If you saw our article on games we're most looking forward to for 2021, you may have noticed the gorgeous Balan Wonderland on my list. The game is set to release on March 26th, but SQUARE ENIX announced today that there will be a free demo available Thursday Jan. 28th, on PS5, PS4, Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Steam.
If you haven't read up much on the game yet, allow me to paint a quick word picture. The story takes place across 12 different worlds, each world acting as its own story and being comprised of several different acts. Within each of these acts, players will find costumes that will grant them unique capabilities and powers. Utilizing this varied approach, the demo aims to sample across the wide variety by allowing characters to play 2 acts and the boss battle of the first world, while also trying 1 act each of worlds 4 and 6.
Along with being able to try out several different worlds, the demo will enable players to test out the local co-op mode. Co-op mode will enable players to combine their abilities and grant access to paths that are unavailable to solo players.
If you want to know more about any of the worlds available in the demo keep reading below.
Normally, starting off dialogue with a Jack Skellington lookalike (his name is "Y'aak," for heaven's sake) and dropping a cutesy emo Death protagonist in the middle of the screen isn't something that would warrant my attention. But the character design and especially the environments in Shattered – Tale of the Forgotten King look kinda dope.
Our main character here has a Darksiders meets Journey kind of vibe, has a little skeleton bro riding piggyback, a body-pillow-length sword on his lower back, and a double jump to die for. The low-poly art that makes up the level design contrasts nicely with the thin-lined menu art, coming off like a raggedy Stussy S art style that I dig. Reminds me of Ashen, a game I desperately tried and failed to get into.
Shattered, dash, needlessly long subtitle, is from newcomer Redlock Studio. Not certain how polished everything feels, gameplay-wise, with it taking its first tentative steps into Steam Early Access as of January 17. Also, Redlock Studio will be adding more and more areas to hack and slash through; there are a few areas, foes, and NPCs to be introduced and worked on. Looks like Shattered could end up being a decent boss rush, though. Just have to be okay with a ping-pong-ball-headed mentor/buddy living in a world of gently clashing brush strokes.
So to follow up on my last Fall Guys post, the introduction of Doom costumes, I've did jump back in because the lure of the Slayer in a game about bumbling jellybeans was just too much for me to resist. During my week back, there was an in-game pop-up to let me know that there are also some Amazon Prime rewards available as well. The problem is, the pop up just says "go to settings and add your details," and I did that, but my rewards never popped...
The reality is you need to do more than just go to settings, which is not at all clear in-game, and hopefully this post will clear that up if, like me, you're a little confused by this. You do need to connect your account in the settings in the Fall Guys game, but step 2 is to go to the Amazon page for the game and hit the "Claim Now" for the reward: https://gaming.amazon.com/loot/fallguys
Now the Amazon page is going to tell you to go back to the settings, it's really a poorly communicated process, just be sure you do both the set up in the game settings and the claim on the Amazon webpage.
As for the rewards, you get the new Slushie Bear costume and 6500 Kudos. Kudos are like in-game currency, but not the best kind. You can buy a lot of normal items and skins with the Kudos but the best stuff is either locked behind micro-transactions or needed to be bought with crowns which you either earn by winning a match or by progressing in the given season.
Enjoy the Kudos and consume and don't forget to keep an eye on Amazon Gaming for other rewards in games like Apex Legends, Roblox, Grand Theft Auto Online, League of Legends and more.
Kingdoms of Amalur got a very bad rap when it first released. While a lot of the coverage of the game was wrapped up in the legal shenanigans of original development house 38 Studios (and its owner, Curt Schilling), a lot of folks lost track of the fact that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is a very cool game.
Luckily, the franchise-gobbling folks at THQ Nordic have gotten their hands on the game, and have been dropping a remaster of the original title (along with all the DLC) on just about every platform out there. Next up is the Nintendo Switch, which will receive Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning: Remastered on March 16, 2021.
Regardless of the swirling mess that accompanied it's original release, Kingdoms of Amalur is an amazing title with a ridiculous pedigree. "From the minds of the bestselling author R.A. Salvatore, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston, comes Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. Remastered with stunning visuals and refined gameplay Re-Reckoning delivers intense, customizable RPG combat inside a sprawling game world. Uncover the secrets of Amalur, from the vibrant city of Rathir to the vast region of Dalentarth to the grim dungeons of the Brigand Hall Caverns. Rescue a world torn apart by a vicious war and control the keys to immortality as the first warrior ever to be resurrected from the grips of death."
If you've never given this game a shot, this is your chance to get in on one of the biggest, most-immersive open world RPGs out there. This game is enormous, so set aside a few weeks for it.
THQ has also announced that the Kingdoms of Amalur franchise will continue, with a new expansion - Fatesworn - coming later this year.
