Guide: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Map of White Orchard

This entry is part 6 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
WHITE ORCHARD MAP
White Orchard

White Orchard

LEGEND

1: There are 3 Monster Nests in White Orchard. Make sure to destroy them with bombs to work towards your Fire in the Hole achievement.
2: QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: A Frying Pan, Spick and Span
3: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Scavenger Hunt: Viper School Gear – There are 2 locations. This gives you the plans for Serpentine silver sword and Serpentine steel sword. To enter the ruined castle you need to go around back and climb the angled castle wall section that has collapsed.
4: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Temerian Valuables. Grab the key from the corpse on the shore and then give underwater and open the chest.
5: There are 5 Places of Power. Activating all 5 within 30 minutes gives you the Power Overwhelming achievement. For a video guide CHECK OUR ACHIEVEMENT GUIDE.
6: Tomira – Gives QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: On Death’s Bed & also has bonus rewards after completing QUEST: WITCHER CONTRACTS: Contract: Devil by the Well
7: QUEST: SECONDARY QUEST: Precious Cargo
8: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Deserter Gold (This quest did not activate for me pre-day one patch Xbox ONE)
9: QUEST: TREASURE HUNT: Dirty Funds (This quest did not activate for me pre-day one patch Xbox ONE)

Achievement Guide: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
GWENT RELATED
Card Collector – 15gs – Acquire all gwent cards available in the base version of the game.

Gwent: Velen Players :: If you want to actually play the Baron you must do so before starting Return to Crookback Bog. Once the Baron leaves for Downwarren there are no more chances to talk to him. If you don’t play him, you can go back to Crow’s Perch and the Unique card will be available for free in his room.

Gwent Master – 15gs – Defeat Tybalt and win the gwent tournament held at the Passiflora.
Geralt and Friends – 15gs – Win a round of gwent using only neutral cards.
All In – 15gs – Play three hero cards in one round of gwent and win the match.
COMBAT RELATED
The Enemy of My Enemy – 15gs – Use the Axii Sign to force one opponent to kill another. Do this 20 times.

You must invest in level 2 of Axii in the Skill Tree and then use the alternate version (IE Hold down RT) against an enemy on a group. Humans, Drowners, and basic enemy. Then let them kill as many of their friends as they can. Repeat until achievement is unlocked.

Humpty Dumpty – 15gs – Kill 10 opponents by knocking them off somewhere high with the Aard Sign.

Devil’s Pit, Skillage as a lot of high ground and bandits will constantly respawn here.

Environmentally Unfriendly – 15gs – Kill 50 opponents using the environment (e.g. swamp gas, insects or objects).
Kaer Morhen Trained – 15gs – Perform 10 effective counterattacks in a row without getting hit or parrying.

Get into a fight with only 1 sword armed enemy. You need to time your LT parry for just as the enemy swings at you. You can NOT just hold down LT to parry, you need to do the timed parry so that you hit them back.

Can’t Touch This! – 15gs – Kill 5 foes in a fight without taking damage (except for Toxicity) and without using the Quen Sign.

There are quite a few 5 foe or higher battles. Where I got it was a battlefield type encounter during the Return to Crookback Bog quest with the Baron. It contained a lot of people on my side and against my side and I simply moved from enemy to enemy that were already engaged with other people and finished them off with Igni. Other options are waiting until you have upgraded your Signs and a Igni combined with Dragon’s Dream can do a LOT of damage to a LOT of enemies quickly.

That Is the Evilest Thing – 15gs – Ignite the gas produced by a Dragon’s Dream bomb using a burning opponent. Do this 10 times.

Set up is to find or buy the Dragon’s Dream bomb. Make some and equip them to your RB button. Then find some lower level enemies and use Igni to light them on fire and then immediately throw a Dragon’s Bomb on them. You get 2 bombs at a time and then you can Meditate with some strong alcohol to refill your Dragon’s Dreams.

Butcher of Blaviken – 30gs – Kill at least 5 opponents in under 10 seconds.

The absolute easiest place for this is at the end of the Lilac and Gooseberries quest line in White Orcard. You will have a tavern brawl with 5 enemies. It’s a very close range fight against fairly low level enemies. Throw out a Igni Sign and then slash them down.

Brawler – 30gs – Defeat Olaf, the Skellige champion of unarmed combat.
Overkill – 30gs – Make an opponent suffer from bleeding, poisoning and burning simultaneously. Do this 10 times.
Master Marksman – 15gs – Kill 50 human and nonhuman opponents by striking them in the head with a crossbow bolt.
Fire in the Hole – 15gs – Destroy 10 monster nests using bombs.
Fist of the South Star – 15gs – Defeat an opponent in a fistfight without taking any damage.

There is a series of quests called the Fists of Fury which are 1 on 1 hand to hand. Your two options are to parry/counterattack or just dodge out of the way of getting hit. Then go to town with hits until they block or dodge themselves. Then back off and wait for their next swing. Besides the Fists of Fury quests (which start at Crow’s Perch in Velen) there will be other 1 on 1 fights in various quests.

Even Odds – 30gs – Kill 2 monsters you have a contract on without using Signs, potions, mutagens, oils or bombs.

