Oddball Game of the Month – Aragami

Welcome to the last day of April – the perfect day to discuss yet another oddball game.

 

April’s game is Aragami.

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Aragami (or as I like to call it, “Japanese Dishonored”) is a third person game developed and published by indie studio Lince Works.  You play as a vengeful spirit summoned from beyond the grave. In essence, you are a ninja assassin who can manipulate the shadows tasked with destroying an army of light wielders.

The strength of this game lies in the interesting use of light and shadows. You can teleport short distances, but only into a shadow. Spend too much time in the light, and your “shadow essence” (essentially your mana) will drain. Spend time in the shadows, and it will recover.

You also gain other shadow abilities that help you through your bloody journey, such as the ability to create shadows wherever you want or throw kunai. However, unlike many other stealth/assassination games, you cannot engage in hand-to-hand combat when detected, as a single swipe of a light-empowered blade spells the end of our shadowy protagonist.

Now let’s talk about the downside – the repetitiveness. You will basically be doing the same mission against the same enemies over and over without too much variation. It’s a fun game to play, but in its 5 or so hours of game time, it will grow a little old.

The story is also intriguing, but nothing to write home about. It’s somewhat predictable.

The final boss fight also introduced multiple crashes on my system mid-fight, which was frustrating. I don’t know if this is common or not.

 

In conclusion, there’s still 4-5 hours of fun to be found here for around $20. If you like stealth games or want an interesting variation on Dishonored, give this one a go…especially if you can get it on sale.

 

RBG Technobabble Update 001

We have been busy with wedding preparations and other things lately making it hard to schedule times to podcast. Rest assured we are committed to these podcasts and will be returning to a regular schedule as soon as possible.

Today Jeff takes a look at some of the latest in gaming and tech news. Sorry for the microphone audio as I did not have access to the studio this week and had to record with my Corsair headset.

Music is Pumped by RoccoW.

Turbot Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

There plethora of keyboards out there on the market all claiming to be the best of the best of the best sir! With honours! OK, Men in Black quotes aside there are a lot of off brand mechanical keyboards out there that claim they are just as good as their big brand brethren. Well Turbot claims that they have one of the best keyboards out there for a relatively cheap price. Let’s take a look.

As many of you know I am a pretty big fan of the Cooler Master CM Storm Quickfire TK+ with CherryMX brown switches. In fact that is the keyboard I compare all other keyboards out there to. The Turbot has a long hill to climb indeed.

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Normally I’d start with the box but in this case I actually can’t remember the box that it came in as I bought this quite some time ago and never had a chance to review it. So moving on…

At first glance the Turbot keyboard actually looks pretty good. It’s a floating key design which I actually do really like. It doesn’t look a lot different from the other tenkeyless keyboards out there though in all honesty. The keyboard has everything but a num pad which is standard for an 87 key keyboard.

The keycaps are nice single-shot ABS that should last a good deal of time and thanks to the keys not being painted the colour of the keys themselves should at least stay black and not wear. The heavy metal frame wont flex at all when I try to bend it which is also great. There are stands to help lift the keyboard at the front which I appreciate. Some keyboards in this class are starting to ditch those which I think is a bad idea.

The USB cord is a simple rubber covered affair and cannot be removed like many keyboards nowadays in the gaming/mechanical keyboard environment. This doesn’t kill it for me though I never realized how handy that could be until I didn’t have it.

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The key switches themselves are some off brand blue mechanicals that Turbot claims are good for 50000 keystrokes. I can’t obviously substantiate the 50000 stroke claim but the switches themselves claim to be from a company called “Switch Master”. Yep, never heard of ’em. They do feel like blues though with the clickiness and so on. These ones perhaps aren’t quite as loud as CherryMX blues but that’s OK in my book.

One thing I wish was that the keyboard would have it’s it’s default setting on the function keys set to the media keys rather than the actual function keys. I rarely use F1 through F12 for their original intended uses or in many games (other than World of Warships). Oh and back-lighting would be nice but is rarely found at this price point or if it is it’s that annoying non RGB rainbow setup I can’t stand.

