The identity of the protagonist and their ultimate goal is never totally clear during the course of Far: Lone Sails. In this way, it recalls games like Inside and Little Nightmares; it creates a compelling narrative based almost entirely on a mysterious, horrific mood. Far: Lone Sails stands alongside other games in this difficult-to-define genre, but it also sets itself apart in a big way with a lumbering, upgradable vehicle that carries you through a desolate world.

In Far: Lone Sails, you are taking your vehicle (effectively a mobile home) from left to right on a 2D plane. You stop only to refuel and solve puzzles to eliminate obstacles that prevent you from moving forward. As you travel, you come across assorted pieces that can be used to improve your vehicle. Sails, for example, let you move without consuming fuel as long as the wind is in your favor, while a vacuum upgrade lets you grab fuel without having to stop and exit your vehicle.

The connection I built with this vehicle was a strong one. It doubles as your home as you make your way and you must take care of it, repairing its occasional damage, and making sure its fuel stays topped off. You attach upgrades to it as you progress, and I was excited to come across each one as they make your transportation stronger and more efficient. Exiting the vehicle and moving away from it, which is necessary to solve puzzles, made me more uncomfortable as I moved further away. I felt exposed and in danger without it. That connection is exploited to great effect at a few key moments over the course of the adventure.

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The puzzles never push the player too hard, but that is not a complaint. None of the mechanics feel overused, and it also does a good job at giving you tools and letting the puzzles themselves explain how those tools can be used. A winch on the front, for example, is available from the beginning, but its use does not become apparent until much later. The puzzles are also consistently surprising in that you may be working toward what appears to be an obvious solution, only to discover the button you pressed does something entirely different and exciting. On one occasion, I thought I was simply opening a door to move forward, but as the pieces collapsed around me and fell into place, I realized I had created a ferry to take me from side of a lake to another.

Events outside the vehicle can be just as compelling as those inside. Whatever happened to this world (and why the protagonist is so eager to keep moving) is never totally clear, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. By just looking at the environment as you travel through it, you get a powerful sense of broken dreams. I often felt like I was in a world that was building to something amazing, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath it at the last second. I was impressed by how well the emotional state of the world came across, even without knowing what calamity had led it to this state.

For all the landscape does to tell its story, and the impressive engineering of the vehicle on display, I wish the protagonist’s design fell in line with the rest of the excellent art. Images in various locations hint that this world was once populated by normal humans, but the protagonists looks a bit like a collection of red cardboard boxes and it clashed with the otherwise compelling aesthetic.

Far: Lone Sails is the kind of game that sticks with you after seeing credits. It delivers a fascinating mystery in a strange land with engaging puzzles, and couples that with a relationship between the player and their oversized mode of transportation. A few areas lack polish and some of the physics felt off here and there, but none of that stopped the story from engaging me in a big way.

Three new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom TV spots are out and show some more adrenaline-packed sections of the movie. If you’re on a complete blackout or want to avoid knowing too much, maybe don’t watch these. For anyone on the fence, though, these commercials can help shed some light on the Jurassic World sequel.

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A minute and a half of Jurassic World injected into your day! Additionally, a behind the scenes look at the movie has also been released and focuses on the script supervisor, which you can find right here.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom releases in theaters on June 22.

A number of new achievements for Prey have appeared on Steam’s backend, fueling speculation of an upcoming DLC expansion.

The achievements were found by Twitter user and Digital Invaders co-host lashman today. The achievements don’t have descriptions, just single word titles that form a lyric to R.E.M. song “Man on the Moon,” which only seems appropriate for the space-based Prey title.

A few months ago, Bethesda teased a short clip panning over the moon on the same day that they announced the details of their E3 show. Bethesda has been keen on adding DLC to their single player titles, such as the Death of the Outsider for Dishonored 2, so a Prey expansion set on the moon sounds right up that alley.

Bethesda’s E3 conference Sunday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. PT.

 

Our Take
I am definitely down for a new expansion to Prey. Death of the Outsider was fantastic, but the Wolfenstein II DLC wasn’t great, so Bethesda’s DLC record of recent can be patchy. Hopefully this is great.

Few thematic board games have done as much to draw new players to the hobby as Betrayal at House on the Hill. The formula is immediately intriguing: Join forces with your friends to cooperatively investigate a mysterious mansion, but with the knowledge that one of you might actually be a traitor, actively working to nefarious ends and the defeat of everyone else. The game encourages emergent stories, mixes horror with snippets of humor, and its modular tile system and multiple “haunts” keep the game replayable time and again. “Essentially, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a haunted-house short-story generator, which was always appealing,” says Rob Daviau, one of the designers of the original game. “Every time you go in, you’re going to get a different story, from the way the house is laid out, to how the house is haunted, to the characters, cards, and actions. All of those come together to generate a story that relies on great haunted house tropes.”

