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2024-06-08 19:00:42| Engadget

Break out your blankets and settle in, everyone. Its time for the cozy games. The latest Wholesome Direct showcase offers an hour-long celebration of innovation and coziness in indie development, featuring more than 30 meditative, calming and absolutely adorable experiences. Some of the titles are brand new, some are getting updates, many of them have demos, and others simply deserve time in the spotlight. One thing they all have in common is an inherent ability to warm your heart. The entire Wholesome Direct 2024 showcase is worth watching. Its packed with brilliant indie gems and brand-new trailers, and many of the featured titles already have demos available to download. Here, weve collected four games that came out today as surprise drops tied to the showcase: Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge, POOOOL, The Palace on the Hill and Tracks of Thought. I spent some time playing the first three games on this list and each one is lovely in its own way; Ive left my thoughts with the game descriptions below. Watch, read about and then play a bunch of cozy, wholesome games thats not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Or a summer. Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge This ones for the players who cant get enough of games like Neko Atsume and Usagi Shima, or for folks who just really love adorable amphibians. Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge is a farming sim about building and maintaining a protected space in the wetlands where wild frogs can thrive, and it gets much deeper than simply buying new poufs for the animals to sleep on. In Kamaeru, players have to dig out the wetlands, harvest ingredients to make jam and other treats for selling at the market, monitor their environmental impact, and purchase items to create an inviting space for all of their frog friends. Players are able to take photos of the frogs, feed them, name them and even breed them, mixing their colorways in a tic-tac-toe Punnett square. Kamaeru is a relaxed, methodical and surprisingly deep experience that happens to be filled with cute and colorful frogs. Its much more than a passive animal-observation game, and it takes a fair amount of grinding but like, in a really cozy, froggy way for the on-screen rewards to start rolling in. After about an hour of play, I feel like Ive only scratched the surface of this game.  Kamaeru is available now on Steam, itchi.io and Nintendo Switch, and its verified on Steam Deck. It's developed by Humble Reeds and published by Armor Games Studios. POOOOL Count 'em, thats four Os. POOOOL is a sweet and simple game with infinite replayability, much like the stick-and-ball sport that inspired it. In POOOOL, players fling bouncy balls of various sizes around a contained rectangle, one at a time, in an attempt to make spheres of the same color touch. When two matching balls collide, they instantly combine into a bigger ball, which can then be combined with another of the same size, and so on. Its kind of like Threes! but with colorful balls instead of numbers. Eventually, the globes reach their limit and they disappear with a pop, leaving plenty of room for new balls to spawn. The round ends and the score is tallied when theres no more room for the spheres to be flung. POOOOL is a lovely little physics simulator with a friendly art style and soothing, repeatable mechanics. This is a game that rewards strategy, but its also incredibly forgiving of mindless clicking and dragging, and both play styles result in a satisfyingly bouncy experience. Put it in your pile of games to play while killing time or pretending to get work done, and youll get plenty of use out of it. POOOOL comes from developer Noah King and publisher digimoss, and its available right now on Steam. The Palace on the Hill This is a special one. The Palace on the Hill is a thoughtful and robust slice-of-life game set in a fictional town in rural India in the 1990s, starring a young man whos helping his family earn money over the summer. Players plant, tend to and sell their crops, they work shifts at the local tea shop, and they pick up odd jobs in town, getting to know the residents along the way. The young man is an aspiring artist, and he finds inspiration for new paintings around the village, sharing stories about the areas past in beautiful watercolor vignettes. Theres a rich history here and plenty of things to do in each moment. The Palace on the Hill is a sweet surprise of an adventure game, riveting, methodical and illuminating. The rural town where it takes place feels alive and its boundaries expand delicately as the game progresses. Each NPC has a distinct personality and a unique relationship with the protagonist, and their world quickly feels familiar, even as it remains filled with secrets. I heartily recommend this game. The Palace on the Hill is available today on Steam, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, iOS and Android, and its verified on Steam Deck. It comes from indie studio Niku Games. Tracks of Thought Tracks of Thought is a game about chatting, managing cards and solving mysteries, and it all takes place on a long-haul locomotive heading to an unknown destination. After passing through a strange tunnel, every passenger on the train forgets where theyre going, and its up to the protagonist, an amiable purple ladybug, to figure out whats going on. The ladybugs personality is shaped by the players interactions with other passengers, and conversations play out as card battles where the goal is to resolve conflict and help everyone get on the same page. Tracks of Thought has a cartoony art style and a cast of cool, bug-like characters, and it seems to offer a clever blend of conversation and card battles. With today's showing, this game has been featured in a total of four Wholesome Directs (yes, that's nearly all of them), so it's especially great to see it out now o Steam and the Epic Games Store. Tracks of Thought comes from developer Tidbits Play and publisher Freedom Games. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/here-are-the-cozy-games-from-wholesome-direct-that-you-can-play-right-now-170042994.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 17:27:43| Engadget

