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The excellent Streets of Rogue has another update adding lots of little things and improved performance

13. Juli 2018 - 11:44

Tags: Action, Rogue-lite, Humble Store, Steam, Indie Game, Early Access

Easily one of my favourite games for being absolutely nuts, Streets of Rogue has been updated yet again.

Not as big as some of the other updates, it's still a rather good one as it adds in lots of smaller fun features, improves performances and fixes the usual bugs.

Random gameplay from the Linux version:

Now, you can use an ATM to store an item between runs. So if you find something particularly sweet to stash away, you can. For those who decide to be the hacker character, you can also now hack an ATM to get it to spit out money. Although, they now have a guard so it's not going to be easy—unless you have a friend as the doctor who could just put them to sleep which is always amusing.

If your character has the "Diminutive" trait, you can now flush yourself down a toilet and appear from another because the game wasn't amusing enough already. You can also purge any current status effects down the toilet.

There's a new Necronomicon item, which allows you to spawn zombie followers from graves. A Hot Fud item, that you make from cooking Fud on a barbecue. If you manage to find a Four-Leaf Clover, it will affect a lot more in the game than it did before and more item changes.

The AI was also further enhanced and had multiple issues fixed, like the thief character giving up on stealing items from someone if they're finding it too difficult, zombies will no longer pick up weapons and so on.

As for performance the developer says there's a "hefty" performance improvement for when big fights happen, which if you like me and you really screw with people in the game it's quite often, there's also some pathfinding optimizations as well.

Finally, the developer said they've also done some more work on a final level. Exciting, can't wait to see what they're cooking up for the finale.

Full details of the patch here.

Absolutely recommended. Find it on Humble Store and Steam.

Hacknet is currently doing a free giveaway on Steam

13. Juli 2018 - 10:54

Tags: Free Game, Indie Game, Simulation

Just a quick tip: If you missed the previous Hacknet giveaway, act fast as it's free to grab and keep on Steam right now.

About the game:

Hacknet is an immersive, terminal-based hacking simulator for PC. Dive down a rabbit hoIe as you follow the instructions of a recently deceased hacker, whose death may not have been the accident the media reports. Using old school command prompts and real hacking processes, you’ll solve the mystery with minimal hand-holding and a rich world full of secrets to explore.

Grab it from Steam. The free giveaway ends July 14th (tomorrow) at 10AM PST/5PM UTC.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil now has a beta available for Linux gamers

12. Juli 2018 - 23:16

Tags: Steam, Action, FPS

Game porter Ryan Gordon sure has been busy. Only recently we got Turok for Linux and now Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is in beta for Linux.

About the game:

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil returns to the PC! The sequel to the hit game Turok is now available, featuring a host of enemies, weapons, missions, locations and a new multiplayer mode. Remastered for today’s computers using a new engine with improved graphics, Turok 2 will transport players into sprawling environments with vicious enemies lurking behind every corner.

Seems this one actually had quite a number of enhancements over the original release. These updates include 64bit support, a new UI system, a modern graphics system with a deferred renderer, shadow maps and compiled light maps, screen-space reflections on textures and materials and more graphical improvements.

It's not just the graphics which have been beefed up, the AI was also updated to make it smarter and more menacing. The control scheme for your character was also improved, giving you better speed and manoeuvrability, including letting you grapple ledges. Additionally, it includes a new "Last Turok Standing" multiplayer mode.

Since it's in beta, you will need to opt-in manually on Steam. There's no password, just right click it in your Steam library, go to properties, select the beta tab and then find it in the drop-down box.

You can grab a copy on Humble Store or Steam.

If you're a developer looking to get your game ported to Linux, why not try reaching out to Ryan.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is out with Linux support

12. Juli 2018 - 23:01

Tags: Strategy, 4x, GOG, Humble Store, Steam

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War, a 4x strategy game from Proxy Studios and Slitherine Ltd is officially out.

About the game:

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War brings you to a world of terror and violence. Four factions will engage in a brutal war for dominance over the planet’s resources. 

In the first 4X turn-based strategy game set in Warhammer 40,000 you will lead one of four factions: Astra Militarum, Space Marines, Orks and Necrons, each with their own unique gameplay, technological tree, units and heroes. 

Face a challenging AI or cooperate or compete with friends and strangers across the globe.

Here's the release trailer:

This is just a short announcement post for now as we didn't have any advanced access on it, so full thoughts on it will have to wait. Thankfully, GOG did provide us with a key which unlocked today. I can at least confirm, that it does seem to run fine on Ubuntu 18.04.

