Linux Platform RSS Feed | Linux RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Prison Architect: Second Chances Review — Rehabilitation for Profit Thu, 17 Jun 2021 16:34:33 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Prison Architect continues to grow under the wings of Paradox Interactive and developer Double Eleven. The latest DLC, titled Second Chances, expands on the game's formula in a different way than the previous Going Green release and finally gives players a way to actually reform their prisoners.

Where Going Green added new solar options and the ability to get your prisoners to work the land for food and profit, Second Chances gives you options to rehabilitate them into (hopefully) productive members of society. Between the two DLCs, this one is a more flexible Prison Architect experience.

Prison Architect: Second Chances Review — Rehabilitation for Profit

So how can you rehabilitate your prisoners in this DLC? Through counseling, animal therapy, and hard work. The hard work is working at the new Restaurant and Bakery rooms, where prisoners undergoing rehabilitation can feed the non-incarcerated masses for work experience toward their reintroduction to society.

From a gameplay standpoint, these two rooms add another business management layer on top of what Prison Architect already has.

With the Restaurant, you can choose the quality of food available and business can boom or fail based on staffing. However, the Bakery doesn't demand all that hubbub and just functions as long as you have the basics and staffing set, without the added stress of whether everything's being kept up with well enough.

In the case of either room, there are profits to be had, which is admittedly a better racket than the old method of just getting prisoners to toil away in the Workshop to ship out license plates. Being the more complicated venture, the Restaurant brings in more money out of the two; honestly, it's a nice addition to the crop growing and selling of Going Green.

So why bother with all this? Why would you, dear Warden, bother rehabilitating these probable dregs that keep your prison afloat? Cold hard cash, baby!

Each successfully rehabilitated and reformed prisoner nets you a tidy bonus, which is an added draw to getting them the heck out of your prison later on in a game.

On the flip side, prisoners who leave your prison and re-offend when back out to the greener pastures of freedom will cause you to incur a penalty and receive the prisoner once more. Reforming them properly pays off, while a little bad luck and some lazy management can be costly.

For those who have been playing Prison Architect for a long time, the added features found in Second Chances and prior DLC releases add some much-needed complexity and are more than welcome. But true to form, this DLC isn't without its bugs.

While the bugs found in Second Chances are not as pervasive as they were in the last DLC release, Going Green, they are still present and should be noted. The biggest and most obnoxious bug is the inability to reassign prisoner security levels, which can be a big deal for some playstyles (my own included).

Those who aren't particularly hands-on in that manner won't find this to be a huge detriment, but if you're like me and really like tinkering with your inmates directly to keep things as peaceful as you can manage (or for some "experiments"), then it is absolutely something to be aware of.

Prison Architect: Second Chances Review — The Bottom Line


  • Overall the new additions are very welcome...
  • ... and they're not overly complex, either


  • As always with Prison Architect DLC, there are bugs, and they are noticeable

I can't say no to further complexities added to my Prison Architect experience, even if they tend to come with some detriments. Finally being able to reform prisoners after playing this game on and off for so many years is a boon, especially the extra income from the rehabilitation process and the Restaurant and Bakery.

Why Double Eleven always introduces new bugs to the game with DLC releases is a bit beyond me, maybe the way Introversion initially developed the game is finicky. Who knows. Somebody knows, and it's not me.

If you are on the market for a single paid Prison Architect DLC, this is probably the one to get. It's the cheapest by default, the bugs can be.. accepted.. and it adds enough to make it more than worth its small price compared to what we got with Island Bound and Going Green.

[Note: Paradox Interactive provided the copy of Prison Architect: Second Chances for this review.]

FFXIV 5.55 Mounts: How to Get Al-iklil, Magicked Card, Deinonychus Fri, 28 May 2021 14:00:44 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Final Fantasy XIV patch 5.55 brought three brand new mounts to the game for players to add to their collections. Two of them are real challenges to obtain, and the third is sort of just a consolation prize since it's nowhere near as fantastical as the others.

The three new mounts are the Al-iklil, the Magicked Card, and the Deinonychus. If you've been wondering where that new two-seater is, look no further than the Al-iklil; the other two are single-person mounts, and the requirements to get the Magicked Card is one of the biggest grinds in the game.

FFXIV 5.55 Mounts: How to Get Al-iklil

This is the big focus mount this patch for good reason, as there's a woeful lack of two-or-more-person mounts. It helps that this one looks pretty cool.

Actually getting the Al-iklil is a huge undertaking, however. You must obtain every Field Note in Bozja and its related zones, up to the 50th. These come from taking part in Critical Engagements and Duels, clearing all the quests, and completing Castrum, Delubrium, and Dalriada.

Needless to say, getting the Al-iklil is a prolonged endeavor, but those following their Shadowbringers Relic grind and doing content regarding the Bozjan Southern Front should be able to get their hands on it without going too far out of the way for some odds and ends.

FFXIV 5.55 Mounts: How to Get the Magicked Card

The second mount introduced with the 5.55 patch is the Magicked Card, the first true carrot at the end of the Triple Triad stick.

The Magicked Card is the reward from a quest titled The Adventurer with All the Cards, which is found in the Gold Saucer at (x5.0, y6.7). The trick being this quest is only available if you have collected cards 1 through 312. That is a lot of cards!

Getting a single Triple Triad card from an NPC can sometimes take far too long, meaning getting this mount is a serious and prolonged time investment. It might be best to leave this one to the Triple Triad enthusiasts.

FFXIV 5.55 Mounts: How to Get Deinonychus

This is the least buzzed of the three mounts this patch, and frankly, I've been wondering when these mobs would be added as mounts since the old days in A Realm Reborn. Why it's taken so long to make these striped raptors (?) as mounts is beyond me, but I am not going to complain.

The Deinonychus has a chance to be looted from the final chest of Zadnor's Dalriada, making it incredibly expensive despite it being so incredibly unworthy of note, much like the recent Antelope Doe and Antelope Stag mounts implemented with the addition of Firmament Fetes.

The main difference between this thing and the aforementioned antelopes is this doofy-looking mount has tiny wings.

This is the one tradeable mount out of this set, meaning you can pick one up on the market board if you really want, but the prices are so incredibly high for it at the time of writing it's just not worth it. Would you spend 11 million gil on the Deinonychus? Apparently, most people won't, either, since only three have sold on the market board on my server since patch release.

Out of this patch's three mounts, the Al-iklil is easily the coolest, and the effort needed to get it shouldn't be too far out of the way for those actually putting the time in to progress their Relic weapons. The Magicked Card is cute, and it definitely would have been better in purple, but it's about time Triple Triad collectors had some sort of motivator.

That's it on FFXIV 5.55 mounts — hey! Three in one patch is more than we usually get. If you found this guide helpful, check out some of our other FFXIV guides here on GameSkinny.

Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset Review: A Great Value For $80 Thu, 27 May 2021 00:15:01 -0400 ChrisPenwell

Leaping into the fields of combat, you'll need a handy headset to lead you to victory. While an in-game gun or a sword is definitely needed to best your foes, having a Turtle Beach Recon 500 in your kit can heighten your gameplay.

The headset's new dual drivers provide an immense amount of audio detail for the $80 price tag, and the form factor is excellent, especially for big-headed players like me. But what about the rest of the headset? Is it up to the test? 

Turtle Beach Recon 500 Headset Review: A Great Value For $80

The Turtle Beach Recon 500 shines in stressful in-game situations. A perfect example comes from a Call of Duty: Warzone match I played with a friend while testing the headset.

Down and out for the count, my friend was defending me to the very end. Thanks to the Recon 500, I heard distant footsteps on the far right side and could determine the diagonal source of the sound. With a wall in front of me and no vision at all, I was able to pinpoint their location in relation to my friend and warned him. Thanks to my callout, he was able to wipe the enemy out before they even saw him.

That's the moment when this headset wowed me, and you'll certainly have an advantage over other players with this budget-friendly peripheral.

What helped in this specific instance was the Recon 500 microphone. My friend reported that the audio was crystal clear and drained out the background noise, putting front and center what's truly important: your voice. Turtle Beach says that the Recon 500 delivers the quality that a professional gamer would hope for, and if my experience is anything to go by, that's exactly what this headset does.

In the PlayStation 5 exclusive roguelike Returnal, for example, you can hear every sound effect in crisp detail, despite the deep tones of the music and the overbearing nature of the action on screen. You can hear the pitter-patter of the rain hitting your helmet, the terrifying growls of every weird sci-fi creature (and where they're coming from), and the heavy pounding of each round being fired.

Overall, the Recon 500 offers a complex, enriching, and deeply bassy sound compared to other headsets I've used, such as the Gold Wireless Headset from PlayStation and the Razer Kraken X. The word "immersive" is overused in the gaming industry, but it perfectly fits what Turtle Beach offers here.

