Pneuma: Breath of Life

Publisher: Deco Digital and Bevel Studios
Developer: Deco Digital and Bevel Studios
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Reviewed On: Xbox One

Mind the stairs, and don’t trip over your own feet.

Pnuema started out less a game, and more of a tech demo, even going so far as to show us how to pronounce it’s title name: /’ nju:ma /. The purpose of developing it was to show off the Unreal 4 Engine, and test positional-oriented rendering, developed by a small team of 6 twenty-something year old’s, who worked throughout the day to put it together, and then worked all night at their regular jobs to fund their project. And, thanks to some very clever positional-based puzzles, a well written, witty narrative, brilliantly voiced by our game’s lead, the end product is a very smart, good looking game.

Pneuma: Breath of Life_20150713223348


We start the game in a black void. The narrator of the adventure, our character, becomes self-aware, and begins to wonder where they are. He then utters some famous words, along the lines of “let there be light” and suddenly a door opens up ahead. We take control, and walk forward into a plain white hallway. The voice in our head, upon the realizing he has just created light, and quite possibly the whole world we just stumbled into, obviously thinks he is now a god. This is where the game shines, in its writing. Our god-like narrator begins to list the laws of physics that are keeping him grounded, and while moving around watching the world beautifully build itself around us, begins to realize that he is not in fact moving, but the world is moving around him. And then begins to add colour and warmth to his surroundings.


At this point, if you decide to walk backwards, you’ll see all the changes become undone, and the world revert back to its pale empty space. This kind of evolution and realization follows us through the whole game, and creates a good sense of progression.

I really liked the voice actor who plays the narrator, his wonder and excitement regarding his new world and his ability to create. Reminds me a lot of Wheatly from Portal 2. His high level thinking and his god-like status slowly begins to wear away though, as we start to come across puzzles. Why would a God like me be forced to do these menial tasks? There are a lot of philosophical questions and points that the narrator raises during the campaign, as he tries to figure out why things are the way they are, what it’s like to be alive in this world, and are we playing the game, or is the game playing us.


The puzzles start off pretty easy to grasp, and graduate to fairly moderate, none of them too hard to handle, but you may get a bit queasy when the game starts to rotate the game world, leaving you a little turned around.



The puzzles are position and focused based. There are eye markers placed around each level, and these will control walls or floor tiles, or doors. When looking at the object marker, it may move as you walk closer, or when you walk away – no explanation as to why this is happening. But these are only affected when looking at them. The camera has to see the eye. For example, when looking at a door marker, the doors may only open as you walk away facing them. Do that for a distance until they open fully, turn around so your eye and the eye marker no longer make contact, and then walk backwards through the open door. Afterwards our narrator will chime in, confirming what we did, and coming to the conclusion that what we did was correct. That’s the easy stuff.

The puzzles get a little more difficult as your progress. Standing on certain pedestals in one area, and rotating the camera will rotate the whole room, and leaving you feeling a little woozy. In the next area, tiles on the floor need to be turned on or off by viewing them at one colour and looking away and coming back to change the colour. These puzzles require time and patience, as one slip up with the camera, and you will have to start all over again.

The puzzles in each area follow a similar mechanic, but don’t feel repetitive or tedious. They are short however, and the game as a whole, is not long, only a few hours, without any real reason to play again.


Pneuma: The Breath of Life is very pretty, brightly coloured, and beautifully textured with smooth marble or bumpy stone, and fill with lush fauna and bright skies. At times, it does feel like a visual tech demo, showing off the capabilities of the Unreal Engine on a console. It’s just a shame that since all of the puzzles are visual and position based, so we spend a lot of time avoiding eye contact with the markers, and instead spend it looking at our feet.



The achievements are very generous: 8/11 of them are for just completing each chapter totalling 850G, and then the 3 remaining are for extra puzzles, these being easily missed.

For those that liked Portal, The Stanley Parable, or looking at your feet.

There’s a puzzle for you (Complete the Game) – 150G



Revisted iReview – BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL HD

Beyond Good & Evil HD

“The weak, the wimps and the wussies still have three seconds to get the hell outta here, and get back to their knitting!”

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platform: Xbox 360 reviewed on Xbox One Backwards Compatibility
Availability: Ps3, Xbox 360

Playing older games is like visiting old friends. Those that you haven’t seen in a few years, but still think about from time to time, or come up in conversations when visiting others. It’s a great feeling to reminisce, but a greater feeling to actually see that friend again, and catch up.

