PC Gamer

As titles go, The Franz Kafka Videogame doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but that's what it's called. It's an undeniably odd name, although not as odd developer Denis Galanin's previous project, Hamlet or the Last Game Without MMORPG Features, Shaders, and Product Placement (yes, really), but it looks very promising. In 2015 it claimed the $5000 grand prize in Intel's Level Up contest, and more recently it was picked up by publisher Daedalic Entertainment, which announced earlier this month that it will be out on Steam on April 6.

The game will offer an estimated four hours of point-and-click adventuring and puzzle solving, telling the tale of a man named K who receives an offer of employment that changes his life. He embarks on a distant voyage, and discovers to his great surprise that the world beyond the one he knows is a far stranger place than he expected. 

There will be no inventory in the game, no "RPG features," and no boss battles: Just "original logic puzzles," a unique and beautiful visual style, and of course absurdity and surrealism. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but you can dig into it a little deeper at kafkagame.blogspot.ca

PC Gamer

The Zero Escape games, as described by one anonymous fan on our staff, are basically "a cult favorite visual novel-'escape room' series for the Nintendo DS/3DS with a plot that seems like nonsense until it all comes together and makes you go whooooaaa." The original, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors—999, for short—came out on the Nintendo DS in 2009, followed by Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward in 2012, and Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma in 2016, both on the 3DS. Zero Time Dilemma was also released for the PC last year, and now the first two games have come our way in a bundle called Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

There's no indication about how, or even if, Virtue's Last Reward has been updated for release on Steam, but 999 will boast "hi-res graphics" and new features including voice acting in both English and Japanese. In both games, players must solve puzzles and search for clues that will help them escape locked rooms and unravel the mystery of "who Zero is, why everyone was kidnapped, and the shocking connection between the Nonary Games." 

The description on Steam makes it sound an awful lot like Big Brother meets Saw, which is actually a fantastic idea for a game: "Kidnapped and taken to an unfamiliar location, nine people find themselves forced to participate in a diabolical Nonary Game by an enigmatic mastermind called Zero. Why were they there? Why were they chosen to put their lives on the line as part of a dangerous life and death game? Who can be trusted? Tensions rise as the situation becomes more and more dire, and the nine strangers must figure out how to escape before they wind up dead."

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is available now on Steam for $45/£30/€42. The modest system requirements are below. 

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-530 CPU 2.93 GHz or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9.0 compatible GPU with at least 1GB of VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 4 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
PC Gamer

Dark Souls 3 is on the precipice of launching its second and final portion of DLC—named The Ringed City. Due this coming Tuesday, March 28, our imminent journey into Lothric's new Dreg Heap area is also thought to be the series' curtain call, and its launch trailer suggests we'll do well to come out the other end undead. 

With fire-breathing demons, soul spear-wielding monstrosities, and a crystal-spewing dragon, besting the "mangled remnants from every age and every land" ain't going to be easy.

Besides some pretty terrifying boss encounters, you'll also spot some of the weaponry which surfaced via a Bandai Namco livestream last week, as well as some of the areas you'll be traversing within the Dreg Heap. 

So close to release, I'm cautious to speculate from that snippet alone as I was completely off the mark with my predictions prior to the last add-on. Still, will this one wrap up the loose ends left by the base game and its subsequent Ashes of Ariandel DLC? Will we learn the purpose and motives of the mysterious painter who resides in the Ariandel Cathedral? And will we ever solve the mystery of the big dumb crabs infesting Lothric

I can't say. But I guess we'll know either way in a few days' time. 

Dark Souls 3's The Ringed City DLC is due Tuesday, March 28. 

PC Gamer

Despite being received warmly by Rich McCormick in 2011, comedic action shooter Bulletstorm wasn't exactly a commercial knockout. Yet at last year's Game Awards, Gearbox announced its new publishing wing's first game would be a Bulletstorm remaster with People Can Fly at the helm—and we've since been shown the premise of its story. Due April 7, the Full Clip Edition has now dropped its launch trailer which looks expectedly flashier than its forerunner, and hints at some of the new things the remaster includes. 

"All previously-released content including the Gun Sonata and Blood Symphony add-on packs," makes its way onto modern hardware says Gearbox, as well as the previously mentioned Overkill Campaign Mode. 

New Echo Maps drop players into score-accumulating levels, of which there are six; while Duke Nukem's Bulletstorm Tour mode sees the Duke himself take on Bulletstorm's world—including new lines from original voice actor Jon St. John.