Modus Games today announced that its upcoming JRPG Cris Tales will be receiving a limited run Collector's Edition, which is now available for fans to pre-order through the Maximum Games Store.
I've played several hours of Cris Tales for a preview, and it is one of my most anticipated games for 2021. While at its core, Cris Tales is a JRPG, Cris Tales eschews the genre's usual anime trappings for a beautiful and unique animation style, drenched in visuals and culture drawn from developer Dreams Uncorporated's Columbian background. This focus on Colombian art, design, and culture makes Cris Tales feel completely unique in the video game market. Filtering JRPG gameplay through this rich cultural lens leaves Cris Tales feeling like nothing we’ve ever seen before in gaming – something utterly original, surprising and beautiful.
Cris Tales puts players in the role of Crisbell, a young woman with the ability to slip between time periods. This allows players to see environments as they exist in three different times, all simultaneously. The effect in motion is incredible, and allows for some unique and original gameplay concepts to be implemented. This game is a stunner, in all the right ways.
The Collector's Edition is available for Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S (via Smart Delivery). Retailing for $99.99, you will receive the following:
Cris Tales is scheduled to release in early 2021, though no specific date has been set. In addition to the platforms listed above, Cris Tales will be available on Google Stadia.
Ubisoft recently released a patch for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, addressing a lengthy list of issues. However, according to one particularly popular Reddit thread (and personal experience), it also introduced a new bug that randomly inhibits character speaking animations. Instead of forming words, character faces exhibit a blank stare during conversations.
From what I can tell, there isn't any rhyme or reason to the bug -- it just filters in and out at times. It doesn't ruin the experience in my opinion (you can still hear the audio), but it's a little distracting.
Valhalla is a massive game, so a few bugs are expected. The biggest issue to me (which I still experience) is when Valhalla inexplicably stops auto-saving progress. I've spent a healthy 80 hours exploring Norway, England, and the realm of Asgard -- but I've lost about 10 of those hours due to this save bug. There's something soul-crushing about redoing missions and such.
I misjudged Valhalla at first and now thoroughly enjoy it, but such a crippling bug isn't acceptable.
Fingers crossed that these issues are fixed soon.
Dead Cells is set for some exciting news over the latter half of this month. The game is adding its second DLC, Fatal Falls, on the 26th, and is backing up this launch with some big deals.
To help celebrate the DLC release, it is being accompanied by the Dead Cells: The Fatal Seed Bundle. This bundle targets those who are new to the game offering up the base game, with all of its updates and the 2 paid DLC. All of these offerings are looking at sizeable discounts later this month that see the base game being discounted at 50% off, while the bundle is marked down 33%, and the first DLC, The Bad Seed, marked down 30%. The date for these sales will vary a little depending on what platform you're playing on so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
Since Dead Cells debut in 2017, this will be the 22nd update to the game, and will come with 2 new biomes, some very cool new weapons, and a new entourage of enemies to slay. The biomes, The Fractured Shrines and The Undying Shores, are intended to spice up your mid game run a little bit adding some variety to runs that may have gone through Stilt Village or Clock Tower.
Did I mention the flying sword? Have I really made it this far without mentioning the flying sword? One of the seven new weapons introduced, the new maniacal sword, does in fact fly and it looks great. Alongside the sword players will be able to test out new scythes that will follow you around, as well as a variety of other weapons designed to help with the new biomes. These new weapons, partnered with 10 new outfits provide new looks to don while facing off against 8 new enemies as well as one new final boss, The Scarecrow and his exploding mushrooms. Take a look at the trailer below for a preview of all of these updates.
I am, and have always been, a giant supporter of PlayStation VR. The very night Sony's new VR accessory/system went on sale, I woke up at midnight to click the "Buy" button on Amazon with no regrets. I've always said that if VR ever became a reality I would be first in line. My shiny new VR system was waiting on my porch for me when I got home from work on launch day. This was well before I was writing about games on a professional level, and indeed my first published review was for Ubisoft's Eagle Flight on a now-defunct PSVR site.
Over my time at Gaming Nexus, and during my extended stint at PSU.com, I became the "PSVR Guy", reviewing almost every major release (and a mountain of smaller indies) on the system. I wore through my first PSVR's power supply and had to buy a second unit, after searching in vain for someone to repair the first. I spent hours, days in Sony's headset, comparing it when asked to "having an amusement park in your house". I love VR games, in particular the ones that let me hang out with distant friends and family in online virtual environments. PSVR suited me just fine, for a long, long time.
But after July 2020's release of the glorious PSVR version of Pistol Whip, requests to review PSVR games simply dried up and turned to dust. I have not been offered a single PSVR game for review since August, and my attempts to actively go seek out games out to review have been met with the sound of sad, lonely crickets. The other day I went to the PlayStation Store to check to see if any games had snuck to market without me noticing, and was shocked to find that the PlayStation VR header is completely gone from the store. There's no way to find PSVR games all together in one place anymore, let alone browse through a committed "What's New on PSVR" section.
