Xbox & Bethesda, GCAP and Rayman Legend

Bethesda and Xbox team up

That’s right the creators of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, and many more have entered into an agreement to take over ZeniMax Media which is the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash on Monday which makes it the biggest gaming acquisition in Microsoft’s history, which well and truly surpasses that time when Microsoft purchased Mojang (the creators of Minecraft) for $2.5 billion. “Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. Microsoft will gain 8 more creative studio teams adding the over 2,300 staff of Bethesda to the mix. Phil Spencer the Head of Xbox has said, “Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow, and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.”

Michel Ancel the game designer behind Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil leaves game development

That’s right after more than 30 years Ancel has posted on Instagram saying, “’I’ve decided to stop working on video games and fully focus on my second passion: Wild Life! My new project take place in the real world and consists in a wildlife open sanctuary dedicated to education, nature lovers and… wild animals.” He goes on to reassure fans that the games Wild and Beyond Good & Evil 2 will be taken care of by the teams at autonomous. Guillaume Brunier the senior producer for Beyond Good & Evil 2 said in a statement, “For years, Michel imparted his creative vision and helped us remain faithful to BG&E’s incredible universe. His uncompromising passion pushed us to redefine what was possible in crafting an expansive, multicultural, and futuristic science-fiction world. As we move forward, we are all committed to remaining true to this vision.”

GCAP 20 begins on Monday 5th of October!

Games Connect Asia Pacific is Australia’s premier professional development and networking event for game development, specialising in all different types of disciplines. This year’s GCAP tickets are only $2! With 100% of that $2 being donated to the Ready Foundation which is a non-for-profit company that aims to assist in relieving poverty, suffering, distress, or misfortune experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and other disadvantaged youth. The event will be hosted virtually during Melbourne International Games Week and there will be a variety of talks over the course of 3 days. If you’d like to purchase a ticket click here or if you’d like some more information head over to the GCAP website here.

Ten Candles Review

Publisher: Cavalry Games
Released: December 2015
Genre: Tragic Horror, Tabletop Gaming,
Players:
(1 GM, 3-5 Players)
Suitable for:
Single Sessions.

Ten Candles is a tragic horror tabletop RPG with zero-prep and a story focus. It is one of the most unique role-playing games I’ve ever played, notably (but not only) because it’s played in the dark, lit only by candlelight. Very little of the world is set in stone, most things are decided by players as play progresses. The only similarities between sessions are an unnatural darkness that smothers the world, the evil force known as “them”, and the inevitably of your death. Not the possibility, not the probability, the certain, inescapable death that marks the game’s end.This might sound strange for a survival horror game, but Ten Candles is specifically a tragic horror game.  It isn’t a game about fighting monsters, saving the day, or even just survival. Ten Candles is a game about people pushed into darkness and despair. It is about finding hope and meaning where none remains.

To play you’ll want a GM, 3-5 players, paper, ten candles, and a butt-load of dice. The physical rule book can be purchased from the publisher online but if you’re okay with digital, the PDF is all you need! Supposedly a session plays in 2-4 hours but every session I’ve played sat between 4 and 5. That might be the game’s fault or the fault of me as a player, but it was still good fun the whole time. In ten candles the game master takes control of everyone and everything that isn’t a player character. Despite being responsible for every danger the players face, and deciding the consequences, they do not act as an opposing force but as a neutral facilitator of the story. The characters will die, there’s just no rush to get there. For the most part players only control their characters but, between chapters, everyone has a chance to direct the story. This is done via chanting; in case the game needed a stronger occult aesthetic. THESE THINGS ARE TRUE. THE WORLD IS DARK. AND WE ARE ALIVE. The number of decisions is directly tied to the number of candles so a lot can be done early on, but at the end only one truth remains. THE WORLD IS DARK. AND WE ARE ALIVE.

Characters are also made collaboratively in the games setup, choosing strengths, flaws, goals, and the darkness within. These traits are key to your (temporary) survival as they can be used to turn the odds in your favor, a failure to success. Each trait can only be used once though, and when they are, you burn that part of your character sheet away. You know you will fall eventually, but not now, not this moment, and that defiance lights up the increasingly dark room with brief hope. The candles aren’t just for aesthetic and burning things, they serve as a countdown for the story and its chapters. The game consists of ten scenes, each ending with a candle snuffed out. This means that, as the story turns darker so too does the actual space, you’re playing in. In the final scene of the game, only one candle will remain, offering weak light for your characters last stand. They can fight as long as possible but inevitably the flame will go out. At the end of every game I’ve played, I’ve been left with a strange, slightly bittersweet feeling. I just spent hours with a character fighting against the odds to live and now they were dead, the game was over, and I would move on. It’s a good feeling though, the one that fuels my love for TTRPG, and the one that keeps bringing me back again and again.

