News by Britta S. and Lindsay M.
Welcome to Digitally Downloaded’s regular catch-up news feature. With each issue we will bring you the best news that you may have missed. Grab the biggest mug you’ve got, fill it with your favourite brew, and catch up with us (and our favourite news anchor, Dee Dee)!
A fox stole my heart: Seasons After Fall
By Britta S., Contributor
A little fox catapulted his way into my heart. I know… I’m a sucker for cute, lively animals with personality galore. For this fox, I’ll even consider setting aside my indifference to platformers. Just look at him: a fox with mystical powers that allow him to manipulate the seasons; he can alter the environment by summoning one of the four seasons, anytime, and thereby modify organic platforming elements. Why does he have these powers and what journey is he on? I’m not sure about the background story, but believe it has something to do with searching for the four guardians of seasons and uncovering secrets. What better place for secrets than nature herself, eh?
Seasons After Fall is a 2D hand-drawn puzzle-adventure game by developer Swing Swing Submarine. It was released on PC via Steam in September 2016 and publisher Focus Home Interactive is now bringing the fox to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 16. The artwork is just sublime: it beckons me to dive in and explore this lush world. While the platforming does not come across as particularly challenging, that is not necessarily a drawback in my book. Some games are more about the experience and wonder of exploration than sweaty, cramping fingers clamping the controller. Underlining this is a vibrant soundtrack recorded by a live string quartet.
The guardians protect the seasons and grant you/fox mastery of the seasons. This magical world is yours to manipulate: summon the power of winter to freeze a lake or waterfall, or call upon spring rain to make trees and flowers grow. On your travels you will uncover the secrets of this world and complete a sacred ritual. Let the bushy tail swing into action.
Self-published student game Deliriant tackles the tough subjects
By Lindsay M.,News Editor
I don’t normally play games for action sequences and gunfights, preferring the more subtle titles that explore psychological issues rather than seeing who can rack up the most kills. Some recent titles that I loved include Beyond Eyes and Layers of Fear, for reference. As such, when I saw that Deliriant is being released on May 23 on PlayStation 4 I immediately tried to clear my calendar for the day (no luck, but that’s another story). The story takes place in a 1970s-styled home and promises to explore topics such as abuse, family relationships, and coping mechanisms.
Ben Steele, the Team Lead on the project, wrote in a recent PlayStation Blog: “I’m hesitant to even call it a game in the traditional sense. More of an experience.” Inspired heavily by Gone Home, Journey, and the original Myst, Deliriant begins with the idea of gaslighting: a form of subtle manipulation where one person uses another person’s reliance on their relationship to make them doubt their perception of the “real” world. The house itself seems to be a coping mechanism, literally trapping someone within their (sometimes false) memories.
This is the second time in a week we’ve referenced a student-made game in the Catch-up; in our last issue, Britta discussed Korean horror game Yurei Station. Deliriant is one of the first student-made games to self-publish on the PlayStation 4, a high honour indeed. It was made by 12 students from the Entertainment Arts and Engineering graduate program at the University of Utah, where the students are given a large degree of freedom. In this case, the dozen involved formed their own game studio — Manic Interactive — in addition to focusing on the actual creation of the game. For more information, check out the aforementioned PS Blog.
Pox Nora finally coming to PS4
By Britta S., Contributor
The fantasy collectible card strategy game Pox Nora has been out for PC, free to play, since 2014. Now it’s finally coming to PlayStation 4 on May 23. Developer Desert Owl Games has announced some debut bonuses for the console: PS4 players receive an exclusive pack of eight unique versions of venerable Pox Nora hero characters, while PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive exclusive versions of eight Pox Nora Angels, which are apparently extremely powerful cards. So, what is Pox Nora all about?
In Pox Nora, players build custom decks of cards that include equipment, spells, and playable characters called Champions. The objective is to destroy the opponent’s shrine by deploying cards tactically across a grid-based battlefield. Control points called Nora Fonts can be captured to stock up on resources needed to play more cards and champions. There are single player campaigns, you can pit yourself against the AI, or battles against other players in PvP matches.
PlayStation 4 players will have access to all of Pox Nora‘s currently-released PC expansions. They will receive the “Ironfist Inquisition” deck at start-up, as well as a bonus login pack and an additional pack if they have a PlayStation Plus account. PC players can also copy their data over to PlayStation 4, and cross-play between PC, Mac, and PS4 will be supported. More than 2,700 cards are available; you can tailor your own customised deck or use one of the pre-made Public Decks for a an easy entry. We assume that the purchasable extra rune packs will also make an appearance on console. We were a bit concerned that the PS Vita version was not mentioned in the announcement, however, via the Pox Nora Twitter account the company reassured followers on May 11 that “The PS Vita version needs more optimization than the PS4, and we want to make sure it has the best possible performance for the platform.”
Huge visual novel Little Busters! English Edition coming to Steam
By Britta S., Contributor
Little Busters! is huge both in size and scope as well as regarding popularity in Japan. It came out in 2007 and received several ports and various expansions over the years, as well as a 26-episode anime adaptation. Now, we will be able to experience this visual novel phenomenon in English sometime this year (no release date yet). Little Busters! is described as a romance VN, but like all good novels, it is so much more than that. I believe it contains some very dark story elements, which counterbalance the light-hearted story of protagonist Riki Naoe, an orphaned and depressed boy who meets a group of four other children calling themselves Little Busters; they help him find joy in life again.
Little Busters! was created by legendary developer Key and Jun Maeda, who were behind Clannad, Angel Beats!, and the recent anime series Charlotte. A look at the new trailer (above) for the English Edition shows the strong similarity in graphics style, especially with Clannad. Little Busters! English Edition is a translated and updated version of Little Busters! Perfect Edition, which retains the extra characters and routes added in the Ecstasy (18+) expansion while returning it to an all-ages rating. HD resolution is supported for the first time on PC, and this release will also include touchscreen support, the ability to zoom out to the original 4:3 aspect ratio, as well as a one-button-press switching between English and Japanese text.
Developer Prototype is working on the new edition, with Fruitbat Factory handling the English localisation. The English Edition has been Greenlit on Steam. The player can romance a total of eight heroines in this edition; there are various mini-games, too, including a baseball one, to leaven the long story sequences. Another visual novel with mini-games (in fact RPG dungeons!) is Tomoyo After: It’s a Wonderful Life, a sequel to Clannad. When VisualArts first announced the English localisation for Little Busters! in late 2015, they also mentioned Tomoyo After as a candidate for an English edition, based on fan translations. Let’s hope the English visual novel train keeps on gathering speed and steam!