Jun 25, 10:00

PCGamesN Sunday, June 25, 2023 9:17 AM
     The grandfather of MMOs like WoW and FF14 shutting down after 27 years

Classic '90s MMORPG game The Realm Online is shutting down 27 years after it first opened, marking an end to one of the grandfathers of the genre and early graphical MUDs, like Habitat. The Realm Online would go on to inspire Ultima Online, EverQuest, and help create MMOs as we know them today like FF14 and WoW.

MORE FROM PCGAMESN: Best MMORPG games, Best old games, Best fantasy games

PCGamesN Sunday, June 25, 2023 6:53 AM
     Ahead of Starfield, Bethesda's biggest Fallout game is dirt cheap

Fallout 4 is still a great time, and the perfect Bethesda RPG game to keep you busy while you wait for the Starfield release date. So if you're yet to play it, or need to fill out your library with it, this Fallout Steam sale is the perfect time to snag Fallout 4 at a super cheap price. You could even buy it for a friend if you're feeling generous enough.

MORE FROM PCGAMESN: Fallout 4 console commands, Fallout 4 mods, Fallout 4 System Requirements

PCGamesN Sunday, June 25, 2023 5:38 AM
     Oblivion's remake in Skyrim shows off ten minutes of new footage

The upcoming Elder Scrolls Oblivion remake built by fans entirely within Skyrim has just had a huge update, as the RPG game looks more and more like a great way to wait out the Elder Scrolls 6 release date. So if Oblivion and Skyrim's love child, naturally called Skyblivion, is of interest, you'll want to see this.

MORE FROM PCGAMESN: Best RPG games, Best games like Skyrim, Elder Scrolls 6 release date

PCGamesN Sunday, June 25, 2023 6:01 AM
     Is Diablo 4 down? Current server status

Are the Diablo 4 servers down? The latest iteration of Blizzard's critically acclaimed dungeon crawler is always online, which can often cause its own set of problems. Between unreliable internet connections, scheduled maintenance, and malicious attacks, it can be tough to troubleshoot exactly what's keeping you from logging in. With our help, you should be back in Sanctuary and tearing through demons in no time.

Blizzard has confirmed that a Diablo 4 offline mode won't be arriving in the ARPG any time soon – if ever. Consequently, knowing how to check the Diablo 4 server status is of vital importance if you ever find yourself unable to log in, and we recommend keeping our list of Diablo 4 error codes on hand for some quick troubleshooting whenever connectivity issues strike. Here are your next steps when Diablo 4 is down.

MORE FROM PCGAMESN: Diablo 4 builds, Diablo 4 review, Diablo 4 classes

Rock Paper Shotgun Latest Articles Feed Sunday, June 25, 2023 6:00 AM

Sundays are for sticking the fan on. Before you feel the breeze, let's read this week's best writing about games (and game related things).

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Siliconera Sunday, June 25, 2023 9:00 AM

Harmony Fall of Reverie review

With its bright colors, beautiful animations, lovely voice acting, and clean UI, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie certainly looks like a polished narrative adventure. That is, until you start it. I can admire and genuinely appreciate the worldbuilding of Atina. However, the richness of it only makes the hollow plot and lack of a meaningful message even more apparent. It does not take long for the shiny exterior of the game's aesthetic and acoustic aspects to fall apart and reveal the dull and disorganized contents that they are shielding.

[caption id="attachment_969118" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]harmony the fall of reverie review Screenshot by Siliconera[/caption]

The plot of Harmony: The Fall of Reverie follows Polly, who returns to Atina because her mom is missing. She also discovers that she is the Oracle of Reverie, which is a magical world where Aspiration—personified human ideals—reside. Using her access to the Augural (clairvoyance) and heeding the advice of the Aspirations, she has to uncover a megacorporation's conspiracy, find her mother, and save Reverie. All throughout, there are a lot of interpersonal conflicts between the various friends and family members. That's not even taking into account Polly's complicated relationship with her mother Ursula, which was the reason she left Atina in the first place.

When I played the preview for Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, I'd thought I was being a little uncharitable in talking about the breakneck pacing of the game. Since it was an early build, I'd imagined that it was an abridged version for the reviewer's convenience. In reality, I had indeed played the first few hours of the game. The fastballs just start coming and they don't stop coming. It makes it very hard to keep up emotionally with the story because of how many plot points, conflicts, and characters there are. Everything I described above basically happens within the first two or three hours of the game. I honestly felt overwhelmed. If Don't Nod is doing this on purpose to make me really empathize with Polly, then congratulations. It worked. But it makes for a negative gaming experience.

