Moonlighter

Developer: Digital Sun
Publisher:
11 Bit Studios & Merge Games
Music:
David Fen & Pablo Caballero
Platforms:
Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC (Mac, Windows, & Linux)
Released:
29th May 2019
Genre:
Action Adventure RPG & Business Simulator

Set in a distant world where strange ruins appeared filled with mazes and puzzles to solve. Will, the games protagonist and wannabe hero dreams of finding awesome loot to sell that he finds from within dungeons, as well as, not to mention killing dungeon monsters. Each dungeon is named after the people who attempted to loot them however as time has gone by dungeon crawling for rare finds hasn’t been very lucrative. In order to find rare and expensive items you must dive deeper and deeper into the labyrinth like dungeons which can become a high-risk investment. Will is a merchant who owns a shop called Moonlighter in a little town called Rynoka whereby night Will searches dungeons for items and by day sells them in his store. Moonlighter has a sweet pixel art style which couples nicely with the dungeon crawler genre. The animations are cute and simple which flow well with the overall visual design of the game.

Moonlighter is a randomised dungeon diver where you go off in search for loot, but you also have a side hustle as a shop keeper in town. The game is divided into these two major components that work together well. On one side you have the action adventure aspect where there are procedurally generated dungeons, where you fight bosses, collect gold and items and of course fight lots of enemies. Then on the other side there is the shop where you must consider consumer demand, shop upgrades, whether you spend gold on new equipment or to expand the town to further the games progression. These two elements come together well and feed each other, you will dungeon crawl for items and then essentially sell them in the store at a price of your desire. The tricky thing is managing the greed factor, it is very easy to get carried away in a dungeon searching for more items however, if you die you can say goodbye to that recently gathered loot.

The shop requires good management skills and learning all you need to learn when it comes to the shop is taken slow and steady from a tutorial perspective everything was smooth and enjoyable. The dungeon crawling was also excellent, my only dig would be some of the fighting mechanics were a little rough and sometimes it was hard to gage distance between myself an enemy which therefore lead me to take unnecessary damage. Some of the little features that was a nice touch is this pendant you receive early in game that converts items into gold, this allowed me to clear space in my inventory while on the go however you do have to consider the value of the items you convert with the pendant will be less than what you can sell in Moonlighter. There is a lot to focus on and consider from the gameplay perspective which makes this indie gem a fantastic experience. Exploration and achievements are the big focus with this game.

The music is cinematic with pleasant melodies that propel you further into adventure. The soundtrack is made up of sweet little guitar riffs and floaty sounds of the piano, this combined with charming orchestral elements. The score generates feelings of mystery and curiosity. David Fen composed and produced the soundtrack for Moonlighter except for Pablo Caballero composing and producing the original announcement trailer for the Nintendo Switch. There are 26 songs that comprise the soundtrack which are delightful and cheery at times and then there’s the mysterious and dangerous sounds of the dungeons. The overall sound of Moonlighter compliments the visuals and game play experience wonderfully.

Moonlighter is a highly praised indie game that has over 1,400 reviews on Steam, from a development perspective this game has been a huge success. I would like to reference an article that discusses the success of Moonlighter from Gamasutra which touches on the stages of developing a successful indie game, for all you indie buffs out there.

Moonlighter is a brilliant game that teases your greedy bones, challenges you, and encourages you to explore further in every dungeon dive in hopes of finding something rare and expensive. This game is a management experience where you must consider the economy, your business and your personal goals as the player. Moonlighter has so many items, enemies and features that there is even a Wiki on Gamepedia for all your wondering. The sounds, visuals and feel of the game is charming and really makes you feel like a merchant in a fantasy adventure world. I highly recommend this game for people who are driven by strategy and achievements.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on 22nd April 2020

 

Vigor Beta Review

Developer: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Publisher: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Audio: Bohemia Interactive Studio
Platforms: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 19, 2019
Genre: 3rd person survival game, Looter Shooter

Vigor is a third person survival, looter shooter. The game has little story however it takes place in a post-apocalyptic Norway after the world was nuked. There seems to be a world power in charge as there are military air drops that happen frequently. Vigor begins with you choosing your outlander, you are then guided through a tutorial by a person named Alana. Once you get through the tutorial the story is pretty much over, from here your narrative is like that of any survival game; survive.