In another frenetic game I tested, Kingdom Hearts 3, the Recon 500 performed well yet again. While fighting the heartless, there are a lot of sound effects going on. Yoko Shimomura's glorious battle theme plays, Donald casts spells, and Goofy hyucks around the clash. It's all noisy, but I could still hear the heartless' attacks from yards away and knew exactly where they were coming from. Once the dust settled, I could detect the party's feet crunching in the snow beneath the loud music.

What helps the headset pick up these low-frequency and high-frequency sounds is the all-new patented dual drivers that Turtle Beach claims provide "ultra-detailed gaming audio across a massive soundstage." From my experience, it delivers that in spades; the cavalcade of sounds is impressively clear.

The superb sound imaging is also attributed to the wood composite earcup design that, according to Turtle Beach, "lends to enhanced acoustics" and a more realistic tone. While I'm no audio connoisseur, I do appreciate the rich audio that the headset offers.

Despite the excellent sound quality in Call of Duty: Warzone and Returnal, the quality of sounds in Fortnite was somewhat of a different story.

It could have been my audio settings or the game itself, but I found the positioning of the sounds jarring with this headset. As a nearby car blared out music, the sound was completely focused in the left earcup and was overwhelming. It roughly transitioned from left to right and sounded far too severe. With some games, your mileage may vary with the Recon 500, but with around six other games tested with this headset, Fortnite was the only outlier.

In addition to the strange sound sampling with Fortnite, the Recon 500's noise-canceling feature isn't as effective as you might like. I could still hear the TV in my living room as I watched a YouTube video on the Nintendo Switch. Your situation may vary depending on various factors, such as your setup. Still, if I were playing a portable game around my family, for example, the lack of noise-canceling would take me out of the gameplay experience. 

Durable But Not So Comfortable

As a glasses wearer, it's often uncomfortable to wear a headset as my glasses slip and slide against the material. Thankfully, due to Turtle Beach's lightweight frame, the Recon 500 is glasses-friendly; your specs will snugly fit between your ears and the headset. 

I've broken many a headset in my time since I have a huge head. In the past, the frames of PlayStation's line of plastic headphones and the Razer Kraken X snapped didn't hold up. I'm also hard-wearing with my headsets as they often fall off my small table. They often snap or simply stop working due to my unfortunate mishandling of the product.

Luckily for me, the Recon 500 headset is rock solid with its metal-reinforced headband. Also, the wood composite ear cups feel premium. The frame itself is metallic, and the plastic on top is hard, but it surprisingly stretches quite a ways to fit various head shapes. My big head can fit comfortably in the frame.

The 0.76m thick cable has a woven design, so it would not be prone to wear and tear, either. It also doesn't tangle easily from my experience so far. 

However, something that is slightly concerning is that the wire attaching the rounded earcups to the frame is slightly bent at all times. It wasn't a problem in my time with the headset, but it could become an issue with extensive use or over many hours of play. 

After a few hours of use, the headset begins to feel heavy, and I can feel the weight bearing down on the sides of my noggin. Despite that heaviness, the bottoms of the earcups feel loose around my larger earlobes. On a hot summer's day in a small room, your head will likely roast wearing this headset. Turtle Beach should have a fan add-on available for purchase...

All jokes aside, while the memory foam cushioning around the speakers is comfortable, the overall weight might be a downside for you. 

Something to keep in mind is that there's only a wired option for this line of Turtle Beach headsets. That alone may be a big turn-off for those who desire a wireless headset, especially at the price range. Those who have phones and don't have a headphone jack may also want to steer clear if they want to use this accessory as an all-in-one audio solution. 

On the other hand, one of its strengths is that you can take this on the go and look good while doing so if you have a phone with a jack. The microphone can be detached at any time, so you won't look silly with it hanging out like the Razer Kraken X.

The arctic white style is slick and has a unique pattern that will make you stand out; they're not as stylish as Beats or the biggest headset brands like Sennheiser, but you surely won't be laughed out of the building. 

Turtle Beach Recon 500 Review — The Bottom Line

  • Impressive audio quality that picks up all the little details
  • Durable for even the biggest head
  • Crystal clear microphone that can be removed
  • Feels a little heavy after a few hours of use
  • Memory foam should help, but it can get hot
  • Noise-canceling isn't as effective as you'd like

The Turtle Beach Recon 500 is a great and sturdy headset slightly betrayed by its heavy design and lack of cooling. 

[Note: Turtle Beach provided the Recon 500 unit used for this review.]

GeoGuessr Tips: Strategies to Improve Your Game Mon, 17 May 2021 10:05:20 -0400 Gavin Burtt

Being able to pinpoint your exact location on the world map, based solely on your immediate surroundings, may sound nearly impossible to do, yet hundreds of top GeoGuessr players are able to do so with relative ease. If you're just starting out with the geography game, you may need a few beginner's tips and tricks to improve your game. 

Being able to match their skill level is a tall order, but these beginner strategies will act as a great first step in your pursuit of the elusive perfect score. To get a perfect score in a GeoGuessr round, you essentially have to find the exact location on Earth where your camera is set up.

The first step in doing this is determining which country you are in, which is what this guide will primarily focus on. Narrowing things down to the city and street within a country shouldn't be a concern until you've mastered the basics of country-guessing.

The "Country Streak" game mode is a great way to practice this. With nearly 100 countries having Google StreetView coverage, it may seem pretty daunting to narrow your guess down to just one, but these tips should help with just that.

GeoGuessr Strategies for Beginners


Use Your Compass

On the left side of your screen, you can find your compass. This is the first thing you should always look at when trying to figure out your country.

The red arrow will always point north, so by centering the sun on your screen, you should be able to determine whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere. If the sun is south of you, then you must be north of the equator, and vice versa.

In this image, you can see we are looking moderately southwest when looking at the sun. This means that we're in the northern hemisphere.

You can also take into consideration how far south the sun is, and where it is in the sky. If the sun is close to the horizon but is still quite far south, then that means you are significantly north of the equator, for example.

In the picture above, the sun is only barely south, and the sun has decently risen. It being so barely south means we can determine we are only moderately north of the equator (which is true; th image is in northern Thailand).

Driving Lane 

This one is more trivial, though not very practical if you don't know which countries drive on which side. Generally speaking, most countries drive on the right side of the road. Every country in North America and South America (that GeoGuessr includes) drives on the right, as well as all countries in Europe, excluding the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus.

In Africa, every country in the southern half drives on the left (Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini), while the northern half drives on the right (Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Tunisia). 

Most southeast Asian and Oceania countries drive on the left. Only Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines don't.

In Asia, Japan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka drive on the left, while the rest drive on the right.

This all may seem kind of overwhelming at first, but you will very quickly learn these countries as you play. To determine which side of the road you are on, look for other vehicles first, as they're driving on the same side as you. If there are no other cars, look to see which way any road signs are facing. If there are none of those either, look for the Google car's shadow and try and determine which direction you are facing.

StreetView Coverage

You may have noticed that there are a significant amount of left-driving countries that haven't been mentioned. This is because not all countries have Google StreetView coverage, and thus aren't really relevant to you when learning GeoGuessr.

Knowing which countries you can't be in certainly helps in narrowing down where you are. In Africa, for example, only 1/6 of countries have StreetView coverage. Here's a map showing all the countries that you can expect to see:

There are plenty of areas in Africa and Asia that aren't covered. When making a guess, make sure you're guessing a country that is in the game. It should also be noted that not all countries are equally prevalent. Larger countries tend to have more pinned locations in the location bank than smaller countries, so if you're stuck between two countries, it is usually safer to guess the country that you would expect to have more land points.

For example, if you know you're in Europe and that you drive on the left, but don't have much more to go off of than that, you'd be much safer guessing the U.K. or Ireland than Cyprus or Malta, just due to location prevalence.


This is another strategy that seems trivial, but how can you make use of it without knowing every language? It's quite simple really.

Different countries use different alphabets, so simply seeing one sign can be enough to narrow down your country to places that use that alphabet. For most languages that use the English alphabet, you can simply read and identify the language, even if you don't know the language.

Italian, French, German, etc. are all easily identifiable without needing to know how to speak the language, but others can be hard to distinguish. Here are some tips for telling apart specific similar languages. You will come to learn more on your own as play:

  • ç and ã appear in Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal) but not Spanish.
  • Swedish, Finnish, Danish, and Norweigian have many distinguishing letters: Finnish has lots of double letters (aa or ii for example), ø is only in Denmark and Norway.
  • Danish and Norwegian are hard to distinguish. Look for æ, which is much more common in Danish, but exists in both.
  • õ is unique to Estonian, Latvian has a lot of ļķ, and ņ, as well as horizontal line accents over vowels, ė is unique to Lithuanian, and Polish contains an incredible amount of z's. 
  • Slovenian, Slovak and Czech are all littered with vowel accents. ä, ľ, ĺ, ŕ and ô are unique to Slovak, while ů, ě, and ř are unique to Czech. Slovenian has lots of j's. 
  • Ґ, Є, І and Ї appear in Ukrainian, but not Russian. Ё, ъ, ы and Э appear in Russian, but not Ukrainian. 

