Posted on August 2, 2021
November 12, 2021
In the lead up to Shin Megami Tensei V’s launch in November, we’ve been rolling out exclusive previews on the highly anticipated RPG from Atlus. In past articles, we’ve taken a look at the protagonist and the characters, but now we’re shining a light on the other side of the fence: the demons.
As we’ve covered previously, Shin Megami Tensei V casts you in the role of a normal, everyday third-year student in a high school in Tokyo, Japan. However, after an incident at one of the city’s train stations causes him to get trapped in a tunnel collapse, he finds himself in a desert full of demons. As the protagonist fears for his life, a mysterious man named Aogami offers his assistance, and the two fuse to become a condemned being known as a Nahobino. Now, with the power to fight and even negotiate with these demons, the protagonist ventures out alongside his friends to try and stop a demonic invasion of Tokyo.
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In Shin Megami Tensei V, players will encounter a wide range of more than 200 demons. The stable of creatures includes a collection of classics, as well as several new characters from character designer Masayuki Doi. You can see some new art and screenshots of some of the demons from SMT V in the gallery above.
In addition, Atlus sent us over some new screenshots of the characters you interact with in Shin Megami Tensei V. Whether you’re talking the cheerful Ichiro Dazai or the responsible and upright Yuzuru Atsuta, you can see more of the cast of characters in the gallery below.
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Shin Megami Tensei V launches on Nintendo Switch on November 12. Stay tuned for more exclusive details about the hotly anticipated Atlus RPG later this month.
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
July 27, 2021
Switch), 2021 (PC)
Reviewed on: Switch
PlayStation 4, PC
14 years ago, The World Ends With You hit the Nintendo DS and was praised for its style and innovation. It had an electrifying soundtrack, an exciting battle system that utilized the DS’ touchscreen, and the undeniable hook of exploring Shibuya, Tokyo. There was nothing like it on the market. Neo: The World Ends With You doesn’t make the same grand entrance; instead, it’s content to embrace the first game’s strengths and even some of its faults. What that leaves is an experience that’s still engaging and intriguing, but it doesn’t create a lasting impression like the original.
Neo: The World Ends With You brings in a brand-new cast and the start of a new Reapers’ Game, where players must fight to win or face erasure from the world. Protagonist Rindo gets randomly caught up in the competition when a psychic battle breaks out in front of him and his buddy Fret in the middle of Shibuya. From here, they learn they’ve been transported into the deadly game and must face its stakes: compete against other teams in various challenges around the city if they ever want to return home to the real world or die trying.
This time around, the narrative focuses more on how the places we come to love are shaped by the people with whom we experience them. It’s not quite as dark as the original, and I didn’t experience the same emotional pull, but I still liked the overall message and found the characters endearing. While the narrative is a slow-burn, the plot has compelling revelations and twists, especially how it connects to the first game’s events. If you haven’t played the original, you aren’t likely to feel the impact of reuniting with beloved characters and seeing loose threads tied up. Those aspects are where I felt the most payoff and enjoyment, especially in the finale.
That being said, the new cast quickly won me over. As a cautious and compassionate leader, Rindo is a likable protagonist. It’s refreshing to see someone who genuinely puts others before themselves, even when they disagree with them. His buddy Fret starts out very happy-go-lucky, but then his character develops wonderfully beyond just being Rindo’s lighthearted friend, and we learn why he avoids serious conversations. I also really enjoyed the awkward-yet-perceptive Nagi, who takes her video game fandom very seriously. Many characters come in and out of the story, almost to a fault, so be prepared to have a lot of faces to keep track of throughout the journey. At times, I found this overwhelming and felt it didn’t allow me to form strong attachments to non-party characters, but I also liked the feeling of a large group coming together for the good of Shibuya.
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Like the first game, you can expect fast-paced combat that rewards you for chaining combos with team members to eventually “drop the beat” for devastating specials. The game still centers on “pins” to customize your abilities in battles. You can equip these on every character for their main battle ability; each pin has a specific ability on a cooldown tied to a particular button input. Not relying on a touchscreen like the first game, this works better than I expected, but I still found it challenging to keep track of all the chaos on-screen at times. Trying to play characters’ abilities using multiple buttons at a time, the combat demands you multitask, making it easy to slip up.
