Grow Home Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Grow Home RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Top 10 Best Games of 2015 You Might Have Heard Of https://www.gameskinny.com/vuzlj/top-10-best-games-of-2015-you-might-have-heard-of https://www.gameskinny.com/vuzlj/top-10-best-games-of-2015-you-might-have-heard-of Thu, 01 Sep 2016 10:00:01 -0400 Angelina Bonilla

2015 was a good and a bad year in gaming that gave us an eclectic menagerie of titles you may not be familiar with. Which is why I'm here, I'm here to talk about the "Top 10 Best Games of 2015 You Might Have Heard Of" If you've heard of any of these titles, that's great, I hope you found them as enjoyable as I did. If you haven't heard of these titles, that's great too, I hope I introduced you to a great game!

The games on this list may not be nearly as obscure as my worst of list, but many of the bigger titles have been largely forgotten by the community, heard in passing, or just ignored all together. Undertale and Life Is Strange won’t be on the list because their fandoms can fill a small country of their own. Don’t worry obscure game enthusiasts; we still have some bizzare ones on this list that you may not have heard of.

Let’s begin shall we? 

10. Catlateral Damage

Remember when I said that I’d also be talking about games that the gaming community largely forgot about or still hadn’t heard of? Well this is my first case of it. Catlateral Damage. Despite being an extremely successful Kickstarter and getting all sorts of coverage, it’s like the gaming world has gone nearly silent about after the release.

The game’s main gimmick, playing as a cat is it’s main draw but despite that the game manages to stay fresh and fun for hours on end. There’s a variety of levels, unlockable cats you can play as and ways you can play within the levels. It’s one of those titles that you just run around and have fun with and not put in too much thought while playing it. It’s entertaining and mindless to just be a cat, but there’s also a weird amount of strategy to knocking down just the right amount of things to proceed to the next level.

There’s also plenty of references to various other licensed products that may get a chuckle out of you every once and a while. Truthfully, I put this Catlateral Damage on the list because I wanted those people who just needed a game to play for some goofy fun, to have something to go with. It’s been a destressor of mine since I’ve purchased it and in this hustle and bustle world, I think we need a game like Catlateral Damage to relax and cause some havoc with, in a family-friendly sort of way.

9. Armello

Tabletop games have been around for years and it’s only fitting we’d get some video games that’d represent this like Armello eventually. Armello is a beautifully drawn game about a kingdom that’s in danger of collapsing after its monarch goes mad, and it’s up to you to claim the throne. You’re competing against 3 other players, whether they’re AI or player characters, and you have to defeat them in win. There are 5 distinct clans: Wolves, Rats, Bears, Rabbits and Bandits, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each character also has their own backstory that factors into why they want to become king of the land or any history with the king.   There are countless guides about this so I won’t go into it too much detail here, but each hero has their own way of winning and learning this is half of the fun of this game.

 No two rounds of Armello are the same and there is a wide variety of things you can do within the game in order to win. A lot of it is RNG, but you can put the odds in your favor by doing quests, fighting other players and gaining prestige, which acts as reputation for your feats. This means you can conquer your foes in a multitude of ways that they might not even see coming. There’s also added elements involving what’s infecting the monarch, The Rot, forcing you to not only compete against the other

There’s also added elements involving what’s infecting the monarch, The Rot, forcing you to not only compete against the other players, but against the king himself who is also out to get you. What’s interesting is that in general, the monarch’s AI seems to be a lot smarter than the AI of the other controlled characters, which is a grand challenge and also slightly frustrating. There were entire rounds where I was able to go around decimating all of the characters but then end up losing because of something the monarch did.

Something about Armello that I immediately noticed was that while the game does plenty of things to keep it fresh, Armello isn’t a game you want to marathon for hours on end. That, and the game shines a lot more in the multiplayer than it does in the single player, which is a shame since there could have been a lot done to make it just as interesting as multiplayer.

Armello is the sort of experience you need to share with others and it’s a game that shouldn’t be hidden away to Rot in the background. With its expansion coming out soon, I’m looking forward to playing more of this Game of Thrones, Redwall chess game that is Armello.

7. Bulb Boy

Bulb Boy is a unique beast, and I knew that the moment I saw it on Kickstarter, which made me interview the developers and got me excited for its eventual release. It’s a game that did everything it promised in its Kickstarter, offering a point and click adventure horror game with a unique art style, gross monsters and some platforming twists. Bulb Boy himself has an infectious laugh and an impish yet easily frightened persona that really does make you feel for him when you’re fighting the horrors of the house.

The atmosphere can be tense and spine-tingling at times thanks to the music and sound effects, leaving you shaking in your boots. Each area has a unique way of solving its puzzles that are shown in the bright dream-like sequences, without spoon feeding you its answers. Bulb Boy is rather easy overall, and it leaves much to be desired in the sense of being actually challenged. Death is only a mild inconvenience, which works because the game itself is a bit on the short side and having to replay the longer platforming parts after dying would be a chore.

Bulb Boy is only around 2 hours, and the pacing was incredibly fast, so it goes by in the blink of an eye. It just ends suddenly after a rather tense boss fight, leaving you wondering just what happened. There’s also a focus on bodily humor, which I can’t say I particularly care for, especially when it’s used excessively.

Nonetheless, Bulb Boy is a creative gem that needs to be recognized more and while I know it’s gotten a fair amount of exposure from other YouTube channels, I was there long before it had a playable demo, but I’m happy to have seen it grow into the game it is now.

7. The Deer God

Reincarnation isn’t a subject that’s covered too often in games, at least not in the more traditional sense of the word, and that’s part of what makes The Deer God such an interesting title. It takes a more spiritual take on things: you start off playing as a hunter who shot a baby deer, and are later killed by wolves. You’re then brought back by the eponymous Deer God, who tasks you to live out your days as a deer, from fawnhood on.

It goes about this by making you start off nearly powerless and slowly gain more power as time goes on, mixing platforming with oddly megaman-style difficulty and power ups. Now I know this sounds a little odd to the normal gamer, maybe even a little hipster and pretentious. Well, you’re not necessarily wrong about those assumptions. 

The Deer God does talk down to you sometimes and it has a tone of condescension that I don’t think the developer intended, but it is there in some of the text, especially with the “moral choices” you have to make. Nobody likes being told they are a bad person, especially when The Deer God punishes you for killing things like bunnies, by turning you into a fish if you just so happen to die. It’s a very judgemental game that almost puts Undertale to shame with how bad it makes you feel about your actions. I was deeply enthralled with

It was a creative concept with beautiful artwork that enthralled me from start to finish. It’s why I interviewed the developer back when it was on Kickstarter and why I did a preview of it on Early Access. The Deer God was a Kickstarter game I believed in and since it’s on my list, you can see I wasn’t displeased with the results.

6. Shelter 2 

When it comes to unique and creative titles, Might and Delight tend to be one of the first studios that come to mind. And with that comes the Shelter series and its entry on this list: Shelter 2.  In Shelter 2, you play as a mother lynx who, after giving birth to her cubs, must hunt down various creatures in order to keep them alive, along with traveling from place to place as danger stalks you.

It takes a semi-realistic approach, with you as the mother Lynx having to care for all of your babies, having to portion out their meals between each one, teaching them how to hunt with you, and avoiding dangers like wolves and the terrain itself. The difference is that it does veer more on the artistic side at times with how you navigate with the symbols with your lynx vision and how the art style looks like it came straight off the pages of a storybook. It helps tell the story of this very beautiful yet very dangerous world you’ve found yourself in.

