The first Gamebox 2.0 for 2018 is here and we got to check out a wide range of games this month. We became Jigsaw’s apprentice, barreled downhill on a mountain bike, got our old school run and gun action on and more interesting indie titles. Check out our thoughts and impressions below.
Dead by Daylight: The SAW Chapter: Dead by Daylight continues to battle it’s rival Friday the 13th by incorporating every horror villain who doesn’t wear a hockey mask. The latest DLC brings the grimy and gory world of SAW into the game, with Detective Tapp as a playable Survivor and “The Pig” aka a female Jigsaw apprentice as the new killer. There’s also a new SAW based map as well. The Pig is the real draw for the game, as she has a move that lets her move undetected while crouching and you can use to ambush players and, in true SAW fashion, you can use up to 4 reverse bear traps on dying players, which they have to find a key for in boxes marked by Billy puppets on the map. The reverse bear traps are a new way for the killer to take down the survivors but the main goal is still to catch them and put them on hooks as sacrifices to a demonic entity. The one thing holding back DbyD, for me and compared to Friday the 13th, is that there isn’t any variety as far as match objectives go; the survivors always have to power up generators to open an exit and the killer always has to catch them and put them on hooks. F13, even though I haven’t played it yet, seems to have a lot more options like escaping by car or calling the police. I appreciate their recent efforts to get basically every other major horror icon into the game but some additional ways for each side to win would be extremely welcome as well. Dead by Daylight is still a solid asymetrical multiplayer game though and if you’ve been playing it for a while, the SAW DLC is definitely worth checking out.
Descenders: 15 years ago, Icognito Entertainment, the studio that brought us Twisted Metal Black and War of the Monsters, changed gears with the downhill mountain bike racing game Downhill Domination and now RageSquid has picked up that baton for the chiller, more skill based Descenders. Descenders is not a racing game, as there aren’t any other bikers to beat and instead it’s you against the various courses as you bomb downhill and pull off tricks. The game is actually sort of Rogue-like ala FTL in that when you start a session, you pick the area you want to go to and, after beating the intial area, you get to pick which course you want to do next in a branching path system that leads to a final “boss” level with some sort of insane jump or challenge waiting. The other Rogue-like aspect of Descenders is that you only have 5 “lives” to finish the entire session and each crash costs you a life. You gain some XP whether you fully complete the session or not and gain new clothes, bikes and accessories and you can even join 1 of three different racing teams and get their clothing and equipment. As mentioned above, the game is pretty chill, with a cool electronic soundtrack and the fact that it’s just you and there’s no pressure to get first place lets you just zone out and cruise down the hill using the games dual stick controls, with the right stick allowing you to perform tight slides for cornering and tricks. The game is in Early Access on Steam and will gain more courses and gear as it develops but if you’re jonesing for some extreme sports action, definitely check out Descenders.
Planetoid Pioneers: A new physics based adventure game from Data Realms, Planetoid Pioneers lets you explore the surface and deep inside plantoids and asteroids beyond Mars. Your explorer is equipped with a gadget that allows them to break down and build items from the world and gather materials to craft things like weapons and vehicles. The game also has multiplayer for teaming up and exploring together. The game is extremely reliant on its physics engine, which is sometimes hilarious as your explorer flops around or enemies knock themselves out by an errant box but it’s equally as frustrating as you try to climb up a simple stack of boxes and can’t. The whole game isn’t really my thing but the ability to break down and build things is cool and it has a great art style and design so if you’re into exploration and crafting, maybe give Planetoid Pioneers a look. It’s out now on Steam
Insidia: The MOBA market is dominated by a few big names like DOTA, League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm, but Insidia is looking to try and get a piece of the pie by introducing turn based tactics to the genre. In Insidia, which is free to play and out now on Steam, you create a team of four champions, who range between the standard melee, long range, support classes you would expect from a MOBA, and then you deploy them onto the map. The twist is that you have an X-Com style grid for movement and you and your opponent each set your move and then they are executed at the same time. Each character has a passive ability that you can use strategically when you are waiting to move them next and the main objective is to bring down the shields of the enemy base and sabotage their power core. The turn based combat is something I can wrap my head around, unlike the other MOBAs you damn kids are playing (also get off my lawn) and the simultaneous aspect leads to some cool opportunities to outflank or dodge attacks. The character designs are cool and it plays fast and is easy to get going. It’s currently in an open beta right now on Steam and will launch sometime toward the end of this month.
