December used to be a quiet month when it comes to game releases, but when you count all the Early Access, DLC and Remaster releases out there, there’s a lot of new stuff to enjoy. We’re checking out three examples today, with Wartales, Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space Remastered and new DLC for Blasphemous.
Wartales is out in Early Access
Shiro Games is busy these days. Previously responsible for games like Northgard and Darksburgs, they were just announced as working on a new Dune game and also just launched Wartales into steam’s Early Access program.
As a tactical RPG with turn-based combat that takes place in an open world, Wartales focuses on a small band of mercenaries that travels the open world of the Kingdom of Edoran, which you get to know through mainly through short story snippets you encounter as you take on contracts that will – upon success – let you grow your group’s loadout and abilities.
We’re guessing story content will definitely be expanded upon in the next few months (a big content drop should be done every two months or so), but the current early access build already gives a decent idea of what to expect and gameplay-wise we thought the turn-based battles and way you manage your squad feels a little like Battle Brothers, which can only be a good sign.
Meanwhile, the overworld portion, where you’re not in battle, should eventually evolve into a more story-driven affair, but in its current form the mechanics of traveling the land and taking on contracts to build up your allegiances and reputation is reminiscent of Mount & Blade. Wartales currently feels like the skeleton frame of a much larger game and we’re looking forward to when more story content gets put in (as well as introductory content to draw less experienced players into its mechanics), but when you look at both the quality of Shiro’s past games and what’s already there, then we’re confident that this is going to be one to watch over the next few months.
Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space has received the Remaster treatment
About a year ago, we reviewed Sam & Max Save the World in its remastered form, a highly polished re-release of the first season of Telltale’s episodic series about the famous cartoon detective duo. Developer Skunkape – with original Telltale developers on board – has since been working on season two, and Beyond Time and Space just released on Steam and consoles.
And while season 2 looks and plays like you remember it, it only takes a quick side by side comparison to realize that the visuals have again received a rather substantial upgrade over what was available back in 2007/2008. Characters models and backdrops have been improved with more details (though Sam and Max themselves look largely untouched), and animations are smoother this time around.
Other subtle nuances include an expanded soundtrack, with new music that has been built around core themes of the original tunes but with completely new arrangements. As with the first season Skunkape also re-recorded Bosco’s lines, while also importing higher quality voice files for all the other characters.
Gameplay updates include tweaks that make the decal system more flexible to use, and an option to skip the driving sections if you’d prefer to just stick with the adventure game portion. You could even use a gamepad this time around, and if you’re feeling especially nostalgic (or, like us, just want to compare) then the old versions will remain available as well. We can’t wait for season 3 next year, and are hoping for a brand new adventure after that.
Blasphemous gets its last DLC chapter: Wounds of Eventide
Blasphemous, Team17’s challenging metroidvania that’s set in a dark fantasy world that was beautifully realized, launched back in 2019. Developer The Game Kitchen recently announced they’re working on a sequel (to be launched in 2023), but even two years after the game was finished they’re still coming out with new content and updates. That’s fan service for you.
Wounds of Eventide is the third and last major helping of DLC though, and it’s out now for all platforms. It wraps up the story of protagonist The Penitent One with new levels, bosses and secrets, while also paving the way for the events of the sequel. It lives up to the quality of the existing content too, featuring the same kind of narrative delivery through voiceovers, cutscenes and rousing music score. As the game can be regularly picked up in a sale these days, it’s amazing to see so much value still being added to it. If you don’t already have it, this new DLC is just another reason to add it to your watch list.