Gamebox 2.0: Secret Worlds of Nex Machina Edition

Although summer is usually a slower time for new game releases, we’ve got another box of new and a tad bit older games that we’ve gotten to check out. In our July edition, we fought some injustice amongst the powerful, tapped our way through the future, and fought in a revolution in dresses. Read on to hear our impression from Zach and Chris.

Injustice 2: Slightly late to the party, I finally got to check out the latest excellent fighting game from NetherRealm Studios.  The first Injustice was great and this one continues the fantastic style that NetherRealm established in Mortal Kombat 9 with a fighting system that looks and plays great and really gives you a great sense of the impact of each hit.  I didn’t really dive into online at all because I rented the game but there seems to be hours and hours of single player available with the story mode and the “Multiverse” which sets up different challenges on the multiple Earths of the DC universe.  The story mode is great as it picks up a bit after Injustice: Gods Among Us and has the Injustice version of the characters having to deal with their lingering civil war between the factions led by Batman and Superman and the new threat of Brainiac, which may require freeing Superman from his prison. Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Alan Tudyk, Phil LaMarr and more all star voice talent lend their voices to the characters and the game has some amazing animations, especially facial animations and it’s just a cool DC story that lets you play as pretty much every major hero.  If I was going to focus on characters to learn, I would probably either go with Harley or Catwoman, as I really felt I got into the flow of their combos and I liked their speed but there’s definitely a character for every type of player.  If you haven’t checked this one out yet, even if you don’t really like fighting games, this one is both accessible and lets beginners do cool things while there’s tons of deeper systems for experts. – Zach

Star Vikings Forever:  If the catchy theme song doesn’t get you at least a bit interested, then there’s nothing human words can express to get you to look at this game. Developed by Rogue Snail and published by Akupara Games, Star Vikings Forever is a Puzzle/RPG that feels like part Puzzle Quest and part Fire Emblem. For most puzzle games, the plot is kinda skippable, but not for SVF. Game designer Mark Venturelli and his team know how to use humor, retro action references and Viking lore to keep players interested in each cutscene. The plot revolves around Viking Chieftain Thok and his warrior space crew battling and pillaging their way through alien snails and other off world creatures. Players will have to carefully select their line ups and take on waves of enemies to navigate the battle field. The puzzle elements of the game appear when choosing how to effectively chain combat strikes and set off reactions among the enemies. The turn based combat elements appear when you have to calculate hit points and health points among the warriors you’ve brought to fight. It is an very interesting concept that has lead me to spend a few hours building up my warriors to create better chain attacks. Star Vikings originally released for PC in 2016, and is now re-mastered as Star Vikings Forever with new modes, new secrets and a online leaderboard for the mobile app stores and PC version. – Chris

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow: From TinyCo, who brought you Family Guy: Quest for Stuff, comes another world building clicker, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow.  Featuring the full cast back to voice the characters, things get set off when Hypno-Toad meets a female Hypno-Toad and their white hot Hypno-Toad lust sends ripples of “HypnoWaves” across the universe, ripping open holes to other universes and scattering the Planet Express crew.  Starting out with Fry, you have to build buildings and complete tasks to unlock other characters and rebuild New New York, which plays exactly like Family Guy.  The new twist for Futurama though is that there is an overarching goal besides spending tons of real money to unlock special characters which is finding 7 artifacts that will clear the HypnoWaves permanently and you get these by going on missions to different planets, which involves 8-bit style RPG battles and sections with branching dialogue choices, so there is a little bit more push to keep playing than just a never ending expansion of your little city.  There still is a push to buy currency packs and special characters like most of these games but if you’re a fan of Futurama, you might want to check it out on Android or iOS. – Zach

XField Paintball 3: One of my hobbies, besides watching movies and playing games, is playing paintball so I was excited that there was a new digital version of the sport coming out but, XField Paintball 3 is not great and you’re better off going to an actual field near you to try it out.  It feels like it’s very Early Access but it launched as a full price/completed game with barely any maps or features and there doesn’t really seem to be anyone playing.  The game adjusts the main gameplay mode based on how many players are on the servers and I’ve really only seen 1v1 matches, meaning barely anyone else online.  There also isn’t any bots or practice mode besides walking around the boring and same looking arenas to “plan your strategies”.  There is a system of strategy where, if you actually got into a match with players on your team, a Captain can assign where everyone should go and what they should do but I never really got to see this implemented or work.  When you do actually play, it’s mostly just a matter of clicking fire fast enough to get more paint into the air at your opponents and there’s not really any use of the inflatable cover or actual strategy. – Zach