Now, there are quite a few gameplay issues that, while they are slowly getting fixed in patches, are extremely noticeable. Things like framerate drops, odd little glitches that cause the cubs to spaz out and get lost when they’re following you, and more, which takes away from the Shelter 2 as a whole.

It can also get a bit repetitive, but luckily no two playthroughs are the same since you can have any surviving cubs you have be your next protagonist and it changes the path you take. Slightly, but it does change. Personally, I’d recommend getting this game when it’s on sale because despite the bugs I mentioned, it’s still very much worth owning if you enjoy artistic titles or games that go against the grain of what’s considered a normal game.

Shelter 2 may not be perfect, but it’s worth it to see your precious cubs grow into big, strong adults, going off to continue this cycle of nature.
Hope everyone liked this first part of my video, stay tuned for part two coming out very soon.

5. Sym 

Sym is a curious game that tries to emphasize what it’s like to live with social anxiety disorder through a series of keyboard snapping puzzles in between two worlds, and it’s a fascinating take on it. you, the player, explore the world as Josh the young man with the disorder, using his two alter egos. There’s Caleb, who lives at the fringe of reality and wants to conquer his fears, and Ammiel, who doesn’t want any social contact. Sym has a very abstract artstyle, using only black and white to show what’s happening on screen.

They convey this through two distinctive worlds that you have to navigate through, and small textless cutscenes allowing you to interpret what’s going on. The game often throws up random phrases throughout the levels that people with anxiety will likely recognize; things about self-worth, that everyone is laughing at them, things of that nature. Us navigating through these puzzles is a way for the main character Josh to navigate his way through his problems and figure out a better reality. Even if the way it goes about it is by throwing us into the spinning blades of death for missing our jump slightly. The controls are tight, which means it leaves very little room for error to the point of frustration.

As in, the deaths in the Sym aren’t always your fault like they are in other platformers of its kind. Sym isn’t quite as refined as something like, say, Super Meat Boy, but it’s still a well put together platforming puzzle title.
Not only that, but there’s a mode you can play where you have the ability to design your own levels and play in other players’ levels all around the world, which increases the replay value exponentially.

Sym tactfully handles the subject of social anxiety in a way that makes it easy to understand and fun to play, a game like that deserves to be on a list like this.

4. Hand of Fate

When I came across Hand of Fate, I truly hadn’t seen anything like it before; it’s a deck builder-based, DnD-esque action RPG with roguelike elements to it.

All of these concepts on their own have been used countless times before, but the way that Hand of Fate goes about making them work together is what makes it truly special. You play as an adventurer who has stumbled across a mysterious card game that takes his memories, turns them into cards for both you and the dealer to play with. But, the dealer also has unique cards exclusive to his deck that’ll make your journey through the ‘levels’ even harder.

Luckily, you can unlock special gear unique to your deck to combat this but it’s all up to chance. The player gets to create the deck you play with, which means the majority of encounters you come across are your own doing, unless they’re locked into the deck by the dealer. The encounters change the gameplay from a card game to a third person hack and slash, where you try to survive against the hand you’ve been dealt.

While there is an element of luck in it, since you’ll often not know what’s coming up next and the dealer tries some slick shuffling moves in order to trip you up, it gives Hand of Fate another element of danger to it. Especially when you land on an encounter that you weren’t prepared for and have to switch to 3rd person hack and slash, mode with little life left. It also helps that Hand of Fate does have some lore to it, which I won’t spoil here, but it adds just another layer to it. I’d like to bring up this was made in unity, as were many of the entries on this list but I digress, and while it does have occasional stuttering issues, it doesn’t detract from the experience over all. That’s why I highly recommend you sit down with this mysterious dealer and test your skills against the

It also helps that Hand of Fate does have some lore to it, which I won’t spoil here, but it adds just another layer to it. I’d like to bring up this was made in unity, as were many of the entries on this list but I digress, and while it does have occasional stuttering issues, it doesn’t detract from the experience over all. That’s why I highly recommend you sit down with this mysterious dealer and test your skills against the Hand of Fate.

3. STASIS

A while back I had a friend of mine approach me about a game called Stasis, which involved body horror, human experimentation, what-if scenarios and space. Needless to say, I was 100 percent on board with it from the start. It’s a point and click adventure, but it’s a little more on the basic side than other entries in its particular genre. Most of the puzzles can be solved by common sense, but that’s not really what people come here for. They come for the story of John Marachek trying to find his wife and daughter, and in that regard Stasis doesn’t disappoint.
John and you become witnesses to the horrors of the station, giving way to plenty of moments of shock,

me witnesses to the horrors of the station, giving way to plenty of moments of shock, anguish and disgust throughout the entire journey.This isn’t an adventure for those with a fragile heart, or a weak stomach for that matter, there’s some parts that are just stomach-churning to behold, but that’s part of the beauty of it. Each moment you find a sickening slab of mutilated human flesh, you learn more about the story through their data logs and it really helps build up this world that the developers had in mind. There's notably barely any music in it either, other than the distant sounds of machines whirring.

This leaves a nice eerie feeling which makes the player feel uneased. There's no moral choice system here either, there's either a bad choice that gets you killed, or a good choice that lets you live. You find out which one that is really quickly after you do it, so be prepared for those moments.

Full transparency: I love this kind of stuff. I’m a huge fan of medical horror, body horror and sci-fi which meant this game was like my bread and butter for quite a while. I’d like to say Stasis is flawless but it isn’t, since there are some turns the story takes that are just eye roll worthy but otherwise, I was thoroughly engaged.

Stasis is a game that truly capitalizes on the phrase “In Space, no one can hear you scream.”

2. Grow Home

Now I know what you’re thinking “Grow Home is on the list? Grow Home is popular!” Well, you’re sort of right on that; it is popular, but not nearly as popular as it should be and the fact I can still mention this game to gamers and they have no clue what I’m talking about is rather telling. Compared to the likes of Undertale or Life Is Strange, Grow Home doesn’t have the same sort of fan base and I must say, that’s disappointing, because Grow Home is truly a treat.

You play as B.U.D., a little robot on a quest to save his planet by growing strange plants to the stars. While there is a lot more to do in this game, like collecting strange flora and fauna, gathering various “seeds” and just exploring this huge planet you’re dropped on, that’s the main premise. You’re given this big world that BUD has to make sense of in order to save his own world, with the help of “M.O.M”; an AI designed to help BUD throughout his journey.

You’re given pretty much free rein, but there is a sense of progression if you collect certain things, because the more you explore and gather, the more you’re rewarded with things that make your life as a little robot easier.

This is the sort of game you can explore for hours and still might not unlock everything, which gives Grow Home quite a bit of replay value, especially for those who want to get all those shiny achievements. There are a couple of issues with BUD’s controls: since he seems rather top heavy he will oftentimes collapse without warning, or sometimes you have to be too on point with Bud’s controls, but nothing too big to complain about.

B.U.D. is somehow the most expressive character I’ve seen in a while and if this little guy pushes the Assassin’s Creed boys out of the way and became Ubisoft’s new mascot, I’d be completely fine with that.

Actually, please do that B.U.D., maybe if you’re around we’ll actually get a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil. Grow Home is a trip to the stars and back, let’s just hope its sequel can live up to the predecessor.

1. Dropsy.



Dropsy. For anyone who knows me, you knew this would be number one no matter what. Even with B.U.D and his never-ending charm, you knew that Dropsy was going to win out in the end for just being so delightfully bizarre. Dropsy is a point and click adventure that is unlike any game I’ve seen in a long time.