Honestly, from the short time I played so far it already seems quite familiar to Pandora: First Contact, the previous game from Proxy Studios (likely a fair bit re-skinned from it). Not actually a bad thing, just more of an observation. For anyone who has played a game like Civilization, it should all feel pretty familiar except with a Warhammer face. 

It does seem like it could be quite good, but I will reserve my proper thoughts once I've had a chance to play more. Just glad to see it run well with Linux support from day 1.

Explore. Expand. Exploit. Exterminate: You can grab it from GOG, Humble Store and Steam.

Rifter is a fantastic acrobatic platformer soaked in neon and it's out now

12. Juli 2018 - 16:58

Tags: Platformer, Steam, Indie Game, Review

The fast acrobatic platformer Rifter that's absolutely soaked in neon is officially out today, here's some thoughts.

As far as first impressions go, Rifter is excellent. To start with, it has you pick a control scheme (you can change it any time) and there's quite a good variety here to please different types of gamers. You can go with keyboard and mouse, keyboard only, twin-stick gamepad or even "classic" gamepad that's more like a traditional platformer.

Note: Key provided by the developer.

Rifter is a game that will at times fill you with rage. Failure after failure, with completely miss-timed hooks, enemies to take your attention away making you fall into water, lasers and so on. It's a mad experience, one I've had quite a lot of fun with overall. The sound track is fantastic too, it just keeps going on getting you pumped up for whatever's coming next.

As you progress, it gradually changes the environment while it adds in more enemies and environmental obstacles to create a rather varied and tough experience. It's usually pretty fair, there's only been a few times where I genuinely thought the game was trying to make me flip a table over. Thankfully, you also get access to upgrades as well to give you an extra speed boost when using your hook, the ability to climb ledges and so on.

Some of the levels are really quite insane for the amount of different mechanics they throw you through. You're jumping, swinging, dashing, grabbing onto things that propel you in a direction while avoiding enemies locked onto you, enemies that can fire at you and so on.

Key Features:

  • Lightning-fast acrobatic platformer - Run, swing, smash and dash and feel exhilarating freedom of movement 
  • Unlock, upgrade, discover - Rift through over 90 levels, 30 upgrades, new skills and leaderboards
  • Synthwave infused hypnotic style - Get in the zone with a pumping 80s synthwave soundtrack & neon-drenched visuals
  • Face massive bosses - Challenge a large variety of enemy types and hard-as-nails boss fights
  • Reveal the mysteries behind Rifter - Not everything is as it seems. Uncover the secrets of the Rifters!

My time spent with the Steam Controller was a bit of a nuisance to begin with though. I wasn't able to get it to work with the SC Controller UI/Driver when using the twin-stick mode, as the right pad doesn't hold the position of your thumb, so your grappling hook doesn't stay out. For it to be possible, you need to use the "Joystick Camera" mode for the right pad on Steam. You also need to adjust the "Anti-deadzone" setting in the Advanced Options of the Joystick Camera mode.

There's a few other issues as well with gamepads in Rifter, like not being able to actually bring up the ESC menu. Thankfully though, it's easy enough to configure a button on the Steam Controller to act like ESC. My tweaked config that actually works as you would expect should show up as "Rifter - GOL" so I hope that helps some of you. Even so, I still don't like the twin-stick mode with the SC in this game.

Switching to the "Classic" gamepad controls in Rifter gave a much improved experience, you simply press X to bring out the hook and left stick to aim it—doesn't need to be any more complicated than that really. It felt extremely polished when using that control method.

It actually feels quite a bit like Remnants of Naezith, another great indie game that makes use of a grappling hook mechanic, although this is less about speed-running (although you can speed run this too) and more about the journey while still being rather fast-paced.

In terms of performance, it's smooth sailing. You can find Rifter on Steam where it's 20% off until July 19th. I absolutely recommend it, what a ride!

Twin-stick shooter 'NeuroVoider' is now on GOG

12. Juli 2018 - 12:49

Tags: GOG, Action, DRM Free, Twin-stick shooter

Flying Oak Games first title NeuroVoider is an action packed twin-stick shooter RPG and it's now available DRM free on GOG.

