ABZU Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com ABZU RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Sony Offers 10 Free Games with Play at Home 2021, Includes Horizon Zero Dawn https://www.gameskinny.com/lgu56/sony-offers-10-free-games-with-play-at-home-2021-includes-horizon-zero-dawn https://www.gameskinny.com/lgu56/sony-offers-10-free-games-with-play-at-home-2021-includes-horizon-zero-dawn Wed, 17 Mar 2021 16:14:14 -0400 Josh Broadwell

Sony is expanding its Play At Home initiative by offering nine games for free starting March 25, including some PlayStation VR games. Play at Home will continue into April, with Sony making Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition available for free beginning April 19.

The first round of Play at Home free games will be available March 25 at 8 p.m. PST/11 p.m. EST through April 22 at the same time. It includes:

  • Abzu
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Rez Infinite
  • Subnautica
  • The Witness
  • Thumper
  • Paper Beast
  • Moss
  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition will be free from April 19 until May 14 at the same times. 

There's no gimmick to obtaining these. Just like with 2020's Play At Home games, all you need is a PSN account. 

From March 25 through April 22, Sony is also offering an expanded Funimation trial, extending the usual two-week free trial to a full three months.

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PlayStation 4 Hidden Gems Sale Sparkles With Big Deals https://www.gameskinny.com/ptan3/playstation-4-hidden-gems-sale-sparkles-with-big-deals https://www.gameskinny.com/ptan3/playstation-4-hidden-gems-sale-sparkles-with-big-deals Thu, 07 May 2020 20:25:39 -0400 GS_Staff

Sony is keeping the PS4 sales coming with PlayStation 4's Hidden Gems Sale, which is live now through May 20 at 11 a.m. EST. 

There are several hundred games on sale, spanning almost every genre one can think of, from action-adventure to strategy, RPG, shooters, and VR. Some are incredibly obscure, while others are household names. 

Almost all of the discounts are worth checking out, while some are 75%, making them quite the steal. Here's a list of just a few of the bargain-bin games, with a link to the entire sale at the bottom of the page. 

Note that the Destiny 2 discounts below are only available until May 13. 

Game Sale Price Reg. Price
Absolver $7.49 $29.99
Abzu $9.99 $19.99
Age of Wonders: Planetfall $24.99 $49.99
Arizona Sunshine $11.99 $39.99
Banner Saga Trilogy $19.99 $49.99
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night $19.99 $39.99
Child of Light $4.49 $14.99
Children of Morta $14.73 $21.99
Control $29.99 $59.99
Dandara: Trials of Fear Ed. $5.99 $14.99
Darkwood $7.49 $14.99
Destiny 2: Forsaken $14.99 $24.99
Destiny 2: Shadowkeep $20.99 $34.99
Don't Starve Together Console Ed. $7.49 $14.99
Enter the Gungeon $7.49 $14.99
Farming Simulator 17 $7.99 $19.99
Gris $8.49 $16.99
Guacamelee 2 Complete $5.74 $22.99
Journey to the Savage Planet $17.99 $29.99
Layers of Fear + Observer Bundle $11.99 $39.99
Life is Strange Complete Season 1 $3.99 $19.99
Mark of the Ninja: Remastered $9.99 $19.99
Mutant Year Zero Road to Eden $17.49 $34.99
Nidhogg 2 $3.74 $14.99
Overcooked + Overcooked 2 $17.49 $34.99
Payday 2 Crimewave Ed. $4.99 $19.99
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Ultimate Ed. $38.99 $59.99
Risk of Rain 2 $14.99 $29.99
Shadow Warrior 2 $9.99 $39.99
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom $2.49 $9.99
Sparklite $14.99 $24.99
Subnautica $17.99 $29.99
Terraria PS4 Ed. $5.99 $19.99
The Jackbox Party Pack $12.49 $24.99
The Surge $5.99 $19.99
The Talos Principle Deluxe Ed. $4.99 $49.99
Trine Ultimate Collection $19.99 $49.99
Yakuza 3, 4, 5 Remastered $19.99 $24.99

 

That's just a very small sampling of what's on offer during the PlayStation Hidden Gems sale. Head over to the sale's PlayStation Store page for more. The store's Big in Japan Sale and Games Under $20 are also live as well for even more savings. 

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14 Relaxing Games You Can Play on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch https://www.gameskinny.com/0j5ue/14-relaxing-games-you-can-play-on-pc-ps4-xbox-one-and-switch https://www.gameskinny.com/0j5ue/14-relaxing-games-you-can-play-on-pc-ps4-xbox-one-and-switch Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:47:49 -0400 Ty Arthur

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Tell us which of these 14 games you plan on playing by sounding off in the comments below. Be sure to let us know what game takes the edge off for you or which games should be on this list that aren't!

\n

Of course, not everyone will want their gaming to be all teddy bears and rainbows. If you'd rather get your frustration out by fragging hordes of enemies or engaging in a thousand or so turns of a complex strategy battle title, there are still tons of options.

\n

To get started, take a look at all the free games currently available, and stay tuned for our upcoming list of great games with the longest campaigns!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/w/a/t/wattam-screen-ps4-10dec17-a5e54.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/w/a/t/wattam-screen-ps4-10dec17-a5e54.jpg","type":"slide","id":"209066","description":"

Wattam

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Another extremely laid-back game without combat, the oddly intriguing Wattam is all about reconnecting with old friends while dancing, holding hands, and even skyrocketing off by using your odd hat.

\n

Although there's perhaps more poop than you might care for in a relaxing game, Wattam is undeniably charming and a joy to play when you don't want something too heavy.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-5a621.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-5a621.jpg","type":"slide","id":"209065","description":"

Gris

\n

Watercolor is already pretty relaxing, so it just makes sense to use it as an art medium in a game meant to offer hope like Gris. You don't have to worry about combat or dying here, and this is one of those rare platformers where you won't be constantly frustrated while trying to figure out the mechanics.

\n

What really makes Gris stand apart is its lack of dialog. Everything in this story is told through emotional connections and visual cues, which makes it extremely soothing to play.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/m/a/image-cover-3a385.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/m/a/image-cover-3a385.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208899","description":"

Bejeweled 3

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The original time waster. Bejeweled should always be in your backup list of quick and easy games to jump into. When you need the problems of the day to fall away and for your mind to focus on soothing colors and patterns, this is the way to go. 

\n

For that rare group of people who didn't spend hours playing this online back in the day, Bejeweled is a Match-3 where your goal is just to swap jewels around the board causing larger and larger matches (and corresponding cascading explosions if you manage to get 5 in a row). It simple, low stakes, and addicting.

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Imminently relaxing even when it was just a simple web game a decade back, Bejeweled has only increased its relaxing gameplay options since then, as the more recent PC and console editions also include Zen Mode.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-cef27.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-cef27.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208898","description":"

The Room

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Point-and-click puzzle titles may not be the first choice for a relaxing experience, since there are so many opportunities for frustration to arise with obtuse mechanics or high difficulty. The Room avoids those problems through the strength of its gameplay and the overall immersion of its sounds and visuals.