Well over a decade after the release of the first edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill, the new Betrayal Legacy is aiming for a release later this year. At its core, the new game uses the same rules and formula that made the original game so fun. But imagine if every session you played had real consequences, and an ongoing story flowed from one game night to the next, completely shaped and customized by the decisions, victories, losses, and betrayals that came before. 

Rob Daviau has returned, this time as lead designer, to guide the creation of this new game being published by Avalon Hill. “There was only one person that could possibly do Betrayal Legacy,” says brand manager Shelly Mazzanoble. “If Rob had said no, we probably wouldn’t have made the game.” 


Rob Daviau was one of the original designers of Betrayal at House on the Hill, and he’s now lead designer for Betrayal Legacy

Beyond his experience working on the original Betrayal at House on the Hill, in more recent years, Daviau has been the originating and most strident representative in the design of legacy games, having co-designed projects including Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, and SeaFall. In each, players follow a campaign from one session to the next and watch the way both the story and rules evolve in response to player choices. “Some of the actions you take in any one game will cause permanent changes to the game, so when you start the next game, it’s different,” Daviau says. “Not only is it different from your first game, but it’s probably different from someone else’s first game, because whatever decisions or actions they took in the first game will change their game in a different way. So, you end up stringing together a series of board games almost like episodes in a TV series. You’re doing things like writing on things, ripping them up, and putting stickers down. It ups the stakes.”

The most intriguing aspect of Betrayal Legacy is its treatment of time, particularly the dynamics of family heritage, and the changing nature of horror across decades and centuries. In a story spanning hundreds of years, it’s the enigmatic house up on the hill that is the true main character. Players watch it as it twists and reforms across the generations, terrifying and killing its visitors with new horrors fit to that era’s greatest fears. Each player takes on the role of a family and its many descendants, and plays members of that same family as they return time and again to the same site that so haunted their ancestors; something (it would be a spoiler to know what) keeps dragging them back. 

“The game itself starts in 1666, with the prologue,” Daviau explains. “And every game you play goes forward roughly 25 years – about a generation. And we end up in 2004, which allowed us in every chapter to look at that section of history, and think about what was scary at the time. What were people afraid of in 1725 versus 1863? The content and flavor of each chapter could be fit to that period of history.” In the early 1800s, as Mary Shelley scared readers with Frankenstein, the haunts in Betrayal Legacy echo that unease that confronts the fears of science gone amok. A couple decades later, it’s Edgar Allen Poe’s madness-inducing The Raven that might inspire dread. In each session, players face a random haunt customized to the era – one group’s threat could be different from another group’s. But the way the players confront that haunt adds new event cards into the deck, and generations later, those events crop up, reminding everyone of the earlier disaster. “If there’s a bloodbath in the basement in one game, then in a future game there’s a higher chance of drawing an event card in the basement that might be called bloodbath,” Daviau explains. “You walk into a room, and there’s blood dripping from the wall, and ghosts are screaming.” 


We got an exclusive first look at the final cover art. Click on the image for a larger version

Sometimes your playable character carries over from one session to the next; the irascible teenager in the early 1900s is the world-weary old man in a subsequent session. At other times, you might play your prior avatar’s descendant. Either way, you create and name your hero, but he or she is always a member of the same family, and a predisposition to traits like physical might, speed, or sanity carry over. “There are five different minis that you get in the game,” Daviau says. “There’s an adult male, adult female, younger male, younger female, and then a child. Instead of that being the same character every time, at the beginning of the game, you pick one of the figures, and put your family’s colored base on it.” People weave together their own family story, and can even choose to role-play traits that carry over from one generation to the next. 

As the game begins, the first task that gets the ball rolling isn’t especially honorable. “It’s a homestead somewhere in the New World,” Daviau says. “We never give it a particular place, but I live in New England, so in my mind it’s always very close to where I live. You’re at a house because the family that lived there died. You are there to look through their stuff and see if you can find something valuable. Each of you pretends that you’re there to honor the dead, but you’re not fooling anyone. The families aren’t noble, or driven by some higher nature. They’re fairly petty.” As they plunder the house, the players find treasures left behind by the previous inhabitants. You name those items, put a sticker crest on them, and claim them for your family. If the item shows up decades later in a different session, it’s an heirloom, and it’s more powerful when wielded by a member of your clan.  


