Maskmaker on PC
Maskmaker is the kind of game that can only really exist as a VR title. Crafting different masks and exploring magical worlds, while a novel idea, is something that just wouldn’t have the right impact if you were holding a controller and staring at your TV. In VR, I was in these worlds. I was crafting the masks, delicately adding color in a paint-by-numbers fashion to my wooden creations with a flick of my wrist. But like a lot of VR titles out there right now, Maskmaker’s scope is somewhat limited and in doing so limits the enjoyment you’ll get out of it.
The story follows your journey as a Maskmaker’s apprentice as you travel through different magical realms in order to seek out Prospero, the king of the realm whose identity you must ultimately reveal. A lot of the story is played out in short, flashback cutscenes that play out around you as you stand in the environment, and some solid voice acting work from Prospero himself provides additional context as you find different objects and progress through the story. It helped make the whole adventure feel that little bit less lonely, as you navigate these largely empty realms and solve the puzzles they house.
It’s navigating these worlds that make up the bulk of the gameplay here. In each realm you explore, you’ll find bodies with different masks on, which, once you’ve identified the mask with your telescope, can be crafted and worn in order to assume control of that body.
Crafting the masks is fairly basic at first, as more often than not you’re dipping a mask in a single color and attaching a few different components you find throughout the different realms to complete the designs. It’s still oddly therapeutic, chiseling away a block of wood and seeing it take the form of your basic mask template, or taking a step back to appreciate the finished product as its eyes magically glow to life, opening up a whole new avenue for you to explore this magical world.
However, it was in the second half of the game once more where you’re given paintbrushes and even more mask templates that the mechanic really reaches its full potential. Combining different components and various colors to make more elaborate designs could be a game in and of itself, and I wish there were even more challenging masks to make than those you’re tasked with crafting by the very end.
I’d have loved to have seen a mask creator mode with free reign to make intricate and eccentric designs and share them with friends to design themselves would have been great, though this admittedly may be too much of an ask for the small team at Innerspace VR.
The bodies wearing these masks may enable you to access an area of a realm you previously couldn’t reach because of an enormous chasm, or pesky fencing that forces you into utilizing your Maskmaking craft. Switching between masks when playing on PC saw me immediately teleport into the new body, with non-existent loading times.
Pulling off one mask and being transported to your workshop, before swiftly putting another on and returning to the realm in a different area is so seamless and makes the whole experience feel that little bit more magical and immersive. It’s this kind of mechanic in the game that just wouldn’t have the same impact playing on a TV with a controller.
In the first half of the game, however, these puzzles are very basic, and things only really ramp up slightly in difficulty in the latter half. It was only right towards the end I found myself having to spend a little more time to sit back and find the solution.
Having to grab two handles on a furnace to control the pressure for example, pumping with one arm and releasing pressure by holding down the other was a fairly simple ‘puzzle’ to solve, and this came after the halfway point. A particular highlight was an area which required me to guide water through a maze-like system of gates had me traipsing back and forward trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong and how I could reach the different valves I needed to without sending the water the other way.
Watching the water gush back out to sea so I could venture out on my boat to the island in the distance was satisfying after racking my brains, I only wish there were more like this earlier on in the game, as for the most part, it’s a walk in an enchanted park.
Maskmaker, unfortunately, falls short when it comes to actually collecting the various objects to make the different masks. While some were neatly tucked away, others were so obtusely hidden that I spent far longer than I should have done going back and forth through the relatively small area each mask allows you to explore in search of them.
One particularly annoying object required you to find a six-headed part of a plant. There was only one of them on the six or seven bushes in the area, but plenty with two or three heads. I picked up countless of these before finally, accidentally stumbling on the one I needed to craft the mask.
There was no hint that I was on the right track, and I had more or less disregarded the plants having picked off countless parts of it to no avail.
Had I not been driven to finish the game to write this review, I could see myself giving up in some instances. I’m glad I pushed through to the end, but once I’d finally got around these temporary roadblocks, there wasn’t the same sense of satisfaction as there was when I was successfully switched between masks up in a forest canopy to kill off a fungus in different places before it grew back, or solved the aforementioned water puzzle. I just felt the game didn’t really value my time.
