Fry’s Electronics: An Obituary (1985-2021)

Like a certain iconic electronic music duo that also disbanded this week, Fry’s Electronics is no more. For me, that is a big deal. Fry’s Electronics was one of the biggest electronics stores that I frequented growing up. There were TVs, computers, video games, mobile phones, appliances, tools, toys, books, software, hardware, and in some locations, restaurants. At one point, one could spend hours in Fry’s looking at the massive selection of products they had to offer. Before you headed to the checkout line, there was also a huge selection of snacks for your gaming sessions, including organic sour gummy worms and some extremely rare snacks that I still can only find online (looking at you, Mauna Loa Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamia Nuts).

When Fry’s chose to close up shop on February 24, 2021, this put an end to an electronics retailer that offered far more than just products—they offered services such as PC building, audio installation, the list goes on and on. The very first parts that would end up in my PC came from Fry’s Electronics. It was also an excellent place to find the latest video games. Even the tiniest electronic parts could be found at Fry’s, like those little transistors that go in some circuit board for some project. Another thing that caught customers’ eyes were the thematic stores. The location in Palo Alto, California was Wild West-themed, while the location in Sacramento was Gold Rush-themed. One of my favorites, the original Sunnyvale location, detailed the history of Silicon Valley, while the Las Vegas location (where I live now) was Las Vegas Strip-themed (obviously).

While there is no doubt that Fry’s has had a reputation among customers as being empty shells of their former selves in more ways than one even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an institution that has fostered my interest in consumer electronics that led me to build my first PC a decade ago. From the early 2000s to the mid-2010s, I frequented Fry’s at least once a month (if not more frequently) with my family and friends. While the writing was on the wall in the late 2010s, it took a global pandemic to put the final nail in the coffin of Fry’s Electronics.

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On their website, Fry’s said: “After nearly 36 years in business as the one-stop-shop and online resource for high-tech professionals across nine states and 31 stores, Fry’s Electronics, Inc. (“Fry’s” or “Company”), has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders. The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.”

It’s been a great run, and may all their employees land on their feet and find something new as soon as possible.

Valheim: PC Vikings!

The Viking Survival Game

Valheim is a newly released survival RPG for PC available on Steam for $20. More recently moved from closed beta to early release, I was quite surprised to find that the game was more finished than anticipated. As is with most of these early-release RPG games, there’s always something to go wrong. So, let’s start with what was done right.  

Valheim starts with a quick written story, which is appreciated. As someone who hates sitting through 15-30-minute-long intros (I’m looking at you Elusive Age), it was fantastic to get a quick cover story. The game visually is like any other PC RPG style early-release. The graphics are blocky and a little hard on the eyes, less detail more overall experience. The game itself runs beautifully on most PCs as the requirements are amazingly low.  

This aids in the overall experience of the game, allowing for a fast render as you sprint through the woods chasing after your first hunt. Valheim is pretty much Vikings in a PC game. The story isn’t about the life of the Viking, but the death and worthiness to enter Valhalla. Create longships in honor of Odin, delve into the dark arts of the gods the choices are seemingly endless. As I just started my adventure in Valheim, I cannot spoil the story too much for everyone, but there are Gods you can summon to fight and prove your worth.  

There are loads of trees, plants, and distinct biomes within the world itself. As you travel through looking for the best place for your first home be careful of your surroundings. Enemies become more aggressive and dangerous the darker it gets, making a lovely walk in the woods a dangerous escapade. There are a few different kinds of enemies that you’ll face off right away in Valheim, but none that should over level you right off the bat. As long as you follow the hints and guidelines set by the game, you’ll be able to make a home before freezing or beaten to death. There are quite a few things you can do right off the bat as well, like mine for ore and harvest enemy parts like bones.  

FIRE. MAKE FIRE.  

As most of you know playing these RPGPC games, fire is important in keeping animals away at night and cooking food. But what you may not know, is that there are special events that happen depending on how close you are to a boss ritual stone. Fire is more important than you know, as it could save your buildings and chests.  

