Thank you Cinemax for sending us this game to review!
The sickle of Kronos has been stolen and the Greek gods are scratching their heads wondering how it was taken and who took it. Their solution is to each choose a mortal champion to represent them and retrieve the sickle. Only the first mortal to complete this task shall have a wish granted.
Numen starts by having you choose a young male or a female character. These two children are siblings and there’s some rivalry between them. The character you choose must impress their uncle by becoming a powerful warrior, mage or a hunter. Your class is determined by the weapons and abilities you use. Like many action RPGs you have to walk around and talk to the villagers and complete some quests for experience and gold. There’s plenty of caves and dungeons to explore and tons of overgrown creatures to kill.
At first the monsters will include huge scorpions, spiders, wolves and bandits. As you travel, the monsters will get much more unusual and tougher to defeat. Besides the monsters, you have eight other determined heroes looking for the sickle as well. You can often work together but keep in mind that there’s only one winner in the end. Your actions towards them carry consequences and can please or anger the deity you represent.
When you become an adult, you must choose which deity you wish to align yourself with. Each god offers you unique abilities and perks. As you grow richer and gain experience, the priest can teach you new spells and abilities. You can also get temporary enhancements and some skills by offering chicken, goat or ox sacrifices to your god. After you make an offering to him, you’ll lose some favor with them for annoying them. If you went too cheap on the offering, your request will be ignored altogether.
Gaining favor from your god can be achieved by defeating a much stronger enemy, winning a duel against another hero, and lastly, practicing and winning tournaments. Tournament battles are unique in many ways. You can be fighting 2-3 opponents and you have a limited number of skills to use. You don’t have access to your inventory or health. Patrons will often throw potions but you don’t know if they contain health or poison. During the battles there will be random ice and fire attacks. If you don’t have the correct shield spell cast in time, you’ll be in serious pain. Sometimes you’ll see a random portal appear; I’ve never tried it out. Breaking out of combat mode to check out the portals or potions is a bit hard to do. The controls and camera can be rather clunky at times.
Besides the weird camera angling and auto targeting quirks, I have a couple other gripes worth mentioning. I have experienced some crash to desktop errors. There are some incomplete story lines when it comes to your competitors. For example, depending on your choices some of them can die. One character was wounded in the desert and I didn’t rescue them but they never died and were always there with no new dialogue. Another weird glitch is that a deceased competitor magically re-spawns and goes off to die again if you re-enter the cave where you met them. Finally, I thought it would be a nice touch to have the game mention your sibling by the term brother or sister instead of “sibling” all the time. I mean seriously, what are a few more lines of code to make the story more personal and less generic?
Other than those downfalls this game has a lot going for it. The 3D graphics are very good with a 3rd person perspective. The worlds offer a lot of variety from dark caves to icy mountains to scorching deserts. At first the enemies weren’t too original with bandits and regular old wolves. As you venture out the monsters get interesting and include giants, tree mages, mechanical humans, sand worms and more. The spells and abilities offer a lot of eye candy.
The dungeon crawler game style never ceases to get boring as I\'m always searching to better armor or wanting to level up so I can wear some neat artifact I found. Some of the armor is gender specific but the merchants can change that for you. A typical battle is click, target, use a spell/effect and kill. The boss battles are tough but they often have a weakness that can be exploited.
Thank you GamersGate for giving us this game to review!
I generally don’t consider myself much of a puzzle gamer but I was pleasantly surprised with Tidalis. This is Arcen Game’s first attempt at a puzzle game and I think they succeeded. It’s easy enough to draw in casual gamers and there’s enough strategy to stump veteran puzzle gamers. Fortunately, there is a lot of variety and game modes so you’re not forced out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of helpful tutorials and the adventure mode is a great way to gradually dive into the more challenging game modes. It’s kind of silly to wrap a story around a puzzle game, but the characters are cute and the dialogue is funny.
In the adventure mode, there are many winning conditions but in general the goal is to remove blocks before they stack up too high. Each block typically has a color with an arrow on it. You can rotate the arrows and then you can fire a light stream that will follow the direction of the arrows. If this stream connects blocks of the same color before dying out, they will disappear and start a chain reaction stream. If you get multiple rows of blocks with one stream you’ll get more points. Some levels allow you to fire multiple streams, but typically you’re only allowed one.
Adventure mode is my favorite since there is so much variety. One levels goal may be to clear out a certain number of blocks in a short amount of time while the next level puts a cap on the score you\'re able to achieve. For that challenge you have to only get three in a row without chain reactions. (Very challenging!) Each level has a different victory condition and if the condition is not met, you lose. The levels gradually get harder and if you find that a level is too tough, you can skip it.
