prefer to look outside of the world of video games for inspiration. For my first successful game, The Bridge, I looked to the works of M.C. Escher. Ive always been fascinated by the impossible realities that he had created, and Ive always imagined what it would be like to walk around inside of one of his drawings. I created a game that allowed people to do just that, and because I looked towards a medium far removed from video games, I was able to create a unique and somewhat groundbreaking game out of the concept.

Whats the one piece of technology you couldnt live without, and why?A computer a device I require to program and produce video games. While I would still be able to answer emails from a smartphone, theres no way I could create games without a computer. Since thats my livelihood, I literally could not live without one!

Whats your workspace like, and why does it work for you?I work out of a Seattle-based co-working space called the Indies Workshop, where independent game developers come together to work on their own projects. There are about 25 people in an open office working on their own projects or in small teams its incredibly inspiring and helpful to surround myself with creative and talented people, and even though were not working on the same projects, we learn quite a bit from each other just from the lunches and other interactions that we have in the workspace. Plus, its in an incredible location in Capitol Hill, near almost all of the game industry events that happen in the Seattle area.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.)I used to think that the trick to this was to physically separate my work and my home, only to realize that if I put too much of a workload on myself, I wont be able to escape it no matter where I am. Ive found the best way to manage a work/life balance is to not enforce deadlines or other pressures for finishing a task within a certain timeframe. If you dont feel like working on something at a particular point in time, then dont, and if you do, then do, regardless of the number of hours youve put in that day or week already. This somewhat hedonistic work schedule has allowed me to let go of the stresses of finishing tasks in particular orders or by particular times, and has made me happier, allowed me to work from anywhere and at any time, and made me overall more productive when I am at work.

Mac, Windows or Linux?While Mac is beautiful and Linux is versatile, Windows is a necessity. When developing games for dozens of systems and using nearly a hundred tools programs in the process, Windows is the only system that really makes sense plus, as a PC gamer, a large portion of my Steam library is unplayable on anything except for Windows.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway?Han Solo. Was I supposed to name a captain from Star Trek? Id rather go to a galaxy far, far away than just within our own.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility?With a time machine, you could go into the future when a transporter and cloak of invisibility have already been invented, then come back to have all three easy decision if you blissfully ignore all the paradoxes.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would This is basically my situation now, minus being given the money in advance. But if tomorrow I were given an additional million, Id keep doing what Im doing now, just at a faster and bigger scale. I write down every idea Ive ever had in a Google Doc, regardless of how good, interesting, or feasible the idea is I write down everything. And this document is nearly 50 pages of one-paragraph game and app ideas. By myself, Ill never be able to create everything that I invent, but with a large enough team to delegate to, the dream of bringing all of my ideas to life would be a possibility.

I once waited in line for Before I started creating games full-time, I was a pretty avid console gamer. Ive definitely waited in line outside of GameStop for midnight releases of a Halo or Elder Scrolls game.

Your role models:I look up to game industry veterans who have started with a vision for a game, built up a company around it, executed well on the idea and design to bring it to life, and have created impactful experiences that have shaped the state of video games. This includes people like Todd Howard, John Carmack, and Jonathan Blow.

Greatest game in history:Tumblestone! But, I may be biased in that answer, so to name a game that I did not create, Id have to go with Tetris one of the most-played and most-influential games in the history of computer gaming.

Best gadget ever:Smartphones in general. We live in a pretty awesome future with the ability to browse the web, Google something, answer emails, send texts, and play games all from a relatively small device that fits in your pocket.

First computer:A TI-83 calculator, which is technically a computer for how I used it. When I was only 11, before having my own computer at home, I had this calculator for school, and I quickly discovered the ability to program on it and taught myself how to do so. My first video games were created on that little device, before I learned C++ and started coding on real computers years later.

Current phone:The Nexus 5X its a great phone for a reasonable price. The best part is that it works with Google Fi, one of the best cell phone plans Ive ever seen and would highly recommend to anyone.