As such, finding these mask components felt more of a chore than it really should have, and given this was a fairly significant chunk of the game, discovering one was met with a sense of relief that it was over for a little while longer and I could return to the workshop to refine my craft further, or that another intuitive puzzle may be in store.
Similarly, there were some times where the game doesn’t really explain what you should be doing next. It’ll tell you you need to reach an objective, but doesn’t even hint at how you’re supposed to go about doing it. It led to a lot of walking around aimlessly, desperately picking up everything I could and switching between masks in the hope Prospero would provide a helpful clue. More often than not, he’d just retort the same, vague one-liners instead.
The longer I had to spend idly walking around the areas, the varying quality of the environments in Maskmaker became more obvious. In its opening realms, the game’s art style encapsulates the magical feeling that the story and the world are so desperately trying to convey. However, by the end, I did notice some muddy and low-quality textures which detracted from the immersion and reminded me I was playing a VR game… wildly swinging my arms about or on the cusp of stroking my sofa while trying to piece together a snake statue, much to my girlfriend’s amusement.
This might all sound like I didn’t enjoy Maskmaker, but on the contrary, I finished the game and found myself wishing there was a little bit more. Another realm or two to really put my maskmaking and puzzle-solving skills to the test, without the finicky object collecting or obtuse directions.
When Maskmaker shines, it shines bright to the point I had a beaming smile on my face. It’s just a shame these moments only tend to pop up towards the very end. If you’re looking for a circa five-hour VR adventure with some magical moments, you could do worse. Just don’t expect a groundbreaking VR experience.
- Making masks is a ton of fun
- Some satisfying use of switching between masks for puzzle solving
- Transporting yourself into magical realms by switching masks never gets old
- Wasn’t always clear what you were meant to do next
- Varying quality of environments
- Finding some items was more tedious than it should be
April 20, 2021
Oculus, PSVR, Steam VR
Twin Stick Shooter Trigger Witch Gets Announcement Trailer
The game is coming to PS5, PS4, Switch, and Xbox consoles “soon.”
Developer Rainbite and publisher Eastasiasoft have announced Trigger Witch, a twin-stick shooter that looks equal parts wild and hilarious. Rainbite is the developer of Reverie, so it’s not surprising to see the studio’s humor pop up in the trailer’s opening seconds.
According to the developers, “players assume the role of Colette, a prospective graduate from the Stock, an academy for Witchcraft and Triggery. After a mysterious man invades her realm, events are set in motion that turn Colette’s life upside-down, casting her as the sole heroine with enough firepower to restore peace.”
The title boasts gorgeous 16-bit pixel art and a dynamic soundtrack in addition to puzzling environments to explore and baddies to blast. Best of all, the game supports co-op, so you can team up with a friend. Trigger Witch will release on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch this summer. You can watch the announcement trailer below:
7 Best Transformers Games You Need To Play
What started as a toyline soon blew up into a mega-franchise. Transformers have been around since the 1980s and it’s gone from a humble little toyline to comic books, cartoons, and even a blockbuster film franchise. Fans can’t get enough of this IP where we got to watch Autobots take on the Decepticons. Over the years, there have been a few notable video games to have released for this IP and like other IPs, there are some hits along with a ton of misses. We recently covered the best Godzilla games there are and we made note that there are a ton of subpar games which is the case here as well. Instead of focusing on games that might not have been as well-received or all that fun to play, we’re instead picking out the best of the best here. In this list, we’re highlighting some of the Transformer games you should check into if you haven’t already.
#7 Transformers Forged to Fight
If you have an android or iOS smartphone then you can give Transformers: Forged to Fight a download right now for free. It’s a fighting game where you’re going around a linear map, collecting some resources but mainly duking it out with an opposing side character. The battles are all done with swipes and taps on your display which will allow your character to melee attack, bring out some gun power, or transform into a vehicle. What you might find interesting is that characters and locations from the different Transformer shows or movies are present. So you’ll get a nice diverse set of characters to control or fight against.
