Spellbreak Review: Arcane wizardry in a Battle Royale?

Spellbreak is a magical take on the battle royale genre.


A mage in Spellbreak casts a fire boulder.
Spellbreak allows wizards to do battle on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.

It’s time for a new kind of battle royale.

The battle-royale wave some argue has been rode to death. The genre is ever popular without many signs of slowing down, and the titans of battle royales (BRs) continue to dominate. New entries to the field have been hit or miss. Games such as Hyperscape have proven to be…mostly hype, while more games are simply incorporating BR elements, like Vigor, a survival looter-shooter somewhat recently released on Nintendo Switch, and the massively popular Fall Guys.

The lines between what is, and what makes a battle royale are beginning to blur, but this is for the better, as we get standouts like this month’s Spellbreak from Proletariat. Distributed by Epic Games, Spellbreak fits somewhere between a lite BR and largescale arena combat. The result is fresh, fast and fun gameplay with visuals that don’t take themselves too seriously.

Proletariat’s Spellbreak adds some refreshing twists to the done to death BR formula.
You launch spells at your foes from elements like fire, ice, and wind…it’s certainly got some Avatar: The Last Airbender like vibes.

Fatigue of first-person shooters is understandable these days, especially when it comes to BRs, but Spellbreak livens up the playing field by encouraging wizards around the globe, on several different platforms to do battle. Dropping from the skies onto an island, battle commences in manageable yet hectic 42-player matches. You’ll launch spells at your foes from elements including fire, ice, wind, stone, lightning and poison. It’s certainly got some Avatar: The Last Airbender like vibes.

A mage combines wind and lightning to cast an electrified tornado
Tempest and lightning abilities can be combined to launch a “shocknado”.

What is most enjoyable about Spellbreak is the fluid combat. Levitation is one of the fundamentals of movement when you’re not running on the ground. This adds an interesting dynamic of play, as during the most heated battles you not only have to try to hit often aerial targets, but you also must take care not to lose track of them.

A mage casts a fireball.

Fight like a wizard, think like a wizard.

Escaping a firefight… err, spell-fight is often just as viable as winning one. In addition to your array of spells, runes located throughout the map can enhance your movement allowing teleportation, Superman-style flight, frog-like double jumping or invisibility. Spells can be combined as pickups, known as gauntlets, allow you to use an additional element in combination with an element you initially choose. Want to turn your tempest tornado into a firenado? You can. Want to set ablaze a cloud of toxic poison gas? You can do that, too. There are several “builds” and strategies you can utilize and your creativity is rewarded.

The combat is hectic, fast and fluid. Spells are colorful and easy to spot across the map.

The whole formula is a refreshing change of pace from more grounded titles like Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends, and is slightly reminiscent of Fortnite (without the building mechanics). Graphically, the game resembles Fortnite or a higher quality World of Warcraft, adding to its charm through vibrant cel shaded visuals and color tones. This also allows it to be one of the select BRs that the Nintendo Switch can actually handle. So far, I’ve tried it on both Xbox One and the Switch, and while it certainly handles better on the Xbox One, nothing says convenience like being able to play a BR comfortably in bed, with The Office or Rick & Morty in the background on my TV. If playing on the Switch, be prepared for longer load times and dips in framerate.

Spellbreak’s environments are a tad bland. Aside from combat, Spellbreak isn’t really doing anything new.

Spellbreak’s environments are a tad bland. There are castles and fields, some desert and swamp areas an abundance of dilapidated coliseums, but there aren’t really hot POIs. The locales of the game aren’t really going to stand out in your mind and one edge of the island is almost indistinguishable from its opposite end on the other edge of the world. Right now, however, it works. The environments aren’t meant to be awe-inspiring, they’re meant for you to pick up some quick loot before you go to battle, or quickly dispatch a stray mage or squad of mages looting just like you.

As far as BRs go, aside from the mage combat, Spellbreak isn’t really doing anything new. You loot health potions and armor potions (shields) like many other games in the genre, and worse still, these items are actually pretty scarce, especially near the final rounds. Third partying (rushing in to clean up combatants already engaged, or weary from battle) is easy to do. If you don’t run into an enemy player while flying around like Superman, you’ll likely see them from afar when they detonate a bomb of lightning or hurl a tornado at someone.

Spellbreak, a mage uses shockwave while another mage levitates.
Third partying is pretty rampant in Spellbreak. It’s easy to spot a lightning tornado on the map and spells are very loud and flashy.

