Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.
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    no mans sky origins

    Announcing “Origins”, the latest update for No Man’s Sky

    Hello! 4 years ago, PlayStation fans around the world first stepped foot onto their first planet in our near-infinite universe and embarked on their voyage of exploration. For a surprising number of people, it would be a voyage which would see them spending hundreds and even thousands of hours journeying to the next horizon, the next planet, the next star system, propelled by the desire to see what was around the next corner. In fact, that universe we created day one has already provided hundreds of millions of hours of entertainment across the globe. That’s why it is so exciting to release No Man’s Sky: Origins on PlayStation 4 today. For the first time we are breathing new life and variety into that universe in a significant way, adding new worlds to explore, new planets never-before seen, new life to discover.  Play Video How do you radically change a universe where so many have made their homes, built bases, named, and discovered? Our solution is to birth entirely new planets into the universe, with vistas never possible before. Fly your Starship through towering mountains and epic chasms vastly larger than ever. Survive lightning storms, fires and hostile weather systems. Discover new creature behaviours like fauna that land and take to flight, or huge alien sandworms. Walk beneath new giant flora that changes from day through night. Visit buildings of an entirely new scale, containing new lore and much, much more. When No Man’s Sky first launched, we watched as players awoke on their first planet. It might have been hospitable. It might have been dangerous, barren, or teeming with life. For sure though, it would have been an intriguing alien world filled with curious flora and fauna never seen before – not even by us, the developer. We’re excited to experience that thrill again with you. No Man’s Sky on PS4 has been updated over a dozen times since those early beginnings. The game has expanded in almost every direction to accommodate almost every play style: base building, PS VR, multiplayer, trading, community missions, exocraft, expanded lore… This year alone we have already introduced living ships, mechs, abandoned freighters and cross-platform play.  At No Man’s Sky’s core though, beats the heart of an experience which has never really lost its main existential purpose: a voyage of discovery, of exploration. It is only fitting therefore that, for our major update of the year, and in the lineage of the larger annual updates of Atlas Rises (2017), Next (2018) and Beyond, we return to that core principle. Whether you’re a veteran traveller who has been to the centre of our universe and back before, or whether you’ve yet to take your first tentative step on that first planet, the No Man’s Sky: Origins represents a major moment in our journey so far. Why not come see what there is to discover? Our journey continues. Sean

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