Last Week’s Gaming September 17th 2018

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay

Circuit the Danger House via a MacGuffin Expedition

A little light on in the number of different games played this week, but they were all great!  Well, almost.  They were fun though!

Downforce: Danger Circuit

First, off the ranks this week was the eagerly awaited Downforce: Danger Circuit.  This was one of my most anticipated expansions to play this year, and it didn’t disappoint.

On the surface, Danger Circuit is just more Downforce.  2 new tracks and 6 new team powers – that’s it.  There rule additions are minimal, and it’s great!  It let everyone simply jump straight in and play, and that is part of what made it great.

Already in my head, I have a couple of Grand Prix style events that can happen over the four tracks.  Four games of Downforce, maybe an hour and a half-two hours?  I am sure more expansions will be coming in the future as well, and I can’t wait to play them either.

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay
A couple of loops added to the gameplay - especially when SOMEONE tried to cheat and not go through the loop!

Get the MacGuffin

The MacGuffin is old Hitchcock film speak for the thing everyone wants.  And this hand management/social deduction style game definitely keeps this idea going!

It took me a couple of games to get into Get the MacGuffin.  It presents as Fluxx light, and I kept waiting for the other rules to drop.

Playing with three players was fun, and the games are definitely quick.  I think the sweet spot maybe 4-5 players, but Alpal quite enjoys it two players and isn’t big into card counting.  There will be more talk of this in the future.

Get the MacGuffin Components
You have some cards, and you do what they say. Just make sure you read ALL of the text!

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game is a bit of a sleeper surprise for me.  I bought it out of curiosity and a desire for free shipping (it bumped me over the threshold!) thinking I could look at it and incorporate into an upcoming video.

Well, I will be, and it’s exactly what it says on the box – it’s a quick and easy role play system that will have you on a quest inside of a couple of minutes.

All of the components are the building blocks of an adventure.  The quests/missions you go on are all controlled in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style manner via an app, and it works incredibly well.

Expedition Card Game Components
It looks daunting, but the Expedition system is incredibly quick to play and very replayable

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Speaking of Choose Your Own Adventure, we jumped into the second chapter in House of Danger after a bit of a break.

Waiting three weeks between games may have been a bit long, but exploring the house was a fun affair.  We didn’t even notice the two hours fly by!

Things are starting to fall into place as we play, with some rules and options becoming clear.  The games writing and our own observations (read taking things not at all seriously) is more fun than I thought it would be.  We ‘died’ early on in an absolutely amazing and ridiculous manner early on, and it was great 😀

Definitely worth checking out, and will be played again soon.  Can’t wait to finish this one either 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Components
House of Danger Game Components. I didn't want to show my spoiled open copy :p

Video Game wise, it was Octpath Carnage?  Time Traveler is too easy

Time Carnage Switch

So a lot of Switch games (and Video Games in general) are starting to be released.  I was interested in Time Carnage because of my experiences with the game in VR, and gameplay wise it’s kinda close.

This is not a game I will be coming back to on the Switch, because I have the VR version on PlayStation and PC.  If it goes on sale or you are looking for a co-op rail shooter, maybe give it a try?

Read my Time Carnage review here, and my Switch comparison here.

Time Carnage Switch Better Visuals
A strange positive is the Switch graphics are much clearer than both the Vive and PSVR versions

Octopath Traveler

Yeah, I am going to be playing this for a long time.  It’s great, and I am loving it.

I have completed the first chapter for each of the eight characters and spent a lot of hours completing Therion’s (my main character)  Chapter 2.

Now, I have a lot of grinding ahead of me.  Chapter 2 recommends most characters are around the mid-20’s in term of levels, and I have a three characters in the 10-12 range.

I have discovered unlocking a second job class which has already opened up a lot of options for me, so I also have to go back to a lot of areas already completed and try for some more secrets as well!

Octopath Traveler Shrine of the Prince of Thieves
The Shrine of the Prince of Thieves - once found, you can unlock Thief as a second job on your characters!

