Zombies, Run! An excellent way to keep fit and look paranoid

Zombies Run!As far as motivations to run go, being chased by zombies is a very compelling one.

Zombies, Run! is an app that blends fitness tracking with some light gamification to create a more interesting way of staying in shape. Pitching you into a standard zombie apocalypse scenario through audio snippets piped into your headphones, the game feeds you instructions and updates whilst your phone keeps track of how far you have run and how quickly you are running.

The gamification elements come from supplies that you ‘find’ whilst out for your run. Once you’re back at home and collapsing on the sofa in a sweaty mess, you can spend these resources to build up your virtual survivor town with new buildings to help other inhabitants of your post apocalyptic world.

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Evolve review: a shallow shooter or the perfect 20 minute monster movie?

Sometimes you want to eat your friends. Co-op games often further compound that and Evolve is no different.

Maybe the medic always seems to be off having a coffee whilst your limbs are being chewed on by playful jungle critters, or maybe the support keeps calling in an airstike at either the other end of the map or a millimetre above your head. Maybe the assault guy just hasn’t worked out that he needs to shoot at the giant house-sized monster as opposed to just running towards it and getting swiped.

Leaping Evolve monster

A surprisingly agile monster leaping towards your face is also going to ruin your day.

Thankfully, Evolve has an excellent method of dealing with this. You can decide that what you really want to do is play as a giant house-sized monster that will eat your friends.

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One More Line: The lonely smoker’s perfect game

One More Line logoOne More Line might very well be the best cigarette break game on the market right now.

Taking on a neon art-deco Atari-esque aesthetic, One More Line gives you a small dome-shape to control and sets you the task of travelling as far as you can without crashing into discs strewn in your path or the walls to either side of you.

The reason that this makes for such an excellent cigarette-break game lies in its extraordinarily simple controls. Easily controlled one-handed, pressing your thumb onto the screen locks your little ship (we’ll call it a ship for lack of a better word) on to a nearby disc and spins you in an arc around it. Releasing your thumb makes your ship let go and beetle off in the direction it is now facing, mostly like directly into the path of a wall or another disc.

One More Line is surprisingly difficult to master. A single run takes a matter of seconds and how long you play will probably depend on how long you’ve got. There is admittedly a bit of a compulsion to keep playing when you first pick the game up, but once you’ve got used to it it’s very easy to put down again and get on with your life.

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Yeti Hunter Review

This review for Yeti Hunter, a free PC game from Vlambeer, first appeared on X, a site I now pretend never existed.

The first time I saw a yeti, the hairs on the back of my neck rose and prodded the nerves that coiled round to my temples and then proceeded to stop me breathing for the next three seconds. It was the first indication that I was not in fact alone in the blazing white snow-scape I had found myself in and that there were in fact yetis out there, or at least one, for me to hunt.

Always a pleasant sight to welcome you to a game's world.

Always a pleasant sight to welcome you to a game’s world.

Having come away from the game for a few minutes it occurs to me that I’m only assuming that I was the hunter because I was the one holding the gun and because on this particular occasion, the yeti was running away from me. There was no guarantee that this would always be the case or that the Yeti was even aware of my existence. Perhaps it was just frolicking, blissfully unaware of the terrified and quivering wreck currently cowering behind a cross-hair.

Yeti Hunter from Vlambeer is something I wouldn’t be surprised to find in an art gallery. In terms of atmosphere, it should be played by anyone who is in any doubt of the potential evocative nature of gaming as a medium, even through a retro aesthetic. The landscape is a crude, pixelated affair, outwardly resembling something that would be spat out by an ancient Atari, but the flickering snow and blinding white haze reveals a graphical sophistication that older machines would have been incapable of.

Not shown by picture: my fear-bulged eyes.

Not shown by picture: my fear-bulged eyes.

As for the atmosphere, the first time the scene snapped from day to night, and I do mean to use the word snapped, my heart decided it wanted to occupy a space that was half its size, contracting down with the shift in music. Said music, from Kozilek, does an incredible job of further pushing the tone and feeling of extreme solitude in a hostile or at best bleak environment.

The scratchy, shaky appearance of the snow and pixel-trees, accompanied by the haunting music played through my headphones in combination with the fact that I rather foolishly played this in the dark with the flickers of torrential snow lightly strobing against my walls, meant that the one thing it put me in mind of the most was the horror film The Ring. Upon exiting the game, I half expected to find an email from the yeti reading ‘seven days’.

I scare easily in games. I put the controller down very early on in Silent Hill 2 because unlike in a horror film, actually walking away is of course an option. That said, the atmosphere and tension that Yeti Hunter manages to build on such few resources is astounding. It is in no doubt a short form game, and not exactly something you can play for very long, nor I doubt very often, but it is an example of a supreme piece of game design and highly compelling, even if the lack of instruction or definitive objective can be a little unsettling.

It is really rather difficult to convey just how much atmosphere this game has in these screens.

It is really rather difficult to convey just how much atmosphere this game has in these screens.

I have yet to actually kill the/one of the yetis. I’m not even certain it’s possible and to be perfectly honest, I’m a little concerned of the potential consequences of doing so. If I find myself actually face to face with one, it will be interesting to see if I can pull the trigger and I appear to have taken to hiding up trees instead.

Verdict: Yeti Hunter didn’t feel the need to give me a score, so I won’t do the same to it. This should be looked at by any budding designer, anyone who needs convincing that games can be artistic, or anyone who wants a good atmospheric scare.

Yeti hunter was developed by Vlambeer with music from Kozilek. It is available as a free downloaded on the Yeti Hunter site.

Update: I wrote this long ago before I knew who Vlambeer were and and before the studio had done a huge amount. They have become one of the most interesting indie developers currently on the scene, and as a bonus recommendation, its mobile game Ridiculous Fishing is one of the few mobile titles that can be whole-heartedly recommended.

Check out this page for a selection of more video game reviews. They may not be the latest games or the most regularly updated, but they are definitely reviews.

Hearthstone Beta Review

The Hearthstone Beta review

Initially Hearthstone comes across as a shameless copy of Magic: The Gathering. Of course, Magic: The Gathering is an excellent game marred only by the fact that your friends are smarter than you, know which cards go together perfectly, and don’t keep getting distracted and filling their decks with low-health creatures. I may only be speaking for myself there of course.

hearthstone_main

I was ready to write off Hearthstone as Magic: The Copying and call it a day but there’s just something about Blizzard’s level of polish that makes that quite hard to do. Four hours later I had fully filed my nails down with my teeth and had both feet tucked up onto my chair as the last few points hung in the balance between my confused Paladin (he didn’t know why his cards were all low-health creatures) and a suicidal Warlock constantly hurting himself to get better cards whilst I ineffectually poked him with a town guard.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a Blizzard Entertainment project that looks to be lining its cross-hairs on the lucrative (I initially typed ludicrous and I’m not sure I was right to correct it) free-to-play market. It is a digital collectible card game whereby players collect cards, build decks out of those cards, and then battle each other with those decks. You unlock cards by levelling up or earning gold through the game, or by putting your credit card details down to buy more of them directly.

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