Favorite app:Wabbitemu a bit of a hidden gem on Android, this allows you to have a fully operational TI-83 calculator in your pocket, giving you the ability to do anything from basic math, to graphing, to programming on your phone. As a software engineer, I use this app almost every day.

Favorite cause:Theres a Seattle-based charity called Childs Play, whose goal is to provide games and toys to sick children in hospitals. Some of the most emotionally impactful emails that Ive ever received have been from people with serious or painful illnesses who find escapism through games, thanking me for a wonderful distraction. Being able to use video games for so much good, distracting children in hospitals all over the country from their illnesses, is such a rewarding and satisfying feeling.

Most important technology of 2016:Advancements in clean energy sources. I think the planet is on a pivoting point for when its too late to recover from impacts of burning fossil fuels, and I was happy to see the price of solar panels drop so much in 2016, as well as the more widespread availability of all-electric cars and charging stations.

Most important technology of 2018:Advances in self-driving car technology. While it still isnt perfect, and still wont quite be in 2018, having completely autonomous vehicles on all the roads will be one of the most impactful ways that computer science and artificial intelligence will have ever helped mankind. Tens of thousands of automobile deaths happen every year, caused by human error, which can be nearly completely avoided in the future with self-driving car technology.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks:From a creativity and invention standpoint write down every idea. Even if you have hundreds of ideas that you might never get around to creating. And, as much as possible, prototype those ideas. Build quick proof-of-concepts for your inventions, because when something has potential, youll likely know it right away, or youll know to abandon the idea and move on to the next one.

Website: Ty Taylor

Twitter: @IMakeIndieGames

LinkedIn: Ty Taylor

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Geek of the Week: Ty Taylor solved the puzzle and found success with his indie video games – GeekWire

Review: Why I can’t stop killing a cute, puzzle-solving dog named Fidel – Ars Technica

Enlarge / That says Ars Approved for a reason.

I was already in love with the new video gameFidel: Dungeon Rescue before I realized I had missed one of its most important buttons.What greater compliment can you pay a video game? Fidel is so good that I was hooked even when I didn’t entirely understand it.

One month into my time with the game,I’m still not an expert. Fidel is among the hardest puzzle games I’ve ever played, but I keep coming back, groveling like a… you know.Fidel has everything I want in a brain-busting puzzle experience: quick sessions, a carefully balanced level generator, satisfying payoffs for intelligence, decisions full of stakes, and a dedicated “bark” button. (No, that’s not the button I was talking about.)

Walking from the start to the finish isn’t easy, especially as you manage a measly health bar and some specific enemy-killing rules.

Each run starts with a simple mini-challenge that doubles as a practical lesson. Here, you learn that these masked creatures are harmless to eat if they’re asleep, but that any noise (or chomp) next to them will wake them up.

Racking up experience is crucial to success because those “level up” moments refill your health bar. Certain enemies are a pain to take out, but doing so is sometimes worth it.

Occasional boss sequences appear to break up the puzzle rooms and force different decisions.

One boss sequence requires that you juggle your steps and the steps of a rival robo-pup.

Eating a vampire has a very different effect than eating other monsters. Also, note the ghost here: it will follow your leash and end your run, but it only appears if you’ve either spent too long in a puzzle room (you get a robust timer, at least) or if you accidentally lose all of your health.

Fidel leads players into its puzzles with zero formal instructions. Instead, each session starts with a small “you can’t fail this” challenge, followed by a suite of randomly generated puzzle rooms.After a few of these “quick lesson, quick death” instances, the game’s basics become clear.You’re a dog, and you must eat yourway through dangerous dungeons to find and save your elderly owner.

This plays out in top-down, 2D puzzle rooms, and Fidel cannot cross over any steps on his way to each room’sexit. (Because you’d trip over your own leash, you silly mutt!) The game supports a simplerewind for your steps, which is necessary because the path you take matters. Fidel must consume the dungeon’s creatures in order to gain experience points (XP), but many of the things you eat will dropyour health(shown as Zelda-like hearts). In good news, levels are full of health kits, and coins can be spent on things like health boosts and weapons, so you’ll constantly spend and refill your health.

