Episode 124: The Popeye Test

This episode, Dylan is joined by Felix Kramer, producer at Polytron and helping out with biz dev, PR, and a whole mess of other stuff for indie games Tunic and Genesis Noir.

We cover a swath of different topics, from the perennial discussion of price versus value in games to Felix’s attendance at the JoCo Cruise to letting the Twitter horde choose your username.

We also thirst for some haunted domains and proclaim our love for our favorite Lego sets.

Games include Monster Hunter.

Episode 123: Enter the Thundertube

We’re here with Punxsupolyfill to talk about new console ownership and the terrible user experiences they bring.

In an unfortunate series of events, Will gets real deep into Dwarf Fortress, the Overwatch League suffers from lack of diversity, and Miitomo meets its untimely end in May.

We also go over some housekeeping with RVA Game Jams’ Global Game Jam games, our upcoming attendance at Playthrough, and more!

Games include Monster Hunter: World, Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Blacklight: Retribution, Super Mario Odyssey, Cave Story+, The End is Nigh, Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress, Dobotone, Enter the Gungeon, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Coup, and The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds.

Episode 122: Jeocities

After numerous whirlwind adventures from the past couple of weeks, we return home to rest and recuperate. Back at home base, Dylan is rejoined by Alex Damrath, Justin Mitchell, and Momin Khan.

We discuss the numerous strains of convention pathogens, from MAGFlu to PAX Pox, as well as a return to Breath of the Wild, the nightmarish hellscapes in Martio Rabius Kingdom Journey, Dragon Ball FighterZzzzz, our brief time watching Awesome Games Done Quick, do some GDC planning, and Nintendo Labo.

Games include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Enter the Gungeon, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Dragon Quest Builders, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Broken Reality, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sole, Virtua Tennis, and Powerstone.

Episode 121: Unpaxxed Ⓢ 2018, Night 2

We’re weary, but we’re here for our wrap-up episode for PAX South 2018. Dylan is joined by Nick Nundahl of Instant Replay Live – and Hidden Gems – fame along with fellow YouTuber Karinabob.

We talk Airbnb furnishings, the Instant Friends Discord, and some last-minute sights from the show floor, including the Jamroom and Multibowl.

As we drift off into a dreamless slumber to recover from the MAGFests and the PAXes, we make brief mention of a secret lost podcast, discuss the disappearance of John St. John, and introduce you to our southern cousin, Cloud Lee.

Pain is all we have.

Games include Donut County, Overland, Super Retro Maker, Log Rollers, Sorcerer City, Party Hard 2, The Painscreek Killings, The Norwood Suite, Multibowl, Dobotone, Jackbox Party Pack 3, The Swords of Ditto, and Florence.

Episode 120: Hidden Gems of PAX South

Making its triumphant return, the Hidden Gems panel is back to showcase more awesome games and experiences from the PAX show floor. This time, Dylan is taking the panel to PAX South with our friends Nick Nundahl and Joe Wetmore of Instant Replay Live. We talk about all the cool stuff that we saw and played. If you’re interested in following along with the panel slides, we’ve uploaded them for your viewing pleasure.

From the panel description:

“You’ve made it to PAX South, but now what? There’s just too much to do, see, and play. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to be your guide to finding the most interesting and unique games and experiences from across the far flung corners of the expo. Join us as we highlight, analyze, and discuss surprises on the show floor you may have otherwise missed.”

Games include Donut County, Super Retro Maker, The Shrouded Isle, Overland, Tunic, Children of Morta, Patobox, Light Fall, Aftercharge, Mystic Origins, The Norwood Suite, Black Ice, and Omensight.

Episode 119: Unpaxxed Ⓢ 2018, Night 1

It’s our first episode from PAX South in sunny San Antonio – Military City, USA. Dylan sits down with Bekah Saltsman, CEO of indie developer and publisher Finji, showing off their games Overland, Tunic, and Night in the Woods at the show.

We talk about booth logistics for larger shows, being thrifty as an indie dev, and the infamous Costco rental.