Now let’s get down the nitty-gritty with this game. There aren’t very many serious issues with this game, as long as you can finesse a few things here and there. The most common issue that is floating around the Valheim Discord, is the listing and finding of dedicated servers. When creating a dedicated server for Valheim, it is recommended to go into the Discord and ask the right questions.  There are a few ways of creating a dedicated server, and if you are familiar with Steam, you know how difficult it can be for these to pop up in the server list search engine. It is recommended to use Valheim‘s Dedicated Server software and not the Steam CMD as it’ll make the process more streamlined.  

I highly recommend doing it this way, as I’ve been able to create multiple servers without using a ton of my PC’s resources. Then comes the next issue, how do we find you in the server listing. Some people have an easy enough time, searching the outbound IP for the specific server and hitting refresh until it populates. Others have an easier time going through the friend invites on the Steam UI. There are a few different ways to find your server, and hopefully, you do. As that is the most frustrating part of this game. As fun as it is, as beautiful it can be. If you can’t play with friends, your overall experience will go down. So, don’t get too frustrated when you can’t find a friend’s server. Take a deep breath and jump into the Valheim Discord, there are so many people there willing to help.  

Honestly, this game works as intended. It has hiccups as all early-release games do and its main hiccup is the server search/multiplayer aspect of it. Personally, I haven’t had many issues with multiplayer, even on multiple LAN connections. This game has been beautiful, time-consuming, and a lot of fun with my friends. For $20 you can’t go wrong.

Grade: 6.5/10

Intellivision Amico, and Why You Should Watch Out For It

Though it may have been a long way since your gaming time, a lot of people have fond memories of Mattel’s Intellivision. Back in the 80s, it provided an interesting twist on gaming between its offered titles and its somewhat oddball control scheme. Still, for years, the legendary Keith Robinson tooted the horn of the system and even sold both variations of the original hardware (the Intellivision Flashback, for instance) and collections (like Intellivision Lives).

However, following the passing of Robinson, video game musician and Video Games Live! producer Tommy Tallarico decided to try something different. This April, he’ll be bringing back the Intellivision, but in a way that no one could’ve ever imagined. Say hello to the Intellivision Amico.

Initially introduced in late 2019 for an October 2020 launch, the system has seen a slight setback due to COVID-19, now slated to arrive on April 15th. But the wait certainly looks to be worth it, thanks to a handful of revised classics and original games that will bring together the whole family to enjoy. That and the stuff that’s on the horizon – including the long-awaited return of Earthworm Jim.

So what can around $200 buy you? Well, an interestingly designed console that packs a punch with its many titles.

Bringing people together

Whereas game consoles these days are working more towards trying to bring people together online, the purpose of the Amico is to make experiences that people can play together locally. While that may pose a challenge with COVID, that means friends and family can eventually enjoy affordable favorites, from dice games to good old fashioned sack toss to reimagined arcade hits, including the spiffy-looking Moon Patrol.

Tallarico and his team have an emphasis on bringing together family gamers, so the Amico won’t be home to mature-rated fare. Instead, it’ll focus on a number of categories, as follows:

  • Retro re-imagined
  • Original new games
  • Sports and recreation
  • Casual board/dice/card
  • Kids & Edutainment

What’s more, the system will come with a unique control scheme, blending elements of the past with those of the future. The controller features include:

  • 3.2″ color touch screen
  • Motion controls
  • Force feedback
  • Integrated speaker and microphone
  • Two shoulder buttons on the top and bottom of the controller
  • 64-position rotating disc

And the system will come with two controllers, as well as the ability to play some titles with the help of your mobile device. They’re also easily rechargeable right into the unit, or using a USB-C cable.

Games, games, games

On top of that, the Intellivision Amico will automatically come with a handful of included games, right in the unit – with room for more. Already confirmed on the system are favorites like Astrosmash!, Skiing and Shark! Shark!, along with the previously mentioned sack toss game Cornhole and the family fun game Farkle. As far as the sixth, that’s a title shrouded in mystery – but gamers should expect a lot of fun.

