For the latest edition of Gamebox 2.0, we dived into the madness of Cthulhu, saw the return of a certain leisure suit wearing sweet talker, try to survive the terrors of outer space, played football with a bunch of mutants and much more.
Call of Cthulhu (Zach): Coming from Cyanide Studios and Focus Home Interactive, Call of Cthulhu is the based on a pen and paper RPG which is in turn inspired by arguably the most famous work by horror icon HP Lovecraft. You play as Edward Pierce, a veteran of World War I that is now a private investigator in 1924 Boston. He’s hired to investigate the deaths of the Hawkins family in the mysterious Darkwater Islands off the Boston coast and his investigation sends him into the insanity-inducing world of the Old Ones. The game is a first-person adventure game where you’ll seek out clues, talk to various NPCs and solve environmental puzzles to progress the story. Pierce can also go into a similar “detective mode” to Batman’s from the Arkham series, allowing him to find specific clues in a room and recreate the events of what happened.
There’s also some character leveling that ties the game to its RPG roots, allowing you to enhance Pierce’s strength, dialogue options and ability to see objects in the environment. If you build up certain skills, you’ll be able to get into different areas by picking locks or finding clues you normally wouldn’t that will let you ask more questions of NPCs but it seems like there are always different options in case you haven’t invested in the correct skill to the correct level. The game has a great spooky atmosphere, especially once you get onto Darkwater and start to investigate places like the decrepit harbor village or the Hawkins manor and the voice acting is pretty solid for the most part as well, especially Anthony Howell who voices Pierce. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery and are also a fan of Lovecraftian horror, Call of Cthulhu is definitely something to check out. It’s out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry: (Chris) Developed by CrazyBunch and published by Assemble Entertainment, Larry Laffer is back in his newest adventure trying to find true love, or something like love for now. The out of shape, leisure suit-wearing, goofball flirt awakens in the 21st century after being kept in hypersleep since the late 80’s. Finding himself a stranger to modern times, almost everything he knew has changed, but his terrible flirting habits are untouched. Utilizing a dating app called “Timber”, Larry is on a mission to grow his internet following and win the girl of his dreams. The times may have changed, but Larry has not.
LSL: WDDD follows the point & click adventure gameplay that the series is known for from the original games. Players will guide Larry across different areas to interact with people, find clues and collect items. Larry will come across many people that will rely on Larry’s help to solve their dilemmas, and Larry is eager to help in exchange for getting the attraction of the opposite sex. As Larry explores his surroundings, he opens new dialogue options and new areas, with Larry having to face a wide variety of challenges in his adventure.
CrazyBunch maintains the spirit of the original games by mixing toilet humor with some brain teasing experiences. In order to complete tasks in the game, Larry will have to hunt down items and sometimes combine them. The game does not give many hints at which items to collect or how to use them, so it’s up to the player to revisit sites and click on every possible object. At times this is frustrating, some of the hoops the player has to jump through are nonsense. Combing two or more random items, in hopes it solves the current puzzle can really stall the flow of the game. But veterans of the series will be familiar with these crazy logic designs. Silly events require even sillier solutions. This might be a preference of taste, but the game is rewarding with plenty of dick and fart jokes and the lovable cheesiness of Larry’s social interactions. The graphics are updated from the original pixel visuals to have detailed artwork, but some of the background art makes a few key items unnoticeable at first glance. However, every scene is alive with sights and sounds, never letting one moment be too dull.
Gamers with the patience should check out one of video game’s infamous icons. LSL: WDDD doesn’t take itself too seriously, often breaking the fourth wall of the game and adding in color commentary to modern-day trends. The game delivers on humor and an update to the point & click genre that should not be missed out by a mature audience. Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don’t Dry was released November 7th.
Mutant League Football: Dynasty Edition (Zach): The Mutant League games were cult favorites back on the Genesis with Football and Hockey versions along with a crazy ass 90s cartoon but the series finally returned for modern consoles last year and is now available in a new physical “Dynasty Mode” for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch. Just like it’s 16-bit predecessors, the new Mutant League Football is a fast-paced and brutal arcade football game, think NFL Blitz with violent dismemberment. It’s got all the features you would expect from a football game, including a full complement of passing and running plays for offense and zone and blitz defense formations. The big differences are that the field is littered with obstacles that can kill your players in horrific ways and there are almost no penalties, so things like late hits are not just allowed, but encouraged. Your players have a health meter and if it runs out, they are dead and you’ll have to pull a new player off the bench to take their place.
The teams are all parodies of actual NFL teams and the rosters are full of various creatures like werewolves, skeletons, orcs, zombies and more. The game is bursting with personality, from players trash talking after big plays to constant commentary from announcers, including Blitz’s own Tim Kitzrow, who delivers the same over the top play by play as in that arcade classic. You can also pull off a number of “Dirty Plays” that let you do things like bribe the ref to call fake penalties on your opponent or call lightning down to kill a random enemy player. The new retail version also adds Dynasty Mode, so can attempt to take a team to the MFL championship and face off against tough special teams and there are quick play local and online modes as well. If you’ve been missing the fast-paced, fun arcade action of games like Blitz, MFL is a no-brainer must play, as it captures that same awesome playstyle with the addition of hyper-violence and tons of personality and humor.