So what is this game? Well Vigor is an online looter shooter, borrowing the playstyle from Tarkov and mixing in some elements of a battle royal. We begin the tour of Vigor in this little hub world that you call home. Here you will find everything from your online store to crafting tables to a weapons range where you can practice. This little house is the main driving factor of the game, as you will be upgrading this ‘home’ until it is a fully functioning sanctuary. Sadly, there is not much in terms of customization just upgrades to an already existing template.

When you are not in this hub world you will be going out to loot. This is done through jumping into scenarios either alone or with a friend. You will fight on a map against a group of other outlanders, the goal is to kill, loot and survive. As the player you can leave at any time from one of the many escape routes on the map but, if you leave, you’ll miss out on the air drop that is spawned near the end of the round, and this drop consists of a loot crate containing precious materials. So, you might be wondering, “what’s the catch?” well, the catch is that if you die you lose everything you brought into that round including everything you found. So, you will always be playing with the risk of losing everything, which is very alike Tarkov in that way.

The gameplay itself is relatively fun and straightforward, displaying cool concepts. However, from my experience there was more frustration than fun. The third person controller does not translate well with the Nintendo Switch controller, making it hard to aim and move in a satisfying way. Things like this are important as there is little time to react to an enemy, this could be imperative to a life or death situation, thus making the game feel clunky and not as smooth as I would have liked. Unlike the Ghost Recon Series which is what I was expecting from this type of gameplay.

The leader board system in the game is interesting, in order to rank up you must donate food to other players therefore making your decision to rank up or not a contest between comradery or greed. In the pregame menu you can select either with yourself or a team select the quality of the loot you can find. By spending some premium currency, you can fill a bar that makes either the airdrop or the loot be more valuable this adds a competitive clout effect to the game.

Being a survival game, the sound is extremely important in making the game feel real and impactful. This is something the developers succeed in, making me really think about my choices between running, crawling, or sprinting based on how the sounds were making me feel. The soundtrack is also very nicely made, taking inspiration from its Nordic country. Adding a cool new feeling to a survival feeling that we have not seen before. The gun sounds and other SFX are also very enjoyable with nothing else to be said other than well done.

Vigor is an interesting and new experience that takes elements that are proven to work from other survival games. The game tries some new things that are interesting and sets the stage for some striking community play that I would love to see more off. However, the game felt clunky and a lot of my experience was unsatisfying, the player controller is hard to use and leaves combat to be avoided rather than desired. While the narrative in the game is one that is fairly no existent, it is awesome to see some new settings that could lead to some new and exciting gameplay frameworks. The audio in the game is great and the progression is easy to follow. Being a free to play game I would say it is worth picking up and trying out. Hopefully, the game will improve after the developers make improvements after this beta phase.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on April 22nd 2020

Micro transactions, Facebook Gaming and Travis Scott

PCGamingWiki is Now Tracking Micro Transactions in Games

A new category has been opened on the wiki page founded by Andrew Tsai who says in a post on Monday that, “Many PC gamers don’t have a clue what they are getting into before they install the latest ‘free to play’ game, These games could contain manipulative loot boxes, hopelessly unfair grinds or game imbalancing pay-to-win unlocks.” PCGamingWiki typically looks at things like hardware, software and network related to gaming. It is a technology focused platform. The idea of this micro transactions monitoring project is to track gambling on loot boxes, cosmetics, game advantages, in-game currency, and pay-to-skip mechanics. This wiki will also keep an eye on monetization categories such as ad-supported, free-to-play or subscription. It should be interesting to see what they find.

