Tag Archives: Steam

Dark Light – Early Access Review

Dark Light, a new game from developer Mirari&Co, was released into early access last month. With the prospect of a future console release on the Nintendo Switch and numerous content updates ahead of it, I was very interested to take look into this title and see if Dark Light had set off on it’s perilous early access journey to a promising start or whether, unfortunately, there is still a long way to go.

It’s dangerous to go alone


Dark Light transports players to a brutal yet beautiful cyberpunk world. Set after a reality-warping apocalyptic event which sent the remnants of humanity scurrying to hide underground, the player is tasked with suiting up and venturing outside to explore a dangerous world of distorted city ruins, maze-like sewer systems and hellish industrial zones.

From a visual standpoint, it’s safe to say that Dark Light is breath-taking. Every facet of the world around you positively exudes an overriding atmosphere of decay. Despite being presented from a side-on 2D perspective the environments you explore have a real feeling of depth, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of a detailed foreground which accompany the intricate backdrop sprites. Although the colour scheme may be a little drab, being comprised mainly of muddy greys and dark greens, the use of bright neon lighting throughout the otherwise dark levels helps add a nice splash of colour and throughout my playtime I often found myself stopping to soak in just how gorgeous some of my surroundings really were.

You aren’t just left to explore these lavish environments alone either, throughout the game you are accompanied by a friendly drone which, in addition to serving as vessel for the game’s tutorial, assists you by providing useful information and illuminating the path ahead through its built-in torch. The further you progress in the game, the darker environments become and the more you begin to understand the importance of this solitary light source. Some of the more powerful late game enemies are even wholly invisible outside its rays.

Dark(er) souls


The majority of gameplay in Dark Light follows a consistent gameplay loop. Starting with a basic pistol and sword, you are left to explore the map, killing enemies as you go to shards and new gear. These shards are used back at the starting area to upgrade your energy and life force. Increasing your life force allows you to take more hits before going down with energy acting more like a traditional stamina system being slowly depleted when you use your attacks or abilities. Exploring is quite the challenge however and with your earned shards being immediately lost upon death it’s worth thinking twice before heading out. Luckily there are frequent “portals” which allowing the player to save or fast travel at the cost of respawning enemies, similar to the famous bonfire save points of Dark Souls.

This creates a great feeling of danger and suspense while you’re exploring, with the player constantly having to balance the risk of losing what they have earned so far with the potential rewards of the higher-level enemies which are more frequent further away from the starting area. Combat itself is enjoyable and intense, with the player juggling between dodge rolls, firearm attacks, close-range sword strikes and useful throwables like grenades or turrets. Attacks look smooth with very satisfying animations and the wide variety of available weapons, most of which substantially altering the flow of combat, helps keep the combat mechanics from becoming stale after long periods of play.

From shambling zombie-like beings controlled by strange parasites, fleshy mutants to the devastating boss fights this wide variety of weapons is accompanied by a wide variety of things to use them against. The gory death animations combined with the on-screen damage indication give fights a visceral edge and the satisfying burst of shiny collectibles spewn by corpses provide a satisfying conclusion to combat which is sure to leave eagerly anticipating your next fight. I am also glad to report that whilst each area’s final boss fight provides a monumental challenge they still manage to feel like a good test of the player’s skill rather than anything cheap or overtly unfair.

In addition to combat, gameplay also includes elements of light platforming. Although Dark Light‘s system of using double-jumps and rolls to hop between vertical or horizontally placed platforms is nothing ground-breaking, it is certainly well done and helps provide an additional challenge for players to master. As in fights, platforming is for the most part fluid and well animated with the exception of the rope-climbing animation – which unfortunately stood out due to its unnatural stiffness.

Left in the dark


On the subject of unnatural stiffness, some lines dialogue and item descriptions contain small grammatical errors or odd wording choices which break both the player’s immersion in the game world and the flow of dialogue. Similarly flow-breaking is the game’s music. Despite what music there is being of great quality and notably complements the overall atmosphere well, the frequent looping of the music and general lack of variety in the tracks lends itself to a feeling more droning and monotonous than particularly atmospheric.

