Genre:  Visual Novel

The Banner Saga Walkthrough

Jan 16, 2014

The Banner Saga is a turn-based tactical RPG from Stoic. You play as a series of protagonists, traveling across the world, tending to your armies, and engaging in grid-based battles. Gamezebo’s quick start strategy guide will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to make the good guys suffer for their foolish delusions of heroism.

The Banner Saga

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The Banner Saga Review: This epic is EPIC

Jan 14, 2014

The word ‘epic’ gets thrown around a lot these days, and it’s starting to undermine what that word really means. Your Cheetos are not epic. That skateboarding porcupine, while adorable, is not epic. ‘Epic’ is a literary term used to describe a certain kind of story. One that takes us on a journey into a richly detailed universe; one that’s existed long before we got there. And more often than not, the fate of the world is hanging in the balance.

The Lord of the Rings is an epic. Star Wars is an epic. And this first chapter of The Banner Saga kicks off one of the finest interactive epics I’ve ever known.

The Banner Saga

Set in a world of varls, humans and dredge, The Banner Saga can best be summed up as Tolkien by way of Scandinavia (if it were adapted by Don Bluth and Intelligent Systems). The developers at Stoic Studio have managed to blend these seemingly disparate influences together into something wonderfully original, creating a world that’s even better than its gameplay.

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Device 6 Walkthrough

Jan 8, 2014

Device 6 is a puzzle game/interactive novel created by Simogo.  In this game, you play as Anna, a woman who's been stranded on a mysterious island teeming with cryptic messages and curious puzzles. If she wants answers, she needs to solve everything that's put in front of her. Gamezebo’s walkthrough will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.

Device 6

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JtR125 Preview: A playable documentary about Jack the Ripper

Nov 26, 2013

November 2013 marked the 125th anniversary of the last known murder by notorious and still-strangely-fascinating serial killer, Jack the Ripper.  Despite being linked to five—and possibly more—grisly homicides in London in the late 19th century, the Ripper was never caught and his crimes never solved.  This has led to innumerable and varied depictions of the Whitechapel events in popular media, from films to video games.  The latest exploration of the Ripper mystery combines these two forms and comes to us from Auroch Digital, the creators of many current events-inspired games, such as Endgame: Syria and NarcoGuerra

The game, JtR125, is in development as part of the REACT Future Documentary Sandbox, a project intended to explore the theme of the “future documentary” through collaborative works that break the current mold of documentary storytelling.  Thus, JtR125 will be both a video game and a documentary, blurring the lines between media forms, examining the Jack the Ripper legend from a new angle, and hopefully—like many of Auroch’s “GameTheNews” projects—presenting gaming in a more earnest light.  “If we can achieve even some of what we're trying to do, then I hope this game will be another title that forces critics to take gaming seriously,” Tomas Rawlings, of Auroch Digital and lead developer on JtR125, told Gamezebo.  “There is no reason why gaming can't talk about serious issues, communicate important political points or anything for that matter. Gaming has always been a fun format; we're showing how it can do much more than just that.” 

JtR125

As part of their inclusion in the REACT Sandbox, Auroch Digital and Rawlings have been paired up with games and digital media expert Patrick Crogan of the University of the West of England, and Professor of Media and Journalism at Middlesex, Janet Jones.  This collaboration between experts in multiple media focuses will allow JtR125 to extend its reach across disciplines and players.  “The best documentaries and journalism of the future will not be simply read or watched, but played,” Professor Jones told us.  “Games are superior in their ability to handle data effectively and deal with the systemic issues behind a story, and we want to show how powerful this hybrid form can be. There are many important social themes that come from the exploration of Victorian culture and certain parallels with today, and what better way to draw attention to these than by gaming the documentary.”

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Joe Dever's Lone Wolf Review: A brilliant evolution of gamebooks that fumbles

Nov 19, 2013

Joe Dever's Lone Wolf comes so terribly close to getting it right. And not just right, but perfect. When I first started playing I thought I'd discovered a new pinnacle in beautiful, exciting and interactive gamebooks. And then it all fell apart, and by the time it was over I was glad to see it done.

If you like gamebooks (and probably even if you don't), the opening of Joe Dever's Lone Wolf will blow you away. It hits you right from the get-go with a gorgeous, subtly animated pen-and-ink style of illustration and a rich, urgent orchestral soundtrack. And choice! Lone Wolf is a well-established character with 28 gamebooks to his credit (the analog, dead-tree kind of gamebook, of course) but before the action begins you can customize your version of him to a surprising degree. Are you the stealthy type, or do you prefer a stand-up fight? Do you pay close attention to you surroundings with every step you take, or do you prefer to rely on intuition to see you through? You can build Lone Wolf into just about any kind of character you want, from a brain-smashing tank to a quiet, thoughtful diplomat.

Joe Dever's Lone Wolf

The game shows off a remarkable degree of interactivity once the action starts. Multiple choices need to be made (as with any gamebook), but skill in the form of manual dexterity is also vital. Picking locks, for instance, isn't simply a matter of looking at a stat and rolling some virtual dice; you'll have to use a lockpicking tool and a small dagger to work the lock open, and if you break all your tools, it's tough luck for you. 

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Blue Rose Review: Too much novel, not enough game

Nov 19, 2013

Visual novels are fairly new in this country, but thanks to the popularity of the iPad and other tablets, they're quickly gaining ground. A crossover between graphic novels and games, they emphasize story and give players the power to alter it to varying degrees. Blue Rose, the new visual novel from White Cat, has everything an A-list visual novel needs: nice graphics, pleasant music, and player choice—but it also boasts a collection of bothersome flaws that prevent it from rising to that same level of greatness.

