Scotch Corner – Scare Tactics

Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 14th May 2017.

 

Little Nightmares (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £15.99)

YOU don’t have to say a single word to have a monster story.  From Limbo to Inside, we have seen some powerful games that leave it up to the player to discover what’s really going on.  They often stay in the mind long after the credits have rolled.  Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares is the latest member of the club.  It is set in a dark twisted world where you have to escape the horrors built within a puzzler platformer.

You are Six — a young raincoat-wearing girl trapped in a surreal floating resort called the Maw.  Or is it a prison?  Six wants to break free but it’s not as easy as just walking out the door.  She must scale the levels of the Maw while avoiding the twisted crew members and obese guests in the resort.  Little Nightmares — as the name suggests — is very dark at times and some gamers will find it very tough, but it is always egging you on to find the truth.  It has an incredible impact yet doesn’t quite have the surprise pay-off like Inside.

Gameplay is broken up by puzzles which take just the right amount of time to solve.  Then there are platforming sections as you travel through the Maw and a number of collectables to find on your five-hour journey.  Graphically, each location has a suitably dark twisted feel to it. It often seems like something from Tim Burton’s mind — think Beetlejuice or The Nightmare Before Christmas.  That all leads to some standout moments that just have to be played.

The dark vibe continues in the outstanding character design, from the long-armed, blind Janitor to the warped pig-like twin chiefs.  You don’t need it, but the fear factor is ramped up even more by the audio design as they scream and shriek once they spot you.  The soundtrack also frames each scene really well adding extra layers to the scare levels.  We found a few parts of the game wouldn’t load right — mostly the Janitor — so you just had an empty room.  But a couple of reloads later and he was in the room as well.  But the biggest issue for some gamers will be the length — it’s a little bit on the short side given that it’s a full retail release.

Tarsier Studios have crafted a dark twisted tale in a horrible world.  It is not the easiest subject matter but is well worth your time if you are as fan of this style of game.  If you like something to freak you out then Little Nightmares is a dream come true.  Just maybe play with the lights on.

Score: 4.5/5

Voodoo Vince: Remastered (Xbox One and PC, £12.49)

WE are all for second chances at Gaming Towers.  In 2003, Clayton Kauzlaric tried to make Voodoo Vince an iconic Xbox character.  The 3D platformer was full of charm but didn’t cut it with fans.  Fast forward 14 years to second chance alley and Voodoo Vince has had a remastering makeover for Xbox One and PC — and it has really done the trick.  Vince is a wisecracking voodoo doll that was brought to life after Kosmo the Inscrutable’s thugs broke into a voodoo shop to steal Zombie Dust.  Cue chaos.  You have to find the Zombie Dust and rescue the shop keeper which is no mean feat when you are a 10in doll made from burlap.

It keeps the hark back to a past gaming era as you platform around the world collecting magic pages for more power and finding the Zombie Dust for more health.  There is a good mix of enemies but combat is the weak point in the show as Vince is more of a pillow puncher than an Anthony Joshua bomb launcher.  He makes up for it with a few tricks — especially that voodoo classic of hurting himself to cause others pain.  He also has a nasty streak — with attacks like being cut in half by a bear trap to be eaten by a shark in a bath tub to an incident with laxatives.  Each attack is actually good fun to watch and you can collect different ones as you work your way through the eight-hour campaign.

This is a remaster in the purest sense — there is no new content.  All the work has been done to the graphics and textures.  There is an almost cartoon look and the New Orleans setting has a certain charm as you go from the French Quarter to Bayou and the soundtrack backs up the vibe with a good mix of jazzy tracks.  The voice acting is also outstanding, with Ken Boynton stealing the show as the wise-cracking Vince.

One of the few let-downs was in the Bayou section where the framerate plummeted.  That was a shock given that the game has had a huge injection of power.  But that doesn’t stop it being an enjoyable game that harks back to a past era of gaming.  Fans will love it and newcomers will pick it up really quickly.

Score: 4/5

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 (Xbox One, PS4 ,PC and mobile, £5.19)

A HIT flick is always a good base for a new game — so it was no surprise to see Guardians Of The Galaxy: The Telltale Series hit the shelves.  But it has actually taken a long time to get the game into the shops — the deal between Marvel and Telltale Games was announced some time ago.  The first offering follows the standard Telltale formula — an episodic epic tale with heavy dialogue sections and a QTE action-packed section in the offing.

Episode One — Tangled Up in Blue — sets the stage neatly.  The rag-tag band of heroes are asked to fight Thanos by the Nova Corps.  There is plenty of action with a light dusting of Telltale point-and-click gameplay.  The game sits between the movie and the comic book so fans of both should find something to enjoy.  The script is pretty good though you occasionally feel like a mother hen trying to stop the team from fighting.

Things start at a hell of a rate until the game parts kick in then the speed crashes but it will take about two hours to complete.  You’ll love the chunky comic book style and the voice acting is excellent, with Nolan North as Rocket and Scott Porter as Star Lord.  It is all backed up by a rocking soundtrack.

Score: 4/5

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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