A lot harder than it sounds. The Contract monsters are a LOT harder than your everyday creatures you run into. To make this easier hang on to some contracts until you are several levels higher. Better swords and putting some points into the straight up sword combat tree will help also. You can eat food but make sure you have no mutagens in your tree and no oil on your swords.

Triple Threat – 15gs – Kill 3 opponents in one fight using 3 different methods (swords, bombs, crossbow, Signs, etc.). {Secret}

Quite simply do as asked. Make sure that 3 kills are from different means. Bombs, Swords, Crossbow, Signs. Lots of options.

What Was That? – 15gs – Attack, Counter, cast a Sign and throw a bomb (in any order) in under 4 seconds. {Secret}

You need to Counterattack (not parry), Attack, Use a Sign, and Use a Bomb within 5 seconds. Find a single enemy with a basic sword, counter, fast attack, Sign and then throw a bomb. Make sure to create a bomb and equip it before the battle.

STORY RELATED
Lilac and Gooseberries – 15gs – Find Yennefer of Vengerberg. {Secret}

You will get this automatically at the end of the Lilac and Gooseberries quest as you finish off the first area White Orchard.

Friends with Benefits – 15gs – Complete the subplot involving Keira Metz. {Secret}

This is a series of Secondary Quests in Velen. As you progress through one of the Main Quests – Wandering in the Dark. At the very end Keira will ask you to help her find a Magic Lamp. Make sure you DO help her and complete the very quick Secondary Quest – Magic Lamp. Then at the very end of Wandering in the Dark Keira will ask you for help via the An Invitation from Keira Metz. You will then do 3 quests in a row for Keira. The Tower of Mice, A Favor For A Friend & For The Advancement of Learning. Bonus, if you are nice to Keira you will get your first sex scene. At the end of The Advancement of Learning you have the option to send Keira to Kaer Morhen helping with the Full Crew achievement.

Family Counselor – 15gs – Find the baron’s wife and daughter. {Secret}

Velen – You will get this when you complete the Family Matters quest.

A Friend in Need – 15gs – Find and free Dandelion. {Secret}
Necromancer – 15gs – Help Yennefer extract information from Skjall’s body. {Secret}
Something More – 15gs – Find Ciri. {Secret}
Xenonaut – 15gs – Visit Tir na Lia and convince Ge’els to betray Eredin. {Secret}
The King is Dead – 30gs – Defeat Eredin. {Secret}
Kingmaker – 15gs – Complete the subplot about choosing Skellige’s ruler. {Secret}
Assassin of Kings – 15gs – Take part in the assassination of King Radovid. {Secret}
Full Crew – 15gs – Bring all possible allies to Kaer Morhen for the battle against the Hunt. {Secret}

1) In Velen do the entire sequence of Keira Metz’s quests and at the end you can send her to Kaer Morhen. Be nice to her. See Friends with Benefits achievement for more information.
2) In Velen start the Secondary Quest The Fall of the House Reardon. This will lead you to your friends Letho. Complete his one quest Ghosts of the Past. At the end tell him to head to Kaer Morhen.

Geralt: The Professional – 15gs – Complete all witcher contracts.
Passed the Trial – 15gs – Finish the game on any difficulty.
Ran the Gauntlet – 30gs – Finish the game on the “Blood and Broken Bones!” or “Death March!” difficulty levels.
Walked the Path – 65gs – Finish the game on the “Death March!” difficulty level.
MISC RELATED
Globetrotter – 15gs – Discover 100 fast travel points.

There are 10 signposts in White Orchard, the game’s first area, just to give you an idea of how big the later regions become.

Pest Control – 30gs – Destroy all monster nests in the Velen / Novigrad region, or in Skellige.
Let’s Cook! – 15gs – Learn 12 potion formulae.

You will get formulae as quest rewards and also from finding them as loot. You really want to fully explore and loot all chests at all the “?” markers on the map.

Bombardier – 15gs – Collect the formulae for 6 different bomb types.
Bookworm – 15gs – Read 30 books, journals or other documents.

Every letter and note you pick up will go into your Usable Items or Quest Items Inventory. Make sure to open your inventory up and use A to read everything you find.

Armed and Dangerous – 30gs – Find and equip all the elements of one set of witcher gear.

The first Witcher Set you can get will be the Griffin Set. The quest line starts in Velen at the top left of the map in Lornruk just above Blackbourgh. After finding all the diagrams you will need to make all 6 items and put them on to get the achievement.

Power Overwhelming – 15gs – Have all possible Place of Power bonuses active at the same time.

There are 5 Place of Power statues in the first area White Orchard. You will need to discover them via the “?” on the map. The following video shows all 5 and a path to get them.

Dendrologist – 15gs – Acquire all the Abilities in one tree.

Brawl Master – 15gs – Complete all fistfighting quests in Velen, Skellige and Novigrad.

Velen – Starts at Crow’s Perch at the Notice Board. There are 3 starter enemies and then a champion to beat.

Fast and Furious – 15gs – Win all the horse races in the game.

Velen – Starts at Crow’s Perch at the Notice Board. Three races to win. Just make sure to save some stamina for a final push over the finish line.