Often, this is how you will engage in battle, as well. A core tenet of most BRs is to listen for enemy footsteps or gunshots to gauge how close would-be attackers are to your character. In Spellbreak, you can use audio cues to your advantage, but often I’ve found I’ll realize I’m about to be in combat because I’ll hear spells when I am casting none, then realize as my health is depleting, “Oh, someone is attacking me.”

It can be rather confusing when playing with teammates because sometimes they may randomly cast spells for fun or in-between combat. Was that whoosh of wind you just heard your teammate leaning too heavy on the trigger button, or is another player on top of those ruins pelting you with mini-tornadoes?

Some tips for beginner’s joining the arcane madness of Spellbreak.

In any case, once your health is depleted you become “disrupted” in team modes turning into a golden orb of light, if playing solo, you simply die. A disrupted player can still move at a snail’s pace, your only chance of survival being through restoration by a fellow teammate.

Should an enemy player get to your little glow ball of a body first, they can “exile” you resulting in your permanent death, and no, you cannot be respawned (unlike several other BRs). The one upside, though, the exiling process takes several seconds while your executioner stands perfectly still, an ideal opportunity for a teammate or a third party to destroy someone mid-exile. The reverse is also true, while killing someone or restoring a teammate, you must be acutely aware as you also leave yourself in a highly vulnerable state.

Spellbreak still claims to be in an early release “phase”, but it certainly looks promising.

The game released earlier this month, and limited pre-release builds were being worked on and in alpha (being play tested) as early as last year. I certainly did not even notice the game until it was featured on Nintendo Switch’s new release news board and the game still says it’s an early game preview, but it certainly looks promising. Proletariat’s roadmap for the game seeks to include more arena style matches, 9v9s, team deathmatch, and eventually new elements and loot. Players can dive in solo, duos or in three-person squads and the game supports cross-play as well as cross-progression.

Spellbreak is free-to-play on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.

You can catch footage and my live streams of Spellbreak and many other games on Twitch and Youtube.

[Festival Blog] iMAGiNE Music Festival Blog & Review

Here I give a review and a blog of my experience at Imagine Music Festival 2017 in Hampton, Georgia.


I know it’s rather late, as I’ve been busy with my last semester of college and working two jobs, however I finally got around to posting my Imagine Music Festival (IMF 2017) pictures, video clips and a general review. It’s a month overdue but let’s get into it.

Review Score: Imagine Festival 3.75/5 Stars ( B- )
Quick Sum-Up: Imagine Music Festival (IMF) is a high profile EDM festival hosted in Southwest Atlanta (about 20 minutes south of the capital) every year. Sponsored by iRiS Events and Management, Imagine is a large fest that features camping options. The experience itself (like most fests) is epic. IMF does a great job with killer light and laser shows, attractive stages with fire cannons, and activities for fest-goers.

Day 2: Walking into the House area, Chill Future House playing (possibly Nora En Pure).

Day 1: The end of Ill Gates set who performed on the Disco Inferno stage (a smaller but central stage of the fest).

Continue reading “[Festival Blog] iMAGiNE Music Festival Blog & Review”

[Video Game Review] [Music Games] VOEZ – Rayark’s beautiful FREE Anime music game on iOS & Android

VOEZ is an amazingly beautiful FREE music game app for iOS and Android that takes inspiration from anime and Asian music arcade games.


[Video Game Review]
Music Game VOEZ for Mobile Devices
Rating: 5/5 Stars & Honorable Mention
Publisher: Rayark Games

VOEZ. The musical tapping game seeks to revolutionize music gaming and mobile gaming.

Previously known as Project V, earlier this week Taiwanese game company Rayark Games released their much anticipated project Voez. Many had been anticipating the game for the better part of this year. I just happened to browse through Apple’s iTunes Music / App store and the Editor’s Picks section was raving about the game. It looked good enough the pictures drew me in with beautiful artwork and graphics.

Essentially, this game is Tap Tap Revolution on crack, well actually more like TTR’s rich, sophisticated, too-cool-for-school cousin that everyone wants to be like. As mentioned in the video review above the game combines elements of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution; a game I used to compete in tournaments for), Beatmania (an offshoot of DDR; CRAZY popular throughout Japan and Asia), and Rock Band.

As soon as you open the game you can tell it is certainly made/influenced by Asian music arcade games. From the slick presentation, the opening anime movie sequence complete with soothing Engrish lyrics to the opening menu and tutorial the game feels too good (and professional) to be true, or free!