If you're struggling to determine the language you are seeing, you can use the GeoGuessr map and zoom in on a country you think you might be in. You can look at the names of cities here and cross-reference the characters you see, to help determine if your country is a good guess.

License Plates

License plates can be a lifesaver at times, as many countries have unique plates. Most European countries will have a badge to the side of their license plate. In most cases, it appears as a blue vertical strip (pictured below), though some countries have slight differences.

Ukraine's badge is yellow on the bottom, blue on top. Portugal has a blue badge on the left and a yellow badge on the right. France, Italy, and Albania all have blue badges to either side.

Albania also has the odd red badge, while Kyrgyzstan always has red badges. Russia, Switzerland, Iceland, Croatia, and North Macedonia are the only European countries with white plates that don't have badges. The U.K., Ireland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Cyprus all have yellow license plates, though the U.K. and Cyrpus only have yellow plates on the back

Outside of Europe, plates aren't as useful generally, though there are still some that are unique:

  • Argentina has a black dot in the middle of its plate.
  • Bhutan has red plates while the Philippines has green plates.
  • Indonesian plates are yellow with three black stripes, and Malaysian plates are yellow with two black stripes.
  • Laos and Israel have yellow plates, as does Sri Lanka -- but only in the back.

Dead GeoGuessr Giveaways

Of course, make sure to learn your country flags. If you happen to see one in your location, you can safely assume you are in that country. By clicking on a country in the GeoGuessr map in "Country Streak" mode, the country's flag will display, so you can verify that the flag is correct before guessing.

Another great thing to look for is website domains. If you see an advertisement that includes a website, domains like ".ca", ".de", ".nz", etc. are all very clear indicators of what country you are in (Canada, Germany, and New Zealand, respectively). 

This is a bit of a meta strat, but certain countries will have unique Google car roofs. Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Mongolia, and Kyrgyzstan all have visible roof racks if you look straight down. Ghana, specifically, will have a black piece of tape around one of the four bars. For this reason, Ghana is the easiest country to identify.

There's a lot more to learn about the world before you can truly chase a GeoGuessr perfect score: trees, architectural styles, road lines, bollards, highway signs, and topography can all come in handy in figuring out not only the country, but the region of the country you are in, after which you can start searching around for your exact spot.

Hopefully, these GeoGuessr beginner's tips should be enough to get you at least started in your pursuit for GeoGuessr perfection.

Minecraft: How to Build a Flying Machine Cheap and Easy Fri, 14 May 2021 14:11:04 -0400 Gavin Burtt

Are you looking to explore your world seed in search of a new place to call home, but can't be bothered to explore your world seed on foot? Wouldn't it be nice to have some sort of flying machine that could travel the Minecraft overworld for you?

Fortunately enough, not only is exploring a seed with a Minecraft flying machine possible, but it is incredibly inexpensive to do. Here's a guide on how to make a flying machine.

How to Build a Flying Machine in Minecraft

This flying machine design is incredibly cheap but very, very cool. It only requires seven blocks to build and will travel in a straight line, infinitely in the direction you align it in. It is highly recommended that you build your flying machine as high up in the sky as possible, as you can't steer it. You certainly wouldn't want to crash into any mountains. Here is what you'll need:

  • One sticky piston
  • One regular piston
  • Two observers
  • Two slime blocks
  • One redstone block

It is also recommended that you bring a water bucket with you, so that you can get down from your flying machine when you stop, without falling to your death.

To begin, place your regular piston, a slime block, and an observer as seen in the image below. You want to make sure that the slime block is touching only the observer. The direction that the "face" of the observer is looking towards is the direction that the machine will travel.

On top of these blocks, you're going to build a similar setup with a sticky piston, facing the opposite way. This time, however, make sure the slime block is touching the piston, not the observer. The sticky piston should on top of the lower slime block.

Believe it or not, that's actually the entire machine, but how do you start it? First stand on top of the upper slime block, which will act as your "seat." As long as you don't move, you shouldn't have to worry about falling off.

Next, place your redstone block on top of the sticky piston to "start the engine," then remove the redstone block to hit the gas.

Now, you can simply walk away from your game, throw on a movie, take a nap, whatever you please. When you come back, you will be in a totally new location in your world seed.

You can also monitor your flight while you play other games, so that you can stop the machine once you reach an area you'd like to check out. Speaking of which, how do you stop the flying machine?

How to Stop the Flying Machine

It's very simple. All you have to do is place your redstone block on top of the body of the sticky piston, just like you did to start the engine. This will lock up the machine and bring it to a halt.

Removing the redstone block will automatically get you moving again, so if you don't like the area you stopped at, climb back up to your flying machine and keep going. To get down, just place some water next to the redstone block and ride the stream to the ground.

Just like that, you are safe to drop down. If you were hoping to bring some supplies along the way, but don't have enough inventory space, you're in luck. Pistons can push up to 12 blocks, so by sticking some chests or furnaces onto the front of your aircraft, you can bring as much stuff as you need. You can even add a seat for your cat or dog!

Still not impressed? Well here's the machine's best feature. Stick an extra slime block onto the side of the slime block you use as your "seat." By standing on this new wing you've made, you can place TNT blocks to the side of the lower slime block, like so:

The front observer will automatically prime the TNT, which will then bounce up. The wing that you are riding on will collide with the TNT and launch it forward with incredible speed, down upon the environment below, turning your flying machine into a weapon of mass destruction. Just bring a few stacks of TNT and go wild.

The ethics of using the flying machine for this practice are questionable, to say the least. But it's an option. 

With just seven blocks, you can build a flying machine to have a safe, easy, and cheap way to travel your Minecraft world seed. There is no need to worry about starvation since you're standing still, or fending off mobs as you're well out of their reach. Just kick back, relax, and enjoy your flight. For more on Minecraft, check the game's primary page for tips, seeds, and much more. 

Minecraft Automatic Cooked Chicken Farm Guide Fri, 14 May 2021 11:46:37 -0400 Gavin Burtt

Farming is one of the least exciting things to do in Minecraft when doing it by hand. Most players would much rather spend their time mining, exploring, fighting, and creating than mindlessly breeding animals and cultivating wheat. And making cooked chicken? Why not just farm it automatically? 

Though farming is a necessary part of Minecraft since it supplies you with the food needed to survive, wouldn't it be nice if you could farm without all the wasted effort? With this automatic cooked chicken farm, you can do exactly that.

How to Build an Automatic Cooked Chicken Farm in Minecraft

The rate at which this automatic farm produces cooked chicken is 1.64 pieces per chicken per hour on average. With 100 chickens in the machine, you should never have to worry about food again. The machine is fairly cheap, requiring the following items:

  • One chest
  • Two hoppers
  • One dispenser
  • One redstone comparator
  • One piece of redstone dust
  • 14 glass blocks
  • Three solid building blocks
  • One slab
  • Chickens

To begin, create the base of the farm as pictured below. The chest will be the collection point of the food, so start with that.

You're going to want a hopper behind the chest, leading into it, with a half-slab above it. Make sure this slab is not made of flammable material, as you will be adding lava shortly. Items that fall onto this slab will get sucked through it into the hopper, collecting the chicken.

Next, place the dispenser facing toward the slab, with a hopper above it, and three blocks behind it in a chevron shape.

Place your comparator so it leads out of the hopper into the solid block. Then place your lone redstone dust on the lower solid block. Any time a chicken lays an egg in the hopper up top, the comparator will carry a pulse to the dispenser and fire the egg (it actually fires the previous egg, but same difference).

There is a 1/8 chance that a baby chicken will hatch and appear on top of the slab, and adult chickens lay eggs once every five minutes on average. You're also going to want to surround the upper hopper with glass, so the chickens can't escape.

Similarly, encase the slab with two-high glass walls as well, but place a lava block on the block above the slab. It should float in place with a half-block of air beneath it. Because you are using glass, a transparent block, the chest should still be able to be opened.

Baby chickens are only 0.4 blocks tall, so they can safely stand on the slab without being burned, but after 20 minutes, they will grow into an adult chicken (0.7 blocks tall) and will get instantly killed by the lava. When an adult chicken is incinerated, they will drop a single piece of already-cooked chicken.

Finally, it's time to load your machine up with chickens. The best way to go about this would be to drag two chickens straight up into the upper compartment with leads and start breeding.