I loved the variety of the different pins and enjoyed experimenting to see which ones worked best together. I had abilities that unleashed giant volcanoes, let me put down minefields, and hurl vehicles at enemies. Finding a new pin and seeing how it changes your play style is a thrill. I constantly shuffled mine up and appreciated how they made me feel my growing power and helped keep combat fresh. When you’re firing on all cylinders and watching your groove rise due to your intelligent pin combinations, the battle system is extremely rewarding.
A big focus is finding abilities that complement each other, which requires some trial and error. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out, like having a tripwire ability so you can ensure an enemy can’t escape a bomb explosion. Other times, changing one pin can mean life or death in a boss battle, and you won’t know this until you’ve played – and failed – the lengthy encounter. The bosses themselves are fantastic and a highlight of the experience. Every big bad has a cool enemy design and keeps you on your toes in different ways, like having you dodge multiple lasers or finding weak points to break through.
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Unfortunately, some of the enjoyment I had with the combat was brought down by another issue: subpar difficulty balancing. For a good chunk of my adventure, things would often be ridiculously easy, and then I’d hit a huge difficulty spike out of nowhere where I’d barely survive. You can adjust the difficulty at any time, but I shouldn’t have to shuffle difficulty to make a fight feel satisfying.
Another area that falters is the game’s repetitive nature. Like its predecessor, Neo is structured around the Reapers’ Game, which is a blessing and a curse. I love the chaos and frenzy of having to complete the game’s challenges, like defeating a certain number of enemies or solving riddles, but they start to feel like a laundry list of things to do. The game plays out in days, and with each day comes new tasks to reach the top of the game rankings. During this time, you can eat at various restaurants for stat boosts or buy new clothes for your equipment.
The game has a comfortable rhythm which hooked me at the onset, but the repetitive structure and lack of variety in the tasks really grated. I was excited when the new turf wars, called Scramble Slams, were introduced, until I realized they played out in the most uninteresting way. You’re just killing a certain amount of enemies in each area then a boss to take it over. These can be lengthy affairs and show up on multiple occasions during the game.
It doesn’t help that the characters’ special abilities to use within the world also feed into this repetition. For instance, Rindo can turn back time once a day, which functions as part of the overall story. I hated this, as it felt tedious and like it just prolonged every day by making you revisit the same scenes and places while sometimes fighting the same enemies again. Nagi has a “dive” ability, which lets her get to the root of people’s complicated emotions; this overused power means you’re battling more enemies to smack some sense into people. Fret can make people recall memories by tilting the left and right sticks in to complete a picture. Unfortunately, I liked Fret’s ability the least, as it requires more precision than I expected. I played on Switch, and using the Pro Controller fared better for me than the Joy-Cons. Unfortunately, the Switch version proved unstable; the game crashed several times. Even after downloading the day-one patch, the issue persisted.
In some ways, it’s disheartening that Neo: The World Ends With You doesn’t evolve much from its predecessor. It may even feel like a step back, but there’s still a fun game here that I had trouble putting down. The world draws you in, the boss battles provide a worthy challenge, and I loved watching the relationships between characters grow. There’s also some excellent payoff for fans of the first game. Exploring Shibuya and dropping the beat is still a delight, and the music captivates you in the best way.
Summary: Neo: The World Ends With You faithfully mirrors its predecessor – for better or worse.