Valkyria Revolution: The latest entry in the Valkyria series, Valkyria Revolution is a new spin off that was created by Media.Vision and Sega. This new game hold hardly any connections to the previous games as this takes place in a different universe, so fans looking for a sequel dealing with the struggles of Europa are going to be disappointed. What Media.Vision has brought to the series is a vastly different game than what fans were used to, and what typical JRPG fans were expecting. VR swapped out the turn base combat for a real time role playing brawler similar to Phantasy Star Online and Chaos Legion. The plot of Valkyria Revolution tells the story of five orphans who have involved themselves in a war to seek a personal revenge on the Ruzi Empire, an invading force that has been ransacking the lands of Jutland. Leading the attack against the Ruzi Empire is the Vanargand, a band of extremely skilled (and Jpop looking) soldiers lead by Amleth Gronkaer, one of the five orphans that is driven by vengeance. Amleth and his orphan family plan to use the cover of war to gain a position to strike down those who have destroyed their past. For a Valkyria game, Valkyria Revolution is incredible plot heavy and has tons of cutscenes that take up a lot of the play time. So if you only slightly like anime, this one isn’t for you. The player controls Amleth, and uses his sword skills, magic abilities and military arms to fight Ruzi ‘s soldiers and machines. Amleth can issue order to his Vanargand group and set up combinations to pull off greater attacks. The combat system might seem like it has a focus on tactics but you can pretty much take on every battle with simple common sense. There was a lot of potential of deeper strategies to use in battle, but mindless hack and slashing is what I used for 80% of the time to win. I did actually enjoy the drama of the plot and it was scored nicely by legendary game composer Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Shadow Hearts, Xenogears). Valkyria Revolution is recommend for fans looking to broaden their taste in JRPGs. – Chris

Black the Fall: Coming from Sand Sailor Studio and the Square Enix Collective, Black the Fall is a puzzle/platformer in the vein of Limbo, Inside or the Oddworld games where you control Black, a worker in a dystopian, Communist world who tries to escape his horrific life and has to make his way through various areas and dodge surveillance and overseers.  The game has a great, dark look and some fantastic environmental based puzzles and you eventually get a device the overseers use that lets you control your fellow workers and have them throw switches or move to specific areas and there’s a great ramp up in terms of the puzzles so that you are ready when you have to juggle multiple workers while dodge the laser vision of the ugly, fat overseers and it constantly adds new twists to the puzzles, like for instance having to bounce the control beam off of shiny metal pipes or figuring out how to keep the beam out of the view of the many, many surveillance cameras in the world, which if triggered will cause instant death from a ceiling machine gun. There’s also some action, twitch based areas as well to change things up as Black has to escape mechanical deathtraps or time jumps across platforms.  The look and feel is actually based on the developers home country of Poland being a former Communist state, which adds some additional emotional heft to the game’s bleak atmosphere.  If you’re a fan of the aforementioned games listed above, this is the next game of that type you need to check out and it just came out on the 11th. – Zach

Mages of Mystralia: Out for a few months, Mages of Mystralia is a solid and fun action/adventure where you control a young mage named Zia, who learns she has magical powers in somewhat violent fashion as she burns down her house and is banished from her village.  Meeting her mentor, she learns to control her magical powers and sets out to protect the world from various threats, which is the main mission of the mages in the kingdom of Mystralia, despite the fact that magic is banned after a former king went mad with magical power.  One of the unique gameplay features that sets Mages apart from other games is that you can assign different attributes to your spells that changes their behavior and you can have multiple versions of each spell so you can create very specific versions for different uses and puzzle solving.  There are a bunch of side quests and areas to explore, bonus challenges and more in addition to the main story and it has a fun, cartoony visual style as well. You can check it out on Steam. -Zach