New tiles will enter the game as the sessions progress, and newer tiles will be era-appropriate for the years in which they’re introduced

Betrayal Legacy unfolds over a prologue and 13 linked chapters. In each, the legacy elements layer on additional depth, rules, and storytelling reveals. Prior components are discarded or destroyed, and cards get written on by the players. A big part of the ongoing legacy is the deaths that have happened in the haunted house, including the deaths you might face as the story is told, and exactly what is left behind from those deaths. “You can see on the board at the beginning that some of the tiles have ghosts on them,” Daviau says. “And there are spots on the tiles where more ghosts can live. Some places have a higher haunting potential than others. How ghosts come into play is unknown at the beginning, but most people are not surprised when they find out how that happens. Everyone’s house will have a slightly different ghost population, both in quantity and location.” 

No matter how your horror novel plays out, after the final chapter concludes, Betrayal Legacy will remain playable. “After you’ve done 14 chapters, you have an infinitely replayable game that’s fully customized,” Daviau says. “You will have only seen about a third of the haunts that are in the game. You can keep playing it.” That’s a trait that isn’t shared across all legacy games, and boosts what is already likely to be an engaging game to go back onto the table with frequency.

Our first look today at the final box art for Betrayal Legacy hints at the tone that Daviau’s team is shooting for. “We definitely went PG-13, and not PG,” Daviau says. “The original game has a certain tongue-in-cheek quality, and plays on a lot of monster movies from the ‘50s. Some of those are kind of serious, and some of them are more like a ‘I was a teenage werewolf’ sort of feel. People weren’t quite as tongue-in-cheek about their horror in 1740. ‘No, there are monsters that live in the woods, and I’m terrified.’ So, we tried to make Betrayal Legacy a little more serious. There are still a lot of winks and jokes, but the cover immediately sets the tone.” While Betrayal Legacy doesn’t go for gore, the cards and narration have an unsettling quality that maintains its roots in horror. 


In addition to exploring the haunted house, Betrayal Legacy also features outdoor locations

Betrayal Legacy is targeting release in November of this year, which works out well, since the game’s sessions are also set in that time of year. “What’s the spookiest month? Early November,” Daviau declares. “All the leaves have fallen, and they’re wet and brown, and there’s no more apple picking. The sun is setting really early, and there’s a few trees without leaves on them. Once we figured out what the outside would look like, every chapter started to be fall.”

In conversing with Daviau, it’s clear that Betrayal Legacy is a passion project. Not only was he involved in the original game’s inception, but it’s also a personal favorite for him. “I have worked on dozens of games, and probably brought to market over 80 in a 20-year career, and Betrayal at House on the Hill is the only game that I have worked on that I regularly want to play after it’s published,” Daviau says. Betrayal Legacy has a high bar to cross when aiming for that same kind of longevity – players can make up their own minds if it succeeds in just a few months.  

As you wait for a chance to confront the dangers of the haunted house, you might want to peruse our backlog of Top of Table articles, including some great similarly themed horror games that are appropriate for Halloween, and our list of the Top Tabletop Games of 2017 (which included Daviau’s Pandemic Legacy: Season 2). As always, if you’re looking for a personalized board game recommendation for your friends or family, drop me a line via email or Twitter, and I’ll do my best to provide some suggestions. 

With our cover story on Days Gone from Sony Bend, we’ve highlighted the game’s features and shown a lot of new gameplay. With this feature, we wanted to show where and how the game was made. While visiting Sony Bend, we spoke with studio director Christopher Reese, game director Jeff Ross, and game director John Garvin about the full process of bringing Days gone to life on the PlayStation 4. The three developers started working with each other back on the original Syphon Filter for the PlayStation 1, and all three of them say that this is by far their most ambitious project yet.

Watch our exclusive video below to learn how the project started and some of the biggest growing pains along the way.

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For much more on Days Gone, check out our month of bonus coverage by clicking the banner below.

With all manner of Pokémon rumors swirling around the release of the next game, it might be good to take a look back at some things that never quite made it to completion.

A manga based on the life of Game Freak founder and Pokémon design head Satoshi Tajiri is being published in Japan and one scene in the manga, in collaboration with Game Freak, shows a grid of early Pokémon designs with some unused Pokémon. The image was shared on Twitter by Pokémon designer James Turner.

Some of the designs include what appears to be a shark with a spear-tipped nose, a deer, and a kind of bug-lizard thing. A lot of these animals have been touched on in later games, so it seems unlikely they’re waiting 800 Pokémon down the line to bring these designs back. They’re also surrounded by Pokémon like Voltorb, Venonat, and Blastoise, so they were presumably pretty close to making the final roster.