Munchkin – 65gs – Reach character development level 35.

This is high. EXP flows very slowly in the Witcher 3. This is going to take a lot of invested time.

Mutant – 15gs – Fill all mutagen slots.

The last Mutagen slot unlocks at level 28.

Shrieker – 15gs – Complete the contract on the shrieker. {Secret}

The Shrieker contract starts in Velen at the Crow’s Perch Notice Board.

Fearless Vampire Slayer – 15gs – Complete the contract on Sarasti. {Secret}
Woodland Spirit – 15gs – Complete the contract on the Woodland Spirit. {Secret}
Fiend or Foe? – 15gs – Complete the contract on Morvudd. {Secret}
Ashes to Ashes – 15gs – Complete the contract on Therazane. {Secret}
The Doppler Effect – 15gs – Resolve the doppler problem in Novigrad. {Secret}

Review: Lifeless Planet

Lifeless Planet
box_lifelessplanet_w160
Cost
$19.99
Format
Digital
Size
1.11 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
5/13/15
Developer
Stage 2 Studios
Publisher
Stage 2 Studios
Modes
Single Player

Lifeless Planet is a 3rd person adventure game made by Stage 2 Studios. It tells the tale of a astronaut who has crashed landed on a remote planet and his harrowing tale of trying to get back to Earth alive.

You could also describe Lifeless Planet as a walking and jumping simulator with an occasional repetitive puzzle thrown in at random intervals. When I say walking and jumping I mean you will spend roughly 90% of this four hour game simply maneuvering yourself to the next puzzle. And puzzle is meant in it’s loosed terminology. Typically you are either moving a bomb to blow open a path forward or you are using a robotic arm to move some alien material from the ground to the power area. The robotic arm’s sections put you into a first person view where your job is simply to grab a space rock and move it about 2 feet higher. I was ok with this in the context that the space rock must be highly dangerous to touch, but not 2 minutes later you’ll have to start scouring the area to find these rocks and carry them to the activators. So you carry this rock to the base and then need to use a robotic arm to move the rock the final foot and a half higher.

Jumping is aided by having a jet pack that gives you a little extra boost to get to the next platform. Quite often you will come to these large platform areas where the jumps are 4x as large. The process is always the same. Find a canister of super jetpack boost juice and then start jumping. You’ll know your done because your super jetpack boost juice will just suddenly run out. Always at the exact second you’ve made your last jump. There is no sense of danger, of having to get the jumps exactly right because if you need it, the boost will always be there until you don’t need it any more.

Lifeless Planet suffers from the same problem as a lot of ID@ games in that you get a flood of new abilities and puzzles in the first half of the game and then they realize they still need about 2 more hours of content and it’s all copy/paste for the final half. To be honest at that 2 hour mark I was ready for this game to be done. But it just keeps going having you do the same things again and again.

This is about as exciting the environment gets

This is about as exciting the environment gets

The story is a convoluted mess to say the least. It’s all played out in a combination of voiceovers and recorded messages all delivered in the most boring monotone you can imagine. Your character embarked on this space mission, which took 15 years by the way, to get away from Earth because he lost his wife. But then it ends up he didn’t lose his wife and now he wants to get back to Earth because he suddenly remembers how much he loved Earth. And let me tell you no matter how much you hate Earth, you’re going to miss it pretty quick with the boring landscape monotonous landscape of this mystery planet. Plus the Russians got there first, but they did it through some portal they found so a big thanks to the Russians because we spent 15 f-ing years in a spacecraft and they just walked through some space portal. Then don’t forget the space alien chick that I can’t decide if she’s just some manifestation of your wife or a real alien and if she is trying to help or actually hinder you. It really just becomes a big huge mess. I won’t even get into the let down of the finale because I don’t want to spoil it but if you don’t stop and go What The F please send me a message explaining why that’s a good ending and why it makes sense in any way, shape or form.

There are collectibles in the form of messages and recorded audio tracks. But there are also minerals to find. Not strange space rocks mind you, Earth minerals. So as you are running out of oxygen and being chased by some alien it’s important to go WAY off the main path so that you can find some coal and reminisce about how Earth has coal too.

Graphically the game is great. Your space suit is highly detailed and the surrounding areas are smooth and clear of graphical defects. It’s actually pretty amazing how well the ground areas are rendered. I never had a single incident of clipping in my playthrough and my astronaut only got caught in a dead jump zone once where I had to reset checkpoint and frankly I was WAY WAY WAY off course when it happened.

This is considered the Premier Edition of Lifeless Planet. One of the big additions to Premiere Edition is that they recorded a whole series of Audio Logs in Russian, but I still need to read the PDA log to understand what is going on so it seems like a low priority addition when maybe some more exiting gameplay elements could of been added instead. For $20 there is just too little going on in Lifeless Planet to justify playing the game.

PROS:
1) No glitches
2) Decent graphics with no clipping issues

CONS:
1) Boring repetitive gameplay
2) Insane hard to follow story
3) Boring voice actors

4.5
POOR

 

Review: Slice Zombies for Kinect

Slice Zombies for Kinect
box_slicezombies_w160
Cost
$9.99
Format
Digital
Size
211.84 MB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
5/8/15
Developer
MADE
Publisher
MADE
Modes
Single Player

Slice Zombies is a Kinect only game developed and published by Made for the Xbox ONE. Think Fruit Ninja and replace the fruit with zombies and you know what Slice Zombie is all about.