Here's Gearbox with the official word on Bulletstorm's Full Clip Edition:

"Featuring updated hi-res textures, increased polygon counts, sterling audio, smoother framerates, and running in up to 4K resolution on PC, this definitive version of the action-packed, critically-acclaimed FPS comes with all of its previously-released DLC along with brand-new content. And for the first time ever, players will get the chance to play Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition as the iconic Duke Nukem. 

"Featuring a fully rerecorded script and brand new lines from the voice of Duke, Jon St. John, the Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour add-on content will replace main character Grayson Hunt with The King himself and provide players with a whole new butt-kicking perspective on the cult-classic shooter."

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is due April 7 via Steam. It'll cost £29.99/$49.99 when it comes.

PC Gamer

Launched in November last year, Football Manager 2017 has since come under fire from a number of Steam players despite being one of the platform's most played games, and having secured good reviews elsewhere. Performance issues and the absence of Chinese localisation seem to form the majority of complaints—however if you fancy coming to your own conclusions know that Sports Interactive's enduring football management simulator is free to try on Steam this weekend. 

From now through Sunday, March 26 at 8pm GMT/12pm PST, the "full Football Manager experience" can be sampled giving players access to over 2,500 clubs from leagues all of the world. If you like what you see during that time, FM2017 is also subject to a 50 percent discount until Monday, March 27. Here's Paul Walker-Emig's review for further reading.

Football isn't everyone's cup of tea, though, thus if zombie hunting better aligns with your sport of choice, you may be pleased to know Tripwire's Killing Floor 2 is also free to try on Steam this very weekend. Andy mentioned this as a footnote while reporting on the Zed-slasher's newly announced free-of-charge Descent Content Pack—which brings with it new maps and guns—however I felt it merited its own post because everyone loves something for free, right? 

Similar to the above, the game which Tyler described as "repetitive but fun, a hellish challenge or a relaxing, spectacular gore bath depending on how you approach it" is free from now through Sunday 26, and is also going for half price till Monday 27.

PC Gamer

As far as popular esports go, few mirror traditional sports as closely as Rocket League. So it's unsurprising that betting companies want a piece of the action, and Australia-based esports gambling outfit Unikrn has just added the game to its gambling line-up, which also includes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends among others.

Although Unikrn has stated that Australia's gambling regulators have approved betting on the game (no surprise there – Australia's approach to gambling is notoriously freewheeling) the creators of Rocket League don't approve. A spokesperson said as much in a statement provided to Gamespot.

"Psyonix is not affilated with Unikrn, nor do we support or endorse online betting for our game," publishing VP Jeremy Dunham said. 

This prompted Unikrn's CEO Rahul Sood to respond. "We are not in any way associated with the publishers of Rocket League," he said. "However, we love the game, and like other titles on our sportsbook, we create odds and content on the pro matches and their top-tier tournaments."

Gambling on esports is technically legal in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act, though that act was introduced in 2001 and probably didn't anticipate the rise of the phenomenon. South Australia was the first state to outright ban it last year, with independent senator Nick Xenophon proposing other states and territories in the country to follow suite.

Mar 23
PC Gamer

It's hard to criticise a difficult game, because the assumption usually made is that you're only frustrated because you're bad at it. And to be clear: I am bad at Desync. It's an abstract, neon FPS about creative killing—with a focus on movement and positioning. I've died loads, and haven't progressed very far. This isn't, however, why I'm not smitten with Desync. Or, at least, it's only part of the reason.

Levels in Desync are a series of arenas in which you fight waves of polygonal enemies. You earn points for killing in interesting ways—by avoiding damage and counterattacking, or doing a 180 spin before firing off the killing blow. Such style is only possible when you're alive, and in Desync you're quickly overrun. Survival, then, requires dashing—a short burst of rapid movement that you can use to dodge projectiles and melee strikes, or to put distance between you and the things trying to kill you.

It's the basis for a solid twitch shooter, but it doesn't feel good. There's no fanfare or feedback, just the act of moving a set distance. It isn't just the dash. For everything that Desync does competently, it's undersold by its lifelessness. Even the aesthetic feels drab. This is the murkiest Tron-like neon playspace I've ever inhabited.

Good feedback is essential, but too many of Desync's systems are revealed through abstraction or UI elements. You gain ammo from enemy drops that are drawn towards you as you get near them. But the visual markers for receiving a pickup are lost amid the general business of Desync's presentation. It's easy to lose track of these resources, and even the ammo counter is abstracted to the point of being overly difficult to read. Ammo management and weapon switching are crucial systems, but doing it effectively here requires a level of mental processing that distracts from the on-screen action.

A solid twitch shooter, but it doesn't feel good.