Features:

  • Action packed top-down shooting. May include explosions. 
  • Local multiplayer up to 4 players. Total coop rampage. 
  • Procedurally generated content and hazards. Hope you don't mind a few game overs. 
  • 8736 unique enemies to blow up. Yes, we counted. 
  • Tons of loot to customize your character with. Explode your foes with that "double twin-plasma shotgun of father doom" they've just dropped. 
  • Gigantic bosses to challenge your bullet dodging skills. Chances are that they don't fit on your 4K monitor. 
  • Powerful dark synth music by Dan Terminus. May your ears survive the beat.

As usual, the fine folks over at GOG sent over a copy for us to test out. Truthfully, I had already played quite a bit of it on Steam but it's nice to get a chance to properly test the GOG build too. As expected, the GOG build is flawless.

The game has changed quite a bit since I last tried it, with a proper intro sequence now too which gives it a rather nice and complete feeling. A little amusing too, as you're a brain in some sort of experiment chamber that breaks out to find a friendly robot telling you to suit up. I don't know why, but seeing a little brain madly hopping along really made me chuckle.

As far as twin-stick shooters go, it's good. It can get a little reptitive perhaps, but what twin-stick shooter doesn't feel like that eventually? Awesome visuals, a sound track that's sublime and it runs well.

Grab it on GOG where it's also 50% off. 

Valve have revamped the Upcoming Releases section on Steam

12. Juli 2018 - 12:09

Tags: Steam, Valve

Valve are continuing their Steam store updated, with the latest section to get a makeover being the Upcoming games section.

Originally, it was a very basic list of all games to be released on Steam for whatever platform you had selected to view. Instead, it's now a "Popular Upcoming" list that takes into account pre-release interest in a game using wishlists and other data.

On top of that, there's also a newer dedicated full page spread for upcoming releases. Much like other parts of Steam, Valve are moving towards a list that's more tailored to you personally. It's a smart move, considering there's hundreds of games being released on Steam (even for Linux) every month. 

For me personally, it does seem to be doing a pretty good job. It's highlighted a bunch of upcoming titles that I clearly am rather interested in so it seems to be working:

Of course, for those who still want to see the basic list of all upcomming games that's very much still there untouched as well. So you do get the best of both worlds.

Read more here.

Kalypso Media buy the rights to the Commandos IP, a new game is coming plus updates to older titles

12. Juli 2018 - 11:58

Tags: Misc

Kalypso Media now officially own the rights to the Commandos IP which could mean good things for Linux gamers.

Kalypso Media have been pretty good to Linux gamers in recent years, with them publishing Linux titles like Sudden Strike 4, Railway Empire, Dungeons 3, Tropico 6 (coming soon) and plenty more.

In the press email they sent out, Simon Hellwig, founder and Global Managing Director of the Kalypso Media Group said this:

We have great respect for what the Pyro Studios team have accomplished and created throughout the history of the studio. Therefore, we see it as our responsibility to want to revive and further develop these beloved games for the fans around the world. Of course, this will include the development of a completely new games for all platforms, but also an extensive adaptation of the existing titles for contemporary technologies and platforms. We’re incredibly excited about the opportunities, and will begin speaking to potential development studios in the near future.

Given their wording, it sounds like we might see classics updates to support Linux along with the new game they're working on.

WIll keep an eye on it and let you know of any further developments towards Linux support. As someone who spent hours playing the original Commandos, having it updated with Linux support would be pretty incredible. Stranger things have happened, so it's certainly possible.

Fallout inspired ATOM RPG has another sizeable update

12. Juli 2018 - 11:48

Tags: RPG, Early Access, Steam

ATOM RPG, the rough but very promising Fallout inspired game has another sizeable update that's live on Steam.

This rather large update touches on almost all aspects of the game. The developers say they've even added in some quests that can end up changing the wastelands forever which sounds rather interesting.

Here's some highlights of what they added:

  • 10+ large new quests as well as expanded other quest lines
  • They said there's 35+ new NPCS with unique dialogue options and portraits
  • A secret way to get into the bunker if you're male
  • Additions to the music and sound library
  • Plenty of new items and 5 new guns to craft as well as new bullets for those guns
  • Addition of Ragdoll Physics (they say that's still a work in progress)
  • Weather effects completely overhauled, now everything is much more moody
  • The exit spots on maps are now slightly better looking
  • New types of enemies
  • Armour is now separated into two categories - helmets and body protection
  • Five new issues of their self-help survivalist journal "The Red October"

One thing they did say, is that translations for this update aren't yet finished. They plan to finish that in a couple of days.

