DLC Review: The Dark Fist (Punch Club)

There is much darkness in that fist.

There is much darkness in that fist.

By: Justin Hobley

Somewhere, someone out there would tell me that the first rule of Punch Club is to not discuss Punch Club. That person would likely be dancing around a Cease and Desist order at this time, so let me sneak in here with some fresh news about The Dark Fist, a major update to Punch Club that adds several things to the game.

With the introduction of The Dark Fist, cloud saves were added so that you can play on Steam, save to the cloud, and pick up your cellphone to keep playing (Android and iOS only). Of course, play safely, folks – no beating people up while you’re driving, please!

Additionally, The Dark Fist introduces new content in the form of a briefcase that shows up in your house. This case introduces a new storyline for you to discover. Follow the glowing briefcase as it takes you all across town on the tail end of a crime spree, presenting more questions than answers.

Of course, no question likes to go unanswered, and no foul deed goes unpunished for long, so as you follow the gooey beacon around town, you’ll eventually uncover some of the answers.

OVERALL (4/5)

The Dark Fist adds some solid content and a few quality of life fixes to Punch Club, giving those who may have already completed the game something new to do as they manage their boxer’s life.

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PC/PS4 Review: Nights of Azure

I feel like Ifrit should be around somewhere...

I feel like Ifrit should be around somewhere…

By: Brian Gunn

Nights of Azure is the latest title from the developer Gust, which is largely known for the Atelier series.  Most of their titles are turn-based RPGs, but here they’ve delved into the action RPG arena, and to mostly mixed results.

CONTROLS (3.5/5)

Nights of Azure is a fairly basic action RPG, and the controls are standard and easy to grasp. There’s a normal and strong attack you can string together with combos as well a special meter to fill to allow a wide area cinematic special attack.

You might think the addition of four different monsters to summon to your party might make things complicated or unique, but summoning only requires holding a modifier button and hitting the correct icon, and  their attacks are all automated save one you can trigger by inputting the same combination used for the summon.

There are some advanced techniques like dodging and juggling, but the actual encounters are simple enough that players won’t get much use out of them.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (3/5)

Given that Nights of Azure is a cross-generational title, available on the PS3, PS4 and Vita, it’s a fairly average looking game. Areas are often bland and lifeless, and there are many enemy reskins. Not all is woeful though, as the game manages to maintain a fairly effective atmosphere when out slaying monsters.

Nearly all of your time is spent at night on a foggy island where everyone’s afraid to venture out, and it manages to evoke a Victorian London style mood. Character designs do leave a lot to be desired though, with seemingly every stereotypical pandering anime trait accounted for.

The audio of the title fares far better than the visuals. The soundtrack is simply gorgeous, also helping to evoke the atmosphere with its operatic tunes and roaring guitars. Many tracks feel like they would be right at home in a Castlevania game.

Nights of Azure is a subtitled game, and the voice acting acquits itself well. Sound effects leave little impression and could have been improved to give combat a little more impact.

GAMEPLAY (2.5/5)

A long time ago, good and evil fought, and well, you probably know where this is going. The ancient evil was not killed, but merely sealed away, and to this day various factions are working to make sure that seal stays in place. Enter our heroines, Arnice and Lilysse, who belong to one such order.

Arnice is the player character, a stoic knight that does the monster slaying, while Lilysse is a dutiful priestess that does the more magical stuff like purifying the area. Early on they find out that Lilysse is to be sacrificed in order to keep the ancient evil sealed away.

Like most stories involving this sort of sacrifice (see Final Fantasy X), not everyone is on board with giving their friend up, and so Arnice sets down a path to figure out a way to solve everything and not lose someone they love. The story ended up being a surprising highlight for me, even if it does get melodramatic at times.

Unfortunately, the action doesn’t fare nearly as well. Nights of Azure might be the easiest game I’ve played this generation. Despite equipping you with a dodge mechanic and monster allies that are meant be cast in specific roles like tanks and healers, most players will get by just using the basic combos over and over again.

There are no difficulty options to speak of, either, so you can’t even seek an additional challenge that way. Most enemies have a specific gimmick you’ll learn quickly, and even bosses barely require paying much attention, with going hog wild on the attack buttons being more effective than attempting to dodge attacks.