Roarr! The Adventures of Rampage Rex (Zach): Coming from Born Lucky Games, Roarr! attempts to bring classic Kaiju style mayhem to Steam and Switch but it’s not good on pretty much every level. Aliens have invaded Earth and the only hope to stop them is Sue the T-Rex, who awakens from her millions of year hibernation and starts battling the alien invaders. The main aliens look like Space Mutants from The Simpsons but others have fused with various machines, like cranes or Ferris wheels. Everything feels extremely weightless and empty, from moving to jumping to attacking, which is pretty much the opposite thing you would want in a game featuring giant monsters. Sue attacks with her head or her tail but they feel about the same and you can build up a meter to get an area-clearing roar.
There’s basically no strategy to fighting the aliens; despite their various forms, you just button mash on all of them until they are dead. The game also looks extremely cheap as well, with empty feeling areas that are full of objects that you can smash through but they have no impact on combat and they feel as weightless as everything else. It seems like they were possibly trying to go for a sort of Katamari Damacy feel but it lacks that game’s charm and polish. Roarr! feels like a phone game and a bad one at that. Maybe it’s better with multiple players? I don’t know but it’s definitely a pass from me, even at its sub-$10 price tag.
Cybarian: The Time Travelling Warrior (Zach): Recently hitting Steam from Ritual Games, Cybarian is an awesome retro-style platformer that hurls a Conanesque barbarian warrior into the far-flung future, pitting him against robots, mutants and other threats. The game feels like old school (and hardcore) NES platformers like Ninja Gaiden and has a combo combat system that requires perfect timing to be able to complete the full combo. If you miss a hit, you’ll be dizzy and be open for a hit. The platforming is fast and responsive and it has a great cyberpunk style look and soundtrack but the art style also reminded me of our beloved Broforce, which is always a great thing.
The game is pretty brutal as far as the difficulty and checkpoints are almost non-existent, if you die you are most likely heading back to the beginning of the level. There is a great variety to the enemies who all require a different strategy and you’ll face some big bosses who will usually give you some sort of new ability when they are defeated, like a dodge roll. If you are looking for an old-school challenge, Cybarian will definitely scratch that itch and worth checking out on Steam.
HyperParasite: (Chris) Developed by Troglobytes Games and published by Hound Picked Games, HyperParasite is an action twin-stick shooter that is set in the neon time of the 80’s and starring a parasitic organism looking to spread across the world. In an alternate world where World War 3 occurred in the 80’s, a parasite has emerged and begun absorbing any living creature around it. This parasite can take over any host, controlling their every move with its mind control. Citizens, mercenaries, and anyone that can carry a weapon are after the parasite, and a new war has begun.
HyperParasite features rogue-like game elements alongside the traditional twin-stick shooting and movement and introduces a few features that let the players jump to new opponents to control. The parasite has basic attacks and stats, but becomes powerful when it takes over a human host. Each stage is filled with potential hosts, each having different abilities and weapons that the parasite can use. Waves of enemies will hunt down the parasite and anyone one it controls, drawing health points and ammo. Once a host has been killed or abandoned, a new host must be found to survive the onslaught of incoming enemies.
The game is in still in development, having started as a successful Kickstarter project and released as a public demo. This version is a demo, with a preview of the combat mechanics and featured soundtrack. The gameplay is fast and fluid, focusing on the hectic swarms of enemies and projectiles and management of host resources. Picking the right host in the heat of combat is key to surviving. Attacking a horde of enemies with the wrong weaponry can end a session very quickly. But the game offers gamers a multitude of ways of approaching situations. Going in close with melee attacks or from a distance with a selection of guns are both options. Dodging enemies and strategically reducing the numbers is challenging and entertaining. Troglobytes Games brings back the nostalgic vibe of an 80’s that became too radical, with fun character designs and crazy weapon options. This demo gives a good idea what the developers are trying to accomplish and many gamers looking for some great indie action should check out this title. The demo can be downloaded today on Steam.
60 Parsecs! (Zach): Coming from Robot Gentlemen, 60 Parsecs! is the sequel to their first quirky and hilarious survival game 60 Seconds!. In 60 Seconds! you were trying to survive a nuclear apocalypse in a fallout shelter and 60 Parsecs! takes things into space. You have 60 seconds before the space station you are on is blown up by nuclear missiles, so you have to gather supplies and fellow crew members and then blast off in an escape ship. Once on the escape ship, the main gameplay loop finds you having to manage the meager supplies and try to keep everyone decently fed, healthy and sane. You can determine what supplies, if any, you will give each member of your crew and then there’s usually some sort of problem that you will have to make a decision about. You’ll end that day of survival and then see the results of those decisions and then redistribute supplies and deal with a new situation.