The first gameplay trailer for Neva is out and, wow, I cannot wait to play this one. Neva, from Gris developer Nomada Studio, is an action-adventure game that follows the story of a woman named Alba and a horned wolf cub that has become her companion in a decaying world. While it appears thematically and artistically similar to Gris, the new trailer shows Neva will have a fair amount of combat, unlike its predecessor. And it looks absolutely stunning. Publisher Devolver Digital released the latest look at Neva during Summer Game Fest. It doesnt have a firm release date just yet, but its slated to come out this year. Neva will be available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. Prepare for an emotional experience. Nomadas first title, Gris (2018), is the kind of game that really sticks with you after youve finished it. I cried at the end of it all (which I promise is not as regular a thing as it would seem now that Ive written about crying over a game twice in the span of a week). Neva seems like it has the potential to be just as impactful or more, because now theres a dog involved. It doesnt hurt that the promotional art is giving some serious Princess Mononoke vibes. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/theres-now-a-gameplay-trailer-for-neva-the-upcoming-title-from-the-makers-of-gris-152743695.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 15:15:11| Engadget

Meta will now let you create massive community chats on Messenger with people you aren't connected to in any way. Back in 2022, the company launched community chats for Facebook Groups, giving people belonging to the same groups an easy way to talk in real time. While that community feature is tied to groups on the social network, this one isn't it will let use Messenger like Discord to connect with as many as 5,000 random people using the app.  The company didn't post an announcement, but it confirmed the new feature's rollout to TechCrunch. All community chats will be displayed in one place inside the Messenger app, with each one having a "Home" space where administrators can post updates and announcements. According to Meta's Help page for the feature, it's "not available to everyone or on all platforms at this time." You'll know if you're part of this rollout if you see the option to create a new community in the left menu of your Messenger app on mobile.  If you do create a community, you'll get the power to remove someone from the chat, report or remove content and delete the chat altogether. All members can issue shareable invites, though, so communities have the potential to grow big beyond the initial participants' circle. The fact that this flavor of Facebook chats is meant for public conversations, however, also means that you'd have to be more careful of what you share. It's not just current members who'll be able to see what you've said, but also future members other people invite.  As TechCrunch notes, you could use the new option to make chats for schools, organizations, neighborhoods and other groups with a large number of potential members. It could also be a more convenient and better option than WhatsApp's similar community chats feature, since the app needs to be connected to a phone number. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/messengers-new-community-chats-dont-need-to-be-connected-to-facebook-groups-131511680.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 15:00:05| Engadget