Concept: Bring back the Reapers’ Game, where players must fight for their lives, with new characters and events that tie into the original game
Graphics: The comic-inspired dialogue sequences look great, as do the detailed cutscenes, but the environments aren’t all that impressive
Sound: Composer Takeharu Ishimoto is back and delights with catchy tunes that capture the city’s style and essence. The beats are so infectious they stay in your head long after powering the game down
Playability: The mechanics are easy to grasp but can take some time to master. The controls have you focusing on a lot of button inputs in the heat of battle, which can be difficult to keep track of
Entertainment: Neo: The World Ends With You faithfully mirrors its predecessor, offering entertaining combat, endearing characters, and a fabulous world to explore
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One of the best moments of Pokémon Red and Blue is finally obtaining the bicycle. Quickly speeding across the world you spent hours trudging across on foot feels liberating and you appreciate it as much as any of your pocket monsters. Well, what if I told you that The Pokémon Company is giving away a real-life version of that bike? That’s right it could be yours … as long as you live in Japan.
As spotted by Kotaku, The Pokémon Company is celebrating reaching one million Twitter followers by creating a replica of Generation 1’s bicycle. While garnering a million fans is a big deal, that number has dual significance. It directly references the in-game price tag of the bike, which fans likely remember stood at 1,000,000 Poké-monies (or whatever Pokémon currency is called). Since players’ wallets were capped at 999,999, it was literally impossible to purchase and could only be obtained by trading a bike voucher earned earlier in the game.
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Before you get too excited about recreating your Kanto adventure in real life, you can’t actually ride this bike. You’ll notice it lacks a bike chain and is purely meant to be displayed. The bike also isn’t for sale and will be given away to one lucky fan that follows the @poke_times Twitter account and retweets ポケモンの100万円じてんしゃ which translates to “# Pokémon’s 1 million yen bicycle”. Anyone can enter but The Pokémon Company states that the bike will only be shipped domestically in Japan.
The giveaway begins today and runs until August 3. If you reside in Japan or at least have an address there the bike can be sent to, may the odds be ever in your favor. If you’re like those of us who are not in Japan, we’ll continue to jealously admire the craftsmanship and fun attention to detail in the photos.
[Source: The Pokémon Company via Kotaku]
So, any of you living in Japan planning to enter the giveaway? Let us know in the comments!
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Developer: Modern Storyteller
July 28, 2021
Xbox Series X/S,
PC), 2021 (Switch)
Reviewed on: PC
PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
A Roman city resides within a large mountain, hidden from light and prying eyes. Only 23 people call this secret society home, and they appear to live harmoniously together, but looks can be deceiving. Time has taken its toll on each soul, but they can never leave, and more pressing yet, cannot sin, for even the most minor white lie or act of theft will steal the life from everyone. An angry god lords over this cave, and any misgiving will trigger a curse called “The Golden Rule.” The offenses of previous generations can be seen across this city – grim reminders not to sin, no matter where you are or what you are doing. These people need your help, and they somehow summon you from 2,000 years into the future.
Equipped with technologies they’ve never seen before (like a flashlight), you are now a part of their world – a newcomer that these people don’t seem to fear or question. But why? The Forgotten City skillfully plays up this mystery through a beautifully penned story loaded with meaningful player choice, making you feel like you are genuinely sculpting your path as the plot unfolds.
The name “The Forgotten City” may seem familiar to Skyrim players, as it’s the title of one of that game’s most popular mods, downloaded more than 3 million times, and so successful in its storytelling that it won an Australian Writer’s Guild award. The creator of that mod is Nick Pearce, and he’s taking a second spin with his time-traveling concepts in this excellent standalone game of the same name. While shedding Skyrim’s dark fantasy setting for a brighter aesthetic, it still clings tightly to the Elder Scrolls formula. That’s perfectly fine, as Pearce and his development team at Modern Storyteller play it like a beloved fiddle to bring the characters, their world, and your exploration within it to life in fascinating ways, even if the tech behind it all feels a little dated.
When you step foot in this hidden Roman world, you’ll see it has everything the people need: gardens, water, extravagant homes, yet no way to leave. You arrive via a wormhole and quickly find that your first motivation is to get to know all residents. This task unfolds through extensive conversations that almost always give you numerous questions to ask. Most of The Forgotten City’s gameplay consists of conversations. Thanks to the excellent writing, you walk away from most of these chats with a better understanding of the characters, their motivations, and what they may be up to – not to mention being intrigued by the large narrative that unfolds around it. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot or mystery at hand, but many conversations initiate quests (both critical path and optional) that you can activate and pursue. Most are of the simple variety of locating someone, questioning someone else, or perhaps even setting a trap, but most add up in significant ways when it comes to gaining leads.