Blue Rose makes a good first impression with 2D graphics that are clearly indebted to Japanese anime. Men and women are attractively androgynous and have the typical anime googly-eyed, tiny-nosed, heart-shaped faces. Blue Rose is indebted to anime in other ways as well, such as in its melodramatic approach to storytelling. Anime stories are characterized by save-the-world plot lines filled with noblemen, magic, reluctant heroes, love triangles, and corny humor. Blue Rose has it all.

Blue Rose

In this scenario, you're Lena, a young Templar. Your story kicks off with an action-filled scene on the edge of a cliff. You and a cohort of Templar veterans are battling a dragon, desperately trying to protect a noblewoman called Lady Adale. Two kingdoms are at war, and it's hoped that the Lady can perform some critical fence-mending. During the battle, however, you're knocked unconscious and awake in a strange room. The owner of it is a handsome but defensive young hunter who seems to want to get rid of you. To his chagrin, you discover his village which is hidden in a mountain area believed to be inhabitable. Who is this surly young man? How has a village full of people kept itself a secret? After battling a dragon, why are you even alive?

Blue Rose sets us up to solve these and many other interesting mysteries. It also serves up the promise of romance. Despite his hostility, the young hunter's obviously your first suitor. The antagonism between the two of you goes into typical Taming of the Shrew territory as it's clear the guy's being a jerk because he likes you. If he isn't to your taste though, you've got other hunky options. If you're not into the hunter, then why not the sly, wise-cracking rogue, or the stern-but-sexy Templar officer?

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Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 2 Review: So artistic you'll want to hang it on your wall

Nov 7, 2013

I'm going to save you minutes of precious time by cutting right to the chase: Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 2 is fantastic and you should buy it. There, that's it, this review is over. Go get your iThing, hit the App Store and grab it. That's S-O-R-C-E-R-Y, and you can probably find it alright without the exclamation point. Post your kudos in the comments when you're done.

Seriously, people, I'm not kidding here. I suppose I can't stop you if you insist on reading this instead of playing the game, which is what you should be doing, but hey, it's your nickel.

On the surface, Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 2 is almost indistinguishable from the opening chapter, but there are actually a few tweaks and improvements. The first thing you'll notice is that you may now play with a female avatar instead of a male, and the magic system has been upgraded as well, making it easier to use and to discover new spells. Part 2 will also import your saved games from Part 1, allowing for a direct continuation of that adventure for those who had the foresight to keep their saves around.

Steve Jackson's Sorcery! Part 2

The story picks up just outside the south gate of Kharé, a great, walled cityport and veritable hive of scum and villainy that you must traverse in order to continue on your journey. Getting in is tricky, as the looming gates of the city are guarded against outsiders, but it's a snap compared to getting out. As one character in the early part of the game explains, the walls weren't built to keep people out, but to keep them in. In fact, in order to make your escape through the North Gate and continue on your quest to recover the Crown of Kings, you'll need to collect the parts of a secret enchantment held by the city's nobles: no small task by any measure.

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Device 6 Review: Use your words

Oct 22, 2013

It’s rare to be able to point to a mobile game and say, “This title fits this platform as snugly as a wax cylinder fits a phonograph,” but that’s where we are with Simogo’s Device 6. This interactive novel works beautifully with the touchscreen rather than in spite of it. More importantly, it delivers a remarkably unique and engaging experience that carries on Year Walk’s spirit, but is considerably more polished than its predecessor.

Device 6 gradually tells the story of Anna, a girl who wakes up alone in an opulent, seemingly abandoned setting. There are two things on her mind: escape, and figuring out where the heck she is. All she’s carrying is a massive headache and a vague memory of a creepy doll.

Device 6 is told across six chapters, which double as interactive escape situations. Reading through these chapters isn’t as straightforward as beginning at “Once Upon a Time” and concluding at “The End,” however. The narrative twists and turns – figuratively and literally. When Anna turns right down a corridor, the on-screen text may take a sharp right, forcing you to turn your device accordingly. If she descends down a staircase, the text does as well. It’s easy to get lost in Device 6’s words during these moments (again, literally), which can be frustrating – until you begin to notice that there are arrows beside the text that quietly herd you in the correct direction.

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Everlove: Rose Review: You may not feel burning love, but you'll still enjoy a steady relationship

Aug 26, 2013

Across the bumpy stretch of human history, from the dawn of sentient thought, to the ravaging years of the Plague, right up to our current era of smartphones and Wi-Fi, there has been only one constant truth: love is a kick in the teeth. However well we handle our day-to-day crises with money, work, and family drama, scoring a loyal, dependable mate is an intensive years-long project. Silicon Sisters’ interactive novel Everlove: Rose lets you dive backwards into your distant past where it turns out your romantic prospects are still sources of major drama. Who knew?

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Device 6 Preview: Forget what you know about text-based narrative adventures

Aug 1, 2013

Developer Simogo has officially unveiled their next mobile project this week, and it’s being made by the same key people who had a hand in crafting this year’s haunting and atmospheric masterpiece Year Walk. The new game is called Device 6, and is described as “a surreal thriller in which the written word is your map, as well as your narrator.” And if those early screenshots and descriptions are anything to go by, I fully believe this one could very well reinvent the way we experience visual novels or text-based adventures completely.

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