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You can get lost in this one, especially if you prefer games to be a little on the creepy side. Essentially, you've got an escape room in digital form, but all the levers, knobs, and pulleys are just really satisfying to play with in this particular iteration of the genre.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/m/dims-9fd37.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/d/i/m/dims-9fd37.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208897","description":"

A World Of Keflings

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Oddball title World Of Keflings probably would have forever faded into obscurity (and let's be honest, it still isn't that well known) if it hadn't been one of the early free Games With Gold to hit the Xbox 360.

\n

If you missed out on it way back when, now is a great time to jump back in, because there's not much room for frustration in this adorable city builder. Your Xbox (or Wii) avatar serves as the only giant in a world of very small inhabitants, so you get to help the Keflings build their utopia.

\n

Gather sand and clay to make glass, stockpile planks to take to the carpenter for making carved wood, and so on until you get into a zen-like groove of harvesting and building.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capsule-616x353-adb47.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/a/p/capsule-616x353-adb47.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208907","description":"

Eastshade

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If you like the idea of Abzu but would prefer the grandeur of the open world of nature instead of what's found beneath the waves, then Eastshade is for you. As a free-spirited traveling painter, your only goal here is to wander around and paint pictures of beautiful scenery.

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Along the way, you can help people out with their problems and make the world a little bit better of a place. This is a game that's more about the journey than the destination, as it's basically an open-world simulator but without a ton of objectives other than to enjoy the scenery and chat with some fine folks.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/z/abzu-title-b9d1c.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/z/abzu-title-b9d1c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208902","description":"

Abzu 

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The polar opposite of Subnautica, the ocean-exploring Abzu focuses on the calm, peaceful aspects of life beneath the waves. Swim with whales, weave through coral reefs, and experience life to the fullest while following schools of fish in this incredibly vibrant and visually stunning experience.

\n

There's not a ton of actual "game" here, but that's alright: sometimes you just want to live in an underwater paradise and not have to save the world or rack up a high score.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/0/5/0059a2013482d7e3c9c718a6a312f89e00e39a74906f2c795843db762dd0-902a0.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/0/0/5/0059a2013482d7e3c9c718a6a312f89e00e39a74906f2c795843db762dd0-902a0.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208913","description":"

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

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If you've already played My Time At Portia or Stardew Valley, then Yonder is the next farming game that should have your attention. Forget about combat or anything stressful, because The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a wonderful lazy Sunday of a game.

\n

Unwind while exploring a gorgeous island, building a farm, taking time out for a fishing break, and helping people out while learning skills like carpentry and sewing. It's simple, it's easy, and it's exactly what you need when the real world is too much to handle.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/5/b/15bde26419ba869c66a9b646d3ed87f247ca7711-add93.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/1/5/b/15bde26419ba869c66a9b646d3ed87f247ca7711-add93.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208901","description":"

Slime Rancher

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Back in the days of yore, heroes slaughtered slimes by the thousands in the various Dragon Quest games. Now we live in more enlightened times and realize slimes are an adorable, intelligent species that should be sustainably farmed in Slime Rancher.

\n

The concept sounds bizarre, but it is wonderfully relaxing to suck up carrots, beets, and even chickens into your suction gun and then plop them out to feed slimes as you build up your ranch.

\n

It is important to note that as you get towards the end, the puzzles can, in fact, become difficult and stressful. That being said, most of the game is wildly comforting and incredibly low stakes.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/a/f/7af48bb2efde6c45b6ddf824df06434aa417e2deb35427694d0da78cf6da-7c8e1.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/7/a/f/7af48bb2efde6c45b6ddf824df06434aa417e2deb35427694d0da78cf6da-7c8e1.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208896","description":"

Animal Crossing New Horizons

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New Horizons is just about the best way to take things at your own pace and forget the troubles of the world right now. Dig up fossils, catch bugs, build your house, make animal friends.

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This next gen reboot of the classic Nintendo franchise lets you live out your interior (and exterior!) decorator fantasies across a whole island while slowly expanding access to new areas. Whether crafting, buying, hunting, inviting new creatures to live nearby, or just enjoying the scenery, there's also something relaxing (and fun) to do in Animal Crossing.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-valley-df1ee.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-valley-df1ee.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208894","description":"

Stardew Valley

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You had to know the country living sim Stardew Valley would make the list, right? Take things at your own pace as you learn to live off the land by farming, fishing, raising animals, and forging relationships with other members of the local community.

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Of course, Stardew Valley isn't totally without stress as you manage various resources, especially if you see everything as a challenge to overcome as quickly as possible, but for the most part, this is laid-back gaming at its finest. There are a good number of mods to make things more relaxing. 

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Stardew Valley also (finally) features multiplayer, so you and your friends and family can all farm together. 

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For those looking to take a darker route, Graveyard Keeper offers a different, but definitely less relaxing, take on the farm-life genre. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/n/d/indus-33cad.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/i/n/d/indus-33cad.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208903","description":"

Industrial Petting

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Farming and ranching simulators are some of the best go-to titles for relaxing games, and there's no shortage of options there. While the big names like Farming Simulator are worth trying out, there's also plenty to explore if you dig into the indie scene. 

\n

Industrial Petting is one of those lesser-known titles that's currently available in Early Access. While the content isn't overflowing yet, there are still tons of adorable animals to enjoy while building up an empire of ethically sourced, fair trade exotic pets.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/o/f/coffee-talk-main-2d295.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/c/o/f/coffee-talk-main-2d295.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208895","description":"

Coffee Talk

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Sitting somewhere between a visual novel and a barista simulator, there is something weirdly relaxing about brewing up a cup of joe in Coffee Talk while listening to people's problems.

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The twist, of course, is that in Coffee Talk's universe, supernatural beings walk among us. Think of it as a low-key Shadowrun, with none of the violence and a lot more coffee. You'll get to offer advice to an elf and a succubus whose parents don't approve of their relationship while learning how to make lattes, teas, and smoothies.

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I dunno' if actual real-world baristas will get the same soothing level of therapy out of it, but everyone else is in for a wonderfully relaxing time. Not sure if this format is right for you? Grab the free demo at Steam to try it out before you buy!

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/v/e/everything-keyart-7db2f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/v/e/everything-keyart-7db2f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208893","description":"

Everything

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A truly odd and offbeat offering from DoubleFine, Everything is sort of like an anti-Katamari Damacy. Instead of collecting everything and going inward, you constantly expand outward, so far, in fact, that you might start over at the beginning again! There's no end goal and no way to win or lose. You just exist and explore while philosophical concepts are presented as voiceovers.

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Everything's non-traditional gameplay is particularly helpful in stressful situations, as this bizarrely wonderful simulator makes you feel connected to the universe at large no matter where you are. 

