Nevermind is a first-person horror adventure with a legitimately intriguing hook: It uses biofeedback sensors to measure your stress levels, then adjusts the difficulty accordingly. If you're able to stay calm and cool, you'll have a relatively smooth ride, but if you flip your lid, you'll suffer for it. It actually tanked rather badly in its first run at Kickstarter in early 2014, but a second, lower-budget campaign later in the year was successful, and now it's been released to the public on Steam Early Access.
As "Neuroprobers," Nevermind players enter the minds of people who have suffered terrible psychological trauma, and set about exploring "the darkest and most surreal corners of their subconscious" in order to help them heal. It's not a hard-driving horror game like Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Outlast—the Kickstarter describes it as "an adventure game (in the spirit of classic games like Myst)"—but even so, it's clearly not going to be the most pleasant experience imaginable.
Making matters worse is the possibility that the game will be able to tell that you're suffering, and then turn the screws tighter. Nevermind supports a number of biofeedback sensors, and will adjust the difficult based on your responses. But don't think that means it will ease up if you start to completely freak out, because it actually works the opposite way: The worse you feel, the harder it gets. The hardware isn't cheap though—the lowest-priced unit is $75, and they run as high as $1400. Fortunately, the game is perfectly playable without one, although it doesn't sound like there's a whole lot to play just yet.
"Nevermind has been in full development for 8 months, enabling us to create enough content to demonstrate a variety of levels that demonstrate the full potential for Nevermind as a unique, biofeedback-enhanced adventure-horror game experience," the Early Access page states. "We want to give our community the opportunity to experience the game in its work-in-progress state so that we can hear what works and what doesn t to make Nevermind the best game it can be based on your feedback."
Nevermind currently has enough funding to support the development of three levels, but the creators say they hope the Early Access release will allow them to expand beyond that. They're currently aiming for a full release in November.
If what you need is more good games on the cheap—and, groaning pile of unplayed games aside, who doesn't?—then you'll probably want to check out the Humble Indie Bundle 14, which features Pixel Piracy, Outlast, Torchlight 2, and Shadow Warrior.
I feel obliged to admit that I haven't played any of the three games at the bottom end of the latest Humble Bundle, those being Pixel Piracy, UnEpic, and Super Splatters. It doesn't appear that we've reviewed them yet either, so there's no help to be found there. On the other hand, you can snag all three of them for $1, or even less if you don't care about getting Steam keys. (Seriously, though, don't spend less than $1.) And if you spend more than the average purchase price, which the last time I looked was a very manageable $5.53, things get considerably more interesting.
At that tier, you'll also pick up the horror hit Outlast, the outstanding action-RPG Torchlight 2, and La Mulana, an action-packed search for the "Secret Treasure of Life." The next step up, at $10, adds on the surprisingly good Shadow Warrior Special Edition, the game that popularized the phrase, "You mess with the bull, you get the Wang." And then, finally, for the swag enthusiast, the $40 tier tacks on a Humble Indie Bundle 14 t-shirt, handkerchief, and embroidered patch. Soundtracks for UnEpic, Super Splatters, Torchlight 2, and Shadow Warrior are also included at their appropriate tiers, and of course more games will be added to the "beat the average" level next week.
The $40 tier is a bit rich for my blood, but the $10 package is a good way to pick it up Shadow Warrior, which still sells for $40 on Steam. The Humble Indie Bundle 14 is live now and runs until April 14.
Infinite Crisis traded its beta costume for a more official one last week. We're still working on our review of Turbine's DC-themed MOBA, but in the meantime we've got a bunch of character packs to giveaway if you've already jumped in.
Up for grabs are 45 Starter Packs and 5 Elite Packs, the latter of which includes every character currently in the game. Our giveaway will run until Thursday, April 2 at 3 PM Pacific. At that time, our system will automatically pick 50 winners and email them with keys. To enter, drop your email into the embedded form below.
WINNERS - How to redeem your key:
- If you do not already have an account, go to www.infinitecrisis.com to create an account and download the game.
