In this edition of Gamebox 2.0, we gave our PS4s a workout with the hours we poured on for a few exclusives games and new console ports. Chris pretended to be a rogue Yakuza in Yakuza Kiwami and got to magically dance fight in The Metronomicon as it arrived on consoles this week while Zach downloaded the PS4 game of the month and relived the age of pirates in Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry. These games and more are reviewed for the box.
Yakuza Kiwami: (Chris) Created by Sega, Kiryu Kazuma returns in a re-imaging of the original 2005 PS2 classic Yakuza. Yakuza Kiwami picks up a few years after the events of Yakuza 0. Kiryu has proven to be a top lieutenant in the Tojo clan and is about to be given his own yakuza branch. However, in moment of tragedy and brotherly loyalty, Kiryu takes the blame of his boss, Sohei Dojima and is sent away to prison as a yakuza outcast until 2005. After his release, Kiryu returns back to his home town of Kamurocho and readjusts to the new surroundings and culture swift in Kamurocho. Just as Kiryu attempts to put his life back together, he is involved in a mystery of 10 billion yen, an orphan girl and the whole Tojo clan looking for answers.
I had an amazing time with Yakuza 0, and this game was the perfect follow up. The important factor about this game is that it’s not a simple HD remake. This is a rebuild of the first Yakuza using the Yakuza 0 engine and features new enhancements to the gameplay and story. Fans of Yakuza 0 can recognize characters from Kiryu’s adventure in 1988 and they are featured in a ton of side quests. Gamers that had played Yakuza 0 will feel right at home with the gameplay and will have to dedicated some time to build up Kiryu’s fighting styles. All the hours I sank into Kiryu to be a mean punching, kicking, and suplexing machine in Yakuza 0 were lost in a metroidvania tease. Kiryu retained all of his perfected fighting styles before his time in prison, and loss it all being captive for so long. When the main quest picks up, Kiryu has to regain all of his lost fighting abilities to take on the tough challenges that lie ahead, like solving the 10 billion yen mystery. Fighting styles are now upgraded with exp points earned in battle, mini games, and eating food. To help speed up the process of leveling up, Yakuza Kiwami has a new element in the gameplay that is called the Maijma Everywhere Mode. This new mechanic allows Kiryu’s obsessive rival, Goro Maijma, to appear in various times. Maijma was one of the playable characters in Yakuza 0 and is now one of the feared characters wandering around town looking to fight Kiryu. At times, Maijma will be actively looking for Kiryu to do a 1 on 1 fight, or send out his goons to surprise attack, or butt in for random street encounters. Some fights with Maijma can be avoided by running away, but it’s best to tackle him head on for a huge boost in experience if you win the fight.
The Yakuza series is well rounded with a cinematic main quest surrounded by tons of world building and exploration to discover. For this review, I sank in at least 10 hrs in just the first 4 chapters running between the main quest and completing side quests. (Gotta love that slot car racing!) It can be hours dedicated to collecting cards to fight in a humanoid bug Rock Paper Scissors arcade game, build a relationship with a hostess at a nightclub, or become the #1 pit fighter champ. Yakuza Kiwami is an excellent action adventure game that fans of previous version of the series should definitely pick up.
The Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor: (Chris) Created by Puuba and published by Akupara Games, The Metronomicon is a Rhythm based RPG that blends the elements of Dungeons and Dragons with Rock Band. The game was originally released on PC in September 2016 and was released for Playstation 4 and Xbox One on August 29th and August 30th. The gameplay of Metronomicon is a fun hybrid of mixing turn based combat with rhythm based gaming. For a duration of a song, players will input arrows to match the beat of the song and summon attacks or defensive spells to fight enemies. Players will have to plan their actions to maximize attacks, health or buffs during combat. There are two main mode of play, Adventure Mode and Freeplay Mode, each can be played with a single player or multiple players. Adventure Mode follows a group of musically-empowered heroes on their journey to protect the lands against evil party goers and villainous monsters.
Each battle gives experience points and loot used to upgrade a character’s abilities to aid them in the next fight. There are five zones to clear to finish the game, and multiple side challenges to earn prizes. Filled between each zone are voice acted cut scenes that expand the magically musical world of Metronomicon. Freeplay mode has a giant list of songs that players can take on with friends to earn top scores and internet bragging rights. Gamers looking for more times with friends playing games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band can find another reason to get on the couch to play some local multiplayer in Metronomicon. As a fan of rhythm games and RPGs, this was a fresh take on both the genres. Artwork is very detailed with the characters reacting the beats of the song, and the actions from my inputs. Each zone had amazing backgrounds that make the battles pop for me. During a session, backgrounds characters move about and the environments can alter based on my battle performances. The combination of the artwork, the good music and the quick pacing of the gameplay makes The Metronomicon a sensory overload worth experiencing.
