We will build your DREAMWEB!
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Five Nights at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthon has spoken out to respond to criticisms about this hit horror series, which has grown so big in the past year that it's even spawned a movie with an Oscar-nominated director. In an eloquent post on Steam, Cawthon responds to the haters in a refreshingly frank manner.
First, he thanked fans for their support in what he called a stressful period in his life.
"It's true that I'm stressed a little; but it's OK because the result was good," he said. "I've worked very hard this year, almost non-stop, to produce good games for this series. Even though there may be some debate as to how 'good' the games are, I did my best to provide some good scares and a good story. All I can do is judge from the Steam reviews that I've been mostly successful; so I'm very happy about that."
When Five Nights at Freddy's 4 was released last week, it became the fourth game in the franchise released in the span of one year. Not everyone is thrilled by this cadence, seeing it as Cawthon looking to make a quick buck. Cawthon acknowledged that being on the receiving end of hate from some has been "difficult," but said people should know he is not "swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck."
"The reality is quite different, and I think that people who hate on me for being successful are misguided," he said, going on to share details of his previous work life and how he is handling his newfound fame.
"Did you know that last year I was working at Dollar General? I worked as a cashier. I had three bosses who were all still in high school," Cawthon said. "Before that I worked at Target in the backroom freezer, unloading frozen foods. I haven't had a successful life; and now that God has blessed me with some success, I'm doing my best to be responsible with that success. I don't party on weekends, I don't get drunk or sip martinis. I spend my evenings playing Megaman 3, buster only, with my kids. And I try to good with what's been given to me."
Cawthon said he's sharing these personal details because he wants people to know that he's human.
"I have a lot of flaws, and I've made a lot of mistakes," he said. "My games aren't perfect, and they never will be. But something more important that I want to convey to all of you, is that you should never listen to people who criticize success simply because it's success. Being good at something is something to strive for, not something to demonize.
"Criticisms of my games are fine, and a lot of times the criticism is valid," he added. "But there are a lot of people out there who will hate anything that becomes popular, just because it's popular, and hate anyone who becomes successful, just because they are successful."
Focusing on someone else's failure--or success--is "the wrong way to live," Cawthon went on to say.
"People who make videos bashing other people are like people who run into a public square and scream into a pillow," he added. "They'll get attention, but they won't change anything. If you strive to be like them, then you'll spend your life screaming into a pillow as well, and your life won't mean anything."
The upcoming Five Nights at Freddy's movie is one of many video game movies currently in production. Check out GameSpot's image gallery to see more game franchises making the leap to the big screen.
The animated short film follows the adventures of a porcupine, who loves to hug other creatures. But, since he's a porcupine, his hugs scare others away, and as a result no one attends his birthday party. The film uses the Rift headset to achieve greater immersion in the film. Henry the porcupine will actually look at and address you as if you're in the world with him.
Check out the new video discussing the film's production below:
Viewers wearing the headset will be able to move their heads and look around in the film, although it's unclear at the moment whether user input will go beyond that.
On Story Studio's website, the team referenced some of the difficulties of making VR movies. For example, because viewers have the ability to look around, the studio has to relinquish control over the camera shots to make the film immersive. You can read more about the process of creating VR movies here.
Henry will be released in the beginning of 2016 alongside the retail launch of the Oculus Rift, and it's being directed by Ramiro Lopez Dau, who worked on the animation for several Pixar movies. This is a cool application of virtual reality, and it hopefully marks a new wave in VR filmmaking that will come to all of the upcoming headsets. What do you think about VR films? Let us know in the comments.
Buy two select Xbox One or PS4 games at Best Buy and save $45. Each game costs $60, but it still means getting the pair for $75 (or $60 if you have Gamers Club Unlocked). The included games are The Elder Scrolls Online, Mortal Kombat X, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefield Hardline, Lego Jurassic World, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and Evolve.
Project Cars is $40 at Best Buy on both PS4 and Xbox One. Gamers Club Unlocked members can get it for $32.