If this review has been particularly intense, it’s because there’s no other way to discuss Ten Candles. It’s a game, but it’s also a collaborative story, a terrifying world, and an occult ritual with friends. Ten Candles delivers the best of tabletop RPG (atmosphere, emotion, high stakes), which many systems can’t offer in entire campaigns, in just a single gaming session. Even if you’ve never picked up a tabletop RPG, Ten Candles is simple enough to understand and interesting enough to win you over. If you’re a fan of survival horror or any part of my review piqued your interest, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Next Xbox Release Details, Ubi-Games and PAX Online

Australian release date and price for Microsoft’s next generation consoles revealed

Microsoft will release their next generation hardware, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on

November 10th at a price of $749 and $499 respectively. They will also be continuing their Xbox All Access program through Telstra which provides a console plus Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for a monthly fee of $46 or $33 over a duration of 24 months. Additionally, Microsoft has announced that Game Pass will now include EA’s subscription service, EA Play at no additional cost.

Those looking for Playstation launch details may not have long to wait as Sony has a Playstation 5 Showcase scheduled for Thursday (September 16) morning at 6am AEST.

Ubisoft announces new projects in the latest Ubisoft Forward

In the latest presentation from the scandal plagued publisher several new titles were debuted and detailed.

Riders Republic is a massive multiplayer focused extreme sports game that follows in the footsteps of Steep. The game allows up to 50 players at once to compete in open world sports including biking, wingsuiting, skiing, snowboarding and others.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is receiving the remake treatment from Ubisoft India. The remake is the studios largest title to date and features all new graphics and gameplay updates.

Gods & Monsters the Breath of the Wild inspired open world action RPG based in a colourful world of Greek mythology has had a name change. Now known as Immortals Fenyx Rising you can expect the game to drop this year on December 3rd.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is being re-released with a Complete Edition. The stylish beat em up based on the comic series featured art direction from Australia’s own Paul Robertson and disappeared from sale back in 2014. The new edition contains the base game and all DLC.

Before the presentation Ubisoft released a video message from CEO Yves Guilemot addressing some of the recent scandals that have surrounded the company primarily the incidents of harassment and the appropriation of Black Lives Matter imagery in Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad. Yves apologised for the incidents and pledged to improve in order to prevent such incidents in future, provide opportunities for underrepresented voices in the company and pledge their support for Black Lives Matter as well donating a million dollars to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Pax Online is Live

In lieu of PAX Australia and PAX West this year event organiser Reedpop has launched the online event PAX Online running from September 12 to 20. During the free event you can check out panels and events streaming around the clock on the PAX Online channels, tour a virtual show floor and even play demos of unreleased games on Steam. Included in the line up are some of Australia’s very own including Unpacking, TopplePOP: Bungee Blockbusters, Ring of Pain and Justice Sucks: Recharged among others.

Metamorphosis Review

Developer: Ovid Works
Publisher: All in! Games
Music: Ovid Works
Platforms: PC, PS4, XboxOne, Nintendo Switch
Released: 12 August 2020
Genre: Adventure puzzle

Ugh, you wake up with a hell of a hangover, you, Gregor, and your best friend Joseph had way too many drinks. But you’ve got work, and you need to go find your friend. It sure was nice of him to let you crash at his place. Now to go wake up your friend.

Except… the rooms are getting bigger… no, you’re getting smaller. Your body shifting, changing, suddenly you have more limbs, books tower over you, and your day becomes very surreal.

You’re… a bug.

And as you enter a letter, that is the least of your problems.

You must get to Tower for any hope of regaining your humanity. You must find and help Joseph, caught up in a trial for a crime no one will explain. Two very big problems, for one very small bug.

Your journey isn’t an easy one, with multiple pathways, colourful and bizarre characters, and a surreal, whimsical world, you need to find out why you were turned into a bug, what is going on, why is Joseph on trial, and what is Tower?