Very much looking forward to seeing this completed. It's gone from an extremely bare game to one that has a surprising amount of content and it looks like they're doing a good job of keeping players interested with big content updates like this. I'm not going to say it's the next Fallout, but it's starting to look the part now.

Find it on Steam.

Action racing game 'Road Redemption' updated with improved physics

12. Juli 2018 - 11:30

Tags: Humble Store, Steam, Action, Racing

Road Redemption, the motorbike action racing game inspired by Road Rash just had a small but might update.

The changelog for it is quite small:

  • Easier to navigate around walls and other obstacles, leading to overall faster and smoother gameplay
  • Online Multiplayer Player vs Player combat more fulfilling with better physics, adjusted nitro and ammo pick-ups, and adjusted number of cops on the scene!

Annoyingly, they messed up the executable naming for the Linux & Mac versions. You can launch it directly from the installed folder, but not from Steam directly until they fix this. Sadly, that means the Steam Controller doesn't work as a gamepad, even when using SC Controller the buttons were all messed up so it's keyboard only until they fix it up.

We've let them know and there's posts about it on Steam, so hopefully such a simple issue will be fixed shortly. Even so, it's frustrating as clearly it wasn't tested even once.

You can grab it from Humble Store and Steam (50% off).

The new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Panorama UI is now available on Linux

12. Juli 2018 - 11:05

Tags: FPS, Steam, Valve

After waiting for a bit of extra time, Linux gamers can now enjoy the brand new Panorama UI update in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

To activate it, you need to add "-panorama" as a launch option on Steam. Simply right right on the game in your Steam library, hit properties and then hit the set launch options button and paste it in there.

Valve said this about it:

This visual overhaul is the most substantial change to the look and feel of CS:GO since the game was released in 2012. From the Main Menu to the Scoreboard, the entire experience of interacting with the game has been updated.

We’re still working on Panorama, but the biggest pieces are ready so it’s time for the CS:GO community to try it out!

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was looking rather old, since it hadn't changed too much since the original release back in 2012 so this is quite welcome. It's an absolutely massive change one, literally everything is different. It's not the first game to get it though, as Dota 2 got it in a previous update.

The minimap was also updated to give a better overview of elevation too and it does look pretty slick.

Also, if you had issues with Steam crashing with it on Linux, Valve released an updated beta client to address that too.

The updated release of 'Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive' that has Linux support is now on GOG

11. Juli 2018 - 21:35

Tags: GOG, DRM, Strategy

Ready to face a challenge? Good! As the updated version of Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive is now on GOG.

As a reminder, the updated release from THQ Nordic doesn't just add Linux support. It also adds language support for French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and English to the main game. It also adds in the lost demo level, with more limited language support.

As usual, the Linux release on GOG has gone through their internal testing (as they always do) and comes packaged with their handy MojoSetup-based installer.

  • Based on the successful tactical combat mechanics from the Commandos series with an even more challenging difficulty level
  • A great atmosphere straight out of classic Westerns with beautiful hand-drawn levels
  • A wide variety of scenarios and an impressive number of ways to accomplish each assignment

GOG actually sent us a copy of it and I can confirm it does work really damn nicely. As someone who never got to play it originally, I am especially appreciative of the work THQ Nordic do to update old titles.

Find it on GOG here where it's also on sale for super cheap!

The Humble Store 'Square Enix Publisher Week' has some great Linux games on offer

11. Juli 2018 - 20:09

Tags: Humble Store, Game Sale

For those after some of the bigger Linux games, you should take a look at Humble Store's Square Enix Publisher Week.

There's a few more on sale too, like season passes, DLC and so on. Some absolutely great deals there, for some quality Linux gaming experiences. Full list here.

Ps. For those who like your comics, there's also the Humble Comics Bundle: Dungeons & Dragons 2018.

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption from the Quest for Glory creators is now out with Linux support

11. Juli 2018 - 13:24

Tags: GOG, Steam, Indie Game, RPG, Adventure, Unity

If you remember Quest for Glory, the names Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole are probably quite familiar to you. Their latest game, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is now out.

Funded on Kickstarter a good few years ago back in 2012, where the developers gained $409,150 from 6,093 backers it sure took a while to come out. Interestingly, they actually ran a second successful Kickstarter in 2015 where the managed to get another $116,888 from 1,869 backers.