#6 Transformers Prime: The Game
Transformers Prime: The Game was a title released in 2012 and it launched on everything under the sun for Nintendo. We had releases for the Nintendo Wii, Wii U, DS, and the 3DS, but that’s all. If you were on any other platforms then you’re simply out of luck. This is a brawler action game and it’s a pretty decent one at that. Players are following a story based around the Autobots trying to stop the Decepticons from awakening an old Transformer called the Thunderwing. Here players are thrown into different levels that will star a specific Autobot and it’s a mix between racing around or brawling combat. You’ll find that the game throws in a good diverse set of levels but you might find the game to be a bit repetitive at times. With that said, this game is based on the Transformers: Prime animated series which started in 2010 and lasted until 2013, but you can still dive into this game without having any knowledge of the Transformers: Prime series.
#5 Transformers Animated: The Game
The Nintendo DS also found a Transformers game on its platform with Transformers Animated: The Game. This is a single-player action title that was based around the Transformers: Animated series which came out in 2007 and lasted to about 2009. This is more of a new-age style Transformers series that fans either loved or hate. It was quite a bit different from the past series but again it was developed in mind for a young new audience. Here players are going through a section of the animated series based around a set of episodes that deals with rogue factory robots. Players here are controlling three characters, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead as they complete a series of platformer side-scroller levels. With each character present, players will have to constantly swap around between the three to use their different abilities required to reach the exit point. It’s been a well-received game and kid-friendly enough that it moved units on the Nintendo DS, but for fans of the hardcore old-school style Transformer game, it might not be as appealing. With that said, it’s a great side-scrolling platformer that offered the iconic Transformers IP to new young fans.
#4 Transformers 
Back in 2004, we got a Transformers title that was released exclusively on the PlayStation 2. This game was based around the animated series at the time, Transformers: Armada, which ran for about a year. With that said, you don’t really need to watch the series to get this game as it’s a storyline you’d come to expect from Transformers and it’s a bit different than the series mentioned. Here we have another civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons where you’ll be controlling different Autobots throughout various missions. It’s a third-person shooter where you’ll strafe around as these Autobots and attempt to demolish the Deceptions. While you can transform, most of the game is mainly based around third-person shooting. In fact, the game has several Mini-Cons that you can find and equip which offer more weapons or enhancements. Up to four of these Mini-Cons can be equipped so you do have the ability to tweak out your characters throughout the game. Since this game was released back in 2004 it does show a bit of its age and it was only available on the PlayStation 2. Still, if you’re a fan of Transformers and haven’t played this game yet, it’s often one of the more recommended titles you’ll see pop up from fans.
#3 Transformers: Devastation
Transformers: Devastation is a solid game especially if you’re into the old-school Transformers cartoon series. The cel-shaded view looks like the game hits that 80s kind of animated style along with the upbeat heavy metal music playing in the background might hit some nostalgia for some. This is also a title developed by PlatinumGames and you can immediately tell that from its high-speed action-packed gameplay. It’s very hack and slash with players taking the role of different Autobots quickly zipping around battling enemies through the melee to guns or even transforming into a vehicle to deliver some more insane blows. If you’re not familiar with PlatinumGames then these are the folks behind Bayonetta, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Nier: Automata, and Astral Chain to name just a few of their games. In this game, we’re following the Autobots who are having to save Earth from a new Decepticon plan of turning the planet into a new Cybertron. Unfortunately, there is a bit of bad news here and it’s the fact that this game was taken offline from digital storefronts after the licensing deal between Activision and Hasbro came to an end. The bright side is that Transformers: Devastation is not a rare or expensive game yet. You can typically find this game anywhere from $15 to $30 online for a physical copy.
#2 Transformers: War for Cybertron
Development studio High Moon Studios was able to bring out a Transformer title that hit the strides fans were hoping for with Transformers: War for Cybertron. It’s set way before the events of the original cartoon series and is considered canon. This means that fans were given a bit of a backstory to different beloved characters and events that help fill some of the narrative gaps. In this game, we’re following the showdown between the Autobots and the Decepticons during a civil war on their home planet of Cybertron. It’s an action-packed third-person shooter that throws players into the role of both Autobots and Deceptions. Taking the role of these iconic characters, you’ll get to use their different transformations and abilities when battling it out. While fans have enjoyed the multiplayer aspect of this game, its servers have since been shut down. However, this is not the full storyline for this game narrative and there’s a follow-up title. Fortunately, the follow-up title is just as good if not better than Transformers: War for Cybertron. That’s of course Transformers: Fall of Cybertron which we’ll be diving into next.