XCOM 2: (Zach) So true story from last weekend, Steam had XCOM 2 as their free weekend game and, having loved the reboot and not played 2 yet, decided I would check it out for a little bit and ended up playing it for over 8 hours. XCOM is literally like the video game equivalent of crack and I’m 100% back into fighting off the alien hordes, although for XCOM 2, the alien hordes have won following the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and you are basically commanding a small guerilla team with even less supplies and funding than when you were sponsored by every nation on Earth. The core tactics are still here and still excellent and they’ve supplemented it with a new “concealment” mechanic where your squad enters the battlefield stealthily and you can pick and choose when and where you want to reveal yourself and take on the aliens. There’s also incredible Steam Workshop support where you can get mods to change weapons, add new soldier classes and, most importantly, get wacky voice packs like Deadpool and Arnold. There’s a huge expansion out right now called War of the Chosen, which I have not checked out yet but it’s definitely on my wishlist as I now own the full game and will probably be lost for days on end trying to perfect my strategies and not get everyone killed in horrific ways.
Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry: (Zach) One of the PS Plus games for PS4 in August (which may still be available depending on when you’re reading this), Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry is a stand alone expansion for Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag that puts you in control of assassin Adewale, who ends up in Port-au-Prince during a mission to intercept some important Templar documents and ends up helping with the Maroon rebellion on the island, freeing slaves to build up the resistance. I’ve only very briefly dabbled in the Assassin’s Creed games so this is the first time I really put any time in and I can definitely see why people like them, especially Black Flag because the ship to ship battles are fantastic and I understand now why Ubisoft is making an entirely new game based around that mechanic. Maybe because I was coming off the excellent Horizon Zero Dawn but I did find the combat kind of clunky and I never felt like I got a handle on the countering and stealth mechanics, especially since there didn’t seem to be a devoted button to entering cover, but there are definitely some cool moments, like the traditional “jump off a building and stab two dudes with hidden blades” move and a bunch of the gadgets are fun, like bezerk darts that makes enemies go nuts and attack each other. I’m not fully converted to the Assassin’s Creed games but I’m definitely more interested now than I was before.
Tokyo 42 – (Chris) Created by SMAC Games and Mode 7, Tokyo 42 is a isometric open world action game that has the player in the shoes of a wanted citizen in futuristic Tokyo. Zach had reviewed the PC edition of the game, and I got my hands on the upcoming PS4 version. Tokyo 42 makes several nods to famous cyberpunk movies and games like Blade Runner, Ghost In the Shell, Grand Thief Auto and Hotline Miami, and blends it together into a brightly toned and smooth game. The player is thrown into the role of a citizen who is falsely accused of murder and is instantly on the run from the law. To find out why the player was used as a scapegoat and what powers are manipulating Tokyo, the player works up the ranks to be a Assassin for hire in the underworld. The plot is nothing original, but it plays up on the all the right familiar tones. If it’s going to be a cyberpunk world, have it be in Tokyo. If it’s going to be about pixilated murder, mimic the gameplay of GTA (GTA 1 to be specific). There are ideal winning strategies to tackle a mission, but exploring the landscapes and causing some mayhem is deeply fun. The game’s isometric view of the world can be rotate to set up better camera angles to help find better paths and hidden enemies. I found this to add a bit of intrigue to each mission I had to take on as the surrounds and finding my view added an interesting challenges to how I played. Sometimes blind luck and run & gun tactics worked in my favor, and other times slowly observing the environment and studying the enemies was the best solution. The music to Tokyo 42 is amazing for fans of synth-wave as well and the colorful artwork and the popping beats makes for a fun time creating pixilated death.
Doomwheel: (Zach) Set in the Warhammer universe, Doomwheel is an endless runner type mobile game for Android and iOS that is out now. You play as a mad inventor Skaven, the rat like creatures of the Warhammer fantasy universe, who has invented the titular insane battle vehicle and decides to use it to conquer the surrounding lands and become the ultimate warchief. You’ll have to complete different objectives in each land you are attempting to conquer, whether it’s distance, gathering coins or killing a certain amount of enemies and you can get upgrades for your Doomwheel as you progress. I’m not sure if other endless runners have done this but I really like the perspective Doomwheel gives you, which is looking sort of diagonal at the oncoming track and it really lets you see what’s coming much better the fully behind or side scrolling view of most runners. The game looks and sounds great as well and it’s really a testament to the Warhammer universe that it can be applied to basically any genre and it usually results in a fun game and Doomwheel is definitely one to check out if you’re a Warhammer fan or just a fan of the runner genre in general.
Magicat: (Zach) Inspired by side scrollers of the 16 bit era, especially those found on the SNES, Magicat is a charming new platformer where you take control of an adorable magical cat, who has to get back a powerful gem from an evil wizard monkey. There are 63 levels spread across a Mario like world map and each one has a boss battle at the end and it was kind of surprising to me how quickly things ramped up. Despite it’s cutesy exterior, things get pretty tough, pretty quick in Magicat as new elements like multiple colored switches that turn on and of platforms are introduced and you have to do some quick reflex jumps to make it over spike pits and bottomless pits. Magicat has a magical projectile attack, can bounce on enemies heads and has a dash attack and all of them have to be used in conjunction to make it through each level and to also get the three bonus gems that are in each level and require either some puzzle solving or some fast takedowns of a group of enemies. If you want a game that feels like a lost SNES game that also costs less than $10, definitely check out Magicat on Steam.