Storage isn’t too bad, with the games taking about 300MB to 1GB, depending on the download. So about 30 to 40 at a time can be stored, not bad at all. And you can always re-download with ease, or find new favorites for no more than around $7-$8 a pop. These include resurrections of classics like Breakout, Moon Patrol and Night Striker, along with other forthcoming hits and new, original titles. You can also buy titles physically via physical game cards, though a release schedule hasn’t been provided just yet.

Intellivision also has a number of partners for licensed fare, including Major League Baseball, Evel Knievel, Sesame Street and even some Atari favorites. Yes, you can enjoy some Atari games on an Intellivision system, like Missile Command. That’s a bit of a surprise, considering the existence of the Atari VCS, but the Amico will have special versions that shouldn’t be missed.

And of course, there’s more games to come, like the innovative platformer Finnegan Fox, as well as Battle Tanks and Nitro Derby. And with development easy to come by, others should be jumping on board as well.

It might take quite a bit of effort for the Intellivision to break back into the busy gaming market. But if anyone understands it, it’s Tallarico and his star-studded team – and they should be able to put the console on the map and make it joyous again. All that’s missing is George Plimpton’s classic adverts, like the one below. Maybe Tommy can get someone to fill in that void once April rolls around. (Check out one of the best ones below!)

Why the Time Is Right For a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Remake

2021 could very well be a big year for The Legend of Zelda.

There’s been all sorts of whispers that Breath of the Wild 2 could get a big reveal this year – and maybe even a release over the holiday season. But there’s also been talk about the return of some of Link’s earlier adventures for the Nintendo Switch, like the Wii classic Skyward Sword.

But the big talk revolves around a remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, the legendary adventure that made its debut on the Nintendo 64 in its heyday. Still regarded as one of the best games in the series, a remake would hit the spot for the Nintendo Switch, even all these years later.

So why is the time right for this game to get the remake treatment? Well, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Let’s take a look.

It worked for Mario

Back in September, Nintendo shocked its community by releasing a three-pack of Mario’s greatest adventures for the Switch, including a fantastic looking edition of Super Mario 64 from his Nintendo 64 days. The game became a colossal hit, and will likely sell a few million copies more before Nintendo “retires” the three-pack by the end of March 2021.

Its sales indicate that players don’t mind pouring down some cash for a well-made set of remakes, so that shows great possibility when it comes to doing the same for good ol’ Link. A three-pack featuring Skyward Sword, Twilight Princess and, yup, Ocarina of Time would do the big N some good, and boost sales for the system as the company continues to try and make new games in the midst of COVID-19.

So don’t be shocked if we see some sort of Zelda pack announced alongside some form of update for Breath of the Wild 2, just to keep fans content. And, hey, it’d be great to see Skyward Sword embrace a traditional control scheme to boot.

Nintendo loves nostalgia

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Nintendo, it’s that it truly embraces its nostalgia. Take a look at the company’s releases for 2021 so far. We’re getting Super Mario 3D World this coming week, with a new expansion that’ll push it beyond its original Wii U release a few years ago. And then there’s New Pokemon Snap, the long-awaited follow-up to the Nintendo 64 cult classic that had us printing out pictures so long ago.

Yeah, it seems that Nintendo isn’t likely to pass up an opportunity for players to enjoy a classic experience on a new platform. And that’s why an Ocarina of Time re-release just makes sense. Players could easily revisit favorite parts of the game, all while taking in the slightly refreshed visuals or enjoying the controls working so well on the Switch format. And, hey, it would bring in a boatload of money for Nintendo, which isn’t the worst thing out there.

Nostalgia sells, and Nintendo knows it. So don’t be too shocked if it considers a cash-in to give players a new taste of Ocarina of Time.

It could tie in with the Nintendo 64 Classic

There have been rumors for the longest time about Nintendo giving its N64 platform the same treatment that it gave the NES and Super NES in terms of plug-and-play value. While that has yet to be confirmed, they continue to build up feverishly; and the re-release of Ocarina of Time could help generate more interest in its release.

