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Laserbeards Gaming Podcast Episode 12

Laserbeards Gaming Podcast Episode 12


A Bit of a Stooshie

Christi and Ian become a bit rowdy in this episode when we get all giddy because it is “Mass Effect Day”, and theres a bit of gushing about the Switch, it’s games, and the overwhelming number of good games to play at the moment. Ian is sick of diddling all the diddlies and is desperately trying not to PSVR any time soon. Christi references Dark Souls, Ian mystically chants the word “roguelike” several times in an desperate effort to get others to join his cult.
Content & Timestamps
0:02:51 News: Switch Joycon Fix
0:08:28 Battlezone VR Update
0:12:45 Vita 2 Rumour?
0:17:07 Mass Effect Andromeda
0:30:07 Zelda: Breath of the Wild
0:40:40 Ghost Recon: Wildlands
0:52:48 Fast RMX
0:58:16 Horizon Zero Dawn
1:20:04 Nier: Automata
1:27:32 Torment: Tides of Numenera
1:33:14 Beardstrokes: State of Beards
1:34:40 The Switch
1:43:52 7 Day Roguelike Challenge 2017
1:49:04 Future: The Persistence VR
1:53:13 Ian’s Cheeky Gems: Siralim 2
l:59:22 Christi’s Kickstarter Thingy: All Walls Must Fall
Our musical intermissions available at
Our “goatee” logo is from Freepik (www.freepik.com) over at Flaticon (www.flaticon.com) is licensed by Creative Commons BY 3.0.
We are the Laserbeards, we’re old and hairy and a little bit weird.

The Brut@l Laserbeards Challenge!!

Nearing the release of the action “roguelite” Brut@l from Stormcloud Games, we have issued the Laserbeards Challenge!

When creating a new game of Brut@l, just enter the dungeon seed “LASERBEARDS” and then fight, jump and die and let us know how you got on.

Let us know on Twitter @laserbeards

Post up your death screenshot.

Or even capture your death throes in a video and let us know the link.

Here is our very own Christi, “the Brave Bearded One”, do a Let’s Play and primes you with lots of useful information on how to play the game, and some tactical tips on how to keep on dungeoneering Brut@l style.


Here’s my attempt, Ian the spelkybeard, at playing an Amazon warrior ( in my mind, Wonder Woman). She made it to Level 9 and got down to Dungeon Depth 10, before succumbing to lack of health, food and luck in the poisonous mushroom swamps of Hell.


Keep your torch aflame, your nerve sturdy and your jumping light and bouncy.

Pay your respects to the ASCII. Homage to the Roguelike.

Drink in the unidentified potion!

Enchant your bonker!

Everyone enjoys an Enchanted Pee!

See you in Brut@l!

Fallout 4 – A View From A Seasoned Survivor


I went back to Fallout 3 the other day. Just briefly. I got it as a pre-order reward for Fallout 4. Fallout 3 was up there as an all time classic ( it was even the much maligned but unsurprisingly still fine PS3 version ) in my eyes. Trouble is, I went back after tens of hours in Fallout 4. It was a bit of a low resolution shock. If nothing else it showed just how much of an improvement Fallout 4 is. The animation was awful; the colour palette so, so bland; and everything felt so very clunky.

I think I lasted 10 minutes before firing up Fallout 4 and vowing never to go retro again. It just destroys those memories. Strangely akin to meeting your heroes.

It threw the achievements of Fallout 4 into sharp relief. It is, at times, starkly beautiful. Where Fallout 3 seemed to take its visual cues from the brutal war photography of the second world war, Fallout 4 goes for a beautiful destruction. This is aftermath, after all. A story of faltering recovery. Echoing the horrifying, transfixing, twisted beauty of the Gulf War photography. A type of photography that we now no longer see, governments having finally – sadly – realised that images are powerful, and concluding they need to be controlled. It’s a beauty that holds your attention long enough for you to notice the terrible details. That, IMO, is the genius of Fallout 4.


Here was a world I could live in, where even the radiation storms oozed atmosphere ( sorry ). It was still fraught with danger, a world where the mosquitoes are a true nightmare, but it was filled with character. And filled with characters too. Filled with stories everywhere. Any curious venture into new territory, any discovery of a new building could easily lead you on a big adventure. A discovered note, a password or log entry found on a computer could send you to the other side of the map or down into previously unsuspected bowels of the building.