Bekah also goes more in depth about topics within and beyond the indie dev life, from her school and work experiences, the importance of non-development roles in the industry, hiring practices at Finji, working as a woman and a mom in games, and how she obtained her cavalcade of nicknames.

Games include Mini Metro.

Best Games Played 2017: Coolest Gadgets

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

What’s out there in the void of space? Justice? Revenge? Riches? In Heat Signature, the answer is all of the above and more.

What more could space offer, you may ask? Trouble. Heat Signature is bringing trouble. A lot of it.

Every mission sees you boarding a ship with claustrophobic corridors filled with various space folks using an assortment of weaponry to eject you from their ship into the cold vacuum of space. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – can run the gamut from kidnapping or rescuing to searching and destroying, and any mistake you make can lead to things spiraling out of control.

At first glance, these systems are fun but rote. After an hour or so of playing I could feel my interest waning, but that’s when you start to experiment with the gadgets you pick up on you adventures.

I’d be introduced to items like the Glitch Trap, letting you teleport enemies around the map, so I’d bring it with me on my next mission. I’d round a corner where there are three guards with gear that my puny gun can’t touch, so I take a pop shot to attract them and make a run for it. The guards would follow my position, and as they turn the corner, they step into the Glitch Trap I set and one by one get shot out into space.

There’s also the Visitor. Say you’re trying to steal some treasure from a locked room that’s full of guards. You use the Visitor to warp into the room, shoot one guard, cut another down with a sword, throw your gun at the third to knock him out, loot the treasure, and warp back out in the span of two seconds.

Each one of these new tools keeps the game fresh and exciting, and everytime I’d start to feel tired of playing missions with the same loadout, the game would show me the latest gizmo, and it would feel like new again.

Heat Signature is a fun foundation of top-down run-and-gun gameplay made great by a cavalcade of wacky contraptions that help keep your playstyle constantly evolving. If you’re looking for a creative and thrilling game that makes you think on your feet, this is it.

Best Games Played 2017: Freshest Ideas

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

From the ex-Hitman developers at Ultra Ultra comes a unique and fascinating game that seems to have gotten overlooked in a overwhelmingly fantastic year for releases.

Echo follows En, a woman that travels to a planet in search for a technology to save someone she lost. She descends into a palace beneath the sterile surface to look for it, but is met with a twisted surprise: the seemingly endless palace, with its polished marble halls, is filled with robotic copies of En.

To reach her goal, En must defeat her doppelgängers. Using her suite of abilities in refined stealth action gameplay segments, En has the ability to eliminate or simply sneak around her clones. With each fallen clone, future ones will use their adaptive artificial intelligence to learn, mirror, and counter the patterns the player been using, forcing them to adapt their playstyle to stay one step ahead of the copies. These sections further allow you to hone your strategic mind with opportunities to chain your assaults together that, if pulled off right, allows the player the chance to take out a group of enemies in one fell swoop.

In between these combat encounters are quiet walk-and-talk sections where En attempts at conversing with her ship’s AI, London. While London seems more interested in actively antagonizing En about her quest, she’s still able to maintain a conversation with him. In these dialogs, they discuss topics from En’s past to the history of the planet. These slow, quiet talks between moments make the world richer and fuller.

So much of Echo feels completely unique, from its aesthetic – which could be described as cyberpunk neo-baroque in early parts of the palace – to its combat, which takes a refined stealth action foundation and adds an adaptive enemy AI on top of it. Echo is a brilliantly made and expertly paced first entry from Ultra Ultra, and we can’t wait for more.

Best Games Played 2017: Greatest Feat

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Genre fusions are difficult to do, but Sloclap, developers of Absolver, has pulled it off. They’ve combined the mechanics of the 3D fighting genre – à la Tekken or Soul Calibur – with the persistence of a massively multiplayer online game, within a massive open world.

What Absolver establishes is an incredible groundwork for a future potential genre, but this proof-of-concept stands on its own – both in the innovation of its premise as well as the polish of its presentation.

Playing as warriors in the land of Adal, you are tasked with collecting new moves and armor from other enemy combatants by defeating them in martial arts. The action is like graceful dancing, where refined combat fuses the 3D fighter mechanics with the animation prioritization and unforgiveness popularized by the likes of Dark Souls.