Features:

  • Story and Character-Driven Adventure Game
  • Role-Playing Game Featuring Skills, Equipment, and Tactical Combat
  • Many Ways to Play for Maximum Replayability
  • Turn-Based, Non-Twitch, Avoidable Combat
  • Seamless Blend of Dramatic Story and Comedy
  • Created by Acclaimed Game Designers Lori and Corey Cole
  • Soundtrack by Award-Winning Composer Ryan Grogan
  • Immersive Mini-Games and Challenging Stealth Gameplay
  • First of a Series of Games Set at the Hero University

You can see some gameplay in the below trailer, although it doesn't really show enough:

It's good to see it finally out, one I honestly lost track of completely because it felt like it was going to be pushed back forever. Here we are though, years later and it actually has Linux support right from the get-go so that's awesome.

Thanks to our friends at GOG, we were sent over a key to give it a quick run and it seems to work really nicely. Although, my first playthrough lasted all of about 5 minutes before I was thrown in jail and sent back to the main menu, which felt really quite abrupt and odd. Even during that time, the dialogue was filled full of puns. I do appreciate a good pun, it speaks to my inner child.

If you're interested in picking it up, it's available on GOG and Steam.

Poly Universe is a survival city-builder with tons of tiny planets and it's coming to Linux

11. Juli 2018 - 12:51

Tags: Steam, Indie Game, Early Access, Coming Soon, City Builder, Survival

Poly Universe is a pretty unique spin on the survival city-builder mix of genres, with multiple tiny planets that aren't much bigger than the colonists. It originally started as an experiment from the developer, Pouchmouse, with procedural planet generation. The idea grew and it eventually grew into a fully-playable game.

About the game:

A tiny band of settlers land on a remote planet. With you as their leader they will either build a new civilization, or be consumed by the foul creatures which inhabit the furthest reaches of space.

In Poly Universe worlds are tiny but numerous. Be strategic in laying out your cities to maximize the limited space available on each world. Balance industry and residential buildings to keep your citizens happy. But don't neglect the defenses necessary to keep them safe! Here in the outer edge of the known universe, danger can arrive at any moment, and when it does it arrives in full force.

It's due to release in Early Access on Steam on July 19th. The plan is for it to remain in EA for at least a year, although the developer said that it already has a bunch of core gameplay features to make it interesting.

Thanks for the tip, NuSuey/TuxDB.

Psychological horror 'Lust for Darkness' is coming to Linux, developers want to see demand for it

11. Juli 2018 - 12:41

Tags: Steam, Horror, Coming Soon, Sexual Content

Psychological horror with erotic and occult themes 'Lust for Darkness' is planned for Linux, however the developer wants to see demand.

Here's what they initially said:

We are open to Linux platform and it's possible sometime in the future, but we need to wait and see how big the demand is. Keep bringing your requests and they won't be overlooked.

However, Linux was actually a confirmed platform going back to their Kickstarter (see their FAQ). When queried about this, they clarified what they meant:

We didn't make it clear enough. Linux and Mac are still our plans for the future, but we are a small team who needs to prioritize their tasks. That's why we need to know how big the demand is on each system, to decide where to go first.

So, if you want to have it on Linux and be more of a priority, it might be an idea to let them know in this linked forum topic on Steam. It's still not great that we have to wait like this, but it's fair enough that a small team needs to prioritise.

It can be found on Humble Store and Steam.

You can see a trailer below, probably NSFW due to the themes:

Button-bashing clicker RPG 'Chicken Assassin: Reloaded' to release on Linux July 17th

11. Juli 2018 - 12:29

Tags: Action, Steam, Indie Game, RPG, Clicker

Chicken Assassin: Reloaded (previously Chicken Assassin: Master of Humiliation) is set to release as a free upgrade on July 17th and they're also adding Linux support.

Although it already has a SteamOS/Linux icon on Steam, to be clear the Linux version won't be available until July 17th. As confirmed by the developer to us directly on Twitter.

Chicken Assassin is a fast paced action-RPG with an outrageous storyline filled with over-the-top humor that boasts a myriad of colorful enemies and visually stunning levels and environments. 

Prepare to give your hand an intense workout as you battle a slew of eclectic adversaries and encounter special bosses in this frenetically action packed game! 

You play as Mean Mcallister, the living embodiment of what would happen if you combined Rambo, Foghorn Leghorn, a bottle of hot sauce, and a case of energy drinks together.

Check out the ridiculously in your face trailer:

I'm not entirely sure what I just watched…

The update will add in an endless mode, new language support, gamepad support and more.