Metaphorphosis is a world inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, and it is a beautiful, detailed adventure puzzle game, with a hand painted aesthetic. You are Gregor, now a bug, and you need to figure out what is going on.

You’re a bug. So you get bug powers! If your feet are sticky you can climb up vertical surfaces. You have to get creative with how you can navigate the world, in some ways you’re very capable as a bug! You’re rather speedy, you can jump quite far, and walls aren’t much of an issue. But you are small, and it’s very easy to drown, miscalculate and fall to your death, or get crushed by a book. It’s very easy to get lost or overwhelmed by the sheer scale of things, but there is a helpful feature that allows you to get a fly-eye’s view of the world, allowing you to see your destination and goal, and to make your decisions.

You’ll have multiple paths, not just physically, but also with your decisions. Some are obvious, some are easier than others.

And the game has a lot of fun with the fact that you’re a bug and you’re bug-sized. Interesting pathways, unique obstacles, fun and creative ways to get around. There is a sense of wonder and joy as you navigate this world. I am reminded of when I was a child and I’d imagine being a mouse, sailing down the gutter on a ship made of leaves. And the world built at the bug level is delightfully detailed, populated with a variety of insects, speakeasies, and even its own form of government. Many of us are familiar with the frustration that comes with bureaucracy, don’t worry! It is well-recreated here. But even with all that, with everything that’s happening, you find yourself in a forest of mushrooms, or on a tiny ship sailing through the air, or surfing on a supply request form.

It’s beautiful, with a touch of magic and whimsy.

The sound is extremely immersive, you hear your own skittering, changing depending on the surface, the human giants around you chatting through walls, their voices garbled but deep, resonating through the walls. Machines whirring, drawers opening and closing, and a lawyer droning on and on, doing a great job at explaining absolutely nothing. It makes the world feel very big, and you very, very small.

The music is well composed, and a lot of fun, highlighting exciting moments, displaying the scale of the world. I would find myself feeling very nervous at times, as I felt exposed and vulnerable at times. The music contributed to that, but it also lent to the whimsical nature of this bug society you find yourself falling into. The wacky characters you’d run into, the things you’d see and experience.

I am not the biggest fan of bugs, but I found myself charmed and intrigued by the world Ovid Works had created. There was the human world that I was aware of, my best friend was on trial for something, and I watched the roadblocks and issues he went through. Gregor is invested in that world. But the bug world is just as intriguing, interesting, filled with vibrancy and character and wonder. And you have your own problems to deal with. So I found myself stressing about my tasks and trials, but also I just had to stop and look around. I wanted to observe and interact with this world. There were towns and groups and even a little cult to check out. Hidden areas, little secrets, a dozen paths to a single goal.

The world is so big, and so detailed, and it made me want to explore. The gameplay was creative, fun, and made me think and plot my path. And the ending… well, I’m not sure where you’ll end up, but it is one I want to revisit later. There are multiple paths, and I feel guilty about the one I took.

It’s kinda weird that as a bug you’d have so much control over what happens, it’s an awfully big responsibility. But the game makes you capable of it.

BGG, Sings and DOOM Pregnancy

Twitch Sings will be no more

Twitch TV has confirmed that it will be closing down Twitch Sings at the end of this year starting from December 1st with January 1st, 2021 being the total deadline. Twitch will be removing all content that is linked to the Sings wing of the service such as clips, highlights, videos as well as any remaining VODs. In a FAQ Twitch has said to be “inspired” by all the passionate fans and talent that has been drawn to the service and intends on investing in the “broader tools and service” to help assist the music community on the streaming platform. There has been a lot of disappointment around the closure of Twitch Sings with one fan saying, “I’m not going to lie, I’ve been quiet depressed during the pandemic, Twitch Sings the beautiful people I have made friends with has been a singular saving grace.”

Black Girl Gamers for a more inclusive gaming landscape

BGG is a multi-age platform and LGBTIQ+ online gaming community with over 6,000 followers on Facebook comprising of mostly black women who share their love and passion for gaming. Created by Jay-Ann Lopez back in 2015 to help create a gaming space that was less toxic for black women. Lopez said that she was frustrated with the racism and misogyny that she was experiencing and that she wanted to increase visibility and inclusion for women within the industry. The isn’t Jay-Ann’s first time creating a community for minorities, she’s also created an online empowerment platform called Curlture which encourages black women to embrace their natural hair and beauty. Black Girl Gamers community now has over 50,000 followers across Twitch, Twitter and Instagram if you’d like to spread the word and support this awesome community or simply join up for some wholesome gamer community action.

