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Digital Blend: The Last of Us demo news, The Cave is explored, and Dreamfall rises

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 out there for 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.

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Making headlines…

* Auroch Digital didn’t let the setback of Apple dropping the banhammer on Endgame: Syria derail its efforts for long. The world-conscious mobile game developer has now turned its attention to the ever-present threat of climate change with its latest release, Climate Defense. Built on the principles of tower defense play, Climate Defense tasks players with growing trees to diminish CO2 levels. It was completed in five days and can be downloaded right now on the Google Play store.

* Longtime Sierra composer Ken Allen has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support his plan for a new album of music inspired by his earlier work. This is a project that any PC gamer, past or present, over the age of 30 ought to be able to get behind. Just imagine what this music would sound like coming from a full orchestra.

* Fans have been waiting almost seven years now to see what’s next for Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. It was announced late last year that developer Red Thread Studios is working with Funcom on a follow-up, with creator Ragnar Tørnquist’s blessing and input leading things along. This week brought some new details about the in-development project, titled Dreamfall Chapters, as well as some early looks at the game.

The Last of UsThe Last of Us isn’t exactly Digital Blend material, but the demo for The Last of Us certainly is. Sony revealed this week that the March 12-releasing God of War: Ascension will also include an opportunity to give Naughty Dog’s latest effort a whirl.  The Last of Us isn’t out until May 7, 2013, but Ascension will include access to a full chapter of the spring release for fans to try out. It’s not clear how long you’ll have to wait to download the early access demo after God of War is released, but it sounds like the content won’t be stored directly on the disc.

* BioWare offered up some new details earlier this week on the upcoming Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion that is coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic later this year. The price is now officially set at $20, though continuing subscribers to the partially free-to-play MMORPG will be able to snag it for $10. Subscriber or not, those who pre-order the pack will also receive a few additional bonuses, including a Dr. Oggurobb Hutt Holostatue, the in-game title “Scourge of the Hutts,” and a Makrin Seedling mini-pet.

Top buys of the week…

The Cave :: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 / Wii U / PC/Mac :: $14.99 / 1,200 MS Points

The Cave nabs a pick of the week win largely for its charm. We didn’t absolutely love the 2D adventure game hatched in the mind of Ron Gilbert and cobbled together by the fine team at Double Fine, but it’s worth playing. The problem with The Cave is that the more you try to see, the more it loses its appeal. The writing is killer and the graphics do justice to the material, but the emphasis on replaying large chunks of the same content just to see more new stuff is a real buzzkill. Check out our review for more.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes :: iOS :: $4.99

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is a three-year-old Nintendo DS game that combines RPG play with match-three puzzles. It ported its way to consoles/PC in 2011 and now there’s a touch-enabled version available on the iOS App Store. The $5 price is hard to say no to for a game that offers plenty more than that in terms of its content. If you’ve never played it, Clash of Heroes is a nifty game that does things a little bit differently. The graphics look lovely on an iDevice’s Retina Display screen, though there’s admittedly less value here if this is a game you’ve played before. Still worth a look.

Wave Trip :: iOS :: $1.99

Yay Wave Trip. Lucky Frame takes a page from the PlayStation Vita-exclusive Sound Shapes for its latest iOS release. Equal parts game and musical toy, Wave Trip tasks players with tapping and holding on the left and right sides of the screen to activate shields and ascend in the player-controlled ship, respectively. The goal is to collect orange and blue tokens while avoiding a variety of obstacles. The twist is that each orange token you collect adds a new layer to the initially silent soundtrack, eventually building into a proper musical composition. Each level is a different “song,” and groups of songs are divided up into distinct levels. Really cool stuff, and fairly priced at $1.99.

Balloon Fight :: Wii U :: $0.30

Balloon Fight! Nintendo’s Wii U doesn’t have a proper Virtual Console yet, but the feature is coming to the console’s eShop later this year. In the meantime, Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Famicom (Japan’s NES) for the next bunch of months with low-priced NES and SNES game releases in the Wii U eShop. The deal boils down to one sale-priced title every 30 days, marked down to $0.30. Balloon Fight is up first, and it’s available now.