Amazon's semi-secret discounts for Prime members currently include $50 preorders for Super Mario Maker and $53 preorders for Halo 5: Guardians and Fallout 4 on Xbox One and PS4. Alternatively, all three games are $48 each with Best Buy's GCU discount.
Below you'll find the rest of today's best deals divided by platform.
Groupon has the Last of Us Remastered PS4 bundle for $379.
Buying a PS4 at Best Buy this week allows you to save $5 on a 12-month PlayStation Plus subscription. You can also save $50 off a Disney Infinite Marvel starter kit.
Buy a used PS4 at GameStop, and get a free used game priced under $30.
The PlayStation Store has a new Summer Sale going on for the next two weeks. Plus and non-Plus members have access, with Plus members getting larger discounts, such as Far Cry 4 for $30, Trine 2 for $4, and Roundabout for $6. PSN also has its weekly Plus-only deals, including The Escapists for $14 and Shadow of Mordor: Game of the Year Edition for $40.
If you own a digital PS3 copy of Dishonored (including the freebie PlayStation Plus version from earlier this year), you can preorder the digital PS4 version of Dishonored: Definitive Edition for $20.
Other PS4 game deals:
The free PlayStation Plus games for July are still available and include Rocket League and Styx: Master of Shadows. August's free games were announced today.
Walmart is selling the Halo Master Chief Collection Xbox One bundle with a free second controller for $349. You also get a free copy of Titanfall, NBA Live 14, or Rabbids Invasion, or you can pay a bit more to replace it with Battlefield 4 ($5), Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition ($20), Evolve ($20), Need for Speed: Rivals - Complete Edition ($20), Battlefield Hardline ($30), or Batman: Arkham Knight ($30).
A similar deal is available, with the Halo bundle, an extra controller, and a copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, at Amazon for $349.
Get a free 12-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold and a copy of Assassin's Creed: Unity with the purchase of an Xbox One at the Microsoft Store (500 GB/1 TB). This is in addition to the bundled copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
A new Xbox One bundle to be aware of includes the 1 TB system, Madden NFL 16, and a one-year subscription to EA Access for $400. You will, however, have to wait until August 18 for it to be available.
Buy a used Xbox One at GameStop, and get a free used game priced under $30.
Buy an Xbox One at Best Buy and save $20 on an Xbox One controller and $10 on three months of Xbox Live Gold.
You can buy a year of Xbox Live Gold on eBay for $36.
If you own a digital Xbox 360 copy of Dishonored, you can preorder the digital Xbox One version of Dishonored: Definitive Edition for $20. If you're logged into an account that owns the 360 version, Definitive Edition should show up as the discounted price.
This week's Deals With Gold are on and include deals on Warframe and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag DLC.
Other Xbox One game deals:
July's free Games With Gold games are still available and include Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and So Many Me. August's free games have been announced and will be available starting Saturday, August 1.
GameStop has a summer sale on digital PC games, offering Titanfall's Deluxe Edition for $5, Typing of the Dead: Overkill for $5, Civilization: Beyond Earth for $20, and more.
The latest Humble Bundle is the fourth "Jumbo" bundle. For just a few bucks, you can get games like Mercenary Kings, Endless Space, The Stanley Parable, and Outland, while paying $18 or more gets you everything, including early access to Space Engineers. New games were recently added, including Screencheat and Coin Crypt.
The newest Humble Weekly Bundle has just a day left and features simulation games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition, Out of the Park Baseball '15, and Gnomoria.
Buy select Nvidia GPUs (or Nvidia-equipped laptops) and get a free copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
If you have a free Green Man Gaming account, you can access the VIP area of the site where you can find some nice deals, including Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin for $25 and Project Cars for $35.
You can save 23 percent at Green Man Gaming using the voucher 23PERC-ENTOFF-JULY15.
Zuma's Revenge is free on Origin.
Other PC game deals:
If you don't mind a refurbished system, Nintendo's online store has a Wii U bundle with Nintendo Land for $200, or Nintendo Land and Super Mario 3D World for $225.
The eShop has a Ubisoft game sale going on, discounting Child of Light to $3.75, Rayman Legends to $20, Splinter Cell: Blacklist to $15, and more. The ongoing indie sale, meanwhile, is set to end on July 23.