Play DOOM on a pregnancy test

That’s right you heard me, thanks to Foone Turing who is a collector and computer tinkerer posted on Reddit showing off a GIF of DOOM that was rendered on a pregnancy test display. In the GIF you can see on the tiny walls, floors, doors, and the pixelated corridors of DOOM. Foone tweeted a day or so after sharing the GIF on Reddit saying that the processing power of the pregnancy test is probably faster than the original IBM PC that DOOM started on. If you’d like to take a look at that GIF click here.

Fight Crab Review

Developer: Calappa Games
Publisher: Calappa Games
Music: DEKU
Platforms: Steam (PC), Nintendo Switch, itch.io/Booth (PC)
Released: 30-July 2020 (PC), 15-September 2020 (Switch)
Genre: 3D fighting game

You are a crab.

A simple crab, you find yourself thrown into the ocean with a single purpose, a single goal, and a single thought:
You must fight.

A 3D fighting game, Fight Crab takes you through battle after battle, flipping your opponents onto their back.

However, like crabs, your task isn’t all that simple. As a decapod crustacean, you must master control over your armoured body and 10 limbs. You not only battle in the ocean, facing other crabs, but you also take to the streets, castles, cities, determinedly focused on flipping every single opponent you encounter, whether they be crab, lobster, or otherwise.

But… does your tough shell hide a soft interior? Technically, yes! But emotionally, it’s all crab all the way through.

This is a fun, chaotic, broken-but-it-feels-right sort of game.

The game mechanics are cluttered to say the least, deliberately so. The controls make sense, and they’re easy to learn (it’s easiest if you use a controller!), but they’re difficult to master, and that’s part of the fun of it.

You’ll find yourself flailing your claws around, scuttling over obstacles, wielding anything your pincers can grab a hold of. Your body is a weapon, and so is your environment, and your enemy is also a weapon. The weapon your enemy is holding could be your weapon as well.

Punch your enemy, block your enemy, grab onto them, forcing them to yield to your crustaceous superiority. Who cares if you’re facing a lobster with a knife and gun, it could be your knife and gun if you’re crab enough.

You can level up your crab, perfect it’s form to your style. You unlock new crustaceans and weapons, and you also earn abilities and power ups. Are you ready to surge with righteous crab power, pummel your opponent, and then blast them away with pure, crabby energy? Well, you better be!

If at first, you feel you’re mashing buttons, that’s ok. Crabs also need to learn the ways of tactics, finesse, and controls. You and your crab will grow together. Soon you will be in sync with each other.

Outside, you may be human. But inside, emotionally, it’s crab.

Sound effects are standard for a fighting game, your claws sound satisfying, you can hear the energy of the blast as you’re blown away. There’s an announcer telling you your next opponent is arriving.

Now the music is good. It’s powerful, it’s futuristic, energising, and enjoyable to listen to. And it pushes the whole game experience to the limits. This is an absurd game, it’s silly, it’s like a joke that’s played seriously. And there were genuine moments when I thought ‘oh actually, that’s pretty cool’.

The music ties it all together.

I was a little nervous about playing this game, I have a history with our crustacean friends, and I worried I wouldn’t enjoy this game. I thought it would be too goofy, with minimal effort for a laugh. And the UI and menus reinforced that, they look very ‘serious’ but I couldn’t understand a lot of it initially. Parts of the game could’ve done with a lot more polish. So, I was a little apprehensive.

I am happy to say I was proven wrong.

I don’t know if it’s a great game, but it definitely was a fun game. And I am astounded by how well this was executed. The controls were easy to learn, the game actually automatically locks onto your target and manages parts of your controls so you’re not overwhelmed. You’re given so many weapons, power ups, and abilities that I just could not wait to use whatever it was I grabbed. It’s a tree? Ok! A coconut crab has appeared with a hammer? I’m not going to back down, onwards I go! A lobster with rockets attached to its claws? Who thinks of these things, this is brilliant! I’m having an absolute whale of a time. I can’t wait to crack open this sweet game at a party with friends.

Maybe the UI leaves me crabby, I felt like I was going crabwise with the layout and navigation of the menus, and maybe I felt like I was being thrown into boiling water with the battles as chaos reigned.

But that doesn’t matter much.

Because I am a crab, and I must fight.