Neoseeker : News

Monday, Jan 12

Assassin's Creed Unity 'Dead Kings' DLC debuts tomorrow and it's free

13 comments Lydia Sung - 6:32pm (PST) Like Share

Remember to get your free apology DLC from Ubisoft

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Cheer up, Assassin's Creed fans. Tomorrow, January 13, marks the debut of Assassin's Creed Unity: Dead Kings, a post-campaign DLC that supposedly takes the story in a dark direction. More importantly, this is the freebie Ubisoft promised Unity players, as an apology for all the emotional hardships they might have endured at the hands of such a broken game.

The Dead Kings sends Arno to the remote town of Saint Denis, where French royalty are traditionally buried. With the dead come long-hidden secrets, along with the opportunity to grab new skills, gear, and oufits that can be used in the main Unity game. Supposedly, this is "the darkest story" Ubisoft has ever taken the Assassin's Creed franchise, so I'm admittedly a little bit curious.

Last year, toward the end of November, the publisher-developer made a public apology for all the unexpected issues that came with Assassin's Creed Unity. To make up for it, the Dead Kings DLC was made into a freebie, of sorts, though anyone with a Season Pass can feel a little better about prepaying for the add-on content with a free Ubisoft game.

 
 

Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2014 Nominee Spotlight: The Banner Saga

1 comments Lydia Sung - 11:57am (PST) Like (1) Share

The smallest decisions can lead to devastating consequences

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Neoseeker is celebrating 2014 by spotlighting its Game of the Year nominees one at a time. After each of the ten nominees has been revealed, the final award will be announced along with a podcast of the decision-making process. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade the editorial team which game deserves Neoseeker's highest award.

Tired of having your hand held in modern video games? Apparently, so were the developers at Stoic, the studio that brought us The Banner Saga. This indie tactical RPG won itself a strong following through Kickstarter back when it was little more than a concept -- a promise, if you will. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Banner Saga became a fully realized Nordic fantasy that took us back to the roots of classic strategy.

In this fictional, Viking-inspired universe, the sun has frozen in the sky and the gods are gone. You might say this is the end of the world. Yet the most dire situations in The Banner Saga are found within your own caravans, where the lives of every character comes down to your decisions. Big or small, your choices will have a lasting affect on the many warriors and refugees fleeing from a growing evil. In a way, Stoic made a game that never stops guilting the player.

Despite how unappealing that sounds, all the "oh crap" moments are really just part of the challenge. The Banner Saga isn't about going easy on you or the characters; it's about actions and consequences, and how these tie into both gameplay as well as narrative. Prepare to kick yourself over and over again, getting frustrated, then diving back in for more.

Why The Banner Saga?

  • The Little Things Matter: Many games rely on an artificial difficulty scale to create the illusion of a challenge. The Banner Saga, on the other hand, feels so much more substantial due to how it masterfully integrates decision-making into every part of the game. Making a seemingly innocuous decision could lead to heartbreaking moments after the loss of a well-liked fighter; this, in turn, could force the player to completely re-evaluate how they play the game after being down an asset. This makes the challenge feel real, essentially by properly tying together the cause and effects of player actions.
  • A Nordic Fantasy: You don't see too many games with this kind of setting. Fantasy games certainly aren't in short supply, but Stoic really wanted to avoid the stereotypical medieval tropes of elves, orcs, and dwarves. So instead, we get horned, Viking-esque giants alongside humans, and a race of malevolent Celtic golems. More specifically, I'm talking about the Varl and the antagonistic Dredge. Either way, The Banner Saga takes the medieval fantasy genre into a more refreshing direction, with the artists also borrowing from very classic sources of inspiration for the art style. You definitely don't see a game quite like this everyday.
  • Austin Wintory: Music is every bit as important to creating a solid game as the gameplay and graphics. For The Banner Saga, Stoic brought on board the talented Austin Wintory, who previously composed for Journey. His compositions lend to the believable atmosphere of the world within Banner Saga, and wind up being one of the most memorable aspects of the entire experience. As I mentioned before, this isn't your everyday RPG, and Wintory really stuck with the theme. His work is noticeable everywhere, given how much time is spent in some of the caravan traveling sequences and (potentially) the turn-based fights.

While not exactly a major AAA production, The Banner Saga is no less worthy of a contender when it comes to our Game of the Year considerations. Everything about it stood out, enough to leave a lasting impression. Consider me stoked for Banner Saga 2.