Temple Run 2 :: Android :: FREE

Temple Run 2 was released on iOS platforms last week, and this week it comes to Android. It’s Temple Run, with some new twists. Not all of them are necessarily fresh, but if you’re a fan of the earlier endless runner then you’ll probably dig on this one too.

Editors' Recommendations

Counter-Strike 2 could succeed where Overwatch 2 failed
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In 2023's most surprising news so far, Counter-Strike 2 is coming. The competitive shooter isn't just a follow-up to the massively popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but an upgrade to that game using the new Source 2 engine. A beta is already underway, with the full game scheduled to come sometime this summer. With how Valve is handling the project, I can't help but think of how Blizzard rolled out its own recent shooter sequel: Overwatch 2.

Both games are highly popular, competitive, and live-service style games with a heavy emphasis on cosmetics for monetization that have highly dedicated communities. The biggest similarity -- and also criticism in the case of Overwatch 2 -- is the fact that both sequels retroactively replace their predecessors, forcing everyone to upgrade to the sequel whether they want to or not. This is a relatively new concept in gaming, where older versions of online games become entirely inaccessible and Overwatch 2 didn't inspire a lot of confidence in it being a beneficial trend. That said, Counter-Strike 2 is already in a perfect position to succeed in all the ways Overwatch 2 failed.
If it ain't broke
In normal circumstances, a sequel is a developer's opportunity to iterate and make alterations to the core of the game that came before. Obviously, there's a limit to how big these changes should be -- a shooter shouldn't suddenly become a 2D fighting game -- but a combination of new features being added and old ones being removed is expected. That becomes a much trickier proposition in this new age of sequels where the new version is the only option. In the case of Overwatch 2 and Counter-Strike 2, players don't have the luxury of being able to keep playing the old version they loved.

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As the 3DS eShop closes, devs reflect on a golden age of Nintendo indies
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The 3DS eShop is no longer allowing Nintendo fans to make new game purchases, marking the end of a long era of DS-branded handhelds. Not only that, but it's also sunsetting a vibrant indie community in the process. After helping smaller developers break through with WiiWare and DSiWare, the 3DS eShop was where indies really started to flourish on Nintendo consoles. Multiple games and developers built success stories on the platform, starting series that are still recognized in the eyes of Nintendo fans and stand as some of the 3DS’ most iconic games.

Within a year of the eShop's launch, WayForward's Mighty Switch Force provided one of the system's best 3D experiences, Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudd showed the potential of a platformer where players can hop between the foreground and background, and Hörberg Productions' Gunman Clive provided a short, sweet, and cheap throwback platformer experience with lots of styles. By 2014, Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight had cemented itself as one of the best indie games of all time on the 3DS. Titles like that gave the 3DS a reputation as a haven for smaller developers. a platform where they could break out of a niche and connect with a larger audience.

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The first proper PS5 deal is here — save $50 on the God of War bundle
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After all this time, we've finally seen an actual discount on the Sony PlayStation 5. Over at Best Buy, you can buy the PlayStation 5 God of War Ragnarok bundle for $510 saving you $50 off the usual price of $560. Sure, that's just under 10% off but such deals simply haven't happened before. With stock being so limited in the past, it's huge news to see such a big saving on the PlayStation 5. This is your chance to save or use that money on one of the many PS5 game deals going on. Not entirely sold on the PS5? Let's take a look at what you need to know.

Why you should buy a Sony Playstation 5
The Sony PlayStation 5 is the latest console from Sony and is the main rival to the Xbox Series X. It has a slightly divisive look but there's no denying it looks like a futuristic games console. Crucially, under the hood is some very powerful hardware. It's focused on speed and great performance so that all the best PS5 games look great. With HDR technology, you get vibrant and lifelike images as you play with up to 120 fps with 120Hz output depending on the display you hook it up to. Besides looking good, it also has immersive sound with Tempest 3D AudioTech so it feels like the sound is coming from every direction.

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