Eventually, you’ll find a planet to land on and will then have to figure out which crew to send out and explore and try to communicate out for a rescue. The basic loop of gameplay reminded me a lot of classics like Oregon Trail and it quickly becomes addicting to do “just one more day” and end up playing for way longer than you expected to just to see what happens next. The game has an absolutely fantastic cartoony art style and some fantastic writing full of slightly dark humor and a sort of 60’s Cold War vibe with the tech and constant references to the Soviets. 60 Parsecs! isn’t going to put your reflexes to the test but it’s an extremely fun and funny survival simulator that is out on Steam right now and is coming soon to Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.
Party Hard 2: (Chris )Developed by Pinokl and published by tinyBuild, Party Hard 2 brings the murderous fun in around series of killing sprees. After the events of the first Party Hard, the Party Hard Killer has been living a normal life, giving up the psycho rampage from his past. Everything started to fall into a casual routine until one bad day at work and the increase party events that appear finally snap him back into his old habits. Now the Party Hard Killer is back and no party is safe again.
Party Hard 2 is a mix of stealth strategy gameplay, that offers a multitude of options for players to plot our their attacks. Setting traps, rewiring electronics, poisoning and setting off explosives are a just a few options that the player can silently take out their targets from a distance. But another tactic is to get their hands a bit dirtier with some fire bombs, makeshift electrocution devices, and the trusted knife to put a personal touch on some unfortunate marks. No matter how to approach the targets, the player must beware of their surrounds and ensure no witnesses call the police. The Party Hard Killer may be crazy, but the police and trained professionals can still end his party stopping spree early. But with some luck and planning, even they can’t stop him if the player gets the drop on them first.
This is not the same party from before, Party Hard 2 has been reworked with improved graphics, gameplay, and ways to share the experience. The visuals have been updated to have 3D pixelated models that expand on the camera views and level of depth. Scoping out the new area is easier and faster. Each level will have a few things randomized each playthrough, no two replays will be the same. Enemy placement, items, and traps will be change, and a few sneaky bonuses to help or hinder the objects. Sometimes a cyborg from the future will appear and try to terminate the killer. When the player has completed objects and challenges, new abilities and Killers will unlock. The game is fast and addictive, causing to some tough moments to restart a level to find a perfect assignation plan. There’s lots of replay value in this party by discovering new methods to eliminate targets, beating each level’s best time record, and a co-op mode that lets two killers work together for double the fun. Pinokl’s dark and twisted title is an excellent experience for gamers looking for an arcade feel to their stealth action. Party Hard 2 was released October 25th for PC.
Way of the Passive Fist (Zach): Way of the Passive Fist has been out for a while now but I finally got the chance to check it out. Inspired by old-school brawlers like Final Fight or TMNT, Way of the Passive Fist puts a new spin on the genre by featuring a character who doesn’t actually fight, he blocks until his opponent is too exhausted and can be shoved down. The Wanderer has a block and a dodge and you will have to get into the rhythm of the various enemies to avoid being hit. You can build up a meter by chaining blocks that will let you do some actual attacks, like a super punch. It definitely takes some adjusting if you’re used to old school button mashers as timing is your most important weapon here but the game also allows you to adjust different aspects of gameplay, so you can adjust things like enemy strength to make the game work specifically for your skill level.
The game looks and sounds great and really evokes the classics of the genre but in a cool new sci-fi Mad Max style world full of crazy characters. It’s out on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam and, if you’re like me and haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, definitely take a look, especially if you are a fan of old-school arcade brawlers.
OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content: (Chris): Developed by Shane Hou, OIC: Obviously Inappropriate Content gives the player a chance to become a playtester and uncover a mysterious scheme to censor entertainment. The player will work at the fictitious game company Last Life Left Game Studio, in the Soviet Union controlled country of Belkasvenia. The game tester will be working the studio’s newest game called ‘Ural Death Machine’, a 2D action shooter that resembles something like Metal Slug, only heavily Soviet influenced. As the playtester, it’s their job to spot bugs and broken features and point out new changes issued by the higher-ups. Between playtesting of the weekly prototype builds of Ural Death Machine, checking messages and dealing with co-workers, the playtester will receive odd requests that fuels suspicion about the workplace.
Shane Hou mixes alternate storytelling and metagaming, as OIC is a game within a game. As the game tester begins to report their findings, Ural Death Machine evolves and becomes something different each time. The presentation for the game is very immersive, with a fake OS system with desktop features and mimics the mundane feeling of repetitive busy work. Reporting on Ural Death Machine begins to take a toll on the lead developer on the game, and soon the working relationships begin to sour. The differences between the creator’s original ideas and that of a committee begin to grow, leading to some petty jabs. But the game tester will be caught in a greater struggle as the Belkasvenian government enforces their powers.
OIC highlights some of the struggles game developers face when creating a game and working with others. This game parodies the changes games can receive from out of touch supervisors and test audiences. OIC definitely offers something different in gaming, giving an insider’s peek of what happens behind the scenes. The game is currently available as a free demo, with future updates pending for release.