There is also an issue regarding the game’s short length. Containing a good selection of weapons and enemies but only a handful of areas and end-bosses the complete package from start-to-finish took me around four hours to complete, including the time taken to complete some additional level grinding to help me more easily tackle some of the harder bosses. Considering how much I enjoyed my playtime; I was quite sad to see it end just when I was truly getting into the flow of the mechanics so a good few hours more gameplay would certainly be appreciated.

Verdict:


With a stunning art-direction, exciting combat mechanics and solid platforming it’s easy to get lost in the world of Dark Light. Promisingly for an early-access title all the apparent issues, at the time of writing at least, are easy to remedy. The developer has already committed to introducing new areas and bosses to pad out the runtime and the game is already frequently receiving substantial quality of life updates. Dark Light successfully captures the most important elements of the souls-like and metroid-vania genres whilst introducing just the right number of new elements to create an experience that is in equal parts pleasingly familiar and excitingly original. If you’re a fan of either genre, Dark Light is certainly one to pick up now or, at the very least, keep a good eye on until release.


Just so you’re aware! In order to facilitate a review this product was given to our organisation free of charge.

PC-gaming: A newcomer’s guide to keep you busy in isolation

In these unprecedented times, it seems that almost every aspect of our lives is subject to near-constant uncertainty and change. There seems to be only one thing we can be truly certain of; for the coming weeks the vast majority of us are about to be spending a lot more of our time safely stowed indoors. Without access to the outside world, and much more free time, most of us are now struggling to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained.

The obvious solution is to incorporate video-games into our daily routines. Games provide essential mental stimulation which can keep your brain in gear over this period of prolonged inactivity, they can be of great educational value and even allow you to socialise with others in a fulfilling way which importantly runs no risk of breaking social distancing guidelines.

This guide aims to help make the wonderful world of PC video-games open to everyone and by following these simple steps you should be able to game like a pro in no time!

1. Find out which games you want to play

There are a huge variety of games available from countless genres. Although this may seem overwhelming at first, a quick web search can show you a long list of games per genre and below we have listed some of the more popular types of game to get you started.

Just a side note: for users who only have access to a laptop computer with a track-pad, I would highly recommend investing in a cheap USB mouse if you do not already have one. Most games simply require more precise control than what is offered by most track-pads.

Once you have a list of a few titles you want to try or even just a rough idea of the type of games you want to play, you can move on to the next step.

2. Check which games you can run

It’s a common misconception that you need a purpose built “gaming PC” to play any games. Although some gamers opt to build a customised computer from scratch, most mid-range systems bought directly from a high-street retailer are surprisingly powerful nowadays, and can play a decent range of titles out of the box.

The ‘Can you run it‘ tool from System Requirements Lab is an excellent resource in finding which games you can run on your machine, potentially saving you money on a wasted purchase. Users simply type the name of the game they want to play in the search bar and hit enter. After following the on-screen instructions you are told if your computer meets the “minimum” or “recommended” requirements.

Where you meet the “recommended” spec for a game, you can expect buttery smooth performance at the highest graphical settings. On the other hand, meeting only the “minimum” shows that you can run the game, but it may need some in-game options tweaking to run smoothly. Where you don’t meet either the “minimum” or “recommended” requirements, it’s unlikely the game will run properly, so it’s best to stay away!

If you’re having no luck and can’t meet the required specification for any of your selected titles, below we have some examples of popular games which are optimised to run on particularly low-spec machines. If any of these catch your eye, you can do a quick online search to find their official sites to find out more.

3. Download launchers and buy your games

Most games need a “launcher”; a unified hub which allows you to buy and run your games, collect achievements to monitor your progress and interact with other users over social features. The most popular video-game launcher is Steam, although there are alternatives such as Uplay, Origin, Battle.net and the Epic Games Store. Each launcher offers a slightly different experience and selection of games, although most carry similar basic features it is still worth checking whether the game you want is locked to a specific launcher to avoid wasting time downloading unnecessary programs.