The best part of the game however is the gameplay and the music. While most music games, especially for mobile devices have simply cheesy original music or borrow a small helping of “real songs” that usually suck (I’m looking at you Tap Tap) all the songs in Voez feel like they were ripped straight out of Japan’s newest release of JuBeat or Beatmania IIDX, the artists have certainly put in work to create some truly stunning songs. Though most of the songs appeal to an audience that likes anime or has played Japanese music games before (much of the songs are in Chinese or Japanese, are dubstep or happy hardcore) the quality of the songs is so great you might like them even if you don’t like the style of music.

Better still, are the amazing graphics of the game. Everything feels crisp on the playscreen and because the screens are loaded all at once, even lower end devices can play the game fairly well. Like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you are in command of lines of notes that scroll to a horizontal line at the bottom the screen. You tap the notes as they hit the bottom of the screen in time to the music, maintaining your combo and trying to do as best you can. As you tap the notes radiate a beautiful diamond shape in rainbow colors (if you were exactly on beat) or in gold if you were pretty close to exactly on time.

However, it’s not that simple. There are different note types, some you simply tap, others you must swipe (like unlocking your phone screen), some you must slide your finger across the screen and others you must “freeze” your fingers in place and slide them as well. Not only that, but on some songs (like my favorite “Refel” by Sakuzyo) the actual play grid will shift and move as bass drops hits or during dubstep bass womp rolls (like in “Flame Dark”).

The degree of technicality involved, and how precisely the notes appear, even in timing with the vocals of each song is impressive. Each time you play you want to do better and like most Asian music games, you feel an intense sense of accomplishment when you ‘full combo’ (FC) or perfect a song without missing a single note. The leaderboard is full of players from Asia and America who have FC’d every song. Not only that but your taps can be “Perfect Perfect” or “Perfect Good” meaning if you get more notes tapped exactly on beat even if you miss a few, your score will be higher than someone who full combo’d the song but was not quite as on beat as you. Getting better seems impossible but each time you play you get better as you learn where the notes fall and how the grid shifts.

Voez Review and Rating:

Graphics: 5/5 – Beautiful graphics that are hard to believe are in a free game. From the anime-inspired artwork, the Beatmania/DDR-esque song selection screen to the playboard, this game would fit right in in an arcade or on Xbox Live Arcade / Playstation Network.

Sound: 5/5 – From the menu selection to the songs, its all top notch. The songs are addictive and on iTunes for purchase. Best are “Flame Dark” “Platinum” “Keep You Safe” and “Refel”

Gameplay: 5/5 – The gameplay is addictive and easy to learn, but tough to master. You will find yourself looking for songs in your difficulty range to perfect, and each day you play you will do better and better, which feels great.

P2P/IAP 4.5/5 – While the song selection is very good, you start the game with maybe 1 or 2 songs. After a few rounds of play you unlock keys, which unlock songs but you can’t take them back. I unlocked a few songs I later regretted. Aside from the 2-3 the game gives you, you must buy the rest ($0.99 a song, $4.99 for 6, about $20 for 35 songs, etc.). I ended up buying about 8 songs. In fact, if you don’t buy any the game gets repetitive rather quickly

Summary: Overall, VOEZ is awesome game that should delight music fans, anime fans, or anyone looking to try something new. The game is both exciting and relaxing and is simply a joy to play. It is quite easy to lose an hour trying to best your scores or simply admiring the beauty that is this game.

 

 

 

[Video Games] Final Fantasy XII gets a Remake coming in 2017

Square Enix has announced a remake to popular PS2 RPG game, Final Fantasy XII, named the Zodiac Age. Will it live up to its predecessor’s fame?


[Video Game News]
Final Fantasy XII HD Remake

Square Enix announced yesterday they will be remaking the classic Playstation 2 RPG, Final Fantasy XII, for an HD remake (presumably for PS4, but it’s possible Xbox One and PC may also receive the game). This comes not long after Squeenix announced a few months ago that they would be remaking the legendary Final Fantasy VII.

While the Final Fantasy VII remake appears to be more a remake in spirit and visually (graphic-wise): the combat action has changed from turn-based RPG to action RPG much like Final Fantasy XV, we have yet to see how much Square will change for the XII remake. In the trailer it appears they left the loved and hated, Gambit system alone. Albeit it looks a little more exciting (attack combos?).