The Golden Rule these people are governed by also applies to you, and you may be tempted to break it from time to time in conversations or as you explore the city. A lie could get you an answer, or you could steal a potion you need to heal someone’s illness, but these acts may doom everyone in the process. Doing these things may seem foolish, but here’s where things get interesting: As the people lose their lives, you need to race back to the wormhole to reset time. If you make it, you retain the knowledge you’ve gained and any items you grabbed, but the society resets to square one. You now have information that will help you solve the riddles faster. You can also use the information you learned about people against them, as they are taken aback by the knowledge you are weaponizing.
Time travel is used in awesome ways, and much like the film Groundhog Day, you make parts of the same day different each time you reset it. Modern Storyteller knows people won’t like redoing the same things over and over and found a few solutions to speed up events that you should be repeating. Depending on how you play your hand, you can reach four different endings. A few come up quickly, but the true ending takes about 10 to 15 hours to reach. I managed to see two of these endings (and a timeline shows where the others I missed take place in the larger narrative). Both of my conclusions were somewhat shocking in their setup but satisfying in how they closed the door for the society and my time traveler.
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As the story unfolds, some quests focus intently on a blend of combat and environmental navigation. The combat and jumping mechanics are a little rough (feeling just like Skyrim). Still, these sections remain fun, spin the larger mystery on its head, and above all else, give you a nice break from the conversations at the right times to keep the experience from getting too repetitive.
The Forgotten City does a great job making you feel like a skillful sleuth, pushing you to run across town with sizzling leads. The only downfall to this excitement is some of the more significant moments come up short in visualization. If characters are doing anything other than talking, they often move in strange ways, and the environmental events (like falling debris) are quite janky. You also won’t learn much from facial expressions or body language, as characters are all primarily expressionless, yet are thankfully saved by exceptional voice work and writing.
Regardless of the visual shortcomings, The Forgotten City stands tall as a unique game that pulls you in with its world and words. I got a huge kick using time travel as a detective tool and found many of the characters to be delightful to chat with (even if they hold many dark secrets). If you are in the market for a different type of game that pushes you to stitch together a story in different ways than you would expect, don’t sleep on this inventive experience. It’s one that you won’t soon forget.
Summary: Extensive player choice fuels a mystery that pays off in big ways.
Concept: Time travel and player choice are put to excellent use in a thrilling story
Graphics: The Forgotten City’s roots stretch back to Skyrim, and it still holds those old-school visual traits in the character animations. The world is beautifully conceived and easy to navigate
Sound: The voice cast makes up for the robotic character movements and delivers the emotion you need to make determinations. The score fits the mood nicely
Playability: The writing is so good you look forward to the long conversations
Entertainment: One of the better choice-driven games in recent memory that makes you feel like you have ownership over your actions and the narrative flow
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It’s been a few days since the first three Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters hit Steam and mobile devices, and I’ve had a chance to play through the first title – and I’m absolutely going to be hitting the others. Yes, even 2. While they’re not perfect, they are vastly superior to most of the options that players had to go back and play these classics, and they may eventually be regarded as the definitive editions. Yes, the font is a little off-putting at first, but that can be swapped out in about three seconds, and I also found that I just got used to it after a few hours.
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In the case of Final Fantasy 1, it’s quite faithful to the original game with some alterations here and there. Sure, you can get ethers so if you want to play a magic-centric party you won’t find yourself out of spells when you hit a critical boss or you’re tackling an extended dungeon crawl. Yeah, the big bad at the end is definitely not the NES version. And there are various tweaks and foibles throughout, but at the end of the day, it feels adherent to the original experience I had on a crummy TV decades ago, while at the same time serving up some minor quality of life upgrades. Perhaps the best thing about this entire series of remasters so far is the absolutely incredible music.