All launchers require individual accounts, and it’s worth trying to make these accounts as secure as possible. Follow password length recommendations and make sure your accounts are tied to a secure email so that you can recover if necessary.

Once you have your launcher set up, you can navigate through digital storefronts and finally start buying your games!

4. Try free titles and look for giveaways

If you’re not keen on spending any money on games, the online gaming retailer GOG is generously offering a selection of classic games for free specifically to be enjoyed by individuals who are in isolation! Alternatively, you can keep your eye out for other free giveaways through the freegames subreddit; an online forum where users keep each other up to date on current game giveaways.

GOG’s selection of free games

If you’re willing to spend a little bit of cash, you can follow our up-to-date guide on how to find the very best deals on your games.

5. Above all else follow NHS advice – stay at home, save lives

Although for some it may feel like it, being told to stay at home is not a holiday. Be responsible and remember to check the changing NHS guidelines.

For your own well-being and the well-being of others, always follow the current government advice.

This advice was accurate as of 29/03/2020.

Arcadeberry.com is not responsible for the content of external sites. Follow links at your own risk.

How to find the very best deals on games without harming devs

We all love a good bargain, but recent controversies surrounding the negative impacts of third-party key reselling sites like G2A have prompted us to take another look at our collective buying habits. Luckily, we’ve assembled this handy little guide to try and help you buy a little better – but still find a good deal.

What’s the big deal?


The issues surrounding key re-sellers first came to the gaming community’s attention in July of last year, when many independent game developers took to Twitter and implored players to “pirate our games rather than buy from G2A”.

It’s a bold statement, but what exactly do devs find so deeply offensive about key sites like G2A that they would rather you simply steal the products of their hard work? Firstly, when you buy a game from a key reselling site you’re usually buying from another user rather than a publisher or developer. For smaller teams who may be struggling with large overheads or the development costs associated with maintaining a game, this can deprive them of the income they depend on to survive.

Secondly, buying from these sites can often actively cost developers money. Although in an ideal world, there would be nothing wrong with someone selling on a few keys they bought by accident, this is very rarely the case. Often, the shockingly cheap prices you see on sites like G2A are the result of credit card fraud, where criminals have bulk bought keys with stolen credit cards. When the fraudulent transaction is inevitably detected and reversed, it sometimes falls upon the developer to cover the fees. In this situation, everybody loses out. The developer loses money and you are likely to lose your game (even if it has already been redeemed) if the key is deactivated.

With this in mind, it seems common sense to want to try and source your cheap games in a manner which doesn’t harm anyone. You can do this by following any of the steps below.

Buy from the developer directly:


Although it isn’t a very well-known fact, many developers operate their own online stores. These often sell both physical and Steam copies of games. Above you can see an example screenshot form IO Interactive‘s online store which allows you to purchase any of their titles as Steam keys directly from them. Unlike buying from the Steam storefront, buying directly means that developers receive a considerable amount more money, as it does not include the 25-30% cut taken by Steam.

Developer’s own stores are also likely to hold their own promotions, independent of Steam sale times. It only takes a couple of seconds to track down a dev’s online store and it helps you give more to the companies you want to support – whilst potentially saving you a pretty penny in the process.

Use isthereanydeal to find bargains on approved sites:


Alternatively, isthereanydeal.com is an invaluable resource for any bargain hunters. It allows you to search directly for the titles you want and compares a variety of approved sites which it ensures source their keys directly from developers. It also alerts you to the presence of the games available in bundles on incredible sites like Fanatical or Humble Bundle, the latter of which even helps those in need by donating a portion of what you pay to charity.

Scour the web for coupon codes – or just use Honey instead:


Honey is a free browser extension which automatically compares and applies coupon codes on sites where they are available. This is a great tool when used in conjunction with isthereanydeal, and helps you knock a few pennies (and even sometimes a few pounds) off the price of your purchase.