You play as Dropsy, a clown accused of murdering his mother and setting the circus on fire. Now he has to go around town and change the way people feel about him so he can give them a hug. You heard that right, I’m not kidding, that’s the entire premise. Just go hug people in your warm, damp, loving embrace, you weird clown you. To do that, you need to solve puzzles, which usually involve the things the people are angrily yelling at you or clues hidden throughout the world.

There is no dialogue in Dropsy, it’s all told through the artwork itself and the speech bubble with pictograms in it. It honestly works well, almost too well in fact. I found myself getting far more moved emotionally by things that were happening in Dropsy than I did from any other title in 2015. All because of this game that looks like a silly little story about a clown but turns out to be more about love, friendship, suffering, loss and all sorts of things you wouldn’t expect from a game where your main character looks like a scary clown.

Dropsy is, much like BUD, a painfully endearing character that you just want to see things go his way for once. This poor guy gets pushed around constantly, and yet despite that he still wants to make friends with everyone, that’s dedication right there. The art is delightfully exaggerated looking; the music is varied as well as catchy, and let’s not forget that the controls and everything functions without a hitch. There was obviously a lot of love and dedication put into Dropsy and it shows.

This is also the only game this year and the only game that I’ve played in a long time that I can, without a shadow of a doubt, call perfect.
Yeah, not only is this my “Game of the Year,” despite me hating to use that term, but this is a game I would say is flawless as a diamond. Dropsy has made an official fan out of me and I couldn’t be happier.

There were a lot of good indie games I could have put on this list, but these were the ones that stood out to me the most. Well, that and I could have filled this list with point and click adventure games only, but I wanted to give you a little more variety than that.

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300 minutes or less: Fifteen short games worth your time https://www.gameskinny.com/3jcfu/300-minutes-or-less-fifteen-short-games-worth-your-time https://www.gameskinny.com/3jcfu/300-minutes-or-less-fifteen-short-games-worth-your-time Tue, 03 May 2016 05:50:54 -0400 Scott Simpson

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And so that concludes the list of short games worth your time. Hopefully you've seen some of your favorites or found a few new games to add to your wishlist.

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Did I miss out any great, short games? Think a game on the list didn't deserve its place? Don't be shy about it, let us know in the comments below!

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The Fall
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Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4 hours

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The Fall is a somewhat strange mix of styles, best described as a side-scrolling point and click puzzle platformer. You have a gun too, and at times you'll need to use it, but it never becomes a central component to the game. Most of the time you'll be using it as a light source rather than a weapon. Although the controls are a tad clunky, they get the job done and don't hamper the experience.

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Where the game really shines is in its story-telling and the daunting atmosphere in which it is set. The Fall tackles the subject of A.I. with a level of intelligence rarely seen in any medium, which is complimented perfectly by the dark, immersive, sci-fi atmosphere of the game. Combine that with clever writing, fantastic character development and some classic, adventure game puzzle solving, and you've got yourself a winner.

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As the first part of an intended trilogy, and after the fantastic way it ends, I'm excited to see where developer Over The Moon go with the forthcoming episodes.

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Attack Of The Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale
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Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 3 hours

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If I was asked to describe Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale in a single word, I would say "pleasant." A simple word for a simple game. There's nothing challenging or taxing about the experience, it's just a peaceful, relaxing jaunt through a sweet, charming tale that perfectly captures the spirit of childhood. There's a very Ghibli vibe going on here.

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The gameplay consists soley of exploring town, talking to people, collecting glims, or playing cards. It's a simple rock, paper, scissors style affair where the victor gets to cast a silly 'spell' (which you can customise the dance to, of course) that will make your opponents fall over.

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That's what so great about Attack of the Friday Monsters, the way it shows the world from a child's perspective. Our character, Sohta, notices all the things the adults in his world don't pick up on, and yet, being a child, he can't fully make sense of it all. Of course we as the player know better, and the way it's all presented is what makes Attack of the Friday Monsters shine.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
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Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4 hours

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I think The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is the first game that actually made me stop playing in awe of the scenic beauty of its game environments just so I could capture a screenshot. Fortunately it has a lot more going for it besides just having gorgeous visuals.

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As supernatural detective Paul Prospero, it's your job to piece together the mystery of Ethan Carter's disappearance after the boy in question writes to you for help. That job title doesn't just imply investigation of the supernatural however, as it seems Mr. Prospero has some otherworldy powers of his own. By touching certain objects, you can view its memory of the events surrounding it. You'll then have to place these memories in the correct sequence in order to understand just what took place.

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It's a well written and intriguing story with some nice puzzles peppered in between travelling through the game's incredible vistas. The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter actually sums itself up pretty nicely with its opening line:

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"This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand."

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SteamWorld Dig
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Platforms: PC, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 5 hours

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By most peoples standards the act of digging would probably be considered a chore, but there's just something about SteamWorld Dig that makes it inexplicably engaging.

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Gathering ore provides resources to buy better equipment so you can gather even more ore; it's an oddly satisfying cycle. It's not all digging of course. Set to the backdrop of a robotic western, there's platforming elements and some nifty abilities to help you through them too. Despite the dangers posed by the depths, the game manages to have a relaxing quality about it.

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The franchise has since deviated in an unexpected direction with the release of turn-based strategy game SteamWorld Heist, but is by all accounts just as enjoyable.

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The Beginner's Guide
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Platforms: PC
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 1.5 hours

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The Beginner's Guide shares a lot of similarities with The Stanley Parable, which makes sense since the former was created by one of the minds behind the latter. Both are clever, unique experiences that have something to say.

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With that being said, they're also complete opposites in many ways. The most notable difference comes in their focus. The Beginner's Guide isn't so much about the player but the creator, and you realise that the whole thing is a deeply introspective piece of work for Davey Wreden, who not only made the game, but narrates it. That's also the biggest link between the two games, because one seems to be about the experience of creating the other. That probably doesn't make sense, but it might if you've played them both.

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The game hits suprisingly hard, and left me with a heavy weight in my chest; I was still thinking about it for some time after the credits had rolled. Any game that can have that effect is surely worth playing through?

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If the game piques your interest I would definitely recommend playing The Stanley Parable first, if you haven't already. I found that as a consequence of playing that game, it affected my decisions in The Beginners Guide; I was always looking for ways to defy the narrator. I'm not sure if this was coincidental or something intended on Wreden's part, but I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

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Gunpoint
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Platforms: PC
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 3 hours

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Gunpoint genuinely surprised me. I went into it expecting nothing more than a side-scrolling version of Hotline Miami, I was wrong. Well, actually I was right, that's pretty much what it is, except it's also steeped in an unexpectedly stylish noir atmosphere, with great writing and an interesting puzzle mechanic embedded into levels.

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You see it's not all about bursting through doors and beating guards to a pulp, shortly into the game you'll be introduced to a handy tool called the crosslink. Through it you can rewire electrical components on the same circuit.

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Suddenly that motion detector becomes a trigger to open a previously locked door. Suddenly you can fry a guard in one building by flicking a lightswitch in another. It's a great mechanic and adds a further layer of complexity to levels beyond just trying to work out how to knock out a guard before he shoots you in the face.

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There's also a pretty good story happening between levels, where you can also purchase upgrades and abilities to take on your next mission. The whole thing is complimented by a wonderfully appropriate soundtrack to round off what is a thoroughly satisfying experience.

