“I wanted to do something that mattered — not something just to make money. It forced the question: what would I do if I was gong to be dead in a year,” shared Crashlands dev Samuel Coster. …
“I wanted to do something that mattered — not something just to make money. It forced the question: what would I do if I was gong to be dead in a year,” shared Crashlands dev Samuel Coster. …
As Street Fighter V moves into its second season of competition, players are scoping out which characters may be a problem in the months to come. Urien, who joined the game last September as a piece of downloadable content, has already garnered Capcom some side-eye due to his seemingly overpowered moveset. However, a simple counter recently popped up in the most unlikely of places.
A player by the name of Elbueno recently found themselves facing down the overwhelming might of Urien while taking part in an online tournament hosted for Street Fighter V newcomers. But spectators were in for a treat as Elbueno unleashed a noteworthy Karin technique that acted as a perfect counter.
Urien first joined the Street Fighter universe in Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, earning fans in both casual and competitive spheres thanks to his distinct look (gotta love the loincloth) and tools. When it came time for him to jump into Street Fighter V, players were again ready to confound opponents with tricky Aegis Reflector setups.
These moving barriers form the foundation of Urien’s gameplay, allowing him to play defensively, trap opposing players, and even create unique juggle opportunities when paired with his other attacks. He looked to be a solid expansion to the Street Fighter V cast early on, but a recent balance update has made him into one of the strongest characters the game has to offer.
In addition to making several attacks safer and easier to combo from, the developers saw fit to double the damage on Urien’s Aegis Reflectors and increase the corresponding meter earned by certain moves, making his ubiquitous plasma walls easier to activate. While players were certainly making waves with him before the path dropped, Urien’s prevalence in high-level competition only grew after the update. This phenomenon was most notable at early February’s Winter Brawl XI, where half of the finalists used the new character at least once in their top eight matches.
Whenever a character like Urien pops up in a fighting game, you generally have two choices: complain or adapt. Complaining certainly has its advantages in this new era of development, where studios are more likely to update a release based on the input of the community. However, the best competitors are the ones who jump into training mode and learn counters. These strategies typically show themselves at high-level offline events, but an online beginners’ tournament provided a sneak peek at what lesser-known players have been working on to defeat Urien.
During the latest installment of the weekly Reddit Beginners/Intermediate Discord competition, Elbueno showcased how the aristocratic Karin can bypass Urien’s walls with ease. By using the projectile dissipation properties of her Guren Ken, Elbueno strikes the Aegis Reflector with the first strike and, as the wall is essentially a three-hit projectile, transitions to Karin’s slide to bypass it and punish the Urien player.
Since the slide isn’t invulnerable to projectiles, the strategy likely depends on precise spacing to ensure Karin’s hurtbox doesn’t intersect with the Aegis Reflector, and it’s not always guaranteed to punish if you’re playing an Urien who knows what’s up. Plus, the slide is extremely unsafe on block, so careful planning will be required to ensure you don’t eat more damage than it’s worth.
Despite this smart use of Karin’s attacks, Elbueno would eventually lose to his opponent, finishing the tournament tied for seventh place. There’s always next week!
Is this a complete solution to Urien’s dominance? No, not really, but it’s yet another sign of the ingenuity of the competitive fighting game community. Rarely is there a character or strategy so powerful that they completely break the game, especially when it comes to the genre’s modern offerings. The technique displayed by Elbueno is just one more reason to keep studying your favorite fighting game. There’s always something new to learn, even from players who won’t be winning Evo anytime soon.
Ian Walker is a fighting game expert and freelance writer. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.
“What does one life matter?” is the question at the heart of Torment: Tides of Numenera. Initially shapeless, the question solidifies around heady concepts like legacy. Not so coincidentally, few games can boast a more lasting legacy than Numenera’s spiritual predecessor, Planescape Torment.
