News by Britta S. and Ginny W.
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)!
Mind control and Metroidvania: Randall against dictatorship
By Britta S., Contributor
Such a flood of indie games is released every week on Steam and PlayStation 4 that most remain invisible, with many a gem languishing, rarely reviewed and little talked about. I’m picking one of the recent releases at random (OK, I noticed it via Twitter, more below); I do not know whether it is a gem, but it certainly looks cool enough to get my attention. On June 6, Randall released on Steam and PS4. Who is Randall?
Randall is a bit schizophrenic. He’s also a telepath. In his world – the dystopian city of Nook, which is under constant surveillance and ruled by a dastardly dictator – that’s a huge advantage: it gives him mind control powers. As Randall, you have to set in motion the uprising against this evil regime that sends brainwashed soldiers to hunt down anyone who disobeys. By fighting the regime, Randall will also find out his true identity. Randall is at heart a brawler with a twist. He uses his fists, his parkour moves, and he takes over his enemies’ minds for short periods, putting their specific skills to good use. The game mixes a range of genre elements, from side-scrolling action to puzzles and traps, with the overall structure being Metroidvania-like in that the world needs to be explored and re-explored thoroughly for crucial power-ups.
Randall is the brainchild of Mexican developer We The Force Studios.I stumbled upon the company on Twitter, as it responded to inquiries about an originally planned (and then abandoned) Vita port of Randall. “Not all hope is lost. We have received a lot of request and we are re-evaluating our decision. We will keep you guys informed.” I always like to see developers taking feedback so well!
Of vampires and vintage airplanes – Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection coming West
By Britta S., Contributor
XSEED Games recently announced its lineup for E3 this year, and two of those games are actually new, or at least new to the West. Matt C. already provided details on Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin and today I’ll take a gander at XSEED’s localisation of the original Falcom 3D action RPG Zwei II Plus, which is re-titled Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection and will be playable at E3 2017 in English for the first time. It was released as a sequel to the original Zwei for PC in Japan in 2009, and the Western PC version is promised for this Northern summer (or winter if you’re, like us, in the Southern hemisphere). For an impression, especially of the visuals, below is the original Japanese trailer for Zwei II:
The game instantly radiates buckets of charm, barely dented by the obviously rather dated-looking graphics. Some dungeon scenes, in particular the background textures, remind me a bit of the PlayStation 2 and PSP era. But who cares, when you have such a quirky cast of characters and what sounds like a lengthy adventure to look forward to? The story is, as you’d expect, a quest: to recover stolen magic and a usurped castle. More unusual for an RPG is the fact that the princess is a vampire – haughty Alwen du Moonbria – who forges a blood contract with pilot Ragna Valentine, a treasure hunter. They sound like the perfect Hollywood couple to me, hehe.
The game features an intriguing sounding food-based experience system (anything with food or crafting has my devoted attention), and the real-time combat is tied to a levelling system that allows players the choice of saving the XP for later perks or using it for immediate benefit. I’m always excited, too, when pets can fight alongside players. Overall, The Ilvard Insurrection sounds like quite a package, which XSEED reckons will please those who love a bubbly stew of vampires, fairies, ninjas, luchadores, cat-people, vintage airplanes, robots, chickens that lay bombs, and … I don’t know what else, but I’ll be queueing up to find out.
Hello, Hellblade! Ninja Theory’s latest title is now slated for release
By Ginny W., Contributor
Things have been a little quiet on the Ninja Theory front since it kicked off what most people consider to be the (in)famous reboot of Devil May Cry – DmC. In terms of big projects, the last that the developer released to relative acclaim was Disney Infinity 3.0. This time, it’s aiming a little higher with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which has been teased, trailered, and mused about since 2014 when it was being marketed as Hellblade. It’s been described by the studio as gritty, hellish (the name’s looking a little less creative now), and beautifully twisted. Judging from the promotional material that we’ve had, the cutscenes build on that prophecy, but they’ve left us with more questions: What is an “independent AAA”? Is this going to be an RPG? What about the studio trumpeting that the game will be an exploration of psychosis?
We’ve had a good three years since the title’s announcement to think about those What Ifs, and in 2015, the development of the title underwent a major haul, which really only made it prettier and left most of our questions unanswered. Now, we finally have a release date for Senua’s Sacrifice on PlayStation 4 and PC: August 8 of this year. Ninja Theory has announced that the lucky ones who preorder the game for console will pick up a cool theme of the sacred tree from the trailer on fire. Since the title is said to draw heavily on Celtic and Norse mythology, the symbolism with that theme is bound to be off the charts.
While a few more pre-order goodies for those in the Windows camp would probably have helped, hopefully this latest announcement drums up a little more excitement for Senua’s Sacrifice. Being drip-fed information about the game has slowed its momentum a bit, especially in the wake of all the stellar titles this year, and it should be put back on the radar leading up to its release. Ninja Theory has since announced that its rather risky play to base the plot on a traumatised protagonist fighting off demons spawned from her psychosis has since been vetted and created in collaboration with neuroscientists and those living with psychosis. Will Senua’s Sacrifice be a triumphant accurate portrayal of living with mental illness? Probably not. But the studio has shown that it cares about those voices and about working to portray them respectfully, so this jaded critic is definitely looking forward to August.
The new Advance Wars: Tiny Metal
By Britta S., Contributor
It sports cute design, square tiles, turn-based combat with rock-paper-scissors strategy, cute character art, a military theme … what could it be? It’s the revival of Japanese arcade wargaming! That’s what the developers, Tokyo-based Area 34, call it on the website for Tiny Metal http://tinymetal.com/ – in fact, it boldly claims that Tiny Metal is “the Japanese Arcade Wargame you wish you had as a kid.” This may not be such a far-fetched claim, considering that the game is billed as a spiritual successor to the Advance Wars series (which flourished on the GBA and NDS and had its last release in 2008) and commands the talents of writer Hiro Inaba (I Am Setsuna, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright) and Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta (as “scenario supervisor”).
You play as Artemisian Lieutenant Nathan Gries, commanding your units to (hopefully) victory against the villainous nation of Zipang. There are 20 campaign missions to follow his story and the single-player campaign will last about 8-10 hours. You have multiple upgrade options to customise each unit, and of course you’ll encounter both friends and enemies as you complete missions. As is usual with strategy games, terrain and troop positioning, advance and defence, are all paramount for isometric grid success. Here are 11 minutes of new gameplay footage:
In addition to the campaign, skirmish modes allow you to replay all your favourite maps. Both English and Japanese language options are available. Tiny Metal is scheduled to release sometime this October for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.