We’ve already seen Super Mario 64 do wonders on the Switch platform, thanks to that 3D All Stars release; and there’s been talk that the Nintendo Switch Online service could get a taste of N64 goodness down the road as well. But, for now, re-releasing Ocarina of Time could gauge just how popular the format could be, either in a plug-and-play fashion or with digital titles. Or, hey, maybe even both – look at how well StarFox 2 went over when it took those routes.

It just makes sense that Ocarina of Time come out, as it could do well for its platform while still serving a mighty need to satisfy players. It’s just a win-win scenario all around – and that’s more than enough reason to give it to us, Nintendo. C’mon.

Not to mention that the game worked really well on the 3DS platform, as the trailer shows below. It’s a guaranteed victory on Switch, we assure you.

2K needs to loosen up on WWE video games

At one point in time, WWE wrestling video games were the hottest thing in town. You couldn’t get enough of games like WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64, as well as the WWF Smackdown! games on the PlayStation 2. And then there was the THQ “golden era,” which not only gave us great wrestling sims, but also fun off-shoots like the arcade style WWE All Stars and the ridiculous sleeper WWE Crush Hour.

WWE Battlegrounds is fun — but more is needed.

But then, in 2013, a jarring change took place. Following the closure (at the time) of THQ, 2K Games acquired the license to WWE games. And instead of simply branching out and making a variety of titles based on the brand, it focused on singular, yearly releases in the WWE 2K series. It did have its spin-off WWE Supercard series for mobile, but, outside of that, it was status quo for a number of years, with the talented team at Yuke’s making each entry.

But then something happened – something bad. In 2019, 2K released WWE 2K20, the first game to be produced solely by Visual Concepts, removing Yuke’s from the development picture. And many things went wrong with the game, from a poor DLC model featuring Halloween-style costumes to terrible control issues to the worst kind of glitches you can imagine. We actually included a highlight (lowlight?) reel below, to give you an idea of just how screwed up things got.

As a result of poor sales and a whopping amount of negative feedback from fans, 2K put the brakes on WWE 2K21, opting to work with Saber Interactive on the arcade-style WWE 2K Battlegrounds instead. Though not entirely universally acclaimed, it was a modest hit for the company, possibly hinting at future entries down the road.

With that, 2K is at a crossroads. There are reports that it plans to release WWE 2K22 later this year, as it’s already begun recording with a number of superstars with this past weekend’s Royal Rumble. But this seems like as good a time as any for the company to get creative, and not necessarily stick with the yearly game plan – especially if it ends up being as bad as WWE 2K20 was.

So what can it do? Well, we have some suggestions.

Arcade-style is working

Considering that WWE 2K Battlegrounds is pretty well received – despite its microtransactions to unlock certain wrestlers in the game (though you can use currency) – it’s time for 2K Sports to stick with that plan. This seems like a good a time as any to consider a re-release of WWE All Stars.

Let’s explain why that works. The game was a hit when it was released in 2012, with a number of buff superstars duking it out in over-the-top fashion. And 2K does have the rights to the series, since it still kind of makes the rounds digitally. Not to mention that, with its current pay structure, it could easily reform the THQ San Diego studio that worked on the original, implementing a new roster and maybe even some new tricks up its sleeve.

While an arcade-style game might compete with the likes of Battlegrounds to some extent, it would also be a hit with old-school gamers. And it’d sell like hotcakes on the Switch, just as Saber Interactive’s game has. Something to consider.

Wrestlefest?

Speaking of old-school games that deserve a second chance to shine – what about WWE Wrestlefest? The original WWF version released in arcades under Technos back in 1991, becoming a huge arcade hit. In 2013, THQ attempted to rejuvenate the brand with a mobile-only release, featuring an updated roster and old-school style gameplay.

This seems like a perfect opportunity for 2K to consider a comeback of sorts for the brand, getting together a team of developers that understand the old-school nature. What’s more, it could be offered for a lower price, and maybe even for mobile like the last Wrestlefest was. Of course, we have to have Switch as well, just because.

Another good game to consider, especially since it was so much fun the last couple of times around. And, hey, no heavy mechanics necessary – Visual Concepts can rest easy on this one.