- Log into Infinite Crisis
- Click on Shop
- Click on Redeem Code
- Enter your code and click Redeem
- Once your code is validated, the contents will be immediately available on your account.
The Starter Pack includes 8 Champions suitable for all play-styles. Over $35 of value!
- Poison Ivy
- Atomic Green Lantern
- Mecha Wonder Woman
The Elite Pack includes all 33 currently purchasable champions. Whether you are new to MOBAs, or a long-time veteran, there's something for everyone's play-style. Plus, you can earn seven additional champions for free through playing the tutorials and regular log-ins. Over $170 of value!
Champions by class:
Bruisers get into the thick of fights, trying to destroy their targets at close range.
- Nightmare Batman
Enforcers are the first into a battle, and try to soak up as much damage as possible.
- Swamp Thing
- Atomic Green Lantern
- Atomic Poison Ivy
- Arcane Green Lantern
- Gaslight Joker
- Mecha Superman
Blasters have strong Powers, often unleashing bursts of punishment on enemies.
- Star Sapphire
- Arcane Supergirl
Marksmen make frequent use of a strong basic attack to devastate with unrelenting damage.
- Green Arrow
- Blue Beetle
- Atomic Joker
- Mecha Wonder Woman
Assassins work best when jumping in, doing max damage up front, and getting out!
- Atomic Wonder Woman
- Nightmare Robin
- Gaslight Catwoman
Controllers aid their teammates by controlling the flow of battles and the movements of enemies.
- Poison Ivy
- Nightmare Superman
A terrible calamity has befallen the city of Harran! Aside from being overrun by zombies, obviously. The Global Relief Effort has announced that a shipment of Antizin, the drug that temporarily suppresses the symptoms of the Harran Virus, has been "exposed to a foreign contaminant," and Dying Light players may find themselves suffering from some rather odd side-effects for a period lasting up to 24 hours.
Do you find yourself suddenly gripped by an uncontrollable urge to punch things? Does that punching lead to unexpected dismemberment, skull-splosions, or the launching of adult-sized undead into near-Earth orbit? Do NFL placekickers suddenly seem to you like a bunch of overpaid, under-skilled pencil-necks? If you answered "yes" to any or all of these questions, then you may have ingested tainted Antizin. But fear not! The effects aren't permanent; in fact, they'll almost certainly come to a very sudden end with the passing of April 1.
April 1, AKA April Fool's Day, is notorious as the day in which game studios try to prank their fans with fake (and, let's be honest, not-always-funny) announcements and events. It's a confusing and sometimes downright unpleasant day for people in my line of work, and I generally do my best to ignore it as much as I possibly can. But this one is actually pretty good. Not as obsessively detailed as whatever Blizzard will come up with, no doubt, but incorporating the idea into the game like this is a nice touch. If you're a Dying Light player looking for something new to do, fill your overpowered boots tomorrow.
Show us your rig
Each week on Show Us Your Rig, we feature PC gaming's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.
Josh Presseisen, Founder of Crescent Moon Games and Creative Director of The Deer God, is in a position I was in not too long ago. Gaming laptops offer a lot of power in a convenient package, but when something goes wrong it is near impossible to troubleshoot. Still, games have to get made and deers gotta get jumping. Josh was kind enough to rush deliver his Show Us Your Rig to us so we wouldn't miss this week's entry. He told us about his computer troubles and why he loves classic sidescrollers—a fact that shows up loud and clear in his work.
What's in your PC?
- Alienware Mx17 laptop
- Anker Omron Micro gaming mouse
What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?
That the graphics card doesn't work—it's using the on board Intel graphics as a backup currently and it's horrible, although pretty good for testing as a lowest common denominator. For some reason at some point the graphics card (Nvidia) just died, and I haven't had time to send it back recently. It's already been in the shop twice for other things.
I do have my eye on that new Alienware Area 51 desktop despite my issues with this laptop... That thing looks badass.
What's always within arm's reach on your desk?
