Another edition of Gamebox 2.0 is here with our quick thoughts on a bunch of recent games that hit PC and consoles over the last few weeks, including Rouge-like shooter Immortal Redneck, exploration puzzle game The Station, medical sim Bio Inc. and the new game for the PS1 series classic Fear Effect.
Immortal Redneck: (Zach) Coming from developed Crema, Immortal Redneck is an FPS in the vein of classics like Serious Sam or Duke Nukem but with a rogue-like twist in that, each time you die, you are resurrected with some currency to spend and experience built up that will allow you to progess further in the game. The story is about, as you might guess from the title, a redneck who is drinking beers and off roading in Egypt when he crashes near a mysterious pyramid and turned into a mummy by demons in with Anubis heads. Our redneck hero now has to blast his way to the top of the pyramid. Progression in the game is pretty cool and interesting as you are usually given a choice between different rooms, you pick one, clear out the enemies and then have more doors available. Some of the doors lead to dead ends, while others hold weapon rooms but your goal is to make it to the stairs up to the next level. You can gain the “favor” of different Egyptian gods, which allows you to start with different loadouts and there is a massive upgrade tree to spend points in. The run and gun action feels great, if you played Serious Sam you’ll feel right at home here. The game actually came out last April on PC but now it’s out on PS4 and Xbox One and if you’re looking for some old school FPS action and also enjoy rogue-like progression, definitely check out Immortal Redneck.
(Chris) Immortal Redneck comes from game developers Crema, and it is a FPS with RogueLite elements. The game follows a southern redneck tourist in Egypt who finds himself mummified after a curse is placed on him. Armed with an arsenal of weapons and powers from ancient Egyptican gods, the Redneck heads into the pyramids of Giza to take on an army of super natural monsters and find some answers for his mummy problem. The gameplay is a healthy mix of fast pace action sequences where you clear out rooms of baddies with various weapons and powers, and bits of platforming and puzzle solving to avoid traps in certain areas. The highlight of the game is the many options for the player to build up their Redneck for combat. As the player completes challenges loots enemies, they will be rewarded with gold that can be used to unlock skills in the a literal skill tree. There 9 Classes, each representing a God that will grant the Redneck different abilities and weapons to choose from. Switch classes to match every fight is key to surviving longer in pyramids. Lastly, there are over 50 weapons to be found. They range from the Redneck’s trusty pistols and shotguns, to laser guns and chicken guns. The graphics and sounds match the comical tone of the game and appeals to any old school twitchy finger FPS fan. Entering combat feels fresh and vibrate with plenty of ways to out maneuver and overwhelm the enemies. This is Crema first major PC and console release, and it is a fun game for those gamers that loved the silliness of the Serious Sam series and the intense action from the latest Doom title.
The Station: (Zach) The Station is a “walking sim” in the vein of recent critical hits like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Fitch? in that it’s a short, narratively driven experience, although this time with some brilliantly incorporated puzzles. You play as a recon officer who is sent to a space station orbiting a recently discovered planet full of violent alien life. Instead of making direct contact, a team of scientists were observing the planet in the undetectable space station to determine if and when the time would come to interact but the station went dark. Your mission is to uncover the whereabouts of the team members and you have to repair and make your way through the damaged station. There are holographic logs scattered throughout the world that you can listen to to get a sense of what happened before you got there and lots of items around the world you can pick up to get more details. The puzzles make excellent use of the environment and are extremely intuitive to figure out. For example, one of the crew members has an extensive library on board and, after reading a note about his personal swiping passcode to get into an inner room, you realize you’ll have to figure out which book has the symbol you need on its spine. The environment looks great, although it seems like there might be slowness/frame rate issues at times, at least on my PS4 version. I finished The Station in one setting, so it will only take you around 2 hours or so but it’s well worth checking out if you’re into this up and coming narrative exploration genre or just enjoy a cool sci-fi story with great puzzles.