Slice Zombies contains one game mode. You have to survive 1:10 slicing zombies, zombie hands and coins while avoiding bombs. You start with 3 lives and you lose one for every bomb you slice or zombie you miss. Zombie hands give a point bonus when sliced and the coins are used to buy power-ups you gain access to while you level up. You can change basic things like the background or the trail of your slicing. There are also actually helpful powerups like an extra life or activating new zombie hands to slice that do everything from spawning more coins to healing back a lost life. There are quite a few things to unlock in the game’s 21 levels of play and you almost level up too fast. It seems after every other game there is a new zombie or something else to buy and you unlock things a lot faster than you are going to earn the coins you need to buy them.

The art is comical and highly detailed and Slice Zombie’s music has a nice carnival type theme to it. There are quite a few different zombies you will be hacking at with several different launch patterns which adds some nice variety to the game. Later in the game you unlock stunt zombies that float up on balloon to pop. There is a fat zombies that you can earn extra points by hitting multiple times. Getting to the 1:10 mark is not a simple task in the beginning. There are typically a LOT of bombs on the screen at once and it takes some getting used to to start learning the varies patterns you are going to see. As you level up you’ll unlock permanent powerups like starting with an Extra Life and things like high value coins.

Since it’s a single player game you need to get pretty close to the Kinect for you to be able to cover the whole screen. The game does a good job of giving you a straight down the middle line to base yourself on before every game and the tracking of your hands is above average. Issues arose in navigating the menus. It’s seems to be on a whole different tracking scheme. A quick email to the developer and MADE let me know I needed to hold my hand still and kind of off to the side and it would typically pop up for control pretty quick. Most Kinect games you can utilize the controller in menus which frankly with how Kinect works as a whole is a option I ALWAYS use but for Slice Zombie the controller is only good for dashboarding. MADE also pointed out that you can use the Xbox voice controls for “xbox play” and “xbox back”.

I usually don’t talk too much about achievements in a game because that’s a narrower target audience and I try to play games that I will like, not games I can 1000. But for those of you who are achievement hunters Slice Zombie is a very good price to time invested ratio. The full 1000 is easily obtainable in a single day and the list is mostly slice this many hands or heads. The longest achievement is for

Including a tutorial on Kinect tracking for Slice Zombies would of really helped the learning curve but once I figured out the secret to getting tracked properly I never had another issue. I’ll be honest that I’d hoped there would be more than one game mode to play and some form of multiplayer, be it at the same time or a back and forth mode to spice up the offering. Slice Zombies has all the guts of a nice, fun little Kinect game but it falls short do the lacking of any real long term playability.

PROS:
1) Fun little game
2) Art and music
3) Once you figure it out good Kinect tracking

CONS:
1) No Kinect instructions
2) No controller support in menus
3) Only 1 game mode

6.9
AVERAGE

 

Review: Wolfenstein: Old Blood

Wolfenstein: Old Blood
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Cost
$19.99
Format
Digital
Size
37.14 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed], PS4
Release Date
5/5/15
Developer
MachineGames
Publisher
Bethesda
Modes
Single Player

Let’s start this off with a simple question and answer session. Did you play New Order? If YES, then, Did you love it? If YES, open store.microsoft.com and buy Old Blood. If you were any type of fan of New Order than Old Blood is going to be right up your alley. Like all the way up your alley. Old Blood has all the glorious guts of New Order with some extra amazing things jammed in there. I know what you are saying person who loved New Order, where oh where did they find room to cram more goodness? MachineGames seems to be masters of cramming goodness because they found space.

New Double Shotties

New Double Shotties

So if you did play New Order than story wise Old Blood is a prequel and will fill in the time right because the reboot started. If you didn’t play New Order than this is going to take you right into the main story with a much easier to swallow $20 price tag. The campaign is 8 full missions broken down into 2 sections with a quick prologue to get you going. It’s a good 4 to 7 hours and you can definitely stretch that out even further if you really explore every nock and cranny. If you’re going to play it on the “Can I play Daddy?” (Easy) then yes you can blast through it even faster but you are really doing yourself a disservice doing so.

One of the questions I thought right when I saw Old Blood is should this of been DLC for New Order and I would say no. If you look at the length of what people are putting out DLC wise for the price, this being on $20 is an amazing deal in my opinion on MachineGames part. To me Old Blood does not have $5 tacked on to be a full release. This is well worth $20 and making it standalone creates a much cheaper entry into this rebooted Wolfenstein franchise.

Speaking of the Wolfenstein franchise we now have the entire Episode 1 of the original classic. One floor per level. There are big improvements to the Nightmare system (which is what they call entering these Wolf 3D levels mid-game) because now you can leave at any time and you are allowed to re-enter whenever you want. The let down for me is that these are perfectly recreated with all the secrets and loot but there is no scoring system. So I can pick up all the Old Silver I want but it has no meaning inside the game. It would of been nice to see the old final scoreboard along with a leaderboard. They took the idea 95 yards but just didn’t quite put it in the end zone.