In brain teaser mode, you have to clear all of the blocks and you have a limited number of turns to do so. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s zen mode where the well is constantly filled with blocks and you can’t lose. Many game modes have unique blocks with different effects. Some of these blocks will not reflect the light stream and they all require a special way to be removed. There are other level modifiers worth mentioning too. Some levels will alter the way the light beam moves by imposing gravity or feather weight status on it.
I’m just barely scratching the surface with the game styles, there are about twenty to play. You can choose what level modifiers you prefer and customize a puzzle style of your liking. Players can create and share their own level and puzzle creations as well. You can play against other players locally, online or against the computer. You can play competitively or co-operatively. There are also ranked puzzle challenges too. Unfortunately, I didn’t find anyone to play online against.
Tidalis is constantly being updated and there’s talk about more content being offered via updates. At first the built in game updater wasn’t working. After I manually applied the first patch, the game has updated properly since.
The graphics are colorful and the particle effects are good. The characters are unique and remind me of the artwork from Sponge Bob for some reason. The tiles are pretty easy to distinguish and there are even accessibility options for those who are visually impaired.
Thanks GamersGate for giving us this game to review!
The dwarven king is incredibly greedy and wants your team to mine the forbidden mountain to collect riches for him. The deeper you go into the mountain, the more precious the treasures. Unfortunately the tougher monsters lurk in the deepest depths as well. To make matters worse, you’re not the only team mining for treasure. Your goal is to bring the most loot to the king before you run out of turns.
The game play is easy to learn and there is some strategy involved. When you start the game you must pick your team and starting location. Your team consists of 5 members and you can have them be scouts, miners or fighters. The fighters are the strongest but they can’t move very far per turn. The miners are well rounded and the scouts are the opposite of the fighters.
When you start your turn, you get to build a tunnel by sliding an appropriate piece into an empty hex. If you mess up, you can undo or you can skip adding a piece altogether. You can use this piece to connect your tunnels or you can be a jerk and mess up your enemy’s area. Once the piece is in place, you can then move your dwarves.
The mining spots are limited on how much you can mine out of them. This means that you constantly have to search and go deeper to find more loot. Besides mining, you can also get loot by attacking the roaming monsters or opposing teams. The last source of income is discovering and redeeming treasure chests. In order to cash out on your loot, you have to go back to your starting point or sell it to a merchant for a fee.
When you end a turn you’ll have to sit back and watch the enemy move. You can speed up the game play but you cannot bypass watching them. Another annoyance is that you often have to click on message boxes that don’t apply to you. One feature I’d like to see implemented would be an undo option since I have often moved a dwarf accidently. With the limited number of movements, wasting it really stinks.
Multiplayer is available in this game but it’s limited to the same machine. The map you choose to play on determines the number of players and turns. The AI is pretty devious and challenging. You can adjust the difficulty level to your liking. Online multiplayer would be great, but this is a new developer and that would be quite an undertaking for them.
We really appreciate it that Paradox Interactive and GamersGate supplied us Sword of the Stars: Born of Blood for review.
Born of Blood is the first expansion pack of three for the turn based strategy game, Sword of the Stars. In this game, you and up to seven other players explore the galaxy, expand your empire, exploit resources, and exterminate your enemies. This is sometimes called a \'4X\' game. Each turn, you manage each star system by choosing what to build, and how to allocate its resources. There is also the ability to research new technologies, design your own ships, manage fleets, join or break alliances, trade with other factions, or other actions depending on what ships are at a location. You can also issue commands for ship movement. If ships from non allied factions meet, at the beginning of the turn there begins a combat phase, which takes place in a real time, pseudo-3D tactical view.
Kerberos Productions, unlike many other developers, takes a serious interest in their fan base. They setup the official Kerberos Productions forum (accessible here: http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forums/index.php ) and take real feedback from their players. After many patches to Sword of the Stars, they released the first of three expansions not only making the improvements that they had planned on, but also implementing player feedback. As a result, this expansion solves some of the issues the original had, while adding more content, like the Zuul.
The Zuul are the new race of Born of Blood. This additional race plays much differently than the Humans, Hivers, Tarka, or Liir, while borrowing some elements from them. Indeed, one of the defining aspects of the Zuul is that they \'borrow\' almost all of their tech – they capture and enslave their enemies. They are in a real sense a plague on the galaxies they inhabit, and treat every resource they collect as expendable. They damage everything they come in contact with. They overharvest every world that they colonize, causing permanent damage to the resources of any world, while getting what is there more quickly. Their concept of a \'home world\' is in name only – they get no benefit from it unlike other races. Like the humans, they also use node space for travel, except they do not care for whatever nature has decided – they literally rip a hole in node space, making their own node lines as desired. Since the universe heals itself, they have to re-rip node lines, if there is anything of value to go back to when they are done with it. Defense is not important to them, but offense is very important. Their ships look like random pieces from other ships, and that\'s what they are, according to their back story. It\'s a very interesting, and difficult race to play, requiring much different tactics than the other established races.