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Papers, Please
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Platforms: PC (a PlayStation Vita version is in the works)
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4.5 hours

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There's flight simulators, walking simulators, and then there's Papers, Please, a dystopian, Soviet Union inspired, immigration desk jockey simulator.

\n

No really, that is the core gameplay mechanic, you check peoples documents, make sure it all checks out, and permit or deny them entry to the fictional country of Arstotzka based on your inspection. That probably doesn't sound like much fun, I'm not sure "fun" is the right word to describe the game, but it is surprisingly rewarding.

\n

Papers, Please isn't just a fancy spot the different though, things get unpredictably hectic as time goes on and more restrictions are put in place. Your desk becomes cluttered by more and more paperwork, all the while you're on the clock to meet quotas, or you may find some of your pay getting docked.

\n

Thats the other side of Papers, Please, if you don't bring home enough money, your family suffers. Not only are you trying to keep them alive, you'll regularly be faced with moral decisions that affect others too. There's a surprising level of depth to be had within what is a strange yet ingeniously simple concept.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/69c314893e9d6b74ef4f62bbc2eac4e5.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/69c314893e9d6b74ef4f62bbc2eac4e5.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8005","description":"
Super Time Force Ultra
\n

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4.5 hours

\n

If you've ever wondered what Cher meant when she sang:

\n

If I could turn back time
If I could find a way
I would have shot up those red barrells
To blow those pesky enemies away

\n

She was almost definitely talking about Super Time Force Ultra (referred to from this point on as STFU), the souped up version of the already good and previously Xbox exclusive Super Time Force.

\n

You ever played a game where you died and thought, "damn, if only there was 3 more me's to help me out"? Well that's basically what STFU is all about. You run, you shoot, you die, you rewind, you run, you jump, you shoot, you run a little more, you die, you rewind. Throw some characters with unique abilities into the mix, like say, a deployable shield that will protect you, and however many rewinded replica's you have running about that the time, and things get pretty interesting. And chaotic.

\n

The game is a blast and is bursting with humour, plus there's loads of characters to unlock and challenges to complete outside the main story missions. It also has a cool Super Meat Boy-esque end of level replay system where you can rewatch all your many you's unleashing carnage. The best part is, if you happen to be a devoted PS+ member, you should already have access to it.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/35b67080ee8b8cea502332b54e70636f.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/35b67080ee8b8cea502332b54e70636f.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8012","description":"
Jazzpunk
\n

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 2.5 hours

\n

Jazzpunk has got to be the most ridiculous game I've ever played; it's pure batshit, goofy, insanity. The offbeat humour proves to be the games biggest strength, and possibly the only reason for its existence; it's an undeniably unique experience.

\n

So besides hilarious, what is Jazzpunk? How do I describe it? Ehh... well, you're like this agent guy who has to complete missions, kiss homeless people and engage in pillow fights. Oh, and there's a cat simulator and a wedding themed mini-game parody of Quake. Oh yeah, and the game ends inside a crocodile man's intestines; all pretty standard stuff really.

\n

If you're still confused about what Jazzpunk actually is, maybe this live action trailer for the game will explain it a little better than I can:

\n

\n

That clear it all up for you? Okay, good.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/fd6bb4f5b30a3b68b461ecfaf925f5ba.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/fd6bb4f5b30a3b68b461ecfaf925f5ba.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8004","description":"
To the Moon
\n

Platforms: PC
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4 hours

\n

To the Moon is a rare thing indeed, a game that manages, despite its limitations, to evoke genuine emotion in the player. I won't deny, I was a little choked up come the end credits.

\n

Those seeking thrilling gameplay should look elsewhere, To the Moon is very much a story driven experience, but it's a story worth telling. You'll play the role of Dr's Wyatt and Rosaleane, who recreate the memories of dying patients to help them live out experiences they never got to fulfill in life, if only in their minds. Memories are often messy things, however, and it will take a little detective work to piece together this particular patients troubled past.

\n

I'm not sure any amount of writing about it or watching trailers like the one above will do justice the heartfelt experience of actually playing the game.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/2b90edc6a4bf2e9c522e318bf6a272e1.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/2b90edc6a4bf2e9c522e318bf6a272e1.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8003","description":"
The Stanley Parable
\n

Platform: PC
Approximate time to finish the main game
: ???

\n

The Stanley Parable is another one of those games you're probably already quite familiar with, and if not, to describe it in detail would be to ruin the experience -- and it is an experience.

\n

The game explores the theme of narrative in gaming, and what happens when you decide to break the rules. You can 'beat' the game in 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or 30 minutes; and yet, 2 hours later, you'll still be playing, you'll still be laughing, and you'll still be discovering new endings.

\n

The Stanley Parable did something different, and it did it by being funny, clever and intriguing. I can only complain about its somewhat hefty price tag, but that's what Steam sales are for, right?

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/a85832474e38ca5575887782b051f58e.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/a85832474e38ca5575887782b051f58e.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8002","description":"
Grow Home
\n

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 3 hours

\n

Grow Home isn't your typical gaming experience; your only real enemy is gravity and your only goals are to explore, grow and climb.

\n

As the player, you'll control B.U.D., a procedurally animated robot who, as a result, is a tad clumsy in his movements. You'll have control of his upper limbs, allowing you to climb the stalk of a giant plant which you'll have to grow until it reaches the stars, where your spaceship awaits. You do this by riding offshoots into nearby floating islands, from which the plant will draw energy, allowing it to grow higher.

\n

For all the collectible seekers out there, there's also enough to search for and discover to considerably lengthen your time with Grow Home. There's something incredibly soothing about the whole experience, it's the perfect game for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

\n

A warning though, for my fellow inverted brethren, you either have to invert both axis' (who does that?) or none. As you can imagine, this can lead to some frustration and may confuse your brain when trying to go back to normal afterwards, but it's worth it. There's fewer games that exhibit greater charm than Grow Home.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/157730a4536e90174d128fc73f949c37.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/157730a4536e90174d128fc73f949c37.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8001","description":"
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
\n

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4.5 hours

\n

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, as its name suggests, came about as a standalone DLC for Far Cry 3, and was, in my opinion, a lot more fun.

\n

Blood Dragon basically takes all the best bits from Far Cry 3, drowns it in a gaudy, retro, neon aesthetic, and then ramps up the pace to maximum levels. From the very get-go you'll be obliterating goons with gatling guns and blowing up bases; the carnage is relentless, and it's glorious. Like Far Cry 3, there's also outposts to capture, collectibles to find and such like things, which can extend the game to almost double its length. 

\n

If you're still not sold, there's a button reserved solely for giving the middle finger, and you get to fight giant neon dinosaurs (sorry, Blood Dragons) that shoot laser beams from their heads, what more do you want?

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/7cb73c2872d2c7f0b375276697695e79.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/7cb73c2872d2c7f0b375276697695e79.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"8000","description":"
Freedom Planet
\n

Platforms: PC, Wii U
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 4.5 hours

\n

Freedom Planet is a love letter to the fast-paced action-platformers of days gone by, i.e. the Sonic game you've been wanting since Sonic & Knuckles that Sega could never deliver.

\n

While the story is pretty standard fare and I can't imagine the cheesy dialogue appealing to many, the gameplay is simply outstanding. Levels have been well designed to facilitate speed, with plenty of alternate routes to deviate along, while boss battles are generally challenging and engaging. There's also several characters to choose from, each with their own little differences, to mix up the action and add some replayability. This is all perfectly complimented by the games beautiful pixel art visuals.

