Grab your kids! – 60 Seconds

60-second warning before the bombs drop! Hurry- grab your kids, grab your wife, they’re dropping bombs up in here! Quick, grab some water, grab some canned food, grab your grandad’s rifle. You’ll be dead in a week if you don’t! No time for hesitation! Where is Timmy?!?! He is in the garage, throw him into the blast shelter. We need…. Bombs about to drop! Quick in the shelter or I’ll be toast as well. It is a good thing this was just a test, there were so many more things I could have grabbed. Well, that is until the tutorial is over. Can you survive a nuclear catastrophe?

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When a real bomb drops, who knows who will make it? You may not even get your whole family to a place of safety. Now not only would you have to survive in a cramped metal coffin, you’d have to deal with the loss of a loved one. In one minute, could you have all of your needed supplies to a place of survival? What do you grab? Even the simplest thing could lead to your demise, like a map. I mean in today’s world of smartphones, who has a map? With all these different things on your mind, “60 seconds” brings these aspects into a presentable format. A scary one at that.

Day one. All of us made it down to the shelter. In a distant life, we barely remember stocking this place with a radio and some other gadgets. It smells like mold and it’s tight. Some of us will be sleeping on cans tonight but at least we’re all safe. We barely had time to grab all of our necessities, but we have some cans of food and some bottled water. No need to worry about any robbers or the like, we have grandad’s shotgun. Now, at this point, the game has changed from a 3D grab everything run and gun to a still scene that is only narrated through a journal. The story is what makes this game replayable.

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However, after the initial rush is over it can be pretty dull after more than one play-through. The concept is great, attempting to survive in your fallout shelter. The rules are simple as well. Stay alive, and keep at least one adult alive. So in some regard, it is more worthwhile to send your children out to the waste because there is no penalty for losing them. If your adults die, then you lose. This aspect of the game can be pretty unrealistic because, in my mind, I wouldn’t want to lose my children.  Also, if you haven’t grabbed enough food, don’t fret, send someone to find some.

You can send one person at a time on an adventure that you don’t get to see but is narrated by your journal, and they can scavenge for supplies. The realism of the wear and tear on these members are shown when they return. There is also noticeable changes in members of your bunker as they need water and food. You’ll go days and days just continuing to maintain your rations, and hope that the military will save you. The radio and the map are the most important things for this to be successful. So which is it, will the military save you, or will you die?

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Darkly Atmospheric – Darkwood Review

There’s a quiet and tense energy that pervades the world of Darkwood. It’s not a traditional horror game in that there are monsters leaping out at you from every shadow – but it’s this that makes it even scarier.

Developers Acid Wizard Studio reportedly decided to create a horror game of their own as a result of not being fans of the genre, and after a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, and a sometimes difficult four years of development in Steam Early Access, Darkwood officially launched in August 2017.

In many ways, this lack of background in horror shines through positively throughout the game. For a start, the top-down mechanic is at least rare, if not unique, in the genre. And all too often, horror games go for the jump scares, while Darkwood prefers a more psychological brand of terror.

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It begins innocuously enough – in the prologue, you play as a man living in a forest cabin and the game teaches you how to move around and manage your inventory. Things get a bit more sinister as you decide whether or not to euthanise your dying dog, and shortly afterwards Darkwood takes a deep breath and takes a long journey into the strange and surreal.

One of the first lessons you learn is to never, ever, under any circumstances, go outside during the night, because you will die a horrible and painful death. The lifeblood of this notion is the gasoline that fuels the generator in your shelter; as long as the lights are on, the paranormal beasties will stay away. Mostly. There are exceptions, such as the foreboding but unaggressive figure who imparts this nocturnal advice, standing with the body of a man and the head of a wolf.

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Cleverly, Darkwood slowly descends into madness, instead of plunging straight in deep. For the first few nights, not much might happen. But I recall early into the story, I was huddled in the bedroom of my shelter when the door swung open. There was nothing there. Another time I was pacing impatiently when I turned back around to find a person sat crying on the bed, desperate to go home.

As the loading screen warns you, Darkwood doesn’t hold you by the hand. Hence my confusion when, despite the earlier warning to never, EVER go outside at night, someone or something began knocking at the door after darkness had fallen. In such a situation, you’re gripped by a terrible indecision; do you go and open the door, or do you ignore it? It’s moments like these that truly set Darkwood aside from other horror games.