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This imminently weird but wildly intriguing title made our list of the top bizarre games. They aren't all relaxing, but all of them offer something outside the norm. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/l/relaxingcov1-b0034.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/l/relaxingcov1-b0034.jpg","type":"slide","id":"208918","description":"

It can be pretty relaxing to mow down hordes of gangsters and aliens while imbued with superpowers in Saints Row 4 or to plow through crowds in GTA 5. But not all games are conducive to lowering your stress levels. Fast-paced shooters like Doom Eternal might not be the best way to keep your blood pressure in a happy place.

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For those of us in need of something calmer, this list of 14 extremely relaxing games is just the ticket. Core gameplay in all of these titles is explicitly soothing and meant to put you at ease. 

"}]]]>
Got Wanderlust? These 5 Exploration Games Will Scratch Your Traveling Itch https://www.gameskinny.com/yh16q/got-wanderlust-these-5-exploration-games-will-scratch-your-traveling-itch https://www.gameskinny.com/yh16q/got-wanderlust-these-5-exploration-games-will-scratch-your-traveling-itch Sun, 02 Apr 2017 13:00:38 -0400 Erroll Maas

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There are plenty of other games to help you feel the joy of traveling from inside your own living room, but the few seen on this list are all relatively recent releases and easily accessible.

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Are there any other games that should be on this list that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! 

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/h/2/kh2fm-55cd7.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/k/h/2/kh2fm-55cd7.png","type":"slide","id":"154507","description":"

Satisfy Your Disneyland Craving with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX

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Want to travel to a variety of new worlds and meet plenty of Disney characters along the way? Sure, you could go to one of the Disney parks in real life, but why use up all that money when you can explore the worlds of your favorite Disney movies without leaving your own home? You might as well just stay in and play the recently released Kingdom Hearts collection on PlayStation 4.

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Instead of waiting hours in line for each ride, you can travel to different worlds as soon as you've unlocked them. And although the time this takes varies, it's still a much shorter alternative. You can tree surf with Tarzan, sing with Ariel, celebrate Halloween and Christmas with Jack Skellington, and even ride light cycles with Tron -- not even the best Disney parks have attractions where you can do that.

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Kingdom Hearts 1.5+2.5 ReMIX offers a Disney experience that no amusement park can even come close to, not matter how magical they look.

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Kingdom Hearts 1.5+2.5 ReMIX is only available on PlayStation 4. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ReMIX are available separately on PlayStation 3.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-327b5.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/a/x/maxresdefault-327b5.jpg","type":"slide","id":"154506","description":"

Go on an Aquatic Adventure in Abzu

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Looking for a relaxing tropical vacation? Wish you could go scuba diving but have things preventing you from observing aquatic life? Try Abzu, a game made by Giant Squid Studios, which was founded by the art director of Journey.

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Abzu is a delight to your senses, having gorgeous visuals mixed with a beautifully composed soundtrack, as well as simple yet unique gameplay. Abzu is absurdly short, but it provides enough content to warrant more than one playthrough. You can even meditate on special shark statues found throughout this part of the ocean, which also allow you to observe aquatic life from afar and learn the names of various creatures. Sometimes it's also nice to go back to this game just to listen to the relaxing soundtrack.

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 Abzu is available on PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/m/remarkable-yakuza-game-screenshot-picture-e3ea4.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/e/m/remarkable-yakuza-game-screenshot-picture-e3ea4.jpg","type":"slide","id":"154505","description":"

Travel Back in Time to 1980's Japan in Yakuza 0

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Have you always wanted to go to Japan, but can't afford to or don't speak a word of Japanese? Try playing the most recent Yakuza game, Yakuza 0. Why travel to modern Japan when you can travel to Japan two decades ago without the hassle of making travel plans? Yakuza 0 takes place in 1980's Tokyo, as well as Osaka, a prosperous time when the country's economy was booming and the unemployment rate was low.

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The most noteworthy part of Yakuza 0 is all of the various side activities you can do, which range from realistic to outrageous. You can go to the arcade and play other Sega games, sing your heart out at karaoke, go out dancing, win a chicken from bowling and have it manage your real estate team (no, really), and hang out with a fictional version of Michael Jackson.

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If you've been looking to go to Japan only to realize how expensive it is to travel there, then look to Yakuza 0 to let you explore the land of the rising sun.

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Yakuza 0 is only available on PlayStation 4

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Drive to Different Corners of the World in Final Fantasy XV

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Maybe you'd like to go to several different places, instead of just one. What if I told you that you could go to places like Venice, Cuba, and the American Southwest -- all while riding giant birds and fighting demons? Sounds crazy right? Well, you can do all of these things and more with Final Fantasy XV.

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A semi-open world action JRPG and the latest game in the Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy XV lets take road trips, make pit stops at gas stations and diners, visit and take photographs of popular tourist spots, ride Chocobos, go camping, and eat Cup Noodles.

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Final Fantasy XV provides plenty of areas to explore, and with expansions starting to be released, the game will have even more areas for you to explore. Of course, these aren't real world locations, but they do mimic many regions around the world, so you can pretend while you're in a pretend world. How meta! 

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Final Fantasy XV is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Explore a Near Accurate Version of the San Francisco Bay Area in Watch Dogs 2

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Our first pick takes place in a fictional, yet heavily-based-on-reality version of the Bay Area in northern California, a popular tourist spot known for its diversity and scenic nature sites.

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In Watch Dogs 2, you play as hacker Marcus Holloway, a member of a hacking group whose aim is to completely take down the city's near futuristic surveillance system. Marcus can drive vehicles around the city, parkour off of buildings and other structures, and use a variety of different methods to complete missions.

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If you want to explore the San Francisco Bay Area without paying for flight tickets, then Watch Dogs 2 is the game for you, which is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

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Not everyone enjoys traveling. And even for those that do, the money and time needed to travel is not always available. So when those things are scarce, it can really make you wish you could somehow travel to new places without ever having to walk out your front door.

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So, to scratch that travelling itch, here are five games that will take you to new places and make you feel like you've traveled around the world -- and even to brand new ones -- without ever stepping foot outside of your front door!

"}]]]>
ABZÛ Review: Sure it's Beautiful, But is it Worth Playing? https://www.gameskinny.com/q0x8d/abzu-review-sure-its-beautiful-but-is-it-worth-playing https://www.gameskinny.com/q0x8d/abzu-review-sure-its-beautiful-but-is-it-worth-playing Wed, 17 Aug 2016 10:30:44 -0400 AwesumPawsum

Let me start this ABZÛ review by saying that I didn't originally plan on picking up the game. Normally my cup of tea involves of action (read: violence). Games like Call of Duty or Skyrim, and MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, are where I spend most of my gaming time. 

But I like to change things up, and ABZÛ did look interesting. I bought it a few days after release and was pleasantly surprised. 

Here's why -- starting with the general premise of the game.

What is ABZÛ?

