Category Archives: Review and First Look

Dead Cells gameplay and game review video

Dead Cells roguelike action platformer coming this Spring

Since Dead Cells is really a #Windows game that can be played on Linux. Hence this post should share a bit of light on things. So this review is more gameplay itself. Since it is more of a challenge to review a #Steam Early Access game. Yet most of use are still very keen to playing Windows #games with Wine. And since this is our first experience with Dead Cells. We should point out that Linux support will arrive day-one at full release.

So, let’s dig into some of the details of the game. Starting with the actually gameplay mechanics. Since responsiveness is always a factor playing a Windows title on Linux. Well, the gameplay and the mechanics are noticeably fast. The pre-release build showed some degree of lag, but the post release that we are playing does not. And while view can hear button clicking of the Steam Controller. This should give you a somewhat solid idea of how a procedural generation Windows game works.
So navigating the Dead Cells levels is both nimble and smooth. And what’s magical about the experience. Controller support is picked up instantly when the game launches. All thanks to SDL 2, which we caught after checking the games install file.

Dead Cells Gameplay and Game Review:

Since gaming is always about features in the experience. Dead Cells is very straight forward and quite easy to learn. Due to our first experience, the simplest aspects took a few minutes to master. Hence getting rekt in the first two minutes of gameplay. Yet we call that a technical issue. And since there is no tutorial or other means of learning, let’s just say there were some laughs.

So Dead Cells has players navigating the dungeons. Unlocking new weapon plans, perks and bonuses. Which as we mention, easy enough to figure out. While the roguevania can be customized to each players play style. Such as myself, I like keeping to the blood sword and the electric whip. Since I can use both of these in combination at times. Or use the next best weapon, the daggers. Since they share a similar characteristic as the electric whip. Hence able to defeat enemies at range and above and below. While customizing the perks in game to give that healthy or strength bonus. So if you find a skill or combination of perks in Dead Cells that better suite you. Hence increasing their bonuses.

Since Dead Cells plays really well for an Steam Early Access Windows game on Linux. There is not much to find issue with to be honest. Aside from not having a native build. That’s really it. Well that and you have the choice of buying from either Steam or Humble Store.
And the setup via PlayOnLinux is just typical Steam install. Then I switched out the Wine version to “1.7.53-steam_crossoverhack”. So just install the game and play. While you rest assured we will see a day one Linux release. Which will increase from the current $16.99 ‎USD.

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.