This is a bit tedious, as chickens can only breed once every five minutes, but the rate of breeding will increase exponentially as the chicken count goes up. Alternatively, you can chuck all your spare eggs directly into the machine and hope you get lucky with some spawns. 

Another way to build up your chicken total is to set the machine to "egg mode." This can be done by sticking a lever on the side of the block next to the display and flicking it down. This will stop the dispenser from firing any more eggs, thus they will pile up in the dispenser.

You can then use these eggs to populate the upper compartment by throwing them, though you should also breed when you can. Either way, you should be able to build your chicken population up into the dozens in no time.

Once you are happy with the number of chickens you have in your machine, you can leave it to run on its own and collect the stash from the chest as you please. You don't need to tend to your chickens, nor do you need to breed them, unless you want to increase your production rate. Breeding them all will always result in a 50% increase in chickens, which means 50% more cooked chicken, so do keep that in mind.

Now you know how to build a Minecraft automatic cooked chicken farm! This machine is one of the most practical contraptions you can build, and you'll be set for life with food. For more on Minecraft, consider heading over to our huge Minecraft guides list, which includes everything from breeding Llamas to building things like a castle portcullis

Minecraft: How to Build a Working Portcullis For Your Castle Entrance Thu, 13 May 2021 16:56:27 -0400 Gavin Burtt

Home security is very important in Minecraft, so leaving the front entrance of your castle wide open overnight isn't a great idea. Security isn't all that matters, however. What's arguably more important is making your home base look cool and creative, and a portcullis entrance to your castle would do exactly that, on top of securing your fort.

Here's how to build a working portcullis for your castle entrance in Minecraft, including all of the crafting parts you'll need.  

How to Build a Portcullis Door in Minecraft

For those playing Minecraft Bedrock Edition, don't worry; this design will work for you. Redstone is notoriously buggy in Bedrock Edition, but this design opens slowly enough for it not to be an issue. Those playing on Java may be able to safely speed up the design by reducing the tick counts on the repeaters, but Bedrock users should avoid doing this.

This design is for a three-block-tall portcullis and can be up to 13 blocks wide. The guide will use a three-block-wide design for simplicity, but it can be easily expanded to fit your door size. For this three-wide contraption, you will need the following:

  • Six sticky pistons
  • 12 regular pistons
  • Nine redstone repeaters
  • Three redstone torches
  • 12 gravel blocks
  • Nine fence posts
  • Some building blocks and redstone dust

How much redstone dust you need is dependent on how far away your opening/closing buttons are. It is unlikely that you will need much more than a single stack unless your door is very wide. For every additional block wide your door is, you will need three extra fences, four extra gravel blocks, four extra regular pistons, and two extra sticky pistons.

This is how your door should be set up. The top piece of gravel in the picture below is ground-level. The fences above it are what will be pushed up to open the door. The pistons up top will need to be hidden within the upper wall of your castle if you want to hide the redstone. The bottom two rows of pistons beneath the gravel are sticky pistons, while the rest of the pistons in the design are not.

To begin, line some redstone around the bottom pistons as seen below. There are only two repeaters, which should be set up under the right-most piston of your door.

Now wire the second row of pistons, as shown in the image below. Make sure you place the repeater on top of an upside-down slab so you don't cut off the redstone wiring beneath it.

The button on the left is where your input will go. Your button will, of course, be above ground, but just make sure it is wired to a repeater that directs into this same input block.

Extending off the side of the wiring you just placed, run some redstone dust from the torch to another torch as seen below, which should invert and turn off.

Place two repeaters that run to the same line of redstone you just placed for the second row of pistons. Be careful to not miss the dust to the right of the "off" torch in this picture.

Finally, on top of the "on" torch, place another torch with some redstone dust running to the right. This dust will activate the top row of pistons. One block above this dust will be your ground level.

That is all that you need for the bottom of the contraption. Hit the button to double-check that it works. You should expect to see the fences get pushed up, and then the gravel retract back fully into the ground.

Now it's time to wire the top pistons, though these ones are much easier. You don't need to worry about them retracting, as the underground pistons will push the top pistons back into place every time you open the portcullis door, automatically.

As such, the wiring is incredibly simple. Again, this button is merely a placeholder for where your repeater input should be.

Give that button a press, and you should see the three pistons push the fences back down, closing the castle door. You should be able to see now how the bottom pistons will push those top pistons back up when the fences get pushed up.

That's it! Building a working portcullis for your castle in Minecraft is that simple. All you've got left to do is build your castle walls around the redstone to conceal it, run your buttons to the inputs, and your door is done. If you found this guide helpful, consider checking out our other Minecraft guides while you're here!

Black Skylands Preview: An Ambitious Open-World Pixel Art Adventure Tue, 04 May 2021 15:09:46 -0400 Luke Shaw

Set in a skypunk fantasy world full of airships, pirates, floating islands, and giant airborne beasts, Black Skylands is a mix of genres that manages to work despite its patchwork nature. It's an ambitious project for indie studio Hungry Coach Games, but all the ingredients for success are baked in.

We were able to go hands-on with the latest Black Skylands playstest on Steam and came away with positive impressions. Here's what we thought. 

Limitless Horizons

In Black Skylands, you play as Eva, a girl from a farming community who wants to explore the wide world beyond her Fathership, the floating paradise where she lives with her father and brother. Soon after a short segment introducing players to the game's farming and settlement building mechanics, your home is attacked by pirates and razed in front of your eyes.

You fight back, learning how to shoot enemies a la' Hotline Miami with Skylands' fun aim deviation if you spam fire. You're then introduced to the hook that drives the demo and the early game: your brother has gone off into the sky to fight the pirates on their home turf, and you'll need to take an airship out into the great beyond to find him. Taking the first steps into the sky lets you drink in the gorgeous pixel art on display.

For a demo of an Early Access game, Skylands already looks extremely polished, with flocks of fauna flying overhead as giant sky-faring whales casually float below. It's clearly far beyond your average retro-aesthetic, with lush detailing everywhere, and the only complaint is that the top-down characters are not quite as bold or instantly recognizable as they could be, which often leads to missing certain things here and there, such as important shopkeeps.

Piloting in Black Skylands is wonderfully tactile, and stocking your ammo and fuel involves grabbing crates from stores and physically carrying them to your hold. Fuel cans must be purchased, filled up, and then emptied into your ship's motor. Managing your ship's repairs feels unique, too, and operating its guns is done with the left and right mouse buttons. On top of that, you'll need to keep an eye on your firing arcs and how much fire as the guns can overheat. 

Grand Theft Airborne

Cooling overheated armaments and repairing damage to the ship can only be done by letting go of the steering wheel and manually moving to the damaged area or affected gun and expending time (and often resources from the ship's hold) to fix the issue. While aerial combat is mainly you fighting against smaller ships and propeller-suit-wearing pirates (at least so far), it can get fraught as you try and orientate your ship's firing arcs while avoiding gunfire, rockets, stationary mines, and clouds of noxious gas.

Transitioning from ship to island is achieved by diving off the deck of your ship and latching to firmament with a grappling hook. The hook is a great tool in combat, as well, letting you zip around or pull enemies in for a melee attack or close-range shotgun blast. You are equipped with a dodge roll that takes you through projectiles, allowing you to dance through bullet-hell style waves of attacks and avoiding swarming melee grunts.

There are plenty of weapons to choose from, running the gamut from pistols to shotguns to submachines, and each is fully moddable with upgrades found at vendors and in loot boxes. There are also mods to craft for your airship, and buildings you can create and upgrade back at the Fathership, which makes the game feel familiar to recent Assassin's Creed titles. 

Islands in the Sky

It may sound odd to say, but Black Skylands is very clearly trying to parrot some of the trends found in AAA open-world games, but with the kind of top-down, retro stylings that are so favored by indie studios. It sounds like an unlikely combination, but it's a good fit.

The small opening story quest ends the demo, but there is scope to carry on exploring the rest of the open world. Each island is occupied by a host of enemies, and clearing them all lets you stake a claim on the island, giving you new resource options and access to new vendors.

Black Skylands releasing in Early Access makes sense for a drip-feed of content. The map is limited right now, but there are clear plans to expand outside the demo area. The islands on offer currently present a good mix of top-down platforming, combat, and exploration with some minor secrets to find. 

With the scope it has for constructing buildings on your Fathership, upgrading you weaponry, armor, and airship, and the vast expanse of the sky to explore, there's a great foundation here. Controls are a little finicky at times, and the distance and reliability of your grappling hook take some getting used to.

It will be extremely interesting to see where the developers take Black Skylands next, especially if new challenges and sky biomes are added. This is one to keep your eye on. 