Facebook Have Launched Their Very Own Video Game Streaming App

Facebook has decided to take on the streaming giants such as, Twitch, Mixer and YouTube. The launch of this streaming service wasn’t to be expected until later in the year however has officially come out now. You can watch now on the Facebook app (Only Android currently however, iOS coming soon) you can also watch in your computer browser. You’ll be able to follow streamers, talk in the chat to other viewers as well as play games from Facebook’s library and stream them. Some of the popular games to watch on the platform right now are, Age of Empires, American Truck Simulator, COD Modern Warfare, GTA 5, PUBG and of course Fortnite. These streams currently have lower numbers but that could change which a shift in algorithms that promote streams on the Facebook app. Let’s see how Facebook take on the video game streaming world.

Travis Scott Will Debut His New Song in Fortnite This Week

Travis Scott is a very famous, Grammy-nominated rapper and producer who is going to ‘tour’ in Fortnite from the 23rd – 25th of April to release his new single Astronomical. Travis Scott isn’t just touring his also going to be a more permanent part of the Fortnite universe since joining the Fortnite Icon Series, which is the collection of in-game cosmetics that are inspired by artists and content creators. If you join the event you will be able to pick up an Astroworld Cyclone Glider and two loading screens for free. If you’d like to check it out Travis Scott’s concerts will be hosted at different times and days however if you’d like to tune in from Australia the Asia & Oceania concert starts at 2PM AEST on the 25th of April.

In Other Waters

Developer: Jump Over The Age
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Music/Audio: Amos Roddy
Platforms: PC (Mac/Windows) & Nintendo Switch
Released: 3rd April 2020
Genre: Narrative Exploration, Adventure, Atmospheric, Indie

Ellery Vas is a xenobiologist who discovers alien life on planet Gliese 677Cc while trying to find her missing research partner Minae Nomura. Ellery finds herself completely stranded in the ocean with a malfunctioning diving suit and you, a strange AI who is to guide her to safety while exploring extra-terrestrial fauna, and of course assisting her with the search for Minae. In Other Waters is a game heavily driven by narrative, and not just for the characters but also the landscapes you encounter, the creatures you discover, and the history of the planet you delve into. There are many secrets to divulge, challenges to face, and some that test the bond you share with Ellery. This game brilliantly touches on topics such as environmental destruction, life decisions, as well as human and AI relationships.

In Other Waters uses a gorgeous minimalistic colour palette such as teal, bright yellows and deep greens. They dominate the screen which you might think is too much however, it creates this very aesthetically pleasing visual that is a delight to navigate. These colours shift and change as you dive deeper into the depths of the ocean in pursuit of finding both alien and human life.

From a game play perspective this exploration, narrative driven, and emotional game depends completely on UI (User Interface). The aeroplane pilot like navigation system you use to assist Ellery around the underwater landscapes is stunning, simple and most importantly it feels like you are doing the thing you are intending to do. For example, you must collect samples of the environment around you to examine, and as you gather the samples you must click on different dials, buttons and knobs to make that process happen. The way Gareth Damian Martin (solo designer at Jump Over The Age) has designed this system really makes you feel like you are extracting something from the environment. There are other mechanics and systems that are also incredibly unique to In Other Waters that there aren’t many comparisons I can make however, this experience really depends on gathering information by exploring the ocean floor. The more information you gather the more the story comes together. I don’t want to give to much away so you’ll just have to pick it up and have a go.

As you explore the topography of the world around you in the blue-green depths of the ocean you do come across an abandoned base that allows you to recharge your suit and access other features such as; being able to further examine samples, engage with your diving suits systems, or may be check out the map to see where you have travelled since your journey began.

There is only one issue that tended to irritate me while playing and that was the dialog text box had a timer. This meant I had to keep up with Ellery communicating to me and if I had scanned the area there would be new dialog displayed in a different section of the screen at the same time. That was particularly difficult to juggle and that also made things challenging when I missed something Ellery was explaining to me. In saying that this is a small thing that doesn’t take away from the rest of the game’s experience or overarching feel.