Wolf 3D Nightmare Level

Wolf 3D Nightmare Level

CHECK OUT OUR FULL GUDE TO THE NIGHTMARE LEVELS ON YOUTUBE HERE

One of the best gameplay features of the new Wolfenstein franchise is the fact that they have stealth and combat options but you are never penalized for the choices you make. There are no auto-lose forced stealth sections that seem to be all the rage nowawday. The game does start on a weird stealth section with huge hulking Nazis attached to powerlines. And although you can power these guys down by sneaking around and shutting off the control terminals one at a time there is nothing stopping you from just taking down one and then using its heavy machine gun and just going to town on the rest.

Stealthing it up with double silenced pistols

Stealthing it up with double silenced pistols

The graphics are definitely next gen. The enemies look great and there was next to no clipping problems. The story is your typical shooter story. It’s mostly present at the end and start of levels but there are a few critical scene that play out in game engine during your playthrough. The voice acting is amazing. The shooting is limb removing, head blowing up crazy action. The stealth takedown system only includes a few different animations but you can exectute it with mulitple weapons.

Along with the main campaign there is a series of challenges which are re-creations of battles from the campaign that unlock as you as you finish them in the main story. These are scored and have their own leaderboards. You can select any of the main difficulties but you are restricted as to how high you can score if you play on the easier settings. It’s a nice addition to give it a little more replayability.

Old Blood takes New Order and just adds to overall package. MachineGames is doing some amazing things with a classic franchise and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

PROS:
1) Great length and story for the price point
2) Great new weapons
3) Replayability with Nightmare levels and Challenges

CONS:
1) Wolf 3D levels should of been scored and leaderboarded

9.3
PHENOMENAL

 

Achievement Guide: Rogue Legacy

Atelophobia – 5gs – Choose a hero with no traits.

Every time you die you get to pick from a random 3 heroes as your next character. Simply look for one with no traits. Might take a few deaths to find one.

Biophobia – 15gs – Die 20 times or more.

Dying is pretty much what this game is about lol.

Thanatophobia – 100gs – WITHOUT using the Architect, complete the game dying 15 times or less.

From the pause menu you can delete your save file. This will permanently WIPE all upgrades and everything you have done so I would save this for last. This starts you off with a fresh game. You need to defeat all 4 minibosses and the main boss in less than 15 deaths without using the Architect. What that means is you can NOT lock to Castle. Every time you die you will be starting fresh. Killed minibosses will still count towards opening the final door. This is not an easy task by any means.

Alektorophobia – 5gs – Kill a chicken.

You need to get a hero with the Alektorophobic trait (“Chickens freak you out”). When your hero has this trait, some chicken legs you find will start walking away and they can damage you if you touch them. Hit the chicken leg, and it’ll turn back into a normal chicken leg and give health again.

Aurophilia – 15gs – Open your very first gold chest.
Zoophobia – 30gs – Defeat all the minibosses.
Bibliophilia – 15gs – Read the last journal entry.
Cainotophilia – 15gs – Have one rune equipped in every item slot.
Coulrophilia – 30gs – Beat one of the clown’s games at least once.
Deciophobia – 30gs – Put at least one point in every skill in the manor.
Disposophobia – 90gs – Find all blueprints (purchase not necessary).
Gnosiophilia -50gs – Find all the runes (purchase not necessary).
Gymnophobia – 15gs – Have one piece of equipment in every item slot.
Plutophobia – 15gs – Reach level 50 or higher
Rhabdophilia – 5gs – Earn your very first Enchantress rune.
Somniphobia – 30gs – Play the game for at least 20 hours.
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
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Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement
Secret Achievement

Review: State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition

State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition
box_stateofdecay_w160
Cost
$29.99
Format
Digital
Size
3.91 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
4/28/15
Developer
Undead Labs
Publisher
Microsoft
Modes
Single Player

State of Decay is a 3rd Person Zombie Survival game developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft. It was first released on the 360 in 2013 and this re-release on the ONE adds both DLCs and some next gen improvements which include the typical visual upgrades (draw distance has been greatly improved), a new character, and weapon add-ons.

This game is more than just basic individual survival. You are in charge of a whole group of survivors. You pick where the group will live. You decide between updating the medical facilities versus creating more beds for survivors. You send them out on mini missions to gather supplies and you are constantly working to make sure the base is secure from zombie attacks.

These decisions are huge in the opening part of the game where you are just trying to maintain order and keep people alive. As things progress, and you provide better weapons and facilities, the base tends to run itself pretty well. By the end game I just completely ignored all requests. Oh no, Billy is sad? Well its the zombie apocalypse so let’s just man up Billy. Oh you think you might want to leave my heavily guarded base with its top notch medical equipment and comfy beds to go sleep in an abandoned gas station? Don’t let our nice protective fence hit you in the butt on your way out.

Setting up a new base

Setting up a new base

This complete lack of empathy on my part for Billy’s cry baby attitude isn’t the game’s fault. It’s actually the opposite. If I hadn’t worked my hard creating this zombie free oasis then I’d be a slave to every little request or risk losing it all. But I built something nice in a sea of despair so I have a lot of leeway in my choices now and Billy can man up or get out.