Metro Exodus Adds DLSS 2.0 and New Ray-Traced Graphics Thu, 29 Apr 2021 14:56:57 -0400 David Carcasole

In true Metro Exodus style, the latest upgrades to the game make it the best-looking version of the first-person shooter yet, as Metro Exodus will now feature NVIDIA's DLSS 2.0 technology and advanced ray-traced reflections, improved ray-traced global illumination, and ray-traced emissive lighting.  

NVIDIA has also released a new driver update to prepare PCs for the new upgrades. Players should check their GeForce app to prepare for the experience of new ray-tracing effects. 

The catch, however, with these upgrades for Metro Exodus is that they are unfortunately exclusive to specific GPUs, namely graphics cards with ray-tracing capabilities. This means only the latest cards from AMD and NVIDIA's 2000 and 3000 series cards will be able to take advantage of the upgrades. 

There's also no word as to whether support for AMD's version of DLSS, DirectML Super Resolution, will be added. For now, DLSS 2.0 support is only available for NVIDIA hardware. 

While the exclusivity for ray-tracing capable cards is unfortunate on the DLSS side, it also isn't surprising. The update will be available to all current owners of Metro Exodus but will have to be downloaded as a separate version of the game called Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, which will be available on Steam on May 6, 2021.

Cozy Grove Guide: How to Get Eggs Tue, 27 Apr 2021 11:55:51 -0400 Sergey_3847

Eggs are essential food items in Cozy Grove that are very rare. Players need to either spend a lot of money purchasing them from stores, or start an entire bird farm just to satisfy the daily egg requirement. This guide will provide with all the tips on how to get as many eggs as possible in Cozy Grove.

Eggs can also be sold and donated to Captain Billweather Snout's collection for 200 copper coins. Although eggs are more valuable as a food ingredient than the source of income, it's worth keeping in mind in case you're really strapped for cash.

Cozy Grove: How to Get Eggs

The best way to get eggs regularly in Cozy Grove is to harvest your bird pets. You will get your first bird pet after completing the quest from Charlotte Pine, the very first bear you meet in the game.

The bird will become available at Mr. Kit's Canteen shop for 250 copper coins. If you decide to purchase more birds, then each following bird will cost you 5,000 copper coins and 10x Quartz gemstones.

The bird pets will also be available for purchase at Beastly Charms & Curios shop later in the game.

You can have as many birds as you want, but you will need to be able to feed them and make them feel comfortable. Once all of their needs are met, they can be harvested for bird essence and eggs.

Harvesting Pet Birds

Before you start harvesting your birds, you need to feed them. Check them regularly. If one has an icon with a food item above it's head, then it needs to be fed.

The process is quite simple:

  1. Approach your pet bird and interact with it
  2. Select the "Feed" option from the pop-up menu
  3. Harvest it for bird essence and eggs

If there is no "Feed" option in the menu, then it means that you don't have the required food item in your inventory. In that case go to the Mr. Kit's Canteen shop and purchase the required food item.

If you were not able to harvest any eggs even after feeding a bird, it means it's uncomfortable. Try to eliminate everything from its surrounding that it doesn't like and put things around it that it does like.

Here is the complete breakdown of all things that bird pets like and dislike in Cozy Grove:

Pet Bird
Blood Bird Fruit Tree
Natural Decor
Rustic Decor
Common Items
Uncommon Items
Demon Bird Rare Items
Cozy Decor
Rustic Decor
Eerie Bird Berry Bush
Cozy Decor
Rustic Decor
Common Items
Forest Bird Potted Flower Plant
Rustic Decor
Moon Bird Lamp
Natural Decor
Placid Bird Decoration Items
Rustic Decor
Sad Bird Flowering Bush
Bustling Decor
Cozy Decor
Rustic Decor
Spectral Bird Lamp
Bustling Decor
Spooky Decor
Rustic Decor
Spirit Bird Lamp
Bustling Decor
Common Items


Purchasing From Shops

If the number of eggs produced by your bird pets isn't enough for you, then you can compensate this lack by purchasing eggs from the two possible shops in the game:

  • Mr. Kit's Canteen Shop
  • Pandam Shop

The difference is that Mr. Kit's Canteen shop sells eggs in singles for 180 copper coins each, while Pandam only sells them in bulks of six eggs that cost 648 copper coins each.

Also, Mr. Kit's Canteen shop will only be able to sell you eggs once you upgrade the shop to a "Well-Regarded" status, which costs 200,000 copper coins. This upgrade can be purchased at Luxury Store Upgrade Catalogue.

Cozy Grove: How to Use Eggs

Eggs are used in a number of cooked dishes as one of their main ingredients. Below is the complete list of all dishes in Cozy Grove that require eggs:

Cooked Dish
Boiled Egg 12x Egg
Caramel Custard 2x Fruit Jam
1x Happy Bird Essence
1x Egg
Cob Salad 6x Fancy Greens
1x Happy Bird Essence
2x Egg
Egg Salad 6x Mixed Greens
1x Spirit Bird Essence
1x Egg
Fancy Flan 2x Fruit Tincture
1x Joyous Bird Essence
2x Egg
Panna Cotta 2x Roasted Fruit
1x Spirit Bird Essence
1x Egg
Pickled Egg 1x Salt
1x Spirit Bird Essence
1x Egg
Savory Salad 6x Deluxe Greens
1x Joyous Bird Essence
2x Egg


That's all you need to know on how to get eggs in Cozy Grove. And, be sure to read our Cozy Grove official review!

Cozy Grove: How to Get and Use Dowsing Rod Fri, 16 Apr 2021 11:24:10 -0400 Sergey_3847

Economy plays a huge role in the survival aspect of Cozy Grove. One of the more interesting ways to gain profit is to retrieve relics underground, which can be found using the unique Dowsing Rod tool. Our guide will help you get and use Dowsing Rod in Cozy Grow.

You need to survive for at least your first week in the game to be able to craft Dowsing Rod. Then you will be asked to collect some ingredients, and finally you will be able to use this handy tool to find the lost treasures scattered all over the island.

Cozy Grove: How to Get Dowsing Rod

The Dowsing Rod can be obtained only on Day 6 of the main story. But before crafting this unique item you need to collect some of the required materials, such as:

  • 10x Roasted Root Vegetable
  • 10x Charred Fishbone
  • 3x Iron Ingot

Cozy Grove: How to Make Roasted Root Vegetables

There are two NPCs in the game that can help you produce Roasted Root Vegetables:

  • Francesca Duclaw (Wood Bear)
  • Flamey (Spirit)

Either of them can burn or recycle the following raw ingredients into the Roasted Root Vegetables:

Raw Ingredient
Conversion Ratio
Potato 1:3
Parsnip 1:15
Turnip 1:9
Sweet Potato 1:6
Radish 1:12


This means that one potato will yield three Roasted Root Vegetables, and one parsnip will yield 15 roots.

Cozy Grove: How to Get Charred Fishbones

This material can be obtained only through burning fish at Flamey in your camp.

Fish can be obtained by fishing (of course), which can be achieved in three simple steps:

  1. Go to your inventory menu and equip the fishing rod
  2. Aim the fishing rod at an area close to the fish in the water
  3. Wait for the fish to bite and reel it in

There are 24 types of fish in Cozy Grove, but not all of them yield the same amount of Charred Fishbone.

Here is the list of the best fish to get for the best possible conversion ration:

  • Northern Triggerfish
  • Sleeper
  • Silver Bristlemouth
  • Porgy
  • Spiteful Cusk
  • Bereft Brill
  • Icefish
  • Elder Sprat
  • Angry Salmon

Cozy Grove: How to Get Iron Ingots

This ingredient can be produced by transforming iron ore at Flamey. There are three types of iron ore in Cozy Grove:

  • Small Iron Ore
  • Medium Iron Ore
  • Large Iron Ore

Luckily enough, you will only need to find three pieces of small iron ore, which will produce the necessary three pieces of iron ingots.

Cozy Grove: How to Craft the Dowsing Rod

When you have all the ingredients, you can now talk to Jeremy Gruffle, the Maker Bear. He can be found in the northwestern part of the camp.

He will tell you about the Dowsing Rod and how it can retrieve the lost relics. Agree to his conditions and let him ask you about the ingredients.

Talk to him again to hand him the crafting materials and Jeremy Gruffle will instantly craft the tool for you.

Unfortunately, he doesn't tell you exactly how to use this tool so follow the steps listed below.

Cozy Grove: How to Use Dowsing Rod

Dowsing Rod has four modes:

  • Cold
  • Warm
  • Hot
  • X Marks the Spot!

A corresponding icon will appear above the head of your character as a tip showing you whether you're headed in the right direction. The icon will appear only when your scout stops.