Tides of Numenera is the Kickstarter-borne spiritual follow-up to Planescape, a 1999 cult classic. Numenera is a single-player RPG with an emphasis on text and dialogue, and while it’s not set in the same universe as Planescape, it approaches similar themes from intriguingly different angles. Oh, it’s also similar to Planescape in that it’s really fucking good. Let’s just get this out of the way:
People revere Planescape Torment. The game took players on a journey through a world wilder and weirder than any other PC RPG from the mid-to-late ‘90s. It moved the focus off combat and put it squarely on dialogue, interactions, and gleeful oddity. You could talk your way through the majority of dicey situations, whether you decided to leverage raw charisma, labyrinthine philosophy, or the subtle art of killing yourself to make a point. It showed people what PC-style RPGs could be if developers dared to chuck the old template into a bottomless tomb and say, “Fuck it, let’s make one of the player’s companions a floating goddamn skull, because we can.” Numenera isn’t quite on the same level as Planescape, but it’s a worthy inheritor of the Torment name.
Numenera, unlike Planescape, gets off to a pretty brisk start. After a brief (though frustratingly inscrutable) character creation scene, your character awakens only to realize that he or she is falling from the sky. You crash into a weird techno-dome, where you’re discovered by two people who explain that you’re the final “Castoff” of The Changing God, a man who cheated death by creating a centuries-long succession of new bodies. Some people worship him. Others, many of them your fellow Castoffs, think he’s a selfish dickhead who might have accidentally unleashed a Castoff-hunting apocalypse beast called The Sorrow. Basically he’s a shitty dad, and the game’s as much about his legacy as it is yours. Both of you would very much like for The Sorrow to go away, so at least you’ve got the whole “not wanting to die” thing in common.
Once you reach the first main area, the trans-dimensional city of Sagus Cliffs, the game can move as quickly or slowly as you want it to. I recommend taking it slow. Numenera is to NPCs and dialogue trees what The Witcher 3 is to quests: every named character has a story. Some will make you think. Others will leave you feeling sad or hollow. A few are very, very funny. Where modern RPGs like Mass Effect railroad you into a small handful of canned responses, Numenera is more of a choose-your-own adventure than an RPG. It encourages you to tease out subtleties and nuance, to tempt nuance from dialogue trees’ cracks and crevices. Know this: you will read a lot of words. Don’t worry, though. They’re very good words.
Numenera’s setting, “The Ninth World,” is built atop the ruins of civilizations so great and powerful that their technology became indistinguishable from magic. While Ninth Worlders are basically medieval, remnants of a billion years of progress abound. This manifests in everything from people’s weapons and tools to the tales they tell. Characters’ stories are perched precariously atop a creaking spine of history, and there’s so much fascinating stuff to learn from just talking. Sometimes, it’s a winding conversation, or a new memory your character is suddenly able to access. Other times, you might yank at what seems like an innocuous thread and pull up a multi-part quest. Moral grays and difficult decisions abound.
Numenera doesn’t signpost this stuff. It’s up to you to seek it out, and that makes it all the more rewarding when you discover a cool character or quest (minor early game spoilers ahead). For instance, on one occasion I encountered what I thought was a statue in the middle of a carnival-esque town square. I approached it and tried to interact with it because, I figured, what’s the harm? Children pranced about. This statue-looking thing couldn’t possibly be dangerous. Turns out, it was alive. It’s name? The Genocide. I opened my big mouth, certain I was signing my own death warrant.
Instead, The Genocide gamely answered my questions, because it had no other choice. Once a member of a warrior tribe that nearly achieved global conquest under some sort of psychic machine god, The Genocide was forever imprisoned in that spot after his people were routed in a climactic battle by my character’s good ol’ dad, The Changing God. Flash forward a few centuries, and people don’t even notice The Genocide anymore. Turns out, it was more than a statue, but also less.
That was one of the first in-game conversations that made me go, “Whoa, this game isn’t like other games.” I argued with The Genocide about everything from the nature of free will to his tribe’s propensity for terrifying xenophobia, and in the process I learned the cataclysmic history of a place that, mere moments before, I’d regarded as “The Starter Town.” I cannot stress enough how much that is only the very tip of the iceberg (end of spoilers).