Other great ideas

In the past, we’ve seen WWE Crush Hour light things up pretty nicely; and there was talk about a cancelled game called WWE Brawl that featured insane one-on-one fighting mechanics. We’re not sure why it didn’t come out – lack of interest, maybe? – but it should’ve been given a chance. Maybe this is a good time for 2K to consider its resurrection, based on what we’ve seen in the video below. And keep its separate from the sim stuff, obviously.

For that matter, 2K could also bring its existing mobile properties to the console front to see how they fare. Supercard, for example, could easily be a huge sim title, especially with online play. And there’s also WWE Champions, which could be fun for a few rounds as well.

These are just some quick ideas, but it gives you an idea of the diversity that 2K could easily go for when it comes to all things WWE. It shouldn’t just stick to the straight and narrow because, as we’ve seen in the past, that isn’t always the best way to go. Diversification and invention can go a long way for the WWE games here. They just need to give them a chance.

Simple Tips and Tricks for Newest Overwatch Hero Echo

How to Play as Echo

Echo is currently live on Overwatch servers, and you’ll be hard-pressed to play a quick-play match without her flying around the skies on one team or the other. Because she’s so new to the game, most people have not figured out the best way to play her; we’re all just experimenting and learning at our own pace. After a little bit of research – and a lot of in-game practice – I’ve found a couple tips and tricks to playing Overwatch‘s newest hero.

Tip 1: Play With a Mercy

Tip one has less to do with the Echo player and more the heroes that make up the rest of her team. If you’re lucky enough to be queueing with a group, this tip should be easy enough. You’re going to want a Mercy on your team. Now, I’m not claiming that other supports don’t have the capabilities to keep Echo in tip-top shape, they most certainly do, but pairing Mercy with Echo can make for a deadly duo.

Echo can launch herself in the air and glide as she falls – a combination of Pharah and Mercy’s flight abilities. Because of this, Echo is reminiscent of the Pharmercy combo many players despise. It’s hard to focus an airborne Echo with a Mercy in her pocket, and killing a Mercy protected by an Echo can be just as challenging. That’s why the combination works so well.

Tip 2: Understand the Beam

At first, I thought Echo’s beam felt pretty weak. It hardly does any damage and doesn’t feel like a viable attack option. The beam ability does 50 damage per second for 2.5 seconds, which isn’t that bad, but it most likely won’t help you secure a kill. On the other hand, if the enemy is under 50% health, the beam does 200 damage per second. That means if your tracking is perfection, you could do a total of 500 damage in one use of the ability. On top of everything, this ability also works on shields. Once a barrier starts showing cracks, which only happens once it’s under half health, using Echo’s beam can shred through the shield’s remaining health.

Tip 3: Practice Duplicate

Echo”s ultimate, Duplicate, allows her to copy an enemy player and turn herself into them, abilities included. Does your team need more healing output for the last push? Now you have a third support. Need more damage? Echo copied the enemy reaper, and now their team’s tanks don’t stand a chance. Her ultimate depends heavily on timing, as most do, and you need to know when the best time to invest is, or when you should back out.

Echo’s Ultimate Duplicate Courtesy of Destructoid

The best way to use this ability is to get up in the sky. When you have a bird’s eye view, it’s much easier to pick and choose your Duplicate target. One of the best heroes to duplicate right now is Reinhardt. This choice gives your team an extra shield, not that the copy is going to use it, as well as a target to tank more damage if necessary. One of the best things about this Reinhardt duplicate is that the Echo can charge in without worrying about death. If she loses all her health, she reverts back to her original form and can fly right on out of the fight. If you manage to build up the copy’s ultimate, which you probably will, your hammer down can change the whole flow of the battle.

Be careful though, if the target you’re intending to copy is close to death, you might miss out on the window to Duplicate them.

Tip 4: Know When Echo isn’t Working

Echo is similar to Pharah, and we see a lot of the same counters between both characters. A good Widomaker, Ashe, or McCree can take Echo out of the sky before she has time to do anything, and a competent Sombra can keep her on the ground indefinitely. If the enemy team suddenly switches to hard counter your Echo, it may be time to switch it up. Of course, don’t expect anybody to give up Echo at this point in the game. A new hero will be all the rage for a few weeks, but once the hype dies down, common sense should rear it’s head again.