Games that present the player with choices for them to mold the story on their terms are really popular. The Quarry, I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Heavy Rain, and even Don't Nod's other series Life is Strange... All of these games place the onus of the plot progression in the player's hands. Harmony does too, as the Aspirations love to remind you. But where Harmony fails as a choice-based game is in something very simple: its inability to engage the audience. The characters in the game never stop feeling like strangers to me. I only know them as data and facts, not as people. Because of that, my interest level in what happens never goes further than "general apathy." How can I care about what happens to someone I feel like I barely know?

[caption id="attachment_969123" align="alignnone" width="1200"]omar I thought this was self-referential humor and laughed but in retrospect, I think this was played straight. Screenshot by Siliconera.[/caption]

Let's take a step back and look at the above comparisons. We'll take The Quarry for an example. When I played The Quarry, I legitimately went out of my way to save the ragtag group of dummies. Their scenes before the horrors of the night start familiarize me with them, from their relationships to their aspirations (ha). So I didn't really want to see them die in grotesque ways. This is the exact same thing that happened in Exocolonist. I wanted to save Tammy because she had, in her one brief scene in the beginning, been really cute. Again, it happened in Heavy Rain. I wanted to save the characters because I kind of wanted Ethan to get some closure. Make the player care for the characters and their well-being—that's all you need to do. It can be as simple as them being nice or funny.

Harmony: The Fall of Reverie does not accomplish this at all. I think it tried to, but the more it did, the less I felt engaged. Because of the fast pacing of the game, the plot bombards me not only with a lot of really crazy details about the world, but the characters too. Within the first hour, I had to remember the various weird ways that Polly and her family are related to each other, the complicated relationships they had with Ursula, and their own internal conflicts on what's going on. That's on top of the other stuff about Reverie, MK, egregore, and the like. It's too much at once. Even The Quarry split up introducing its counselors in groups and with scenes that let you get a feel for them in a natural environment.

That natural environment part is a really big thing. As soon as the game starts, Polly describes basically her entire reason for leaving, as well as the ins and outs of her issues with Ursula, her mom. It made me lose interest really fast. If I had the chance to work out what Polly's issues are (to put it simply, Ursula is a narcissist mom who has never spent meaningful time conversing with Polly), then the story could have remained intriguing. Or maybe the mystery could have been why Polly left in the first place. But no. The game spells everything out to me and then kicks me to the next conflict before I can even digest what I learned. I get the strong feeling that the writer does not trust the player to have any critical thinking skills.

The lack of engaging character writing also appears in the plot as well. The only time I feel mentally challenged is when I notice inconsistencies or oddities in the writing. In my preview, I mentioned an inconsistency in Jade's talk about disappearances in Alma, for example. I also don't understand why Nora calling Laszlo "Grandpa" is a big deal if he's supposed to be her grandfather. Perhaps there was a nuance about their relationship that went over my head, lost in the blitzkrieg of backstory and lore. But I digress. The story has a very anti-capitalist bent, even if you don't pass through the node where you literally write EAT THE RICH in your attempt to take down Evil Future Amazon (MK). As soon as the game starts and it introduces MK as this big monopoly that works its employees like slaves, I got it.

[caption id="attachment_969121" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Harmony Reverie Grandpa Fall Screenshot by Siliconera[/caption]

Something in fiction that I don't enjoy is when the villain's philosophy has merit but then they turn out to secretly eat babies or something. Instead of engaging with or exploring the villain's morality, the creator shuts it down by making them so evil that you can't agree or empathize anymore. Amon from The Legend of Korra and Daisy from BioShock Infinite are two examples. It's unfortunate but until they inevitably start eating babies, the narrative remains interesting and challenging. Maybe the villain has a legitimate point, or maybe the protagonist's actions have repercussions beyond what's going on. But with MK, it's pretty obviously just a Futuristic Amazon (or any other similar late capitalist monopoly) that the conflict revolving around it feels unnecessary. It feels like the only reason the MK stuff exists is because the characters need to argue about something.