A Salem Witch Trial: (Zach) A Salem Witch Trial is an interactive murder mystery from Digital Bento that puts you back to 17th century Salem as the town you live in is thrown into chaos by the murder of a local farmer and his wife, with the daughter having fled the scene and believed to be a witch. You set out to gather information and try and find the girl and ultimately decide her and the town’s fate. There’s not much in the way of gameplay, as this is really more of a virtual novel, and you mostly just go to each location on the map, talk and question the person who is there and then make a final decision. There are multiple endings to discover but unless you have a save right before the final decision, it doesn’t really have the replay value to play the whole thing again. Like The Station above, this one can be completed in one session in about 30-60 minutes but it’s also only $3.99 on Steam. If you’re into the setting and want a quick, interesting murder mystery, check out A Salem Witch Trial.
Bridge Constructor Portal: (Zach) Coming out earlier this year on PC and mobile from HeadUp Games, Bridge Constructor Portal is now available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch. Adding the world of Valve’s Portal to the physics based puzzles of the Bridge Constructor series, you are a new engineer hired by Aperture Science and are put through a series of test rooms as part of your training by GLaDOS. The basic gameplay of the Bridge Constructor series is the same in that you are constructing bridges across various gaps that you need to make sure can hold a vehicle crossing it. You have access to cables to suspend the bridges or you can attempt to make them hold themselves up through the strength of the structure but now you also have to keep in mind if the vehicles, Aperture forklifts, have enough speed to get a boosts out of the portals and avoid the various Portal obstacles like sentry guns, acid and laser fields. The test chambers definitely seem more cramped than the normal environments you would see in the regular Bridge Constructor games and you have to do a lot of criss-crossing of the bridges to make sure each one makes it to the proper portal. All the Portal trappings are still fun and this definitely seems like a solid update if you’ve conquered all the normal Bridge Constructor offerings.
Bio Inc. Redemption: (Zach) Bio Inc. Redemption is a medical sim game that features the unique twist of being able to play as both a life saving doctor or a ruthless maniac causing the diseases. If you played games like Plague Inc. before, the gameplay in Bio Inc. Redemption are similar in that you are collecting energy in order to either cause or diagnose diseases in your patient but Bio Inc. offers a bunch of different variations in it’s single player campaign. There are some missions that are timed, so you have to kill or cure the patient in a certain amount of time or you may have to cause specific disesases, diagnose a specific number of diseases and so forth. The graphics and overall design of the game is pretty great, especially the way your patient’s various body systems are laid out and you can scroll through them to see the progression of damage and collect the energy bits you need to upgrade and progress. Both sides have a ton of options for causing and diagnosing diseases. The doctor sides allows you to perform a number of exams and use various equipment to try and determine what is causing the symptoms the patient is experiencing and then, once identified, you can chose a course of treatment. On the death side, you choose the symptoms and attempt to link them up to cause worse diseases before the treatments can save the patient. There are lots of options to make a custom scenario outside of the set single player missions and also a multiplayer mode that pits doctors against disease makers. It’s not the deepest game in the world as far as gameplay but it’s a cool evolution of predecessors like Plague Inc. and whether you want to cure or kill, Bio Inc. Redemption is out now on Steam and definitely worth a look.
Fear Effect Sedna: (Chris) The fans demanded it’s return, and publisher Square Enix Collective and developer Sushee responded. Fear Effect is back for a new entry, this exchange it’s survival horror tank controls for a more tactical isometric adventure. Taking place events of the original Fear Effect, Hana and Rain are taking mercenary work for the highest bidder. Royce Glas has step away from the mercenary world, trying to forget the events of the last adventure.A mysterious request from the Triad leads Hana and Rain to hunt down an artifact that leads to an involvement with a threatening foes. As the new assignment grows in danger, Hana and Rain get support of their old comrades and old friends to help them complete the job.