In truth, Nights of Azure plays more like a Dynasty Warriors game than an action RPG, with far fewer enemies to deal with so the spectacle associated with those games is lost. Even the locations often feel like Warriors fare, with large sparse areas that you just need to get through, and mostly useless power-ups littering the battlefield.

Arnice can bring in some demons to assist her, making the game into a smaller-scale monster collector. While you can tailor your party to include a variety of roles, the basic combat makes needing to consider your monster party setup fairly infrequent.

There’s a central hub for the game that eventually develops more features and allows downtime events between big story missions that works out well, even if it does feature eye-roll-worthy moments like making one of the characters into a maid for no apparent reason.

There are leveling systems for Arnice and her demon friends, as well as tons of gear to collect and grind out, though I can’t imagine many players will feel compelled to given the game’s nonexistent difficulty.

Early on an Arena mode opens up, first to help teach some advanced mechanics, but then as optional challenges for unique loot. These can often be more fun than normal progress as they feature tougher encounters, but there’s not much to them.

OVERALL (2.5/5)

Nights of Azure feels a bit half baked. It has a fantastic soundtrack, decent atmosphere and, at times, a surprisingly compelling storyline. It’s just a shame it’s supported by a combat system that’s so dull that getting to the good parts can feel like a chore.

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XB1/PS4 Review: Coffin Dodgers

Get off my track! *shakes cane*

Get off my track! *shakes cane*

By: Quinn Potter

Coffin Dodgers is about seven old people racing against the Grim Reaper. It’s a humorous, ironic version of a Mario Kart game. Bring your best scooter-driving tactics, get ready to pick up an Uzi and join in the fun.

CONTROLS (5/5)

This is a game for all ages and levels of players, which means the controls are perfectly placed for instant entertainment. There’s no remapping option and it’s not needed. Even the most novice players can grasp the basics in mere minutes.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (3.5/5)

The game is set in a wild and zany world, and the graphics reflect that. A bold palette of colors pops off the screen as your soul zips around town on a motorized scooter. The town looks like an idyllic community from the 1940s in America. Houses, a small shopping area and a bell tower circle a lake. Birds chirp and pedestrians saunter as your soul scoots around to collect suitcases with special powers.

Although everything is neat and organized, this is not a world where you’re going to waste precious time lingering over details. Shop names are generic (“hardware shop, farm shop”) and bi-level clapboard houses vary only in color, not appearance. Scooters emit smoke once every few minutes, but that’s all for special effects.

On a downside, the jaunty music can get downright annoying. There’s only so much vim and vigor an old soul can have in a day. The non-stop peppy beat quickly becomes exhausting.

GAMEPLAY (3.5/5)

The typical mode is single player, but you can play split screen in local co-op to have up to four players. In single you can choose Story, Quick Race, Time Trial or Open World. Within Open World, there’s Crazy Grandad, Explore or Tutorial. In co-op, you can race or explore, that’s all.

The souls you get to choose from are clever and fun. Jeremiah is a retired Amish sheep farmer, Hank was one of the original Harley riders, Wilbur is a blues guitar player, and Professor Percival Chase III is a mad scientist.

Sad to say, but the two female avatars are either a former “Playman” model or an obnoxious old lady who speaks her mind in a “piercing gravelly voice.” If you complete the full game, you get the added bonus of being able to play as Death.

Pick a soul and set up your scooter. Decide if you’re going to race solo or with friends. Pull up to the quaint, homemade starting line and rev up your scooter for a crazy adventure. Stick to the middle of road to pick up suitcases with special power, such as rockets, oil, electricity, an Uzi, a force field and a power surge. Launch your weapons at your opponent or boost your speed when you race alone.

Want to add something extra to your game? Change up your scooter from low to high or a self-modified “garage” mode… or choose a different track for your race. Drive down the construction zone in Subway Scurry to try your luck at avoiding zombies and subway cars.

Super-mild comic violence occurs here when you run into zombies and the blood quickly splatters across the screen. Clock Tower Clash, Devils’ Horseshoe, and Sewer Sort are mild variations on the race around town, but they don’t have anything unique or surprising.