But there are so many other things to argue about! Why not have everyone know about Reverie from the start and then debate on how to fix the Heart? Why not just keep it focused on Polly's mommy issues? Oh, trust me, they do argue about all that and more. But you only ever have two opinions to choose from. A combination of societal rebellion, fantasy world saving, and familial conflict can coexist in a single story. I just don't know if it's possible for these three plot threads to conclude in a satisfactory way in such a limited amount of time. That's not taking into account the individual characters' stories. Thus, Harmony might have needed to pare itself down right from the beginning to be effective.

[caption id="attachment_969122" align="alignnone" width="1200"]Harmony Reverie Fall Ursula Screenshot by Siliconera[/caption]

Another thing that baffles me is in what the story chooses to focus on. I can put together why characters are feeling a certain way, thank you. But what I can't figure out is how things are foreshadowed, if they are. Certain revelations come out with seemingly only the barest hint of them prior. Problems suddenly arise, urgently demanding that you care about them even though they hardly feel like an issue. That's because you don't SEE anyone in trouble. Polly is always in Reverie, or somewhere else. She just keeps getting conveniently removed from the action. Events that would've been engaging to watch exist only as descriptions told secondhand to her. Between this narrative choice and the lack of earned emotional moments, it feels like a mix of Twilight and Suicide Squad.

Now, let's move on to the game itself. The Augural system is really cool! I do think that it starts to get really hard to read the more branches there are, and it could use with a legend on the menu. While the UI is simple, I found it hard to interpret at times because I couldn't immediately tell if a node was inaccessible. The necessity of gathering crystals to unlock endings or nodes made it feel more strategic. You had to plan out your options and choices in advance in order to get to a certain node. That was a really fun way to approach a story map system! My one complaint is that each node is so short before it punts you back to the Augural that I occasionally just lost track of the conversation until I backread.

[caption id="attachment_969124" align="alignnone" width="1200"]augural Screenshot by Siliconera[/caption]

The last thing I want to bring up is the Switch. I played the preview on the PC so I'm aware of how smooth and beautiful the game is. The Switch version is...interesting. There are a lot of weird little visual stuff going on. The text boxes are fine in the story but for some reason, they don't transition right on the Augural. Sometimes they squeeze for a second before moving on. Sometimes the font gets really big for a second before the next text box. The animations of the characters also look kind of off, like they weren't resized properly. Standing still, they look fine. It's only when they move that it looks bad. I suggest playing it on something other than the Switch.

For a text-heavy and narrative-focused game, Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is one in which the story is actually the weakest point. The game could have been shorter, because the latter half of the story kind of falls apart. (It's already not a very long game though.) The writing style is plenty melodramatic and poetic, but it feels far too heavy-handed and can round to alienating. It wants me to feel something so bad, but it never gives me the chance to form these emotional ties to the plot or characters. Sometimes the metaphors don't work, aiming for deep and landing somewhere in strange. Though I can see the various team members' individual passion shine through in the game's components, a tighter vision would have saved this particular reverie's heart.

[gallery columns="2" ids="969119,969120" link="file"]

Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is available on the PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC via Steam. Nintendo Switch version reviewed.

The post Review: Harmony: The Fall of Reverie is Beautiful But Dull appeared first on Siliconera.

Gamer Empire Sunday, June 25, 2023 9:03 AM
     Players of other Paradox Interactive games may already be familiar with the concepts of vassalising another state. Stellaris also has a vassal system that empire leaders can make use of. Vassal is a fancy word for subject; if an empire is your vassal, you are their boss for intents and purposes. Likewise, if you have […]

Gamer Empire Sunday, June 25, 2023 7:51 AM
     In Project Zomboid, the console serves as a powerful tool that allows you to execute commands, modify settings, and even spawn items. Thus, learning how to open the console is necessary in case you need to debug the world. In this guide, we'll show you how to open the console in Project Zomboid. Recommended Read: […]

Gamer Empire Sunday, June 25, 2023 7:30 AM
     In Old School RuneScape, it is essential that every player knows how to buy and sell items. Whether it's selling items to other players or non-player characters (NPCs), trading with other entities is the key to getting gold in OSRS. This guide goes over how to sell your items in Old School RuneScape and which […]

Gamer Empire Sunday, June 25, 2023 7:15 AM
     Charcoal is an essential resource in Don't Starve Together since it can be used as fuel and play a massive role in many useful recipes. However, new players may struggle to get it in the game's early days. This article will show you how to get charcoal in Don't Starve Together. Recommended Read: How to […]