It's true that Hitman 3 is scheduled to be released on PSVR in late January, but that feels very much like the last hurrah of the system before Sony bails on the VR space entirely. In an October 2020 interview with The Washington Post, Sony Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan commented that "I think we’re more than a few minutes from the future of VR. PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that. And we’re very pleased with all the experience that we’ve gained with PlayStation VR, and we look forwarding to seeing where that takes us in the future."
Which sounds to me like PlayStation VR is dead as a doornail, and it isn't coming back any time soon, if at all.
I still went through the motions, ordering my camera adaptor to hook PSVR to PlayStation 5. It's still sitting in the mailer packaging on my dresser. Turns out, there's no real reason to hook it up. I played all the games that I own on PSVR extensively for review. I'm done with them, and there's nothing new on the market for me to play. After all the time I spent daydreaming about how Sony's next system would clean up the sometimes shady visuals on PSVR games, I haven't bothered to try it out. It just feels that - like the Vita before it - Sony has bailed on a viable system that still had a lot of life left in it. My PSVR sits in a basket in the corner of my living room, collecting dust along with the hated Move Controllers needed to play on it.
It seems that development for PSVR is over. I can only imagine that most of the development houses that were working on PSVR games (that hadn't already signed contracts with Sony) have pivoted over to Facebook's Oculus Quest 2, which is suddenly the most viable VR system on the market. So that's where I'm going, as awful as it feels.
I'll be frank here. Giving Facebook any money for anything ever is utterly abhorrent to me. I long ago deleted my Facebook account. Beyond being horrified by their policies and politics, I find being on Facebook to be tiring and soul-crushing. After enjoying the wild-west first years of Facebook's rise to power, reconnecting with old friends and long-lost relatives, I eventually grew weary of keeping tabs on all these people. I started realizing that people move in and out of your life for a reason; you aren't supposed to know everyone you've ever met forever. I just didn't have enough bandwidth to pay attention. So after a few false starts, I bailed on Facebook for good and deleted my account.
But last week, I found myself opening a new Facebook account, much to my chagrin. Because Facebook forces Oculus users to have a Facebook account to buy and manage their games, and I really, really miss playing VR games. I don't have a PC powerful enough to run VR games (a fact that I am attempting to rectify), so I really relied on the PlayStation 4's (admittedly limited) power to fuel my virtual worlds. But now I need something stand-alone, and the Oculus Quest 2 is simply the best option on the market.
The Quest has the most games available, the best support, and the brightest future. Knowing that spending money on any VR system at all is risky, the Oculus Quest 2 simply seems like the best gamble, even if it means selling my soul to the devil and letting Facebook back into my house after an extended period of being Facebook-free.
But in our current world situation, I rely on VR to get me out of my house a little bit. I want to be able to once again explore other environments, taking a break from the walls of my house to virtually get outside a little bit. I love crawling virtual dungeons and haunted houses, and it's clear that PSVR just isn't going to do it for me anymore.
So here I am, forking over a decent pile of money to the evil empire so that I can play VR MMOs and space shooters. To say that I'm conflicted about it is an understatement. But despite my regrets, I'm still pretty excited to get my hands on some new tech; that's just the geek in me. And I'm pretty jazzed to rid myself of PSVR's cumbersome web of wires. I'm excited for the day my Quest 2 arrives; I like unpacking boxes with new gadgets in them. And in the end, I'm sure I'll have a ton of fun with my new Oculus Quest 2. VR is wicked awesome, after all. And maybe I'll be so delighted with my new Quest 2 that I'll tell my two Facebook friends all about it.
Persona 5 Strikers comes out in a little over a month and ATLUS released a new trailer for the game showing off all of the insane over the top action in the game. Despite being a Musou style game, it still looks completely like Persona 5 with the same atmosphere and beautiful art direction of the previous game.
Persona 5 Strikers launches on February 23rd 2021 for PS4, PC and Switch
Here's a cabinet from Arcade 1Up that wasn't talked about last week. Gamestop has a posting for the Midway Game Cabinet with Riser Legacy Edition that houses 12 classic Midway games in a Mortal Kombat II designed cabinet. The cabinet also comes with a riser so you can make it a bit taller for adults to play with.
There's a 17" screen along with a Mortal Kombat II layout of buttons and underneath is a faux coin door that looks pretty slick for this cabinet. The entire package weighs about 80 pounds when all together.
Besides the first three Mortal Kombat games, there are some great classics included such as Joust and Rampage. The total list includes:
All told, a great collection of games to be had here. No price is listed, but this is one of the more exciting cabinets I've seen coming out of Arcade 1Up.