It happened to me numerous times and gave a perspective on the fearmongering / concern trolling pre launch about the time it took to cross the map. Never mind how meaningless that is anyway, the sheer density of adventuring available to the sole survivor is enough to shine a light on that particular nugget of nonsense. This is Boston, apocalypse style. It’s an open world that took me (according to my save file ) 7 days and 2 hours to finally satiate me. That’s an achievement in itself. I generally tire of openworlders much much earlier. This is a hand-crafted world designed to reward every single explorative whim you can have while playing.

The environmental story telling is fantastic too. The poses of long dead skeletons often raising questions. Was there a struggle here? Did that family end it all together? Is that skeleton by the war memorial the remains of a distraught war veteran? What the hell was that guy doing fishing in a toilet bowl?? 


Everywhere you look a new question is asked or an old question resolved. I took to taking screenshots of the most interesting ones. It brought out the latent war photographer in me.


Combat is a joy, complemented by a deep and highly flexible perk system. One that even by level 60, I hadn’t come close to fully exploring. VATS ( the time slowing, turn based system Fallout is famous for ) was never less than spectacular. Watching myself – perfectly framed – lock and load a Fatman, then set a nuke on its way to a deathclaw, assaultron or a supermutant never, ever, got old.

The animation, while not exactly at the level of Mirror’s Edge or Ori, is so much more fluid and realised than Bethesda has achieved before. Especially with the ever lovable, ever loving Dogmeat who just exudes character and demanded my attention so much that I would talk to the flippin’ thing on occasion.

And then there’s the settlement building. I never got deep into the electronic engineering, logic side of it, although the potential there is huge, but I had an enormous amount of fun creating ludicrous shack architecture, and providing for my settlers. I’m hoping Bethesda build on that because it’s one of the major reasons I would come back into this world now that I’ve finished everything I want to finish.


In the end, when I finally felt I’d seen enough and could finish my quest for Shaun, I was satisfied to be done. The quest lines were all well written and the main quest was fine, although I felt it ignored some obvious issues. I’m hoping it deals with those issues in the DLC. The real story though, is written in an astonishingly well crafted and dense world.

It’s in the environment, and the relationships you build with companions, and and a world so dense with opportunity, so packed with potential, that no one is going to have the same story to tell after.

Fallout 4 is a fantastic successor to Fallout 3. It should be a new measuring stick for other developers to hold close. I can’t wait for an excuse to return to the beautiful destruction of Boston once more.


Outward – The Adventurer Life Sim

Outward – The Adventurer Life Sim

Ziggurat Impressions

It’s like Bloodborne’s chalice dungeons, but suitable for all the family.


Yes, those are carrots… And not anywhere close to as friendly as they look.

Ziggurat seems to have gone under the radar a little bit, and I guess in some ways that’s understandable as it’s a very low budget affair, but actually, especially with Bloodborne’s chalice dungeons setting Reddit alight, Ziggurat deserves a closer look.

Boiled down to its basics, Ziggurat is a first person roguelike dungeon crawler. You use magic, but it plays mostly like a shooter; spells are bullets, wands and staffs are guns. Oh and guns are also guns, should you feel the need for your shooters to be slightly more realistic (if you can call a gun that shoots balls of lava, realistic).

The twist is in the dungeons themselves, which are never the same twice. Each one is randomly and procedurally generated ( procedural, fast becoming this gen’s buzzword). In our first three or four hours of playing, myself and my daughter never came across the same layout. There were constant surprises, from lava strewn challenge rooms to mutant carrots hellbent on chewing our ankles. It feels old school in a good way, as it’s very colourful so it never feels dark and dank, and the enemy design is straight out of the 1980s and early 1990s, with flying heads on fire, tiny little dragons throwing fireballs, and giant blobs of goo spitting poison at you. And of course… the mutant carrots.

Every time you die everything resets and rearranges, and you go in again not quite sure what you’re about to find. Progress is made nonetheless, with kills made in each dungeon going towards the unlocking of new characters, and new game modifying cards being unlocked which could add new wrinkles to each play through.


I think I spot a secret room, juuuust to the right…

So far, in the few hours that I’ve played the game, it’s been hugely enjoyable not to mention addictive. It’ll be a while before I can give a definitive review (and this also depends on the laziness factor) but just as a heads up, I rreckon this is a great little game, for not a lot of money. As a parent, I reckon it’s quite suitable for my child who’s a nine-year-old, despite its E10 rating. The violence that’s there ( and there is a fair amount ), is cartoony in the extreme. Theres nothing frightening in it really, it’s bright and colourful whilst maintaining that feeling of exploring a dungeon and not quite knowing what’s going to happen next.