The real fun is going to come from who you play and how often their avatars die. Watch novice drivers run into walls, get lapped by AI (other racers), or back themselves into a pile of cardboard boxes. Note that the time you have to wait before you respawn is lengthy for such an action-packed racer. There’s no online racing option, so it’s really best to play with friends and family locally.

OVERALL (3.75/5)

Coffin Dodgers is funny and should be restricted to only those gamers who have a nicely warped sense of humor. If this applies to you, hop into your recliner so you can spend an afternoon watching a couple of old geezers fire Uzis at each other as they race Death on their scooters. There’s nothing too violent or shocking here, so it’s guaranteed silly fun for all ages.

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PS4 Review: The Park

Seems like a pleasant fellow.

Seems like a pleasant fellow.

Originally released on Steam last Halloween, The Park has made its way to consoles, and it’s bringing some serious psychological baggage with it. Detractors may derisively label it a “walking simulator” in the same way as story-driven first-person titles like Gone Home, Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, but I’m grabbing my admission ticket and heading inside.

CONTROLS (4/5)

There’s little to concern yourself with here. You walk around, interact with objects and call out for your son to gauge which direction you should continue your search. Movement speed is pretty slow, but thankfully you can toggle into a sprint that creates a more reasonable pace. Outside of needing to turn down the look sensitivity there’s nothing holding you back.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (3.75/5)

A creepy, semi-dilapidated amusement park serves as the game’s setting, and it’s well constructed with some genuinely unsettling imagery. It would’ve been nice if the park covered a little more acreage as it all seems fairly impacted, but what’s there is solid. The gangly looking boogeyman you encounter strikes a chilling chord as well.

Much of the game is either ambient sound or internal narration from Lorraine (that’s you). The voice actor did a good job with her delivery becoming more frantic the longer she goes without finding her son and the more crazy shit she encounters on the search.

GAMEPLAY (3/5)

Your son, Callum, has left his teddy bear in Atlantic Island Park, and when you go to speak to someone about it he inexplicably jumps out of the car, enters the park and decides the best course of action is to run away from you. That’s pretty much parenthood in a nutshell: watching your kids do crazy stuff and trying to save them from themselves. But I digress…

As you chase Callum up the escalator something strange happens, and the normal looking park turns into something much more sinister. While you’re free to explore as you see fit to some degree, The Park is actually a largely linear experience where you’ll need to ride something to reach an area or find a flashlight to enter a building.

There are objects scattered about that flesh out the gory details about happened in the past, but the font of some of them is agonizingly small. While anything that appears as a typed report is generally readable, the “handwritten” notes and letters are almost not worth the effort — it doesn’t help that Lorraine kind of sways as you’re trying to read.

Since the game is all about experiencing the story I won’t offer specifics. It has some interesting moments as you get closer to finding Callum, and there are a handful of jump scares along the way (definitely follow the advice and play in the dark with headphones for maximum effect). It’s not particularly mind bending, but it’s good enough to propel you to the end.

Speaking of which, The Park‘s run time is destined to be a sore subject with many gamers. At $12.99, its cost is on par with going to the movies, but you should finish in around 90 minutes or less if you move through it more aggressively. Plus, exploration didn’t feel as rewarding in comparison to a game like Gone Home where the more stuff you find the more the story truly fills in.

OVERALL (3.25/5)

While I largely enjoyed my brief stay at The Park, I cannot simply ignore that its price point is on par with games that offer a lot more content. If you like psychological thrillers and don’t mind paying a premium, pick it up. If price is an issue, wait for a flash sale to experience it.

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Throwback Thursday: Win MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies!

MegaTagmensionHere’s something you should all know by now: I love my PS Vita, and it bums me out that Sony is surrendering the handheld market to Nintendo. Thankfully, not everyone is throwing in the towel on the Vita, and so this week we’re teaming up with Idea Factory to give away codes to download the brand new MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune VS Zombies!

HOW TO ENTER
To enter, simply let us know where in Gamindustri you’d live (Lastation, Leanbox, Lowee or Planeptune)  in the comments section below. Please include your @Twitter handle as well.

Sample Comment
Leanbox
@VertHasBigBewbs

THE FINE PRINT
Winners will be selected on Tuesday, May 24th. All entries must be submitted by 4 PM EST/1 PM PST on Tuesday. Please note that although anyone can enter you must be following me on Twitter to win.

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