Category Archives: Review and First Look

The Dwarves review and video for THQNordic’s latest multi-platform RPG

The Dwarves Review and video - THQNordic's latest multi-platform RPG

The Dwarves is THQ NORDIC and King Art Games latest #multiplatform #RPG game in this #review. Therefore the game is now rleased on Linux, Mac, Windows, PS4 and Xbox One!

The Dwarves

Set in a world divided by a magic barrier that keeps the peace. Hence you begin the game as Tungdil. A dwarf that grew up with humans while being separate from the other dwarves since birth.

You get given the chance to leave your sanctuary for the first time in a very long time. On your journey to fulfill your master’s request, you meet other dwarves for the first time in your life.

You soon discover that the orcs have made it into your part of the world, and that the magic barrier protecting your land has been broken!

Tungdil in game dialogue for the dwarves - screenshot

Gameplay

The Dwarves is an RPG game, so it’s gameplay mechanics focus on story telling the most. You’ll be reading through chat dialogues, moving your pawn across the world map and battling in new found areas. You’ll find moments where you get to choose dialogue.

There’s a lot of freedom in The Dwarves. You can choose to explore every area of the world map, or you can get straight into the main missions by staying on path. Your actions, decisions and each step you take have repercussions.

the dwarves party management - screenshot

The highpoint in this gameplay review in The Dwarves is most definitely the battles. Manual control of each of your party members in real-time requires serious focus. To help ease the challenge, you can press the spacebar to pause mid-battle.

Each character in your party has action points, and these are what allow you to use your skills. Make no mistake, you absolutely need to use your skill attacks. Without them, your party is as good as dead as damage over time of the basic attacks are supremely low.

Graphics and Design

The Dwarves is quite stunning, considering it’s a Unity3D title. The cinematic scenes have high-poly models with facial animations, and sufficient post-processing effects in the scenes.

The downside here would be the lack of options in the graphics settings, as we are only presented with a very basic graphic toggle option. More options is always better, as it will allow for each player to customize their experience to their liking.

the dwarves skill level tree - screenshot

Summary

Overall, The Dwarves is surprisingly interesting and fun. It is, afterall, based upon a best-selling novel of the same title. The downside to the game is the lack of depth in character skills and levelling. On top of that, it does not include any sort of weapon or armor management system.

What are your thoughts on The Dwarves? Will you be picking up a copy? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!

This has been a guest review by Penguin Recordings. If you enjoyed this review, consider checking out my channel as well.

Master of Orion – A space-themed 4X strategy game review video

master of orion space themed 4x strategy game review

Building atop of previous games, hence NGD studios brings us the latest Master of Orion! This latest iteration is multi-platform, meaning that you can play it whether you’re on Windows, Mac or Linux.

Master Of Orion

Master Of Orion is a game that was made in Unity3D. For a game that was developed in Unity3D, it looks absolutely stunning. It would appear that they developed the game with a solid focus on graphics.

You’ll find that there are a plethora of races to choose from, and even better yet you can custom make your own! No matter what you choose, you will still be able to meet other races in-game as well.

master of orion playable races in the game review screenshot

The battle system in Master of Orion is interesting in that it provides you with several options. The easiest being the Auto-Resolve option which does it all for you. It also gives you the option to directly command your units in battle space. From there you can either view things cinematically, have the AI assist you in control or completely guide your units manually.

master of orion research in the game review screenshot

Gameplay wise, Master Of Orion feels very strongly like a Civilization-based style game with a space theme drawn onto it. What’s unique here is the timeline option. In MoO, you can actually jump back to any previous turn and continue on from there. You have a great freedom of choice here!

Master of Orion Review Video:

The three important items to monitor in-game are population count, production and research. Arguably the key item though is population, as it speeds up itself alongside production and research.

master of orion space ship selection for the game review screenshot

Arguably, MoO has a lot to offer. With randomization being a key mechanic with each new match, hence replayability is very high here.

With all that said, MoO did not work out-of-the-box for me on Ubuntu at first. I had to opt-in to the Beta “launch” version which returns MoO to the initial v1.0 build. I then had to downgrade my Nvidia graphics drivers to the 367 series, and start up MoO once to let it make a config file. After which, only then was I able to return to the latest updated version of MoO in working order.

What do you think of MoO?