Neoseeker's Game of the Year Awards are decided by our editorial team, which includes editors Lydia Sung (@RabidChinaGirl), Rory Young (@bluexy) and Leo Chan (@bulletbutler), with contributions from writers Matt Newbould (@newbouldm), Greg Gin, and Andy Lau (@linkinpork).

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 brings in over $1.5 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation

5 comments Rory Young - 9:12am (PST) Like (1) Share

Just look what video games can do for you

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The numbers are in. The Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 speedrunning marathon has brought in $1,540,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation charity. One. Point. Five. Million. Dollars.

After a very long week which saw speedrunner after speedrunner take the stage and dissect their individual games of choice, the event wrapped up late Saturday night. The donation tally sat just above $900,000, a healthy sum and something to be extremely proud of by any means. A huge surprise was yet to occur, however. The donation tracking system had a flaw. Over $400,000 in additional donations had gone through, but never showed up in the tracker being broadcast to the live audience. 

With a final donation total of approximately $1.3 million, the Humble Bundle added in an another $200,000 raised as part of a special edition bundle just for the event. The final tally of $1,540,000 brought in more than $500,000 more than 2014's Awesome Games Done Quick marathon. More or less, what really matters is that gamers united the world over and did something amazing for charity -- just because they can. 

While Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 is a year away now, Summer Games Done Quick 2015 is still on the calendar for July 26. While Summer Games Done Quick tends to be a bit more low key, running less popular games and more interesting types of speedruns, it's now required viewing for all gamers. Last year's Summer Games Done Quick played through 156 games and raised $718,000, so bigger and better things are expected.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 played through 166 games and raised approximately $1,540,000 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It ran from January 4 through the start of January 11, a full week, and featured highlights including: a blindfolded run of parts of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the world record run of Infamous: Festival of Blood, and the event's first broadcasted marriage proposal. What's in store next year?

 
 

Call of Duty Online launches F2P public open beta in China, developed by Raven Software

1 comments Rory Young - 8:46am (PST) Like Share

This isn't the Call of Duty that you're looking for

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Call of Duty fans, the future of the franchise has arrived. You're just going to have to go to China to play it. Today Activision, in partnership with our Chinese overlords Tencent, announced the launch of the public open beta for Call of Duty Online. Activision claims Call of Duty Online is heavily inspired by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops, which isn't particularly telling. I think it's safe to assume it's like any modern Call of Duty multiplayer mode translated into a free-to-play model.

The Chinese, exclusive, free-to-play shooter is developed by Raven Software, better known for their diamond-in-the-rough FPS Singularity. Activision has had them in the background for the past few years working on DLC for main-franchise Call of Duty releases, among other technical projects. It's likely that Call of Duty Online isn't a wholly new, multi-year development project, but rather the appropriation of aspects of multiple existing titles. Consider it a Call of Duty multiplayer Frankenstein. 

As a result, it's unlikely that Call of Duty Online will reach western shores in its current incarnation. North America and Europe have already shown they prefer yearly releases with heaps of DLC, anyway. A free-to-play, microtransaction-rich alternative is likely much more fitting for Chinese territories where Activision has less control over, well, everything. This isn't the Call of Duty you are looking for.

Call of Duty Online is now available in public beta form over in China. Odds are there's a tutorial out there to get it running virtually anywhere in the world. Folk might be better off just picking up Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Saturday, Jan 10

Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2014 Nominee Spotlight: Dark Souls II

12 comments Rory Young - 2:00am (PST) Like Share

... and it'll only be gettting better in 2015 with Scholar of the First Sin's release

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Neoseeker is celebrating 2014 by spotlighting its Game of the Year nominees one at a time. After each of the ten nominees has been revealed, the final award will be announced along with a podcast of the decision-making process. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade the editorial team which game deserves Neoseeker's highest award.

Save the argument regarding whether Dark Souls II is better than the original Dark Souls, or even how it compares to Demon's Souls. I'm not interested in that argument. Similarly, let's set aside the controversy regarding From Software downgrading the visual quality of Dark Souls II compared to how it was shown pre-launch. It sucks. It's worth noting. We've now noted it. Let's move on to the fact that Dark Souls II is one of the best games of 2014.

Despite several games taking heavy influence from the Dark Souls franchise's mechanics and some titles perhaps taking a bit more influence than is comfortable, no game has managed to recreate the magic of Dark Souls. Is it the heavy, despair-ridden atmosphere, the grueling learning curve and constant difficulty, or is it the simple yet brilliant gameplay and innovative features that make Dark Souls what it is? Is it the mystery?