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Suffice to say that these are just the tip of a psychedelic iceberg that descends into trippier and scarier depths as the game continues, but I wouldn’t want to be the one to ruin the experience for a new player.

Despite the strange and terrible things that occur, there’s a reassuring logic that sits somewhere in the background; while it doesn’t hold your hand, neither does the game try and trip you up by changing the rules on you for the sake of adding confusion.

While it’s good, things aren’t perfect. The combat system feels very clunky to operate, and particularly from the mid-game on, it’s really difficult to walk away from a fight – and not in an “I appreciated the challenge” type of way.

But that’s a relatively small part of an otherwise phenomenal game. I’m a big fan of minimalist graphic styles, and here we can see an example of a game that basically just uses different shades of grey throughout and look amazing.

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And the sound quality alone is almost worth the cost of admission – moody, sombre drones ramp up the feeling of dread without you even realising it, particularly when you go anywhere near your lupine acquaintance.

Despite a somewhat clunky combat system, Darkwood presents a fresh and engaging take on the horror genre, which stays true to its roots at the same time as striking off in a new direction. Developed by guys who don’t normally like horror games, this one is bound to appeal to scare junkies and newcomers alike.

EnomView Score: 8 out of 10

5 Reasons Why They Are Billions Is So Addictive

Featuring more empty, hungry husks of people than a city centre takeaway on a Saturday night, They Are Billions has swept across Steam like the infection afflicting its billions of in-game villains. What is it that makes the game so addictive? Let’s take a look at a few reasons below…

1. Difficulty Level: Insanity

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Everyone loves a challenge, and in They Are Billions, gamers have found a doozy. Strategy gamers, in particular, seem to be gluttons for punishment, seeking more and more of a tactical trial; and keeping your colony free from infection is one of the toughest in recent memory.

Just one zombie can be the catalyst for bringing the base you’ve worked on for hours to come crashing down. And when there are billions of the blighters running around, one slip can be all it takes to see the plague infecting all of your colonists, and the dreaded game over screen.

Add to that the feeling of triumphant satisfaction when you finally win, and it’s a recipe to keep gamers trying to reach that ultimate goal. After all, the more difficult the battle, the sweeter the victory…

2. Dem Graphics

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While zombies and steampunk are popular (and arguably, overused) choices for games, doing them both together is a winning combination in the case of They Are Billions.

Steampunk, when done well, is a striking and engaging graphic style that has served well titles like 80 Days, Bioshock Infinite and Dishonored, while zombies provide a universally recognised menace that almost anyone can immediately engage with.

Add to that the post-apocalyptic setting and you’re left with an absolutely gorgeous retro-style aesthetic, with vibrantly coloured human settlements holding fast against the endless waves of grey undead flesh.

3. Made Like They Don’t Make Them Anymore

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As many people over a certain age might tell you, the past holds examples of superior craftsmanship and style that have faded away with the inevitable progression of time.

In this instance, I am one of those people – RTS games never seem to be as engaging as I remember, with classic genre titles like Age of Empires II or Command & Conquer holding special places in my heart from my younger days.

As such it’s easy to see how They Are Billions captures the imagination of gamers like me, with its old-school RTS play style that embodies the best of those classics and updates them into the future. Sure, there are a few niggles like the patrol pathway system, but it is still in Early Access, remember…

4. Doom is Inevitable, Why Rush?

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Sometimes games fall into the “bigger and better” trap, where the solution to innovation is making things larger, faster or more complex.

In the case of They Are Billions, it’s almost as if the design process has taken a step back, and bucks the trend of trying to make games that require the reflexes of an alert cat and memorising twenty different hotkeys to play well.

With its pause system, the game encourages players to take as much time as they need to make decisions, plan a strategy, issue orders, and still end up watching your colony fall to the undead hordes. But at least you thought about it first, right?

5. Higher Stakes Than A Vegas Casino

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Despite the apparent safety net that the pause system affords, it’s really easy to forget that one tiny slip up can mean endgame for your colony.

In an era where loading up from a less perilous time when the going gets tough is commonplace, the ruthlessness of They Are Billions’ save state system forces gamers to really pay attention, even being impervious to alt+F4 rage quitting.

Knowing that at any moment, one teeny tiny zombie could infect your whole colony within seconds really raises the stakes – especially when failure means having to start again from square one.

Did we forget any? Post the things you love or hate in the comments. And check out EnomView’s review of They Are Billions here!

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