This game starts off without much of an introduction. You're told the basics of how to swim and navigate the deep blue sea, but that's about it. There's...

  • No explanation of who (or what) you are
  • No real understanding of what you're trying to do
  • No idea of how you got there
  • Etc.

As the game progresses, you kinda piece these things together. For example: you don't really find out if you have a name, but you do learn some interesting things about yourself. You also realize that you have a special role in this underwater world. While some areas flourish with flora and fauna, others are desolate and dead. Fortunately, you have the (super power?) to fix that.

There's no death in this game -- unless you count seeing fish get eaten by their predators. Although there are a few other very minor aspects of violence, that's really a miniscule part of the game.

Instead, ABZÛ is meant to be a short, beautiful adventure. The fact that most of it takes place underwater -- a part of the world very few of us have experienced firsthand -- makes it a unique experience. 

How does it Play?

This game was made to be pretty simple. You don't have very many controls, there aren't tons of collectibles (which my wife and I call bugs thanks to Zelda), and the story is lacking.

Simplicity has its upside, though. Even if you forget the controls once or twice, the game is forgiving in that there's no real rush. You can move through (most of) the game as quickly or slowly as you like. 

Don't want to move onto the next area? That's fine-- just swim around and make it a goal to ride every big fish in that region.

Obsessed with collecting every single item? Spend a little extra time to make sure you didn't miss a single thing.

Only have 15 minutes to play? That's okay -- unlike a game like Bloodborne, you aren't going to end up in the middle of a giant fight when your time is up.

If you don't feel like swimming around but instead want to just observe the wildlife, the game has a built-in system for that. You find meditation statues throughout the game, and sitting on one lets you... well, meditate -- where you basically just focus on a single creature swimming around you.

And because nobody wants to just stare at the same fish the entire time, you can switch back and forth between fish/whales/sharks/etc. 

Sounds Relaxing... but is there a Downside?

While the game serves its purpose well, it does have a few downsides.

The controls aren't difficult, but they do take a few minutes to master. There were several times where I had a little trouble getting the camera angle just like I wanted.

Some things aren't explained, either. Like the fact you can do a little spin move with O (on the PS4.) Or that boosting requires you to tap the button with a short pause in between each tap, rather than just holding the button down.

There was one area where I got stuck. I (mostly) blame myself, but the game did threw a little bit of a curveball about 80% through, and I wasn't expecting it. 

Finally, the graphics on PS4 weren't as good as I'd hoped. Even though it is a beautiful game on the consoles, I should've bought it on PC. Based on the screenshots I've seen from PC, I think they designed it to be on PC but then said "hey -- let's also scale it way down to put on consoles, too!"

Final Thoughts

Overall I liked my experience with ABZÛ. I didn't time myself, but it probably took me about 4-5 hours to get through the game. I've seen videos of people beating the entire game in 1.5 hours but...they're dorks.

This is almost the kind of game that isn't meant to be beaten. That's just not the point. Instead, I see this as a way to sit down and relax after a long, hard day. Plus as a father, it's one of the only kid-friendly games I own. My toddler loved watching me play, and anything that helps my kid calm down is a winner in my book!

If these themes resonate with you, and you like games like Journey, ABZÛ is a great buy. But if you must have a complex, long story, or you need to see lots of bloodshed, or you like to have your heart pumping out of your chest from horror games... you'll find ABZÛ  too boring. Save your money. 

If you decide to pick up the game, check out my ABZÛ tips article to get swimming on the right track! 

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10 ABZU Tips to Help You Explore, Collect, Dive and Relax https://www.gameskinny.com/9iwil/10-abzu-tips-to-help-you-explore-collect-dive-and-relax https://www.gameskinny.com/9iwil/10-abzu-tips-to-help-you-explore-collect-dive-and-relax Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:16:30 -0400 AwesumPawsum

ABZU is a beautiful adventure game that everyone should try. Whether your primary genre is shooters, sports, racing, or anything else, ABZU is a game that can soothe any overly-caffeinated gamer. 

Even though it's not a very long or difficult game, I put together some ABZU tips to help you through the game. I did get stuck several places, so hopefully this article will help you get through those parts a little quicker.

Tip #1: Basic Controls

First let me start by highlighting some of the controls. The game only shows them to you one time, and (if you're like me) you may forget them.

To Dive and Swim, use R2. This is pretty straightforward and you probably won't forget about it, since you will constantly be holding it down for most of the game.

To Grab onto a fish, press L2 and hold it. As soon as you let go, you let go of the fish. Keep in mind that it doesn't seem like you can control the fish, but it does give you a boost in speed and lets you get some nice screenshots.

To do a little spin move, push the circle button on PS4, or B on the Xbox. This doesn't really seem to be useful for anything, but lets you play around a bit. 

To interact with something or scan, push the Square button (or X button on Xbox.) This is used throughout the game, so it's probably something else you won't easily forget. 

ABZU Tip #2: Boosting

I humbly admit that I didn't learn how to properly boost until I was almost done with the game. I figured all I had to do was push and hold the button (X on PS4, A on Xbox.)

But that's not really the case. Instead, you have to 

  1. Tap the boost button, then wait half a second.
  2. Tap it again to get a better boost, then wait another second.
  3. Tap again to get a big boost in speed.

You can't keep that additional speed by holding down the button, but you can just boost over and over again when crossing a large span of water.

Tip #3: How to Breach in ABZU 

Breaching is a lot of fun... and is (again) something I didn't really discover until late in the game. I just didn't even think about trying it earlier on. 

...As you can tell, I'm not very good at these kinds of games. Leave me alone.

Anyways, the best places to breach are those that have a lot of open area above the water. In other words, those small caves with just a tiny hole to breach the surface aren't ideal.

Once you get to one of these areas, swim about 30-40 feet deep into the water. Then point yourself towards the surface and start swimming. When you get about halfway there, use all 3 boosts to get tons of speed to help you really get air!

This is especially fun later in the game when you have a certain friend swimming with you. 

ABZU Tip #4: Where to Collect Sea Shells

There aren't many collectibles in the game, but there are a few. The first one is a kind of sea shell, as shown above.

Most of these are found on the ocean floor. Sea shells can't exactly swim, so that makes sense. There are some areas where the ocean floor is pretty dark though, so searching around down there can be frustrating. 

All of that said...

Tip #5: Don't Always Look Down 

Not every sea shell is below you. You get to a point in the game where you can actually climb up out of the water and walk around. 

There are a few interesting things for you above the surface, so climb up on every area you can. Unfortunately you aren't the fastest walker in the world, but you never have to go a very long distance. 

I got frustrated and stuck for 30 minutes because I didn't realize I should do this, so don't make my mistake!

ABZU Tip #6: Releasing Sea Creatures

Another collectible besides the sea shells is to release sea creatures back into the environment. This is pretty neat because before you do so, this kind of critter won't be swimming around. 

But once you interact with their little prison, you'll find them close by, giving you another buddy to swim with. Huzzah!

