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Windscape Review: A Fun Throwback That Leans Too Heavily Into Nostalgia

Windscape is a first-person single-player adventure game that is unashamedly nostalgic, boasting a throwback style to the likes of titles like The Legend of ZeldaGolden Axe Warrior and Secret of Mana (Dennis Witte, who developed Windscape, lists these as his childhood favorite games). In this day and age of gaming, this is not exactly a bold move for a developer to make, as the indie market is heavily saturated with titles looking to draw in gamers who are longing for the past. Luckily, Windscape is both fun and well-made, though its reliance on nostalgia stops it from ever carving out its own unique path.

In Windscape, players step into the role of Ida and start the game on her farm where she lives with her parents. After a few tutorial quests that help lay out Windscape‘s movement and crafting systems (which boils down to finding the right ingredients and combining them at the appropriate station), the open world will become available (along with other quests). It all plays out like other adventure RPG titles, but the game’s laid back approach, which seemingly encourages players to focus more on exploring than worrying about any sort of grand quest line, is Windscape‘s real strength. It’s also the first real noticeable influence that Witte’s childhood favorites have on the game.

Related: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review – A Brutally Difficult Masterpiece

The combat in Windscape is more akin to an Elder Scrolls title than something like The Legend of Zelda, with players hacking and slashing in a similar fashion with swords and shields, shooting enemies from afar with bows and arrows or using magical spells. It’s not exactly an in-depth or complex system and standard enemies are never all that complicated to take out with proper timing, but it works with what Windscape is going for in both terms of complexity and aesthetic. Still, on the surface, it’s a rather curious choice to mirror the game’s combat after Elder Scrolls, though there’s no denying the franchise’s impact on sandbox-like titles.

Quests in Windscape are fairly standard adventure RPG affair: delivery and fetch quests, crafting items for other NPCs and fighting bandits in some distant cave. Every once in a while you’ll come across a particularly tricky puzzle room or boss (this is where the game really embraces its The Legend of Zelda roots) that will really offer up a challenge if you’re not well equipped, but all-in-all, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome by learning the inherent patterns that Windscape holds its mobs to. There is a main quest line to follow, like most titles in the genre, but again, it’s designed in such a way that players will never feel rushed to complete it.

While the character models aren’t exactly pleasing to the eye, the world itself is beautifully crafted and structured. Building and town placement is logical enough to where players will never feel like they’re wandering aimlessly too long before getting to the next settlement. There are times when it’s a little hard to actually walk around and movement itself probably could have used a little more fine tuning to work better on steeper inclines (especially during combat) but it’s never really game-breaking.

Windscape has a lot going for it but throughout its rather short 10 to 15 hour run time (depending on play style) there’s a sense that it lacks its own identity. There’s a little The Legend of Zelda here, Elder Scrolls there and even a slight Minecraft feel with its visuals, but there’s little in the game that feels wholly original. Worse, the mechanics it does lift from other titles are not enhanced in any way, even though they’re obviously lovingly applied. And unlike a lot of its inspirations, Windscape doesn’t really pack a lot of replay value, as most quests aren’t enjoyable enough to be played more than once and it lacks difficulty levels.

Despite its failure to create an identity for itself, Windscape is still a charming and fun little throwback game that’s at least worth a trek through its colorful and danger-filled world. Witte’s love for retro adventure RPGs fuels the title and his love for those games is apparent throughout. It’s just a shame that Windscape leaned so hard into nostalgia instead of taking some risks and expanding on its intriguing sandbox setting.

More: Hidden Details In The Original Legend of Zelda Only Super Fans Notice

Windscape is available now on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC for $19.99. Screen Rant was provided an Xbox One copy for the purposes of this review.


2019-03-28 01:03:22

Corey Hoffmeyer

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween Review – A Pretty Slappy Sequel

Goosebumps 2 lacks the charm and inventiveness of its predecessor, but still has a reasonable amount of spoopy entertainment value to offer.