\n

This has to be one of the best games this genre has to offer, and with a sequel currently in development, it's a series I personally hope to see more of.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/5e66f11491f651ece262e8550dd02db9.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_80/v1/gameskinny/5e66f11491f651ece262e8550dd02db9.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"7998","description":"
Portal
\n

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Approximate time to finish the main game
: 3 hours

\n

You already knew it was coming, right? I couldn't very well make the list without it, so I thought I'd get it out of the way early. I doubt Portal is a game that really needs any introduction at this point, but just in case, here's the run down.

\n

Basically, you have a gun, it makes portals, you solve puzzles by launching yourself and other objects through said portals, and at the end of it all there will be cake. It's pretty hilarious and if you don't enjoy it you probably don't have a soul. Just kidding, kind of.

\n

Amazingly Portal 2 managed to improve upon the game in almost every way, no mean feat. Thankfully this improvement extended to the game's length, which is why it is Portal and not its sequel making an appearance on this list, but both come highly recommended.

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/b/e/g/beginners-guide-coda-d0262.png","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/b/e/g/beginners-guide-coda-d0262.png","type":"slide","id":"110716","description":"

With the hectic pace of the modern world, more and more I hear people say "I don't have time to play video games anymore". A tragic thing indeed. But not every game needs to be a sprawling epic. A lot of games in recent years have been making the most of shorter runtimes, and are often all the better for it.

\n

It should be noted that while there are many rogue-likes that can be finished in this time, most people aren't going to see them through to the end on their first run, so I won't be including any of those.

\n

So without further ado and in no particular order, here's fifteen short games worth playing that won't take you more than 5 hours from start to finish, assuming you're not the completionist sort.

"}]]]>
Indie Game of the Year: 2015 Nominations (Part 1) https://www.gameskinny.com/t08zr/indie-game-of-the-year-2015-nominations-part-1 https://www.gameskinny.com/t08zr/indie-game-of-the-year-2015-nominations-part-1 Sat, 05 Dec 2015 17:40:32 -0500 Joe DeClara

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Who's Next?

\n

What did you think of our first five nominees? If you didn't see some of your picks for this year's best indie titles, let us know! We will be taking community nominations into consideration for our list. Send us your nominations, send us your votes, and keep an eye on GameSkinny for the results!

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Titan Souls

\n

Sporting an art-style reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and a format inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, Titan Souls is a gruelingly difficult game which rarely yields and never forgives.

\n

With nothing more than a bow and a single retrievable arrow, the unassuming David of this game is tasked with seeking out and slaying a dozen gargantuan Goliaths in this vast (yet oddly sparse) gameworld. While lacking in terms of narrative and world building, Titan Souls shines in its precision-based gameplay. Players must locate and target each boss's fatal underbelly (so to speak) while dodging the monster's constant barrage of deadly attacks. Each titan encounter comes with death, and each death must be learned from in order to conquer this pitiless pantheon of pixelated opponents.

\n

An incredible achievement from the three-person team at Acid Nerve, Titan Souls earns itself a nomination for best indie of 2015

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Ori and the Blind Forest

\n

Indie developer Moon Studios' premiere title aims to enamor and hits its mark. Ori and the Blind Forest is a gorgeous Metroidvania game that borrows from the greatest of the genre while also innovating with new and uniquely clever platforming mechanics.

\n

The forest is one of the most beautifully rendered game worlds of any platformer; with cascading waterfalls, massive ancient trees, ominous swamp lands, and many other locales all designed with beautiful backdrops and immersive foregrounds. This endearing quality is brilliantly juxtaposed with the game's classically hardcore difficulty. Though enemy design is a bit repetitive, the level design and platforming challenges presented will test the mettle of any NES-SNES aficionado. 

\n

Easily one of the greatest 2D platformers of the decade, let alone this year, Ori and the Blind Forest's world is a joy to experience and a compelling challenge to overcome.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/1/8/3181aa76a5a226250371ce15d0c42b41.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/1/8/tiny_3181aa76a5a226250371ce15d0c42b41.jpg","type":"slide","id":"94805","description":"

Three Fourths Home

\n

Year after year, our beloved medium extends the boundaries for what definitively is a "game." This year, Bracket Games further pushed the envelope with Three Fourths Home. More of a choose-your-own-adventure novel than a video game, this narrative experience has the player assume the role of Kelly - a twenty-something college girl coming back home to help out with family bills and weather her quarter-life crisis.

\n

While driving home in a storm, the player dictates Kelly's mood, relationships, and overall character by choosing pre-written dialogue blurbs. Three Fourths Home stands out in its bold choices in themes, exploring issues like addiction, disability, student debt, and the bitter cold that is regret.

\n

Though not a game in the most traditional sense, Three Fourths Home delivers a brilliantly written script and seamless dialogue mechanics novel to the medium, and earns itself all four fourths of a nomination for indie of the year.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/e/3/f/e3f9e899e9f1bcb43a6d4dfeacee708b.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/e/3/f/tiny_e3f9e899e9f1bcb43a6d4dfeacee708b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"94807","description":"

Grow Home

\n

Developed by Ubisoft Reflections, Grow Homeis a 3D platformer that embraces the genre's intrinsic imprecision and creates a simple, yet often awe-inspiring adventure of an E.T.-like critter trying to find his way home.

\n

Your goal is to climb and grow the Star Plant upwards through three hovering islands to reach the mother ship for refueling. However, with power-ups to unlock and wildlife to collect, there's plenty of excuses to explore this vertical game world. 

\n

Upon first taking control of the Botanical Utility Droid (BUD for short), I found him clumsy and awkward to navigate. But after getting a sense of the climbing mechanics and BUD's sensitivity to momentum, guiding him through his efforts to grow the Star Plant back to the mother ship became less tedious and more endearing. Navigating the floating islands by climbing, leaf-bouncing, and flower-gliding is a jovial experience, especially when coupled with the exhilarating risk of falling back to the earth.

\n

Beside some occasional bugs (like glitching through objects and semi-frequent drops in frame-rate) and some graphical monotony, Grow Home is a delightful platformer with satisfying mechanics and rewarding exploration. It easily makes our list of nominees for best indie of 2015

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/a/6/7/a67d6aab308680df25405d8101dfc3d9.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/a/6/7/tiny_a67d6aab308680df25405d8101dfc3d9.jpg","type":"slide","id":"94804","description":"

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

\n

From The Chinese Room, a small independent studio based in England, comes a story of how the end of all things begins in a small town.

\n

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture features little to no gameplay mechanics, and instead has the player explore the little village of Shropshire to uncover clues as to what brought about the apocalyptic event. Guided to key locations by a mysterious ball of light, the player watches as ghosts of the town's inhabitants act out the events of their last days.

\n

Slowly uncovering the truth through this excellent cast of deep and likable characters is enough incentive to explore what is easily the PlayStation 4's best looking game world. Lush environments, photo-realistic lighting, and incredible sound design make Everybody's Gone to the Rapture aesthetically and musically awesome. 

\n

This revolutionary level of presentation combined with an intriguing story and a wonderful cast earns this indie a nomination for best of the year.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/0/b/10b45b862830e6099c14460e17eb4a9d.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/0/b/tiny_10b45b862830e6099c14460e17eb4a9d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"96115","description":"

For the past ten years, the video game industry has seen a renaissance for independently developed video games. With the new accessibility of digital distribution and technology's rapid progression in this digital revolution, it has never been easier for small teams of developers to go out on their own and create quality gaming experiences.

\n

This independence also grants these developers artistic and creative freedom. While the creators behind big AAA games can oftentimes be restricted and censored by their publishers, independent developers are at liberty to pursue their visions with little to no pressure from commercially driven executives.