The following contains spoilers for Rogue. Doctor Who has always been gay. From the get-go, many of its key creative figures were queer, and a large proportion of its fans are too. As Tat Wood explained in his essays in show guide About Time 6, the mix of science, fantasy and camp offered subtextual solace for queer youth in less tolerant times. Russell T. Davies returned and pledged to start saying the quiet part as loudly as he possibly could. As it stands, Rogue is probably the overtly gayest episode of Doctor Who ever made. Rogue was written by Kate Herron and Briony Redman, the former best known as the director and executive producer of Disneys Loki. Davies was loudly critical of Lokis single nod toward the characters pansexuality, calling it a craven, feeble gesture. This, then, is a chance to make amends by embracing all of the modern-day queer-geek touchstones. Rogue is an episode that sprints through slash fiction, D&D, cosplay, identity and, of course, the simmering erotic tension generated when two hot dudes face off against one another. Bad Wolf / BBC Studios As for the plot, its another modern-day Doctor Who that is carried by performances and vibes rather than mechanics. We open in 1813 at a stately home where two gentlemen are arguing in the night over a Ladys Honor. But the heroic figure breaks character, annoyed that his wimpy part isnt as fun as playing the conniving, libidinous villain. Turns out hes an alien that can absorb other peoples identities, leaving nothing but a desiccated corpse. Inside the building, the Doctor and Ruby are dancing along to the Bridgerton-esque party, indulging their love of the Netflix series. Ruby is wearing a pair of Sonic Earrings that either control or inform her movements (its not clear) letting her partake in the formal dances. The earrings pick up interference, sending the Doctor off to investigate while Ruby immerses herself in capital-S Society. The source of the disturbance is a brooding figure lurking on a balcony above the dance floor: Rogue (Jonathan Groff). Rogue is a bounty hunter sent to apprehend the alien a Childer who transforms into other people at the cost of their lives. The Doctor and Rogue slink off to discuss the matter in private and find the remains of the Duchess of Pemberton (Indira Varma). The pair accuse each other of being the Childer but, since Rogue has a gun and the Doctor doesnt, he wins the argument. He marches our hero at gunpoint to his spaceship and uses a device to trap him in place, planning to dump him in an incinerator. The Doctor, however, is more interested in flirting with Rogue and hijacking the ships sound system to play Kylie Minogue. Once Rogue has scanned the Doctor and discovered hes not a Childer (complete with fan-baity images of past Doctors) they agree to work together. They talk about their lives, and the fact they have both clearly lost people along their journeys. After the Doctor has toured Rogues ship (its messy, he leaves his D&D dice on his main console) they visit the TARDIS. Both offer each other the chance at a better, or at least different, life, although we know deep down neither of them could ever leave what they have now. It doesnt stop them from getting ever closer, but never quite being able to act upon their obvious impulse to lock lips. Now, with the help of the TARDIS, the Doctor modifies Rogues trap to more humanely exile them to an alternate dimension instead of an incinerator. Meanwhile, Ruby is watching some Bridgerton drama, making friends with a character who behaves like shes drawn out of a Jane Austen parody. It turns out that she is also a Childer, one of a handful that came to Earth to LARP their way through the evening. The gag being that, much like the Doctor and Ruby, theyre all Bridgerton fans who came to indulge in some fantasy. The night will end with a grand wedding, albeit one that just happens to descend into homicidal chaos. After a chase, the Doctor and Rogue return to the house to see Ruby, now apparently the latest costume change for one of the Childers. Ruby's apparent death unleashes the Doctors vengeful side, and he prepares to sentence all of the aliens to a long and painful exile as a consequence. But when he does trap the Childers, it turns out Ruby was just playing along and had actually beaten her would-be attacker. But once the trap is sprung, it cant be undone, and so the Doctor is faced with no choice but to condemn his friend along with his foes. As a payoff, Rogue passionately snogs the Doctor and takes the trap controls out of his hand. Knowing that the Doctor cant decide what to do, he sacrifices himself to push Ruby out of the trap, taking her place in the process. He triggers the trap, imprisoning himself in the alternate dimension with the Chidlers. As dawn breaks, the Doctor talks a good game about moving on, as we all must do in times of loss, but Ruby sees through it. Theres no way for him to rescue Rogue, and so he must accept what has happened and move on to pastures new. Which, in this case, is the next episode, the first part of the series two-part finale. Bad Wolf / BBC Studios One downside of Doctor Whos abridged season is that weve been deprived of a lot of Ncuti Gatwa. He was absent much of the last two episodes and only at the end of Dot and Bubble did he get his first showpiece moment. Given Gatwas generosity to share focus with his co-stars, its gratifying to see him getting a chance to shine. And while Groff has to play Rogue as a stoic for much of the episode, the interaction between the pair is joyful. I dont feel as qualified to talk about the queer representation in the episode, but their chemistry felt believable and grounded. Ill leave it to better, more qualified writers to expand on these themes, but I was urging the pair to kiss every time their faces came close. Its funny how time changes your opinion on things: When the Doctor kissed in the doomed 1996 TV movie, I haed it. The idea of a sexy Doctor enmeshed in such human trivialities outraged my 12-year-old mind. Now, I just want the Doctor to bang whoever they want, whenever they want. The nature of a guest-starring role in a running TV series means that there was no chance Groff would not die or be exiled into the ambiguous if you ever fancy coming back void. But it does mean Doctor Whos loudly, proudly queer era has embraced the Bury Your Gays trope. Its sad to see two men who are attracted to one another not get a chance to embrace that future, even if Rogues sacrifice is noble and well-telegraphed. None of that should detract from the fact Rogue is a delightful way to spend an hour, and yet another welcome swerve both across genres and tones. Its a gloriously slashy and fun romp that should help show that Doctor Who is a vehicle through which you can tell almost any story its possible to tell. Its one of the reasons I fell in love with it all those years ago, and I hope you have too. Susan Twist Corner I was on vacation and so couldnt review Dot and Bubble, which was a magnificent episode of Doctor Who. Last week, the pair recognized Twist who was playing Penny Pepper-Bean, and the Doctor even took a picture of her face. They also both clocked where theyd seen her before, although Rubys memory was shakier given the time-bending weirdness of 73 Yards. Here, Twist is depicted in a portrait which, again, the Doctor notices and records. It does appear that the show has managed to find a way to balance the needs of each episode with the knowledge fans will scrub every frame for more meaning. But this isnt Davies first time mining the shows metatext and paratext to bait fans: 2008s The Next Doctor played with audience expectations after David Tennant announced he would be leaving but information about his successor was kept quiet. It might be nothing, but Rogue also mentions his bounty-hunting paperwork has gotten a lot more demanding since the new boss took over. Is that a hint about a big bad or just a character moaning about the admin side of their job?This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/doctor-who-rogue-review-just-kiss-already-130005431.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 02:33:07| Engadget