Nobuo Uematsu’s remastered and rearranged musical tracks from these games are worth the ticket of admission alone, in my opinion. While these tunes were always iconic, they absolutely slam with incredible instrumentals now, from the basic battle theme to the banging sounds of the Chaos Shrine. If there is any singular element that makes these games worth going back to and exploring today, these tracks are breathtaking and astonishing in their modern incarnations. You very well may find yourself stepping back from the controller and taking them in. I know I have.
Other small elements include an auto-battle function to help grind out those extra levels for taking on tough bosses with fun party compositions like 4 monks or 4 white mages. There’s also a super handy minimap. sprinting, and a bestiary, but it’s also kind of sad that the bonus content featured in some of the other remasters isn’t around. Still, it’s a wonderful return to some more simplistic games that laid the foundation for one of the most important RPG series of all time.
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While these first three titles are important, the next three are far more so. Final Fantasy 6 is often regarded as the best title in the entire franchise. 4 is my personal favorite, and 5 is actually quite brilliant as you see the job systems come into their full potential. The promise for these already highly-regarded titles with the remaster treatment is incredible, and I can’t wait to head to the moon and beyond again.
Obviously, one of the major concerns right now is that there has been no console announcement for these remasters. It seems a little strange that these new games would be limited to mobile and PC, so I’m hoping that we’ll hear about a bundled package for consoles after all the titles have been completed and released.
Final Fantasy still rocks, so many years later. Grab a fighter, a thief, a white mage, and a black mage and go explore the world. Or ya know, 4 black mages. Whatever you feel like!
War for Wakanda is easily the most exciting expansion to hit Marvel’s Avengers, and we finally know when it’s coming. On August 17, players will get to take control of Black Panther to explore a brand new story serving as the game’s largest content update yet.
In addition to adding a Christopher Judge-voiced T’Challa to the roster of heroes, the free expansion (yes expansion and not an Operation like with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye) introduces new enemy types and two supervillains, one of which is Klaw. Black Panther’s long-time nemesis has teamed up with AIM to invade Wakanda to steal its precious vibranium.
Wakanda, with its futuristic Royal Palace and surrounding jungles, offer a vibrant new biome to explore that contains the Birnin Zana Outpost, the laboratory of T’Challa’s brilliant sister, Shuri, and other locations. There’s also a new drop zone for solo or team play. In addition to the story quests, players can engage in new threat sector missions and other superheroic activities. Of course, you can also expect plenty of new hero outfits as well as a power level increase.
For a deep dive into what War for Wakanda entails, Crystal Dynamics will stream an Avengers War Table on its Twitch channel on August 16 at 10 a.m PT. The presentation will share additional details and show off new footage of the expansion in action.
If you love you some Black Panther but are on the fence about Marvel’s Avengers as a whole, you can play the entire game for free thanks to an all-access period running now until August 1 for the PlayStation, PC, and Stadia versions of the game. During this time Marvel’s Avengers is available at a 40% discount should you decide to buy, and your progress will carry over as well. There’s also a 400% XP gain in effect and 50% off sale for the in-game store. The Tachyon Anomaly event also makes a return. For Xbox players, Crystal Dynamics promises a similar all-access period will come to those platforms in the coming months.
Marvel’s Avengers is currently available for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC.
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Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Halo Infinite has been in the crosshairs of the gaming community since it was announced at E3 2018. Originally set to release last November alongside the launch of the Xbox Series X and S, growing concerns about the game following an extended look at the campaign caused 343 Industries and Microsoft to reconsider when Infinite was ready for prime time.
Now, almost exactly a year since gameplay was first shown, we’re finally getting hands-on time with Halo Infinite in a technical multiplayer beta. Join Alex Stadnik, Liana Ruppert, and John Carson as they share their first impressions of the game and give a look at Halo Infinite multiplayer in action. How does it look? What’s new and different compared to previous entries? Does it live up to the grandiose reputation of Microsoft’s first-person juggernaut? We cover those questions and more in this episode of New Gameplay Today.