On the zombie realism scale State of Decay is firmly on the realistic side. You know, for a game involving zombies. You won’t be taking your double ended chainsaw into a sea of 600 zombies and coming out on top. In State of Decay you’re going to be taking your Wooden Table Leg at 2 zombies and even then you’ll be worried. If it turns into a pack and I made some bad decisions regarding transportation and weapon selection well then I might just be dead. And in State of Decay death is permanent. That character you spent hours getting to top level. DEAD. No reload save, he’s just dead. Time to move on to another character. You are allowed to switch between survivors but I’ve always preferred to have one super amazing zombie destroyer character than 3 or 4 average joes. So keeping that one amazing guy alive is priority number one.

Survivor 1 - Zombie 0

Survivor 1 – Zombie 0

In order to promote you using a larger selection of characters, as you use your main guy for an extended length of time he will start to get tired. He’ll temporarily lose Stamina. And let me tell you, Stamina is everything in State of Decay. It determines how far you can run and how many swings of that Wooden Table Leg you get before you’ll just be standing there gasping for air while zombies eat your face. When your character gets tired you have a few options; drugs will give you a temp boost to keep you going, you can switch to another survivor or as I like to do, it’s time to take a break. The game continues even when you are not playing. People will still go out looking for supplies, things continue without you. Your characters will heal, your vehicles will get repaired (as long as you have Parking Spots and a Workshop that is). I’ve never had anyone killed or leave while I wasn’t playing but it is a possibility.

There is a overall story. It’s not the best but it’s definitely serviceable. There are a few intertwining story lines. Different groups of survivors that you need to help or ignore. The army is in there doing things too, some good, some bad. The story just seems incomplete though. For example there is a story line with a guy who says he can get things and do things and you help him once and then there just isn’t anything more to it. It just peters out. There are a group of survivors that are definitely the bad guys. That story line just kind of ends also. If you decide they are evil your only option is to just ignore them. There’s no way to retaliate or really get any closure. The voice acting is top notch and what there is of story is put together very well it’s just that they could of done so much more.

My biggest issue with State of Decay is that in the 2 years since it’s launch on the 360 they don’t seem to have fixed a whole lot. The worst offenders are the fact that your car will launch about 100 feet into the air if you even touch a small rock, which in turn sends you on a orbit that closely resembles that of a small satellite. This series of tragic events seems to always land me in some small crevice that my buff survivor has no way of getting out of. He can wall climb a cliff that is 3 feet taller than him but a small incline is just pure death. You lack any real calf definition apparently. Poor workout decisions.

Vehicles aka the best weapon

Vehicles aka the best weapon

When I was nearing the end of the game you open up a new area. I wasn’t in the mood to move the whole clan over so I found a nice truck and loaded it with supplies (adding vehicle storage was one of the ONE improvements), took a few hits but I loaded up for a long winter. Saw a helicopter with some supplies and the coast looked clear so I drove near AND BAM caught permanently under a helicopter propeller. Dashboard and try again.

The other main distraction is the fun little game of hide and seek I seem to always be playing with the last zed in an area. They are worse than rats as they worm their way into the geometry of the house and just sit there hissing at me mocking my inability to hit them in the face with my Fire Axe. This didn’t show up very often, but when it did my most successful option was to dashboard and come back and try again.

The DLC consists of a completely separate campaign (Lifeline) which is about half the size of the main game putting it at like 5 hours or so. And then there is Breakdown. Breakdown is Groundhog Day for Zombies. You work through challenges and getting survivors to a RV and then PFFT! you are right back where you started only the difficulty ramps up.

Overall State of Decay is a great game where the pluses far outweigh the minuses. The simming aspect of creating and maintaining the base adds a lot of interesting choices and the perma-death scare keeps you on your toes. I’m not a stacker type of player so if you’ve played the 360 version I don’t think there is enough new and changed to warrant the price tag unless State of Decay is one of your top games of all time and if that’s the case you probably aren’t bothering to read this review, you’re playing State of Decay right now.

PROS:
1) Interesting simming aspect of creating bases
2) Real sense of danger with perma-death
3)

CONS:
1) No multiplayer
2) Weak story
3) Annoying Car glitches

8.2
Excellent

 

Review: Funk of Titans

Funk of Titans
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Cost
$12.49
Format
Digital
Size
1.71 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
1/9/2015
Developer
A Crowd of Monsters
Publisher
A Crowd of Monsters
Modes
Single Player

Funk of Titans tells the story of Perseus, son of Zeus, and his quest to retake the heavens in the name of Funk music. Yes, Perseus’ epic quest is to take back the heavens from the likes of Pop, Rap and Rock so that the god’s funkiness can rise again. I don’t know if this is pre- or post- Medusa as the game is pretty light on “story” but I can assure you that Perseus is up for the task. Funk of Titans is a platformer with the gameplay mechanic where your character is always being pushed forward. There is some directional play but for the most part your job is to either Jump or Swing your weapon. Everyone seems to be going hardcore with platformers today; 1001 Spikes, Volgarr, it’s nice to have a game that makes it’s mark with fun rather than frustrating memorization and twitch responses. Funk of Titans is fairly forgiving with a kind of “I know you really meant to jump 1 second later, so you made it!” feel. The question is did they dumb it down too much?