\n

With the rise of indie games, the medium has seen a massive influx of promising developers coming out and displaying their talents for all the world to see (and play). Each year sees more games from this rapidly growing ecosystem, and as always, some gems stand out among the rest. As 2015 comes to a close, we thought it pertinent to look at some of these games and decide which of them stands as the "Indie Game of the Year."

\n

Here is a list of our first five nominees!

"}]]]>
Grow Home Review https://www.gameskinny.com/trs1s/grow-home-review https://www.gameskinny.com/trs1s/grow-home-review Sun, 22 Nov 2015 06:23:45 -0500 Joe DeClara

Grow Home is a 3D platformer that embraces the genre's intrinsic imprecision and creates a simple, yet often awe-inspiring adventure of an E.T.-like critter trying to find his way home. Navigating the game world by climbing, leaf-bouncing, and flower-gliding is a joy coupled with the exhilarating risk of falling back to the earth. There are some buggy hiccups from time to time, and the low-budget graphics cause some monotony, but there is little else getting in the way of this humble, yet lively, adventure.

In Grow Home, your goal is to climb and grow the oddly phallic Star Plant upward through multiple hovering islands to reach the mothership for refueling. In order to ascend the two thousand meters, you must connect the massive plant to boulder-like fuel sources hovering about the vertical gameworld. This requires a lot of platforming between the Star Plant’s incrementally growing stem and the dozens of islands magically suspended in air.

Meet your Botanical Utility Droid

Upon first taking control of the Botanical Utility Droid (BUD for short), I found his wobbly limbs clumsy and awkward to navigate. But after becoming familiar with his sensitivity to momentum, watching him stumble around on foot felt less tedious and more endearing. Also, BUD’s klutzy stride is made up for with precise climbing and jumping controls. Though able to jump on his own, BUD’s platforming capabilities are extended through the gameworld’s plant life. Star Plant leaves and giant mushrooms turn BUD’s jumps into mountainous bounds, while various flowers act as launching pads and catapults.

These mechanics in tandem with BUD’s climbing controls make for some exhilarating moments. As I gained competency, I found myself expertly chaining flower launches and leaf bounces towards the next fuel island; all culminating in a single moment wherein I would make the jump and grab a ledge, or I’d miss and plummet back to the earth. These failures aren’t too punishing, though. BUD will explode upon impact at terminal velocity, but he can be saved by deploying a glide leaf, an inferior hover-flower, or by slowing the fall with his upgradeable jetpack.

Glide-Leaf: the best way to travel

The upgrade system in Grow Home is an imperative part of the game’s appeal. Though the game can be completed with BUD’s base capabilities, upgrades can be unlocked by finding crystals. These blue gems can be found hidden in caves, on the many resource islands, or lodged in the sides of the three main sections of levitating land. A fully upgraded jetpack would be incentive enough for me to explore Grow Home’s world in search for its 100 crystals. But even more rewarding is the excuse to hop on a gliding leaf and fly around this unassuming world in search for hard-to-reach collectibles. Every time I spotted a crystal, the discovery would come with an exhilarating landing or an adventurous climb along a mountainside.

However, for all the excitement and exploration it offers, Grow Home suffers for its lack of graphical fidelity. It is by no means an ugly game, but its polygonal design and complete lack of textures make for a monotonous visual experience. The game’s presentation is further impaired by frequent framerate drops; especially around the end of the game. This occasionally took away from the inspiring moments of looking down at the awesome Star Plant I had created.

Enjoying the view, BUD?

BUD’s charming clumsiness would also cause some technical issues. His procedurally generated limbs would sometimes get in his own way, occasionally messing up some important climbing segments. He would also inexplicably lose his grip on important objects, most specifically crystals. These technical hiccups caused a few frustrating moments wherein I would fall a significant height and lose some precious progression towards the end goal of two thousand meters altitude.

 

VERDICT

Grow Home is an absolute joy to play, and does everything right as a classic 3D platformer. The traversal mechanics are precise and easy to use, the collectathon is inherently fun and rewards the investment, and the gameworld is bright, colorful, and full of life. The polygonal design may leave much to be desired, and technical bugs take away from some of the game’s special moments; but overall, Grow Home achieves greatness with its excellent platforming mechanics and a gameworld begging to be scoured for secrets and collectibles.

]]>
PS Plus October Games: What should you be playing? https://www.gameskinny.com/5jf3l/ps-plus-october-games-what-should-you-be-playing https://www.gameskinny.com/5jf3l/ps-plus-october-games-what-should-you-be-playing Thu, 22 Oct 2015 05:41:10 -0400 Joe DeClara

October is coming close to its end, and with it will go another collection of games made available at no additional cost to PS Plus members. While the gesture sounds very generous on paper, we have more than once run into some bad apples.

But it would be a crying shame for unassuming gems like Rocket League and Unfinished Swan to go unnoticed before their time runs out. So, for your consideration, we took a look at some of October's PS Plus titles. Here's what we thought of them.

Super Meat Boy

An instant classic back in 2010, this hardcore platformer pays homage to the 8-16 bit generations of gaming, with hyper-precise controls and brutally difficult gameplay. Lead Meat Boy through an arduous journey of 100+ levels to save Bandage Girl from the relentless Dr. Fetus. But be warned: Super Meat Boy demands the highest of platforming precision and endurance of the soul - for you will be slaughtered again, and again, and again.

Though many may walk away frustrated and defeated, those who persevere and rise victorious will be graced with the triumphant glory known only to champions of games like Contra, Mega Man, and of course, Super Mario Bros. Though the new PlayStation edition was unfortunately neutered of the original soundtrack, Super Meat Boy otherwise stands as an incredible platformer and a befitting ode to games of old. 

It easily gets a YEA from me for free games you should be playing.

Kung Fu Rabbit

To call this game a Super Mario Bros. clone would be a disservice to the man in the red cap. Kung Fu Rabbit is a fun game only in its likeness to the thousands of 2D jumpathons before it. Throughout this pitiful platformer, you navigate a meant-to-be-cute rabbit through three worlds of twenty levels each, making the game's content on par with any standard Mario title.

Unfortunately, these uninspired levels are so trivial that they only take an average fifty seconds to beat, even if you go for all four collectible carrots strewn about each level. As you collect carrots, you unlock extra levels in the Bonus world, but this only served to create a stronger incentive for avoiding the collectibles, as I didn't want to play any more of this silly sidescroller. 

The controls are semi-fluent, and the content is plentiful, but uninspired enemies and mediocre level design earn this hopper a NAY.

KickBeat

KickBeat sounds like a perfect fit for Sony's mobile console - a stylish rhythm game based on beating up baddies martial-arts style to rockin' hip hop. Though the rhythmic input feels satisfying upon first watching your calculated button taps translate to killer kung fu combos, the gimmick quickly loses its appeal after enduring track after track of generic rap/rock, even with the game's short list of levels.

With superior rhythm games available through the store's PSP catalog, KickBeat does little to stand out amongst previous entries in the genre. 

I enjoyed the style, and would love to see similar things done with a better tracklist, but for now, I'm giving KickBeat a big kick in the NAY.

Broken Age

If you asked a few years ago, many would have said the point-and-click adventure genre died with Tim Schafer's Grim Fandango ("and good riddance" others might grumble). Last year, however, the same creator took to Kickstarter and brought us Broken Age: a playfully witty and humorous game with two distinct stories and protagonists.