Layers Of Fear 2

DVS Gaming Video Game Review

Layers Of Fear, horror, and suspense wrapped into a dingy dark video game. If you had played the first Layers Of Fear game, that was released in 2016, then you have no clue what’s about to crawl out of the corners of the second installment in the series. Unlike most horror game series that tend to follow the same story through-out the multi-game series, Layers of Fear brings you story upon story without looking back. There are very few things similar to LoF2 to its predecessor. Both games brought to you by Bloober Gaming, which sets an example for how far they’ve come from the original planning and testing of Layers Of Fear. Thanks to GunMedia, the second installment of Layers Of Fear is polished and curated to make the experience even more indulging. As Layers Of Fear started as an ”Indie Game” in 2016, their studio has grown and made possible this amazing horror.

Darkness Wrapped in a Mystery

As is with most horror, music and atmosphere truly make the game. If one is lacking, then surprise and deceit can be seen from chapters away. Yet if it’s drenched in mystery and soaked with fear, the smallest of shadows can send one spiraling into fear. Layers Of Fear 2 truly built upon their strongest points. Between the lighting in the game, the music and the sense of never-ending mystery, this game offered more within its first chapter than most horror movies do in their entirety. Shadows played against the light in perfect tandem to the madness building in your mind, making you second guess what you thought was real. What you thought was your story, has changed again and again into a dark hallway with the stories of those who have been trapped on board…

The Candyman Comes To Play…

Welcome onboard the ship…this is where actors come to play, to cry, to die. The 1930s style suite you landed in offers no help to your confusion. You were told to come for a play, yet you’ve found no stage nor any scripts. Just the lone phonograph taunting you with a steel cylinder used to record sound. You’ll find yourself enthralled with the amount of history in the suite; the art, the photos, the music… The Voice. As you move through the game, exploring more of the ship, finding out that the play is to be conducted as realistically as possible. With no interruptions from the crew or any other passengers, you have full right of the ship. As the evening goes on, and you have finally come to find that you are alone in this play, a voice can be heard. First quietly, almost taunting you into the next chapter of the game. A familiar, immediately frightening voice peers through the crashing waves against the ship. CandyMan… Otherwise known as Tony Todd, is the voice narrator of this game which only adds to the intense darkness of ‘Layers of Fear 2’.

Welcome to The Show

This Ship Is Not For The Weak

Tony Todd’s voice lulls you into a false sense of darkness, as Tony does, slowly making you comfortable with the horror you are about to experience. Tony does well introducing the story to you, leaving you alone in silence just as the ship starts to turn. Chapter after chapter, the stories being written scratch at the back of your mind. Shadows play in the halls, dancing in and out of rooms causing you to follow them as curiosity is one of mankind’s weaknesses. Layers of Fear uses your own inability to quell the curiosity, to lure you further into the story. The ship continues to toss and buoy in the oceans drift, this being shown by small glimpses to the deck, or through portholes along the hallways. As you move through the chapters, the darkness starts to illuminate more than just some monsters waiting to pop out of the dark.

The ship, previously thought to be empty had signs of children and crew on the levels where you were told to explore. Stories unfold, sadness and evil coming together binding upon the ship, trapping all those who enter its chambers. The food you had walked by, has now become rotten with time. Spiderwebs stretch across the halls and rooms as far as the eye can see. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed, giving the actor a clear sense of madness as the rooms continued to change. To escape your own madness, you’ll have to piece together clues that surround you with every step, every word of the stories told to you.

The Calming Seas

Can you tell the difference between reality and make-believe?

Choices to be made…yet with no discernible proof for either choice, with nothing more than a perfectly poised question during your darkest moment…the choice will be yours to make. Good or bad…a choice is a choice that has to be made. Will your fear make you choose? Or will you be in control of your fear? Strength has no meaning in a destitute place like the Ship. Only the darkness can show you the way to the light. Has it been a day? A week? More? The Ship is control of what you will experience and there is but one ‘man’ whose been freed of the Ship, but at a cost. You hear more and more of this man, but every photo you come across with him has his face scratched out for none to see. The Actor and The Painter, again and again, these men haunt your vision. You learn more about them through the slides and photos you find scattered about the ship in its many rooms.