Staxel: If you’re into Minecraft, Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, then Staxel will probably be right up your alley. A farming game with the aesthetics of Minecraft, you play a character who has inherited a rundown old farm outside a pleasant little town and you’re tasked with fixing it up and growing crops. Like Minecraft, you have various tools that you can use to break down items in the world in order to build new objects and like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, you can interact with the townsfolk and get quests and buy and sell items. It seems charming but it’s just something that I have almost zero interest in but for fans of that farming/crafting genre, it’s probably worth a look. Staxel came out on January 23rd on Steam.
Mercenary Kings: Reloaded: (Chris) Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is an updated release of the original 2014 pixelated run and gun game Mercenary Kings. The plot begins with Dr. James Neil and Dr. Bluebell discovering a new super formula that allows humans to regenerate. The doctors set up a laboratory on Mandragora Island to continue their work but Dr. Neil is kidnapped by C.L.A.W (Cybernetic Loyal & Active Weapons), an evil organization looking to steal the formula for themselves and take over the world. A rag tag squad of mercenaries known as the Mercenary Kings arrive to stop him. The Kings are lead by Colonel Tasker, a no nonsense, coffee drinker commander that oversees the operations on the island. Leading C.L.A.W is Commander Byron Baron, a warlord and skilled cybertechnican, who has assembled an army from the most deadly and unusual forces money and weird science has to offer. The Mercenary Kings set off on sabotage, destroy and loot everything they can to rescue Dr. Neil and stop C.L.A.W plans.
In the game, you control one of several soldiers to complete a multitude of mission types; item fetch quests, POW rescues, and boss fights. Missions can be replayed to accomplish extra objectives, explore alternate paths, and encounter powerful enemies. It can take several replays before you can master a whole mission. Along the way, players can collect and upgrade weapons, armor and skill perks. The weapons can be changed to match the players preference in fire rate, power and speed. Armor can be upgraded to extend the player’s health bar and skill perks gives additional abilities, but with some minor side effects. It’s completely to up the player to build their own character set and figure out what works from them.
One major highlight of Mercenary King is the detailed pixel art work by Paul Robertson, who also worked on the Scott Pilgrim vs The World game. The visuals pop with every background and character on screen and it’s easy to get distracted when there is somany crisp and colorful designs. (Many of them are trying to kill you also). The graphics are a cool throw back to the Metal Slug series and other 80’s action games that can easily appeal to old school gamers. The game can be played in single player, couch co-op and online co-cop. Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition is packed with tense gun fights, tricky platforming and plenty of loot to collect, so there are hours of gameplay waiting to be played.
(Zach) Like Chris mentioned above, Mercenary Kings is a great homage to old school shooters like, one of my all time favorites, Metal Slug, but it adds so many new elements that make it deeper than any of those old school classics could have imagined. Along with running and gunning, you are collecting materials that allow you to craft weapons and upgrades at your bustling base camp full of wacky supporting characters and the mission variety is fun as well. Sometimes you are on a rescue mission, sometimes it’s kill a certain enemy or # of enemies and some are hunting animals or gathering certain materials. The look of the game is incredible as well, if you played Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game, you already know how amazing Paul Robertson is at creating detailed, expressive and hilarious characters and all the Kings and their enemies are great looking with tons of animation and fantastic designs and the levels and your base camp are also filled with great details too. Playing on the Switch, it seems like a perfect game for the platform, as you can take it with you and pop in, play a mission and then jump out if you are on the go. If you missed Mercenary Kings before, definitely check out the Reloaded edition on your platform of choice. It’s out now on PS4, Vita, Steam, Xbox One and Switch.
Of Mice and Sand: Another game I played on the Switch, Of Mice and Sand: Revised is an updated port of the Nintendo DS title from Arc System Works that puts you in command of a group of mice trying to make their way across their desert planet home in search of the fabled El Dorado. The game feels a bit like FTL, or maybe even Oregon Trail a bit, as you are maintaining and upgrading a ship as you trek through the world, although in this case your ship is a desert bus built to collect and transform scrap materials. You travel between different cities, sell goods and buy supplies and gather rumors from the local bar in order to unlock upgrades and new locations to go further in the world. There’s strategy in what you have your mice make in the ships various rooms and how much you want to spend at the various outposts. For instance, do you gas up and use all your cash now or push toward the next outpost and risk running out of gas (which leads to your ship and crew being devoured by giant Dunesque sand worms). Eventually you can be in control of giant land tanks that rival the Sandcrawlers from Star Wars which can be filled with all kinds of different workshops and rooms and armed to the teeth with turrets. I will say the game does not look particularly great blown up on a big screen but playing in handheld mode fits the simple pixel art style much better and this another game, like Mercenary Kings that would work great for a quick round on the go. If you enjoy strategy and lite survival, Of Mice and Sands is a fun little game that came out on January 11th and you can check it out on Switch.