It can be found on Steam.

Dead Cells, the rather good 'RogueVania' to release in full on August 7th

11. Juli 2018 - 12:12

Tags: Humble Store, GOG, Steam, Indie Game, Action, Metroidvania, Roguelike

Dead Cells, a game that has become a minor addiction for me is going to officially release on August 7th.

Check out their fancy new trailer:

Here's what we've been told it will include at the full launch:

  • 13 Levels - Each one with its own atmosphere, foes and secrets to discover.
  • 4 Bosses - Made by the most sadistic of the devs, raised on the salt of the testers. 
  • 80 or so weapons and skills - Spears, swords, bows, freeze blast, etc. 
  • 4 special powers, unlocking new areas and paths (metroidvania gear lock items).
  • 1 Daily Run Mode Complete with leaderboards for lording it over your mates.

It's hooked me in a way I seriously didn't think it would. I honestly thought I would have grown tired of dying in it by now, but the gameplay is just so damn fun it's not even a struggle to keep going.

Find it on Humble Store, GOG and Steam, currently in Early Access with Linux support.

Play It Now - Transistor

10. Juli 2018 - 23:02

Tags: Steam, GOG, Action, Strategy

Welcome to another review in the PIN (Play It NOW) series. This time we’re taking a look at Supergiant Games’ second title, Transistor. This stylish game is a unique mix of action, RPG and tactics, set in the future during the outbreak and subsequent onslaught of a mad-made enemy known as The Process.

You play as Red, Cloudbank’s most famous singer but who’s voice is stolen by the evil Camerata, a clan consisting of four powerful individuals: Grant and Asher Kendrell, Sybil Reisz, and Royce Bracket.

As for the Transistor itself, in the confusion caused by the Camerata stealing Red’s voice, Red escapes with it, complete with her boyfriend’s consciousness embedded within, and so sets off a chain reaction of events which lead to the opening scene in the game and your first glimpse at what the Transistor is capable of in your hands.

History
Supergiant was created in 2009 by co-founders Amir Rao and Gavin Simpson. The team is now 12 strong including those original co-founders.

In addition to their more recent and third release, Pyre, Supergiant Games are possibly best known for their first release, the isometric action game, Bastion, which featured arguably some of the best voice acting to appear in any game. True to form, the voice acting in Transistor is also first-class, and like Bastion, fully integrated into the game itself, only rarely using a cut-scene to further the plot. I was gobsmacked to learn that Logan Cunningham voiced both the Bastion narrator and the Transistor. The voice style between the two is very different, so I was convinced that separate actors had been used.

Spoiler - the cast list from the game's end credits


Oddly enough, the game allows you to cut some of the exposition short, but I heartily recommend allowing the game to play out in full - there are some great scenes that I missed first time around in Transistor because I was in a hurry to get to the next fight!

Game Mechanic
So, how does it work? You move around an isometric playing field to explore Cloudbank, collect “Trace”, which are the electronic ghosts of people murdered by The Process, and incorporate those as Functions to enhance the Transistor’s capabilities. As you explore, the plot will unfold, either through voiceover by the Transistor, or through vid-terminals where you can view the news and take part in surveys. And of course, periodically, you’ll face The Process, in a series of escalating battles which will test your use of the Transistor throughout. Battlefields are seamlessly integrated with your exploration, but they do impose limits/barriers to prevent you exploiting the map to trivally dodge fights.

The Transistor has four base slots available, into which you place Functions which can be activated at any time by pressing the corresponding gamepad button or keyboard shortcut. There’s no MOBA-style cooldown, but some Functions have a wind-up animation before they trigger, so timing is often crucial, if you’re used to simply mashing buttons.

As usual, I’ve made a video to demonstrate the gameplay.

 

But you won’t be mashing any buttons in Transistor, thanks to its superpower, called Turn(). With Turn(), two things happen: first, time stops, allowing you to take stock. Second, any action you queue up while time is stopped will happen at super-speed when you exit Turn(). This means that, to your enemies, your movement is godlike. Moreover, it lets you teleport close to an enemy, drop a bomb, teleport away, then turn around and shoot the bomb, causing a huge explosion, all in the blink of an eye.