I played the original Final Fantasy XII on PS2 many years back. It was actually one of the last new games released for the Playstation 2 before it was retired and entirely replaced by the Playstation 3 and was in the last phase of games before production stopped for the system. I liked the game a lot. The characters felt new and rich. The storyline seemed interesting, the fighting system was kind of new and best of all there was a nice, hefty amount of voice acting (more than any other FF at the time, next to or maybe even more than Final Fantasy X).

Unfortunately, like Final Fantasy XIII (though for much different reasons) I stopped playing the game maybe halfway through it (at some temple level). FF12 suffered due to some issues with the Gambit system (kind of like programming the AI to execute certain moves but only in certain situations). The game to me felt like it was trying to be a more storied version of Final Fantasy XI: Online (a game I sunk thousands of hours into when I was younger, before World of Warcraft came out). The whole time I played XII I felt like I should be online, or see other people but alas it was not. Not only that but the music choices seemed poor and the team decided to have music play through a whole area, as opposed to music for battles, music for cutscenes, etc. making the soundtrack seem very boring.

The remake is touting a brand new soundtrack and possibly new battle system so maybe it will succeed in ways its predecessor failed. We will know in early 2017.

[Rap & Trap Music] 21 Savage – Lord Forgive & Mind Yo Business


21 Savage’s “Slaughter King” is a steady progression of hard, dark trap beats and street lyrics that goes above and beyond its genre cliches.

[Rap & Hip-Hop] [RTS: Real Trap Sh*t]
21 Savage – Lord Forgive (prod. by Fukk 12)

21 Savage – Mind Yo Business

More from 21 Savage

If you’re not familiar with current Atlanta trap music “slaughter king,” 21 Savage shame on you…and me. I was not either until a few months ago back in early Spring. As an old head (or maybe slowly becoming an old fart), I had stopped following this generation of “trap” hip-hop after Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” and similar songs dominated airwaves in the past year or two. Of course, here and there I’d hear a song I liked, mostly off of the radio, but I’ve always identified more with “trap” music of the early to mid 2000s (think Gucci ManeT.I., Lil’ Boosie, Cam’Ron and a host of long fizzled out local ATL groups, like Crime Mob or D4L.

While recently chillin’ with some young bucks in the ATL streets, they did not hesitate to introduce me to the budding rapper. Just as I was with dubstep, trap EDM and IDM music, I did not immediately embrace this new type of music shown to be by friends. Especially as it seemed so braggadocious and over-laden with swag flexing, I initially could not take it seriously. Over time however, I began to hear of Savage more and decided to give his mixtape a listen. What could it hurt, right? Turns out I was glad I did.

I may not fully identify with Slaughter Gang, Chiraq Boys, or this young people’s generation of trapping, drug-dealing, “runnin’ up in them bandos”, pulling heists or other actions that might declare one as hard, but I can identify when music is bumpin’ as fuck (excuse my language, it is necessary here).

Slaughter King: Rating (4.5 out of 5 stars)

21 Savage’s “Slaughter King” is a solid tape full of hard, trap beats and lyrics that actually go above and beyond what I would expect from another trap rapper from ATL’s hoods to come up with. Not to say these rappers or this type of music isn’t ever witty or creative, but as is the problem in many genres (my god, like dubstep) after some time you realize a LOT of it sounds the same.

Thankfully, Savage switches it up with clever lyrics, original if not downright catchy ad-libs (21, 21, 21!!) and hooks. Two of my favorites so far off his December mixtape include “Lord Forgive”: the reflective, but very deep opening trap banger with Savage reminiscing on his come up in the rap game and in urban street life in general. For whatever reason, the instrumental ( masterfully produced by Fukk 12) makes me feel very nostalgic, but also very contemplative. The song definitely immediately feels heavy and while listening to it, as one YouTube commenter put it, “[you] can feel Savage’s pain on the track,” which comes across as sincere and certifiably street.

“MInd Yo Business” is probably one of the catchiest on the tape with a repeating hook (“Mind yo bidness b*tch”) over a similarly hard beat. The track is far more active compared to “Lord Forgive” and is already a favorite among many. There are many other standouts on the mixtape, “Deserve,” “No Peace” and very few boring or even similar sounding songs, save for one or two. Even on those tracks Savage still manages to make them entertaining.