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Each level has 3 gold awards you can earn. One for taking no damage, one for getting all 100 vinyls in the level and one for getting the Pegasus Idol. Once you succeed at one it’s permanently completed so you can do these one at a time, but once you get a feel for the game getting all 3 at once will be the norm. The game does introduce a few new wrinkles in each world with updated puzzles and mechanics. The 100 vinyls is a perfect run and although a few will be found in large jars (in fact every jar has a vinyl so always destroy every single one of them) the most important thing is to always look for the vinyls to show you where to head next. If you come to a choice and one path has a lovely bouquet of roses and the other is a shear cliff covered in poison tipped spikes but the cliff has a vinyl; then just jump, that’s the correct way to go.

When you get a Pegasus Idol in a level, and complete the level, you are taken to a bonus stage for a chance to get some extra vinyls. This bonus level is the closest you will probably ever come to playing Flappy Bird on the ONE. There is only one level that you will play again and again and again but at least the order you take on obstacles is randomly generated. You are pretty much playing Flappy Bird in this bizarre combination of Ipod Nanos and food items. I am to this day baffled by the level design. I get iPods are music but am I missing some Funk connection with cupcakes and french fries? For me this was a huge letdown. This section is about the only part of the game that takes any real skill and the biggest reward is more vinyls, which you will be swimming in in no time. There is no option to skip these Pegasus levels so by world 2 I was just letting Perseus plummet to his death as fast as I could to get on with the actual game.

There are three worlds; Pop, Rap and Rock. Each of these have two boss battles. These are some of the easiest QTE (Quick Time Events) you have ever played. It’s actually one of the biggest disappointments in the game. The first in each world is a mid-boss grunt. You have three rounds of simply pressing the four buttons as they come up. Easy. The final boss of each level, a Titan, is the same exact QTE only the boss goes first and you have to beat their score. You would have to go out of your way to lose any of these battles. The Grunt battles are 100% exactly the same in each world. Same animations, everything. In fact the entire game has only 3 enemies. A guy with a pointy hat (kill), a guy with a round hat (jump on his head most of the time) and the round hat guy behind a spiked chariot (always jump). For 40+ levels. The design of the levels themselves is superb with some of the pathing and timing being a thing of beauty.

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These battles highlight one of the downfalls of the game which is the sound. They developed a game around a battle between Funk and other music genres and the background music is just generic. At the very least I was expecting a little funk vs pop/rap/rock music for the boss battles. There is always the argument that you get what you pay for on indie titles but when you base your story on music, it’s nice to have the music at least match the levels.

All those vinyls you are collecting are the game’s currency. There is a large store with different weapons and helmets covering all kinds of pop culture references from Star Wars to Friday the 13th. A nice touch is these items are used in the in-game challenges and also are required to open up magic doors protecting some of the more rare Pegasus Idols.

Funk of Titan plays very smooth and the mechanics behind the game are very solid. The problem is you are going to get distracted from this by pointless and subpar boss battles and a flappy bird clone that seemed misplaced and tacked on. I would of preferred they either had dropped the Pegasus angle all together or make the rewards for playing that level more appealing.

PROS:
1) Good classic style platformer
2) Fun, not frustrating, gameplay

CONS:
1) Sound could be A LOT better
2) Simplistic and Repetitive Boss Battles

7.0
Good

 

Achievement Guide: Boom Balls

Silver Medalist – 20gs – Reach silver time in 10 levels
Silver Collector – 30gs – Reach silver time in 25 levels
Silver Champion – 100gs – Reach silver time in all levels
Gold Medalist – 20gs – Reach gold time in 5 levels
Gold Collector – 30gs – Reach gold time in 10 levels
Gold Hoarder – 50gs – Reach gold time in 25 levels
Swimming in Gold – 100gs – Reach gold time in all levels
Ball Conservationist – 100gs – Clear all levels without losing any balls (multiballs don’t count)

Each level has 4 criteria to unlock. Just completing it, making silver time, making gold time and for completing it without losing any balls. There are a total of 54 standard levels to complete.

Leaf Blower – 30gs – Clear all levels in the Forest area
Zen Explorer – 30gs – Clear all levels in the Garden area
Sand Blaster – 30gs – Clear all levels in the Desert area
Dive Bomber – 30gs – Clear all levels in the Underwater area
Space Destroyer – 30gs – Clear all levels in the Space area
Knower of the Secret – 50gs – Unlock the secret level by clearing all other levels
Black Belt Cube Slicer – 50gs – Reach a score of 1,500 in the secret level (#55)
Unlocking 101 – 5gs – Earn enough stars to unlock the Garden area

The Garden is the second area.