Tactically, this is essential, as The Process is generally both much stronger than you, and much more numerous. Without Turn(), you’d have no hope of winning by the second fight. The only drawback to Turn() is that once you’ve used it, there’s a cooldown before you can use it again, and worse, while Turn() is in cooldown, you can’t use any Functions, bar Jaunt, which is your teleport Function. Fights therefore are often a game of tag - you use Turn() to get up close and personal, launch devastating attacks and combos, then teleport madly around the field of battle in real time, dodging attacks until Turn() is available again!

By the end of the game, you’ll have uncovered all 16 Functions, and with only those four base slots, this is where the real magic of Transistor’s tactics and strategy shines. You can place additional Functions into sub-slots of each of the four base slots, causing additional effects, depending on the combination. For example, one Function, Tap(), will add lifesteal to any other Function, often as a percentage of the damage dealt by the base Function. So, if you add it to your quick and dirty Crash() attack (50 dmg), it might be somewhat wasted. But add it to something powerful, like Load() or Cull(), and it can keep you topped up during the thick of battle. Or add it to your teleport Function, Jaunt(), and every time you jump, you’ll regenerate a bit of health.

Functions can even be added to passive slots where they have yet more ways that they’ll influence the battlefield. Adding Tap() as a passive Function, for example, simply raises your base health.

At at certain point in the game, you’ll unlock access to The Sandbox, which is a challenge area, allowing you to experiment against non-violent process “ghosts”, take speed runs, or tactical challenges in which you must defeat all enemies in a single use of  Turn(). There’s also some plot reveals when you use the hammock, so it’s worth visiting the Sandbox whenever it crops up, even if you don’t want to test yourself against the challenge modes.

If you’re finding the game too easy, you can also enhance The Process through a series of bad Functions which are called Limiters. The more Limiters you apply, the more experience you gain from each fight, but some Limiters are pretty brutal. In my playthrough, you might notice that when I kill any given Process, they spawn a “cell” which counts down to zero. If you haven’t picked up a cell by the time they count down, they’ll spawn into an entirely new Process which extends your fight. Collecting cells is normally just a case of running over them, but I had a Limiter in place which grants The Process’s cells a shield, which means I have to attack them before picking them up.

Limiters are a great way to add a user-controlled difficulty curve, and rewards the player for stretching themselves against The Process. But they are also entirely optional and the game can be completed without using a single one.

Speaking of completing the game, it features a really sweet Newgame+ mode which not only lets you keep all your Functions, but also extends the battle system by letting you unlock a further 16 identical Functions as you play and level up. This lets you load a Function twice - once as a core Function and once as an upgrade. There’s even an achievement for doing so! They also mock their own tutorial in this game mode, which is a nice touch.

Atmosphere
I can’t review Transistor without mentioning the music. As with Bastion, Supergiant Games have gone to town here, once again leveraging their in house specialist, Darren Korb. The music is atmospheric, beautiful and wonderfully integrated into every element of the game. It will change subtly when entering battle, again when you enter Turn() also distorting due to the time freeze, and you can enhance any moment of it by holding down the left trigger, which causes Red to hum along and a spotlight to shine on her performance. The Sandbox backdoor environment will also let you unlock all the music for playback at its jukebox.

There are loads of other little touches that make Transistor shine. The game’s use of glow, birds that fly off when you approach, or the rarely used cutscenes. But that voice acting is what keeps things moving. The Transistor will comment that you’re going the wrong way with subtle remarks like “We’re heading back? Okay”. Or it will remind you mid battle that Turn() is ready again. It will also comment as you move past buildings or landmarks, enriching the city with a bit of history.

The graphics too are stylish, consistent and memorable. The world of Cloudbank really is beautifully realised, even as The Process continually deconstructs it around you as the plot develops.

Not so nice
In fact, that last point is really one of the few downsides to Transistor. It’s about a city in crisis, overrun by The Process and being phased out of existence, one building at a time. And yet the city you’re exploring can often feel empty and lifeless, despite the vid terminals giving you a glimpse of the masses panicking as The Process attacks. The human action happens far from you as you battle The Process on otherwise empty streets, and I found the lack of ever meeting a single human being oddly disconcerting and a bit disappointing. I suppose technically, you meet the Camerata, but generally only to kill them!

I also found it a little frustrating that you can only change the Transistor’s load out at the scattered Access Points. This is actually a game mechanic, since if you are reduced to zero health, you don’t actually die, you just start losing Functions instead and if you go on to win the battle, you can only recover those lost Functions at future Access Points. Even so, a little bit of leeway on that front would have opened up even more tactical play.