Oculus Rift—I have been enjoying messing around with the dev kits. I hope to build some stuff for it some day.
What are you playing right now?
I find lately I've been playing more mobile games as I haven't been able to get any real gaming done on this horrible setup. The one game I've been able to play recently that still runs pretty well is Counter-Strike 1.6—never get sick of that game. Hope to do more gaming once I finally switch over to another computer (hopefully an Area 51).
What's your favorite game and why?
Favorite game of all time is still Metroid on NES. Doesn't hold your hand, is such a spooky game all of the way til the end. I remember sweating profusely when I finally made it to the Mother Brain. That era of Nintendo when Zelda, Super Mario, Kid Icarus, and Metroid were going on is just legendary.
The very Stalker-like online shooter Survarium has actually been in open beta for awhile now, but gamers on this side of the pond have been hobbled by the fact that the servers were all located in Europe and Russia. That situation is about to change, however, as Vostok Games has announced that the beta will arrive on Steam Early Access on April 2, and that servers based in North America will be rolled out at the same time.
The beta version of Survarium includes only the PvP portion of the game, which Vostok said allows it to work on the engine stability and mechanics in a relatively simple environment. "However, this is not to say that this is all we have planned for the game," it explained in the announcement of the looming Early Access release. "No doubt many of you are awaiting the much anticipated Freeplay mode, also referred to as PvE. This mode is in development. So please do not make the mistake in thinking that Survarium is just an PvP shooter. We have extremely ambitious plans for the future of the game and with your help, we can achieve them."
Three Steam-exclusive starter packs will be available for a limited time following the Early Access launch, which is planned to go live at 1 pm PDT. In the meantime, you can find out more about Survarium's Freeplay mode (which is the part of the game that most interests me, because it sounds like multiplayer Stalker) right here.
Online gaming service Raptr has announced the launch of Plays.tv, a dedicated site that enables gamers to share and showcase their "highlight reel" moments. The site will support gameplay videos of up to 20 minutes in length, and will simultaneously share them with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.
Launching alongside the new site is the free Plays.tv client, currently in beta, that provides a fast and easy way to capture, edit, and share gameplay clips. The client works with all games, can capture both gameplay and webcam video in a picture-in-picture format, and is able to import videos recorded with other software as well. It runs automatically in the background during gameplay, using hardware-accelerated encoding to ensure a minimal impact on performance.
"To me, chatting with my friends about all the funny and amazing things that happened in the game we just played is often as much fun as playing the game itself, Raptr founder and CEO Dennis Thresh Fong said in a statement. "Everyone experiences moments they want to remember when gaming; Plays.tv makes saving those moments as easy as taking a screenshot and provides a fun community to share them with."
"Plays.tv makes it super simple to capture highlight moments from our matches without the hassles of editing, and it's awesome to have a dedicated community to share them with so our fans can relive those moments with us," Team Dignitas Managing Director Michael O'Dell added.
Details, videos, and a link to the client are live now at—you guessed it—Plays.tv.
Ubisoft has just announced Assassin's Creed Chronicles Trilogy—a bunch of words that were presumably picked at random from The Big Book Of Franchise Jargon.
Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China had previously been announced, and now two more "Chronicles" have been detailed. In addition China, players will also be travelling (and murdering) across India and Russia.
As with main Assassin's Creeds, each game features a different protagonist, setting, time zone and art style. The difference here is that, rather than open-world exploration, Chronicles is about 2.5D action platforming.
The first game, China, is due out on April 22. For more, read Emanuel's hands-on impressions.
Assassin's Creed Chronicles consolidates the series' epic tale of parkouring and stabbing into two-and-a-half dimensions, while broadening its perspective to even more historical eras and exotic locals. Rather than focusing on just one time period, Chronicles will release in separately sold episodes, with a new character and time period for each. The first of these stars a female assassin in Ming Dynasty China, the next is set in 19th century Russia, and the third in colonial India.
Based on the handful of levels I've played at a recent preview event, the results so far are okay. Not as good as the best Assassin's Creeds or the 2D games that inspired Chronicles, but okay!