Walmart is offering a New 3DS XL bundle with Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and your choice of select Amiibo figurines for $239.
This week's Ubisoft eShop sale features deals like Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars for $7.49 and Tetris Ultimate for $15.
The PlayStation TV is available for $40 at GameStop.
The PlayStation Store has a new Summer Sale going on for the next two weeks for Plus and non-Plus members. Plus members get larger discounts, including Guacamelee and Luftrausers for $3 each. PSN also has its weekly Plus-only deals, with deals like Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 3 for $32 and Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters for $28.
The free PlayStation Plus games for July are still available and include Geometry Wars 3 and Entwined. August's free games were announced today.
Amazon prices are accurate as of publishing, but can fluctuate occasionally throughout the day.
GameSpot's gaming deals posts always highlight the best deals we can find regardless of retailer. We also occasionally use retailer affiliate links, which means that purchasing goods through those links helps support all the great content (including the deals posts) you find for free here on the site.
The next expansion for genre-defining PC MMO World of Warcraft will be announced next week during Gamescom, developer Blizzard Entertainment announced on Wednesday.
The reveal will take place as part of Blizzard's briefing on Thursday, August 6, at 9 AM PDT / 12 Noon EDT. The event will be streamed live, and GameSpot will have all the news for you as it's announced.
World of Warcraft fans can also watch a special "developer chat" on Sunday, August 9, at 8 AM PDT / 11 AM EDT. During this presentation, Blizzard developers will talk more about the expansion.
The new expansion will be World of Warcraft's sixth. The others are The Burning Crusade (2007), Wrath of the Lich King (2008), Cataclysm (2010), Mists of Pandaria (2012), and Warlords of Draenor (2014).
That World of Warcraft is getting a new expansion should come as little surprise. In 2013, before the release of Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard confirmed that a follow-up to that expansion was already in the works. At the time, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said regular substantial content updates are incredibly important to keeping World of Warcraft relevant.
"We view expansions as a huge opportunity to do that," he said at the time. In addition to full, paid expansions, Blizzard has continually supported World of Warcraft with major free updates.
World of Warcraft subscribers are falling, and, as history shows, expansions help bring people back. By Blizzard's latest count, World of Warcraft had 7.1 million subscribers, down 2.9 million from the 10 million subscribers it had at the end of 2014. Although subscriber numbers are falling, World of Warcraft remains the top subscription-based MMO in the world.
One other thing to note is that the new expansion will be the first since World of Warcraft introduced its Tokens system. This lets you pay for game time with Gold instead of real-world money if you want to. How this might affect subscriber levels remains to be seen.
What are you hoping to see from World of Warcraft's next expansion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Today, the company announced a partnership with GameSessions, a service that lets you try out or rent PC games before you buy them. Its games will have free trials, which give players anywhere from 120 to 240 minutes to play the games. Then, during that free trial, you can also elect to rent the game for a certain period of time.
Currently, the rental option includes paying a few dollars to gain access to the game for a day. After your free trial or rental is over, you'll have the option to purchase the game, which will immediately put it in your Steam library and transfer your save over.
Sega games that are currently supported include Company of Heroes 2, Football Manager 2015, and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.
This new partnership isn't necessarily targeting American audiences. In the press release, Sega stated that GameSessions will let it expand into Mexico and Brazil and cater to PC audiences in those places.
Currently, GameFly is the other main game rental service, although that company focuses on physical and streaming games, rather than downloadable rentals. There are few services that rent games via full download--other services, like GameFly or PlayStation Now, provide players the option to stream games for certain amounts of time.
We're also giving away prizes to two runners up! Our second place winner will receive a QCK+ Dota 2 edition mousepad, and a Rival Dota 2 Edition Gaming mouse. And finally, our third place winner will receive their very own QCK+ Dota 2 edition mousepad.
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The first half of 2015 ended on June 30. Nintendo did not share any kind of explanation for the delay.
