South Park: The Fractured But Whole unlocked a little early for some reason, and I could not wait to jump right in. I loved the The Stick of Truth and this seems like more of the same, but with a superhero bent.

You might recall that we recorded the full PAX West developer panel on this game, and it's pretty great. Give it a listen in the Busy Gamer Nation podcast feed.

Here you can watch the prologue, see how combat works, and check out some of the character class and customization choices. There's not too much in the way of spoilers as there is so much more to explore.

No surprise if you watch the show, this game earns its Mature rating - this video is recommended for adults only:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

The Turing Test is the second title in this month's Xbox One Games with Gold. It seems a little Portal-y but the difficulty ramps quickly (or maybe I'm just dumb). Perhaps you can figure out what I missed? Don't tell me, I want to figure it out. Normally when I play puzzle games, if I sleep on it I'll work it out.

Anyway, if you're on the fence, this ought to help you figure out if you want to play:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Danger Zone caught my eye when I noticed it was from the makers of Dangerous Golf, a game we quite liked. But then I learned it was made by the former Criterion Games' Burnout developers, a fact that is unmistakable as the gameplay almost perfectly matches that of Burnout 3's breakout Crash Mode - which entertained us for many hours back in the day.

Playing Danger Zone is just like Crash Mode, only harder. I found the challenge ramped quickly even though I felt my Crashbreaker instincts kicking back in almost immediately. The game unexpectedly crashed (no pun intended) about 15 minutes in, so the stream ends abruptly and then picks up with my next try.

The game does add one new wrinkle, a "deresolution" that ends your turn instantly if you leave the road and land in a TRON-style grid that lies beneath the roads:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

So Forza games are my racing jam. More Horizon than Motorsport but I usually do pretty well at Motorsport. I even killed it with the Forza Motorsport 7 demo at PAX West.

So why do I suck so bad at the full game of Forza Motorsport 7 Ultimate Edition on Xbox One? From the first 30 minutes, you really can't tell I've got much game. Perhaps it's intended to make you recognize the challenges that face you on the road to the winner's podium. All I know is that I will probably need to post another 30 minutes once I have a decent garage filled with tuned vehicles and some races I can win.

For now, enjoy the start of the game, the preliminary 1-lap teaser races, the assists menu and other UI, and the first full race where every car is tuned exactly the same:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Oxenfree, one of this month's Games with Gold titles on Xbox One. I recall watching the trailer and being intrigued but playing it is something else. There's walking and talking, packed with innuendo and subtext. And there's a radio that can tune in otherworlsly portals or whatever.

It feels very Twin Peaks. I hope to find some damn fine coffee and cherry pie but so far they've eluded me. Where will it go next? I have no idea - but I want to see it through.

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

After streaming the Destiny 2 beta back in July, I thought I'd take a crack at the final released game.

I beat the prologue here in just a bit more than 30 minutes (much better than the beta, which took 48) and then descided to stream the next 30 so you can peek and see what happens next:

 

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Eventide 2: The Sorcerer's Mirror is the latest Artifex Mundi hidden object title ported to console. Normally I jump right on these - I may have a problem! - but it snuck in while we were preparing for PAX West.

The reviews are mixed. Some say the puzzles are too easy and there's no mini-bonus adventure (something every other title so far has had, at least on Xbox One). But the gameplay seemed good and the story interesting so we'll let you check it out and decide for yourself:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Pins

2017 is the year that pins went mainstream at PAX. Pinny Arcade is nothing new, with Disneyland-esque pin concoctions sold and traded for many years now. But they were EVERYWHERE, and easy to acquire in many cases just by playing demos - like the wonderful raccoon with a donut provided by Annapurna Interactive for trying the delightful Donut County.

Other rewards stood out too. Bethesda handed out the delicious Kommandant's Strawberry Milkshake in collectible deco-style cups as a pick-me-up after the Wolfenstein II demo. Super Lucky's Tale players received tokens for a skill crane machine to take home their choice of stuffed Lucky dolls, capes, or pins (everyone's a winner - after three tries, they simply handed you the prize of your choice).

BioShock party (from outside)

PlayStation Experience app (at the show)There were a few lowlights too. IGN and BioShock held a deco'd out party at Seattle's tony King Street Station but fans who signed up for digital tickets were blown off in favor of anyone willing to stand in yet another line for 3+ hours (unless you were a VIP or cosplayer who arrived early enough to sneak in as free ambience). Dressed to the nines and early enough to not be fashionable, we spent 90 minutes in a line we were never going to conquer before bailing for a late dinner.

Our other PAX bane was Sony. Rather than allow lines, they required demo appointments using their PlayStation Experience app. The first day was a bust since we didn't recall our PSN logins.