In order to use Dowsing Rod you must equip it into your main inventory slot. Once you've equipped it, follow the steps below:

  1. Move around and stop after each step
  2. Move up, down, or sideways and check your icon
  3. Once you hit the Warm icon, keep moving that way
  4. Once you hit the Hot icon, look out for an X mark on the ground
  5. Approach the X mark and interact with it

If you've done everything right, then you should obtain one of the lost relics. Currently, there are 15 relics in the game:

  • Hewn Brick
  • Piece of Tile
  • Petrified Walking Stick
  • Chunk of Marble
  • Chunk of Marble
  • Teaching Parchment
  • Soldier's Boot
  • Emperor's Confession
  • Forbidden Scroll
  • Crimson Robe
  • Imperial Coin
  • Rusty Spearhead
  • Urn of Bearos
  • Shard of Crown
  • Holy Chalice

That's all you need to know on how to get and use Dowsing Rod in Cozy Grove. Also, be sure to read our Cozy Grove official review!

Neko Ghost, Jump! Set to Release in Summer, Demo Out Now Wed, 14 Apr 2021 16:49:29 -0400 Ashley Shankle

It's not often a game comes along that allows you to shift from the 2D to 3D plane, which is what the upcoming indie platformer Neko Ghost, Jump! is all about. And now you can try it out yourself with its new demo.

Platformer fans may be best familiar with shifts from 2D to 3D from Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, but in Neko Ghost, Jump! players will have to actively switch between 2D and 3D views to solve puzzles and progress through the game's eight biomes.

Why? To save Nekoman's bride-to-be from Space Dog Pirates using your plane-swapping prowess and the ability to shift from physical to ghost form, of course. And look snazzy doing it with an assortment of character customization options to unlock through gameplay.

Neko Ghost, Jump! is the product of two years of dedication, the original bones for its development team cobbled together for Epic Games' 2019 Spring #ue4jam and the game funded by a successful Kickstarter in 2020.

Try out this passion project's demo on Steam, which includes the game's first level as well as first boss to see if you like it, and look for its full release sometime this summer.

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review — Once More Unto the Basement Tue, 13 Apr 2021 12:32:43 -0400 Jordan Baranowski

The Binding of Isaac is a pretty incredible story of indie game success. Originally released in 2011, it was part of the indie roguelike boom, but its combination of seemingly limitless variations alongside its charming, scatological style and deep cut Biblical references helped it stand above the rest.

Ten years later, and The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is yet another full game-sized DLC that provides dozens more hours of this deceptively difficult bullet hell game.

Repentance doesn't add anything particularly game-altering to the formula; it's not going to win you over if you don't like this style of roguelike. What it does do, however, is add huge amounts of content to the already massive base game (and other DLCS) that is The Binding of Isaac.

On top of that, there's some even more hardcore endgame content, including a series of new, game-breaking characters to unlock. Not bad for $15.

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review

If you're totally uninitiated, let's catch you up real quick. 

The Binding of Isaac is a top-down roguelike that has some elements of old-school action and bullet hell games. Also, glancing at a few screenshots might remind you of exploring dungeons in the original Legend of Zelda. You move between rooms, collecting items and fighting enemies, eventually reaching a boss and descending to a new floor.

It's a simple concept that anyone who has played video games can learn in a hurry.

Things start to pick up with the roguelike elements. As you delve further and further, enemies and bosses get insanely difficult. You must scale yourself in order to stand a chance, and some of the combos you find throughout your runs are ridiculous. You'll put together combinations that make you practically impossible to kill, and you'll shred through even the most difficult of bosses. On other runs, a few mistimed movements mean your health will be taken down by a single foe.

On top of all that, there's a bonkers story that straddles the line between "This has to be a joke" and "Is it?" You are a child named Isaac (or one of his other Biblically named friends), and your mother is slowly driven insane. One day, when she tries to kill you, you flee into your basement. Or, maybe not. There's a ton of backstory and lore going on here, and lots of little hints at the true nature of what's happening.

Which brings us to The Binding of Isaac: Repentance. This DLC is, at its heart, taking a recent fan mod and sprucing it up for an official release. The big draw here is the endgame content: there is a new "official" final area, including new bosses and endings. There are also two brand new characters and a "tainted" variation of every character in the game, many of which offer completely new playstyles and wildly powerful abilities.

Essentially, Repentance brings the game's playable character count up to nearly three dozen.

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance also completely reworks co op mode. Instead of additional players joining as the co op "babies" from previous versions, Repentance allows up to four people to join in as actual characters. This changes The Binding of Isaac in a huge way, and the screen becomes extremely chaotic.

Finally, there's just more of everything: over 100 new items and enemies, new bosses, new environments, new challenges, achievements... there is a ton of new stuff in Repentance.

That's always been the joy of The Binding of Isaac, though. There is so dang much that even after hundreds of hours of play, you're likely to find new combinations and interactions, unlock new items, and find new ways to slam your head down in frustration after dying during a particularly late-game boss. Things are made even more unfair in Repentance, but the fun comes in finding your own perfect builds to counter the game's steep challenge.

Luckily, not everything new in Repentance is confined to the late game. You start encountering new enemies and environments from the very beginning, though getting to most of those new playable characters takes some serious slaying skills. Unlocking tainted characters and successfully challenging the new final bosses is no easy feat and should provide a challenge to even the savviest of Isaac fans.

It isn't hard to recommend Repentance to anyone: hardcore fans of The Binding of Isaac probably are already sweeping through it. If you've never played Isaac or it's been sitting dormant in your library for a while, grabbing some new DLC and giving it a whirl will suck you right in. 

For $15, you'll add dozens of more hours to an already spectacular game. What's not to love?

The Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC Review —The Bottom Line


  • Great endgame content
  • Tons of new characters are a challenge to unlock and offer new twists
  • New elements are scattered throughout, giving new enemies and items in even the earliest areas
  • New challenges and co-op offer variations to tackle


  • Ultimately, it's just more. If you didn't already like The Binding of IsaacRepentance isn't going to change your mind
  • Much of the biggest surprises are extremely late game  a large chunk of players won't ever reach it

Reviewing something like Repentance is difficult: it's just more content for an already great and long-lived title. Maybe the reworked co op is a draw for some that otherwise wouldn't give it a second look, but that's about it.

That said, The Binding of Isaac: Repentance is more of a good thing, and we all know that's generally what we want from a roguelike. It's a no-brainer if you're already a fan. If you've already moved on from Isaac, your mileage may vary.

[Note: The reviewer purchased the copy of The Binding of Isaac: Repentance used for this review. GameSkinny provided reimbursement.]

Cozy Grove Review: Animals Crossing Over Thu, 08 Apr 2021 14:07:34 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Cozy Grove is unabashedly made to be Animal Crossing-like, more so than any game out there. You’re a young Spirit Scout who accidentally finds herself trapped on the very peculiar island of Cozy Grove full of character, delight, and ghosts bears. Lots of ghost bears.

If you took Animal Crossing and just indie’d the hell out of it, you’d get Cozy Grove. Made by the Quantum Astrophysicists Guild and Spry Fox, it’s a game that shares the developers’ distinctive aesthetics.

Spry Fox is perhaps most notable for Triple Town, which several years post-launch is still easily one of the greatest match-3 games ever made. It mixes matching with town-building, and most importantly, displays the developer's love of bears that has lingered through most of their games.

Cozy Grove Review: Animals Crossing Over

In Cozy Grove, however, that bear love is kicked up a notch. Here, the bears are fully fleshed out, if ghostly, characters with distinctive and endearing personalities, problems, and drives. As a spirit scout, it’s your duty to help them along to the other side. On the most basic level, this involves much of the same tasks that make up the bulk of Animal Crossing. You go around the island every day looking for things.

You dig holes, shake up leaf piles, chip at rocks, go fishing, and shake trees to find resources, money, food, and other items. Resources can be made into tools, which can be upgraded with more resources. You can build all sorts of amenities to make the island more pleasant for the ghosts, flora and fauna, and yourself.

Fencing, lamps, lanterns, tables, chairs, and scads of other items, both useful and odd, can be created. Metal ore can be refined. Raw foods can be cooked into recipes. Sticks and various woods are used for all kinds of inventions. In short, the game plays nearly identically to Animal Crossing but feels much more narratively driven. 

Cozy Grove reveals new sections of its island as you help the spirits, but this is a set world. While items and creatures that pop up each day might be random, the story beats and overall landscape are pre-determined. This is definitely on a smaller-scale compared to Nintendo’s version, but players should still expect to get weeks worth of gameplay out of it.

This is because, much like Animal Crossing, only so many things happen on any given day. A bear might request something that requires multiple ingredients and recipes, for instance, that could take several days to gather. Some of those elements could even be only accessible after helping another bear. New holes to dig up, leaf piles to check, and other hidden goodies appear every day and often throughout the day.

Then, there’s fishing. This being an island, the tides bring in a variety of fish rated from common to rare. There are shells to collect on the beaches, fruits and nuts to gather around trees, mushrooms, spuds, and plenty of other food-specific things that can be sold, cooked, used raw, and combined to make other dishes. 