Project Giant Robot (working title) was unveiled alongside another experimental game tentatively called Project Guard at E3 2014. That game is still set to launch sometime in 2015, though neither a full name nor a specific release date has been announced for it.
Designed by Miyamoto and his team, Project Giant Robot is one of Nintendo's tech experiments the company is undertaking to show off the unique capabilities of the Wii U GamePad.
The game involves a fight between towering robots--and it sounds quite exciting based on our time with it.
"You swing the left and right sticks to swing your robot’s left and right arms, and you plod forward using the right trigger," we wrote in our preview from 2014. "The robot's orientation is controlled by the GamePad's gyro, so you need to swing the thing around as you punch to try and build up the required momentum to floor your opponent. These robots fight against a backdrop of skyscrapers, with the GamePad screen taking a first-person view and the TV itself showing the robotic brawl from a helicopter."
Be sure to read our full hands-on preview to learn more about Project Giant Robot.
Another Wii U game recently delayed was The Legend of Zelda, which is also now listed as "TBD."
The video, posted by YouTube user SoKrispyMedia, suggests that a VR Smash Bros. might be a little difficult to handle. All the jumping around and punching would probably make it hard to stay on your feet. Check it out below:
The video uses good editing and special effects to show off a Mario vs. Link battle in first-person. The guy who plays Link is especially notable, responding believably to Mario's strikes and going after Mario with with Link's trademark attacks.
The sound effects are spot-on, as well, and Kirby even makes an appearance.
Although an officially licensed Smash Bros. game will almost definitely never use a VR headset, fans might try to do it themselves someday in the future. After all, people recently recreated Mario in Unreal Engine 4, and it looks pretty great.
At least, for the most part.
Guitar Hero TV is less of a singular game than an entire platform. In October, it will release as part of Guitar Hero Live, Freestyle Games’ reboot of the seminal plastic instrument series that began 10 years ago. While the latter’s live-action sets, reactive crowds and new control scheme are doing their own part to set the reboot apart from its predecessors, Guitar Hero TV is the separate, online aspect with progression elements of its own. And it could be the thing to keep players coming back again, and again, and again.
“With Guitar Hero TV, we want to bring back that feeling,” an Activision representative tells me, while strumming a chord progression perfectly during one song’s chorus. ”That idea that the next music video is completely up in the air. You might know it’s going to be punk rock, or metal, but outside of that, no one knows.”
From what Activision showed, Guitar Hero TV is easily accessible. One press of a button on the new guitar brings up what looks like a TV guide, complete with separate channels, each based around a certain genre. Songs rotate on each channel, and there's a schedule with a week’s worth of programming: Saturday at 7 p.m. could be pop hits, followed by a midnight shift to dirty punk music. Essentially, Guitar Hero TV is a collection of music-video channels. But these are ones we can all play along with.
A bar on the left-hand side of the iconic Guitar Hero highway shows a list of names. This is the leaderboard for the current song. Whoever hits the most notes, gains longer streaks, and uses their score multiplier at the best times will rise to the top. Subsequent rewards are based on player scores, and can be turned in for certain items--these include new note highway aesthetics, and also, of course, songs.
And that’s the thing--this mode can be completely free. If you come across a song you love, you can use in-game rewards (called "plays") to save it to your Quick Play library, ensuring you have it on-hand for the next time you want to play it. You can use real money to buy the songs as well. But refraining from doing so won’t hinder your experience at all, like many free-to-play models might. Guitar Hero TV doesn’t bar you from any content--all the songs are available from the outset. It’s just a matter of when you’ll see them.
This model borrows heavily from MTV nostalgia, but also from something more recent: Destiny. Similar to Bungie’s flow of scheduled content, Freestyle wants to find ways to keep players returning. And as it turns out, rotating content on a weekly basis might be a good way to do that.
“Keeping a player base can be hard,” the Activision representative says, nailing a series of hammer-ons during a particularly hard solo. “And we needed a way to differentiate Guitar Hero Live from the older games, because people played those ones to death. This is our way of doing something different, and we think it will keep people hooked.”