In the same way, you can’t actually see how your Functions interrelate unless you remove them at an Access Point and then add them in again. This is only an issue as you start to play, since by the time you finish the game, you’ll be so familiar with each Function that you’ll know instinctively what each does. But it creates an early artificial learning curve when one shouldn’t exist at all.

Finally, a technical issue. The game relies on an outdated Fmod component that doesn’t play very well with modern distros which feature more than one soundcard. This is such a shame, because Supergiant Games have really done well by us in the past, but it’s such a poor experience to download a game and have no sound out of the door simply because you have two sound outputs (in my case, an HDMI sound output to my monitor, plus of course my PC’s built-in analog card).

To fix this, you have to run the game via terminal, which outputs each Fmod output and its corresponding index, then edit a text file in the game directory to match which output you want. In this day and age, it’s fiddly and unnecessary, but it appears that Supergiant Games aren’t going to address it in their Linux build, which is a real shame. Official fix and details here.

Summary
I’ll be brief here. Transistor is stylish, polished, beautiful, memorable and satisfying to play. It’s great value for money at around 12-14 hours per playthrough and with that excellent NewGame+ mode to bring you back, you can easily double that number without getting bored. Play it now.

Available on Steam, and GOG

The rather engrossing roguelike 'Caves of Qud' is now on GOG & itch

10. Juli 2018 - 22:48

Tags: GOG, DRM Free, Itch.io, Roguelike

For those who love your traditional roguelikes, you might want to check out Caves of Qud which is now available on GOG and itch.io.

Along with the release on new stores, they just did a big update to the game too which includes generated villages spread throughout the game, each with its own faction, history and so on. A dynamic quest system to go along with that, giving you unique quests for each! Also, you have the option of choosing your starting location now which includes some of the new villages.

It's quite highly rated and I've certainly never heard anyone say a bad word about it. It had been a while since I had played it (2015 in fact!), so I attempted another run at it today.

I decided to roll a random character rather than creating my own and it did not disappoint. I was given a Mutated Human Gunslinger, with photosynthetic skin, a stinger with paralysing venom…and narcolepsy (hah!). A fun little feature, is that you can get the game to create a tweet with your character build for others to try out, it's code is "BDMLKLKOBRBYDBDODZED" if this build interests you.

It does initially seem like it's quite hard to get into, but honestly the in-game guide actually does a great job at getting you going. Once you get a few of the keys sorted, it's surprisingly easy to have an amusing time with it.

Naturally, my first attempt didn't last long. I found a chest, opened it and decided all that tasty loot should be mine, especially this random artifact. Suddenly—I'm confused, the world is all warped and all the walls are out of place, someone's started attacking me (presumably the person who's house I'm robbing) and I'm dead.

Okay, let's try again. This time, I'm a friendly face willing to help out and get my name out in the world. What's that? You need help getting rid of some critters eating your crops? Okay…moments later—"You Died. You were killed by a worm of the earth". Well, that was unexpected. And so begins my new addiction to Caves of Qud. A game that will give you an endless amount of stories to tell with tons of content.

Features:

  • Assemble your character from over 70 mutations and defects and 24 castes and kits—outfit yourself with wings, two heads, quills, four arms, flaming hands, or the power to clone yourself—it's all the character diversity you could want. 
  • Explore procedurally-generated regions with some familiar locations—each world is nearly 1 million maps large.
  • Dig through everything—don't like the wall blocking your way? Dig through it with a pickaxe, or eat through it with your corrosive gas mutation, or melt it to lava. Yes, every wall has a melting point.
  • Hack the limbs off monsters—every monster and NPC is as fully simulated as the player. That means they have levels, skills, equipment, faction allegiances, and body parts. So if you have a mutation that lets you, say, psionically dominate a spider, you can traipse through the world as a spider, laying webs and eating things.
  • Pursue allegiances with over 60 factions—apes, crabs, robots, and highly entropic beings—just to name a few.
  • Follow the plot to Barathrum the Old, a sentient cave bear who leads a sect of tinkers intent on restoring technological splendor to Qud.
  • Learn the lore—there's a story in every nook, from legendary items with storied pasts to in-game history books written by plant historians.
  • Die—Caves of Qud is brutally difficult and deaths are permanent. Don't worry, though—you can always roll a new character.

While it's been on Steam for a while, GOG as usual is a little later to the party, however it comes with a Linux build right away!

Find Caves of Qud on GOG or itch.io now as well as of today!

It arrived on itch just after we posted the article, it was updated to note this.

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