This has been a review by Penguin Recordings. If you like it, check out The Dwarves review and video.
So if you enjoyed this, then check out my Youtube channel where I operate normally here:

PenguinRecordings on YouTube

Dead Age Review and video for turn-based Survival RPG

dead age review video for the turn-based survival rpg linux mac pc

With more multi-platform goodness out on Steam, we now have Dead Age. Dead Age is available for Linux, MacOS, and Windows.

This new indie title comes from SilentDreams and Headup Games. A Unity3D title, it brings with it survival RPG elements intertwined with turn-based fighting mechanics.

Dead Age review video:

Story behind the review video

Dead Age takes place in an apocalyptic America. You start out as a virus outbreak just happened, and you’re looking for your sister. Almost immediately, the game places you into battle. Despite being an indie game, Dead Age guides you through how to play the game. This is a pretty crucial point that a lot of indie games tend to skimp on.

Dead Age takes you through it’s story one day at a time. There is a happy ending, but there’s also bad endings. It all depends on how you play, who you work with and whether or not you live or die. The story is not as in-depth as one would hope for, but it does do a good job of keeping your desire to survive another day alive strong.

dead age review turn based survival rpg screenshot 01

Probably the most enjoyable storyline aspect of Dead Age is talking with the other survivors you come to meet with. You can choose what to talk about, and you can even at times skip certain things you don’t want to talk about.

You’ll find that even if you do die, you can restart the game whilst still retaining certain stats. You’ll also unlock other skill focused options when starting a new, as long as you’ve completed the required actions in your previous playthrough.

Gameplay Mechanics

Usually when one hears of the zombie apocalypse game genre, one would imagine first-person shooter action style gameplay. Dead Age breaks away from this, by introducing turn-based fighting mechanics into itself. Instead of aiming for headshots, you’ll find yourself focusing on tactics instead. Using skills or specific weapons to take out enemies quickly, whilst still thinking about the next fight afterwards.

True to it’s Steam tag, Dead Age takes the survival RPG mechanic seriously. You have a camp, with survivors who in time come to stay there with you. For each survivor, rations are needed. You have to find time to hunt for these rations, whilst also focusing on the many time-restricted missions each survivor may give you. You’ll get loot after each battle, and you’ll find events in between fights where you can scavenge. You won’t always be successful though.

dead age review turn based survival rpg screenshot 02

You can even send other survivors out on jobs to hunt, guard, build ammo or even armor. You’ll have to level them up first in battle with you before they have the necessary skills. To survive, you cannot rely solely on your character. This consideration for team work is a pretty neat aspect of Dead Age’s design.

Dead Age auto saves your game at the beginning of each day, and there is no option for a manual save. This means that you really will have to focus on survival, and try not to screw up during the day. It has this restriction so that you feel the worry of misusing something you have, and will instead pay careful attention to maximizing your inventory.

End Note

Whilst Dead Age does have re-playability, and surprisingly fun gameplay, it does fall short in a few areas. Namely, character animations during fight scenes and the game’s sound and music. For it’s asking price and likely low development budget, the character models used within the game are understandable. Yet, the awkward attack animations a lot of the models have really bring down the overall quality of Dead Age visually.

It also seems to struggle with it’s audio, whether by design or due to bugs. When shooting any ranged weapon or receiving damage, the sound effects play in mono on only one side rather than in stereo on both sides. The background music also leaves quite a bit to be desired, and can get tiresome to listen to over time. With little to no options to modify how sound works, you’re stuck with what it has.

dead age review turn based survival rpg settings

Overall, Dead Age is quite a grab at it’s asking price and isn’t all that shabby. It’s unlikely to win any awards, but it can serve you fun for a weekend or more!

This has been a review by Penguin Recordings. If you’d like to see more content check out my review and video of The Dwarves.
channel: PenguinRecordings

If you’re interested in purchasing Dead Age, then get it Steam for Linux.

What are your thoughts on Dead Age? Is it something you’d get? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Black Mesa a first-look at the Linux port and PC gameplay video

black mesa review video on pc linux

Black Mesa

INTRO

Half Life is a cornerstone of PC gaming.  When it was released back in 1998 it broke sales records, was critically acclaimed, and revolutionised the FPS action genre.  Half Life 2 continued that legacy and the rest is glorious history.