Much like Bungie reels players back in with daily story missions, weekly cooperative strikes, and weekend events, Freestyle will swap out programming every week. While Destiny players return for the promise of new loot and experience, Guitar Hero Live players will, ideally, return for the music.
And then there are premium shows. These weekly challenges will unlock specific rewards for players skilled enough to beat them. The rewards also scale with the difficulty of the tasks. For instance: completing a certain song with a three-star rating could increase the rate of in-game currency accumulation, while a five-star rating on the expert difficulty could give access to live concert footage.
"It's not just a question of how we can get the content to players. It's a matter of, 'How do we keep giving players worthwhile content, and how do we keep people interested in Guitar Hero past that first release week? That's why designing TV was more like designing an entire platform," according to Activision.
This school of thought is very much like Bungie's shooter as well. Although Destiny released almost a year ago, its player base is still alive and well. Freestyle is aiming to maintain a similar crowd with Guitar Hero TV.
It's also worth mentioning another way Guitar Hero TV could be similar to Destiny: the game doesn't have to be perfect at launch. Aside from its rotation of missions and rewards each week, Bungie has also implemented technical and mechanical changes to Destiny in an effort to continually tweak an already-released product. So while Freestyle can add songs to its roster throughout Guitar Hero TV's lifespan, it may also apply changes that weren't ready for its initial release.
Much like many other teams in modern years, Activision and Freestyle Games may not be considering this product just a game in the traditional sense, but as a platform that can continuously evolve, regardless of its initial status at release. It still feels like a quality game at the moment, and I think Freestyle has done enough to set it apart from the halcyon days of rhythm-based music games. But I'm interested to see just how Guitar Hero TV evolves over time, as this kind of content model becomes even more prevalent in the video game industry.
From what I've seen so far, Guitar Hero TV may very well be Activision's newest version of the platform model. The curated channels, weekly rotations and a plethora of content is a beast of its own, separate from Guitar Hero Live, and on the game’s Oct. 20 release, Freestyle can see whether they perfected the platform they’ve been working on.
PS3 owners, too, get four games thanks to Cross Buy, including God of War: Ascension. Those on Vita also get three, including Stealth Inc. 2 and Sound Shapes.Limbo
All six games will be free to download for Plus members next Tuesday, August 4. You have until then to download July's freebies, which include Rocket League and Styx: Master of Shadows.
Read on for the full list of August's free games.
Speaking as a member of the original Sierra adventure generation and someone whose very first PC games were Police Quest and King’s Quest, I really enjoy the way that A Knight to Remember looks back as well as looks forward. The story reboots the original epic while avoiding starting completely from scratch. While the protagonist is still Graham, king of the fantasy realm of Daventry, this version of the character is a grizzled monarch brought to life by actor Christopher Lloyd. The storyline of the whole series will actually skip over the original King’s Quest games to focus on Graham before he became heir to the throne, framing the adventures in each chapter as the recollections of the elderly king telling stories of his youthful exploits to his granddaughter Gwendolyn.This new take on King’s Quest elevates the visuals and sound to contemporary levels and then some, with gorgeous cartoon graphics and Hollywood quality scripting and sound.
This narrative device does a fantastic job of setting everything up, respecting the original King’s Quest stories (even if some of the finer details have been retconned) while also allowing Lloyd to serve as an old raconteur spinning these tales with accompanying puns and hints. Anyone who loves Lloyd (and who doesn’t? he’s Doc Brown, people!) will immediately warm to his presence, which immediately makes the game more likable. The specific story being recounted here goes back to the beginning of it all, with the future ruler arriving in Daventry as a wanderer seeking fame and fortune in a pageant being held to name a new knight to King Edward’s court.
Just as this story mixes old and new, so does the game style, which is a cross between modern episodic adventures set on a linear path and old-fashioned adventures that force players to do a lot of exploring and sleuthing. Both design styles are well represented here, too, with neither being short-changed. So while there are a lot of button-mashing action sequences (the game is equally at home with a gamepad or a keyboard-and-mouse control setup), the majority of play focuses on gathering items, carefully examining the scenery, talking to anyone and everyone, and completing many deeply traditional adventure-game quests. There is even a dash of role-playing here, courtesy of occasional choices that need to be made between the three approaches of bravery, wisdom, and compassion (which very loosely equate to the old fantasy warrior, mage, and cleric archetypes).Daventry at its finest.
