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29 January, 2017

Deep Rock Galactic Hands-On and Interview - "I can't think of another game that has fuelled my curiosity more"

Greed is the fuel that drives this multiplayer descent into the darkest parts of space. Can industry veterans Ghost Ship Games strike gold with this indie mining simulator?

It's dark, deep below the earth.

In the distance, I can hear little clawed feet skittering around the cavern walls and the faint sound of one of my partners crying out.

Maybe he found something, maybe he’s under attack. I ask if everything is okay over the comms, but there's no response. I’ll head back just after I check out the next room.

Rounding a corner the cavern opens up, and down a long stretch of blackened stone walls I can see a tiny glint of gold. I run towards it only to see another glint, and another. In fact, a whole wall of sparkling, glittering gold. It’s enough to pay for the whole expedition, and then some.

The skittering behind me pulls my attention away from the precious metal, and face-to-face with the swarm. A seething mass of teeth and beady eyes. I yell out to my team mates, but they're too far away. I was too greedy, too hungry for gold, and now I'm being eaten alive by ravenous monsters deep below the earth.

This is Deep Rock Galactic, a first-person mining simulator. But it's also much more than that. It has elements of Red Faction, Minecraft, and Left 4 Dead with class-based combat and platforming, all wrapped up in a stylish low-poly package.

10 November, 2016

My Son’s Hilarious VR Fail

The story you are about to read isn’t going to win any “father of the year” awards. But if I had caught it on video, I would be a millionaire already.

I’ve been testing a lot of PlayStation VR lately following its recent launch in October. One of the games I very much enjoy is Playroom VR, a collection of minigames done with a kid friendly aesthetic. One of these games is two player, and has the person in VR playing as a cat hiding behind a curtain. The other players, using a standard controller and watching the TV screen, play as mice hiding under a tin can trying to sneak around to capture cheese. If the cat sticks his head out of the curtain at the same time the mouse is moving, the cat wins.

Literally and figuratively, a game of cat and mouse.

26 October, 2016

Bethesda’s New Review Policy is Risky Business

Bethesda’s New Review Policy is Risky Business

In a recent Blog post, Bethesda has revealed it will no longer send out advanced review copies of games to media, a move that is sure to flood the internet with inaccurate information and poor reviews.

Bethesda Softworks is one of the brightest emerging publishers in the video game industry. Building on the storied foundation of its own Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, the company – a subsidiary of Zenimax –snapped up a number of other big name studios to its label earlier this decade. In quick succession, the legendary id Software, Arkane studios, MachineGames and Tango Softworks signed on, and soon after Battlecry Studios was founded. Together, they have released such games as Doom, Dishonored, The Evil Within, Wolfenstein: New Order and Fallout Shelter.

In short, Bethesda has become a source of high quality, highly anticipated video game experiences. And having spent plenty of time with the developer, I applaud the way they operate; with each team completely free to explore their creative visions without overseers spoiling the broth.

In the past 24-hours, Bethesda has declared that it is changing its review policy. It wants media and gamers to experience a new title at more-or-less the same time as each other. As such, review copies will arrive with journalists the day before release, and there are some big problems with this stance.

06 October, 2016

What Happens When Gaming Becomes A Chore?

When we lose sight of why we game, our hobby becomes nothing more than a humourless chore.

My 18-month old daughter had finally gone to sleep. As is my usual evening ritual, I trudged downstairs and plonked myself, bleary-eyed and exhausted from work, in front of the TV ready to game the remainder of the night away. For 10 minutes I stared blankly at the screen, unsure of what to play. My ever growing "pile of shame" beckoned to me with merciless taunts and jeers. The pressure to pick up a game - any game - merely to wipe off my backlog was immense. It was at that moment I had an epiphany: sadly, my wonderful hobby had become nothing more than a humourless chore.

22 September, 2016

Why Did the OUYA Fail? Reflecting on the Little Console That Couldn’t

Despite the initial groundswell of support, the OUYA microconsole faded from the limelight just as quickly as it sprang up. So why did the OUYA fail to connect with gamers?