It is another bit of early Pokémon design lore, such as information on a third Pikachu evolution called Gorochu or that he was originally designed as a squirrel. Last year, we talked to Masuda about old design documents he was digging through, which you can see in this video.

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Nintendo and Bandai Namco are teaming up to bring an HD port
of the activity-filled family game to Switch, complete with a few bonuses.

Go Vacation is essentially Bandai Namco’s take on Wii Sports
Resort, featuring over 50 mini-games including scuba diving, tennis,
horseback riding, and snowball fights (it’s a very diverse island). Up to four
players can partake in the activities together, and you can also own and customize
your own villa with hundreds of different pieces of furniture. Nintendo has a
variety of daily content lined up as well, including different costumes and dog
companions you can collect, as well as daily challenges.

Go Vacation originally launched to mediocre reviews on the
Wii in 2011, but the Switch port will include a few new surprises, including fishing
and over 40 different animal types that you can photograph. For a taste of the other activities you can expect, watch the trailer below.

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Go Vacation launches on the Switch on July 27.

Fortnite has been playable on the iOS for a number of weeks now, much to the frustration of high school teachers everywhere, but the next big platform for the game will thankfully come during the summer.

While no more specific date has been given from Epic in this blog post, the Android version is rolling in all the mobile updates that being tinkered with on iOS now. For example, Fortnite on mobile will allow players to change up the HUD to their liking to make the game more comfortable to play while hiding it from your teacher, boss, or other authority figure.

What can’t be hidden, at least not well, is the addition of voice chat to the mobile versions of the game. Being able to talk with teams is an important part of the game on PC and console, but has been missing thus far from the iOS version. Epic is working on implementing it into the game, along with a crucial on-screen mute button, and will allow all versions to talk to each other.

There’s no date yet for voice chat, either, but it should presumably launch by the time the Android version comes out. Stat tracking will also be coming to mobile soon, as well, as Epic tries to move the mobile version to be as full-featured as the other platforms.

[Source: Epic Games]

 

Our Take
Fortnite mobile has taken off in a way that some people prefer playing it on their iPhone or iPad over other versions. It’s good that people who like using it can employ voice chat when they need it, and it’s also good that there’s a button to just mute the mic or other people immediately.

Kingdom Hearts bring a special excitement with it. Whether you get giddy at the sight of Disney characters or have spent the last 16 years piecing together every intricate detail of its spiraling plot, a new mainline entry in the series brings a certain level of fervor. Every new reveal is dissected, theories are born, and cheers (sometimes even tears) pour from fans after seeing Sora and company on screen for a new adventure. This franchise has brought a lot of people joy; it has also left them hanging to see the final chapter in the Xehanort arc. After slowly trickling out information and showing off some worlds, in particular Pixar’s Toy Story and Monsters Inc., Square Enix finally allowed hands-on for the game at a recent press event in Santa Monica. For a game that always seems off in the distance, this was a big step, making its 2018 release window seem not so far off.

Raining On A Titan’s Parade

In Kingdom Hearts III, everything is bigger, with more detailed environments and a speedier feel. Think of it as a cross between Dream Drop Distance’s Flowmotion and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – aA Fragmentary Passage, where you have to use the world around you to get the jump on enemies alongside comboing your heart out to unleash special attacks. The demo first placed me in a boss battle with a titan at Olympus Coliseum. I quickly notice movement is much more fluid and the increased verticality for this entry really shows. Sora can run up walls in a jiffy, and in one sequence, must consider his speed and placement as the titan throws huge boulders to deter his progress up the wall. That being said, be prepared for the poor camera that’s plagued the series since its inception.

Soon, I’m attacking the titan’s humongous feet in hopes of stunning him so I can attack his most vulnerable areas. The key to dealing major damage is using keyblade transformations, attractions, and links. Sora’s keyblade transformations occur by building up combos. Early keyblades only have two transformations, but later in the game, you get three. In this fight, I often activate his second form, which issues a stun impact. In another instance, I trigger Goofy shot, spinning and flinging him at the enemy. Attractions are only available at certain points and can also be activated by building up combos. Big Magic Mountain is the attraction option for this battle. Once activated by pressing a button when the prompt appears on screen, you get a to do basic attacks with the attraction, before pulling off your big finisher, which has you trying to line up your shot in a smaller area to hit the target for increased damage. At first, the window seems small to get it perfect for optimal damage, but I do better on another playthrough.

Links have now taken the place of summons and can be activated by using the d-pad. This fight is early in the game, so the only link I have is Wonder Balloon, which features Dream Eater Meow Wow, who fans know from Dream Drop Distance. Combos flow quickly and build up to specials at a speedy rate. You also want to use magic in your combos, because it gives you access to higher spells like Firaga. Before I know it, the titan is stunned and I must climb him, which is another speedy process of jumping from one gold orb to the next, to deal a deadly blow to his head. It sure feels like a Kingdom Hearts fight, damaging this larger-than-life foe by taking out specific body parts.