This means that A Knight to Remember really does offer the best of both worlds. I thought the game hit a nearly perfect balance between arcade action with button-pressing brawls and wandering around trying to solve various puzzles to bypass obstacles and move the plot forward. Nothing here was particularly easy. This isn’t a Telltale-styled episode where you can breeze through it over a (admittedly long) lunch break. I spent a good eight hours here, having an extremely tough time with both some of the arcade challenges (the rope fight with Sir Cumference toward the end of the game drove me insane, and the closing chess duel wasn’t much easier on me) and the puzzles (which at times lived up to the infamous Sierra reputation for inscrutability).
For all of its newness, the game is actually a little too traditional at times. Some of the problems require leaps in logic, and the overall organization of the final section of the game leaves something to be desired due to a lack of structure. After following a pretty linear path through the opening couple of hours, the game then opens up to a fairly huge area loaded with clues and objects and screens to explore. As a result, I felt somewhat lost, especially given that there were few if any suggestions as to which order I should have been taking to deal with all of these options.
Even when I was frustrated, it was a good kind of frustrated. I always felt that I was moving forward, however slowly. And any sort of aggravation was always mitigated by the incredible charm of this heroic fantasy. A Knight to Remember has been adroitly scripted to mirror the whimsical nature of the original games, which were more like a little girl’s fairy tales than anything out of D&D. This is reflected in the light-hearted sense of humor maintained throughout, where even the villains aren’t really so much bad guys as they are misunderstood buffoons. This is even seen in the reactions to young Graham dying, which is often rewound almost immediately by old Graham serving as the narrator, who immediately says something like he must have misremembered things. Of course he didn’t die horribly—after all, he’s sitting in bed telling this story to his granddaughter, isn’t he?As with the original King’s Quest games, klutzy Graham is a hero in only the loosest sense of the word.
Visuals and sound build this atmosphere even farther. The graphics have been smartly crafted to resemble a slightly unrealistic animated movie. All of the usual comic-book tropes are presented, from heroes with big blue eyes to hulking enemies who tower over the good guys to vaguely anthropomorphic animals. Almost everything here has been well calculated to bring a smile to your face. Audio also hits a Hollywood tone. As already noted, the dialogue is simply stellar and the voice acting even better, led by Lloyd but also bolstered by a cast of unknowns who ably handle the range of heroes and villains. Even heroes and villains who could have--even should have--devolved into cornball stereotypes impossible for the best voice-acting to save, like an outrageously French-accented bridge troll, are somehow rescued and made into believable characters. The score perfectly accompanies the action, and the music here would not seem out of place on a big budget movie production, with lilts and accents to play up everything taking place in the game.
Like the old saying goes--the king is dead, long live the king. Even though A Knight to Remember is not the King’s Quest of yesterday, this first episode in a new franchise ensures that the heart of the original series will live on for the current generation of adventure gamers. Bring on the new exploits of King Graham.
The cast can be comically bizarre, but the story itself is both bleak and highly self-serious. In the near future, the fate of the world is threatened by the pale, moody villain all-too conveniently named The End. This archetypical evildoer rides in on a massive structure from another dimension called the Pillar and wipes out a significant percentage of the population to show that, despite the red-frosted tips in his hair, he means business.
To combat this threat, the UN sends a special task force wielding psychic gifts to reach the top of the Pillar, battle The End, and save humanity. Codenamed “SEALED,” this peculiar group is little more than a mishmash of colorful strangers with foggy memories. Bonds between each member and the protagonist, Sho, need to be built from the ground up, but working against that process is The End’s declaration that a traitor is present among the group. Before advancing from floor to floor of the tower, your team must vote to not only oust this fraud but also sentence him or her to death. Each subsequent floor establishes a new traitor, and the identity of the turncoat is determined by your interactions with each of the characters along the way.