Fans of the original series will appreciate the updated visuals that retain the classic look and feel of the original games. Even if the game has switched over game play styles. The isometric landscapes have a few dungeon explore feel that is partially covered in areas of darkness that much be explored to uncover more of the map. It can be a pain when figuring out what’s ahead in the area, and sometimes you just have to rush in with blind luck. Enemies will remain unseen in undiscovered areas and will engage the player if they have a line of sight. Some of the AI can be a little erratic and sometimes their field of view can glitch out, leading to frustrating moments in the stealth selection. I had trouble finding weak spots in the enemies eye sight and be reloading due to the the AI somehow detecting my position from across cover and even my sneak attacks not registering a target.
The gameplay is mixed up with the isometric views, so not every situation calls for being a ninja in the shadow. There are levels that let the player explore the map while in incognito, collect items, and others that make use of Sedna‘s tactical mode. When an event that requires a more skillful approaches, tactical mode allows the player to set up a course of action for each of the characters available. The Player assigns the characters a choice of action; run, cover, attack, stacking up to three actions per character. This creates some interesting strategies when entering combat, and allows the player to trust their planning. Of course, when you don’t need to use your brain, good old fashion run and gun is available, but be prepare to see that Game Over screen a couple of times.When attacking the enemies, the heart rate of the characters change depending on the damage they have taken, leading to more aggressive attacks or lower defenses. Certain characters benefit from being afraid in the heat of battle, while others will be quicker to get killed off.Returning from the original is the cheesey and cheeky dialog, filled with corny one liners and flirtatious interests. The voice cast feels a bit odd, compare to the 1997 standard of voice acting. A few of the voice actors seem like they were random people asked on the street “Can you do a accident?”. Supplementing the action on screen is the music that fits the action beats of the game. Levels that focus on stealth have a music that makes the sleuthing and sneaking nature, while intense gun fights have a fast pace rhythm.
Overall, while the Fear Effect Sedna gameplay is departure from the originals, it is an enjoyable game. The a simple tactical mechanic that does not require a whole depth of preparing and can easily understood after a few encounters, but often going guns blazing just works. The puzzles are fun, and a little challenging if you rush through them, and actually feel satisfying to complete once you focus on the solution. There are some creative puzzles that require a lot of mental gymnastics that are not kind to casual gamers. (Don’t expect to see bright indicators and cute animals pointing at obvious clues!). While the gameplay might have some issues with figuring out it’s tone, the slick visuals and fun music keep me playing to find out more about Hana and her friends. Try the demo to see if you like a visit with these long lost characters and peak at the neo noir future. Fear Effect Sedna is released this month on Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.
Agents of Mayhem: (Zach) Our “Late to the Party” game this time around is Agents of Mayhem, which came out last year to pretty much a “meh” reception from critics and gamers alike and is now under $20 (it’s actually more like $10 new on PS4). I can definitely see where the disappointment came from as going from Saints Row IV to this is a huge backward step. AoM doesn’t have any of the insane movement options that SRIV had, which you could upgrade to such a ludicrous degree that you were faster on foot than any vehicle in the game and could even glide around in the air and everything was just at such a heightened level that even though AoM is still pretty insane, it feels kind of boring in comparison. At it’s now cheap price point though, it’s a solid shooter with some cool characters and tons of different ways to upgrade them and I really enjoy the 80’s GI Joe vibe it’s going for. You assemble a team of three agents and then head into Seoul, South Korea on various operations to stop the nefarious Doctor Babylon from his latest scheme to destroy the world. Each of the agents feels unique and you can mix and match to find a team that suits your playstyle (I just started unlocking other agents outside your initial three but I know bad ass Marine Braddock is going to be a staple of my team going forward) and they all have a crazy Mayhem Ability that usually leads to tons of explosions, chaos and dead enemies. One other gripe though is that the soundtrack is severely lacking in AoM. Saints Row III and IV both had amazing soundtracks with licensed songs and AoM definitely feels more empty without a similar soundtrack (I’m thinking about trying to figure out some sort of Spotify playlist to play on my PS4 during AoM). If you’ve never played Saints Row III or IV, those are must plays before Agents of Mayhem but, if you have played those, AoM is a definite step down but will still give you some of the wacky action and characters you are looking for and it’s dirt cheap now for Xbox One and PS4.