Heart Machine is working overtime. The studio is gearing up to release Hyper Light Breaker, a big ol' online adventure game, and it just revealed another title that's in development and due out soon: Possessor(s). It's scheduled to hit PC and consoles in 2025. Possessor(s) is a twitchy action sidescroller set in a sci-fi city overrun by interdimensional horror. In its reveal trailer, it looks absolutely beautiful demonic, dramatic and hyper-chromatic.  Possessor(s) is set in a quarantined metropolis that's been invaded by otherworldly forces, featuring 3D backgrounds and hand-painted characters coated in a sickly VHS glow. Combat involves lots of melee with found objects, sliding down long corridors and swinging from a grappling hook, with more weapons unlocked and upgraded as the experience progresses.  Possessor(s) stars the host, Luca, and her problematic counterpart, Rehm. In order to survive, they need to learn how to coexist, and together they're on a mission to discover the source of the catastrophe that destroyed this city. There's an open-ended narrative with multiple paths to travel down, and a roster of characters to meet, each new story of devastation illuminating the larger mystery.  Every cutscene in the Possessor(s) announcement trailer could be a screensaver and combat looks super smooth. It's developed by Heart Machine and published by Devolver Digital. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/possessors-is-an-eerily-beautiful-action-sidescroller-from-heart-machine-003306696.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 02:22:22| Engadget

The Crush House, the latest game from Reigns developer Nerial, will debut on August 9.  Described as a "thirst-person shooter," The Crush House has you playing as a camera person tasked with filming a 1999 reality show. Youll cast four out of 12 potential characters for the show, and then film them at a secluded Malibu mansion for a week to create your season. The aim is to find the perfect reality-show balance of drama, romance and near-violence to keep audiences hooked. Similar to the Reigns games, youll have to play to different audiences desires to keep the show ratings up, and pleasing everyone is a near-impossible task. There seems to be a lot more to The Crush House than just a run-of-the-mill reality show. From the trailer, theres clearly some dark horror going on behind the scenes, and youll be able to explore the mansion after-hours, talk to the cast and live out your dream of being a Bravo producer. Because everyone dreams of that, right? Right? The Crush House hits PC on August 9, published by Devolver Digital, and theres a demo set to hit Steam imminently. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/thirst-person-shooter-the-crush-house-hits-pc-on-august-9-002222406.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 01:54:08| Engadget

Phoenix Springs is a point-and-click detective game that looks like the cover of a mid-century sci-fi novel, and its due to go live on Steam on September 16. Steeped in mystery and a vibrant neo-noir aesthetic, Phoenix Springs follows reporter Iris Dormer as she searches for her brother, Leo, in a mysterious community at the heart of a desert oasis. Its a challenging puzzle game featuring voice acting and a minimal UI, and Iris inventory is designed to be filled with mental notes rather than physical objects, encouraging players to think in abstractions. Visually, theres no other game like Phoenix Springs. It mixes 2D and 3D animations, and its composed of hand-drawn scenes featuring heavy shadows and muted greens, with bright pops of yellow and red. The game looks old and new at the same time, and for puzzle fans, its one of the most intriguing titles coming out this year. Phoenix Springs is developed and published by Calligram Studio, a four-person art collective based in London. Calligram launched a Kickstarter for the game in 2017 and successfully raised more than 10,000. Over the past seven years, Calligram has secured a handful of prestigious awards and nominations for Phoenix Springs, adding an extra touch of anticipation to todays release-date announcement. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/phoenix-springs-possibly-the-prettiest-detective-game-ever-arrives-september-16-235408369.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 01:24:41| Engadget

Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure is due to hit PC, Switch, PlayStation 5 and mobile devices on July 25. Arranger is an adventure game with a simple and disruptive conceit: The world exists on a grid of sliding tiles. Moving the main character, Jemma, slides the connected row or column of tiles with her, shifting the landscape as she travels. This mechanic turns walking into a puzzle and it forms the basis of the games spatial riddles. Jemma is a misfit whos venturing outside of her cozy home for the first time, discovering all of the amazing and terrifying things the wider world has to offer. The land is ruled by a strange, static force, and Jemmas mission is to make the place loosen up (quite literally, it would seem). Arranger is developed and published by indie studio Furniture & Mattress, which includes Braid artist David Helman, Carto writer Nick Suttner, Per Aspera composer Tomas Batista and Ethereal developer Nicolás Recabarren. The mobile version of Arranger will be distributed through Netflix, meaning anyone with an active subscription should be able to play at no extra charge. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/arranger-turns-a-slide-puzzle-into-an-adventure-game-this-july-232441365.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 01:15:41| Engadget

And now for a game thats actually 50 games at least. UFO 50, the latest project from Spelunky studio Mossmouth, is due to hit Steam on September 18, about six years after it was originally expected to launch. Thats merely an observation, not a criticism UFO 50 is an ambitious project that offers 50 full, retro-styled games in a single package, and its all coming from a team of just six people. In UFO 50 lore, UFO Soft was a game developer who was active between 1982 and 1990, peak NES and Genesis years. The games collected in UFO 50 feature recurring characters and sequels from UFO Softs fictional past, and theyre restricted in terms of color and audio, as if they had actually been developed for bygone hardware. Mossmouth is manifesting an alternate timeline of video game history here, and it looks like a ton of fun. The story of UFO 50 is that the games were all created in the 80s by a fictional company that was obscure but ahead of its time, the games FAQ reads. They're also connected by a unique 32-color palette and other restrictions we decided on to make them feel more authentic. (However, we don't force sprite flickering or slowdown, as we didn't feel that it would make the games more enjoyable.) Every game in UFO 50 is unlocked from the start, and the collection features a wide variety of genres, including platformers, RPGs, roguelites and shoot-em-ups. None of the titles are mini- or micro-games, and while theyre all done in an 8-bit aesthetic, their visual and mechanical styles evolve with the years. Every game is playable solo, and half of them include multiplayer elements. All that said, I think Mossmouth is selling itself short by calling UFO 50 a collection of just 50 games. Sure, it includes 50 individual experiences inspired by classic games of the 1980s, but theres also one huge, hidden title in the collection UFO 50 itself. Dont forget to factor that into your pricing deliberations, Mossmouth. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ufo-50-the-latest-game-from-the-spelunky-team-will-finally-arrive-september-18-231541214.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-06-08 01:05:47| Engadget

The next title out of Capybara Games the studio behind Super Time Force, Below and Grindstone is a competitive, online puzzler with real-time strategy and color-matching mechanics, live updates and a seasonal narrative shaped by players. Its called Battle Vision Network, and its heading to PC and mobile devices in 2025. Battle Vision Network feels like an encapsulation of Capys sensibilities over 20 years as an independent game studio. Its adorable in a Saturday-morning-cartoon kind of way, kind of like OK K.O.! Let's Play Heroes. It relies on color-matching tactics, much like Grindstone. It has music from longtime Capy collaborator Jim Guthrie (Sword & Sworcery, Below) and Grindstone composer Sam Webster. And finally, its a one-on-one puzzle fight, similar to Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. In the announcement video for BVN, director Dan Vader described the new game as a spiritual successor to Clash of Heroes with an emphasis on multiplayer combat. BVN has unlockable units with special abilities and a roster of customizable characters. The environments in BVN are outlandish and bright, packed with alien creatures, enthusiastic astronaut spectators and at least one talking skeleton. There are a handful of intergalactic teams in the game, each with a specific vibe, captain and engagement style. Every season players will determine the champion by battling under the banner of their preferred team and racking up points in a shared pool, affecting stats, events and narrative outcomes for everyone. Capy is building BVN to be accessible but deep, with hours of replayability baked into its design. Netflix will distribute the iOS and Android versions of the game, meaning it should be available to all Netflix subscribers at no extra charge. Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/battle-vision-network-is-capys-spiritual-successor-to-might--magic-clash-of-heroes-230547594.html?src=rss

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