Secret World Legends: Originally an MMO hitting in 2012 in the wake of WoW, The Secret World has been rebuilt and re-released as Secret World Legends, a free to play “shared world RPG”.  Unlike most MMOs or RPGs, the setting of Secret World Legends is the modern day but layers on a conspiracy theory/Lovecraftian/mythology wrapping as you choose to play for either the Illuminati, Templars or Order of the Dragon and you set out to explore different areas, like a zombie infested island of the coast of Maine.  There are a ton of different classes to choose from and the gameplay will be familiar if you have played WoW or other MMOs in the last few years, with main abilities on your mouse clicks and other abilities mapped to your keyboard, with cooldowns to manage and loot to collect.  I really enjoy the world of the game with it’s mash-up of occult influences and despite the lack of complexity in the combat, I did lose a few hours at a time fighting off the various creatures.  The game can be completed entirely single player but you will see other players and you can trade items, group up and interact if you want.  You can download the client from the link above and check it out. – Zach

Nex Machina: Coming from Housemarque, the team that previously brought you Resogun, and legendary designer Eugene Jarvis, Nex Machina is an incredible new arcade style twin stick shooter that will put your reflexes to the test. You are taking on an evil robotic army, trying to save dim witted human survivors and dodging insane bullet patterns and lasers.  If you’ve played Jarvis’ prior masterpieces like Robtron 2084 or Smash TV, you’ll most likely feel at home in Nex Machina but everything is taken to the next level.  One of your key tactics is going to be mastering your dash move, which lets you dodge through enemy fire and can get you out of tricky situations but you also need to be aware of where you are dashing to or you’ll warp right into a laser or enemy and die.  There are secondary weapons to pick up and upgrades for your main weapon and after blasting your way through a bunch of levels, you’ll face off against some giant and tricky bosses, all set to any absolutely fantastic, Retrowave style soundtrack.  The game is really about surviving and racking up a massive score, so if you are looking for story, you probably want to look somewhere else but if you want relentless, fantastic arcade action, definitely check this one out. – Zach

Toby: The Secret Mine: Coming from Headup Games and designer Lukas Navratil and, like the previously mentioned Black the Fall, Toby: The Secret Mine is a puzzle/platformer like Limbo that puts you in control of a creature named Toby, who sets out into the deep forests to try and rescue his fellow villagers, who have been kidnapped by a larger and evil rival tribe.  Things start out pretty solid, with platforms to navigate, levers to throw and boxes to push but, around level 7, the game starts throwing in some really cheap and frustrating, instant death, traps and obstacles that unfortunately turns the game into a slog from that point forward.  It also never feels like Toby is able to jump as high or as far as you need him to and there will probably be a ton of points where you just miss a jump and fall to a spike pit below.  I eventually got to a point where you have ride a seesaw like contraption into a cave of spikes but it seemed so impossibly hard that I just had to stop.  Granted the team is much smaller but between this and Black the Fall, the choice is really easy but if you think you can handle the frustrations, you can check Toby: The Secret Mine out on PS4. – Zach

Trials of the Blood DragonRecently on sale on the Playstation Store for $5, I was finally able to check out the sequel to arguably the best game in the Far Cry series, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.  While Blood Dragon went for an 80’s action movie vibe with Michael Biehn starring as Rex “Power” Colt and direct musical and visual shoutouts, Trials of the Blood Dragon goes for a more 90’s Saturday morning cartoon vibe as Rex’s kids, Roxie and Slater 12 years after Blood Dragon, who were left in the care of essentially Sgt. Slaughter while Rex went to fight Vietnam War 4 and went MIA.  Michael Biehn is still here to voice Rex but since he’s gone for most of the game, you definitely lack a lot of the ridiculous charm of Blood Dragon, as his kids are not that great but thankfully Power Glove is back to provide another epic soundtrack along with guest tracks by people like Carpenter Brut.  The main gameplay style is the precision motorcycle platforming of the Trials games but with some added on bike and on foot running and gunning and some additional vehicles and weird scenarios as well, some of which are insanely frustrating, like trying to transport a bomb first in a cart towed behind your bike where it’s insanely easy for it to fall out and explode and then you have to drag it behind you via a jetpack.  The game is fairly short storywise but it’s really about improving and mastering each level to get an A grade and, while I enjoyed the gameplay, it didn’t draw me in enough to want to keep doing the same levels over and over.  It’s a little disappointing as a sequel to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon but it’s fun enough to check out if it’s on sale like it was recently and hopefully a proper FPS sequel is on the way. -Zach

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