The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: A Mysterious Review

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person, story-driven mystery game, developed by The Astronauts using the Unreal engine and was inspired by early 20th century macabre fiction pieces. Exploration and discovery are the core components of this non-combat game, and its story is delivered in a non-linear way. Here are Cyliena's spoiler-free impressions of the game!

The Long Dark: Early Access Impressions

The Long Dark is a survival simulation game, developed by Hinterland Studio, currently in Early Access alpha on Steam. Set in the Northern wilderness following the aftermath of a global disaster, you must seek out supplies, explore, brave dangers and more as you strive to survive.

Hinterland offered ZAM review codes to check out the game in this Early Access stage. Check out our impressions below, but keep in mind that they are from the alpha build of the game's sandbox mode and do not reflect the final build of the game.

Outland: Out Monday!

Outland was originally released three years ago on XBL and PSN. Developed by Housemarque (RESOGUN) and published by Ubisoft, the tribal platformer got good reviews. And now, Outland is finally coming to PC this Monday!

Does it stand up to current platformers?

Diving Deep: Journey Into The Sims 4

The Sims 4 released on the PC last week, nearly one year after it was first revealed. The lead-up to its release was a flurry of mixed emotions from longtime fans of the series; between concern over missing features (compared to Sims 1-3), the shift from an open world to single lot environment, the small introductory neighborhood size and more.

While I've certainly invested a lot of time into many other series such as EverQuest, Elder Scrolls and Civilization, the Sims franchise takes the cake for having devoted hundreds (or more *cough*) of my life to. I've been playing The Sims longer than any of my children have been alive (the eldest of which will be able to get his driver's permit next year). Let's just say my excitement for the announcement of The Sims 4 included many exclaimation points, and after my first 49 hours of playing it, I'm quite happy with the game, despite its spotty issues and omitted features.

This review is going to be extremely lengthy and touch on every aspect I've experienced thus far.

Monkey Tales: An Educational Experience

Monkey Tales is a series of educational games by Larian Studios, originally released in 2011 and repackaged together in a Steam release last week. Designed for ages 7 through 11, these games use an algorithm to establish your child's learning curve and ramp difficulty up or down to ensure a well-tailored learning experience.

I happen to have two children in this age range, and Larian Studios was kind enough to offer a review code for the game. My kids, in 2nd and 5th grade, gave the game a whirl and offered their insight on the experience.

A Haunting Weekend in Wayward Manor

Over the weekend, I spent some time liberating Wayward Manor of its fleshy inhabitants. The casual puzzle game, based on a tale and narrated by author Neil Gaiman, was released on July 15, 2014 to mixed reviews. While I enjoyed my time within developer The Odd Gentlemen's manor, completing a game within three hours can leave much to be desired.

WildStar Review: The Journey To Nexus

As a longtime fan of the MMORPG genre I have to admit that I’ve been pretty disappointed with the direction it’s been going as of late. A genre that once seemed chalk-full of life with mystery and adventure now seems to be just another convoluted cash grab by most companies these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for game developers making money (they do need to eat after all) but initially that meant creating a believable world where player’s paths crossed from chance encounters. Where fear meant exploring an underground labyrinth with a rag-tag team of adventurers and encountering the most challenging creatures you’ve ever faced. Worlds that weren’t afraid to call you out on all of your boasting and bragging and throw you center stage with some of the most difficult challenges you’ve ever seen, but then turn around and reward you for succeeding through all of it.

Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case. Now we live in a time where paying money to skip the journey and see the end is deemed acceptable. Where monsters should not be too difficult, because everyone needs to get a turn at the epic loot they’re guarding. And where, in most cases, games are afraid to tell the player “No” and have them work for things from time to time.

And then there's WildStar.

As a player who thoroughly enjoys every part of the “MMORPG experience”--whether that is Raiding, PvP, Crafting, Questing, Exploring or Socializing--very rarely has a game come along that takes every one of those points and gets them “right” in my eyes. However, WildStar does just that. It takes all of the parts you’ve come to know and love about the MMO genre and gives them to you tenfold. While the game doesn’t do everything completely new and innovative, what it does do, it does extremely well. From its fun yet challenging combat systems, to its in-depth and relevant crafting, to having one of the best player housing iterations we’ve seen in the genre, WildStar is an enjoyable reminder to MMO fans why we play MMOs.

Now with the game having officially launched as of June 3rd, I want to take the time to dive into each of the pieces that make up this vibrant sci-fi MMO and why I think you should check out Planet Nexus for yourself.

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn - PlayStation 4 Review

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn launched on the PlayStation 4 last week. I’ve been a long-time Final Fantasy RPG fan, but when it comes to the Final Fantasy MMOs I have only had done beta testing for both XIV 1.0 and A Realm Reborn. It’s been a while since I've played in Eorzea and I’ve been looking forward to checking it out on the PS4. Square Enix was kind enough to send over a copy of the game to review; here are my impressions of how it plays out so far on the console!

Black Gold Online Alpha Impressions

Black Gold Online is a steampunk/fantasy hybrid themed MMO from Snail Games. It's currently in the Alpha phase, and we've been assured that Snail is continuously evaluating player feedback to make improvements as development continues. I had some time over the weekend to check out the Alpha build and wanted to share my initial thoughts on the upcoming title.

FORCED: Tactical Arena Co-Op

If you log onto Steam today looking to pick up a new title, might I suggest that rather than wading through the steaming piles of mediocre games you instead just go straight to FORCED. It's not often that ZAM covers indie games, but we couldn't pass up this one.