The visual style also means it's possible to lose track of your location within each arena. I died a number of times because I dashed too close to the traps placed around each space. Arguably this is my own stupid fault, but also something that never happened in Bulletstorm—a more vibrant, detailed FPS with a similar focus on trickshots and style. While Desync has a slightly different goal, it's nonetheless a useful comparison in regards to the difference that great audio and visual effects can make to the feel of a shooter with an emphasis on style and skill.

Desync is deliberately positioning itself as a hardcore FPS about mastery of its systems and spaces. In this, it arguably succeeds. Desync is difficult, and its highest ratings require a level of prowess that could well be beyond me. But its successes are all on a theoretical level. It is, technically, a challenging shooter with some clever upgrade systems that allow for a loadout variety that could make for some interesting leaderboard challenges. And yet, there's no heart or soul. By not accentuating the speed, thrill and feedback of a great twitch shooter, Desync feels sterile.

PC Gamer

The Michael Fassbender-starring Assassin's Creed film that came out last year was, in our estimation, "a joyless retread of old ideas." Not terrible, exactly; just "a bargain bin collection of lights and noise and punching" that ultimately  "does nothing to change or elevate the series whatsoever." And we weren't the only ones to say so: It currently holds a paltry 36/100 aggregate ranking on Metacritic. So Ubisoft, naturally, is going ahead with a television series. 

There's been no official announcement and it may not even be in production yet, but Aymar Azaizia, the head of content for Assassin's Creed, effectively confirmed the "TV Show project" yesterday in a Reddit AMA. "It's like the movie guys, we will take our time, to get sure we deliver something we can be proud of, but if you wander [sic] if it's on our plan... YES," he wrote. 

Given how the movie worked out, I'm not sure it's really the sort of foundational touchstone that Azaizia sees it as. But it's possible that the wheels were turning on this plan before film critics dropped the hammer: Reuters reported last year that Ubisoft was in talks with Netflix about a series, although there was no indication at the time (nor is there now) that it would be based on Assassin's Creed. 

It does, however, fit with Ubisoft's multi-media model: The publisher's love for live-action recently made itself known in shape of the Ghost Recon Wildlands: War Within the Cartel short released in February on Amazon Video, and it's also making a documentary about the real-life Bolivian drug trade that serves as Wildlands' backdrop. The Division is being made into a film, too. Despite seemingly being on life support itself. 

PC Gamer

Resident Evil 7 could have followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, a third-person shooter with very little of the series' horror DNA intact. Indeed, that's what the studio was aiming for back in 2013, before executive producer Jun Takeuchi joined the team, shifting its gears away from action and back towards survival.

That's just one of the tidbits in the first episode of this Resident Evil 7 documentary series, which promises to trace the game's development from start to finish. Also of interest, is that the game had a stealth mechanic centred around holding your breath, which was designed to make passing enemies a bit easier. Personally, I kinda wish they'd kept that.

The full first episode is embedded below. The instalment was a true return-to-form for the series, with our reviewer Andy Kelly describing it as a "tense and refined survival horror with a brilliantly bleak, grimy atmosphere".

PC Gamer

Lifeless Planet, a game about exploring a distant alien world that's dotted with some oddly familiar features, did not thrill me as much as I hoped I would. But I still very much like the idea of Lifeless Planet: A weird, pulpy story styled after the softcover sci-fi classics of the 1950s. And so I was happy to receive today's announcement of a follow-up called Lifeless Moon, which is now in the works at developer Stage 2 Interactive. 

The new game will be set in the early 1970s, many years before the events of Lifeless Planet, and the teaser hints at a similar sort of experience: Two astronauts on a mission to the moon discover that things are not what they expected on arrival. But studio founder David Board said that while the two games are "rooted in the same universe," Lifeless Moon is not a direct prequel.   

"The Lifeless Moon story is actually based on an early alternate concept that I had for Lifeless Planet. While the story for that game went in another direction, I kept returning to this idea as a possible future story. So though it is not directly tied to the Lifeless Planet story, Lifeless Moon is rooted in the same universe," Board explained. "However, the two stories are loosely connected, so in that sense, Lifeless Moon is a kind of a spiritual successor to Lifeless Planet. Fans of the first game will recognize and hopefully enjoy certain elements of the story." 

Lifeless Moon will have a "deeper focus on puzzles" than its predecessor, and Board said the gameplay will "compliment the mysterious and psychological themes of the story." Platforms haven't been nailed down yet, but VR support is planned, and the studio—which since the launch of Lifeless Planet has "exploded" from a one-man operation to a team of three—hopes to have a playable beta out sometime this year. 

A Kickstarter is coming as well, although not for awhile yet. For now, you can find out more (and sign up for the mailing list, if you're so inclined) at lifelessmoon.com, and check out a few screens below.   

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