Previews// PAX Round-Up: Potions: A Curious Tale, Riptide GP: Renegade & Sword Coast Legends

Posted 6 Oct 2015 17:21 by
Chris O'Regan, host of The Sausage Factory podcast (which takes a deep dive into the development process with games studios, you should listen to it), has travelled to the future to sample the games that will be interfering with your older brain. When we say the future, we mean PAX Prime. When we say 'interfering with your older brain', that is exactly what we mean. Read on for what he found...

Potions: A Curious Tale
Developer: Stumbling Cat
Format(s): Windows PC

I first discovered crafting in games over twenty five years ago when I encountered a game called Dragon's Breath on the Atari ST. This required players to hatch dragon eggs by applying special mixtures of potions onto them that would create ever more powerful dragons. It was an incredibly complex and deep game and very rewarding once the player gets to grips with the potion creation. I bring this up as when I played Potions: A Curious Tale memories of playing Dragon's Breath flooded into my head as both games require the player to mix potions in order to progress.

Potions: A Curious Tale is presented in a cartoon-like style that is not too dissimilar to Odin's Sphere. The player takes on the role of Luna, an apprentice witch who has to save the world using her wits, love of cats and the wisdom of her grandmother. She can fly with a broom at very low level and has a knack for creating potions that can do a great deal of harm as well as bring aid to herself should the need arise.

The play experience is split into two, with Luna gathering ingredients in the wider world while fighting monsters, and back at her grandmother's home mixing potent potions that make Luna's adventuring somewhat easier. The world is presented in a 2D plane across which Luna can move in any direction, and there are no platforming aspects to it. All that Luna needs to do is carve a path around her in order to progress from one area to another.

What struck me most about Potions: A Curious Tale is the beauty of the sprites used throughout it. They appear to be hand-drawn and the speed at which everything moves in the screen and was animated was a sight to behold. With Potions: A Curious Tale being at such an early stage, there is a lot of place-holder text that describes the creatures and other on-screen events, but that only demonstrated to me the thought processes of Stumbling Cat, the developer of Potions: A Curious Tale and that was quite refreshing to see in such a public venue as PAX Prime 2015.

Potions: A Curious Tale is due to appear on Windows PC some time in 2016.

Riptide GP: Renegade
Developer: Vector Unit
Format(s): Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android

I've always loved arcade racing games. Everything from Outrun to F-Zero, and everything in between. They have a special appeal to me that I still can't quite quantify. It may have something to do with how ridiculous they tend to be, with over-the-top speeds and pyrotechnics splashing across the screen to power-ups that make the player invincible for just a few seconds so they can snatch first place at the very last moment.

Riptide GP: Renegade is the third game in the series of futuristic hydro jet powered racing by Vector Unit. They have released the previous two games on both PC and mobile and are hoping to pull off the same with Riptide GP: Renegade on the same platforms and the current generation of consoles too.

I played a short demo of Riptide GP: Renegade at PAX Prime 2015 on the PS4 and I was really impressed with how fast it clipped along, as well as the sheer visual splendour of it. Riptide GP: Renegade gives speed boosts to players when they perform stunts, thus requiring them to carry out incredible feats of dexterity in the air just to stay within a chance of getting into the top three riders of a race. This is not an original concept, but Vector Unit has done such a terrific job of animating the tricks the player can pull off. The visual feedback is expertly done and does much to encourage the player to execute ever more complex tricks.

At first Riptide GP: Renegade does appear to be like Nintendo's Wave Race. It is far more approachable and forgiving, however, allowing the player to at least glimpse at
what is possible rather than have them struggle in turning their hydro-jet powered craft. I suspect this is one of the reasons I like arcade racers so much, in that they are typically easy to understand but devilishly hard to master.

Riptide GP: Renegade will appear sometime in 2016 on Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.

Sword Coast Legends
Developer: n-Space
Format(s): Windows PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One

I am a Dungeon Master (DM). I have run many a game and tortured... I mean 'guided' players through dungeons, caverns, towns and inns. So when Wizards of the Coast told me about Sword Coast Legends, a game that recreates the pen and paper RPG experience and puts in a hack 'n slash-like graphical engine I was intrigued. So off I went to a hotel meeting room away from the host of crowds that make up PAX Prime 2015 and in I delved into a dungeon made by n-Space, the creators of Sword Coast Legends.

Set in the Forgotten Realms universe of Dungeons and Dragons, the adventures found in Sword Coast Legends occur in close proximity to that now-legendary coastline. Sword Coast Legends has both a single-player campaign and a mulitplayer four-on-one mode of play that allows players to create a pen-and-paper-like custom adventure for others to experience.

The four-on-one mode of play is structured as a semi-co-op game in that one of the players is acting as the DM while the rest are controlling player characters. The DM directs where the monsters appear in a map, their number and type as well as the traps that can be put into the path of the players. During the demo I experienced I was a player rather than a DM. As the dungeon crawl unfolded I saw a sprite-like glow flit around the screen. This is the DM's cursor and it gives a hint at what they are up to as the party progresses.

I played a mage, a class I rarely play as. I do this in demos as I have no vested interest in the character I am playing, but it does give me the chance to play around a little and take risks that I wouldn't normally entertain. I was playing with others who were also in the room with me and I did find myself yelling 'Why am I, the DPS cloth wearer, taking point in this map? Can we at least have the rogue checking for traps?'

Thankfully the party did pull itself together and we eventually managed to defeat the boss monster that was lurking near a desecrated altar. This was despite the DM's best efforts to thwart our attempts at getting to the beast in the first place. It was obvious that once each party member played to their respective class's strengths we overcame almost insurmountable odds.

As I made my way through the dungeon I did find being in the rear a little problematic for the camera. While it wanted to keep its attention on me, it always wanted to inform me of what is befalling my party members who were at the vanguard of group formation. This required me to act somewhat quicker than I would normally find comfortably do as a mage, for their spells must be cast with some thought and preparation. Nevertheless I did enjoy what I experienced and, being a fan of RPGs, I'm looking forward to the release of Sword Coast Legends later this year on Windows PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One.

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