There are options there to make it more difficult or easier should the need arise, with difficulty and auto-aim being among the prime candidates. So it’s pretty customisable in terms of user ability. On average so far, I found that each floor takes about quarter of an hour to complete whether you succeed or fail so it’s quite good for short spurts. Should you actually succeed then you’ll get the option to save and quit which means should you or your child get called away to do the chores then there shouldn’t be any tears due to loss of progress.


Trick? Or Treat?

As an experienced gamer, I’m finding normal difficulty with auto aim off to be fairly challenging. I can only get to the boss of the second floor so far, but getting beyond that point is eluding me. The key is though, but I know I can do it. It’s kept me coming back to try and try again more times than is healthy, so for all its 1980s cues, and brightly coloured beautifully lit dungeons, that look like they were drawn in crayon sometimes, it’s a pretty hard-core shooter at its core.

So it’s a chalice dungeon roguelike for all the family. At least in my opinion, it’s a great little game, but for the measly price of about £12 you’ll be able to make up your own mind.


This is just from the first few sessions in the game.

Musical Landscapes

The brave bearded one amongst us got me thinking about my relationship with gaming music. I’m a big fan of it. I know many who see it as an annoyance that needs an immediate option to turn it off at the earliest possible convenience. However, I feel that the crafted gaming soundtrack can really enhance your experience, and make it more emotional and memorable. Also, you can enjoy the ambience of the fantastical world you play in, even when you’re not at your PC/Console/Gaming Device. Many hours of work or lonely commutes have been helped along by gaming soundtracks.

The first soundtrack to really grab me emotionally was the one for the SciFi MMO Anarchy Online.

The Norwegian Morten Sorlie composed the soundtrack and its remained with me ever since the game was released in 2001.

It has an airy timeless quality. Lost, lonely. In a barren desert wasteland of the future, but bubbling up through pounding drums and choral shimmers we pass through dreamlike oases of pure hope.

I can’t froth at the mouth about game music, without mentioning Dear Esther. The arty solo explorable story in a rugged haunting Hebridean landscape. The piano and cello move together in deep tones, and build up to ascending anthems of emotion. Composer Jessica Curry is simply a genius, and I can easily be moved to tears with this soundtrack. Here is my favourite “I have begun my ascent”.

My tastes are as far as they are wide, and any game is up for musical exploration. Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast was one of my first true online gaming experiences on a console, via a 56k modem, and deep into the night. The theme tune was a lullaby and a comfort blanket all in one, despite its orchestral J-popiness. A few bars of this, and I’m transported back to those heady days of pioneering online.

I could go on, sifting through my memories, and my musical uplifts. But I’ll leave you for now, with a rather obscure but heart melting track from the PC game Divine Divinity. The start of a whole series of PC based RPG’s, but one which was totally defined by this ghostly chant.

Oh sod it, you have to hear this nurturing piece of music, that isn’t part of The Secret World soundtrack, but is merely a backdrop for one of the quests in the game. You are attempting to find the source of this The Siren Song.

It sort of lures you toward it, as it should, mothering, comforting, leading you on. The best bit being its a loop, and it plays continuously whilst you’re on the quest. On a loop, it never gets old. It just soothes, over and over again. Dreamily.

Lastly I’d like to mention a podcast where you can hear artists talk about their gaming musical landscapes. Emily Reese hosts Top Score, and it is exploration of gaming music in all its forms and of the creative processes behind it. 

If you have a penchant for dramatic emotional ambient music from games, then please check it out.

Perhaps highlighting good gaming music here could become a laserbeardy thing? We’ll see.


Xenoblade Chronicles 3D – helpful links 

I’ve just been getting started with Xenoblade this week. I’ll write properly about it another time, but felt like posting this now.

It’s an amazing game, and this port is a hell of an achievement, but there’s so much to it that it can be hard to get your head round. The small screen makes things hard to read, and during a battle it’s very difficult to understand what’s going on. 

So far that’s my only real complaint. Poor use of the second screen.

What that means is that important details sometimes get lost. With the best will in the world; the explanations in game are brief, hard to read, and hard to follow. For example, I’ve no clue how to get a chain attack going, or at least I don’t know if I’m getting them going. I have a nagging feeling they’re important though. 

I’m ten hours in, and I suspect it’s going to get more complex than it already is.

So, I’m looking for good, spoiler free guides to the original.

Hopefully these links will help others in the same boat.

(That screen is taken from my own New 3DS btw. I know it’s probably the worst screen in gaming now, but they somehow manage to get very pretty things out of it.)