The humanity…what’s left of it…can be more frightening than the monsters in the dark.

As you scavenge for clues and anything that can help your protagonist make his way through the story, don’t forget to enjoy the scenery. Layers of Fear is drenched in horror. Keep your eyes wide when you explore, as you’ll find hidden references to Horror Movies and Monsters of the past. Some will be more apparent than others, but there are over 30 references in the stretch of Layers Of Fear 2. If you’re lucky, you might just figure out what the link between Layers of Fear and Layers of Fear 2 is….

Careful in the darkness, it can make you go mad…

Layers of Fear is exactly what the title says, layers of your fears. One upon the other, forced into tandem as you experience the darkness that surrounds and expels from your soul. Layers has a unique feature, that you can choose the pivotal points in the story. You, the ‘Actor’ will have to choose between your morals or your gain. Will you save yourself, reach the deck and feel sunlight against your skin again? Will you succumb to the cries of children? Your choices are important and can impact your gameplay, heavily. Will you refuse the beautiful darkness that Tony Todd speaks softly to you? Layers of Fear 2 is an amazing psychological thriller game that takes you in-depth of horror history and it’s building blocks. From the visuals to the story, to the sound, Layers of Fear 2 has encompassed that of which makes a horror game, a horror game.

DVS HARLECHAN REVIEW: 8.5/10

Vampire’s Fall: Origins

Vampire’s Fall: Origins is now on the PC.

Vampire’s Fall: Origins started off life as a mobile Isometric RPG but has now found new life on its PC port. Although a lot of the game’s systems are still based on mobile mechanics this is one of those rare jewels that still plays exceptionally well on its PC counterpart, Early Morning Studios have managed a feat few developers have.

The game starts off with you as a lowly recruit in the town called….wait for it….Vamp’Ire (we see what they did there). From there, you are sent off into the wild to carry out various objectives for the townsfolk. These tasks range from “go here and kill something” to “go here and fetch something”, basic RPG gameplay to ease you into the game. Once you have completed a few tasks the village is attacked by the main protagonist and you are transformed into a creature of the night, it’s here that the game truly opens up and sets you on the path of revenge. The game itself is open world and for a mobile game, the maps on offer are quite expansive and give players a plethora of content outside of the main story. There are treasures to be found, hidden bosses to defeat and enough side quests to make Geralt froth at the mouth. A mobile game it may have been but this is a game with big ambitions.

Vampire’s Fall lets you create a character of your own choosing and lets you select from 4 different races Nosferatu, Magistrav, Ranjeni and Equides each with their own “racial” passive ability (e.g. increased gold drop to increased XP gain). Once you pass the initial stages of the game you can then start developing your character to your play style and can expand upon their abilities with various skill trees based on Vitality, Anger and Deceit. For an experienced RPG player, the skill trees may seem a bit basic but there is still plenty of options to try several builds which can include increased brute strength and vitality to incorporating DOT’s. Combat is a turn-based affair with each character choosing an action to be carried out in succession while accruing points to use on your abilities. The enemies in the game can provide quite a challenge and keep you trying out different tactics, this keeps the game consistently refreshing and offers RPG die-hards plenty to do and plenty of difficult foes to overcome.

Some mobile elements of Vampire’s Fall still exist in the PC version.

Being of mobile origin, Vampire’s Fall does still have some of the mobile mechanics in the game, the crafting system is an example of this. To craft a potion or other consumable players have to be in a town and then select what they want to craft, you will then have to wait a set amount of actual time for that item to be crafted. Although the systems are a little basic, they still do not distract from what is a very solid game.

Graphically, there isn’t a lot that’s going to put even the most low-end PCs to work but the developers have done extremely well to create a world and visual style that set’s a somber tone and fits perfectly well with the Gothic story on offer.

