Ah, the Vikings. According to my beloved Champions of Midgard these infamous folk loved to fight trolls and slay various other beasts, but Raiders of the North Sea paints a slightly more realistic portrayal of them. Here they don’t fight monsters, they just raid presumably innocent monasteries and assault fortresses for fun. Yup, like any good Viking who has been raised properly your main task in life is to gather a crew and then raid the various outposts, villages, and monasteries at the top of the board, all in the name of glorious loot and glorious victory points.
I don’t often cover titles in Early Access, but the simple fact is that these games, which are still in development, are asking for customers money, and thus it might be worth covering at least some of them. Numantian Games latest effort has gotten itself a pretty big following so far, so let’s take a look at it.
They Are Billions takes a few things and mashes them together, fusing a rather pretty steampunk aesthetic with RTS mechanics and then mixing in masses of rotting zombies for good measure. There’s nothing particularly new under the hood of this Early Access hit, but so far its RTS mechanics and tower-defense vibe have been executed very well.
There’s something satisfying about a deck-builder, I think. You take the same stack of basic cards as everyone else and then proceed to slowly add new things to it, molding what you began with into something that’s yours, built around your vision for how to win. So, Gateway attempts to merge this deck-building satisfaction with area-control. Does it work? Um, sort of.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter starts with a warning about how it’s a story-driven experience that doesn’t hold your hand, a rather bold claim given how there’s a substantial portion of gamers who will actively dislike a game if they deem it to be patronising or being too intent on gently guiding the player through its world and mechanics. I was instantly intrigued by this message; did it mean The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a game that was originally released in 2014 and has only just made it to Xbox One, was going to be full of challenging puzzles that taxed the mind? Would it have a vast world full of mysteries into which you were dropped with no real direction? So many questions.
Jesus Christ, I have absolutely no idea where to even start with Lisboa, the latest table-hogging, mind-destroying eurogame from the highly respected Vital Lacerda. I’ve reviewed one game from Vital previously and utterly adored its lavish production values and stellar gameplay, but damn was it hard to review simply due to the way every mechanic tied to everything else. To explain one thing meant having to digress into about a billion other things before stumbling back to the original topic like a drunk emerging from a pub lock-in. It was confusing. Lisboa is just as complex and tricky to discuss, so please forgive me as I muddle through talking about Lacerda’s latest attempt to turn my already worryingly overheating brain into a melting pot of pink goo.
The Harry Potter franchise holds a special place in the hearts of millions, especially my generation who grew up with both the books and the movies. I started reading the books as a child, and then the very first movie came out. As I moved through my teenage years the books and the movies grew darker, changing and evolving with my own personality and views. So in other words when a game comes out bearing the Harry Potter license I’m intrigued.
Audio is something long looked over by all except the die-hards, but now we’re finally starting to see some appreciation for sound with digital streaming companies slowly but surely abandoning the horribly low quality 256kbps compression methods, while the introduction of Blu-ray and now 4k Blu-ray discs has resulted in a marked improvement for films and games. The reason I mention this is that the Roccat Khan claims to be the world’s first “Hi-Res Audio” headset, something usually defined as being 16 bit / 44.1KHz. It’s a meaningless statement for most consumers while audiophiles are all too used to dealing with how to get the best audio possible. As such the Japanese Audio Society (JAS) and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) have created a certification for what they deem to be Hi-Res Audio, and the Roccat Khan meets the criteria.