As we approach the weekend, we take a little time to highlight some of new releases that stood out to us this week. We look at the Hellraid DLC for Dying Light, the Cyberpunk Essentials pack for Synth Riders, the console port of Through the Darkest of Times and the steam-exclusive Eastern Exorcist.
Dying Light – Hellraid DLC – out now
As we patiently wait for more news on Dying Light 2, Techlight is revisiting the original 2015 game with brand new DLC. Perhaps almost ironically, they’re doing so with another title that’s shrouded in mystery: Hellraid.
Before morphing into DLC content for Dying Light, Hellraid was scheduled to be its own game, and we even went hands on with it way back in 2014 when we met with Techland. It was put on hold later, and despite the new DLC that status has not changed and for many this will be the first and possibly last chance to go hands on with the game.
When we had our hands on session in 2014, it was at the end of a trade show and the Techland crew were already packing up hardware in boxes. One demo station remained (for us), and in a weird twist of fate that’s kind of like what the Hellraid DLC is like. A mysterious arcade machine pops up inside a building in Dying Light, and it’s used to give players access to Hellraid. Of course we weren’t transported to another dimension ourselves, but the similarity was a fun throwback to when we still had trade shows.
Now built on the foundations of another game, the Hellraid DLC itself plays out differently than the demo we enjoyed back the day. That slice of gameplay focused on outdoor scenes and a mix of melee and ranged combat, but the new DLC takes place inside the confines of a castle stronghold. It’s still full of undead creatures though, but there’s much more of a “close quarters” kind of feel to it.
Content-wise, this DLC package is definitely on the short side, clocking in at about an hour of gameplay. As such, it feels more like an extended demo than a DLC priced at $10/€10, which is a shame. After all, for many players this will be their first time with the Hellraid universe, and rather than getting them excited for a re-launch of the project this might just leave them disappointed. Either way, we certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Hellraid!
Synth Riders – Cyberpunk Essentials song pack released
We’ve covered Synth Riders before, and have talked about their excellent approach to DLC – releasing half of their content packs for free while giving fans a chance to buy the other half to complete the pack. Their new song collection is dubbed the “Cyberpunk Essentials” pack and the approach is no different, with five songs that players can pick up for free and another five available for purchase.
This pack’s free additions to the game are “Voidwalkers” by Au5, “I’ll Fight Back” by Sullivan King, “Calling Out” by MUZZ feat. Skyelle & KG, “Showdown” by F.O.O.L and “Revenger”, also by F.O.O.L . If you enjoy those, you can expand your collection with RIOT’s “Take That”, “Eden” by Au5 & Danyka Nadeau, “TURBO” by Tokyo Machine, “MOSHI” by Pegboard Nerds & Tokyo Machine and “New Game” by Nitro Fun.
We got to try out the new songs, and definitely enjoyed having more reasons to jump back into Synth Riders. The “Cyberpunk Essentials” are more techno-oriented than the songs in the “Electro Swing” pack that came out earlier though, so your enjoyment will partially depend on personal taste. Our personal experience was that the Electro Swing songs flow more smoothly, making the new Cyberpunk tracks a tiny bit more challenging. But as with previous releases for the game, the brilliant part is that you can try out half the pack for free to see how you personally feel. We’re just happy to see such a constant stream of quality content come out for one of our favorite rhythm-based Quest games (which is also available for the Rift and on Steam).
Through the Darkest of Times now on consoles
Not necessarily a new title because it came out on PC back in January, Through the Darkest of Times is a new release for consoles, with versions for the PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
Not entirely dissimilar to titles like This War of Mine, this title by Paintbucket Games (published by HandyGames) shows us another side of war – one we rarely see depicted in videogames. You’re part of the resistance in 1933’s version of Berlin, shortly after Hitler’s national socialists came to power. As a group of people from various backgrounds determined to make a stand, you have to do what you can while staying unnoticed for fear of persecution.
Historically accurate, Through the Darkest of Times is a game in which the narrative component is key – you’ll be spending a lot of time taking in events that are unfolding through text fragments, trying to recruit members to your cause and delivering small blows to the regime in between. You can spread your message of resistance through leaflets, or messages on the wall, or by directly interfering with the plans of the regime.
These are tense and often depressing times, but it’s all about a story that needs telling, complete with echoes to the present day. The fact that it’s not available to a wider audience due to the console release only helps in that regard.
Eastern Exorcist releases in Early Access
Steam has steadily grown as an outlet for talented developers from China looking to release their games to a wider audience, and every now and then we see a true gem in the making pop up – Eastern Exorcist by Wildfire Game is such a game.
Released on Early Access today (August 14), Eastern Exorcist takes elements of the Castlevania franchise as well as recent hits like Dead Cells and creates its own unique action RPG. Playing as an exorcist, but more like Hugh Jackman’s rendition of Van Helsing than something directed by William Friedkin, you face off against demons in real-time tactical combat. Learning and getting comfortable with the controls and combat mechanics takes a while, but is certainly worth it.
What also stands out are the game’s gorgeous visuals. Beautiful hand-painted characters and backdrops move smoothly across the screen, and the pre-rendered cutscenes are equally gorgeous. For a game in this price range, Eastern Exorcist is mighty impressive to look at. Some of the translations/writing feels like it needs work, but with the game in Early Access there is plenty of time for that. Definitely one to watch as it develops over the next few months.