Rather than throwing lore codexes at you, for the most part Numenera stays grounded in character stories. I never found myself feeling bogged down, even as people excitedly vomited their life’s story at me if I so much as asked their name. It would be one thing if, say, the game straight up told me the history and meaning of a certain location. Instead, Numenera let me discover the lore by hanging out with characters, learning their histories and listening to them bicker. Whether I was in a bar full of psychic super heroes who’d Sacrificed Too Much or in the belly of a flesh god who people took to living inside (and worshipping), there was believable humanity at the core. Numenera’s stories go all over the place, pushing at the outer limits of sci-fi and fantasy, but they never lose sight of the game’s central themes and ideas.
Despite all that, the story Numenera tells isn’t quite as personal as Planescape’s. There are plenty of subtly heartbreaking NPC side-stories, but the main story is missing much-needed emotional glue. Planescape’s companions remain a high-water mark for the genre, but half of Numenera’s are serviceable at best, curiously lacking unique personality traits in a game that otherwise contains multitudes. The game tells you to talk to them often, but most of the time, the things they have to say are insubstantial. While nearly every companion has a few spectacular moments, they feel less like people and more like onions you’re trying to peel back until they spill their secrets. I adore a couple of them, but I wonder if I’ll remember them in a year or two.
As for the story itself, there’s a pervasive sense of intrigue and mystery, but the danger and pathos rarely feel authentic. At the end of the day, pretty much everybody you run into, good or bad, is up for a rousing debate, and even heated conflicts get buried by lengthy outpourings of logical prose. I enjoy how thoughtful the game’s conversations are, but they can mess up the game’s tension and pacing. They say that brevity is the soul of wit, but I’d argue that, in this case, it’s also the heart.
Numenera’s problems with tension manifest systemically, too. The game’s “effort” system is the worst offender. It’s actually pretty cool on paper, making its flaws even more of a bummer. Your three main stat pools—might, speed, and intellect—also function as points you can pour into everything from persuasion/deception to studying lost technology or snatching weird fish out of fountains. The more effort points you spend, the more you up your likelihood of Doing The Thing, but if you run out, you’re SOL until you rest or use a (fairly rare) healing item.
Before long, however, my main character had so many intellect points that I could just give myself a 100 percent success rate on every intellect-related task and still have effort points to spare. After that, the “correct” way through dialogues was obvious, and I could brute force persuade/perception/lore everybody. Sure, it’s empowering to walk into a conversation with an exoskeletal machine monster surrounded by bones of the deceased thinking to myself, “I’ll talk my way through, no problem.” But it hurts the illusion of being lost in a strange new world, and that illusion is a big part of Numenera’s appeal.
There are a handful of occasions in Numenera when words fail. These “crisis” moments are cool in that they’re not traditional RPG combat encounters. The game switches to a turn-based format where you and your enemies duke it out, but there are no random thugs or monsters, and violence isn’t necessarily the answer. Despite the fact that Planescape’s not-very-good combat system was rooted in D&D rules, Numenera’s crises feel more akin to actual tabletop scenarios. Each crisis offers different contextual options, and in many cases you’ve got to puzzle them out on the fly. Sometimes you might still be able to talk to people, but other times you might be able to stealth your way through a place and hack its computer systems. Some moments have the potential to become crises but don’t turn out that way unless you say something dumb or get too aggressive.
Some crises can be pretty frustrating. Nonviolent paths through crises depend on your characters having enough points in certain stats and abilities, and there’s no way of knowing what will be useful before any given crisis. A couple times, I could see an optimal strategy, but I couldn’t execute on it because I hadn’t quite allocated everybody’s stats and skill focuses smartly enough. That’s less of an issue in late-game crises, because your characters will likely be pretty buffed up by then, but late-game crises have scope issues. Between multiple moving parts (characters outside your control, environmental factors, etc.) and some remarkably bad pathfinding on the part of your characters, things quickly fall into disarray.