Though there were doubters, the excitement was palpable. A new microconsole was poised to enter the market, ushering in a new way to game with the spectacular promise of “upending console gaming”. With brash confidence and even greater ambition, the stylish OUYA was born. Running on the Android operating system and priced at just US$99, many people felt that the OUYA’s lofty goal of breaking into living rooms dominated by traditional console manufacturers was in the realm of possibility.

Fast forward several years and the only remaining legacy of the OUYA is the dust-covered units either packed away in disgruntled early adopters’ cupboards or jamming up eBay’s auction listings. The company itself is no more, with the leftover scraps bought by Razer Inc. RIP OUYA, 2013-2015.

With such momentum behind it, how could the OUYA fall from grace so spectacularly in only a few short years? Now that the dust has well and truly settled – even if the bitterness still lingers – we thought it might be a good chance to reflect on the little console that couldn't. Sorry, OUYA owners – our condolescences.

21 September, 2016

Playing Journey for the First Time - Thoughts on Hype vs Reputation

It starts with a cello.

I'm sitting here on my couch, headphones plugged into my DualShock 4. My TV is displaying the title page for Journey - the multiple award winning indie darling by which every other artistic, "experiential" game has been measured since its release four and a half years ago.

It's been waiting patiently for me on my PS4's hard drive since being included in September's PS Plus offerings, and I've finally set aside some uninterrupted time in which to experience what all the fuss has been about. I’ve read and been told that a couple of hours is all I’ll need.

Selecting the tile from my PS4's menu, followed by pushing down on the controller has filled my screen with a lonely figure that I feel I already know from reading years of games media coverage. Now I sit listening to the music that’s been triggered by my actions, doing as that red-scarfed figure is doing - gazing into a distance of sand dunes. I don't want to hit start just yet.

The cello is joined by a harp, and a couple of bars later, a flute.

Journey is just one of those things I've never gotten around to, and I feel a little guilty typing those words given its reputation as such a must-play title. But I've played a lot of games in the last few years, and there are only so many hours in the day. Life just happens.

Four and a half years of hearing how good a game is creates a lot to live up to, and as I sit here listening to Austin Wintory's much-praised music on this title screen, I can already hear why the soundtrack alone has received so many accolades. I want to experience what I've read over the years so many other fans have experienced, but I’m anxious - have I built it up too much? Will I be disappointed? I don't want to be disappointed.

Hype prior to release is just good marketing, but a game enjoying an unassailable reputation for years after its release is an altogether different beast. Reputation is built on something substantial - real experience passed on by word-of-mouth and excited keystrokes.

Thinking on Thatgamecompany’s success with Journey causes my thoughts to turn to Sean Murray and his entire team at Hello Games. I wonder how differently gamers’ and gaming media’s perception of No Man’s Sky would be had it been released quietly without its years of hype and mystery. Imagine if No Man’s Sky came out of nowhere, with just a simple announcement to put it on the radar. In that alternate universe are we now showering praise on the bold ambition a small team took upon itself to realise?

A full orchestral swell lifts the melody of the flute (which is now being doubled by a violin) over a crest that pulls at heartstrings, perhaps a musical representation of having gained the top of one those sand dunes to reveal something wonderful; a secret, a marvel.

But have I built it up too much?

I hit start.

Only two hours later the end credits roll; mysteries have been revealed, and Thatgamecompany’s masterful loop has closed.

It was worth the wait.

Writer:
Garry Balogh

If you are wondering who we are, we're primarily a digital magazine for the iPad focused on the coverage of indie video games. Run by the former editor of Game Informer, you'll find worldwide exclusives, but also an interactive media experience unlike any you have seen before. If you have an iPad, you should check out the free sample issue at the very least, or enjoy one of our other episodes as listed below.

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29 August, 2016

Top 10 Upcoming Adventure Games

Grab It counts down its top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future.