In somewhat of a personal new-games rut, I settled and gave the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility a try. Since Call of Duty Black Ops 2 has yet to be made available, I booted up Ubisoft’s Beyond Good and Evil HD remastered release.


I played the original back in 2004 on the Playstation 2, and it’s always been a mainstay on my list of great games I remember having played during that generation. In 2011 a HD re-mastered edition was released on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 which included improved textures and character models, as well as an updated soundtrack, achievements and leaderboards.


Beyond Good & Evil is an adventure game about an alien invasion and the conspiracy surrounding the involvement of the planet’s military dictatorship. In the game, we play as Jade, a photojournalist and caretaker of a home for orphaned children. Jade, I believe, is the primary reason I fell in love with the game eons ago. She’s a character with a lot of heart, but can hold her own when pressed. Her character design was very spunky, with her baggy pants, white tank top, jet black hair with a headband and green eyes and green lipstick. If one could fall in love with a video game character… Alongside Jade is her uncle, and guardian figure, Pey’J, who is a boar-like creature. Only Jade is playable, but large portions of the game have Jade being paired up with another character to solve puzzles and help in combat situations.


The story of Beyond Good & Evil takes place on a small mining planet called Hillys, with its population a mix of humans and anthropomorphic animals. The local town has been under attack by aliens called the DomZ, who have been abducting and enslaving the civilians. The planet’s military, Alpha Section, has promised to defend the population, yet have been unable to stop the alien attacks thus far. An underground resistance group called IRIS Network believes that the Alpha Section is actually working with the aliens, and are working towards uncovering the truth. IRIS enlists Jade’s photojournalist skills to reveal Alpha Section’s true motivations. Once proof has been obtained, IRIS will provide the evidence to the Governess and create promotional material to gain favour with the citizens and help overthrow the military dictatorship. On the side, to help fund her adventure, Jade is also a freelance photographer, taking pictures of all the species on Hillys for a science museum. This photography gameplay mechanic is part collection, finding all the species throughout the game, but also provides the player with currency, allowing them to buy health restore items and upgrades.


The majority of the game takes place in a small floating town built around canals, and small surrounding islands. Primary mode of transportation is a hovercraft that allows the player to navigate the open, but modest, world. The main city serves as the hub, where we meet vendors, and visit the Akuda Bar which is the headquarters for IRIS. The Alpha Section’s many headquarters are also found in the city, and can be unlocked and accessed throughout the game for more collectibles. The city also hosts 2 hovercraft races.

The closest island boasts a lighthouse, and is our protagonist’s home, where she lives with her uncle and orphaned kids. The game starts on this island as the focal point of the initial alien attack, and jump starts Jade’s adventure. Other nearby islands include caves and a volcano, and the final large island is the slaughter house. This final island also hosts 2 more hovercraft races. Each area gets unlocked as we progress through the story and unlock new items for the hovercraft.


Aside from taking a break and admiring the local beaches in said hovercraft, Beyond Good & Evil’s other two gameplay mechanics are Combat and Stealth. On our missions to unlock the truth we come across many different types of creatures while exploring the islands, some are not so friendly. Jade is equipped with a staff to help her in fights, and more often than not, paired with a companion in Pey’J or an IRIS operative named Double H. With their help we can fight off any baddies that come our way. They will also aid with navigating the islands’ inner workings and cooperative puzzle areas. The other bad guys we stumble upon are the Alpha Section’s elite. Most of these sections require stealth to navigate around, as this enemy has strength in numbers and Jade is ill equipped to deal with them on high alert, especially later on in the story when breaking stealth is an instant fail.

The pacing of the game is its notable weakness. There are only a few proper missions involving the Alpha Section investigation, and these are quite bloated, but afterwards we always have to run back to the town to turn in our findings. We then have to re-explore the town and its new available areas to collect the required amount of Pearls (in-game currency to upgrade our Hovercraft) to advance. It feels like, as Jade, we have to do a lot of unnecessary leg work just to help the resistance complete their story of corruption. They’re very thankful for our assistance, but I don’t feel that we are properly compensated, aside from a few donated Pearls from the resistance supporters.


Story gripes aside, the game is just as enjoyable as I remember, if not a little weak on the writing – some of the one liners from Pey’J are groan-worthy. The HD re-mastering is also not a huge leap forward in visuals, but the game is much brighter and more colourful. The water reflections are most noteworthy, as some times it looks like we’re hovering across glass.