But it didn't matter - appointments were wiped out in seconds, and the phone reception was awful (as usual for PAX) so connecting from the expo hall was next to impossible. After thinking we had secured a Monday appointment (only to find it didn't go through), a PlayStation booth agent took pity on us and slipped us into for a late appointment to play Detroit.

Overall, PAX was a positive experience - in some ways better than the past few years. But it could still be so much better if event marketers can think through the attendee experience and err on the side of rewarding their faithful base.

Here are the games we checked out:

SpyParty

SpyParty. This party game was one of our top PAX finds. One person plays the spy and another a sniper trying to take him or her out. The spy meanders through a party, trying to act inconspicuous (i.e., robotic, like an NPC) while enacting nefarious goals such as bugging an ambassador, seducing a target, and swapping out a decorative statue with a fake. The sniper watches and listens through windows, trying to decide where (or whether) to spend his or her one bullet. Tension builds as the party proceeds - who will win this battle of wits?

 • Available now in early access beta on PC and Mac, with other platforms to be announced

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 • Read the excellent SpyParty Manual

 

Hello Neighbor

Hello Neighbor. I've been calling this The Lovely Bones - The Videogame as it reminds me of the friendly neighborhood serial killer from the book and Peter Jackson movie. It's not clear exactly what this neighbor is up to but it's definitely not good. You use a wide variety of tricks to distract him while you break into his house and investigate but you are eventually caught and returned home with any secrets you've gleaned. Next time, your point of entry is blocked and you'll need to negotiate traps or find another way in. This game has already become something of a viral sensation and it's not even fully released.

 • Launches Dec 8 on PC and Xbox One (Steam preorder beta out now).

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. Based on the popular Rooster Teeth anime series, this game has been out for a while but we were curious to hear more about how this co-op hack and slasher came to be.

 • Available now on PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. This was the first game we were able to get in a reasonable line to play at PAX, and like the prior Dishonored demo we played years ago, we quickly became lost. That didn't mean we didn't have fun with this standalone side story but the impersonation skill seemed hard to pull off (how do you lower your weapon when in disguise? It seems you cannot without ditching your borrowed persona) and we generally couldn't figure out where to go. Worse, the booth stay had no idea about how the game worked and couldn't advise us at all. That said, the game looks great- and as we finished the first Dishonored game, we'll likely buy and play this through as well.

 • Launches Sept 15 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7. What can I say, I love me some Forza. While I prefer the open world Horizon series, the desert race FM7 demo at PAX was pretty cool. I nearly took first place in my BMW the first lap and easily sealed the deal in the second. If I had turned off assists, I could have done even better. Needless to say, I'll be playing this next month.

 • Launches Oct 3 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Assassin's Creed: Origins

Assassin's Creed: Origins. This game looks and plays great but due to some confusing advice from booth staff I blew my shot at beating the demo. You start on horseback, ride into town, and confront a preacher who is beating a boy for losing some golden statues. You promise to retrieve them from a nearby shipwreck. Swimming is awesome (despite being menaced by a hippo) and I quickly nabbed one of the statues. I then took control of an eagle to try to find and mark my next objective, but this proved confusing and I wasted the rest of my demo looking for a sunken statue that was actually above water. That said, the whole family wants this game so it will be a holiday purchase for sure. It certainly seems more fun than the last few AC installments.

 • Launches Oct 27 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. This is GrrlGotGame's jam. I went along for the strawberry milkshake but had a fun time with the game too. You play as Blazkowicz, now in a wheelchair but this doesn't really slow him down much. He moves quickly and his only impediment is stairs - but there are plenty of giant cogs that serve as elevators and conveyer belts to get you where you need to go. There is some irony that the end of the demo featured a lengthy Nazi fat-shaming diatribe right before we were handed our milkshakes but we enjoyed them nonetheless - after hours of standing in lines, we needed the sugar jolt.

 • Launches Oct 27 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available


Disneyland Adventures

Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection, Disneyland Adventures, Pixar Rush. I'm grouping these together since Xbox did, as a collection of remastered family titles. Zoo Tycoon is basically the Xbox One launch title but with the park size limit removed and a lot of new content added. Alas, unlike the ReCore Definitive Edition just released, this game is NOT a free upgrade for previous owners.

Disneyland Adventures and Pixar Rush are basically the same as the games released on Xbox 360 in 2011 but remastered with the Kinect controls replaced by controller. Rush also has a new Finding Dory world.

 • All launch Oct 31 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Super Lucky's Tale

Super Lucky's Tale. This was one of the standouts of the show. We loved the adorable Fox's platforming antics and only got stuck in a few places. When giant flowers attack, they look just like catapults but they don't work that way. You jump on them and then back to safety, defeating them entirely before opening the way forward. Booth staff - among the best, most helpful we've seen at PAX - assured us that player feedback is helping them refine game cues so you shouldn't have problems when the game is released. The boss battle also proved tough enough to challenge core gamers; younger players may struggle but will eventually get through given enough time.