I nitpick because I love. Despite clear flaws, Numenera is easily my favorite game of The Great PC RPG Revival (sorry, Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny, and Wasteland 2) so far. For nearly two decades, Planescape Torment was one of a kind, and after that kind of time passes, you figure that’s just the way it’ll stay. Against all odds, however, this 2017 video game has taken Planescape’s mottled old flesh and stitched together something strange and new. I wonder what sort of legacy it will leave.
We take a quick look at just a few townfolks you meet and how to start your first garden.
Today’s Nintendo Switch indie game presentation proved to have a surprising number of announcements for a fairly brief broadcast.
We’ve rounded up some of the biggest news for you already, and below you’ll find a list of the games featured during Nintendo’s broadcast along with trailers and descriptions from Nintendo’s accompanying press release. Not everything was given a separate breakout trailer, but many of the games without them are featured in the full broadcast, which you can watch here:
Nintendo today said that more than 60 indie games are slated for release on Switch this year alone. Unfortunately, most of today’s games didn’t have exact release dates, with the exception of Blaster Master Zero, which arrives for Switch and 3DS on March 9. A handful of others will be out by the end of April.
Read on for a look at the games featured today, with descriptions by Nintendo.
Runner3 continues the joyous adventures of CommanderVideo from Bit.Trip Runner and Runner2. Players will encounter quests, branching paths, item shops, new Retro Challenges, new character moves, new dance moves and a roster of characters that somehow manages to rival the strangeness of Runner2. The game is scheduled to launch exclusively for Nintendo Switch this fall.
Image & Form Games
In the sequel to the award-winning original, you must dig deep, gain riches and explore an underworld riddled with danger. The game is scheduled to launch this summer.
Yooka Laylee from Team 17 and Playtonic Games: Explore huge, beautiful worlds, meet an unforgettable cast of characters and horde a vault-load of shiny collectibles as buddy-duo Yooka (the green one) and Laylee (the wisecracking bat with the big nose). The buddy-duo platformer is coming to Nintendo Switch soon, with multiplayer functionality perfect for the system.
The same elements that made the original Blaster Master a hit are back, including side-scrolling vehicular combat, top-down adventuring and a huge sci-fi landscape, in addition to a host of new and improved gameplay systems. The game includes a two-player mode and will have numerous character cameos coming soon. Blaster Master Zero launches exclusively on both Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo 3DS family systems on March 9.
Chucklefish Games and Cardboard Robot Games
This deep 2D fighter makes players want to throw down, anywhere, anytime. The battles get even more intense with the inclusion of HD rumble: When players get hit by a weak attack, it’ll feel very different from getting rocked by a strong one. The game is scheduled to launch as a console exclusive for Nintendo Switch in March.
Welcome to Flatwood Peaks, a small whimsical town with a problem–Death is on vacation. Play as Penny and help the ghosts with their peculiar problems on The Otherside. This puzzling adventure game is scheduled to come to Nintendo Switch later this year.
TinyBuild and Team Shifty
Shift through bullets, and master lightning-fast takedowns in a new kind of action game. Mr. Shifty follows a teleportation-fueled heist to break into the world’s most secure facility. Shift through walls, through bullets, cover huge distances, and be everywhere at once. One shot kills. Survive on skills. HD rumble allows players to feel every punch, shot and crash. The game is scheduled to launch first on Nintendo Switch this April.
This turn-based strategy game offers local and online matches for one to four players. The game is scheduled to launch later this year.
Chucklefish Games and ConcernedApe
Nintendo Switch will be the first console to support the game’s new multiplayer feature. The open-ended, country-life RPG is scheduled to launch this summer.
This 16-bit spiritual successor to Retro City Rampage aims to be twice as good with twice the bits. From the boardroom to the streets, Shakedown Hawaii parodies big business and the white collar crimes that go alongside. Build your empire, monopolize the markets and collaterally re-zone the island’s destructible sandbox. It’s scheduled to launch first on Nintendo Switch this April.