It's a 2D stealth platformer clearly inspired by, and not as good as, Mark of the Ninja. That's fine: Mark of the Ninja is hard to top and I could suffer a few imitators. Mostly, it's nice to see an Assassin's Creed game focus on stealth, which has been pushed to the margins as each sequel became bloated with more features. Chronicles is the first Assassin's Creed in a long time that had me hiding and assassinating in a manner that justifies the series' signature cloak and dagger.
Enemy lines of sight and hearing radii, as in Mark of the Ninja, are represented plainly on screen as cones and circles. Trial and error are sort of baked into stealth games, so this information let me make good decisions and minimize uncertainty.
The shapes are rendered in Assassin's Creed's familiar motif of clean software interface layered on top of the historical era. In the past, this has created an interesting contrast. In Chronicles, it seems pasted on, and not as functional as the visualizations in Mark of the Ninja. Ledges don't always break line of sight as you'd expect and sometimes they surprised me by penetrating objects.
However, they worked fine most of the time, which allowed me to sneak around the edges of the guards' awareness. I hopped across rooftops, slipped into shadowy doorways, and waited for guards to pass by so I could reach out, shank them, and pull them into the darkness.
As I progressed, I collected a few more tools that allowed me to handle more complex rooms with more guards. Firecrackers stun and distract, whistles lure, and throwing knifes are best at cutting ropes that will drop heavy things on guards' heads.
I also learned a few new moves along the way, like the badass ability to slide, stab, and instantly kill an enemy mid-run. This was especially useful during an extended platforming sequence in which I escaped a burning port in China, jumping from ship to dock with the flames fast behind me. It was the flashiest section I played, and its mix of platforming and killing was where Chronicles found its grooviest groove. Neither one is remarkable on its own, but they came together nicely.
As long as I was doing well, Chronicles was moving along at a nice pace. Each room or section was like a little puzzle I could solve with different combinations of platforming, timing, and gadgets, and since I was rated bronze, silver, or gold for every encounter (the stealthier the better), I always tried to sneak in and out like a ninja assassin. When things took an unexpected turn, I could mostly improvise a way out, which was hectic and fun.
When I really messed up, or in situations that left little room for error, Chronicles became stubbornly locked into repetitive cycles. There was one hallway where I had to sneak between two guards with very precise timing. Most rooms had a bush I could hide in or several routes where I could lose the guards, but in this room there was no way to retreat if I was caught.
I could theoretically fight my way through the guards that ganged up on me, but I didn't want to because it was pretty damn hard and not that rewarding. Blocking and parrying is the solution to every problem, but extra long beats between inputs made for awkward timing. I assume that they're meant to give me time to decide if I want to return the blow or leap over the enemy and get some space, but the beat is just a beat too long, which creates confusion and unnatural hitches in the flow of combat.
Chronicles forgoes the series' realistic look for an art style that's mostly desperate to differentiate itself from previous Assassin's Creeds, but it's not as creative as Ubisoft seems to think it is. It falls somewhere between the thick comic book outlines and light water colors, but nothing pops.
An Assassin's Creed in China, for example, could be the visual kick in the butt I think the series needs, but in practice felt more like checking boxes than taking advantage of the opportunities. There are pagodas and the stumpy mountains in the background that vaguely signify "Asia" but it doesn't feel like a real place, let alone one that's embraced like Brotherhood's Rome, or even Mark of the Ninja's version of same thing.
Each of the episodes also has their own little visual flares, which is a neat idea that isn't coming together yet. It's weird that when you go to the Indian setting it suddenly starts to add floral trail effects to sword swings, for example. It's out of character for the series as a whole and doesn't feel well integrated into Chronicles regardless of the wider context.
Everything about Chronicles felt stuck between wanting to respect the main series and wanting to do something completely different. I'm not sure if going boldly in one direction or the other would make it better, but every choice it made felt hesitant. It was kind of fun solving small assassination puzzles, but mostly it reminded me that Mark of the Ninja was a great game.