Enter The World Of Toy Story

The Toybox in Andy’s Room is the next area where the demo takes place, and later has us escaping to Galaxy Toys. Although we saw a lot of this footage last year at D23, this is our first look at the English voice acting. It’s worth noting that the actors who originally voiced these characters are mostly absent, such as Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks as Woody. That being said, the performances do justice to these characters and match up well with the original film’s voiceovers. In Andy’s room, I face off against Heartless dressed as toys, and it’s my first real look at the power of the Infinity keyblade, which can transform into a deadly hammer that lets you knock your enemy around, making you feel as powerful as Thor. Another transformation lets you fly an unwieldy rocket with Buzz and Woody in tow, lining up your attacks to crash directly into the enemy. I also get a look at the Mad Teacups attraction here, which is just as fun as you’d expect it to be. You control the direction as it spins rapidly to knock into baddies. I should also mention parties are no longer regulated to three characters. Buzz, Woody, Donald, and Goofy can all fight with Sora at the same time.

Since this is further in the game, this is my first look at the Wreck-It Ralph and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel links. Wreck-It Ralph’s 8-Bit Blast link lets you lunge forward and topple over enemies, similar to a gorilla. He can also build. The more blocks he creates, the higher the damage he deals. Ariel’s Lagoon Showtime lets her dive and throw enemies into the air, and then you can attack them using the splash command. Her finisher is a beautiful sequence of her teaming up with Sora for a water-filled attack.

Once we enter Galaxy Toys, I get my hands on the Gigas for the first time. These are mechs that Sora can battle and control. Three different Gigas are in this demo, all with special attacks, such as the ability to launch canons, create explosions, and tackle enemies to the ground. The mechs control really well and were one of my favorite additions in the demo. Each has their aforementioned special attack, but you can also fire your guns and have a punch option to line up a hit that can make the enemy fall. If your Giga takes too much damage, you can always eject and enter another one on the battlefield. This level also has you riding on rails. Each is a different color that leads to various areas, as we saw in Dream Drop Distance. In this level, we do everything from finding a way to new areas through vents to running around on a record player to get musical toys to perform. We also fight a good variety of enemies, such as those called “Monstrous Monsters” and a creepy doll boss.

I also use this time to test out more keyblades. The Monsters Inc. keyblade, called Smile Gear, transforms into agile claws (it’s just like what it sounds like) and twin yo-yos that spin with speed to damage baddies. The Ever After Keyblade from Rapunzel gives you access to a flowery mirage staff, but the big highlight is its finisher which features Rapunzel’s tower and her teaming up with three Soras to damage an enemy. Speaking of Rapunzel, what they’ve done with her hair is amazing. She holds a great deal of it, with some of the excess she can’t carry flowing on the ground. I also manage to unlock another attraction: the pirate ship, which just like the ride sways back and forth into enemies.

So far, it’s hard to say just how the rest of the game will shape up. I like how much smoother combat feels, and there’s certainly a lot of bombastic action going on at every turn. Sometimes keeping track of all the keyblade transformations and activating them accordingly has you watching your action commands more than paying attention to what’s happening in front of you. I have no doubt this will take some adjustment time. My other observation is just how detailed the environments are and how fun it is to explore them. For instance, Galaxy Toys housed a cool video game section and even had a nod to Dissidia, the Final Fantasy fighting game spin-off. Even the fun interactions between characters I love are here. At one point, the whole party inhales helium to have high-pitched voices for a fun, optional dialogue. The game plays very in line with what Square Enix has said they wanted to achieve, from going bigger and incorporating various elements from past entries. I just hope we have a release date soon. It sounds like Square Enix may have more information for us in June.

Hello Games’ Sean Murray recently went on Inside Xbox to talk about the controversial sandbox survival space title’s port, which arrives on Xbox One on July 24. Murray revealed that an extensive multiplayer update would be shipping to all versions of the game alongside the Xbox One release.

“This is something that I wish we could have done sooner, but I’m so glad it’s happening,” Murray said. He describes the multiplayer elements of the game as “more Battlestar, it’s Star Trek away team, it’s fun and funny and emergent and kind of intense.” Murray notes that you can play with friends while exploring or “just come across other travelers.” The multiplayer elements will allow for both co-op and a more aggressive PVP style of play within No Man’s Sky’s sandbox.

You can watch the discussion in full here:

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For more on No Man’s Sky, here’s our review of the original version here.