Fast forward to today and Half Life 2 has aged well enough that you can still play and enjoy it without the graphics being so mind numbingly ancient it makes you want to poke your eyes out. The same can’t be said about Half Life 1 though.

And Crowbar Collective to rescue with Black Mesa. They took Half Life 1, put some shine back on it, and released it as a full featured game. Well not full game but but we’ll get to that in the review. They’re goal was to recreate the game in its entirety using the updated Source engine of the time ultimately evolving Half Life 1 into Black Mesa.  Black Mesa although completely redone is still very much based on the original gameplay, as outlined in this review.

Let me get this out the way up front though.  I played the original Half Life around the original time of release but that was long ago. Matter of fact I don’t even remember much of it or if I beat the game.  So I’m almost looking at Black Mesa as a fresh title.

Black Mesa review gameplay video:

GRAPHICS REVIEW

The graphics in Black Mesa by no means are cutting edge or state of the art.  But there are moments when you’ll undoubtedly stop to smell the roses and take in some of the gorgeous graphics that the Crowbar Collective team mustered out.  There are models like the walls, fences and other architecture that seemed to get nowhere near the attention as others which is easy to see without really looking. Makes Black Mesa feel a bit disjointed but I’m gonna guess this is the result of years of development.  At the end of the day the minor texture issue is in no way a showstopper.  From beginning to end I was continually engaged by the very smooth graphics, great use of colors, and environment effects. As a self proclaimed graphics whore, this game satisfied in the visual department.

SOUND REVIEW

The audio in Black Mesa are very well done. Environments have all the buzzes and hums you’d expect from a research facility. Stereo separation is done very well giving you a sense of space.  Once again, like the graphics, there seems to be a part that either did not get an date. Or did not get near the attention as some others.  Walking across the metal grates in the floor sounded really out of place. I haven’t checked but almost sounds like the same effects from the original game.  But again, with deep subwoofer explosions to the nuance and spatial quality of the environments you’re fighting your way through, sound is definitely a good companion to what you’re seeing on screen.

MUSIC REVIEW

The music as pointed out in the review is a bit weird here.  Music is initiated by an event, which is okay.  Which is common practice.  The problem is that the events are very far apart. So what you are left with is a game void of any music through the vast majority of the game. Except for example when you enter or coming to the end of levels.  It’s a bit jarring and seems really out of place.  There’s no sense of angst, tension, suspense or any audible cues that gives Black Mesa more sense of immersion or auditory feels. And the real kick to the nuts is that the music is actually really good.  Good enough so that when it finally does show up, it ends so quickly leaving you wondering what the what just happened.

GAMEPLAY REVIEW

Black Mesa gameplay should be familiar to everyone who plays video games, let alone read a review.  Half Life pretty much set the precedence to many games we play today with its innovative ideas of the time. Short and simple is that you play the game in a first person point of view.  Something terribly wrong happens in the top secret research facility that you work at.  You get some super suit that is ideally for hazardous material use but in video game logic is like power armor. Equipped with body protection and soon after a few guns to light up your enemies, you’re the potential hero that can rescue the survivors of the Black Mesa research facility.  Definitely isn’t going to win prizes on plot, but works fine in the context of the game.  At no point am I that interested in what super slick plot twist was going to be throwing at me as I move throughout the game.

No problem learning the controls. All straight forward and as expected.

PERFORMANCE REVIEW

Black Mesa is a Source engine game and Source engine games probably running best on Linux.  The game ran so good actually that I was forced to turn on vsync because my graphics card was getting pretty hot while hitting the 300 frame per second limit.  Not much to say here.  No input problems, no technical problems, and just plain no problems make this an A+ game in the performance department.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Black Mesa is an early access game.  And there’s always something with early access games. So let’s get to the catch for the review. The last 4 levels are nowhere to be found. I clocked in about 25 hours on the game after beating what is there.  So there’s really not a lack of content either.  They have a tentative timeline to roll out the levels but the next level isn’t due release which is called Xen till summer of 2017.  But this is your caveat emptor warning.

Asking price is $20 which I find to be fair considering the amount of content, fun, and nostalgia this game has to offer.  If you’ve never played Half Life, I’d even say skip the original and play this one. Definitely wont leave that late 90s taste in your mouth like the original will.

All said and done, this title should be at least on your Steam wishlist.  Every PC gamer should experience the glory that is Half Life and thanks to the efforts of Crowbar Collective, you can now do so with a more relevant game. 