#1 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Coming off of Transformers: War for Cybertron we have the sequel Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We know that the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons did not go well. The planet that they were fighting for, Cybertron, has become unstable for their life and it has left the Autobots to flee. Of course, the Decepticons are not fond of players taking off and are doing their best to ensure that either the Autobots fall in line or are destroyed. This is still a third-person shooter game full of different Autobots that players will be taking the role of. Likewise, you can expect certain in-game moments to feature the different attributes these large mechanical protagonists will be able to make use of in the heat of battle. This is the last big fight on Cybertron where the goal is for the Autobots to flee the galaxy and find a new refuge in the Milky Way. Fans have found this game to be incredible from the storyline and over-the-top action-packed moments, the developers behind this game High Moon Studios delivered a solid product. Unfortunately, the multiplayer component here is no longer active, since the servers were shut down in 2020. Likewise, while this game originally launched in 2012, it did find its way on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016 so you could still get a copy of this game for more modern platforms today.
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Assassin’s Creed Had Its Best Sales Year in 2020
Revenue was up 50% from the prior record.
The Assassin’s Creed series had its strongest sales year to date in the 12 month period that ended on March 31st, according to Ubisoft. The publisher said that the total yearly revenue generated by the series was up 50% compared to the previous record, which was set in the 2012-2013 financial year.
Speaking to investors during Ubisoft’s full-year earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Yves Guillemot said “Valhalla did a great job.” He also said that the franchise’s “back catalogue was also extremely powerful” and was a big part of the series’s record year, specifically citing the content released for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
“What we see with Assassin’s Creed is that we have a fantastic recipe and that’s why we decided to expand the post-launch programme to make it the biggest, longest, strongest that we have ever had on the franchise, so we are really going for a great transformation and building on the RPG recipe, and on strong playtime, so that’s what we see for the franchise as a focus in the short-term, notably in fiscal 22 and beyond, but also we are building a very strong rung-up for the next five years for that brand,” said Ubisoft chief financial officer Frederick Duguet.
Ubisoft previously reported its strongest quarter in history in February, claiming they were the strongest publisher in terms of unit sales for 2020 and crediting titles like Watch Dogs Legions, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Immortals Fenyx Rising. for their success during that period.
HTC Reveals Vive Pro 2 With 5K Display, For Sale on June 4
HTC today unveiled their latest virtual reality headset, the Vive Pro 2, at its ViveCon event. An update on their previous headset, the Vive Pro, the Pro 2 comes with a number of upgrades, including better resolution and refresh rate. It’s available for pre-order now and it’ll be available for sale and shipping on June 4.
At first glance, the Vive Pro 2 appears very similar to the Vive Pro — the form factor is the same. The differences are mostly under the figurative hood. The Vive Pro 2 has a 5K resolution combined screen, with 2448 x 2448 pixels per eye. By contrast, the Vive Pro had a 2880×1600 resolution. The Vive Pro 2 also takes the headset from a 90Hz refresh rate to a 120 Hz refresh rate. If you want one, it’ll set you back $800. You can preorder it from HTC’s site.
In addition to the resolution, users will have a much wider field-of-view in the Vive Pro 2. HTC also claims it will mean “minimal motion blur.” Overall the new headset appears to be designed to deliver a much better VR experience, especially for gamers. It also comes with all the comfort features you’d expect for a headset of this quality, including adjustable straps, adjustable interpupillary distance (IPD). It will come with integrated headphones, and can also be used with third-party headsets.
HTC also showed off the Vive Focus 3, which has similar specs to the Pro 2 — 2448 x 2448 pixels per eye, a 120-degree FOV, and a 90hz refresh rate. The Focus 3, however, will be mostly available for businesses, with only a small number of units being made available for consumer shoppers. It’ll cost $1,300 and it’s not currently available for preorder on HTC’s site — you’d have to contact their sales team to find out how to get one.
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