Eery, endless, echoing sounds of the deep, Amos Roddy does an exceptional job of sound scaping the vastness of this alien planet’s oceans. There are plenty of echoes and tremors of the deep that you hear as you discover new things. You can really dive into the environment with Amos’ music submerging you into this alien water world. Some of the sounds are reminiscent of whale calls or dolphin cries, which all adds to this game’s rich and alluring adventure.

In Other Waters is receiving accolades and praise from players and critics around the world and all of this, of course, is well deserved. This game is a unique and interesting experience that is unlike anything I’ve played before. Amos Roddy’s beautiful and haunting music fleshes out Gareth’s intention of creating a game that compels you to explore deeper and deeper. In Other Waters evokes feelings of wonder and intrigue encouraging you to think differently about the environment, people and almost go so far as to ponder life altogether. In Other Waters is a game for indie lovers, people who want to experience insightful narrative and enjoy world exploration.

Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on 15th April 2020

Valorant Takeover, DualSense and More Delays

Valorant is taking over the gaming landscape and it hasn’t even been released yet

The new video game Valorant is the first of its kind of Riot Games being a first-person shooter with game play objectives similar to Counter Strike – Global Offensive and special character abilities like Overwatch. Over the Easter weekend Valorant smashed records on Twitch (video game streaming platform) which had over 34 million hours watched in a single day in just one game category. It also had a peak viewership of 1.7 million which is second only to another Riot Game, League of Legends during the World Championship. All this attention has generated hype around Valorant becoming an esport, and the game is still in its beta phase, with Valorant doing so well so early on only time will tell after it’s official release how big it’s really going to get.

Sony’s new DualSense PlayStation Controller is getting some hype

When it comes to console controllers it can be really challenging to get it right, however Sony have released the new DualSense controller and has been receiving very positive feedback from game tech critics. After the release of the PS4 controller which was argued to not be that different from the PS3 controller, it isn’t until now that there has been a revolution with controller technology. Sony is determined to have the best complimenting controller for the new PS5 which is expected to release later this year. The PS5 will not play games from previous generation consoles and will have new features such as a faster SSD and new hardware that is exclusive to PS5. The DualSense Controller features such as adaptive triggers with adjustable resistance, new haptic feedback technology and Sony also says that it has more advanced rumble hardware. Now that the new PS5 controller has been shown off we’ll just have to wait and see for the PS5.

Blizzard believes it might not be hosting BlizzCon 2020 due concerns around the virus

Saralyn Smith the executive producer of BlizzCon, “The health of our community, employees, and everyone who helps with the show is our top consideration. It might be a few months before we know for certain if or how we’ll proceed, but as soon as we have a meaningful update, we’ll share it.” It wouldn’t come as a surprise if BlizzCon 2020 was to be postponed however, there may be a virtual space we can visit showcasing all things Blizzard that we would’ve missed at the convention.

So many movies and TV series are being cancelled amid COVID-19

however James Gunn Director of Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy 3 says, “We are on or ahead of schedule” for both films. With so much film and TV being delayed it’s nice to hear some good news for DC and Marvel fans. The full list of delays is made available by gamesradar if you’d like to look click right here.

Element Space

Developer: Sixth Vowel, Blowfish Studios
Publisher: Inca Games
Music: Sixth Vowel
Platforms: PS4, Xbox 1, PC
Release Date: 14 Feb, 2019
Genre: Turn-based tactical squad RPG

Element Space starts off by introducing you to our main protagonist Captain Christopher Pietham and his two comrades Rafael Guerrero and Jun Zhao. They are situated on-board the star-ship Inspiration which is where the game takes place 200 years in the future. The galaxy has been ravaged by war when several different factions went out to colonise space, for the player the game picks up at the end of this war, with Cap. Pietham tasked to relocate the ship Inspiration to the city of Truce. The ship is going to be the meeting location for the new galactic congress that will start the unification process.