Similar to the sea shells, these are all found on the floor. The good thing is they light up a little bit when you get close, making it a little easier to see them in darker water.

Tip #7: Aim for the Fish!

Several areas of the game have you swimming in a jet stream. It reminds me of the scene in Finding Nemo when his dad is swimming with the sea turtles.

In ABZU these areas give you another opportunity to get a little collectible- kind of. You'll see schools of fish in these streams, and you want to aim for them. When you swim through he middle of them, they all flash white. 

...I know, maybe not the most exciting thing in the world. But it does give you something to do while swimming through these areas and this game isn't about getting your adrenaline pumping like Call of Duty. 

Tip #8: Swim Low

There's one part in ABZU that's pretty intimidating. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get there. I'd throw a picture in here but... it'd be a bit of a spoiler.

Keep in mind that you can't die, so don't worry about that. 

My best tip to get through this area is to swim low. I tried taking the high road at first, but it didn't work out as well as I expected. Of course you don't have to follow my advice, but be prepared to get frustrated if you don't!

ABZU Tip #9: Where's that Darn Meditation Statue?

Meditation statues are the final collectible-type thing in the game. They let you perch up there and meditate on the various sea creatures around you. Pretty cool for screenshots and to just give you a chance to enjoy this beautiful game.

These statues look like sharks bent at a 90 degree angle. Some are found on the ocean floor, others are on pillars and ruins. 

The key is to keep your eye out for anything jutting out of the ground or ruins. Unfortunately these aren't always the grey color you'd think a statue might be, as you can see in the picture above. 

Tip #10: Take Your Time and Enjoy!

ABZU is a beautiful game, and it's not really about "beating" it. Even though there is a bit of a story and an ending, it's really about just enjoying the beauty of the game and letting you relax a bit.

It's also the only game in my library I feel okay letting my 2 year old watch. It's definitely a win-win, as it lets me play a relaxing game and she gets to enjoy watching the fish, turtles, squid and everything else do their thing.

BONUS TIP: When You Get to a High Ledge, Jump

You aren't rewarded in most games for doing this (read: you die.) But in ABZU, there are several places where this is the correct (though scary) path ahead.

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Abzu Release Makes Waves https://www.gameskinny.com/09mbp/abzu-release-makes-waves https://www.gameskinny.com/09mbp/abzu-release-makes-waves Thu, 04 Aug 2016 06:06:05 -0400 Joshua Harris

From the creative minds of Journey and Flower, Abzu makes its splash into the PlayStation Store after sitting in three years of development. On August 2nd, Abzu was released as a digital download exclusively for the PS4 and PC. The freedom of exploration that Journey brought has been given a new life in an aquatic setting, focused primarily on discovering as much as possible from the vantage point of a single diver.

With an emphasis on freedom, Abzu gracefully creates an atmosphere where players are expected to search, whether it is for fish, or structures of civilizations long past. The world heavily relies on the harmony of color, light, and sound to bring to life an experience like those manifested in Flower and Journey. Matt Nava, the creative director of Giant Squid, says:

"The Ocean turned out to be the perfect setting for this kind of storytelling, as even simply adjusting the distance you can see into the murk can have a huge effect on the player's emotional state."

The high quality of Abzu can be expected from a team who took the time to explore sea life in real life by visiting aquariums, and even going so far as to take diving trips to study the dynamics of water and kelp. The game's strong point rests with the fact that at any time the player can divert themselves from the main story and observe the environment in a "meditation mode" as Nava describes it. Abzu is a unique and intimate experience and Giant Squid, an appropriately named studio, has gone above and beyond to provide players with an experience they dreamed of sharing with the world.

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The Biggest and Best Games Coming in August 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/oot8x/the-biggest-and-best-games-coming-in-august-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/oot8x/the-biggest-and-best-games-coming-in-august-2016 Thu, 04 Aug 2016 09:43:42 -0400 Anne-Marie Coyle

Gamers saw an explosive roster of releases in May that catered to all tastes. Adventure junkies got to discover the fate of Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4, more methodical thinkers were treated a dose of tactical RPG action in the form of Valkyria Chronicles, social team player types buddied up in Overwatch, and those with a liking for gratuitous gore and over-the-top violence sunk their teeth into DOOM.

But alas, the games launch calendar has been something of a barren wasteland since then, with barely any major or exciting releases occurring over the last two months. But fear not, August marks the end of the dreaded summer drought -- and what a glorious sight it is to see release schedules filled to the brim once more with a ton of hotly anticipated titles. Here are some of the most exciting:

Abzû

Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: August 2

There are a number of reasons to get very, very excited about indie game Abzû. Firstly, it’s set under the sea and, thanks to an absurdly catchy tune by a little red Jamaican crustacean, everyone knows that it's better down there.

Abzû is the first release from developer Giant Squid Studios -- with its founder, Matt Nava, previously acting as art director for Thatgamecompany's phenomenally atmospheric title Journey. Nava has already proved he's got the creative chops to deliver a beautiful immersive affair that captures the minds and hearts of players everywhere.

With its focus on peaceful exploration and interaction with aquatic creatures Abzû looks set to provide that same kind of meaningful experience that envelops its players in a childlike sense of wonder. Abzû is available now, so why not dive right in?! (After you've checked out the rest of this list of course...)

Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1 - Realm of Shadows

Platforms: Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS, Android
Release Date: August 2

When you think of a franchise best suited to Telltale's blend of tough decision-making with emotionally crippling consequences, the world of the Caped Crusader doesn't instantly spring to mind. But after two lackluster releases in the form of Minecraft: Story Mode and The Walking Dead: Michonne, maybe a complete change of direction is just what the California-based developer needs.

In usual Telltale fashion, the game will be released episodically and we fully expect those seemingly unimportant decisions to have potentially catastrophic impacts on events further down the line. Unlike Rocksteady's Arkham series, this will focus on the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne, rather than Batman. Of course the Dark Knight will also feature along with confirmed characters Alfred, Harvey Dent and James Gordon.

Telltale is keeping tight-lipped on what iconic villains we can expect to see, but it seems the perfect opportunity for a certain green-haired psychopath to present some morally tough situations that test the mental strength of both Batman and the player. (If they can work past the PC port issues.)

Mobius Final Fantasy

Platforms: iOS, Android
Release Date: August 3

It's hard to imagine a time when people used their phone's gaming capability for anything other than catching Pokemon, but let's not forget that other mobile games still exist.

Mobius Final Fantasy gets our attention, as it promises a mobile game that provides a similar experience to a home console RPG. Square Enix have certainly set itself a lofty task given the depth and detail players expect, especially from a household name like Final Fantasy. However, they've certainly got the talent capable of bringing the Final Fantasy flavor to Mobius, with a staff consisting of producer Yoshinori Kitase and writer Kazushige Nojima, both of whom are responsible for some of the series most iconic and best-loved entries.