So that’s what I have been playing – what about you?  Let us know on the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Time Carnage Switch Review

Time Carnage Feature

Once more unto the breach

Not long ago, I did a review on Time Carnage VR.  It’s a bit of fun, far from the greatest game but a fun way to pass some time.  It doesn’t hurt that playing the game in VR makes you feel like John Wick.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Time Carnage was coming to the Nintendo Switch.  I wondered if Time Carnage could successfully port to the non-VR Switch, and now I know.

Gameplay

Time Carnage, for the most part, is identical to the VR versions, so I am not going into detail in this review.  If you would like to know my thoughts on Time Carnage overall, all of that is covered in my original review.

Today I am more talking about the differences playing Time Carnage on the Switch.  In VR, the experience is very intuitive and even natural.  You know you are shooting at the things running at you, you reach for your weapons and turn your head to see what is happening around you.

The main difference to gameplay though is the number of waves per level.  On the PS4 and PC, each wave has 10 levels.  I am yet to see a level past 5 on the Switch though – honestly, not sure what is happening there.

Time Carnage Switch Choose Control Scheme
Pick your poison - but only on the opening screen. From now on, use Gameplay to change control options.

Controls

The Switch has none of these benefits however.  You can play with motion controls sure, but your choice is the hybrid motion controls or the ‘standard shooter’ controls.

The first difference no matter the control scheme you use is both of your hands point at the same target.  In VR, your hands work independently of each other, allowing you great in-game freedom.  To simulate this on the Switch is the job of Co-Op mode, where each player controls an arm each.

I say hybrid motion controls, as the movement of your controller moves your aiming reticle on the screen.  The sticks still control your body movement and the camera, meaning motion controls is almost the same as the standard shooter controls but has you waving your controller more.

In a lot of ways, motion controls are best for Time Carnage on the Switch – but that’s not saying a lot.  Compared to almost any other shooter, the control scheme is unnatural and has a huge learning curve.   A game like this should feel like home for any shooter player, instead you feel like you are fighting the control system the entire time.

This is bought home with the motion controls by constantly having to recenter the controller during the waves.  Nothing pulls you out of the moment like having to wrestle the controls, and even the PSVR at it’s worst is nothing like the Switch.

Graphics

Time Carnage Switch Gameplay
Aiming with Standard controls is definitely helped with the Pro Controller and tweaking the sensitivity

Graphically though, the Switch version is surprisingly close to the PC version in terms of screen clarity – it may even exceed the PC in some of the background details.

None of the ‘darkness’ that is present in the PSVR version plagues the Switch version.  And that is before tweaking the brightness and gamma in the settings.  It may be that the ‘underpowered’ Switch is taking advantage of only needing to render a single image compared to dual images for VR, but it works for what is being presented.

Time Carnage Switch Better Visuals
A strange positive is the Switch graphics are much clearer than both the Vive and PSVR versions

Value

And here is the hardest comparison.  Time Carnage was less than AUD$20, making it not a bad purchase for a light Time Crisis/House of the Dead light gun experience.  Playing Co-Op only adds to this old-school arcade feeling, but the loose controls make this hard to recommend to people looking for a frantic shooter experience. ‘Missing’ waves doesn’t help either.

I know more expensive, but if you are looking for a fun Switch shooter experience, Splatoon 2 may scratch your jump in/jump out itch.  It is going to get even more expensive come September 18th with the Nintendo Online requirement, but the USD$20 a year will give you many other benefits making it a no-brainer buy to me anyway.  Also, there is the very free Fortnite.

Yes, both of these games are very different from Time Carnage but you will probably be playing them a lot longer.

Overall Thoughts

If you haven’t got VR, Time Carnage on the Switch is an inexpensive way to play the game.  But without VR, all of the best aspects of the user experience are all but sucked out of the game.

Being able to play co-op with one arm each can be a bit of fun, but there are a lot of other games out there for quick and fun co-op play.  The solo game is fun for a stage or two, but the comparatively unnatural controls make this a fan game only.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Time Carnage is coming to the Switch – sans VR

Time Carnage Feature

Time Carnage Switch?  Is there a headset coming?