Alternatively, there are numerous websites and forums available online which allow users to exchange and share active coupon codes which you can input manually at the checkout.

If all else fails, wishlist your games on Steam to be informed of sales:


If you follow all of these steps and still can’t find a good deal on your games, you can always make use of the Steam wishlist feature. By clicking the “Add to your wishlist button” on the game’s Steam store page, you will be automatically informed whenever the game goes on sale.

Steamprices.com is a handy site which allows you to look at the Steam price history of any game, so you can get a rough idea of how much it is likely to cost you in a sale. Even though it may cost you a little more, buying ethically is important. Next time you see the game you want for £40 below retail price on sites like G2A, try to stop and think about whether you want to harm and industry you love.

Flashing Lights – Early Access Review

Flashing Lights is an open-world emergency services simulator from solo Latvian developer Nils Jakrins. With the ambitious goal of offering not just one, but three fully fleshed-out simulators in one neat inter-connected multiplayer package can Flashing Lights provide an experience a cut above its competitors in the genre, or is the almost £12 asking price highway robbery?

Jack of all trades:


One of the most compelling draws of Flashing Lights is its versatility. As the game’s subtitle indicates: “Police, Firefighting, Emergency Services Simulator”, Flashing Lights isn’t just a police simulator. Rather, it offers players the opportunity to dip into the roles of a police officer, firefighter or medic and experience a whole new set of scenarios whilst trying to master a whole new set of skills.

The open world design helps make switching roles a breeze. You start the game with the option to start in the service of your wish, but from then on changing jobs is as simple as walking into the relevant building and hitting a convenient button. The online aspect of the game has different services interacting with one another, and this in conjunction with the plethora of mission scenarios that are selected at random and presented as calls for you to respond to, which helps keep things refreshingly different each time you play.

Crime and punishments:


Playing as a police officer in Flashing Lights is functionally what you would likely expect going in to any typical police simulation. Once you have created your character and chosen a your preferred vehicle, each with subtly different functions and aesthetics, you’re thrust into an open world town.

You can patrol by foot or car, looking out for erratic drivers to stop or waiting to respond to calls. Each call is entirely optional, handy as they are frequently repeated, and cover a wide variety of scenarios. From pursuing a speeding driver to a tense shootout with armed robbers Flashing Lights lets you simulate a wide range of plausible scenarios. You can approach the scenarios in any way you see fit, and have quite a few tools at your disposal.

Whether you want to professionally and calmly resolve a violent situation in a non-lethal manner by tazing and arresting wrongdoers or, in what some would argue is a more accurate depiction of the American police force, just simply mow down everything that moves with a shotgun – your specific play style is catered to.

It is worth noting however that good conduct is rewarded with reputation points which serve to fill a reputation meter in the top left of the screen. Conversely, bad behaviour causes points to be deducted. Whilst I haven’t suffered any repercussions for letting my reputation drop too low, it provides a nice incentive for those of us who like a score challenge.

Fire and rescue:


The game-play for the fire route is very similar, also centred around free-roaming and responding to calls. Of course, the equipment on offer for someone playing as a firefighter is very different from that of a police officer and the scenarios you tackle are based around extinguishing fires rather than catching criminals. In addition to tackling various types of building fire, you’re faced with vehicles collisions and of course rescuing house cats from trees.

The firefighter game-play is the most vehicle focused of the three, requiring mastery of various types of unwieldy fire-engine. Unfortunately, these vehicles are often a little too hard to control to be enjoyable. Whilst the engine’s various features, like ladders or hoses, are fairly intuitive, actually driving to a call-out is an absolute nightmare with plenty of winding rural roads and steep hills to get stuck on.

You are given the option to drive a small fire car but, unless you’re in a game with other players driving the large vehicles for you, it is woefully under-equipped. Although they may be annoying to drive, the fire vehicles stand out as particularly well modelled; displaying many small moving parts and little delightful details.