Gameplay elements like levelling, job systems, turn-based combat and summons all make a reappearance. Mobius Final Fantasy is considered a full entry in the series and promises a wholly original tale featuring elements of previous entries, rather than the cut and paste effort of characters and mechanics that a lot of mobile/handheld spin-off games fall foul of.

The sheer scale and graphical quality makes this one of the most exciting releases for mobile gaming, here's hoping enough people stop hunting for Pikachu long enough to actually play it.

No Man’s Sky

Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: August 9

They say that size doesn't matter, but the mass hysteria surrounding No Man's Sky due to its enormous proportions would suggest otherwise. At E3 2014 the most exciting unveiling came courtesy of a small indie developer with a huge ambition.

That studio was Hello Games, the team behind Joe Danger. And that ambition was to create an unfathomably huge, procedurally generated sci-fi universe that would dwarf even the biggest current-gen open worlds. The game world is a shared universe containing a staggering 18 quintillion planets brimming with various lifeforms and ecosystems for the player to discover. Rather than wander about aimlessly in space, players do have the goal of reaching the center of the universe.

Apparently this should take around forty hours to achieve. However those with the compulsion to explore every nook and cranny the game has to offer had better be prepared to say a fond farewell to their parents, colleagues, significant other, and personal hygiene when No Man's Sky lands next week. 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: August 23

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was one of the standout releases of the last generation. The level of freedom it afforded players to tackle missions however they saw fit; be it stealthily hacking a security system, going in all guns blazing or coercing NPCs with some sneaky social skills was nothing short of revolutionary. Crucially, despite the level of choice available in the game still offered an immersive and fluid experience, aside from those naff boss battles of course.

It's been quite a while since that last outing -- and with the horsepower of current-gen technology powering the game's beautifully rich yet morally divided cyberpunk world, we fully expect an even deeper and more open experience than its phenomenal predecessor. A heartbreaking six month delay from February should mean a super sleek release for half-man, half-machine Adam Jensen when Deus Ex: Mankind Divided finally launches toward the end of the month.

Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Vita, PC
Release Date: August 30

Koei Tecmo is bringing Attack on Titan's horrifying, smiley giants to the video game world with Wings of Freedom, which ought to make the harrowing wait for the anime's second season a little more bearable.

The game follows the events of the outstanding first season, as well as offering additional scenarios involving the series' key characters and, of course, a whole host of terrifying titans. When the world's filled with lumbering, deranged giants with an insatiable hunger for human flesh you've got to move... fast. Thankfully, the squad's Omni-Directional Mobility Gear transfers beautifully to the gaming world resulting in fast-paced, adrenaline fuelled action to rival even Platinum Games' finest. The vibrant cell shaded graphics also beautifully capture the essence of the anime, as does the sheer level of blood constantly splattered on screen.  

Resident Evil 4

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: August 30

So it's not technically a new release, but the highest definition version of one of gaming's best horror offerings is definitely worth getting excited about. Resident Evil 4 was originally released a whopping 11 years ago (anyone else feeling really old?) but Capcom hasyet to surpass its greatness, with the fourth installment being arguably the high point of the entire Resident Evil series.

Leon Kennedy's mission to rescue the U.S. President's daughter was a masterful mix of action and horror. Introducing a new virus known as Las Plagas meant a new breed of enemy that was quicker and smarter than the shuffling zombies of old. Resi 4 also marked a switch from the fixed camera angles of old to the now-standard over the shoulder perspective.

The re-release will come packaged with the Ada Wong missions and brilliant Mercenaries mini-game. Cheesy dialogue and 90's haircut also included.

World of Warcraft: Legion

Platforms: PC, Mac
Release Date: August 30

Rounding off our August releases is World of Warcraft: Legion, which marks the sixth expansion for the world's largest MMORPG. It's been widely reported that WoW subscriptions have dwindled in recent years, but the newest expansion addresses a number of key issues that might prove enough to bring some long lost subscribers back into the fold.

Most notably, the new expansion balances PvP battles by introducing a talent system with abilities that can be used in PvP only and are entirely separate to the abilities available in environment battles. The level cap will also be raised from 100 to 110, and the inclusion of powerful and customisable class specific weapons called artifacts should help to make individual classes feel more unique. A new Demon Hunter class will also be introduced, taking the role of either a tank or damage dealer with its 'vengeance' and 'havoc' specializations.

All in all, "Legion" shows a valiant attempt by Blizzard to address some long standing irks as well as keep things fresh with some intriguing new content.

Are there any August releases you're looking forward to that haven't made the list? Let us know in the comments.

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Abzu, Journey, & Games as Art https://www.gameskinny.com/mdvxu/abzu-journey-games-as-art https://www.gameskinny.com/mdvxu/abzu-journey-games-as-art Thu, 04 Aug 2016 07:04:37 -0400 Richard Sherry

I think by now we can all agree that gaming can act as an artistic platform to great success. By no means are all games works of art, and nor do they need to be, but it undoubtedly helps the industry in terms of sheer variety when developers produce unique and artistic work. Journey is one such game -- a game that encapsulates the originality and creativity possible in game design. The new PS4 and PC game Abzû is a sequel to Journey in all but name, but is Abzû's underwater exploration the next artistic masterpiece for the gaming industry, or a just derivative disappointment?

Abzû is developer Giant Squid’s debut game, but it is backed by an experienced and talented team. The studio is helmed by Matt Nava, also known for his work as art director on Thatgamecompany’s much-adored games Journey and Flower. The influences of Journey are obvious here, both in gameplay and in art direction. Like Journey, the game can be completed in a single sitting, and it emphasizes mystery and player autonomy to create an experience that truly feels exploratory and dynamic.

In Abzû, the player finds themselves controlling a nameless diver as they float through wondrous seascapes and interact with a variety of wildlife. Even the diver’s design is reminiscent of Journey’s silent protagonist, with a mysteriously obscured face illuminated by two glowing eyes. Thrust straight in with no explanation, the player is immediately filled with a sense of mystery and a desire to explore, enticed further by the outstanding art direction and stirring score. As you progress you’ll come across strange hieroglyphs and monumental buildings of an ancient race reclaimed by the ocean, all adding to the sense of intrigue the desire to explore further.

Abzû is a marvel to behold.

You might think the sea would require swapping the reds and yellows of Journey’s deserts exclusively for blues and greens- but there is a hugely diverse color palette to each segment of this large, sub-aquatic world. Vibrant corals, swaying reeds, and beautiful underwater lighting come together to deliver an unforgettable imagining of the natural world. Capturing the weightlessness and otherworldly nature of being underwater, it taps into our fascination -- and yes, terror -- of the deep blue sea.

A living, breathing submarine ecosystem is full of shoals of colorful fish that react organically to your presence, darting out of the way or swimming alongside you in a triumphant moment of synchronicity. Jellyfish, crabs, eels and many more creatures similarly populate this underwater world, and each move and act satisfyingly realistically. It’s easy to get distracted and spend your time gliding through the water. In fact, in a game like Abzû, this is heartily recommended.