Both adventures feature memorable characters and classic point-and-click puzzles. Though some puzzles often teeter between challenging and obtuse, these all-too-familiar frustrations are easily avoided with a helpful hint system. With the "I'm stuck" moments bypassed, and a price tag of zero, there is no reason to skip out on this charming and compelling story. 

For any lingering skepticism, please refer to this YEA.

Grow Home

Upon first taking control of the Botanical Utility Droid (BUD for short), I found him clumsy and awkward to navigate. But after getting a sense of the climbing mechanics and BUD's sensitivity to momentum, guiding him through his efforts to grow the Star Plant back to the mothership became less tedious and more endearing. Soon after that, BUD was soaring. 

Grow Home is a 3D platformer that embraces the genre's intrinsic imprecision and creates a simple, yet often awe-inspiring adventure of an E.T.-like critter trying to find his way home. Your goal is to climb and grow the Star Plant upwards through three hovering islands to reach the mothership for refueling. Navigating these floating islands by climbing, leaf-bouncing, and flower-gliding is a joy, especially when coupled with the exhilarating risk of falling back to the earth.

There are some buggy hiccups from time to time, like glitching through objects and semi-frequent drops in frame-rate, and the low-budget graphics cause some monotony. 

But overall, Grow Home had me jumping from Star Plant to floating island with a resounding YEA

What did you think of these games? Will you be picking any of them up yourself? Which PS Plus games have you found yourself playing beyond its featured month? Sound off in the comments!

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PS Plus IGC September https://www.gameskinny.com/634xw/ps-plus-igc-september https://www.gameskinny.com/634xw/ps-plus-igc-september Wed, 09 Sep 2015 19:18:29 -0400 Curtis Dillon

As is often the case, September's Instant Game Collection gives us a game or two that has just been released to Sony platforms. In July it was Rocket League, and now this month we have 3, yes that's right 3!, new games.

This month was a landmark one for PS Plus because it featured the result of the first ever Vote To Play poll. In case you missed it, Sony gave gamers the chance to vote on one of three possible PS Plus games, all of which were new releases. We got the chance to vote between Grow Home, Zombie Vikings or Armello, the winner of which was part of the September IGC, the others would be discounted. Read on to find out what the 6 games were this month and which won the Vote To Play contest!

Grow Home (PS4)

And the winner was Grow Home! The quirky adventure platformer from Ubisoft was the most voted for game by PlayStation owners. Grow Home was developed by Ubisoft Reflections, the studio that made Driver, Stuntman and the Just Dance seriesand follows the adventure of B.U.D, a little robot who must grow a giant plant as high as possible to reach his ship and go home to M.O.M.

B.U.D runs awkwardly (a little like Octodad), climbs one limb at a time (like I Am Bread), and uses flowers, leaves and a jetpack to move from branch to branch. It's a fun game in which you have to be careful not to fall down the tree and continue to grow the branches upward, all while exploring the very charming world. Grow Home isn't the best game you'll play this year but it is a fun and very relaxing one that challenges your sense of vertigo.

Super Time Force Ultra (PS4/ PS Vita)

Super Time Force Ultra, or S.T.F.U, is a fast paced, gun-toting action platformer that aims to melt your eyes and mind with awesomeness! You take control of some wacky characters, including President of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida, and try to master their unique abilities.

Super Time Force has been on Xbox for a while but now the definitive version comes to PlayStation devices with some new content. However the game retains its insane action that is challenging but rarely rage-inducing. Throw in tons of replay value and some great pixel art, and you have a game definitely worth playing (especially on Vita).

Teslagrad (PS4/ PS3)


Next up we have Teslagrad, a 2D platformer that uses creative electromagnetic powers to traverse levels. Not only is the game pretty smart with its platforming but it's also very pretty and charming. Teslagrad doesn't have any dialogue or even text, it shows the story and does so to good effect.

The magnets involved with the platforming make it a unique challenge, and it can be a challenge, but ultimately it's a rewarding game that is both smart and pretty.

Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal made it's long-awaited return on the PS3 in 2012. As one of the PS1's most beloved series', Twisted Metal was very eagerly anticipated for the PS3 and (mostly) lived up to the hype.

Once again you play as Calypso, as well as others, and compete in uber violent vehicular combat. The sheer destruction is consistently enjoyable and addictive, although it lacks the memorable characters of the original, Twisted Metal is still a heck of a lot of fun, particularly if you have a few friends to play with.

Xeodrifter

Xeodrifter is a 2D action platformer that pays a lot of homage to classic 8-bit games like Mega Man, Super Metroid and even Super Mario. The game is fairly simple; you play as an astronaut who must travel to 4 different planets, ala Mass Effect, and find supplies to repair your ship.

Of course you meet obstacles on each planet as you jump, shoot, and swim your way to fixing the ship. The game has some really interesting ways of interacting with the environment, including jumping between foreground and background. It can be pretty hard at times but the diverse planets, enemies and upgrade systems make this a retro game well worth checking out.

La Mulana Ex

And finally we have La Mulana Ex, another Metroidvania 2D platformer that is, for all intents and purposes, a remaster of a 2005 PC game. In the game you traverse ancient ruins in an attempt to find treasure and uncover "the secret to life itself"....deep stuff. Simply put La Mulana Ex is like an 8-bit Indiana Jones.

La Mulana Ex introduced a lot of new features, including an boss bestiary, so that you can see all of the enemies you've faced and learn more about them, and, more importantly, the entire game is open from the get go. So, like Rogue Legacy, you can go as far as your skills will get you. Which probably isn't very far because La Mulana Ex can be an unforgiving test of your wits and skills.

Verdict - 7/10

A pretty good month for PS Plus. We got a number of really good, to great, platformers on both PS4 and PS Vita. However it's also this repetition of visually similar 2D platformers that ultimately drag down the overall score. Gone are the days when we got a huge variety of games, like August 2013 when we got Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Mafia II, Spec Ops: The Line, Lego Lord of the Rings, and When Vikings Attack!.

Nowadays we get a lot of 2D platformers, which I don't mind but a bit more variety would be greatly appreciated. Maybe within the next year the PS4 library will be vast enough that Sony and publishers feel confident giving away some AAA titles. Until then we can play a lot of indie games that we otherwise would overlook and remember, we're getting amazing value for money!

Total Value of the IGC - $84.94/£57.56
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PS Plus Free Games Lineup for September https://www.gameskinny.com/lseyv/ps-plus-free-games-lineup-for-september https://www.gameskinny.com/lseyv/ps-plus-free-games-lineup-for-september Mon, 24 Aug 2015 20:25:14 -0400 Courtney Gamache

The PS Plus free games lineup for September released, including the Vote to Play choice. Vote to Play is a campaign that Sony launched so users have a some-what say in a game that gets put up for free-to-play during a month. 

Games in the lineup

There are six games available during the month of September to play for free, starting the first Tuesday of September.

  1. Vote to Play Winner: Grow Home via PS4 - Platformer game full of adventure while a robot named B.U.D is on a quest to discover a plant that can help his home planet survive. 
  2. Super Time Force via PS4 and PS Vita - Action game with side scrolling and shooter gameplay. Time Force is a time-traveling military organization striving to supply the world with a better living quality.
  3. Xeodrifter via PS4 and PS Vita -  Action adventure game with metroidvania qualities where the player is in control of an astronaut fighting for his life when his ship is damaged. Repairing the ship is the main goal.
  4. Twisted Metal via PS3 - Multiplayer action car fighting game with weapons of plenty and many estranged characters.
  5. Teslagrad via PS4 and PS3 - Platforming puzzle game with action elements while discovering secrets throughout a Tesla Tower. Playing as a young boy who must break a conspiracy. 
  6. La-Mulana EX via PS Vita - A metroidvania Indiana Jones themed 2D platformer game. Using puzzle solving strategy the quest to find the treasure of the La-Mulana ruins is at stake. 

