Never Alone is a game about learning! Well not that kind of learning; there’ll be no point and click hunts for trivia here as instead it will imbue us all with the knowledge of Alaska Native cultures and their century’s old stories via the medium of adventuring and video games. As a young Iñupiat girl named Nuna, alongside her trusty fox (whose name is literally Fox, which is brilliant), we’ll take on a rough Alaskan setting that will chill our button-pressing thumbs to the bone and send shivers down our spines with some beautifully crafted design. There’s also gameplay that involves lots of puzzles and we’ll meet such characters from Iñupiat history as “The Sky People”, “Manslayer” and “Rolling Heads” so you know this’ll be a good’un. More on Never Alone after the break.
It suddenly occurred to me this morning that I failed to cover the new Assassin’s Creed Unity trailer last week although like the wary gamer I am, with a fondness for stabbing virtual bad guys in the beck, I watched it. Even despite the controversy. You probably watched it too so if you want to watch it again I don’t blame you, or if you landed on this post by some miracle of a search engine, please join me as I join the throngs of others with a bone to pick with Assassin’s Creed Unity and the Ubisoft team(s) behind it.
Jotun is a game far more inspired by Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus than it is by the soaring wave of popularity surrounding Thor. The game’s lead is a Norse woman for one and the fact that her name is ‘Thora’ in a time when Marvel have decided to make Thor’s comics counterpart a woman (also named Thor) is a happy coincidence I’m told, but in all honesty, the similarities end there. Thora wields a mahoosize blade from the get-go and gameplay is a mix between death-defying feats of wit, bravery and willpower against giants (those would be the ‘Jotun‘ then) and puzzles that see you embrace runes, shrines and the gods of Norse mythology as Thora fights her way out of Purgatory and into Valhalla. So with that enough to whet my axe-wielding appetite I decided to talk to the game’s designer, Will Dubé, to find out more.
The year is 1975; you’ve got a handlebar moustache itchier than a trouser leg full of poison ivy, some stir crazy goldfish in the heel of your platform shoes and this song is probably playing in the background. I would imagine, anyway. I wasn’t even alive in the 70s so I don’t really have a clue but what I do know is that according to LA Cops it was full of jive talkin’ punks (!) that needed to be put down with a swift dose of justice in the form of the bullets that fly unabashedly from your guns. Hey, keeping criminals off the streets doesn’t always mean you stay on the right side of the law but police guidelines were really crummy back then and besides, bad guys are called that for a reason. More on LA Cops after the break.
Right, let’s get this out of the way; I didn’t play GTA V on PS3 or Xbox 360 and I don’t plan to either. But with good reason, though! I was waiting for Rockstar’s crime caper sandbox to land itself on PS4, updated visuals, DLC that I’m too lazy/cheap to pay extra for and all. That’s probably the only valid reason for not having played it, if I’m honest, unless running over pedestrians and doing drive-bys willy nilly aren’t really your thing, but alas I’m sure that there are a few of you who were holding out for a GTA V next-gen release too. Rockstar played it coy with that trailer from Sony’s E3 presser focusing on glamour shots only, a bit of sexy leg scenery here, a bare glimmer of lights at dusk there and they were especially withholding on that release date. We might have an answer now though as retailer GameSeek has outed the GTA V next-gen release date on its website.
It had oodles of potential and promise that it was going to be a gajillion and 2 percent better than whatever round joints in square sockets features Dragon Age 2 coughed up and left us with like a soggy hairball. Alas, for all of the nice things that it was going to offer us, the Dragon Age: Inquisition release date has been pushed back from its initial October timing. Anyway, reasoning, the new release date and sadfaces all round can be found after the break.
A quick skim of the ‘controversies’ section of The Vatican Bank (less conspicuously ‘The Institute for the Works of Religion’ in official terms)’s Wiki page and you’ll very soon understand that not only does The Vatican make a good, holy chunk of money each year, but that there’s also a reasonable amount of people questioning where that money comes from (mostly from Catholic follower donations and sales of stamps) and how it’s been spent over the years (anti-communist governments and also militias, maybe? Allegedly? I don’t want to go to jail). Common sense tells us that there are aspects of Papal business that are shadier than a 7 kilometre squared gazebo in the Sahara desert and The Da Vinci Code by Robert Langdon is a good, camp-y (if not slightly over the top) yet well-researched fiction book that covers it too, if that’s your bag of chips. Similarly, Shadows on the Vatican – Act 1: Greed is an excellently made point and click mystery and it’s the first episode in a series that points a few accusatory fingers in The Vatican’s direction. But it’s fictional! (Sorta.) And it’s backed up by a book of legitimate Vatican Bank facts, an unavoidable legal disclaimer and some shoddy voice acting. So onwards with the review to find out what else Shadows on the Vatican – Act 1: Greed is all about!
Uh-oh, well this is awkward, for EA and BioWare at least. Several weeks ago there was a leak in which one sneaky E3 attendee recorded the invite only viewing of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s E3 gameplay demo, complete with commentary from BioWare themselves. They managed to get out and upload it like the jammiest of dodgers before it was taken down a little while after but never fear! EA and BioWare have released an official version of that same Dragon Age: Inquisition gameplay scenario meaning that none of those camera-in-hand jitters are present here and you can also view it in 1080p HD. Watch the video after the break.
A battle of wits, patience and strategic deck planning, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is the free to play card battling game from World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment and it has proved to be an early success. There aren’t any hard stats on how many people are playing the game as Blizzard keeps a notoriously tight fist around its stats (the decade it took for them to release WoW stats, anyone?) but Hearthstone has been released on iPad, PC and even a release on PS4 and Xbox One is on the cards if official Blizzard surveys are to be believed. The game is also doing so well that it’s now set to become part of the professional eSports community but as the guidelines for a Hearthstone tournament in Finland explained that the festivities are strictly men-only, the only thing the organisers are competing for is to silence the controversy.
As one of the only games that portrays LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) characters in a good light and one of even fewer that lets you play as them, Dragon Age: Inquisition always had some high expectations on how it did these identities right by looking for some refreshingly queer gameplay in a see of unfortunate heteronormativity. Much of those queer identities are buoyed by the follower system as for three games now (Inquisition included) the game has let you form relationships with the followers in your party, as long their sexuality corresponded to your playable character’s gender. With BioWare today revealing new Dragon Age: Inquisition character ‘Dorian’, the series looks as hopeful as ever for diversity but in the process the developer have also landed themselves in a bit of hot water.