Monthly Archives: February 2015

Oblitus Review

Parvus, from the Latin for "little," is such an apt name for the hero of Oblitus. He spends his waking hours tossing sticks at beasties the size of small buildings, and his jaunts take him among household items such as pots and jars that are so comically oversized he might as well be walking through a Claes Oldenburg exhibit. It's possible, too, to read a bit of self-deprecation on the part of one-man development team Connor Ullmann, who's been saying for two years now that his little 2D sidescrolling rogue owes heavy debts to Dark Souls. Parvus' journey is fraught with failures, restarts, and seemingly insurmountable challenges. Thus, his journey echoes the creative trials of a developer who knows he has massive boots to fill.

Generally, Oblitus succeeds, in spirit if not in presentation. The influence of Dark Souls doesn't beat you over the head as it did in last year's Lords of the Fallen; instead, it reveals itself in subtler ways, such as how the reason behind our masked hero's existence reveals itself chiefly through gameplay rather than storytelling. You see it when poor Parvus can't sustain more than a few blows before the words "You Have Died" fill the screen and reset your progress, or how darkness and shadows cover so much of Parvus' world. It's a beautiful world, and while Oblitus opts for an attractive hand-painted aesthetic that evokes a gritty reboot of Castle Crashers, it's possible to catch echoes of Blighttown and Darkroot Garden reverberating throughout its interiors and forested paths.

Killing enemies wins Parvus back some health, but the benefit is so small that you'll barely notice the difference.

The nods to Souls carry over to the combat, with the key difference that this is a fast-paced game that better resembles Mega Man or more contemporary platformers like Outland. It's intuitive stuff, for the most part, and a quick prompt when the game first boots up bidding you to mirror the action keys for either a gamepad or keyboard serves as all the tutorial you need. There's a sense, though, that Ullmann tried too zealously to Souls-ify his game. Parvus can parry and block with his shield by activating the left bumper and trigger of a gamepad, for instance, but the option never feels anywhere as useful as his ability to roll through most adversaries, swatting them with his trusty wooden spear before rolling swiftly to the other side.

Small collision issues complicate the matter because it's not always clear if our little warrior can block an attack at a particular angle or even if his jabs will hit. Parvus is thus much more effective when fighting on the move, jumping Mario-style over lumbering bog monsters and lizard men rather than staring them down behind a shield or using the option to throw Parvus' spear across the map (and suffering a slight respawn delay for the privilege). Oblitus' very design tends to confirm this bias, as the combat upgrades Parvus picks up focus far more on options such as gaining invincibility while rolling and jumping higher than on employing our little hero's rickety shield.

Be sure to explore, as ridiculously helpful powerups sometimes hide in the strangest places.

In less capable hands, such challenges might be overcome by simply memorizing where Oblitus' monsters enter and exit, and recalling precisely when to make various jumps. But this is Oblitus, a name that means “forgotten.” Ullmann's game escapes such predictability through the roguelike elements of its gameplay, which shakes up the locations and types of upgrades, health renewal boosts, and even a few of the enemies after each death to ensure that each playthrough differs from another. Even the map itself isn't entirely safe, as elements such as corridors and platforms sometimes subtly extend to make room for more foes. The upshot is that each of Parvus' forays into his strange world is fraught with an exciting urgency that's absent in 2D games relying on extra lives and self-sacrifice for the sake of experimentation. When you risk losing everything, Oblitus says, everything starts to count.

That's a lot of abuse to hurl at players, particularly when it also means that some playthroughs will inevitably be easier than others. However, Oblitus keeps it manageable with zones that feel just large enough to deliver a satisfying sense of exploration while remaining compact enough to keep replays worthwhile. (There's even an achievement for beating the game within 25 minutes.) Elsewhere, enemies’ deaths reward you with a near-imperceptible bit of replenished health. The handful of bosses, while massive enough to take up huge chunks of the screen, usually require simple (although sometimes not immediately obvious) strategies that assuage the pain of repetition in the case of almost certain failure. It's like the kid on the playground who's just mean enough to start scuffles with you but is never quite unbearable enough to drive you away. Indeed, my main complaint throughout had little to do with the moment-to-moment gameplay but rather with the way the world is filled with too many surfaces that look like they should be walkable but aren't.

Boss fights aren't forgiving of slips, but most of them rely on manageable strategies.

Ullmann does his game a bit of a disservice by so vocally trumpeting the influence of Dark Souls; this is something different and attractively brutal, although its component elements are familiar enough to make it accessible to almost everyone. (And if the considerable appeal of Volgarr the Viking proves anything, it's that publisher Adult Swim has a soft spot for punishing platformers.)