You can find me on twitter at osirez or go to my site osirez.tech.

Tyranny Review, Obsidian’s latest RPG for Linux, Mac and Windows

tyranny review and video for obsidian's latest rpg on linux, mac and windows

With time and dedication, Obsidian Entertainment have continued to make a name for themselves. Tyranny is their next child born of a labor of love. Even if you have not heard of them before, it’s likely you’ve played one of their RPG’s before. Think Star Wars KOTOR 2, Pillars of Eternity or even Fallout New Vegas.

Tyranny

Tyranny is the latest in their line up. It’s looking to release on Windows, Mac, and Linux simultaneously on day one. So it should be no surprise that it’s being published by the ever so multi-platform friendly Paradox Interactive. At this time, Tyranny looks to be a PC-only title as is befitting the cRPG genre.

Obsidian is attempting to set a new path with Tyranny by creating a world where evil has already won! That’s right, there is no battle between good or evil. Every choice you make is about maximizing what you get out of it, and how it benefits you. Ignore everyone else’s needs, and let the greed consume you.

Tyranny review video:

Story Background

You are a foot soldier. The evil of this world sought you out early on for it’s army. Over many conquests, you’ve become a standing figure of power.

With no mercy and no kindness, Kyros, your tyrannical overlord continues to give you increased control and power within the world. This comes at a cost though. When the overlord  gives you a command, you must complete it or die. You won’t be the only one to die though, as the Overlord will wipe out everyone within the area you were meant to complete the commandment in. You, your allies, your enemies and everyone in between will perish!

Building up on their recent experience with Pillars Of Eternity, Tyranny looks to enhance itself on the isometric cRPG experience by improving upon past weak points. This is clear with how focused the story is, and how interesting it quickly grows to be from the moment you set foot in the world.

Art and Design

Tyranny also flexes it’s artistic angle by ensuring bright denominating colors are used for the two main factions. Purple for the Disfavoured and red for the Scarlet Chorus. These two factions are under Kyros, and they represent the embodiment of the choices you make. Do you choose to slaughter your allies to gain the advantage? Then, gain favor with the Disfavoured. Do you prefer to send in the elites without considering tactic? Then, gain favor with the Scarlet Chorus.

Tyranny expands on this new style by adding in updating NPC chat icons. You’ll find talking to NPCs feels more alive. The NPCs actively change their icon images to signal their expressions, and emote their actions to you.

Thanks to the bright colors, it’s now easy to identify iconic characters and factions. They implemented it well enough that the morbidity of the world is not lost on our visual senses. The scenarios feel as dark and horrible as ever, whilst allowing one to maintain individuality with color combos.

Fighting Mechanics

The improvements don’t stop there though. Whilst the fighting mechanics mirror Pillars of Eternity very seriously, Tyranny does attempt to innovate here with a new game mechanic. Likely to be a fan favorite of many RPG players, spell creation brings to Tyranny the ability to craft your magic!

Simplicity yet expansion for creativity is part of the idea with this new system. All you have to do is combine two sigils together, one major and one minor, to form a new spell. There’s even the choice to give it a unique name and a specific icon!

As was the fighting style in Pillars of Eternity, you will to need make no expense on pausing. So, mashing that pause button is still a must! Don’t fear though, there’s ample pause options to automate the process for you. Tactics and strategy are still a must when approaching enemies. You’ll want to always scan your area for advantages.

End Note

Tyranny is not perfect though. With it’s new design theme, the world appears more 3D. Whilst this brings the advantage of cool looking visuals, it does introduce a problem. Often, you’ll come to notice your party looks like it’s floating when walking on the terrain. This can become ever so jarring when you start noticing it.

All in all, I have not been able to find much faults with Tyranny for the time I have spent with it. If you’re excited for this title, or you’re looking for the next RPG after Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny looks ready to serve.

To end this, I hope you’ve found this short review as informative as possible. I have strived to keep it spoiler free yet touch on important points. This has been a Penguin Recordings review! Todd of LGC and myself would like to extend a very big thanks to Obsidian Entertainment for the pre-release review copy.

If you like this, check out the Dead Age review and video.

If you’d like to see more content produced by me, check out Penguin Recordings Youtube channel.

What is it that you are looking for most in Tyranny? Are you excited for it? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!