Recently I received a gift of Divine Divinity and Divinity: Original Sin on Steam as a belated birthday gift from one of my best friends, David. He had been keeping watch on Divinity: Original Sin while it had been in development and thought I might like it. I had never heard of the series nor its creator Larian Studios, but I was willing to give it a go.
Divinity: Original Sin is a top down, third person, isometric view RPG. Think of the way the Diablo series looks and you get the idea. However, the game play has very little in common with the Diablo series.
First things first. The character creation.
Character creation is interesting because you start by making two characters. The appearance editor is okay. It has a several options for both male and female characters, but nothing really to write home about. However, the class or abilities portion of the editor is where it shines. Yes, you have 11 classes to choose from, but each of these can be modified by the player during creation. Playing a Wayfarer but don't want the Pet Pal talent? Change it to something you feel will be more useful. The only part of the editor I took issue with was the character portraits. Despite there being many, I really felt like it was still too easy to come up with an appearance for your character that didn't have an analogue in the portrait selection.
The visuals and audio for the game are both well done. The maps and general animation are on par for this style of game, but the spell and particle effects really kick it up a notch. Some areas you walk through will have seeds and leaves blowing by your field of view, making the game feel more alive and further immersing you in the game. The sound track for Divinity: Original Sin is truly top notch. Normally I tend to turn music way down or off in games because often times I find it jarring and that it doesn't fit the mood of the game. Not so in this case. The first time I heard the theme music at the beginning of the game I was hooked. And the music in the game is no different. It just sounds great and works.
Looks like you passed out around a lot of combustibles, little goblins.
Where Divinity really shines for me is the feel of the game play. I have never played an RPG video game that feels so close to playing a pen and paper RPG, ever. The game doesn't spoon feed you your quest information or where to go. You have to spend time conversing with NPCs and looking for clues. For the most part I really like this, but there have been a few times now where I've missed a vital clue or it just seemed there wasn't one.
The combat also feels like a table top RPG too. When out of combat you just roam around at your leisure, but once you go into combat it goes to an initiative based turn system like most pen and paper RPGs. Once in a fight you rely on action points to determine your movement and what attacks or actions you can take. This might not sound very interesting, but believe me when I say that the combat in this game is some of the best turn based combat I’ve ever experienced in any game. There is so much that goes into an encounter that it's really hard to describe it with out writing a small book, but i'll touch on one of the coolest parts; that being the area effects. With your elemental attacks as a magic user or a ranged attacker, you can set the field on fire to burn anything coming at you. Fire isn't working? Cast a rain spell to douse the fire and create steam clouds which you can then hit with lightning to electrify. This is just one example of many.
My only real issue with Divinity: Original Sin is also one of its strengths. The conversation. On one hand you have these great moments of dialogue between your two main characters that can reveal a lot about their personalities and back story and reward you with in game bonuses. On the other hand dialogue with random citizens is the same thing over and over. I would have preferred that there be no conversation option with the background players because they all pretty much have the same dialogue options which tend to be pretty jarring and pulls me out of the immersion of the game.
Divinity: Original Sin in a very well done RPG. I think for true fans of the genre it's a game well worth owning and playing over and over again. If you are hoping for another Diablo clone or something hack n' slash, don't bother.
This review originally appeared on GameonGirl.com
If you would like to play a fun, energetic, competitive type video game, then you may want to play Rush Bros. In the multiplayer mode, you play against your friends and find out just who is the better player. Rush Bros. is essentially a platform racing game, where your video game character travels and avoids or conquers several obstacles before reaching the finish. The gameplay consists of about 40 levels, with you as the video game player choosing the specific level you want to play. You do not have to traverse each level in sequence -- you have the freedom to choose whichever level you prefer to play. There is also a survival and fast forward mode where the gameplay is basically the same; however, your character will move more quickly.