I have reviewed Time Carnage earlier this year, so I won’t be talking about it too much here today.

Short version – stand in place and pick up various weapons to shoot everything from dinosaurs to robots in the face.  It’s a wave shooter, it’s a bit of fun, really that’s the story.

Looking through an impressive list of games released in the next couple of weeks, I was very surprised to see Time Carnage on the Switch.

Initially, I thought it was a typo. Time Carnage coming to something else. According to Nintendo though, it’s legit.

Now the trailer looks really close to the PSVR trailer, but the Nintendo site talks about motion controls.  This might work with the Joy Cons taking the place of the Move or Vive controllers, and I am guessing 2 player mode is just two players with one controller each.

What I don’t see working on the Switch though is the field of view.  A big part of Time Carnage VR is close to 180° field of view, and looking in the right direction is important.

But on the Switch, especially two player?  Use the analogue stick on one controller to simulate the head swivel maybe?

I don’t know if I will be buying this one day one, especially when I have it on VR already (twice technically).  But it’s interesting again seeing the raw variety of game coming to the Switch.

Maybe with the upcoming Nintendo Switch Firmware 6.0 update, maybe there is a Google Cardboard type headset on its way?  Nintendo already likes cardboard!  OK so probably not, but it would be interesting playing Time Carnage literally anywhere with the Switch on your face as a screen and using the Joy Cons as pistols.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Time Carnage Review

Time Carnage Feature

What could be more fun than shooting waves of zombies?  Shooting waves of Dinosaurs of course!

So PSVR is almost eighteen months old. The store is filling up with games, and ‘actual games’ rather than glorified tech demos. There have been some real gems, and some real disappointments as well. So far, about 16 hours in, Time Carnage is proving to be one of my most fun to play games in PSVR to date. Now, the definition of ‘actual game’ differs from person to person and genre to genre. Time Carnage actually manages to illustrate this point rather well.

Time Carnage is basically a wave shooter. By this I mean you stand fixed in one spot and use a variety of different weapons to defeat wave after wave of enemies. It’s a game style that has been done before and will be done again. And again. This is because these are fairly simple arcade-style games, and are fun to tune out with and just let yourself go. There is no epic story attached, no role play mechanics to let you build yourself up. Grab bigger weapons and shoot bigger foes – that’s really it. And Time Carnage does this pretty well.

Gameplay

You begin each mission picking four weapons. These weapons are placed two on the left, and two on the right of your platform. The idea is you reach out and grab the weapon(s) you wish to use during the game. Once their ammunition is used, drop them to return them to their starting location where they reload themselves. It’s quite a clever mechanic in use.

There are a variety of weapons to use, but the feeling of firing them is fairly similar. I have unlocked about 80{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of the weapons so far, but in the game there is a sense of each weapon being part of a general catefory. But even from the outset where you only have some basic pistols, each weapon I have played with has been fun, and that is my point more than anything with this game. While there are a lot of games with better graphics and story elements, Time Carnage does what it does well.

Time Carnage Weapon Selection
I haven't unlocked them all yet, but some of the choices at your disposal

Campaign Mode – the core of the game?

So you are a person that jumps through time on a platform to different periods, and shoots lots of things. There is no getting around it – there is no real story, you start in the 4th Millenium. For some reason, the fallout of World War 3 created Zombies, the first enemy type. Once you have completed the four stages, you unlock the Mesozoic Era and face Dinosaurs. Gameplay continues like this until the end of the 4th Century BC, which honestly I am not sure what happens as I haven’t gotten this far. The only Story elements are little blurbs for each era, so really there is no sense of progression other than unlocking the next stage.

Each stage has four areas to clear, and each area has 10 waves that must be defeated. It’s a very set type of play, and if you wanted to play for extended periods is very samey. This is a real pity, because you have to beat the story stages to unlock the real fun areas of the game – the Arcade mode and Challenges.