Perhaps for all of those reasons we are enthralled with Dark Souls II. Whether it's launch week, when players combed every inch of Dark Souls II's sprawling world for secrets, treasure, arms and occasionally ways to progress the game, cataloging its entirety online, or whether it's now, when players continue to optimize their character builds, piece together the elusive story and lore, and tune in to watch their favorite streamers speed run parts of the game in seconds what should normally take hours or days -- Dark Souls II leaves its mark on every player that touches it. Err, so long as they get past the tragedy that is character creation.

Why Dark Souls II?

  • The First Playthrough: Dark Souls II players will know this feeling acutely. Pondering what terrifying enemy or obstacle is around the next corner. Or perhaps even worse -- knowing exactly what's waiting around the next corner and having no idea how to overcome it. Hell, not knowing whether you'll even be able to overcome it in your current state. It doesn't matter if players have read about Dark Souls II online or watched a stream, because the feeling is still there that entire first playthrough.
  • Embracing Death: This is by far my favorite part of Dark Souls II, and every other Souls game. Somehow From Software manages to train players to embrace and accept death in-game. It's not because death isn't punishing or rewarding in the least -- oh no, death still sucks intensely. It's the mixture of the player dying often, being surrounded by heavy-handed themes of death, and small ways the game encourages the player to overcome death. There's nothing like it in other games.
  • Keep it Simple and Stupid: Don't be offended by this, Dark Souls II fans, because in practice the brilliance of Dark Souls II is readily apparent. Nevertheless, so much of Dark Souls II when evaluated piece by piece is actually kind of cruddy. Enemy AI is dumb as bricks, designed to perform extremely basic actions. Items are largely found in exactly the same location each run. Combat in general is very mechanical looking and there are very few animations for every action. This is actually excellent. From Software's talent for creating predictability and conveying information through repeated actions is rarely considered a reason for the franchise's excellence, but really it so obviously is.

The reasons why Dark Souls II is excellent, much like its predecessors, are so nontraditional in video games. That's why, despite this being From Software's third Souls game perhaps its worst yet, Dark Souls II is still so different and so unique that it's easily one of the best games released in 2014.

Neoseeker's Game of the Year Awards are decided by our editorial team, which includes editors Lydia Sung (@RabidChinaGirl), Rory Young (@bluexy) and Leo Chan (@bulletbutler), with contributions from writers Matt Newbould (@newbouldm), Greg Gin, and Andy Lau (@linkinpork).



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Friday, Jan 9



Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2014 Nominee Spotlight: Sunset Overdrive

10 comments Lydia Sung - 4:05am (PST) Like Share

Who says the end of the world has to suck?

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Neoseeker is celebrating 2014 by spotlighting its Game of the Year nominees one at a time. After each of the ten nominees has been revealed, the final award will be announced along with a podcast of the decision-making process. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade the editorial team which game deserves Neoseeker's highest award.

Sunset Overdrive is Insomniac Games' first Xbox exclusive, and I'm not just talking about the Xbox One. This is a studio that has been developing games for PlayStation consoles since the '90s, bestowing upon us iconic classics by the name of Spyro and Ratchet & Clank. You may have heard of these.

As console generations moved ahead, Insomniac went on to birth the Resistance series, a post-apocalyptic shooter exclusive to the PlayStation brand, perhaps intended to rival Xbox's Gears of War series. Either way, years of developing such serious games eventually led to the birth of Sunset Overdrive, a lighter take on the post-apocalyptic theme. Why can't the end of our world be fun? What's there left to stop us at that point?

So Sunset Overdrive features the open Sunset City after it was quarantined, following an outbreak of mutants spawned by an unsafe energy drink. Yeah, you read that right. The game is downright silly and over-the-top, but that doesn't make it any less serious of a Game of the Year contender.

Why Sunset Overdrive?