The peaceful serenity can all change for a short instant if a huge shark appears on the scene, but the sense of awe never seems to disappear.

Life continues to pulse around you even when you have no direct influence upon it, reminding you that you’re simply an observer; a mere visitor to this strange world.

When I think of underwater levels in video games, my heart generally sinks faster than a drowning pirate tied to a ball and chain. Often shoehorned in and feeling out of place, they epitomize frustration and poor design in the majority of cases. By doing away with many of the tropes and constraints of underwater gaming design, Giant Squid has managed to forge a game that is essentially one giant underwater level; but one which never becomes frustrating or outstays its welcome.

The most important of these is that there’s no depleting oxygen meter. Without having to constantly return to the surface or look for oxygen, this fundamentally turns underwater exploration from a somewhat stressful chore to a fluid and joyous celebration. Riding on the backs of turtles or enormous, majestic whales without worrying about air is an extremely memorable experience that highlights the creative genius behind Abzû.

Through interaction with large shark statues, the diver can go into a state of mediation for an out-of-body experience that follows the wildlife surrounding them. This connects the player and the diver with nature on a deeper level, whilst further emphasizing a living, breathing ecosystem.

Sharks dart into shoals of anchovies to grab a snack. Life continues to pulse around you even when you have no direct influence upon it, reminding you that you’re simply an observer; a mere visitor to this strange world.

Abzû has a beautifully atmospheric orchestral score from the mind of Journey’s BAFTA Award-winning composer Austin Wintory. Sweeping strings accompany your traversal of new cavernous spaces, swelling and fading like the sea itself. Little touches contribute further to the experience, such as the music fading into the background upon popping your head above the surface. It’s hard not to get swept up in the music alone.

Like some of the best art in any medium, Abzû and Journey don’t necessarily wear everything on their sleeves.

There is a true sense of mystery and interpretation. Abzû guides the player along their journey with subtle uses of color and sound -- aiming to never be intrusive. They let you remain fully immersed in the world whilst rarely losing your way. Similar to looking at a painting, the viewer (or player) is able to project their own ideas onto the content they are presented with. This freedom is arguably harder to achieve in a game where the player needs at least some sort of objective and progression to keep playing.

And indeed this continues to be the downside to such a game. Only a few buttons are used, and even then there’s not much to the actual controls or their application in the game. Exploration is wonderful, but there’s little to do in terms of further conventional gameplay -- and this is a balance that, when achieved, would likely revolutionize the whole medium.

Abzû may just be Journey underwater, but it also excels in the same ways to provide a beautiful, atmospheric and extraordinary experience that is unique enough to leave a lasting impression upon the player. It reminds us of the beauty that both games and nature can deliver and invokes a true sense of the numinous.

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Looking Ahead: August 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/u3uva/looking-ahead-august-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/u3uva/looking-ahead-august-2016 Tue, 12 Jul 2016 06:47:27 -0400 Dalton White I

Sadly, July doesn’t have a bunch of huge games to be excited for. But luckily, there’s no shame in looking ahead at what's to come, and the possible pre-orders that will hit the shelves soon enough. For those who've forgotten or have been busy games that are already out, here is a little reminder of some great games coming out next month that you might want to consider saving up for or pre-ordering!

Abzu

Release Date: August 2nd
PS4 and Windows PC

The newest game from Giant Squid (which was founded by Flower and Journey art director Matt Nava), the creators of the gorgeous and amazingly touching Journey, Flow and Flower.

This game takes place under the waves and looks so gorgeous, I know that I’m definitely going to buy this game if it's anything like Journey. There seems to be a lot of promised especially with Austin Wintory, who composed heart-stopping music for Journey.

No Man’s Sky

Release Date: August 9th (August 10th for EU)
PS4 and Windows PC

No Man's Sky Gif

After so many delays, this huge game that features space exploration, space battle, and experiencing various different worlds and lifeforms finally hits stores this August and hopefully the game is everything we have hoped it to be. There hasn’t much since last year’s appearance at E3 so any changes or progress they have made so far hasn’t been revealed to the public.

Bound

Release Date: August 16th
PS4

This game kind of came out of nowhere, and even had some screen time before Sony’s conference at E3. I actually played the demo of this game at a Best Buy -- it's gorgeous simple and very unique with its own story that I couldn’t piece together alone from the demo.  

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

Release Date: August 23rd
Windows, PS4 and XBO

The sequel to Square Enix’s futuristic first person shooting game finally comes to its fans, and it looks like Jensen has a lot of new skills and tools to save the world again. Good to see that Jensen hasn't been slacking off over the two years between the two games. If you are a fan of the Deus Ex series or a newcomer to it, this game looks very smooth, very flashy -- and fingers crossed that this game is as good as, if not better than, the 2011 remake.      

King of Fighters XIV

Release Date: August 23rd
PS4

King of Fighters XIV Title Shot

It looks like number fourteen is SNK’s full transition of the King of Fighters series to be completely rendered in 3D. The game looks like it features a boatload of characters to play as from all over the world. The game will have a new unique storyline that has yet to be fully disclosed to the public. The game will also apparently be incorporating a new “Rush” system.

And there are some of the highlights coming out this August!

Some indie games, some bigger names in the industry. Although if you feel like there isn’t a whole bunch out there in August for you, just wait till you see what’s coming this fall! Stay tuned for the upcoming September and October sections of Looking Ahead.

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Abzu Receives New Gameplay Trailer, Releases This Summer https://www.gameskinny.com/l8zyf/abzu-receives-new-gameplay-trailer-releases-this-summer https://www.gameskinny.com/l8zyf/abzu-receives-new-gameplay-trailer-releases-this-summer Fri, 10 Jun 2016 06:52:48 -0400 Logan Moore

The beauty, serenity and sheer scope of 2012's Journey stuck with gamers for a long time. Although the game contained no dialogue, its storytelling and sense of wonder was unmatched. Now Abzu, the new underwater adventure game from some of the creators of Journey, is set to surface sometime this summer.

We first saw Abzu at Sony's E3 conference in 2014. The new gameplay preview shown above is the first we've seen of the game since that time. 

In Abzu, you play as a diver exploring a vast undersea world. With your trusty drone at your side, you're free to explore different areas of the ocean, interact with the sea life, and seek out and uncover hidden aquatic artifacts. If you have played Journey, then you will have a great idea of how Abzu will play. 

The first thing that stands out about the game is its gorgeous visuals. The colors used in Abzu are so vibrant and they all seem to pop right off of the screen. Combine these awe-inspiring visuals with yet another fantastic score by Austin Wintory, the Grammy-nominated composer of Journey, and you have the makings of another great game. 

For those who have been patiently awaiting Abzu's release since first seeing the game two years ago, you'll be happy to know that it's coming out soon. And while we don't have a specific release date for you right now, the game is currently expected to release sometime this summer. So divers — get ready.