You assign moves from your collection to a combat deck, which allows you to determine the order with which you use specific attacks. This customization of the flow of your strikes creates a deep metagame of trade-offs. You can chain moves seamlessly together and create an endless barrage for an enemy, putting you at risk of being predictable and easily-countered, or you can create several shorter combos to promote mix-ups at the cost of a sharper learning curve for your thumbs. Some moves can even break an opponent’s block, and each character can learn to use dodges, armor, and spawn weapons to keep this system unique and full of surprises for you and your enemies.

After a duel, the social features of the game help promote sportsmanship and encourage friendliness. Warriors can communicate only in premade emotes, preventing hateful language from ruining the experience and turning off players. During player versus player duels, it has become traditional for players to bow before beginning the fight. It’s even been reported that players have taken their character’s own lives in a duel if they’ve achieved a win through dishonorable means. Players who have beaten the game – an achievement marked with a unique piece of gear – often hang out in the starting areas of the game to pick up new players as disciples. Where learning a move in Absolver would normally require defeating an antagonistic opponent who already possesses it, playing with a teacher allows you to acquire those techniques faster while also honing your skills.

These tenets of respectability and cooperation, combined with a steady stream of new content, has kept the world of Absolver fresh and fun. Sloclap has captured lightning in a bottle with this game, and we can’t wait to see more.

Best Games Played 2017: Coolest Experience

These games and awards were decided during the Wardcast’s Best Games Played 2017 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Wardcast in 2017, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.

Titanfall 2 is a game built on, out of, and all about the rule of cool. Juiced to perfection in every direction from punchy sound, hyper animations, dazzling effects, and mechanically slick movement, Titanfall 2 delivers an experience that rises above and beyond what you see in so many action first person shooter games today. Titanfall 2 is capital-V Video Games. Fun above all else.

Its campaign is in a class of its own, readily offering new mechanics at every level and just as quickly taking them away before they get boring. Time travel, switch flipping, moving platforms, and wind tunnels all play a part for some truly fantastic moments that test your movement and reflexes. Set pieces are both a gauntlet for free-running and gunning as well as a sandbox for massive battles with the Titan mechs.

While the campaign’s story may seem unremarkable at a glance, don’t let that fool you. It delivers staggering emotional beats by establishing the bond between a pilot and his Titan. Even when seperated, your Titan is providing support through either dynamic conversation or by activating sonar pulses to highlight enemies or even dropping ordinance in the midst of battle. Showing the bond between these characters through gameplay rather than cutscenes is a subtle but ingenious design choice. In fact, Titanfall 2 has no cutscenes – every scripted moment plays out in first person with stellar animation. Even though Titanfall 2 is written like a Saturday morning cartoon, this only plays to its strengths, and smartly toys with your expectations.

In the singleplayer as well as the multiplayer, Titanfall 2 ensures that you always feel powerful. Even if you’re feeling like a god in your Titan, you’ll still feel nimble and quick as a pilot on the ground. There’s no loss of control in any situation. Whether it’s wall running into battle or launching out of a mech while it explodes, digging into a pack of grunts on the ground or trying to take on a Titan as a pilot in your own personal parable of David and Goliath, Titanfall 2 is all about ensuring you have fun and feel incredible doing it.

The simplest examples of this philosophy are in the multiplayer loadouts – you are allowed the option of your standard FPS frag grenades, but how about ninja stars that explode into flames, or gravity wells that let you trap other players and curve rockets and bullets? You can pick the Titan that slowly lumbers across the map firing 40,000 rounds per second, or the one carrying a sword the size of a school bus. Neither is inherently better than the other, but thematically you get to play the exact kind of super space-soldier you want to be.

We could go on about primary loadout abilities, which strike a perfect balance between being capable of both offensive and defensive maneuvers, or how every weapon – no matter how simple or complex – feels satisfying to use, or how dense the mind-games can get when two enemy Titans meet in an open field. There’s so much to love about this game. It can be hard to talk about it without its small install base, but we’ll encourage where we can: play Titanfall 2. Become a pilot. Meet your Titan.