  • Comedy is Serious: Comedy is the business of being funny, and it's not exactly the easiest genre to get right. Humor tends to be subjective, meaning not everyone finds the same things equally funny. True, this probably applies to Sunset Overdrive, but Insomniac may as well have a degree in Funny. The devs were clearly dedicated to keeping the tone humorous throughout, but it never feels overdone. Dire situations peppered in between remind us that, yes, the world these characters reside in was turned upside down, leading to chaos and animosity against their fellows. Factions are not always friendly, and some prove deadlier than others. The game is still pretty funny though.
  • Play As Whoever You Want: Another major selling point Insomniac wanted to push early on was the character customization. Sure, a lot of games can say they have this now, but Sunset Overdrive really delivers. Granted, you're not going to find a mess of sliders to play around with, but the character creator is still surprisingly fun and in-depth. Multiple body types, ethnicities, and cosmetic options for an action game? I am more than okay with this. During my time spent online, I never once saw two player characters that looked alike, and this goes a long way toward giving Sunset that personalized feel. This is your game, your adventure.
  • Play However You Want: The Amp and perk system allow for some insane customization when it comes to gameplay. Many modern action games put all their cards on the table well within the first few hours of play, but Sunset Overdrive is clearly designed for the long term. Not all of these modifiers are meant to do something, of course; one perk actually adds an announcer to excitedly shower praise upon you. Yeah, that's a thing.
  • Feelin' Alive: More than anything else, Sunset Overdrive is meant to be fun. After Resistance, Insomniac wanted to work on something a bit less dramatic, and the result is a comedic action game that, gameplay-wise, is no less intense than any of its more serious competitors. It's vibrant and exciting, providing a challenge for even the most seasoned gamers while also encouraging us to let loose.

As with any other game on our Game of the Year 2014 list, Sunset Overdrive isn't perfect. The story, though handled well, isn't especially memorable and relies mostly on the plethora of self-referential jokes to carry it through. Regardless, this is a funny and inviting game that's just a ton of fun to play. You go, Sunset Overdrive.

Neoseeker's Game of the Year Awards are decided by our editorial team, which includes editors Lydia Sung (@RabidChinaGirl), Rory Young (@bluexy) and Leo Chan (@bulletbutler), with contributions from writers Matt Newbould (@newbouldm), Greg Gin, and Andy Lau (@linkinpork).

 
 

Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2014 Nominee Spotlight: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

5 comments Rory Young - 3:59am (PST) Like Share

Just wait until Hearthstone is playable inside World of Warcraft

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Neoseeker is celebrating 2014 by spotlighting its Game of the Year nominees one at a time. After each of the ten nominees has been revealed, the final award will be announced along with a podcast of the decision-making process. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade the editorial team which game deserves Neoseeker's highest award.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, despite its pedigree and outrageous success, is one of the titles that only just snuck into our Game of the Year nominees. Sadly, none of our team is frankly interested in diving into the free-to-play burn of a TCG -- as untraditional as Hearthstone is in that regard. Yet after much consideration there's no doubt in our minds that this card game deserved to be here. There's just nothing else like it, and that's just the simplest of reasons for why it's hugely successful and only growing in popularity.

The greatness of Hearthstone comes from its approachability, especially considering that we're talking about a collectible card game here. A new wave of World of Warcraft and free-to-play game players are able to jump into Hearthstone in a way they'd never have been able to do with Magic: The Gathering. Then, which I'm assuming is all part of Blizzard's master plan, is that Hearthstone is a perfect game to watch on Twitch. Whether it's a casual streamer or one of Blizzard's huge competitions, Hearthstone is fun to watch. I may have little drive to play Hearthstone every day, but I'm more than willing to watch more experienced do it instead.

I give Hearthstone a lot of crap, but really there's no way to deny that the game's core experience is brilliantly designed. Having multiple "classes" each with their own exclusive cards and complicated metas is immeasurably complicated. Yet somehow Blizzard keeps things incredibly fair. Blizzard's said that all classes when played by Master-tier players trend towards 48-52% win-rates -- when considering both playing first and second, at least. If Hearthstone was at all unbalanced, it simply wouldn't be successful.

Why Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft?

  • Card Gone Wild: If Blizzard had settled for just another trading card game, like say the World of Warcraft TCG, it would never have achieved the success that Hearthstone has found. What Blizzard did with Hearthstone is create the smartest visual experience a TCG has ever achieved in the video game space. The way the cards sit on the board, the way they animate through attacks or abilities, and even how the board itself is interactive all contributes to Blizzard's innovative efforts to bring a TCG into our medium.
  • Arena: Set aside any thoughts on Hearthstone's meta, balance or general gameplay, because there's one aspect that in our minds is infallible. Arena mode, where players builds a deck from largely randomized selection pools and then thrusts it into the arena to compete against players with similarly built decks for increasing rewards. Okay, so free-to-play mechanics prevent most players from playing Arena endlessly, which is crap, but that doesn't change that Arena is the best way to experience Hearthstone.
  • Blizzard's Touch: It's good to be the king. Hearthstone is a game that only Blizzard could produce, which I'm sure is something they had in mind. It's a wholly online game requiring huge a huge server foundation and a reliable player support team. More than that however, Blizzard's able to constantly maintain Hearthstone with bug fixes and balance changes at their own pace. That's not even mentioning their two huge content updates, Curse of Naxxramus and Gnomes vs. Goblins, released less than a year after Hearthstone's launch.