Overall for a relatively cheap keyboard this is a pretty good option for those trying to get a relatively cheap mechanical keyboard on a budget. I haven’t had any real issues to speak of. It has a price tag right now of $66.99 CAD on Amazon.

Meet Tantalus P400S TG – My New Rig

Ryzen is here and so is my new computer. Meet Tantalus, named after the FTL drive from the Normany SR2 of Mass Effect fame. I have talked about the new system briefly on our Technobabble podcast but I thought I would go more in depth here with a look at some benchmarks and so on in comparison with Farpoint, my previous main system.

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First we should talk specs. At the launch of AMD’s new Ryzen chip there were only three eight core and sixteen thread available: the R7 1700, R7 1700X and R7 1800X.

CPU

R7 1700

R7 1700X

R7 1800X

CORE COUNTS

8C/16T

8C/16T

8C/16T

CLOCK

3.0 GHz – 3.7 GHz

3.4 GHz – 3.8 GHz

3.6 GHz – 4.0 GHz

TDP

65W

95W

95W

PRICE (current as of writing)

$407.98 CAD

$479.98 CAD

$619.98 CAD

On April 11th the new R5 chips are releasing and for your reference I’ll put the information here so you can at least see what they are compared to the initial chips.

CPU

R5 1400

R5 1500X

R5 1600

R5 1600X

CORE COUNTS

4C/8T

4C/8T

6C/12T

6C/12T

CLOCK

3.2 GHz – 3.4 GHz

3.5 GHz – 3.7 GHz

3.2 GHz – 3.6 GHz

3.6 GHz – 4.0 GHz

TDP

65W

65W

65W

95W

PRICE (MSRP USD)

$169.00

($226.67 CAD)

$189.00

($253.50 CAD)

$219.00

($293.73 CAD)

$249.00

($333.97 CAD)

Anyways, after checking the reviews I decided to go with the R7 1700. Reviewers were coming to the conclusion that all three chips were basically the same but clocked differently and so most have been able to achieve stable overclocks on their 1700s up to 4GHz with a decent air or water cooler.

That was the toughest choice. There wasn’t really a budget for this build. I had promised myself that I would build something that would be nearly top of the line. So the specs. OK. Fine. Prices are in CAD.

CPU

Ryzen R7 1700

$407.98

CPU COOLER

Corsair H110i

$138.99

MOTHERBOARD

MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium

$399.99

MEMORY

G.Skill TridentZ RGB 32GB (4X8GB) DDR4-3000

$389.99

STORAGE

Samsung 850 EVO 250GB

WD Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5”

Pulled from CapSupreme

VIDEO CARD

Asus RX480 8GB Reference x2

Pulled from Farpoint

CASE

Phanteks Eclipse P400s Tempered Glass

$119.99

POWER SUPPLY

EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750 Modular 80+ Gold

$149.99

TOTAL

$1,606.92

WITH NEW ZOWIE MONITORS

BenQ Zowie 24″ RL2455

$2,126.90

Like I said, I wasn’t too concerned about the cost this time around. I wanted a system that could blow away Farpoint and CapSupreme. But did it deliver? Well shall we compare Farpoint and Tantalus directly then?

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First I want to tell you I was able to get at fully stable overclock of my 1700 at 3.9GHz at 1.375V. Where it comes to voltage I wouldn’t want to be running this chip on anything less than my H110i to cool it. I left my RX 480s at their stock 1266MHz.

Alright, benchmarks. I will show you my in game benches but keep in mind I ran all those at 1440p previously. All my new benchmarks are at 1080p. Synthetic benchmarks are run at their defaults. Also I only included the graphics scores on the previous runs so I will include those only this time as well.

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Data, data everywhere! There are your numbers. Tantalus stomps all over Farpoint in almost every test. In fact the only one that is remotely close is Time Spy in DX12 mode. As you can see here DX12 utilizes all the available power pretty well already. The bump in score for Tantalus is merely the extra 8 SMT cores.

