September 25, 2021 — We are approaching that time of year when it is all about the holidays — hence news trickles out at a slower pace than usual. Thankfully, developers are still serving up cooked gamer meat which this week has resulted in a trio of rather notable titles. As we aim for quality over quantity, only games fitting the Kurgan ethos have been included.
In this roundup, we are swept away by the depths of hell all the way to and through the historical high seas of the Caribbean — Kurgan style — and then some.
Diablo Gets Resurrected in ‘Diablo II’ Remaster
In the wake of 2020’s ill-received Warcraft III: Reforged remaster, Blizzard decided once again to return to a beloved property, this time with Vicarious Visions at the helm. This time, shifting focus to the dark and demonic world of Diablo. With Diablo III still garnering plenty of attention from players in spite of being released in 2012, it was a calculated risk to turn around and go backward. And, it is tough to tell if that risk paid off so soon out of the gate, especially as the inevitable slew of patches promises to fix some of the initial launch bugs.
What can be said is Diablo II: Resurrected is a visually beautiful rendition of the 21-year-old title that forms part of video game history. The grim themes are even more evident with the updated visuals, and that unforgettable opening cinematic once again feels both freshly grotesque and eerily familiar. Each world and dungeon design benefits from the visual overhaul, ensuring Diablo II’s aesthetics are “2021 secure” as the graphics are amplified by repainted textures and much-improved lighting.
As has become typical with Blizzard releases, Resurrected feels a bit unfinished. That said, continued work by the Vicarious Visions team is likely to result in a highly playable and largely enjoyable experience, but the glitchy launch may have already done its damage.
‘Disciples: Liberation’ Video Shows Companions
Canadian developer Frima Studio is behind the dark and fantastical world of Disciples: Liberation, a game to be published by Kalypso Media and that blends turn-based combat with the nuances of a strategy RPG. The game world is full of new lore and pits mankind against dark forces, forcing players to tip the scales through tactical combat and political savvy.
Revealed earlier this year with a cinematic trailer that wasn’t too forthcoming with information, Kalypso recently dropped a new trailer showcasing the companions rounding out the robust cast of characters. No one can win a war alone, and the fight to free the lands of Nevendaar from evil’s grasp will require the greatest warriors. In Disciples, companions can be recruited along the way to lend their combat expertise to the party.
Not every companion will join willingly, however, and will require a show of force or compassion before taking up arms against your enemies. They may not quite fall on the side of good, but their prowess on the battlefield and skills are not to be ignored. Choose your companions wisely to build a party of the greatest warriors to help you push through the 80-plus hour campaign.
Disciples is scheduled to launch on Steam on October 21, 2021. A short demo was available for some time which showed promise of a robust and unique experience that pushes the concept of mature fantasy to the forefront.
Trade-sim ‘Port Royale 4’ Colonizes PS5 & Xbox S|X
Released on Windows and last-gen consoles one year ago, in September 2020, Port Royale 4 put players in control of a Spanish, English, French, or Dutch colony at the height of the battle for control of trade routes in the Caribbean. The initial release was met with mixed reviews, but that did deter Kalypso Media and developer Gaming Minds from expanding the reach of its strategic management sim to the new consoles.
Fast forward to September 24, 2021, Port Royale 4 has made its way to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S|X and is offered as a free upgrade for anyone that already owned the PS4 and Xbox One versions. While there have been no updates to gameplay, the new PS5 and Xbox versions run in glorious 4K resolution (the Xbox Series S excluded since it is a less powerful machine.) Additionally, dedicated fans hailing from a previous generation version can carry their save over, ensuring no time is lost in their quest for sea supremacy.
Port Royale 4 has not exactly made any waves in the year since its release, having received criticisms for its slow and clunky combat. However, franchise fans and console players may enjoy the visual improvements which include real-time cloud rendering and a far crisper interface.
Port Royale 4 is available in a standard digital and physical format for $59.99. The game also has an extended digital edition featuring lighthouses and park blueprints.