R.L. Stine’s beloved 1990s children’s horror book series makes its way back to the big screen in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, a sequel to the live-action film adaptation of Stine’s novels that came out in 2015. While Jack Black starred as a fictional version of Stine in that movie, Sony didn’t even confirm the actor’s return for the followup until a few weeks before its release. Similarly, neither the director, writer, nor supporting cast of the (generally well-received) first Goosebumps film worked on the second installment. While Haunted Halloween certainly suffers for it, the sequel isn’t an entirely hollow continuation of the franchise either. Goosebumps 2 lacks the charm and inventiveness of its predecessor, but still has a reasonable amount of spoopy entertainment value to offer.

Goosebumps 2 picks up in the small town of Wardenclyffe, New York, as its residents prepare for the fast-approaching Halloween Night festivities. Meanwhile, in the Quinn household, high school senior Sarah (Madison Iseman) is trying to finish her college application and her younger brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is struggling with his science class project – a miniature replica of an experimental wireless transmission station in Wardenclyffe that was built and designed by Nikola Tesla, but never finished (aka. the Tesla Tower). The Quinns are joined by Sonny’s best friend Sam Carter (Caleel Harris), who is staying over at their house while his parents are away for the Halloween holiday.

After some prodding from Sam, Sonny agrees to take a break from his project and clear out an abandoned local house, as part of the duo’s ongoing efforts to launch a (successful) junk cleanup business. While there, however, the pair stumble upon an incomplete manuscript for a Goosebumps novel, unaware that the building was once owned by R.L. Stine himself. Not knowing any better, Sam and Sonny unlock the book and inadvertently unleash the Goosebumps villain Slappy the Dummy back into the real world. While the living ventriloquist dummy seems (sorta) friendly at first, it’s not long before he reveals his true evil plan, with only Sam, Sonny and Sarah to stand in his way.

If the original Goosebumps movie was a throwback to the popular family-friendly spooky adventures of the 1990s (think Hocus Pocus), then Haunted Halloween is closer to being the 2018 equivalent of a direct-to cable scary movie for kids from the ’90s – that is, noticeably cheaper and more generic, yet otherwise harmless and playful in its own right. The Goosebumps 2 script by Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit) likewise carries over the first movie’s imaginative premise and conceit (e.g. Stine’s Goosebumps novel manuscripts are really enchanted objects which contain and prevent his “demons” from entering the real world) and includes references to its story, yet never really tries to build on its concepts, much less its themes and lore. Instead, Haunted Halloween offers helpful, if unchallenging, life lessons for kids and a serviceable narrative that doesn’t exactly push the envelope for the larger Goosebumps brand.

At the same time, Goosebumps 2 is perhaps more successful than its predecessor when it comes to being genuinely menacing and scary for the juice box crowd, yet still light-hearted enough to avoid traumatizing them (hence, “spoopy”). Much of the credit for that goes to director Ari Sandel (The DUFF), who does a commendable job of combining suspenseful and creepy storytelling with comedic moments here, much like Stine did so well in his original Goosebumps novels. Haunted Halloween, as indicated earlier, feels like a lower-budgeted affair than the first Goosebumps, yet Sandel and his creative team – including, DP Barry Peterson (Game Night) and production designer Rusty Smith (Get Out) – still manage to deliver a movie that’s a proper cut above a comparable TV film, in terms of overall craftsmanship. That also goes for the CGI and creature effects in the sequel’s first half (more on the second half later).

The actual setting of Haunted Halloween is mostly populated by stock types, be they the film’s young heroes or the local bullies that Sonny and Sam have to deal with (not to mention, Sarah’s dishonest would-be boyfriend). While their characters are fairly two-dimensional in the Goosebumps sequel, Harris, Iseman and Ray nevertheless have the same affable screen presence that’s allowed them to stand out in films and TV shows past and, thus, make their protagonists all the easier to root for. That also goes for the adult supporting players here, as Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs) and Ken Jeong (Community) mostly channel their famous small screen personas as Sarah and Sonny’s adorkable mother Kathy and their eccentric neighbor Mr. Chu, respectively. As for Black as R.L. Stine: his own role in Goosebumps 2 is pretty superfluous, which is disappointing considering the energy that he brought to the proceedings as the first Goosebumps‘ co-protagonist (not to mention, his vocal performance as Slappy, which Black didn’t reprise in the sequel).