The camera was my biggest complaint. When piloting the hovercraft in tight corridors, or as Jade when in a combat situation or hugging the walls in stealth, the camera was very difficult to wrangle into the ideal direction, and sometimes left me turned around, or having to restart the segment.

I did also notice a few points where the game hung between gameplay and cut-scene and quite a few instances where the dialogue audio was not synced with the character’s facial animations. These could be chocked up to the HD re-mastering with new frame rates, or even the Xbox One Backwards Compatibility emulation.

The game is still fun to play, the puzzles fairly smart, and since it’s been 16 years since I originally played it, everything felt fairly fresh.


Achievement-wise, the game is quite light, as it was released as an Xbox Arcade game. So it only had 200G worth, mostly item collection oriented, and the standard “introduction” and “beat the game” achievements.

-For those who talk to animals, enjoy photography, or always fall in love with the first video game female they meet.

Notable Achievements
Wildlife Photographer (Take 6 film rolls of animal photos) – 20G
Racing Champion (Score 1st in all 4 hovercraft races) – 20G



iReview – #IDARB – Loss of Words

What is this? A center for ants?

Title: #IDARB
Developer: Other Ocean Interactive
Publisher: Other Ocean Interactive
Platform: Xbox One
Reviewed on: Xbox One

#IDARB or I Draw a Red Box is a strange game. At its most basic, its a competitive 2D platforming sports game, allowing anywhere from 1 V 1 up to 4 V 4. The premise is that each team has a goal, and there’s a ball, and the object of the game is to get the ball in the goal.

Simple enough right?

Game On!

Game On!

The playing field is neither square nor simple, as it is filled with platforms to help navigate around (some which you can pass through, others you can not) as the goals are elevated. Each team has a goal zone on either side and the ball gets dropped down the middle. The players can jump and double jump and stomp on one another. When they have the ball, they can carry it, or shoot it, or pass to another player. When they don’t have the ball, players have a little shock wave attack. This will knock other players or kick the ball away from the ball carrier. Jumping on a player will stun them, and reverse their controls temporarily.

All the while, the announcer is spewing out crazy movie quotes.

“#IDARB is a competitive 2D platforming sports game.”

The game also has a penalty box to punish players who try to play goalie and sit in the goal for too long, or those who spam the attack button. You’re sent to the penalty box for 30 seconds, and these are located directly beneath the arena. When in the penalty box you can still move around and if you hit the floor directly beneath a player who’s on the bottom of the arena, you can swap places. Nasty trick.

Walking the ball into the goal will net you one point, shooting it, two. When you’re around the general vicinity of the goal, a point multiplier overlay will show up, where the further you shoot from, the more the shot is worth: 2, 3, and 5 points. Like basketball, I think? In addition, the game also counts the ball bouncing off other players or platforms as a multiplier, also like basketball, I’m pretty sure.

For example: shooting the ball and bouncing it off 2 platforms will net a 3x multiplier, couple this with a 5 point shot, and the score can get pretty high. These however are not the easiest to pull off as the aiming mechanic is limited, and the game quite frantic.

Frantic should be the name of the game, as the game gets real confusing real quick, especially with more players. As simple as the gameplay is, it will typically breakdown to a young kids soccer match where a cluster of players just follow the ball. And then its just a scrum, a ball, and lots of shock waves. You will very easily lose track of your own character as all the players are the same size, and look similar.

The game has a single player mode which is a series of challenge matches, but the main focus is the multiplayer, either local or online.

The game is broken up into 4 90-second rounds, but the players don’t switch sides. There is a halftime intermission with small mini-games. The players take part in space ship battles, or tank wars, or a game of tug-a-war. The results of the halftime games are nothing than a laugh, and afterwards you jump right back into the mayhem.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite colour?

The game also features a deep creation section, allowing you to create your own characters, theme music and logos. What’s really cool about this is that each song, character and logo has its own unique QR code that you can post online or share with friends so they can download their creations and import them into your game, or vice-versa. Then you can create your team, with your choice of characters, logo and winning song.

“Frantic should be the name of the game.”

Lastly is the games social media tethering, specifically Twitch and Twitter. Every time you start up a new match, it gets coded with a unique hashtag identifier found at the top corner. If your game is being streamed to Twitch, people watching can comment on your game using the hashtag and it will read along the bottom as you’re playing. This can also be done through twitter by messaging @idarbwire and the hashtag. This is a cool novelty that can turn sideways, as the game ALSO allows hashtag game modifiers, or hashbombs.