This technical flight for Halo Infinite is currently limited to folks who signed up for, and were chosen through, the Halo Waypoint website. Multiplayer is one of two modes found within this test, alongside the Academy, a series of gun-specific challenges which lets the player loose at a firing range to rack up high scores. Currently, the multiplayer matches are 4v4 Slayer matches on the new map called Live Fire. It’s a condensed battleground that keeps the action fast and consistent, while retaining many paths for getting around the map. Matches during this test consist of matchmade human teams warring against AI driven bots. While we’d prefer to go head-to-head against real people and really put these Spartans through their paces, that experience will have to wait for another time.
Halo Infinite is set to release on an undisclosed date later this year for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. How do you think Infinite is shaping up? Which weapons are you looking to know more about in this technical flight?
Earlier this year, Sony shared an extensive look at Aloy’s continued story with Horizon Forbidden West, but the lack of a release window had many wondering if we would see the sequel this year. Following the rumors that followed said speculation, Horizon Forbidden West has officially been delayed to 2022.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, the open-world story of Aloy is set to continue some time in the first quarter of 2022, though an exact date has not been revealed at this time. The news broke via a “person familiar with the matter,” according to the site following PlayStation’s Hermen Hulst’s previous statements that the game was still on track for a holiday release back in June. While Hulst sounded hopeful that the release progress would remain on course, he did mention that nothing was “quite certain” yet, leaving wiggle room in case a delay was inevitable.
Game Informer has reached out to Sony, though no comment has been made at the time this article was written.
When Horizon Zero Dawn was first released on PlayStation 4, it was an instant hit with the PS community. The franchise’s dual-nature setting with futuristic technology in a more tribal society made the parallels between the two worlds a unique one for the game’s narrative. With Forbidden West promising even more adventures, a larger world to get lost in, and new ways to master combat and hone Aloy’s skills, the upcoming journey from Guerrilla Games aims to take what so many loved from the first adventure and make it even better.
To learn more about the game thus far, including more footage, behind-the-scenes looks, and special interviews with the team at Guerilla Games, check out our dedicated game hub here.
It’s Halo time, baby! The first Halo Infinite Flight Test is now live, and we’ve got that Spartan spirit, and we are ready to rock out with our new Pulse Carbines out. To kick off the testing period for Master Chief’s latest adventure, we here at Game Informer are diving all in to make the Halo community proud. Join us, won’t you, for a special two-hour stream while we dive right into some multiplayer action.
The Halo Infinite Flight Test is the first of several early access periods 343 is hosting before the game’s launch later this year. This particular testing period offers a first look at multiplayer with just one map. Unfortunately, it’s against bots, which would make us losing all the more embarrassing. Which, really, if you think about it, just gives you more reason to watch! Make fun of us, cheer us on, dealer’s choice.
Join Alex Stadnik, John Carson, and Liana Ruppert as they check out Halo Infinite for the first time. You can find us on our YouTube and Twitch channels to join in on the fun live starting at 2 p.m. CT. Join in on the conversation, talk about your favorite Master Chief moments, where you want to see the franchise go next, and show Craig the Brute some mad love. Just remember: this is a multiplayer-only Flight Test, so we won’t be streaming any of the story, but we will be talking about the unique weapons that the new game brings, so if you’re interested – all are welcome!
Also included in the Flight Test is the ability to play around with the Battle Pass a little bit. The Battle Pass is optional and will, like most, include cosmetic options. That being said, 343 has confirmed that it will only offer cosmetic options and nothing that could be interpreted as supporting a pay-to-win model. Unlike most, however, it won’t be a time-sensitive feature. For example, like Destiny 2’s, others are only available for a limited-time-only, which means the cosmetic options available disappear in the void; Infinite’s never expires. Players can take as much time as they want on each Battle Pass, even purchasing older ones if they come into the game early. While you can only progress through one Battle Pass at a time, there is not a time limit placed upon them.
To learn more about the upcoming 343 Industries shooter, check out our dedicated Halo Infinite hub here. We’ve got gameplay, updates, and incredible inside looks from the studio itself.