The vendor on Cozy Grove is a large fox who magically appears and sets up his caravan. He takes coins and gems, depending on what you’re buying, and offers an array of items. You can also sell him things and upgrade his shop for enough money, which is found both by searching the island each day and helping spirits. When you help a bear, they add more light to their area, which increases the yields of fruiting trees (among other perks) and usually results in more coins.

There are smaller spirits and imps running around the island who tend to flee at the sight of you, but also frequently need something (which appears as a thought bubble above their head). So, if one wants a potato, you can throw the spud at it, whereupon it will gleefully leap at the potato and gobble it up, yielding further rewards. 

There’s a hilariously bleak postmaster who gives you mail and tasks every day, a chef bear, builder bear, hippie recycling bear, and plenty of other endearingly strange denizens of the island. The goal is ultimately to uncover Cozy Grove’s history by helping them over the course of weeks and there is, strictly speaking, a story ending, but you can keep going after as well.

An important aspect of helping bears is that they give you spirit wood, which you feed to your talking, sentient campfire. This increases the fire’s glowing powers, unlocks more of the island and ghosts, and generally serves as the main goal for pushing the story forward. There are only so many potential logs you can get on any given day and the fire will tell you when you’ve found them all that day.

Cozy Grove is distinctive for its beautiful hand-drawn visual style and lovely, calming soundtrack. The game is absurdly charming, with its adorable cast and landscape designs, but the story itself offers a deep layer of complex and frequently darker themes. These bears are lingering here because their lives were unfulfilled in some major way, and revealing their backstories is incredibly satisfying.

Another major advantage is that Cozy Grove is cross-platform. So, players on PC, Xbox One, Series X|S, PS4, PS5, and Switch can all experience the distinctive Animal Crossing-like gameplay on their preferred platform. Sadly, there’s no cross-save.

Cozy Grove Review — The Bottom Line


  • Lovely hand-drawn art style and soothing ambient soundtrack
  • Fascinating characters with surprisingly deep stories pushes the gameplay along
  • Things to do every day and reasons to come back the next day
  • A more intimate and personally engaging take on Animal Crossing
  • Cross-platform!


  • Gameplay is definitely blatantly copying the overall Animal Crossing mechanics
  • Nowhere near the extensive level of building and customization of Nintendo’s AAA-beast
  • No cross-save to play your island on multiple platforms

If you’ve played Animal Crossing, Cozy Grove will feel instantly familiar. It leans heavily into that strange daily life of hunting and gathering-meets-personalized decor style gameplay.

There’s no major earthmoving or huge home construction, true, but instead, players are given an island sandbox where the gameplay is tied far more heavily into a personally meaningful narrative.

[Note: Spry Fox provided the copy of Cozy Grove used for this review.]

Stellaris: Nemesis Expansion Lights Up the Sky on April 15 Mon, 15 Mar 2021 13:29:23 -0400 Ashley Shankle

It can take hundreds of hours to get tired of Stellaris even in its base form, but Paradox Interactive have kept the game interesting over all these years with regular expansions and DLC releases. Over the weekend, the publisher announced the fifth expansion coming to the critically acclaimed grand strategy, titled Stellaris: Nemesis.

Adding a whole new tactical level to the game, Stellaris: Nemesis will bring with it the ability to foster and become a new galaxy-threatening menace or to lead the charge in defending against it.

Nemesis will allow players to campaign for the role of Galactic Custodian, which has the power to give orders and directly combat the crisis at late-game, traditionally an AI empire hellbent on dominating all in its path and eradicating the galaxy as it's known.

Players won't have to necessarily take this path of righteousness, however. Instead, they can take on objectives to hurry along the crisis and eventually become the head of the menace themselves.

Along with both these new over-arching features comes a new espionage system, not unlike that seen in other grand strategy and even 4X titles. There's even a brand new set of ships to feel like an absolute destroyer of worlds when taken into battle.

Nemesis is scheduled for release on April 15, and fans can be sure it will add a whole new depth to the endgame tribulations generally struggled with in Stellaris.

This wasn't the only announcement for fans Stellaris over the weekend, either.

Console players will be receiving the Lithoid Species Pack DLC on April 25, alongside the free 2.6 update to the game that rewords its economic systems.

Additionally, the board game based on the video game, Stellaris Infinite Legacy, reached its funding goal in an astounding 15 minutes! It's a long ways off, but you can pre-order by pledging toward its Kickstarter.

Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition Brings Host of DLC to Consoles Fri, 05 Mar 2021 14:32:12 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Two Point Hospital has gotten quite a few expansions and item pack releases on PC, but only a small handful of its post-release content had made it to console until today with the release of Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition.

JUMBO Edition is now out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch and includes four of the game's expansions, as well as two item packs for new players to add some variety to their hospital management endeavors.

The expansions included in Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition are Bigfoot, Pebberley Island, Close Encounters, and Off The Grid — all four bringing new features and mechanics to get the hang of. The two item packs included are the Retro Items Pack and the Exhibition Items Pack.

Those who purchased Two Point Hospital before this release will finally be able to buy the expansions and the two item packs off their platform's respective storefront. However, both previous owners and newcomers with JUMBO Edition will be receiving two free updates to the game as well: Remix, which adds additional goals and conditions, and Room Templates, which makes building multiple rooms a much less frustrating endeavor.

Two Point Hospital recently received a new DLC titled A Stitch in Time on PC, adding new 13 new illnesses and new levels to play through.

For console players, this is probably the best time to hop into the game with the Two Point Hospital: JUMBO Edition considering the amount of content included in the package, and it is also available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X via the platforms' backwards compatibility features. 

We loved Two Point Hospital on PC, giving the game a perfect 10/10 for its addictive gameplay and faithfulness to its predecessor, Theme Hospital

Stardew Valley: How to Catch Midnight Carp Thu, 25 Feb 2021 15:56:04 -0500 Ashley Shankle

One of Stardew Valley's more elusive fish, the Midnight Carp, can come up sometimes as a request at the Help Wanted board. But most players simply seek this purple finned friend for completionist reasons. Either way, you may be wondering how to catch it. 

Stardew Valley: How to Catch Midnight Carp

The Midnight Carp is a Fall through Winter fish that is only available late at night. Though it is possible to catch it using the Fiberglass Rod, using the Iridium Rod makes catching it easier. Because of that it may be better sought by players who have increased their Fishing proficiency to at least Level 6.

The general specifics to catch the Midnight Carp are as follows:

  • Available through Fall and Winter
  • Can be caught from 10 PM to 2 AM
  • An all-weather fish
  • Found in the forest pond, mountain lake, in the pond or river on Ginger Island, or even in the water on your farm if you're using a farm layout with freshwater

These locations are outlined in the following maps, but the Midnight Carp can be caught in the river on the north side of Ginger Island as well.

You can place Midnight Carp in your farm's Fish Pond to get Midnight Carp Roe, though it doesn't boast any particular benefits or command an especially high price. That said, the fish itself is used in the recipe for Seafoam Pudding, which is received at Fishing proficiency level 9.

This is about all you need to know about the Midnight Carp, which has a bit of an odd time of day to catch but doesn't provide a huge challenge once it's on the line. If this guide helped you out, consider checking out our other Stardew Valley guides here on GameSkinny!

Stardew Valley: How to Make Truffle Oil Wed, 24 Feb 2021 16:59:08 -0500 Ashley Shankle

There aren't a ton of uses for Truffle Oil in Stardew Valley, the two most obvious being the quest Mayor Lewis gives you in Summer of the second year and the oil being a potential turn-in for the Artisan Bundle. Whichever purpose you need it for, you'll have to learn how to make Truffle Oil yourself.

Stardew Valley: How to Make Truffle Oil

As with other Artisan Goods, you'll need to first craft a station to make Truffle Oil. That's the Oil Maker.

The recipe for Truffle Oil is really just the item itself: One Truffle Oil only requires one Truffle to be made. Making it is really quite easy, but getting the Truffle might be more of a problem.

Stardew Valley: How to Craft an Oil Maker

Once you reach farming Level 8, you will be able to craft your own Oil Maker in the crafting menu. For that, you'll need:

  • 50 Slime
  • 20 Hardwood
  • 1 Gold Bar

After you've made it, place it on your farm and get ready to make some oil! Well, if you've got a Truffle anyway.

How to Get Truffles

It might come as a surprise, but Truffles are spawned from Pigs when they're let outside. Pigs cost 16,000 gold and require you have the Deluxe Barn built, which is a considerable investment as it is the second upgrade to the Barn.

It takes 10 days for a Pig to mature, after which it will start to sniff out Truffles on your property as long as it's fed and has clean areas to walk.