These hashbombs can be as innocent as visual changes to the characters, turning them Red vs Blue for example, adding portals to the game, or filling the arena with water. Some can be a little more malicious, such as turning the ball into a bomb, that, when exploded, will send the closest player to the penalty box, or adding sharks to the platforms. These are definitely fun to play with friends, and messing with their game.

There’s a neat twitterbot that will crawl the twitter feeds for incoming twitter messages, and will occasionally attack your game too. Unexpectedly funny.

Choose Your Champion!

Choose Your Champion!

All in all, the game is a fun little co-op/competitive throw-away arcade game. For what it is, it’s a true blast to play. Outside of the local co-op/competitive however, there’s not much else to it, but it’ll remain a fixture to game nights for a while.

For those who like seizures, arcade soccer/basketball, and ruining your friend’s good time.

Notable Achievements:
Boom Goes the Dynamite (Score a 15 Point Shot) – 100G
Just Like Having a Baby (Create 20 or more characters in the character creator) – 75G

Procrastinate Reviews: Max, The Curse of Brotherhood (and of Loading Screens)

Have you ever had a brother? Ever wished for him to disappear? If this indeed happened, would you rejoice? Or chase after him?

This is how Max: The Curse of Brotherhood starts. What follows is a 2.5D platforming, physics based adventure across a strange land where we see our protagonist, Max, climb, run, jump, and swing (in that order) his way to saving his brother, Felix. I still haven’t decided yet if this is for the better.

Conveniently Spaced Pillars to jump on you seeÉ

Conveniently Spaced Pillars to jump on you see?

The Story:

Max returns home to find his younger brother messing with his s***. Understandably PO’d, Max Google’s a curse to make his brother disappear. Seems reasonable. The curse, however, comes true and Felix gets warped away to another land. Max, immediately regretting his decision, jumps in the portal and chases after his brother.

In short order, we learn that a cranky old man is stealing kids, and it’s up to us, with the assistance of a cranky old lady, to defeat him. We’re gifted a magical marker that allows us to lift earth pillars, draw branches, vines, and water streams to help us navigate this 2.5D side-scroller.

The GamePlay:

The gameplay is more than a typical side-scroller too, as we are empowered with the ability to shape the land around us through the handy marker. As we progress through the levels, we unlock new abilities, starting out with the ability raise little pillars of land. Next we get the ability to draw and cut branches and vines, with vines granting us the ability to swing ourselves or physics objects from branches to the next landing, and lastly we get the ability to draw powerful water streams.

The best parts of the game are when all the powers come together for the physics based puzzles. You may find yourself sliding down a hill or jumping from a crumbling stone stair case and suddenly propelled into the air with water streams and having to draw some handy vines to swing yourself to safety. The highlight of the mechanic would definitely be the intense final puzzle.

The Technical:

“The game is good looking” is somewhat understated. The lighting is especially mention-worthy on a couple of levels that involve deadly fireflies, and a very dark cave sequence where all you have is the magic marker to light your path.

The Issues:

Max the Curse of Brotherhood is a quaint little game that has a lot of heart. It’s very pretty, and has a lot of cool, epic moments and some neat puzzles. For all intents and purposes, it is short, but there are plenty of collectibles to search for.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

There’s nothing actually wrong with the game that’s offered, but with the things that are missing. The capacity to draw the branches and vines is great, but becomes very restrained in scope as to how much you can draw and where. Secondly, considering this is an Xbox title, Kinect functionality for the drawing mechanic would be fun to use. Don’t get me wrong, don’t force it, that would be brutal, but an option to play with would have been nice.

In conclusion, the game is a unique little platformer with some fun ideas. It doesn’t have the same level of polished mechanics that its brethren may share, but given its artistic style, it is a nice addition to the library.

It’s also a good thing that Max is a better brother than I. If left up to me, at that age, this story would have ended prematurely.

Notable Achievements:

He is The One (Huh, time really DOES slow down when you’re in danger.) – 10G
Ludicrous Speed (Reached the old lady in under 5 minutes.) – 50G

Procrastinate Review: Darksiders II

My Procrastinated, Comparative Review of Darksiders II

Intended to stick with the short-form reviews for a bit, but after stumbling through padded mishmash that is Darksiders II, I had a few things to fuss about, so this review is a little dense, for consistency sake.

