THE BANNER SAGA 2

The Banner Saga was, and is, one of my favourite games of all time; a strangely poetic experience of a crumbling Nordic world, dead gods and mythic horned giants told almost entirely through the medium of an extensively updated version of the Oregon Trail. Battles are fought, secrets are discovered and your caravan will wither or prosper based on the choices you make on the way to your destination. Banner Saga 2 is pretty much the same thing, so much so that it almost necessitates a recent play through of…

Read More

GRAILKNIGHTS – Dead or Alive

Grailknights Dead or Alive

Grailknights are perhaps best understood through a long hard look at the cover art to their new EP. It’s a simple piece, detailing Sir Optimus prime, Count Cranium, Earl Quake, Sovereign Storm and Lord Drumculese flying in on a trail of neon lightning to do battle with their foul foe, Dr Skull. As you surely now understand, Grailknights are fucking inexplicable.

Read More

DARKEST DUNGEON

Darkest Dungeon appears, at first glance, to be a game so simple as to be generic; yet another dungeon-crawler so steeped in simplicity that it’s fucking painted. That’s what I was expecting anyway. What I found, down there in the diseased crypts of the ancestral grounds, changed my mind forever. In less wanky terms, it’s unexpectedly deep. The premise, at least, is simple: your uncle has opened a portal to some dark and Eldritch realm and shambling horrors have crawled through. Naturally he’s requested help and naturally it’s your duty,…

Read More

BLOOD BOWL 2

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always been put off traditional sports by the ludicrous pay checks, constant scandals and persistent lack of incentivised, legitimized murder. Bloodbowl was Games Workshop’s attempt to fix that, back when they still made games you could play without re-mortgaging your house. Bloodbowl 2 is, oddly enough, the fourth title released by Cyanide to bring that particular blend of football and fantasy violence to everyone who doesn’t own an Olympic sized dining table. It’s framed and presented explicitly like a sporting event, complete with constant…

Read More

LEAVES’ EYES – King of Kings

When it comes to folk metal, there are few countries with more pedigree than Germany. The only one that comes to mind, in fact, is Norway, and so you might expect Leaves’ Eyes, a symphonic/folk group with German and Norwegian origins to be masters of the art. It’s not like they’ll be short of inspiration, considering their history of focusing on historical epics and Norway’s history of producing them. The result is some truly inspired symphonic folk metal. With “King of Kings” that inspiration comes in the form of Harald…

Read More

ANTICOSM – Anticosm

American Black metallers Anticosm have seemed a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of a full-length album since the beginning. Since their first release ten years ago there’s been a whole bunch of singles and EPs, but only one other full length album, 2009’s “Against the Cosmos”. With this, their second and self-titled full album, they’re hoping to cement the image they’ve been forging over the last decade.

Read More

AMORPHIS – Under the Red Cloud

Amorphis are a Finnish heavy metal group with its origins in the far and distant pre-history of 1990, which means they’ve spent a good 25 years experimenting with their style. They call it “melancholic rock” and while their history covers every metal genre you can shake a goat’s head at, this outing settles pretty definitively on a melodic/folk hybrid. It’s catchy and ballad-like, with the kind of hooks you usually see though a butcher’s window suspending half a pig, and while you could easily say they’re a little hammy, you’d…

Read More

WAY OF THE SAMURAI 4

Historical Japan as a setting seems to be one that game developers can only take two ways; either you end up with something staunchly historical like the Total War Shogun series or something fiercely proud of its ridiculousness, like Toukiden: Kiwami. Way of the Samurai 4 was perhaps intended as a mix of the two, blending the historical tension of the end of Japan’s isolationism and the influx of British influence with stupid names, absurd voice acting and a legal system entirely based on the threat of BDSM. It’s an…

Read More

KRISIUN – Forged In Fury

Krisiun are a Brazilian heavy metal outfit most famous for their incredible longevity (all twenty five years of it) and their incredibly regular output (all twelve albums of it). Perhaps they keep busy as a way to forget, their industriousness a shield from the memories of one terrible night, all those years ago. Maybe they just love their music and hate their day jobs? It’s a question almost as compelling as how three guys managed record twelve albums without losing their collective grips on reality.

Read More

KATAKLYSM – Of Ghosts and Gods

It’s not uncommon to begin an album like this with a sound bite from an obscure movie used as an inspiration. Usually it’s little more than a conspiratorial nudge for fans in the know, something to let smug dickheads like myself feel vaguely superior about for all those nights spent watching cheesy movies in the nineties when other, lesser fans were out having relationships and developing themselves as people. For this reason, they work best when they’re obscure; there’s a sense of camaraderie to spotting the villain’s monologue from some…

Read More

ASSASSINS CREED – Rogue

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue might not be the most obvious choice for review right now, considering it came out in the far prehistory of about six months ago, but in fairness this is fucking July. Nothing comes out this time of year, so it came down to this or a PC re-release of a 2011 PS3 J-RPG, and frankly, I’m not quite that desperate yet (though come back next time when I almost certainly will be). It is notable for being a pretty clear rip-off of Assassin’s Creed 4, which was…

Read More

POWERWOLF – Blessed & Possessed

Your reaction to the name Powerwolf will tell you more than enough about whether the band is for you. If you hear “Powerwolf” and think “stupid tacky nonsense” then that’s more than likely going to be your response to the music. However, if you’re the sort of person whose response is more along the lines of “Shit yeah! Fucking wolves with power and shit!” then that’s a good sign. Basically, Powerwolf as a band has lived and dies on their audience’s ability to just fucking roll with whatever awesome nonsense…

Read More

APOTHEON

apotheon

Apotheon is the story of an ancient Greek warrior who, finding his country betrayed by the gods, goes forth to seek justice via a raid on Mount Olympus. It’s not the most original considering this is basically the only plot we know how to tell with Greek heroics and it might also sound a lot like God of war on paper (Any/all of them. Each new iteration is a love letter to the find/replace tool) but the way it succeeds is because it tells it in a different way. Though…

Read More