Before I get into the specific gameplay, lets talk about some preliminaries. Rush Bros. is a PC/Mac game, so it is playable on either the PC or the Mac. I played this video game on my Mac, and did not experience any problems having the game added to my Steam library for gameplay. So it goes without saying that before you play this game, you must already have a Steam account or be prepared to set one up. I'm thinking that if you are an avid video game player, whether you play games on your favorite consoles, PC or Mac -- that you more than likely already have a Steam account. If not, why not set one up so you can play Rush Bros. with your friends?
A big part of video games in addition to gameplay is the graphics. This game did not disappoint in this area. I believe you will enjoy the bright graphics as well as the colorful backgrounds as you play the different levels of this game. Even though Rush Bros is a racing game -- the race to the finish may not be as simple as you may think. On your way, hopefully to victory, you will encounter spikes and other obtacles that you have to avoid if you want to clinch the win.
Need help in getting to that next higher structure while you are racing? Simply, use the springs to propel your character to the next higher height. If the springs do not do the trick, then you may have to scale the side of the structure before jumping over the spikes to continue your journey for the win. My points here are there are a multitude of ways to move your character along the platform.
You may say to me -- "Well, that's all good, Ms. H, but were there any negatives about this game?" My response would be the positives of this game outweigh the negatives -- but there were some. When I loaded the game and saw the graphics on the main page, I thought this would be basically a music game. I saw two figures wearing sunglasses who appeared to be DJs. And what do DJs do? Among other things, they play music. So I was getting excited about playing some sort of music game. However, that was not to be the case. Music is a big part of this game -- in fact, you can change the music to listen to different tracks as you play the game. However, music is more of a by-product of the game -- instead of being intricately woven into the gameplay -- at least on the parts of this game that I played. Once the gameplay started, the music was more of a backdrop to the game itself.
I'm not sure if this was a glitch in the game; however, while trying to get my character through a maze of blocks, I got him actually stuck in a block -- and he could not get out. Try as I may -- the little figure stayed in the confines of the block until the challenger, of course, obviously won the race, since I could not get my character out of the block.
Another possible glitch is at one time during gameplay, I stopped pushing buttons during the game; however, the figure continued to run back and forth across the screen. Mind you, this was a character that should have been following my directional commands -- but that was not the case. He kept moving along, without me pushing nary a button.
There was also what I would call a "tedious" part of the game. The gameplay involved the character needing a key to open certain doors. In order to get the key, the character had to backtrack over areas that had already been covered to retrieve the key -- and then go back to the door with the key to open it. I found this part of the game to be tedious, because I felt that I made progress in getting to the door that required a key -- only to find out that I had to sometimes retrace my steps to get the key and return back to the door to open it. Some may see this as a way to win the race, especially if your challenger is not fast at locating and using the key; however, I found it tedious to go back and forth in this game. My suggestion would be to position the key at a checkpoint that is very close to the door to be opened instead of having the player to retrace his or her steps.
From a PC/Mac playing standpoint, versus the video game consoles, i.e. the current Xbox 360, and the PS3, I had to get accustomed to using either the directional arrows or the specific alphabet keys to move the character. In my opinion, this game would be more enjoyable to play using a controller instead of the keyboard. In fact, I believe it is recommended that a controller be used along with your PC or Mac. Unfortunately, during the game, in my zeal to win, my fingers would sometimes become overly taxed, as I pounded the keys to move the character. Thankfully, my fingers returned back to normal after I stopped playing the game. Of course, you may or may not experience this discomfort while playing the game.
Now back to the positives. I liked getting co-op help on certain parts of the game via challenger on Skype. I also liked the upbeat music that played during the gameplay, as well as the different environments that changed with each level.
Sounds like a video game you would like to play? If so, you can play Rush Bros. now since it is available on Steam for the PC and Mac.
Rush Bros. was released on May 24, 2013 by Xyla Entertainment.
Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies has just underwent a huge update thanks to requests by its fans. The most requested tweak? An update to the “Vote Kick” system where players get to vote to kick someone out of the game and that player gets to state their case. There are also a ton of other fixes and updates; new items, sidekicks, new zombie skills, new human skills, there is a veritable boat load. Check out all the updates here, http://steamcommunity.com/games/273110/announcements/detail/125326385277693020
Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies is a wildly popular free-to-play game on Steam that spawns from the original Counter-Strike that was released way back in 1999 as a mod for the first person shooter Half-Life. For more information regarding Counter-Strike and its modifications check out their Steam page at http://store.steampowered.com/app/273110/
Now that the Summer is over and the school year has begun young minds all over the world are hunkering down to learn the building blocks for future success. Ensuring that they master certain skills is critical and requires practice. With that being said, the current curriculum in schools is much more diverse than it once was. As a result of that diversity comes less time to practice any particular skill during the school day. That practice needs to take place at home. Getting kids to sit still long enough to do their assigned homework is tough enough but getting them to do extra practice is like convincing a cat to go for a swim. In my personal experience, making it fun is a much better tactic than withholding snacks. So, I employed my 8 year old daughter to help me review the game.
Monkey Tales is meant to make learning math fun but it’s actually much more than that. Developed by Larian Studios and die Keure that is geared towards 2nd to 6th grade students. It is a combination of logic puzzles and arcade based math mini-games. Players are allowed to create their own unique character that they can save their progress to. Their progression is marked by navigating levels to collect bananas and freeing monkeys by winning math challenges. All the monkeys are moved to the player’s zoo and the more bananas you have, the happier the monkey’s are.
Each grade level has a different adventure and theme. They all revolve around some kind of mystery and are essentially sugar coated Indiana Jones style adventures involving museums, tombs and the like. They weren't incredibly exciting stories because when I asked my daughter what they were about she told me she just clicked right through them.
The level design is fairly simple and includes moving objects to bridge gaps or obstructing lasers to gain access to the banana collectables. As the player progresses the levels throw in enemies to avoid. The enemies walk in the same pattern over and over so inexperienced players won’t have much trouble. If players do have trouble or don’t care for collecting bananas they can move directly to the math stations, they are easy to find because their will be a monkey dancing beside them. These levels are fun for players that have an inclination towards item collecting but it doesn’t make it a hard requirement. My daughter did enjoy collecting bananas early on but as some of the levels got tougher she avoided them and went straight to the math.
The real star of the show is the math games. They are varied and ramp up in difficulty as the player shows increasing proficiency. Some of games require the player to simply choose the correct answer by clicking it while others are arcade style challenges against the computer to get the correct answer faster. Stringing together correct answers results in points bonus to boost high scores. The mini game designs are reminiscent of classic arcade titles such as Asteroids, Spy Hunter and Centipede. When new math games are opened up the players can return to them later to improve their scores. My daughter really enjoyed the math challenges and did a few of them several times to beat her high score.
The game isn’t a graphical powerhouse and the navigation through the games levels isn’t innovative but the math mini games are very well done. I actually found some of the math problems in the later grade levels challenging to complete quickly. My daughter’s math has improved quite a bit having played this game so that alone makes it worth it. I don’t think you’ll be able to convince your child to pick Monkey Tales over Super Mario Bros. but if you get them to play in their appropriate grade level they will be challenged and have fun. It will give them the much needed practice they need without you having to write out and grade hundreds of math problems yourself (which is what I was doing prior to downloading this game from Steam).
Twin Echoes has announced their first game, Boltus. Boltus is currently on Steam Greenlight and will launch early 2016. Twin Echoes LLC is based in Romania and just launched earlier this month by a married programmer/artist duo who like to foster a rapport with their players to build a better experience.
In its twist on the classic pinball Boltus puts you in the game as the ball and you are trying to capture your enemy team’s base going from bumper to bumper. This action-puzzler you are released from the constraints of the normal pinball machine and can play both single player and co-op. Check out their Steam Greenlight page to show your support http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=519408429 or you can check out the Twin Echoes website for more info www.twinehcoes.com