This is however foiled when an underground rogue terrorist organisation known as Tempest foils these plans. Sabotaging the relocation and somehow manages to frame Cap. Pietham, forcing him to go rogue if he wants to save the galaxy and bring Tempest to light!

The game-play in Element Space will very much remind you of games like Xcom, however, like the developers themselves the stats are not quite the same. While Xcom is very much a numbers game, maximising your percentage chance of success. Optimising your team to be the ultimate task force, Element Space takes a different approach. Here you only have 3 different chances, you’re either going to hit, miss, or 50/50. This is because of their cover system being based on either full cover, partial cover or no cover. This makes the game more about tactical positing and line of sight rather than getting the best type of percentage. Also did I mention that in some cases your cover can be destroyed?! This makes the playing field dynamic where the best cover is constantly changing dependent on how you or the enemy is tackling approaching the situation.

I do have some grips however, such as finding UI text stretching out of place and being able to speed up some dialogue but not all the dialogue. While these might be small things in scope of things, it did make the game feel less polished which is a shame because overall I really did enjoy it the experience. While you can say that the game is a bit watered down in terms of combat, which I think is one of it’s strengths, it features a story that is straight out of a Mission Impossible movie which pulls you in and sets the premise for some very interesting world exploration. This is really highlighted in the dialogue system which is connected to a political reputation system. This make you really think about what you want to say to different characters because that may effect your image.

I played this game on the Ps4, without headphones which could have has an impact on some of the visuals, however, overall I found the soundtrack to be really nice! It is your classical space adventure mixed with some action techno beats. The sound effects also sounded really on point, almost too much. During one of the cut scenes they were so loud I could barely hear the dialogue. The voice acting for the game is very well made, really bringing the characters some personality. This was paired with some very corny dialogue which both had me giggling when I probably shouldn’t have. Which is a really nice change of pace considering how serious so many games are in their tone nowadays.

Overall Element Space is a really nice turn-based tactical RPG, I wish I could go more into the political system or the diverse cast of cultures the game has but I wanted to focus a bit on the actual game play. While the game has a couple of unpolished flaws that might make it feel a bit rushed. It delivers it’s core mechanics so well, that I still really enjoyed the game.

The core turn based fighting is very simple yet extremely effective in giving the player a number of different ways to tackle a puzzle. Having simple things like the destruction of cover mixed with abilities and a range of other factors, this is a game to pick up when you feel like testing your brain with some strategic game-play. Element Space is a fun, simple, and feel good tactical experience.

Reviewed by William Haumann @William_Haumann on April 8th 2020

E3 2021, PC Awards and Couch Co-Op

E3 have announced dates for 2021 however there is still nothing about this years’ 2020 online experience

After the cancellation of this years E3 many fans and game companies were hugely disappointed instead many games publishers decided to go directly to consumers instead. Despite E3 making no comment on an online experience the Entertainment Software Association is going ahead with a show in 2021 which will run from June 15th – 17th. When ESA announced the cancellation of E3 2020 they said, “we are exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.” However, since that statement was made, nothing more has been said. Some game publishers have decided to go solo with their announcements this year such as; Microsoft, Ubisoft, E3, & Devolver Digital to name a few. Sadly, Bethesda have confirmed that it will not hold its annual digital showcase this year. Hopefully soon we will know more about online events.

2020 Australian PC Awards have been announced

The best of 33 different categories ranging from best gaming laptop to best motherboard. Some other categories also include a Gold Award which is voted on by the readers of tech magazines such as; TechRadar, PC Gamer, APC, TechLife, and PC PowerPlay. The Gold Award looks at the overall best company for the year which was taken out by ASUS. If you’d like to look at the full list of winners in each category click here.

The best couch Co-Op games from Kotaku

Kotaku have released an article featuring lots of video games that are great to play with friends or family at home. The list shows a variety of games worth playing to pass the time, click here for the link. Overcooked is also a great game known to play with friends and the publishers have another great party game coming out on the 28th of April called Moving Out. So be sure to keep your eye out for that if you have a Nintendo Switch.