But there's plenty of pleasure in this pain, and it reveals itself in not only the richly imagined bosses and enemies but also Josh Whelchel's haunting soundtrack, which fares just as well off the screen as it does when Parvus is busy stabbing creatures of the dark. If you're up for some pretty punishment, Oblitus provides an experience that you won't soon forget.

11 Optical Illusions That Will Break Your Brain

While the internet continues to tear itself apart over a dress (which is obviously white and gold), now seems like a good time to remind everyone that this isn't the first time an especially brain-bending optical illusion has messed with the internet's collective mind.

Below are 11 examples of insane optical illusions to show your friends and family:

Perhaps the most famous example of them all - in the image below square A and square B are actually the exact same shade of grey. Yes, really:


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Game of Thrones: Season 5 Poster Revealed

HBO has released the Season 5 key art for Game of Thrones. The imagery will certainly have fans speculating on whether it's showing an actual scene to come, as it shows Tyrion from behind... facing a dragon! And we all know there's a certain GoT character who tends to be around when dragons are... So does this mean we'll finally see a meeting between them or is just a bit of artistic license?

Check out the poster below and let us know what you think in the comments.

GOT S5 - Poster

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Meet Dark Souls 2’s New Invader, the Forlorn

A new video from Bandai Namco shows off the "Forlorn," a new invader coming to Dark Souls II with Scholar of the First Sin.

Like other evil invaders, the Forlorn glows a threatening red as he invades your game. In the video above, he has no qualms about teaming up with other enemies to outnumber and overpower you.

Little is known about the invader, only that "he hunts down player through the game with deadly skill and tenacity."

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin will be released on April 7. If you need some help getting through the unforgiving land of Drangleic, check out our Dark Souls II walkthrough.

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Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 Coming to Xbox One Soon

Halfbrick Studios' motion-controlled slashing game Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is coming to the Xbox One in March.

A sequel to the original Fruit Ninja, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 promises the same fruit-slashing action, as well as five new game modes, four-person multiplayer, and more characters.

Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 launches March 18 and will cost $15 USD/£10. News first leaked on an Australian ratings board last summer, giving the game a "G" rating.

The original Fruit Ninja app hit iOS and Android devices in 2010, and was later made compatible with the Kinect and ported to the Xbox 360.

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IndieBox is a Monthly Service for Indie Games

Special editions of indie games are now available through a gamer-centered subscription box.

Called IndieBox, those who sign up for the service will receive a special edition of one select indie game each month, along with other items such as soundtracks, collectibles, and game manuals.

The selected games featured in IndieBox have to meet certain criteria in order to be sent out, including being PC/Mac/Linux compatible and having a Steam rating of 75 or higher. All IndieBox games are DRM free, and a Steam code will always be included.

In the past, games such as Rogue Legacy, SteamWorld Dig, and Luftrausers have been featured.

Visit IndieBox's website to learn more about the service.

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12 Cool Animals You’ll See In Final Fantasy 15

We recently poured over Final Fantasy XV's World of Wonder trailer and attempted to identify all 12 types of wildlife in it.Take a quick glance at the time stamps below, then check out the video above to see these animals in all their glory!


0:06-0:10 Frog

0:26-0:30 Dinosaur

0:39-0:44 (Kirin?)

0:44-0:51 Crocodile

0:52-0:56 Mesmerize/Monoceros

057-1:00  (Hellhound?)

1:06-1:09 Gecko

1:12-1:23 Eagle

1:32-1:37 Garula

1:38-1:40 Goblin

1:53-1:56 Coeurl

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Killer Instinct Gets Ranked League Play

You can now compete in a beta version of Ranked Leagues in Killer Instinct Season 2, Iron Galaxy Studios announced.

Entering Ranked League play for the first time requires you to complete ten qualifier matches. Based on your performance in these matches, you'll be placed in either the Gold, Silver, or Bronze Tier, the studio detailed on Xbox Wire.

You'll then face-off against other players in your Tier; however, you may occasionally fight opponents from other Tiers, which results in additional Tier Points. The outcome of each match will determine whether or not you progress up the ladder, but you'll never drop into a lower Tier. Naturally, winning enough matches will allow you to move up to the next Tier.

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Check Out New Game of Thrones: Season 5 Clips

While fans still have a little over a month to wait until the season premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones, two new clips have been released that offer more glimpses of what's to come.

The clips are short—both under the one-minute mark—and feature Jon Snow, Mance, Brienne, and Podrick. Not much is revealed but, like all Game of Thrones news, it leaves us all wanting more.

Game of Thrones will kick off the ten-episode season on Sunday, April 12th at 9:00 ET/PT, which will wrap up George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, the last available book in the Game of Thrones series. As for what to expect in the show's fifth season, Martin warns that some characters "are going to die who don’t die in the books."

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