All in all, Haunted Halloween is a passable if derivative sequel – but not because the Goosebumps books themselves are incapable of sustaining multiple films. Rather, the problem is that the sequel recycles too much from the first movie and struggles to make creative use of the fresh elements (like the real-world Tesla Tower) that it brings into the mix here. It’s too bad, seeing as Goosebumps 2 had a wealth of different monsters and horror genres in Stine’s source novels to draw from, yet elected to continue simplifying the author’s mythology by making Slappy the big bad (again) and skimping on giving the other creatures much in the way of personality. As a result, the second half of the movie plays out as a watered down version of what happened in the original Goosebumps, albeit with lower production values and emotional impact.

Still, Goosebumps 2 should go over best with its young target demographic and provide them with enough silly scares and fun adventure to keep them engaged for its brisk runtime. Moreover, much like your average comic book movie these days, Haunted Halloween delivers its fair share of Goosebumps easter eggs and nods to the real Stine’s source material (right down to a Stan Lee-esque cameo from Stine himself), to further serve the property’s youngest fans. As for those who prefer their family-friendly fantasies with Jack Black starring front and center – The House with a Clock in Its Walls is still playing in theaters and ought to fulfill your own needs for some spoopy entertainment this Halloween season.

TRAILER

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween begins playing in U.S. theaters on Thursday evening, October 11. It is 90 minutes long and is rated PG for scary creature action and images, some thematic elements, rude humor and language.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!



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2018-10-10 01:10:58 – Sandy Schaefer

Zoe Saldana Teases Her Return As Gamora On Avengers 4 Set

Zoe Saldana teases her return as Gamora in Avengers 4. Even before reshoots for the Phase 3 capper began, the actress already let it slip that she’d be back as Gamora, despite her fate in Avengers: Infinity War. However, it wasn’t until now that fans finally learned that she’s partaking in the scheduled reshoots that will serve to wrap-up the blockbuster sequel.

One of the most integral relationships in Infinity War was that of Gamora and Thanos, who were finally reunited for the first time following the former joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite what his adopted daughter thought of him, it turns out that the intergalactic villain did love Gamora, which helped make the Mad Titan compelling to viewers. With his goal of balancing the universe now fulfilled, Thanos is enjoying retirement, but with the surviving heroes gearing up to avenge the universe following the galactic genocide, the original Avengers may have one more ally to help them take down Thanos, in the form of Gamora.

Related: Bradley Cooper Defends the Thanos Snap: He Has a Point

Taking to Instagram, Saldana posted an image of her getting prepped to reprise the Gamora role for Avengers 4. The caption may have indicated “flashback,” but it could very well be in reference to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” which lyrics she used in the caption. Additionally, actress Karen Gillan (Gamora’s sister Nebula) also added an Instagram story of her being made-up, using it to announce her last day on set. While some wondered if Saldana’s post might have been a throwback to a prior shoot, the fact that Gillan was on set at the same time lends credence to Saldana’s image being new. Check out Saldana and Gillan’s posts below.

While it’s no secret that Avengers 4 will bring back characters who were dead by the end of Infinity War, resurrecting Gamora will be a bit trickier compared to those who were affected by Thanos’ snap. Instead of being turned to dust, the character was thrown off a cliff, as her life was sacrificed in exchange for the Mad Titan to get the Soul Stone. Of course, since fans don’t really know much about how exactly the exchange works – with a young Gamora seemingly reunited with Thanos in the Soul World – there’s a possibility that she was just trapped in the alternate dimension like some popular theories claim. That said, Marvel Studios would have to craft a solid explanation if they decide to revive her, so as not to cheapen the impact of her emotional death in Avengers 3.

Otherwise, Gamora can appear in Avengers 4 in flashbacks or via time travel. Loki, who also died differently from those who were snapped out of existence, looks likely to make a return in the still-untitled sequel, after leaked set images made their way online last year. His involvement, however, is believed to be limited to flashbacks, as the film revisits the Battle of New York, which he was an integral part of. Considering Gamora’s large part in Thanos’ history, not to mention the fact that Nebula is still around, the sisters’ relationship with their adoptive father could be further explored, and might even factor into the villain’s defeat.