Your challenge is to find the right path that lets you gobble up as many XP-granting foes as possiblewhile picking up crucial health packs and coins. XP is essential, by the way, because it increases your puppy’s maximum health level (and any level-up moment refills your entire health bar). You’ll have to play a few sessions before you come to appreciate how much those health bar expansions make or break your progress.

The first thing I loved about Fidel is that nearly none of its levels can be beaten perfectly. The random-level algorithm powering Fidelstarts by making players bend their brains just to find “good”paths, but once you approach that kind of mastery, you will realize: Fidelrarelylays out a neat, “this is the only obvious path” kind of room. This design decision forces players to make tough choices, and theseare key, asyour pup constantlyprepares for challenges to come. Maybe you try to scrape by with more health and less XP in one room; maybe you sacrifice morehealth in the next in order to grab a few extra coins.

No item or XPgained in a single Fidel run carries over to the next gameexcept, of course, knowledge. I got a significant taste of this once I figured out how to switch my starting point in every puzzle room.

Fidel intentionally holds this information back for a certain amount of time. You will land in a puzzle room, see an exit on the other side, and start mapping out a good path through enemies, health packs, and coins. This focuses your attention on certain tacticslike the turtle who won’t hurt you if you eat it from behind or the “boss” spiders that become harmless if three smaller spiders nearby are eaten in successionand the fact that you can’t always route a perfect path to eat some of Fidel’shigher-XP creatures.

Fidel release trailer

Eventually, after dozens of deaths, Istarted a game with a seemingly impossible mini-challenge. I would die if I approached a scene from the left, I noticed. I furrowed my brow. I tapped some buttons. Lo and behold, my sweet pup reappeared on the other side of the level. My original exit had become my entrance, and vice versa.

Whoa holy jeeps. Fidel justdoubled in size and scope. Now, I had the additional high-level question and challenge of picking my entrances and my exits in every puzzle room. I thought this might “help” me play better, but all it did was double my min-max mental workload in every puzzle room. Start from the left, and I’ll take out more simple turtles. Start from the right, however, and maybe I’ll pin down that incredibly tricky, item-destroying gnome.

In great news, Fideloffers a generous “try-and-rewind” system. Retrace any steps you’ve taken, and the game will undoany kills and restore any health lost. This reduces the agony you’ll surely face when your seemingly great strategy runs you into a dead end (which happens often, since you can’t walk back over.You can always try a brief test run in either directionso long as you don’t take any steps that completely kill you. If you do that, you have to rewind yourdeath step, then try to beat the room as quickly as possible from yourcurrent position, because a game-ending ghost starts coming for you.

At first blush, Fidel looks like one of fifty shmazillion randomly generated “roguelite” gamesthat have flooded online stores as of late. I would counter that Fidel is instead aunique twist on another classic genre: the falling-piece puzzle game. Instead of wondering which of seven tetrads you’re going to get, however, you must endurewhichever enemies and arrangements Fidel serves upand then you must be very careful in picking steps to solve or deal with them. And just like how Tetris will often dump a certain combination of pieces that simply won’t fit together (damn you, Z block!), so will Fidel create not-quite-perfect levels on a regular basis.

The line puzzle system here clearly resembles The Witness, which makes sense, as Fidel creatorDaniel Benmergui contributed to that 2016 puzzle sensation and was inspired in part by his work on it. But Fidelreally is a distinct and different take on that style of play, and anyone put off by how The Witness presented its puzzle world may be delightedeven relievedby the “get to the puzzle guts” presentation of Fidel. It’s cute. It’s quick. It’s tough. And it’s absolutely memorable. Should you be OK with its restriction to computers and its lack of multiplayer modes, you owe it to yourself to try this surprise summer delight.

Verdict: This is my favorite quick-burst, brain-busting puzzle game in years. Buy it.

Read more here:
Review: Why I can’t stop killing a cute, puzzle-solving dog named Fidel – Ars Technica


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