With such a large lineup for the upcoming month it's to no question why Sony has the PS Plus membership available to their loyal customers. 

Are there any games you wish would appear on the PS Plus Free games list? Comment below with your thoughts!

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Ubisoft confirms Grow Home coming to PS4 https://www.gameskinny.com/f60dy/ubisoft-confirms-grow-home-coming-to-ps4 https://www.gameskinny.com/f60dy/ubisoft-confirms-grow-home-coming-to-ps4 Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:48:39 -0400 Khadija Dukes

After much speculation, it has now been confirmed that Ubisoft's Grow Home is indeed coming to the PS4. 

Rumors began to swirl regarding Grow Home when an early leak of Playstation's Vote to Play feature was revealed. Following this leak, Grow Home appeared on a Taiwanese games rating board, adding fuel to the fire.

The Vote to Play feature will be available to PS Plus users and will allow gamers to vote on this and two other games between August 13 and August 24, beginning at 8:30 am. The game that garners the most votes will be free for the entire month of September. 

In the event that another game wins the vote, Grow Home will still be available at a discounted rate for PS Plus members. But any gamers in the UK or Europe who wish to subscribe to PS Plus will encounter higher prices.

Playing Grow Home on a gaming console will make for an even more enjoyable experience and is sure to increase the popularity of this already  beloved game.

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Vote on September's free PS Plus game this week https://www.gameskinny.com/gif0o/vote-on-septembers-free-ps-plus-game-this-week https://www.gameskinny.com/gif0o/vote-on-septembers-free-ps-plus-game-this-week Wed, 12 Aug 2015 10:09:57 -0400 Larry Iaccio

PlayStation Plus subscribers recieve free predetermined content each month, but finally Sony is giving players the chance to decide what games they would like for free.

The first ever Vote-to-Play campaign is kicking off this week and it is putting the power to determine one of September's free games to the players. This Thursday, August 13th at 8:30 AM Pacific Time (11:30 AM eastern time) PlayStation Plus members will be able to vote on one of three games using their PS4.

The games up for voting are:

1. Grow Home

2. Zombie Vikings 


3. Armello

Regardless of what game wins the campaign, the other two will still be released in September at a discounted price.

PS Plus members who would like to vote can do so by accessing the PlayStation Store's Plus section or through the notifications on the PS4 dashboard. Players can vote on one of these games until August 24, at 8:30 AM PST.

Sony is referring to this as the "first" Vote-to-Play campaign indicating that it might be planning on more campaigns for the future.

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Grow Home coming to PS4? https://www.gameskinny.com/3at9i/grow-home-coming-to-ps4 https://www.gameskinny.com/3at9i/grow-home-coming-to-ps4 Sat, 08 Aug 2015 10:42:10 -0400 Khadija Dukes

Ubisoft's Grow Home, which was once only available on the PC, may now be coming to the PS4.  

Grow Home, an adventure game developed by Ubisoft Reflections, was released on February 4, 2015 for Microsoft Windows. 

In Grow Home, gamers play as BUD (Botanical Utility Droid), a robot who harvests the seeds of an alien plant in order to travel across a world of floating islands to reach higher ground.

A PS4 release was first hinted at through a leak of Sony's Vote to Play feature for Playstation Plus members. Vote to Play will allow Playstation Plus members to vote on one of three games to be offered as part of the Playstation Plus monthly games. One of the games offered in this lineup is Grow Home. 

                      

       Vote to Play teases Grow Home for PS4

Grow Home was also recently featured on a Taiwanese games rating board for PS4, adding further speculation about a PS4 release.  

Ubisoft currently lists Grow Home as being available on the PC and the PS4; however, a PS4 release has yet to be announced.

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Grow Home: Flawed but Beautiful https://www.gameskinny.com/7dmom/grow-home-flawed-but-beautiful https://www.gameskinny.com/7dmom/grow-home-flawed-but-beautiful Wed, 11 Feb 2015 10:23:25 -0500 CozartDono

Grow Home is a beautiful looking game. You are a little, stumbly robot called B.U.D. (Botanical Utility Droid) who is plopped onto this little planet in order to collect... stuff?

The wonderful thing about Grow Home is how the objective feels like a supplement to the game's exploration options. You take BUD up to the peeks of mountains, pick up crystals, and then you see something in the distance that piques your interest. It's up to you to figure out how to get there and when you do, you discover something like the Star Plant, this giant, beanstalk-looking plant. 

Regardless of whether or not you want to climb, it feels so good to climb in Grow Home that you simply must climb it. 

Climbing is the bread and butter of Grow Home. You climb with BUD by controlling the gripability of his limbs with the triggers on the gamepad. Everytime you touch a ledge, pulling in that trigger to get BUD to hold on feels incredibly satisfying. Even if sometimes you forget which trigger you're using to hold on, and let go before you grab with the other hand.

Grow Home's Camera: Auto-Aligning Yourself to Death

Grow Home, however beautiful and intriguing it is, does have one major flaw: its camera control. The camera, with its constant need to auto-align, will kill you more often than forgetting which arm is holding on to the rock you're climbing. Countless times while riding a beanstalk to a destination, I found BUD falling to his demise after the camera moved on me unexpectedly. This happens all the time. Dealing with the camera in Grow Home is a constant struggle to maintain a flat, even surface in this 3D environment.

The major issue lies in the fact that the climbing in Grow Home works on a 2D plane. If the camera is not lined up with the section of thing you want to climb, BUD won't be able to grasp it, and you'll fall off. Same thing if the camera changes at a bad time.

You will often just watch as he sky dives to his rust-colored demise.

Look M.O.M., I'm falling. And it's beautiful.

This 2D plane climbing is odd because I was never quite sure which way this plane was facing. Whether it needs to be parallel, perpendicular, or otherwise to BUD remains a mystery. This camera-to-climbing mechanic is never quite explained in-game. 

The camera also auto-focuses on important interactable objects. After riding the bean stalk bull, you turn around and start walking, and suddenly every leaf, rock, flower, and new bean stalk gets auto-focused as you walk by. Being as clumsy as BUD is, this is not good for his robot legs, as he has a tendency to fall down. 

All is Not Lost! Grow Home is Still Very Good!

The rest of Grow Home is so charming, dripping with color, and reeks of whimsy that you will find yourself happy to overlook any flaw in the camera controls. This is what will keep you playing Grow Home

Grow Home is a short game; I clocked in at two and a half hours. Most likely, to collect all of the hidden crystals that give BUD some power-ups, the play-time end up at around four hours. I didn't feel the need to do this as the power-ups while semi-useful, don't give anything incredibly advantageous. You can beat the game with without every buff, but the option is there for completionists. I had just over 60 of the 100 available crystals in the game and finished without any issues.

Grow Home is for people who like to climb and explore areas, collecting items, and riding plants like a cowboy.

Yeehaaw!

Despite the camera and however many times it might kill you, this game is a wonderful "Monday afternoon, stuck in a snow storm" game. You'll love the look of the world. The climbing and platforming feel solid and satisfying. Depending on the type of game player you are, you may want to find every crystal, but you also don't have to. BUD doesn't mind. He just wants to grow the Star Plant to help out his M.O.M.

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