Like in any good relationship, building trust takes time and effort--and Lost Dimension makes that a surprisingly enjoyable task. Without knowing anyone’s background, you quickly pick favorites and identify people you don’t feel too comfortable watching your back. Continuing to chat and adventure with a specific comrade improves camaraderie between your two characters, and beyond the social benefits, this often leads to more assistance in battle. It’s important to vary whom you bring into skirmishes, too, because Sho can hear the thoughts of those he fights alongside and note whether or not they seem suspicious. By switching different members in and out of your lineup and keeping track of these guarded thoughts, you can more easily narrow down your search.
This unique system forces you to care about otherwise irrelevant dialogue and experiment with different combat concoctions. The identity of the first traitor becomes clear before you’re asked to cast your vote, but from then on, you’re often wracking your brain over the choice. You accumulate Vision Points that can be used to dive deep into the psyche of any party member you’ve battled alongside to out the traitor, but if you use up three vision points only to discover three clear consciences, you and your team are left taking a shot in the dark when asked to vote someone off the island."One of you will betray me."
The combat variation that comes with having 11 stylistically distinctive party members is both vast and delightful, even as your numbers dwindle over time. Any six members can be taken into a mission and moved within a restricted circle to perform group attacks, flank enemies, pick up items, or hit switches to open gates. You can both move and attack in a given turn, and because you’re often outnumbered, it’s critical to partner up with members of your team with whom you’ve become friendly to coordinate assisted assaults. Guns, blades, and magical gifts can all be used to clean out a given location, but even highly leveled and well-equipped SEALED members can be easily dropped when isolated.
Boosting stats and abilities is exceedingly rewarding, and Lost Dimension provides a healthy suite of techniques to learn. A character with basic fire-based Gifts can eventually learn area-of-effect attacks, abilities that drastically reduce enemy stats, or even devastating special moves that might smite a target in a single blow. It can be frustrating to build up an individual character only to learn that he or she is a traitor, but even fallen soldiers leave behind items that can be used to unlock even more powerful Gifts for those who are still standing.
What Gifts you unlock and whether you decide to invest more heavily in defense or offense can make the difference between earning the top S rank and limping to the finish line with just one of your six characters standing. Once you get a handle on the battle system--how to attack without constantly getting countered, maintaining your Sanity meter so you don’t lose control of a character, and taking out specific enemies to complete missions in a hurry--Lost Dimension becomes a smooth operation. However, the stuttering framerate muddies an otherwise even experience. Even the most basic attack animations can make combat sequences chug, and the dull, insipid environments and unspectacular visuals make for a game that rarely looks as good as it plays.Careful planning and teamwork are essential when you're outnumbered on the battlefield.
What’s also uneven is the difficulty. Even if you keep up with the side missions and special character quests, some battles ambush you with a disheartening level of difficulty. The final battle is the biggest culprit, forcing you to grind out old missions over and over again to even stand a chance at victory. It’s not enough to sully the otherwise rewarding combat, but Lost Dimension’s sporadic degree of challenge can make hours of leveling up and character building feel moot.
Dialogue suffers from having far too many cooks in the kitchen, and it feels like whoever was writing the lines was forced to include a quip from each of the 11 characters for every single occasion. What’s actually said is almost never more profound than “Who could the traitor be?!” The one-on-one chats are much more interesting and actually reveal valuable information about a given personality, but watching the camera swing from character to character during the story only to hear empty, repetitive lines is wearing.
Sure, Lost Dimension is another RPG in which a group of teens need to save the world from a maniacal villain with wonderful hair, but Lost Dimension thinks outside that box just enough to feel new. The goofy characters, rewarding progression system, and tactical combat supersede the stunted dialogue and inconsistent framerate, and while the difficulty can be a bit overwhelming, the mechanics are fun and fresh enough to temper most frustration. What really brings it all to life, though, is the suspense that comes from never quite knowing who to trust, which keeps you wary of much more than just the enemies on the periphery. This is a JRPG layered atop a tactical strategy game layered atop a murder mystery, and somehow, the resulting structure holds up reasonably well.