Getting Pigs, and ultimately Truffles, is not necessarily an early-game goal which is presumably why Mayor Lewis doesn't ask for the Truffle Oil until the middle of Year 2.

That's it for all you need to know about making Truffle Oil in Stardew Valley. Check out our other Stardew Valley guides here on GameSkinny.

Skul: The Hero Slayer Legendary Skull Guide Mon, 15 Feb 2021 11:01:32 -0500 John Schutt

Making your way to the final boss in Skul: The Hero Slayer will see you trying the game’s many different skulls, giving you access to new abilities and upgrade paths. The best are of Legendary rarity, and all have the potential for immense damage and survivability. The problem is gathering the materials to improve lower rarity ones or being lucky enough for the pure Legendaries to appear.

This guide is all about getting your hands on every Legendary variant in the game and which ones you should focus on if you want the easiest time slaying every hero in your path.

How to Get Legendary Skulls

There are two types of Legendaries: the upgrade kind and the pure kind.

The upgrade version is exactly as it sounds: you have to spend bone fragments to improve your skull to the maximum rarity. You can only get pure Legendaries out of the random bone pile at the end of green-door rooms.

How long it takes to upgrade to Legendary depends on its rarity when you acquire it. After all, they don’t just come in Common and Legendary variants. There are Rare and Unique versions, as well.

Here's how many bone fragments it takes to upgrade these varieties: 

  • Common (140)
  • Rare (130)
  • Unique (100)

Whenever you come across one you don’t want, you have the option to destroy it for a set number of fragments:

  • Common (5)
  • Rare (11)
  • Unique (23)
  • Legendary (44)

You’ll know which will drop depending on the visuals of the bone pile.

Common ones drop from a small, unimpressive mound. Rare ones are larger and lack the Common pile’s helmeted skull. Unique ones come from a large bone pile with a single standing skeleton. Legendary heads are in a huge pile, with a skeleton crucifix on top.

If you’re set on improving a Common version all the way, you’ll forego certain options in favor of fragment farming. As we talked about in our Skul tips guide, you want to focus on a single damage type. You're better suited destroying magic skulls on a physical damage run even if they would otherwise be solid choices.

As hard as it might be to dismantle a Grim Reaper, it's better to have the fragments and assure the upgrade than waste your build to have a shiny new Legendary that does no damage.

Free the Harpy Warrior Prisoner

Also, be on the lookout for the Harpy Warrior prisoner. She has long silver hair with a red and black outfit and gives between 20 and 30 fragments if released from captivity. You don’t even need to clear the room to acquire the Harpy fragments. Just break her cell and talk to her for the easiest upgrade materials in the game.

The Best Legendary Skulls in Skul: The Hero Slayer

You know what you want your build to be. You’re ready to gather the fragments. Your only choice now is which Legendary do you want?

These are the best-in-class Legendaries for each rarity regardless of damage type. I’m basing these choices on two primary factors: room-clearing efficiency and boss damage output. You’ll need both to survive through all five worlds and make it to the final encounter with enough health to succeed.

Common: Werewolf

The Werewolf starts this list because it has a strong suite of abilities and, if you get the right combination at Legendary, you can clear entire rooms in seconds without taking a single hit. The real winner here is the dash attack with up to three uses when fully charged.

If you’ve taken your physical damage to its maximum, the entire first level, including the boss, is a cakewalk. Even if Werewolf comes with its close-range abilities, it’s still a force to be reckoned with because of its speed and raw damage output potential.

Rare: Rider

If there’s any ability that puts Rider above the rest, it’s Hell Bike. It deals physical damage, but when it comes to clearing entire rooms in seconds, it makes almost every other ability in the game look inefficient. Some of the Unique and Legendary powers aren’t as immediately effective, even if they are technically safer.

That's because Hell Bike lasts about 10 seconds, sends you across the screen at high speeds, pushes back and staggers smaller enemies, and deals damage to everything it hits. You can make it to and from both ends of the largest rooms and have time to spare.

If you can control the ability, Hell Bike can also deal massive damage to bosses, even if dodging attacks are a little awkward.

Hell Bike is good enough on its own, but if you want a good chunk of fire-and-forget DPS, pair the bike with Flame Boots, which leaves a trail of magic fire behind for about five seconds. One use of the two abilities can melt both phases of the first world’s boss. Later worlds take a little more effort, but taking Rider to Legendary only makes these two abilities more powerful.

Unique: Predator

Every Unique type has its benefits, and unless you’re going for a specific build, all of them can turn a run on its head. This choice came down to Predator and Great Warlock. Still, ultimately I settled on Predator because while Great Warlock is technically better at clearing rooms, activating any of its powers leaves you vulnerable.

Predator also puts you in danger, since it's physical damage focused. However, because you can control how your attacks function, you have more freedom to get out of danger. Predator also deals more damage in less time over more attacks, meaning your build can revolve around physical damage and attack-based upgrade items.

Lastly, Predator’s swap ability affects every enemy on screen, slowing them and giving you a chance to reposition as necessary. The utility there is unquestionably best-in-class.

Legendary: Grim Reaper

Surprising no one, Grim Reaper is the top choice of pure Legendary. There’s no bad ability combo, though if you can combo Harvest with Sentence, you’ll have a full screen-clear and a mop-up attack on the same character. Add in the seeking orbs spawned by dead enemies, and you’ve got damage to spare.

Grim Reaper’s attacks also have a long reach. As a Magic-user, damage output is one of the highest you’ll find, and several of its abilities, including its swap, leave it invulnerable for a time. You have both the ability to deal death while having some “Get out of jail free” cards up your sleeve.

Also, Grim Reaper looks cool. Which is always nice.

There are optimal options when it comes to Legendary shells, but don’t be fooled. Get your hands on any of them, and you’ll have a strong chance at making your way deep into a run. That's how to get legendary skulls and some of the best variants across types in the game. What are your favorite combos? Let us know in the comments below!

Prison Architect Going Green Review: To Greener Pastures Fri, 12 Feb 2021 16:07:00 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Farming and general agriculture is a typical facet of the management sim genre at large, but it was never something the playerbase expected from Prison Architect outside of the modding community.

Prison Architect: Going Green defies that expectation, giving wardens the ability to put their prisoners to work in the fields to feed the compound and even export crops out to bring money in for the prison. Of course, having them toil in the fields brings new places for prisoners to cause trouble, as well as new contraband for you to deal with. (Surprise: They really want to make moonshine.)

Prison Architect Going Green Review: To Greener Pastures


The idea of farm work is novel within the confines of Prison Architect, considering the holistic nature of the job compared to the other means of employment the game's prisoners had available previously. Though you are certainly free to instead just hire farmers to do the job and make your prisoners watch from the sidelines — because why not!

Having your prisoners work the fields in Going Green isn't too different from assigning them to other jobs, though the same cannot be said for getting solar power up and running.

Hooking up and using a solar power system requires solar panels, batteries, a transformer, and a power export meter should you want to export excess power for cold hard cash. It's a tempting route to take, but you may want to supplement it with the traditional power station just in case.

At the time of writing, there are a number of bugs related to the game's new solar energy system that can be particularly cumbersome, especially when trying to move the new solar-related facilities around once they are set. There are plenty more besides those, though.

A patch is being released soon that will hopefully sort these and a number of other newly-introduced bugs out, but it is something to bear in mind before purchase as some of these new bugs are so prevalent they do diminish even my enjoyment of the expansion for the time being.

Going Green was released concurrently with an update to the base game, The Glasshouse. The update brought a number of quality of life improvements to the UI, particularly in regards to the building menus. I have to say it's more than welcome considering all that was added with the expansion, and noteworthy whether you dive into Going Green or not.

This is the second Prison Architect expansion to be released after Paradox Interactive took over the game's publishing and Double Even as its developer. Those that were disappointed with the first expansion, Island Bound, will find much more to love here with Going Green despite the bugs in the expansion's initial build.

Prison Architect: Going Green Review — The Bottom Line


  • Laying out fields and getting prisoners to work on them is just what the game needed
  • Prisoners' illicit use of the fields and their yields adds some fun challenge
  • New methods of bringing in cash to a prison are always welcome
  • Lots of new ways to spruce your prisons up


  • At the time of writing, there are a lot of frequent bugs
  • Some concepts come straight from a particular mod

Going Green has a great deal going for it despite its current problems. The addition of solar power is a nice touch, but the real meat to this expansion is the ability to work up essentially a farming prison colony and darn it! — it's fun.

That all said, the bugs are not to be ignored and neither is the presence of a certain mod on the workshop that adds farming to the game without the monetary investment. Prison Architect: Going Green adds much more than that mod, though, and ultimately is worth it if you're really trying to add more depth to your time with Prison Architect.

[Note: Paradox Interactive provided the copy of Prison Architect: Going Green used for this review.]