More: Loki’s TV Show Means His Infinity War Death Should Be Undone

Sources: Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan





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2018-10-09 06:10:17 – Ana Dumaraog

Leather-Jacket Superboy Finally Returning To DC

Conner Kent, the original Superboy from the 1990s is finally returning to DC Comics, and his leather jacket look is getting even more punk rock when he does. The costume may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the long-awaited return of the “true” Superboy to an entire generation is absolutely good news.

The return of Conner Kent, a.k.a. Kon-El, a.k.a. “The Metropolis Kid” is more than just a throwback to the famous Death and Return of Superman era of DC Comics. Superboy’s reboot and return to DC continuity was announced during New York Comic Con, but he’ll be making his return under a new imprint – and with his best friends Bart Allen and Tim Drake at his side.

RELATED: DC’s New Robin is More Violent Than DCEU Batman

Conner is expected to return in January, with the trio of Young Justice stars just a handful of the larger roster of younger DC heroes being relaunched as part of Wonder Comics, a new imprint overseen by Brian Michael Bendis and targeting teenage comic readers. And with a new take on Bart, Conner, and Tim, new costumes are in order, courtesy of Patrick Gleason:

As the official designs released by DC show, Gleason isn’t straying too far from the original – some might even say dated – costume cooked up by his creators, Karl Kesel Tom Grummett back in 1993. But then, one person’s idea of outdated is someone else’s nostalgia, and the same rules applies to all three heroes included. We’ll reserve judgement until we hear the explanation for Conner’s shoulder spikes, sunglasses, Superman patches, and Solo-style hip holster in the comics themselves. What these designs will force fans to ask more than anything is how this new Young Justice will be worked into the existing canon.

DC has been dropping more and more hints about a possible return of Conner Kent’s Superboy, ever since the beginning of Rebirth started to rewrite the changes made with the launch of the New 52. When the old and new versions of Superman merged into the current version, his memories of the “Rise of The Supermen” came fading back into canon… but with Superboy nowhere to be seen. Will the launch of Wonder Comics and this new Young Justice begin to tell that story of DC canon being restored once more?

For now we would advise fans hold off on getting their hopes up. While this Superboy is featured in the Wonder Comics announcement artwork by Jamal Campbell, the cirumstances of his reintroduction are as vague as the heroes surrounding him. And Dan DiDio’s explanation of their return during a NYCC panel – alongside Bendis – implied a larger, in-the-works story may not have been the plan at all:

People have been asking for them over and over again… But we don’t want to bring them back and have nothing to do with them. It wasn’t until Brian came back and said he wanted to do Young Justice that we decided it was time to bring them back.

The confusion isn’t a sign of quality at this point, since there are likely to be just as many fans who would want a fresh start for this Superboy redux as a return of Superman’s successor (especially with Superman’s son Jonathan acting as current Superboy). And is the Bart Allen beside him the same Impulse who returned from the Speed Force in Flash War?

What lies ahead for the future of Conner Kent, Young Justice, and the rest of the Wonder Comics books has yet to be revealed. But rest assured, we’ll keep fans updated as more official details are released.

Superboy is expected to make his Wonder Comics return in January 2019.

MORE: Superboy Conner Kent Returns From a Dark Future

Source: DC Comics



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2018-10-06 09:10:26 – Andrew Dyce

Awesome New Hell Fest Trailer is a Throwback to 1980s Slasher Films

The final trailer for the upcoming slasher film Hell Fest has been released, with a retro style that brings back the vibe of slasher films from the 1980s. It’s fair to say that Halloween season has officially begun, with events like Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights in full swing, and a couple of horror films to be released in the coming weeks, starting with CBS Films’ Hell Fest.

Directed by Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension), Hell Fest follows college student Natalie (Amy Forsyth), her best friend Brooke (Reign Edwards), and her roommate Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus) as they take a trip to Hell Fest, a traveling Halloween carnival with mazes, rides, and more. Things take a turn when the group finds themselves running from a costumed killer, who’s definitely not part of the show. Hell Fest falls into the slasher subgenre, and the studio decided to pay homage to classic slashers from the ’80s in its final trailer.

Related: Hell Fest Red Band Trailer

From the logos at the very beginning, to the narrator and the filters, this Hell Fest trailer (released by CBS Films) is done in the style of a horror film from the ‘80s, with a heavy grindhouse-style vibe. Following this line, the trailer highlights the gory aspects of the film, as well as the chase by the masked killer, with the tagline “visit a park where the monsters are fake, but the terror is real”. Check it out below.

The slasher subgenre had its peak in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, with films such as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and experienced a brief resurgence in popularity in the late-’90s, thanks to films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. In the years since, slashers have never fully gone away, but have yet to hit another major comeback period. Hell Fest has some horror experts on its team: although it’s only Plotkin’s second feature film as director, he has other experience in the horror genre having served as editor on films like Get Out and Happy Death Day. The script was penned by Seth M. Sherwood (Leatherface), Stephen Susco (The Grudge), and Akela Cooper (American Horror Story), with Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) as a producer.

The popularity of haunted house mazes and other scary Halloween attractions has only increased in recent years, thanks in part to mazes that push boundaries to extremes and offer full-horror experiences, safer experiences such as Halloween Horror Nights, and films like The Houses October Built. It’s definitely not a bad time for a wide release film set in these type of seasonal attractions. Hopefully, Hell Fest will offer more than gory deaths and horror clichés, and will earn a place among the top tier of slasher cinema.

More: 2018 Fall Movie Preview: The 30 Films To See

Source: CBS Films



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2018-09-25 08:09:16 – Adrienne Tyler

Spider-Man PS4 Has a Cool Throwback to Classic Spider-Man 2 Game

A collectible item in Spider-Man PS4 pays tribute to one of the more infamous side-quests from the Spider-Man 2 video game. While the new game is packed with a number of Easter Eggs and references to Spider-Man and his history in multiple media, this particular nod may be the most obscure one yet.

It would be a vast understatement to say that Spider-Man PS4 is one of the most highly anticipated video games of 2018. Spider-Fans everywhere were buying into the hype, even before the first gameplay trailer was revealed at E3 2017. Rather than tying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the world of Spider-Man PS4 presents a more experienced Spider-Man, with a Peter Parker who has been a superhero for eight years. While the main story of the game has been kept under-wraps, it was known that it would feature an open game world and multiple villains from the original comics.

Related: Spider-Man PS4 Includes A Surprise Marvel Cameo

Dorkly’s Tristan Cooper reported on the Spider-Man 2 nod via his personal Twitter account. In a Tweet, which can be viewed below, Cooper noted that one of the collectible items you can pick up in Spider-Man PS4 is a drawing of Spider-Man that a young boy drew for him, after Spidey retrieved the boy’s balloon. To Cooper, this seemed to be a clear nod to a recurring side-quest from the Spider-Man 2 game, where Spider-Man might encounter a child who just lost their balloon while out on patrol, and would have to race to retrieve it before the wind took it out of reach.

Originally released in 2004 for the XBox and Playstation 2, the Spider-Man 2 video game was loosely based on the plot of the Spider-Man 2 movie, and featured voice acting by Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and Alfred Molina as they reprised their roles as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson and Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. What set the game apart from other superhero movie adaptations, however, was the development of a story beyond the plot of the movie, and the introduction of other characters from the Spider-Man comics, including Black Cat, The Shocker and Mysterio. That alone might have been enough to win over comics fans, but it was the world of the game – based around an incredibly accurate digital model of Manhattan – and the intuitive gameplay that made it a hit with serious gamers as well.

A player could spend hours just swinging around the game world, stopping random robberies and purse-snatchings. They could also transport injured people to the hospital when traffic-jams were blocking the ambulances from getting to them, and recover the lost balloons of crying children. To this day Spider-Man 2 is considered by many to be one of the best video games of all time, and certainly one of the best Spider-Man games ever made. The early previews of Spider-Man PS4 suggested that it would be following in Spider-Man 2‘s wall-crawling steps, offering fans a chance to “do whatever a Spider can” while exploring the city as their Spider-Sense alerted them of people in need. By most accounts, they’ve succeeded admirably, presenting the same basic idea with enhanced graphics, gameplay mechanics, and collectibles.

More: Here’s EVERY Unlockable Suit In Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 Game

Source: Tristan Cooper





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2018-09-09 01:09:24 – Matt Morrison