Time Carnage 05
Shooting waves of incoming dinosaurs is more fun than it should be!
Time Carnage 09
Or facing this version of Skynet's troops

Arcade Mode – A heap of fun

So Arcade Mode is essentially the same as Campaign Mode, but you can tweak each level with different abilities as well as mixing together all of the enemy types unlocked in Campaign Mode. It is somehow wrong and a great deal of fun to be shooting at a group of zombies while reacting to the flying drone shooting you from on high, and hear the heavy steps of the incoming T-Rex.

Also unlocked through the campaign are perks, such as laser sights and extra damage. Then there are the crazier ones, such as Zero-G. Shoot your enemies, and they float off into the distance. I used this more than I should have, especially when coupled with the grenade launcher. I was already having a heap of fun shooting just before the feet making enemies fly high into the air, and then to have them hanging there was hilarious – until the blocked the view of the flying enemies. Ah well, it is push your luck I suppose!

Time Carnage Arcade Enemy Selection
You can mix and match the enemies you unlock in campaign mode
Time Carnage Perks Selection
You can choose one perk from the three levels once unlocked

Arcade mode is a great time to just sit back and shoot things. While essentially just the campaign mode with a bit of customisation via the perks, I can see this being the main mode I will be coming back to once the campaign is complete.

Challenges – they live up to their name

I haven’t done many of these, but the ones I have played have been enjoyable. The very first one is shooting hordes of zombie dogs with laser-sighted crossbows. Next, and my favourite challenge so far, is shooting 40 zombies with a single revolver and 10 rounds. This is achieved by a perk that allows you an extra round for every headshot, so you can miss 9 times. Now that may sound pretty simple to do, and honestly it kind of is, but with the slight position detection issues of PSVR and the zombies waving their arms in front of their faces, it’s not a challenge you can get the first time.

It’s this that I enjoy about the challenges – they are all possible, and you know you can do them. When you don’t quite get there, you aren’t left with a feeling of frustration but of the challenge. All you have to do is learn the secret, and you can do it. And I don’t mean a secret as in ‘fire here to win’, but the secret of how the weapons work.

Time Carnage Cluster Duck Challenge
The challenges do indeed live up to their name
Time Carnage Cluster Duck Explosions
But Cluster Duck is just too much fun. Exploding Rubber Duckies!

When playing the campaign or arcade modes, the weapons feel like they fall into three or four main groups. But it’s here in the challenges, where you are forced to play with very specific weapons, that you get to truly appreciate the little differences. One pistol with laser sights for example means you need to aim a little higher than where the dot goes, while another is slightly to the left. Some sniper scopes line up easier than others and have different zoom levels.

In the heat of arcade or campaign, it’s easy to just shoot again and write off a miss. But in the challenges, this can stop you from getting gold, or even a medal at all.

So it’s a lot of fun, but there are a couple of problems

So you may have noticed a few differences in the screenshots through this article.  Some are definitely better than others.

Now, the resolution comparison between PlayStation VR and the PC based units is a technical fact.  I will never argue that HTC and Oculus don’t look or track better than PlayStation VR.  The nicer and brighter screens are from the press kit downloadable from Wales Interactive’s website.  The slightly squarer and much darker screens are captures from my games.

And this is one of the things you will hear most people complain about – it can be hard to see distant enemies.  In the future missions with the robot enemies, for example, it can be very hard to distinguish the robots from the girders.

I am not going to try and skirt around this – it is a bit of a problem.  It’s hard to make the VR screens lighter without washing out everything, and pixelated distant enemies remain hard to be seen.  But these are not game stopping issues in my opinion, just ones that could have been avoided.  But once you have lost to an enemy once or twice, you learn the pattern and can work around the technical issues.

As with every wave shooter, pattern recognition is a major key to getting through the higher levels.  If this was a full price game, I would be a lot more upset about a couple of cheap deaths because I couldn’t spot an enemy.

Controls wise though the movement is smooth and feels great.  Aiming feels good in Time Carnage, something some other shooters have had trouble with.  I haven’t had any real issues with tracking being lost or centering drifting, so that is a bonus and deserves to be commended – it’s just a visually dark game.

Time Carnage 02
From the PC version
Time Carnage PSVR
Can you spot the enemy in this photo easily?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD