Digital Blend: Ouya Kickstarter ends, Steam to offer software, DayZ goes standalone

digital blend ouya finishes its record breaking kickstarter at 8 59 millionCheck out our review of the Ouya Android-based gaming console.

Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best gaming values under $20.

Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.

Making headlines…

* PlayStation Vita owners have been asking a lot of questions lately about what the future holds. It’s an extremely promising piece of hardware, one that is already home to some standout games, but a limited E3 2012 presence and a generally quiet release calendar for the rest of this year is causing some very justifiable worry among early adopters. Sony president Shuhei Yoshida admitted outright in a recent interview that the company is having “a more difficult time than we had anticipated in terms of getting support from third-party publishers.” The hope right now is that this fall’s big third-party offerings — Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation — drums up more interest. Only time will tell.

digital blend the new ipad gdc 2012 and a sequel for flight control infinity blade dungeons announce* The dust continues to settle in the wake of 38 Studios’ closure, the Curt Schilling-run company behind Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and it’s now aborted MMO follow-up known only as Project Copernicus. When the developer first went bankrupt earlier this year, Epic Games quickly stepped in to snatch up the talents at Big Huge Games, the team responsible for the bulk of the work on Reckoning. This week, Epic confirmed that the former Big Huge is now Impossible Games under the Epic umbrella, and that the studio’s first game will be the mobile-based hack-and-slash RPG, Infinity Blade: Dungeons.

* Ouya finished its epic Kickstarter run this week, closing with $8.59 million pledged by backers in all. The figure, a site records, obliterates the $950,000 goal that was originally set. Now the real work on the Android console begins, with Ouya expected to start shipping to backers in March 2013. You can pre-order one for yourself now at the newly launched Ouya website, at the slightly increased price of $109, shipping included.

* Sony might be struggling to find third-party support for the PlayStation Vita, but first-party offerings seem to be doing just fine. This September, Media Molecule’s beloved PS3 platformer LittleBigPlanet will make its PS Vita debut. The pint-sized LBP is the work of two studios, Double Eleven and Tarsier. Ryan checked the game out earlier this week and wrote up a highly positive LittleBigPlanet preview.

dayz jumps from mod to standalone game full by boehmia interactive* The stunningly popular Arma 2 zombie apocalypse mod DayZ has gotten to be so big that it’s now officially due for a standalone release. Development will be handled by Arma 2 dev Bohemia Interactive, and the mod’s creator, Dean “Rocket” Hall, will serve as the project lead.  The mod will continue to live on in its current form, but the standalone game will offer a more focused experience, built specifically to support multiple types of zombies, an improved AI framework for those sorts of enemies, and much, much more. Hall stated clearly that Minecraft‘s release model is a big inspiration here; the game will be released in alpha form at a heavily discounted price, coming together over time through live stress testing and community feedback.

* Valve is one of the most forward-thinking companies out there. This week, the Steam overseer announced plans to expand its digital distribution service beyond just games and into the realm of pure “software.” Starting on September 5, Valve’s Steam service will expand to include “creativity and productivity” tools, with support for Steam Cloud, automatic updates, and all of the other cool convenience features that using the Steam client offers. 

Top buys for the week…

hybrid review a cover focused shooter gameplayHybrid :: XBLA :: 1,200 MS Points

Scribblenauts developer 5th Cell delivers an unusual take on the multiplayer shooter in Hybrid. The chief gameplay gimmick is centered around keeping players locked behind cover at almost all times. Each character can flit from cover point to cover point using a jetpack, but there’s none of the traditional free movement around the map that you would normally expect in a cover-based shooter. Hybrid is, unusually, a shooter that is built entirely around camping. Check out our review.

Call of Duty Arctic ReconCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Collection #3 :: XBLA :: 1,200 MS Points

The so-called “Chaos Pack” that is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3‘s Content Collection #3 may well be the most jam-packed DLC release yet for the 2011 game. There are three new maps for the small-team multiplayer mode Face Off (Intersection, U-Turn, and Vortex), four new Spec Ops missions (Arctic Recon, Vertigo, Special Delivery, and Light ‘Em Up), and the titular Chaos Mode. This new feature is an offshoot of the game’s Spec Ops Survival mode, pitting players against an infinite number of enemy waves and filling the map with an assortment of helpful pick-ups. The mode works with four of the game’s maps (Resistance, Village, Underground, and Dome) and is built around chaining kills and building a combo multiplier to earn high scores.

sound shapes review level beck 640Sound Shapes :: PSN :: $14.99

Once again: Sony might be having trouble with drumming up third-party interest in the PlayStation Vita, but we’re at least getting some exceptionally solid first-party content. Look no further than Queasy Games’ just-released Sound Shapes for proof. This is a music game but not a rhythm game. It’s a platformer in which you guide a small, rolling blob through a series of environments that are set to and built from music. In addition to the multiple level-based “albums” included for you to play through, there is also a full-featured level builder and sharing mechanic, offering near-infinite replay value. Check out our review.

UnmechanicalUnmechanical :: PC :: $9.99

Your time with Talawa Games’ Unmechanical will be short but memorable. This is a puzzle game with style, putting you in control of a hovering robot as it explores a fantastical tech-driven world. The puzzles are thoughtful and varied, the world is beautiful, and the experience, though short, is well worth having. Summer might be a quiet time of year for the AAA blockbuster releases, but games like Unmechanical give us plenty to occupy ourselves with during the warmer months.

Organ Trail :: iOS / Android :: $2.99

No, that title is not a typo. You know how our culture is currently caught in the grip of zombie fever? Well this new mobile title speaks directly to that. I’m not going to say anything else; I’ll instead let the trailer speak for itself.


Once the dust settles, 'Fallout 76' will be a nuclear wasteland worth exploring

The launch of Fallout 76 has been nothing short of apocalyptic, but that doesn’t mean the game is dead on arrival. Bethesda has a path forward, paved by The Elder Scrolls Online, another game that suffered a rocky start.

It's dangerous to go alone! Have fun with friends in our favorite co-op games

Video games don't always have to be so brutal, dog-eat-dog experiences! Here are some of our all-time favorite co-op games across a range of platforms, genres, and difficulties.

Joker from ‘Persona 5’ will take your heart in ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

Joker, the leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts from Persona 5, will arrive to Super Smash Bros. as its first DLC character. The announcement was a surprising one, because Persona 5 is a PlayStation 4 exclusive.

‘Magic: The Gathering’ enters esports relevance with $10 million prize pool

Wizards of the Coast is pushing Magic: The Gathering into esports relevance with a prize pool of $10 million across the tabletop version and Magic: The Gathering Arena. Will the game be able to compete with Hearthstone and Overwatch?

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for December 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles, as well as bundles that feature games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Get some bang for your buck with these Nintendo Switch console deals at Walmart

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the past, but you can still get some bang for your buck on game consoles before the holiday season is done. Walmart has various Nintendo Switch bundles on sale right now.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.

‘CS:GO’ goes free-to-play and players are not happy about it

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), has gone free-to-play this week in a controversial move. Players are angry that the problem of cheating will get much worse now that anyone can make a disposable account to play.

The most common Xbox One X problems, and how to fix them

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.

How to delete and reinstall games on your Xbox One

Removing and reinstalling games on the Xbox One's hard drive isn't difficult, but it's a process that not everyone is familiar with. Thankfully, our guide will run you through each step so you'll know precisely what to do.

‘Street Fighter V’ players will get bonuses if they allow in-game ads

Capcom will show in-game advertisements on Street Fighter V starting December 11. Players may choose to deactivate the ads, but they will miss out on some bonuses and content if they do so.

‘The Walking Dead: The Final Season’ returns with Episode 3 next month

Skybound Games revealed the release date for Episode 3: Broken Toys of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Clementine's story will be getting the ending that it deserves after all.

Take-Two Interactive takes down another ‘GTA Online’ modder, seeks $150K

Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a lawsuit against the GTA Online modder behind the software named Elusive. The publisher is continuing its crackdown against GTA Online mods.