Darksiders II’s story is parallel to the events of the first game. If you’ll recall, in Darksiders I, War, one of the Four Horsemen accidently started the apocalypse early, and dooms all of Earth’s population, and is then brought to justice for his crimes. The sequel sees us playing as his brother, Death, who believes War was tricked into committing his crimes seeks to redeem his brother’s wrongdoings and wishes to fix everything and restore humanity. The story from that part continues along its convoluted way, meeting new characters and foes along the way, as Death futilely attempts to reach his end goal. We slowly learn the entire land is actually being consumed by darkness and Corruption, and the plan of saving our Brother starts to fade, and instead we must save everyone else, and maybe Humanity someday. One day? Who cares?



The Darksiders franchise is really just the darkest timeline of Zelda. The story follows our emo protagonist through a steady stream of dungeons, and open lands for exploring; each new area presenting us with a new gameplay mechanic. The dungeons themselves are interactive puzzles, requiring the player to think their way through a series of levers, doors, elevators, and portals, with some wall-running and scaling, all the while fighting a slew of increasingly difficult enemies.

The enemies and dungeons present us with a new RPG and loot mechanic, as the player is bestowed an abundance of weapons, gear, and items along our forays into combat. All the weapons have attributes such as strength, and damage, and resistance, and defense, and stop me if this sounds redundant. You gain experience to level up our character as well, awarding the player new magic attacks.

Traveling the large lands of Darksiders II is made effortless with the addition of our horse, Despair. Additionally, we have the ability to fast travel to the different city hubs we frequent or to return to the dungeons once visited. This is where my first complaints started arising.


We have a horse named Despair (keeping with the #dark theme) to ride around on, in the open vast lands between dungeons, great. But that’s all the horse is good for, just traveling. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can fast travel back as much as you’d like. You can fast travel out of the dungeon half-way through, and return to the exact point you left off from, if you were so inclined. The horse is a nice addition at first, but is really underutilised save for one boss fight. How come there aren’t other speedy enemies that I need the horse to ride alongside? I have 21 inventory slots per style of gear for my character. Including my two weapons, armor and amulets, that’s 147 slots for disposable gear. How come I couldn’t add gear to my horse? I got to the point where I turned on the ‘auto-collect’ for my gear and didn’t even look at comparisons until after I was done the dungeon, and then sold off the rest before starting the next area.

I clocked the main story at 20 hours to completion. 20 hours doesn’t sound like a lot of invested time, and you’d be right, but it certainly felt like a long time. The story and quests are just so thin, but padded for the sake of game time; always collecting items of three to progress. There are some side quests to waste time, and a challenging labyrinth quest that required collectibles to navigate.

I felt the story to be unnecessarily puzzling, and Death’s true goals to be lost along the way as he was sent from one meaningless task to the next before finally defeating the land’s Corruption boss in the end, and making the ultimate decision to save his brother and humanity, and sacrifice his kin. I was disappointed that the game ended in another cliff-hanger, similar to its predecessor, and that I did not get to meet up with War at all. The game’s final moments promise more, but we’ve heard that before.

Executed Well:

The art and design is gorgeous. Some of the landscapes were breathtaking, especially in the Land of the Dead: its tormented lands, and scarred earth. And the character, Death, is a design deserving applaud.

The dungeons themselves were very satisfying, just the right amount of puzzle that required thought. The plat-forming and gameplay elements for traversal, like the Death-Grip (grappling hook), were used well, and frequently, with each new area adding another element for navigation. Constant waves of enemies, increasing in difficulty, were a pleasure too. Death with the dual-scythes always felt like a bad-ass.

The bosses were imaginative, and like its blatant inspiration, Zelda, always required that one clever element to assist with defeating them. My one gripe would be the game’s paramount boss featured heavily in the trailers: the boss that seemed ripped out of Shadow of the Colossus. The boss was the only example of an enemy that was large enough that we had to climb on it and attack certain key weak points. My complaints are a) completely under-utilized large-area boss fight which proved to be the only true use of the horse. Obviously would have appreciated a few more instances of this type of battle. And b) this climactic type of battle was easily the ¼ mark of the game’s story. To have this boss featured heavily in the trailers, and expired so soon is wickedness.


The game is sound. Like its predecessor, it has an interesting tale, with some epic fight scenes, relegated to cut-scenes, but I digress. The art, character design, and scenery are marvelous, and dungeon crawling is very satisfying. The game, however, suffers from some excess filler, cushioning the thin story with unfortunate fetch-style quests, and leaves us in the end wanting what we ultimately wanted going in: meeting up with War, as two brothers of the Apocalypse.

Notable Achievements:
Respec Yourself (Your first respect) – 20G
Diamond Geezertron (Unlock the final skill in either skill tree) – 10G