Cube Hitter – 20gs – Hit 5,000 cubes (fireballs don’t count)
Cube Champion – 40gs – Hit 20,000 cubes (fireballs don’t count)
Cubonator – 50gs – Hit 100,000 cubes (fireballs don’t count)
Pyrotechnician – 50gs – Blow up 5,000 other cubes by using explosive cubes
Multitasker – 50gs – Keep at least 3 balls in play 15 seconds. Hit each ball at least once and don’t lose any balls

First time you will get a multiball is

Left, Right, Left, Right – 25gs – Hit the same ball alternately with the left and right hand 10 times without hitting any other balls

Just work the ball back and forth. Try to keep the ball in the middle of the area with straight shots as it is very difficult to get your opposite hand to hit a ball that is close to the side walls.

Multiballistic – 50gs – Hit at least 6 different balls without losing any balls in between

You will need to get 2 multiballs going and once and keep all 6 going for at least one round.

Juggernaut – 10gs – Break at least 30 cubes with a single heavy ball (explosion chain reactions don’t count)

This does not have to be all in one strike. Just with the same ball. First level with heavy balls is level 6.

Review: Never Alone

Never Alone
box_BLANK_w160
Cost
$14.99
Format
Digital
Size
2.8 GB
Available On
Xbox ONE [Reviewed]
Release Date
11/28/2014
Developer
Upper One Games
Publisher
E-Line Media
Modes
Singleplayer and Couch Co-op

Never Alone is a 2D side scrolling adventure game from Upper One Games and E-Line Media. It tells the tale of Nuna, a Inapiaq, as she braves the Alaskan frontier to save her village. She is joined in this adventure by a companion Fox. The two characters are either controlled back and forth by a single player or by a second controller in couch co-op. Yes, it’s another digital title that doesn’t support Live. It really makes me want to question Xbox and just how hard is it to hook into Live.

Never Alone is a gorgeous game. The characters and the backdrops are some of the most detailed and vibrant I’ve seen on the ONE. The wind looks likes its cold and biting, the environment looks harsh. The details in Nuna and the fox both from a character design aspect and also in their movements is simply top notch. As they run and climb and move through the world it is easy to immerse yourself in the story.

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The story is told, narrator style, by a Inapiaq and is based on a real folk story handed down generation to generation. As you complete levels you unlock these amazing cultural insights that are mini documentaries that further explore the lives of the Inapiaq. These cultural insights represent the collectibles in the game. There are 24 total and probably 21 of them are given to you as you follow the story. You would really have to go out of your way to miss 90% of them. There are about 3 that are just off the main path, but truly these 3 are in about the only other non-main path areas you can go. If you see a ledge or rope that is not on the main path, chances are that’s a collectible area. The cutscenes are told in native scrimshaw and look just as good as the rest of the game.

The problems start to arise in that a game is not just pretty pictures. You need an actual game to play and Never Alone is a very basic adventure game at its core. Nuna runs around and climbs things and uses her bola to destroy ice and to activate spirits, while the fox is able to reveal and manipulate hidden animal spirits to create and move platforms for Nuna to use.

rev_neveralone_02

The most interesting part of the game, the interaction between the fox and Nuna, is marred in that it seems they never knew whether to make a single player game or a co-op and ended up with something that doesn’t really work for either. As a single player game you really are only playing one character in that you do something with Nuna, switch to the fox, and then do something else and then switch back. There is nothing that requires both characters to do anything at the same time. The puzzles were a lot easier in co-op but overall co-op was unfortunately a fairly boring experience. Player A does something then Player B then there is more running. No coordination is really needed. The second half of the story has an interesting twist, that is great story wise, but makes playing the fox particularly boring from this point on. A good co-op game requires both players to work together, where Never Alone would probably play out exactly the same if it was played by a single person using two controllers.

There was a section with a moving crate witch shows some of the basic flaws of this 2 character system. Nuna had to control the crate and both Nuna and the fox needed to reach a high ledge. So I had to have Nuna hold the crate while the fox made the jump, then while I was getting the crate back into position for Nuna to jump, the fox AI would repeatedly jump back down ruining the entire sequence and forcing me to restart. The companion AI is really just set to follow mode. They will do any basic jump but anything requiring a real button press you need to switch over to do yourself. Most of the puzzles were artificially harder because the AI wouldn’t hold where you needed them to or they lagged so far behind your movement they got crushed by just not keeping up.

My entire playthrough of the game, with loading and deaths, was just under 3 hours. I hate trying to create a subjective coloration between cost and time played but 3 hours is a short game. And 3 hours for $15 is definitely on the high end of the current market. There is no NewGame+ here, no try to beat a par time, no reason to replay period really. I finished the game, watched the cultural insights (if you are a achievement hunter there is a achievement for finding and watching them all. I can confirm you can start each one and back out if you want to but they are really well made.) and then I was done with Never Alone with no hook or desire to return.

It’s not a bad game. There are no glaring flaws or errors or glitches (The fox did get caught in the environment one time) it’s just that there is no wow factor either. Nothing that grips me and says this is something that adventure games have been missing and here it is now. The game is gorgeous and the story is well told but for me it seems like they made a good documentary and then shoved a Max: Curse of the Brotherhood clone into it.

PROS:
1) Beautiful artwork
2) Fantastic story

CONS:
1) Shortest game on the ONE
2) Fox’s part in second half in minimal
3) Co-op is not engaging to both players equally

6.8
Average