The fast paced and ever changing nature of the gaming industry means it can be pretty easy to overlook quality titles on the horizon. Throw into the mix the sheer quantity of games released every year and a serious lack of time to even make a dent in your pile of shame, it's no wonder not all games get the attention they deserve. 

Here at Grab It, we're quite fond of adventure titles. Enough so that we've put together a list of our top 10 most anticipated adventure games coming out in the near future. Many of these titles may have flown under your radar, especially as they come from smaller indie developers. But that shouldn't scare you off because the quality of these games is shaping up to be on par with anything you might have played. Like all things in life, keep an open mind and you might just be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 adventure game "diamonds in the rough" to be on the look out for.

21 March, 2016

VR is Like Sex - You'll Always Remember Your First Time

In this commercial world of data collecting, free-to-play, ad-support, and in-app-purchases, we take a subversive and psychedelic trip into virtual reality.

My virtual self sits in a room that can only be described as sparse. Sparse not just for its simple and minimal furnishings, but for its very creation - a black and white, hand-drawn, pencil-on-paper rendering of a room with few distractions. A warm and calming voice coaxes me to relax and take some time to just look around, easing me into what is my first VR experience.

The room is not large but it feels spacious due to both its lack of clutter, and its large open windows looking down onto active streets below. I follow the instructions from the friendly voice narrating in my headphones and look around at the table, chair, bed, coffee machine, and other simple, homely features. Without consciously realising it at the time, I'm already relaxing and surrendering to that "presence" I've read so much about in the last few years - the virtual reality parlance used to describe our minds and bodies being successfully convinced we are somewhere we are not.

This virtual room is a stylised version of one that exists in the real world - the Room On the Roof - an artist space atop the de Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam. In an effort to elevate the act of shopping beyond that of a mere consumerist pleasure, and create a more premium experience, this Dutch department store invites artists to spend time in its tower room to create works of art shoppers can later view. It's a nice idea - infusing the shopper's urge with a touch of artistic creation, with each side benefiting by gaining a small foothold in the other's world.

Drawing Room is the result of Jan Rothuizen's residency in Room On the Roof, and it's eight and a half minutes I won't soon, if ever, forget.

05 December, 2015

Should You Buy an Apple TV as a Dedicated Gaming Device?

I’ve been using the new Apple TV for a week now; I went and bought one. And I’m here to ensure that if you want to buy one too, you do it for the right reasons.

How Much Does an Apple TV Cost?

It’s hard to recommend buying the fourth generation Apple TV as a dedicated gaming device; for the price, there are much better options. With the recent price drops on the PS4 and Xbox One, Australian gamers can grab themselves one of these two trusted devices anywhere from the low to upper $400s, depending on the bundle chosen.

With the Apple TV costing gamers in that same part of the world just under $350 for the 64GB version, and the 32GB unit around $270 - then add an MFi controller on top of that - and the cost starts to look very similar to those new generation consoles.

The Apple TV's strength, however, lies in its multi-functionality and the user-experience it provides media consumers; many of whom will also happen to be long time gamers.

I spent hours tinkering with Apple's latest offering exploring its capacity as a gaming device, to discover a simple truth - without an MFi controller, those after anything more than a very casual gaming experience will not be satisfied. With a controller connected, on the other hand, the potential is there for this new kid on the block to gain some serious traction as a quick, go-to option for mid-core experiences.

30 November, 2015

Lack of Content vs. Value for Money with Star Wars Battlefront

Grab It argues that the real problem with Battlefront is not a lack of content. Instead it has to do with the idea of "value for money."

After being out in the wild for a little over two weeks, Star Wars Battlefront is shaping up to be one of the most polarising titles of 2015. Review scores have spanned the spectrum, with respectable outlets awarding it from 3 up to 9.5 (out of 10). While most reviews have praised Battlefront for its near-unparalleled graphical fidelity and respect for the source material, a particular criticism has stood head and shoulders above anything else: a lack of content. But I don’t think this criticism gets to the heart of the problem - what people are really struggling with is the concept of "value for money." For many, Battlefront does not offer good value for money.

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