Somehow, yet again, Blizzard has managed to create a game unlike anything they've done previously and turn it into an outrageous success. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft may only have snuck onto our Game of the Year list in 2014, but that won't stop it from being hugely successful in 2015, 2016, and likely on for years to come. Something no other game on our list of nominees can believably claim. Hearthstone's excellence is unquestionable.

Neoseeker's Game of the Year Awards are decided by our editorial team, which includes editors Lydia Sung (@RabidChinaGirl), Rory Young (@bluexy) and Leo Chan (@bulletbutler), with contributions from writers Matt Newbould (@newbouldm), Greg Gin, and Andy Lau (@linkinpork).



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Thursday, Jan 8



Destiny patch to remove infamous Crota's End exploit, Iron Banner returning

27 comments Lydia Sung - 6:53pm (PST) Like (1) Share

The disconnect bug will soon be removed

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As the newest raid, Crota's End should have been the toughest content in Destiny, but players were quick to take that away from the Hive baddie with a now-infamous exploit. Well, that's going away with next week's patch, as Bungie finally gets around to fixing the kneeling bug after letting players have it through the holidays.

For those not in the know, Crota is the final boss at the end of the Crota's End raid (obviously), so it stands to reason that he'd be the toughest enemy in the game. Well, players discovered before long an exploit that forces Crota to become stuck in a kneeling -- and thus, vulnerable -- position by having a player disconnect in the middle of the encounter. After that, a player wielding the sword can essentially burst Crota down in just a few minutes, without having to fear for their own life.

In the patch notes for next week's update, a fix for the bug can be found. Additionally, the Pit treasure chest in the raid will now contain Radiant materials. For players still running the Vault of Glass raid, Exotics from the Venus instance will now be level 32.

The Iron Banner event will also be returning soon. Check out the patch notes below.

Crota’s End – Updates

  • The existing Pit treasure chest reward moved to killing Ir Yut, the Deathsinger.  She has a chance to drop Exotic weapons and armor, class pieces, and Radiant materials.
  • The Pit treasure chest will now contain Radiant Materials. 

Pit Encounter

  • Removed the physics impulse caused by exploding lanterns. 

Bridge Encounter

  • Players will now be required to cross the bridge in order to complete the bridge encounter.
  • Players will now be required to wait for the bridge to be completed prior to crossing with the sword. 

Deathsinger Encounter

  • Fixed a rare case where the Shriekers would not spawn, preventing players from reaching the Deathsinger.

Crota Encounter

  • Two Swordbearers will no longer spawn at the same time at the outset of the encounter. 
  • Crota will now recover from his kneeling state after a player quits.
  • Fixed a bug that allowed players to remove the “Presence of Crota” using a Radiance Warlock’s Fireborn ability.
  • Fixed a bug that made the Oversoul appear destroyed to some players in a Fireteam when it was actually still active.
Vault of Glass – Updates
  • Exotic weapon drops in the Vault of Glass are now Level 32.
Getting Swole in the Crucible
The Raid crew wasn’t the only team readying tweaks heading into and out of the holiday season. Our Crucible designers have a few things in the works to add some spice to the early goings of 2015.
  • Asylum, The Anomaly, and The Burning Shrine maps will be added to existing Clash and Control playlist rotation.
  • Iron Banner will return, with updated rewards, running from January 13th through January 19th.
Full and final details for Raid, Crucible, and Iron Banner updates will be provided as patch notes next week.
 
 

Sony postpones PS4, Vita launch in China, with no new dates in sight

6 comments Leo Chan - 10:58am (PST) Like Share

Update PSN attacks not reason behind decision to delay Chinese launch

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Update 2015-01-09: The recent cyberattack against Sony Pictures as well as the new round of DDoS attacks against the PlayStation Network over the holiday season did not prove to be factors in Sony's last-minute announcement to postpone the PS4 and Vita launch in China. Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House explains to the Wall Street Journal earlier today that it ultimately came down to a request from Chinese authorities to "make an adjustment to the business plan."