Do yourself a favor (if you’re not an original/true fan of this genre of rap): suspend your judgement and how much you identify with gangsters and hood stars, or even the killers (as Desiigner’s “Panda” would like you to do) and simply enjoy and appreciate the power and feeling behind these trap-heavy numbers. You might be glad you did! Also in similar style of rap, also from Atlanta was Bankoll Fresh who has many now classic releases, following his tragic death in a shooting in March 2016.

 

[Hip-Hop Origins:] [Throwback] Eminem – Seduction (Prod. by DJ Kahlil) // [Dance Origins:] [Deep Trance Throwback] Tom Clous – Secretly & 4 Clubbers – Secrets

Origins’ posts of the day include a hip-hop throwback from one of the game’s legends, Eminem. On the flipside, EDM Origins covers two deep-trance throwbacks, one, vocal chill the trance, the other a festival-ready trance-hit.


Today’s Hip-Hop Origins / Throwback Post:

[Hip-Hop/Rap] Eminem – Seduction (prod. by DJ Kahlil)

From his 2010 album “Recovery” which Eminem has rapped about in his semi-unreleased single “Syllabes” featuring Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Stat Quo & 50 Cent, claiming “Encore he [I] was on drugs, Recovery [I] was flushin’ em out” Eminem recognized this wasn’t his strongest album, but despite that a few bangers are still present. “Seduction” is a deeply-emotional track with a very solid beat and rhyme structure where Mathers compares the rap game to a woman he wants to seduce with lines like “One minute she loves you / the next she don’t / she’s been stolen from you / it’s like a (verbal) seduction when I tell ’em ‘Girls on the floor…

Eminem is contanstly brought up on comment sections and internet forums as one of the “Greatest MCs of All Time,” whether true or not, no one can deny the “not afraid to take it there” rapper, “8-Mile” star-actor, and ever-controversial Marshall Mathers lacks longevity. Eminem’s music is a shining beacon of originality in a music scene, that, at times, completely lacks it. Ever since hearing “My Name Is (Slim Shady)” at summer camp probably around the age of 10, knowing “my parents would kill me if they knew I was listening to such profane music” (lol) I knew there was something special about Eminem. He had a very unique sound, that sounded authentic, not faked, and some killer back-up in production and features. Working with Dido, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and countless other artists Eminem certainly has a spot in the circle of “Greatest Rappers of All-TIme.”

Check out this classic throwback and leave comments below about what you think of Recovery and Eminem as a rapper.

Eminem on Twitter


[Deep Trance] Tom Klous – Secretly

[Eurodance / Festival Trance] 4 Clubbers – Secrets

Next we’re highlighting two classic trance tunes, Tom Klous’Secretly” and 4 Clubbers’ Secrets (Club Mix),” two great EDM tracks showcasing the moving power of good trance music. The first “Secretly,” from EDM DJ-producer, Tom Klous, is a chill vocal trance track with heavy layers of instrumentation coupled with mesmerizing vocals (from Tiff Lacey). The second “Secrets,” by 4 Clubbers, is much more energetic and incorporates this energy into fist-pumping, festival-ready synths alongside a very European-style dance/bass structure.

[Future Festival Chill:] Morgan Page – Fight For You (Beltek Remix), Mash-Ups & Remixes


[Dance/House:] Morgan Page – Fight For You (Beltek Remix)

I fight for you,
I didn’t wanna have to raise my voice…
I’m right for you,
You really leave me with no choice…

Morgan Page’s “Fight For You” is already epic enough in it’s original form, with the incredibly festival-ready mash-up take on Page’s own “Fight For You,” combined with Nima Nesta’s “Derby” in “Derby Fight“. or the deep ambient, Sultan & Shepard Remix or the dubstep-heavy Culture Code Remix. The Beltek Remix is another great, mixable remix emphasizing the heavy atmospheric basslines and melodies inherent in the popular song. Having been remixed six ways to Sunday there is a remix in probably at least one genre that any person alive would enjoy. Check some of them out below:

[Dance/Electronic:] Fight For You – Morgan Page

[EDM Festival House:] Derby Fight – Morgan Page Vs. Nima Nesta

[House:] Fight For You (DJ Dan Remix) – Morgan Page

[Dubstep/House:] Fight For You (Culture Code Remix) – Morgan Page


[Deep House:] Fight For You (Sultan & Shepard Remix) – Morgan Page

Find more here:
Morgan Page Soundcloud
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Morgan Page Facebook
Nima Nesta Soundcloud
Nima Nesta Facebook
Nima Nesta Twitter