Overall, Vampire’s Fall: Origins is a game that offers far more content than you would expect from a mobile game. Early Morning Studios have made a wise choice in porting it over to PC. It would have been a crime to deny this game to a far bigger audience had they not. With challenging combat, extra content galore, enough variation in play styles and a fairly decent story this should be an essential pick up for any indie game fan.

Michael Chu Leaves Blizzard

Lead Overwatch Writer Searches for New Opportunities

After 20 years at Blizzard, Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu is leaving the company to pursue other adventures. Chu is a significant contributor to the ongoing Overwatch lore and story outside of the game. He’s written many of the hero’s origin stories and flushed out the universe in which the game takes place both through comics and short fiction. Two of Chu’s pieces, “Bastet” and “Reflections” were celebrated throughout the community for revealing Soldier:76 and Tracer as LGBTQ+ heroes. Chu also worked on Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, and the in-development Overwatch 2.

On Chu’s website, he stated that: “Overwatch has been a life-changing experience. I have always felt that games and the stories they tell have the unique ability to bring people closer together and that the empathy you feel from stepping into someone else’s shoes, even virtually, can bridge the gap between miles, cultures, and nations.”

Whoever takes Chu’s place has big shoes to fill. Overwatch 2, which will feature a story-driven campaign, will rely heavily on the writing done by his replacement. While Overwatch lore has always been a hot topic for discussion, I’m hoping that Overwatch 2 will teach us more about the characters and the world they inhabit than ever before. While lore exists in the game, many players don’t seem to know much about the world, nor do they care. Hopefully, a game based around the story aspect will entice players new and old to learn about the characters that make up this world. It’s one of my few expectations for the new game.

Here’s Blizzard’s statement on Michael Chu’s departure: “Michael’s contributions to the games and stories of the Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch universes have been a source of inspiration, and we will always be thankful for the time he spent at Blizzard. We wish him the best for the future.”

New Overwatch Hero Echo Could be Game Changing

The Newest Hero

When Blizzard announced Overwatch 2 at Blizzcon, it left many fans wondering what it meant for the original game. Would we still see consistent updates? Or would Overwatch be put on the backburner during the development of the sequel? Only time would tell.

Luckily, it turns out that the developers still have a couple of surprises for their fans and players alike. On March 18, @PlayOverwatch tweeted the reveal of the new hero Echo. Her origin story revolves around Dr. Liao, a Singaporean scientist who worked to create and eventually fight the omnics. Liao was an expert in artificial intelligence, an employee of the Omnica Corporation, and the sixth founder of Overwatch. When she was killed in an attack on the Overwatch facility, Echo, Liao’s creation, adapted to Liao’s personality and goals. Dr. Liao built Echo to fulfill her dream of helping the world; she is an echo of her legacy.

Echo was initially introduced back in the 2018 “Reunion” short for Ashe and McCree and later took a more significant role in the Overwatch 2 teaser trailer. It turns out her origins go back before the 2018 video and before Overwatch itself. Echo was formerly an asset from Blizzard’s MMO Titan, which was canceled in 2013. Her appearance has changed since then – she’s much more humanoid and sleek – but her concept has stayed relatively the same.

Echo’s Abilities

It turns our Echo is Overwatch’s newest DPS hero and not a support character like many players assumed. Her abilities are energy-based and seem to be quite strong so far. Her primary, Tri-shot, lets her shoot a triangular burst from her hand. She also has a sticky bomb ability that explodes after a few seconds, and a Focusing Beam that deals high amounts of damage for a limited time. Not to mention, she can fly and glide in a way similar to Mercy and Pharah.

Echo’s most substantial ability is her ultimate Duplicate. It allows her to copy any enemy team hero – minus another Echo – and use their abilities as her own for a short period. This technique means she can fill any role, tank, support, or DPS, and use their ultimate to her advantage.

Echo’s Abilities Courtesy of @RevertMercySays on Twitter

According to Jeff Kaplan, Echo is most likely the last new hero we’ll see until Overwatch 2. If you want to try her out for yourself, she’s currently live on PTR servers.