Skillfully pilot the advanced Graceful Explosion Machine (GEM) fighter while blasting swarms of crystalline enemies with your ludicrously overpowered quad-weapon array. This side-scrolling arcade shooter features HD rumble support, which means players will really be able to feel those machines explode. The game is scheduled to launch first on Nintendo Switch this April.
A small seed heads up a mountain to save his home in this physics-based game. More than 30 unique upgrades help the seed overcome challenges and enemies. HD rumble means players will feel seeds traversing across the screen. The game is scheduled to launch on Nintendo Switch this spring.
Team 17 and Ghost Town Games
In Overcooked, players must journey through a variety of cruel and unusual kitchens on their quest to become master chefs capable of conquering an ancient edible evil which plagues the land. Play solo or engage in classic, chaotic couch co-op for up to four players in both co-operative and competitive challenge modes. The special edition features the original game, plus all of the DLC. HD rumble integration means they can feel every chop through a tomato and the slosh of soup in a pot. Overcooked: Special Edition is coming later this year.
Team 17 and Mouldy Toof
The sequel to the hugely popular prison escape series supports drop-in/drop-out co-op for up to four players (additional accessories are required for multiplayer modes, and are sold separately). Players can tie together knotted sheets and use them to climb down high windows in new multi-level prisons, and find other new ways to make a break for freedom. The Escapists 2 is coming later this year.
Raw Fury and Art in Heart
Gonner is a tough-as-hell, score-based, procedurally generated platformer with roguelike elements. Gonner is also a story about friendship between Ikk, Death and a space whale named Sally. You will die. A lot. The console version of the game launches first on Nintendo Switch with additional content tailor-made for the system later this year.
Raw Fury and Noio
In Kingdom: Two Crowns, attend to your domain, border to border, or venture into the wild to discover its wonders and threats. First revealed today, two players can come together in co-op mode to rule a kingdom. Their choices bring hope or despair to their subjects. The game is scheduled to launch later this year.
Raw Fury and Long Hat House
Dandara has awoken to reshape the world. In this strange world of quirky characters, nothing is at it seems. In this bizarre, gravity-bending world with hidden beauty, it’s up to Dandara, jumping from surface to surface, to restore order and direct a directionless world. The game is scheduled to launch on Nintendo Switch this summer with exclusive features and functionality, including HD rumble support.
Yacht Club Games
Rebellion and TickTock Games
Matt Makes Games
With Switch launching in just a few days, Nintendo today highlighted many of the indie games on the way to the platform.
As part of its Nindies Showcase (above), Nintendo made a number of exciting Switch game announcements. These include SteamWorld Dig 2 (launching this summer); the latest Bit.Trip game, Runner 3 (a Switch exclusive coming this fall); and a 16-bit “spiritual successor” to Retro City Rampage called Shakedown Hawaii (releasing first on Switch this April).
We also got a look at what we now know is called Wargroove, the Advance Wars-esque strategy game from Starbound developer Chucklefish. That launches on Switch later this year with local and online multiplayer support for one to four players.
Many of the games covered during the broadcast were announced as launching this year, but without specific dates. One exception was Blaster Master Zero, a follow-up to Blaster Master that features “new and improved gameplay systems” and a two-player mode. It comes exclusively to Switch and 3DS on March 9.
Other games coming in the near future include Pocket Rumble, a 2D fighting game from Chucklefish and Cardboard Robot Games, which launches in March. In April, we’ll see Mr. Shifty, a stealthy, teleportation-centric action game, and Graceful Explosion Machine, a side-scrolling shooter. Both of these launch first on Switch.
Stardew Valley was already known to be coming to Switch (in lieu of a Wii U version), but Nintendo announced it will be the first console to offer its new multiplayer support. The game itself launches this summer.
Nintendo said more than 60 indie games are slated for release on Switch this year. You can check out the full presentation in the video above, and see all the new games and trailers here.
“The first thing you need to do is end ‘white cis-gender able-bodied men’ as the default,” said dev Shawn Alexander Allen today in his GDC talk on breaking stereotypes to write better game characters. …