 • Launches Nov 7 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Battle Chef Brigade

Battle Chef Brigade. We usually enjoy cooking games and match-3 puzzlers, and this combines elements of both along with a combat system used to hunt ingredients and keep them from hungry, aggressive scavengers. You mix ingredients by solving matching puzzles, which makes the dish less like following a recipe and more like improvising a culinary creation. Once you master the basics, there's an RPG world to explore and cooking battles to beat.

 • Launches in 2017 on PC and Switch, and soon after on PS4.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

Goragoa

Goragoa. This game, nestled in the Annapurna booth, got less attention than Donut County but acquired a small but devoted following of puzzle fans. You begin with one square with hand-drawn animation playing within. You can pull away layers and zoom in and out to unfold new pieces of the visual story, told entirely without dialogue. Layers can be combined to transport your character to new places and unlock new elements that may be positioned so they interact with each other. Once you understand the game's simple controls, you may find it hard to stop zooming and moving things around.

 • Launches in 2017 on PC and iOS.

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human. This was the star of the Sony booth, and we narrowly snagged an appointment to play it. In the demo you control an android investigator in a futuristic world who manipulates crime scene evidence to unravel clues in three dimensions. Once you have enough insight into what happened, you move into negotiation mode to try to talk a renegade android perched on the ledge of a skyscraper out of killing a young girl that he previously served as a domestic. Do you lie to talk him off the ledge or level with him and risk the girl's death or your own? It's a fascinating game dynamic if creator David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream (Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) can sustain it over the course of several branching story nodes.

 • Launches in 2018 on PS4.

 • Sorry, no interview available

 

Donut County

Donut County. This was perhaps our best of show, and certainly our favorite. The game is charming and fun without being punishing. We were lured in by the Raccoon Donut pin but stayed for the excellent gameplay, which vaguely resembles Katamari Damacy while being its own game and story. You control a hole that ostensibly escaped from a donut in some sort of existential transfer (similar to The Beatles' famous "I've got a hole in me pocket" from Yellow Submarine). The hole sucks up everything that will fit, so you start with smaller objects and then, as it grows in size, move on to the larger things. Gameplay evolves as some objects alter the way the hole works, such as snakes that act as a tool for hitting objects above ground level.

 • Launches in 2018 on PC, Mac, iOS and other platform to be announced.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

Collidalot

Collidalot. This was a neat find, a party game created by recent graduates of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Seattle. It's sort of like Othello but with race cars that paint curvy track segments with their glowing color as they collide into each other - yes, you guessed it - a lot. Whoever gets to 45% control of the track first wins the battle - at least until the inevitable rematch.

 • Launches 2018 on PC and Xbox One and possibly PS4 and Switch.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

Once Upon a Puppet.

Once Upon a Puppet. This puzzle platformer is visually stunning thanks to its creative use of theater lighting techniques. Gameplay is challenging as you control a puppet trying to get back to being the "fancy hand" that would normally be the puppet master but is now trapped on the stage.

 • Launches 2018 on PC and targeting eventual release on PS4 and Xbox One.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 

Necrobarista

Necrobarista. This visual novel combines story with interaction but unlike most point-and-click adventure games, you are not required to dig deep if you don't want. The story hinges on the premise that the dead are granted limited access to the living world at a coffee bar where some choose to gamble their time for a chance at a longer stay. The Necrobarista owns the place and isn't above taking whatever you want to wager. The visual style is engaging and digging up story nuggets from the environment can be rewarding.

 • Launches 2018 on PC, Mac, and Switch.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

TheChurchInTheDarkness-FreedomTownSignOne of the biggest highlights of our PAX 2016 experience was meeting Ellen McLain (GLaDOS in Portal) and her husband, voice actor John Patrick Lowrie (The Suffering, Team Fortress 2) with Richard Rouse III, creator of the forthcoming cultist action/detective game, The Church in the Darkness.

We recorded the panel on voice acting with McLain, Lowrie, and Rouse, plus Darren Korb and Logan Cunningham from Supergiant Games (Bastion, Transistor, Pyre) and Elias Toufexis (Adam Jensen in Deus Ex Human Revolution/Mankind Divided).

But this inteview proved vexing to edit. There was so much great content, it was hard to determine what to cut (the answer: very little) while keeping the great anecdotes, their personal journey, and the unique ways they helped shape this very unusual title.

