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AR Podcast #16: Rezzed at Rezzed, 2014

AJ and Potter visited beautiful Birmingham to attend EGX Rezzed 2014, which if you’ve not heard of you certainly won’t understand anything of from its ridiculous name. Fortunately you’ll still be able to listen to the AR crew chewing over the games they played, from innovative indies to tepid blockbusters.

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Dark Souls Sunday!

It’s a few weeks since I promised a new era in the shameless pursuit of new demographics. What can I say: I am a busy yet lazy man. Also I tried to record some Goat Simulator videos and quickly discovered that video editing is quite difficult when you have no software and no clue what you’re doing. Frustrated, I chose to play Dark Souls rather than record videos of it.

But at last I have returned to Lordran with a new character and a burning desire to introduce potential new players to some of the game’s basics. Below is an embedded round-up of the first three videos, which were published Friday, yesterday and today respectively.

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Review: Earth Defense Force 2025

Shaun

Pity poor Earth Defense Force 2025. It hasn’t enjoyed the most positive press. The top Google search result is this piece for Eurogamer, which whilst an entertaining piece of writing is not exactly rigorous criticism. Over on Metacritic it’s enjoying a 68% average, lagging behind its predecessors (both 2017 and Insect Armageddon) by a whopping 1%.

For a game that’s been talked up more than any previous Sandlot game, for the latest iteration in a series that over the past seven years has cemented a love-it-or-hate-it cult following, and for what is so far the largest and grandest Earth Defense Force title, the response to 2025 is what we might describe as a bit of a damp squib.

Or we might not. EDF games have never particularly concerned themselves with such vagaries as current trends in game design or the demands of a modern gaming audience. Like much of what Sandlot have produced, and like many other titles published by D3, EDF games exist in a design bubble. At the risk of sounding like Popeye’s lettered cousin, they are what they are: low-budget, unapologetically retro third-person shooters, designed to be played extensively by those who do not find such needs sated by more modern offerings.

This is not to shield the series from criticism. The EDF games have always been far from perfect, always riddled with problems, and many people simply don’t get to experience the deep gaming pleasure the games can provide. It’s necessary to represent that perspective in reviewing 2025. But what’s also necessary is to source opinions on it that speak from a deep knowledge of the series and the context 2025 is seated within.

So don’t worry. Arcadian Rhythms got your back. We know this series. We know how it works.

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Review: Dark Souls II

Here’s a disclaimer for you. I am not capable of reviewing Dark Souls II in a way useful to someone who has never played the original game. The depth of my involvement and passion for that game has crippled any ability I might have had for separating the sequel from the context of its bigger brother. Over the last two years my hobby for gaming has split in two. I would still consider gaming to be a hobby, but ‘Playing Dark Souls’ is a distinctly different part of my life – one which in truth has largely overshadowed the broader hobby of gaming. I am not capable of objectivity for this reason. I’m in too deep, and my emotions overrule logic. It’s like asking someone to review a family member.

With that established, let’s get started. And, like Dark Souls II, I’m going to begin on a negative note.

For me and many other players Dark Souls II kicks off in a reasonably disappointing way. This is not to say it was terrible – it wasn’t – but at the same time it was no Dark Souls. I was asked recently to sum up my thoughts on Dark Souls II and, in my then drunken state, I somehow landed on a succinct statement which I’m happy with as an appropriate description of the game. Paraphrased roughly: “Though Dark Souls II is notably worse in all regards than Dark Souls, such is the beauty and elegance of that original game that a sequel can be a pale and mundane shadow of its prequel and still be absolutely fucking brilliant.”

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Navigating a lonely spaceway with Out There’s developers

Out There interview - 01

If you’ve read our review of Out There you’ll know it’s a lonely space exploration experience riddled with mystery. It’s also a tough game, full of content and offering no guarantees that it’ll ever fully reveal itself to you. It’s for these reasons, and more, that we concluded it’s one of the best new games on Android and iOS this year.

Shortly after release we got in touch with developers Michael Peiffert and FibreTigre, inviting them to join us in dancing about a mysterious black obelisk, communicating with a giant space baby and quizzing the resurrected Frank Poole, all to try to understand more about the game and its genesis.

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Arcadian Rhythms announces shameless pursuit of new demographic

That’s right, folks. We’ve come to the conclusion that in order to remain borderline relevant, it’s time for Arcadian Rhythms to harness its ramshackle carriage to the video bandwagon. What do you call it these days? Vlogging? Clogging the YouTubes? Optimal monetisation strategies?

Whatever it’s called, we want in. Therefore over the coming weeks I’ll be doing an intermittent series of videos based – but of course – on From Software’s Dark Souls. The plan is to create entertaining tutorials that explain some of the gameplay basics of Dark Souls, and help disabuse some of the misconceptions around how difficult/cruel/inaccessible it is to play.

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