Grab your oxygen tank and snorkel, and prepare to dive into Abzu in just a few short weeks. 

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Behind the Scenes: The Sounds of ABZU https://www.gameskinny.com/m318e/behind-the-scenes-the-sounds-of-abzu https://www.gameskinny.com/m318e/behind-the-scenes-the-sounds-of-abzu Sat, 27 Jun 2015 02:30:01 -0400 KungFro

Giant Squid's ABZÛ took E3 2015 by storm, receiving multiple nominations and awards for its beautifully enchanting underwater world. Wanting to know more about the game's soundscape, I contacted the studio's Sound Designer, Steve Green, to ask a few questions about his involvement in the project.

*Disclaimer: Steve and I went to college together, so, despite our inherent professionalism, this interview may come across as rather casual. It is also spoiler free – respect and integrity first and foremost!

Now let's dive right into it! (pun intended)

Gameskinny [GS]: Alright, Steve. Would you mind filling the readers in on what it is that you do at Giant Squid?

Steve Green [SG]: I'm the Sound Designer for Giant Squid. I'm responsible for the sound effects, their design and, loosely, their implementation through the use of Wwise. The other half of integration is done by two main programmers, Cosmo Fumo and Pete Angstadt.

TL;DR: I'm responsible for all audio except for music.

GS: That's a pretty big task, especially considering that ABZÛ is set primarily underwater. What are some challenges you’ve faced while creating a soundscape for this environment?

SG: Challenges for creating an underwater environment seem to be endless. The world underwater is alien to many of us, I think. As I create this, I attempt to focus on making it alien, or different, yet slightly familiar and inviting. I find myself using land-based life and animals as references and starting points to go underwater with.

GS: It’s interesting that the ocean, though very much present in reality, is still so foreign to us all. Has it been stressful at all, trying to capture both the realism and magic of this unknown? Do you feel pressured to maintain this duality?

SG: It's a pressure, but it's a good pressure. It keeps me on my toes, trying to create an audible world that matches the beautiful visuals Matt Nava has been creating. I think going into this though, with that balance in mind, I tend to side a little more on the magic side. I want to maintain the sense of wonder and exploration that the game is presenting the player with.

GS: And you're doing a great job, by the way. Then again, not all magic is wondrous. On one hand we have cute, little torpedo drones, and on the other is a great white shark.

SG: I think the little drones are some of my favorite things as of yet to design. I've taken ideas and elements from so many of my favorite robots and machines from other movies and games and went about creating my own with them in mind. As for the shark, being a dominating creature in the ocean, I'm going with ideas from dominating creatures on land. Lions, wolves and a few human created sounds are some of the palette I'm using for sharks – all of which can be, in my eyes, looked at as top-of-the-food-chain type creatures.

GS: Wow. Even though you mentioned using land-based animals for inspiration, I didn't expect that. Did you do this instinctively?

SG: I think instinctively, yes. I tend to look at what I can manipulate to create a more unfamiliar, while still familiar sound. Not all of our creatures take sounds from others that actually exist. Dolphins, for example, are being created using kitchenware. Some creatures need a unique touch to keep this world mystical. Some creatures even use kitten sounds.

GS: KITTENS?!

SG: Yeah, spent a day at a local humane society playing with kittens to get what I needed.

GS: That just made my day. A bit more on the personal side, I can’t help but wonder what it’s like working with Austin Wintory. The man composed the first video game score to ever receive a Grammy nomination. That must be pretty insane. 

SG: Austin is fantastic and a big inspiration to me. I feel as though our collective work so far goes hand in hand very well. We bounce ideas back and forth frequently, which is amazing to have. In doing so, we're making sure that there is a strong connection between the sound design and music. I don't want to speak too much for Austin, though.

GS: No, that’s perfectly fine and respectable of you. I know you've played Journey, and now you're working with multiple members of its development team. Have you revisited it at all for inspiration here? Or are you attempting to create a unique experience apart from that familiarity?

SG: That's actually a really good question. I've been using it as a reference in a different manner. Steve Johnson was the sound designer for Journey and I love his work, but I've been trying to stay as far from it as possible. This may change in time, but I want to create something new, rather than regurgitate old things. Once again, I really do admire his work.


GS: So a sense of nostalgia, but with new car smell... Now I'm even more excited than before. Steve, you've more than answered all the questions I had planned, so is there anything left that you'd like to say about this experience? 

SG: Just that being a part of this project has been phenomenal, to say the least. I've been given the opportunity of a lifetime and everyday I'm striving to create the best thing I possibly can. I hope it's as great to play as it's been to create.

And there you have it! The soundscapes of ABZÛ are being woven together diligently by the talent over at Giant Squid. A massive thank you to Steve Green and Giant Squid for allowing me to conduct this interview. Expect to see their hard work made available for PC and PlayStation 4 early in 2016. 

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New details on PS4 exclusive ABZU, from creators of Journey https://www.gameskinny.com/25bu0/new-details-on-ps4-exclusive-abzu-from-creators-of-journey https://www.gameskinny.com/25bu0/new-details-on-ps4-exclusive-abzu-from-creators-of-journey Mon, 15 Jun 2015 07:45:01 -0400 Curtis Dillon

Giant Squid, developer of Journey and Flower, has shed some new details on its upcoming PS4 exclusive ABZU.

ABZU was revealed at last years Sony E3 conference and was dubbed as a spiritual successor to hugely successful Journey. While its predecessor was an exploration game set in a beautiful desert, ABZU takes place underwater and continues the trend of exploration without combat or restarts.

"You play as a lone diver who descends deeper and deeper into the sea, searching for her true purpose." Says Matt Nava, Creative Director on ABZU

"Encounters with majestic creatures await and forgotten secrets lie hidden in dense kelp forests, sparkling reefs, and the murky abyss."

The lone diver is a female, although Nava hasn't revealed her name, if she has one.

Of course, the protagonist of Journey was known simply as, The Traveller. ABZU is also solely about exploration and about uncovering the mysteries that the ocean holds. Nava explained that the name ABZU translates to "The Ocean of Wisdom."

The player scuba dives into the vast ocean but there is no air gauge, thus no limitation to where you can go and how long you can spend in the ocean. You can also develop relationships with the wildlife of the ocean, riding with them in sync. The fish are procedurally generated and travel in schools, like real-life fish. Nava tries to convey the "magic" of swimming with any number of fish, including manta rays and whales.

Many people adored the music of Journey which integrated seamlessly with the gameplay and your progression. The good news is, Austin Wintory, the composer of Journey, is back for ABZU. Nava claims that music plays as central a role this time around, and that the gameplay and music become one: "This ensures a harmony of visuals and sound that gives the world of ABZU its unique atmosphere and identity."

ABZU doesn't have a release date as of yet but Giant Squid promise new details soon. The game is exclusive to PS4 and will be playable at Sony's E3 booth this week. Stay tuned for more details on ABZU.

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