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As for building the system overall it was a lot of fun. I mean the best part is always opening the boxes but man getting the final system all worked out has been a treat. The hardest part of the build was actually getting the RGB effects set up and working on the G.Skill memory. Also apparently Ryzen cpus prefer even CAS numbers like CAS 14 and 16. If you can get a kit of CAS 14 or 16 in 3200MHz you’ll be set.

The H110i took a bit to wrestle in to plase as well but it turned out great. In fact so well that I ordered a second P400S TG and moved Farpoint over in to it. Sorry In Win 303, I loved you but I love the P400S more. Here’s what Farpoint looks like now:

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The MSI motherboard is more expensive than it needs to be really. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and I actually really like how the UEFI interface is laid out. It is also nice to have a temperature readout right on the motherboard itself instead of having to open up AMD’s Ryzen Master software to get an accurate reading.

Other than that I would not change a thing in this build. I love it. Let me know what you guys think.

Oddball Game of the Month – Offworld Trading Company

Another month draws to a close, and with it comes another oddball game experience.

March’s Oddball Game of the Month is Offworld Trading Company.

Developed by Mohawk Games and published by Stardock Corporation (gurus in the world of strategy games on a grand scale), Offworld Trading Company is a bit of a different animal. While it’s using a hex-based system similar to games such as Civilization, it operates in real-time. The biggest change from normal RTS games is that it centers around  corporate strategy rather than military. You won’t be commanding battalions of tanks to destroy your enemies with reckless abandon, but rather carefully use corporate espionage and hostile takeovers.

The setting is a futuristic Mars where humanity has begun forging colonies. You, as a massive corporate entity, are charged with building resource gathering and manufacturing infrastructure on the new planet.

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The game’s matches revolve around quick expansion and earning enough money through various means to buy out your competitors. You are given a number of “claims” to use on individual tiles on the map to be able to build mines, greenhouses, or whatever you’d like there. You can stake these claims anywhere on the map, but be warned – the further your claim is from your base, the slower and more expensive it is to make use of.

Resources are listed on your heads up display, complete with incoming and spending numbers. Resources that you are using but not producing enough of will drain your economy pretty fast, so it’s important to become as self-sufficient as possible pretty early. If you create more of a resource than you spend, you can stockpile it and sell it for cash or ship it off world to create additional income.

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The main thing to keep an eye on is the stock price of all players. This increases and falls as one might expect, and will determine the cost to eliminate opponents via buyouts or how close your opponents are to doing the same to you.

One of the key components of the game is the black market, which gives you the ability to purchase devious items or abilities to be used to undermine your opponents – from inciting labour strikes all the way up to underground nukes to destroy resources.

Another feature is the patent system. Once you build a patent office, you can research helpful technologies that only you can use. For example, you can buy the patent for teleportation which allows you (and only you) to forego shipping costs from your mines and manufacturing plants and simply teleport goods to your base.

There is also an auction mechanic that occurs every once in a while which pauses the game as players bid on whatever is up for sale, be it a claim or a black market item. This mechanic can get tiresome if you have little interest in the item, but fortunately the game allows you to skip over it when playing against AI opponents.

The game has a skirmish mode and a campaign, but you cannot play the campaign until you’ve one at least one skirmish. The campaign mode is really more of a series of specially restricted skirmishes with the overall goal of becoming a financial superpower on red planet.

Overall, I really enjoyed Offworld Trading Company for its rather unique take on a hex-based strategy game, but I will say my interested waned more quickly than I expected. There isn’t a ton of variation in what you do from match to match. While I don’t really have a complaint there, I found the lack of an interesting storyline to follow in addition to the fairly repetitive nature of the matches meant I wasn’t as invested as I could have been.

Therefore, I must conclude that the normal price of this game at ~$40-$45 is too rich for my blood. However, on sale, I recommend picking this up if you’re into strategy games and want to try something totally different.