Just in time for the next PAX West 2017, here is their story - just under 12 minutes in all. It's a great tale told with humor and insight.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Busy Gamer Nation #259 - Pyre

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PyreSupergiant Games' Bastion is one of my all-time favorite games (check the archive for our audio review and in-depth music discussions). So any chance I get to talk to the team about what they're working on is generally a PAX highlight.

At long last, you can hear about the newly released Pyre, which builds on what the studio has done before but ambitiously pushes into new terrirtory in terms of gameplay and sound design.

Hear from founder/studio director Amir Rao and composer/audio designer Darren Korb as they reveal their craft and secrets.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Just one more PAX interview to come!

Slime Rancher is the first August Games with Gold title for Xbox One. Up until now, it's been in Game Preview but it's finushed and released and free (for a limited time) if you have Xbox Live Gold.

In the game, you roam around with a vacuum gun that picks up pretty much everything in your path. There are slimes, which you gather, corral, feed, and collect their gem-like output to finance the expansion of your slime business.

In the first 30 minutes, I got the hang of things, fed a slime by shooting a carrot into its mouth while it bounced in midair, leapt into a pen with 40 slimes, and made the first small notch in my slime empire:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Today I impulse bought Infinite Minigolf from Zen Studios, the makers of Pinball FX2 (aka Zen Pinball). It looked like my kind of game - wacky golf, lots of fun gadget-filled holes, weird powerups, and community-created holes to keep the challenge going forever (more or less). 

The game is fun but a little confusing at first. How do you change your character? Where can you "buy" clothing items with the virtual currency you earn? And most of all: how do you clear those pesky challenge missions?

All is revealed in this first 30 minuites sampling holes from all three worlds:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

The increasingly inaccurate "First 30 Minutes" series continues with the Destiny 2 Beta, which just went open for all today.

It took me some time to get back in the swing of things, plus there was that generator thingie which I spent far too much time shooting at before I figured out there must be another way. So this clocks in around 45 minutes, capturing the beginning of the story - at least as it was presented in the beta.

Overall, controls were as tight as always. It wasn't always clear where to go next but I managed to get through it. And now you can too:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Back in the day, I loved me some RalliSport Challenge so I thought I'd try WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship when it dropped to $10 this week on Xbox One. (WRC 6 is also on sale but, based on the reviews, it's not as good a game at twice the price.)

Technically this is more like 43 minutes as it took some time for me to abandon the tutorial and just dive into a junior championship. And these races start out hard! But I did get the hang of it and even scored a podium or two in my first series or races.

A mixed bag, but one that with practice I think I could get decent at:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Runbow, the second July Games with Gold title for Xbox One, is a runner with a colorful twist. As tinted waves rapidly wash over the screen, they erase any matching platforms and objects. The game doesn't feature a colorblind setting or a tutorial to help you figure out the jumping and combat mechanics, so it takes awhile before my epic fails start to turn into wins. Also, some of the modes are multiplayer only; I focused on the single-player Adventure and Run modes.

You can't see it, but I received two achievements just for exploring the Fun level on the Options screen:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

When I played the original Titanfall at PAX a few years back, I really enjoyed the gameplay even though I'm not much for multiplayer. When I found that the game had no single-player campaign to speak of, I gave it a pass.

Titanfall 2 does sport a solid single-player story, so I gave the trial version on Xbox One a go. I found the non-Titan play somewhat Mirror's Edge-like, thanks to its dependence on wall running and jumping. I'm still on the fence but you can get a taste for it with these first 30 minutes of basic training:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Kane & Lynch 2 is the other half of early July's Games with Gold on Xbox, and to quote a movie you've never seen, "it ain't gonna be PG." This M-rated title earns its stripes with pixellated nudity and unabashed violence and language from the very start. See how far I get in the first half hour of gameplay:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I just picked up Grow Up, part of the July Games with Gold lineup for Xbox One. It's an unconventional 3D platformer. It takes a little getting used to but I do like the exploration aspect along with its offbeat humor. And climbing. There's lots of climbing.

Give it a look. Something unexpected happens a little after the 26-minute mark:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

As an old school Xbox fan, I'm nostalgic for the first generation titles and excited to see OG Xbox backward compatibility for games like Blinx: The Time Sweeper (fingers crossed). For now I have the Xbox One remaster for Voodoo Vince from the start to the defeat of the gas pumps in Main Street:

 

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

If you know me at all, you know I love a good hidden object game. And no one does it better on consoles than Artifex Mundi. I usually but their games as soon as they come out and devour them over several days. For some reason, I invariably download the trial first - as if there's a chance I'll say, "Naw, not gonna get this one."

I streamed the full trial of Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan and a minute or two after the full game unlock, for your viewing pleasure. Take a look and see if its wacky story and occasionally vexing (but generally relaxing) puzzles appeal to you:

 

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.




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