Other additions include trade and diplomacy. I really like both improvements, though trade can greatly affect economic growth. Each galaxy is divided up into trade sectors. Each sector is made up of several planets, usually around three to five. Once a sector is secure, you can build freighters which will trade with all nearby planets, bringing in additional income. You can also introduce commerce raiding, as well as freighter escorts to prevent such raiding on your trade routes. I found that it really helped my bottom line quite a bit, and was well worth the investment in freighters.
Diplomacy is much better here, though I feel there is still potential for improvement. You can now not only offer to join a non aggression agreement or form alliances, but you can also make that alliance work for you. You can ask your alliance members to help defend any planet, or to take offensive action on an enemy. This works great because it makes coordination so much easier, and AI can be involved as well. I have found that the AI will ask for my help with their difficult situations, and I can ask for help with mine, and they will send it. It\'s also a great way to improve relations between factions.
Another area of improvement is additional technologies. There are some great new weapons, including corrosive missiles, which leave an area of affect damage in the way, plasma cannons which are a rapid fire weapon, and plasma projectors, which create a storm of energy blasts at a target. There are also the armor piercing rounds, which makes a more accurate version of the mass driver. In addition to this, there are cloaked mines, improved forms of armor, and other goodies. There are also new torpedo defense platforms. All in all, a noticeable improvement in the available arsenal.
I noticed that several menus have been reorganized, to make them much easier to use, or to add the new features. I also noticed that the general battle graphics have been souped up quite a bit, especially the weapon effects and explosions. For example, when a tanker is destroyed, the resulting explosion has an area of affect, and this is visible as the concussive blast hits others nearby. Explosions are much more impactful now. The sound effects are fitting, and the new voices for the Zuul are also quite fitting. Those guys sound mean and nasty – like they are.
When it comes to appropriateness, there is mention of slavery, as the Zuul can enslave other races. They also disregard proper planetary stewardship – they destroy to meet their needs. There is also ship to ship explosions, and planetary bombardment. None of this is graphic. It\'s mostly harmless, though some may prefer to talk with the younger audiences why if we really did find alien life that bombing their planet isn\'t the best idea.
I found that with the improvements, it\'s still the same core game. If you don\'t like Sword of the Stars, this is unlikely to change your mind, but for those who are fans, this expansion is highly recommended. Fortunately, GamersGate, Impulse, and others have released not only this expansion, but the Sword of the Stars Complete Collection, which includes this update. GamersGate has this expansion for $14.95, and the whole collection for $29.96, and with two other expansions, the value is obvious. I highly recommend this to space fairing strategy lovers.
For those who loved the Ghostbusters movies you’ll feel like you’re in them. You’re a part of the team as you play the new recruit named “rookie”. They named you rookie so they don’t get too attached to you. Since you have the least seniority, you get the honor of testing all of their experimental equipment. Ghostbusters: The Videogame stays true to the characters and environment, and all of the original voice actors reprise their roles.
The game begins in the museum where there is a new Gozer exhibit which is haunted, and opens a portal for the undead to invade our world. The Ghostbusters must stop this chaos and close all of the entrance points from the spirit world into our own. Many of the same allies and enemies are back. Mr. Peck still hates the Ghostbusters with a passion and will try his best to shut them down. The mayor is still on your side but doesn’t want the city destroyed.
When it comes to catching ghosts you’ll earn and cost the team money. The money you earn can be spent on many useful upgrades. I don’t think there is any penalty to destroying anything; the game just makes you aware of it. The upgrades include more powerful weapons, faster ghost traps, and personal damage reducing abilities.
Most of the game is in the third person perspective. When you use the PKE meter to scan your surroundings it switches to first person. You can scan ghosts into the database to identify their weaknesses and you get money for doing so. Another way to make money is to collect haunted artifacts. You can only find them by using the PKE meter. The PKE meter gives you night vision which comes in handy since many ghosts like dark areas.
When you’re not scanning for ghosts, you’re catching them. The catching part is done in third person and it’s a three step process. First, you have to weaken the foul being. Then you have to deploy your trap near them. Lastly you have to capture the apparition with your proton beam and hold them by the trap for a few seconds. If the ghosts are feisty you can slam them around a bit to weaken them some more. Later you can buy an upgrade that instantly catches them if you slam them into the trap.
Most of the time you’ll have backup, but some missions you have to do by yourself. When you’re fighting with your team, you can revive each other if you get knocked out. If everyone is defeated, the mission fails and you have to load from the last check point. Unfortunately, there are no quick saves. I learned that the more team mates that are with you, the more challenging of an enemy awaits you. The whole gang is there to help with bosses. The AI is pretty good and they definitely carry their weight.