The doctor will see you now:


The medical simulation was a very pleasant surprise. Although it still has a foundation in the same call-based core game-play, a lot of effort has clearly gone into the individual scenarios which house the titles’ most dramatic and challenging game-play shift.

With a wide variety of medical equipment at your disposal, it’s your job to successfully diagnose and offer first response treatment to patients. Examining limbs, applying a neck brace or bandage while frantically running between your car and your patient for equipment is an awful lot of fun.

Unfortunately, the medical route is more linear by nature, with one correct “solution” for each scenario which causes it to suffer a lot in the replayability department. With little in the way of progression or an unlocking system present in the game yet, it’s quite hard to justify continuing to play as a medic once you have seen every situation the path has to offers.

Luckily, the games’ frequent updates are adding more and more scenarios and game-play features which should help to the great number of different mission required to rectify this in future.

A long way to go:


“In future” is really the core takeaway from Flashing Lights in its current early access state. The game manages to only just justify its current asking price by the sheer variety of simulation it offers and as a result has a surprisingly active community – with servers that are frequently packed – but things still feel very bare-bones. From the floaty vehicle handling to the visuals that can be described as “choppy” at bests, there’s a lot to improve.

Pleasingly, the developer is doing an admirable job keeping the game up to date, offering frequent Steam blog posts and even a content road-map. If you’re a die-hard emergency simulator fan, there’s a lot of to like in Flashing Lights and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it even in its current state. For the average player however, it might be best just to hold off a little longer and wait until the game has a few of its creases ironed out.

Want to pick up your own copy of Flashing Lights? You can click the link below to reach the store page.


Just so you’re aware! To aid this review a copy of  Flashing Lights was provided free of charge by Excalibur Games.

How to download and set custom Steam game covers

If you’re like me you absolutely loved the new Steam UI overhaul.With games presented like boxes sleekly displayed on a Blockbuster rental shelf in the bygone days of yore, and a simple click pulling up slick new banner artwork and enhanced social statistics, the new game library is a perfect much needed modernisation of a previously antiquated system.

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In spite of the lovely new design however, some issues still persist. As outlined in this article, some games simply don’t have the required assets yet. Although Steam tries to make do with some auto generated placeholders, this lends itself to a library that looks stilted and uneven. Not to mention the fact that non-Steam games added to your library lack even these placeholders all together.

Luckily, the inclusion of a few key, and very much appreciated, features allows you to fix these annoying inconsistencies. Although it can be a bit of a faff, this simple guide aims to simplify and streamline the process as much as possible.


1: Head over to SteamGridDB and download your covers

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Much like the name would suggest, SteamGridDB is a site that aims to assist in customising your Steam games library (or grid). It contains a wide collection of user-made Steam game assets at your disposal. Some closely mirror their official counterparts, whilst others provide colourful alternatives if you want to give your library a bit of pizzazz.

Even fancier are the animated covers, which are saved in the aPNG (animated PNG) file format – effectively the PNG equivalent of a GIF – and can really help bring your favourite games to life. If you are downloading an aPNG cover the process is no different – so read on.


2: Download your required covers

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Type the title of the game you want to customise into the search bar and hit enter. This will pull up a selection of covers for you to browse. Pick whichever cover you like the best – although for best results we would recommend only using covers listed in the 600×900 resolution – and press the download button.

The cover should save as a simple four digit number. In the case of our Mirror’s Edge cover; “1553”.


3: Apply your selected cover

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Simply located and right click the existing cover you want to replace. Select “Manage” and then press “Set custom artwork”. This opens a windows dialogue box allowing you to choose a file. Navigate to your downloads folder and select the file you have just downloaded and just like that, you have a shiny new cover!

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This process can be used to customise as many games as you would like in your library, and even non-Steam games you have added as links.

Just one last thing to note is that any changes you make to your library artwork are sadly only stored locally. If you log in to Steam on another machine, or reset your operating system, you will lose all of your changes – so be careful!