While House was understandly disappointed with this development, he stresses that the launch delay in China should not impact Sony's global sales forecast of the PS4 for the current year.


Original article:

Sony confirms it has pulled the plug on launching its PlayStation 4 and Vita in (mainland) China until further notice. Even pre-orders for hardware have been halted. The news comes just ahead of the originally scheduled January 11th launch date for both devices in the new market.

So far it appears this sudden change of plans is a result of "prolonged negotiations with Chinese authorities." As you probably know, China's Ministry of Culture has been the major speedbump in the long road to officially launching consoles in the country thanks to censorship guidelines. While the Chinese ban on console gaming finally lifted last year (at least for Shanghai's free trade zone), all gaming titles must still be approved by the Ministry of Culture before they can be deemed fit for release.

The electronics and console giant has yet to confirm a new launch date for both the PS4 and Vita in China. Pricing of the PS4 in China would have been around 2,899 yuan (~$466 USD), and at least seven titles were originally planned for this weekend's launch including LittleBigPlanet 3, Driveclub, and Final Fantasy X/X2 HD Remake. The PS Vita meanwhile was to be priced at 1,299 yuan (~$209).

 
 

Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2014 Nominee Spotlight: Shovel Knight

5 comments Rory Young - 4:49am (PST) Like Share

Strike the earth!

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Neoseeker is celebrating 2014 by spotlighting its Game of the Year nominees one at a time. After each of the ten nominees has been revealed, the final award will be announced along with a podcast of the decision-making process. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade the editorial team which game deserves Neoseeker's highest award.

There isn't a nominee on our Game of the Year list that doesn't have at least one big criticism to go along with its praise -- except for Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight is as close as 2014 came to perfect, which should surprise a lot of people. It's a Kickstarter funded game made by a team of half a dozen who remains up to this point remains Nintendo exclusive regarding non-PC platforms. This team asked for just $75,000 to make Shovel Knight. It's a little miracle the game even exists, let alone that it became what it is today.

Shovel Knight is classic Castlevania, Super Mario Bros. 3 and DuckTales. Shovel Knight is the best Mega Man game since Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3. He's a knight with a shovel instead of a sword who can bounce off of enemies, dig gems out of mounds of earth, and upgrade his armor and magical abilities as the game progresses. The game is entirely made in gorgeous 2D pixel art and scored with some of the best chiptune tracks of the decade. It's so retro it hurts.

It's not Shovel Knight's influences or its impressive retro sensibilities that make Shovel Knight great, though. Consider those things the icing on the cake. What's great about Shovel Knight is the amount of thought and polish that has so clearly gone into every aspect of gameplay. The team behind Shovel Knight so clearly loved what they were making, painstakingly grooming each level for perfect pacing, difficulty curve and and fun. I wish I could play it for a first time all over again.

Why Shovel Knight?

  • Perfect Platforming: I can only imagine the designers at Yacht Club Games describing this as well as it deserves, but there is magic in Shovel Knight's platforming. It's the way Shovel Knight teaches players mechanics in more complexity with each level, the way each platform is positioned in a way to be exactly where it needs to be, and how Shovel Knight leaves players feeling like if there were twice as many levels they'd each be that much more interesting and challenging than the ones before.
  • Retro Respect: It's one thing to say a platformer takes heavy influence from classic titles from Castlevania and Mario Bros. It's other to own up to that and yet still manage to make something so unique and creative. Shovel Knight respects its roots. It's learned from the best only to now become the best. That's 
  • Meaningful World: It's so easy for platformers like Shovel Knight to just throw a stupid premise on top of their game and get away with it. For instance, all of the influences we've cited up to this point. Shovel Knight doesn't  settle for that. The story of Shovel Knight and Shield Knight, the world that the two live in, and even the subtle storytelling revolving around each boss is worth paying attention to. Visual novel, FPS, whatever, I can't wait to see where Yacht Club Games takes Shovel Knight next.

Shovel Knight should be a game on everyone's radar in 2014, whether they're retro enthusiasts or not. It's delightful, charming, gorgeous, challenging, but rarely punishing, and 100% fun. Strike the earth! Shovel Knight is our next Game of the Year nominee!

Neoseeker's Game of the Year Awards are decided by our editorial team, which includes editors Lydia Sung (@RabidChinaGirl), Rory Young (@bluexy) and Leo Chan (@bulletbutler), with contributions from writers Matt Newbould (@newbouldm), Greg Gin, and Andy Lau (@linkinpork).



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