Hands On

Hands-on with Darkest Dungeon, the best game I played at PAX East 2014

Evan Lahti at

PAX East’s designated indie games fiefdom was, unsurprisingly, overflowing with interesting projects. Secret Ponchos. Gods Will Be Watching. Subnautica. Not A Hero. Below. Many of the other games on display were known quantities that we’d either played previously or are playable now in a pre-release form. The one that stuck with me most was Darkest Dungeon, a roguelike that had somehow slipped through my sensor array.

Below hands-on: lonely, vulnerable, gorgeous

Cory Banks at

The very first thing I notice when I start playing Below is how tiny I am. Noticing this makes Kris Piotrowski, Creative Director at Capybara Games, extremely happy. "That's the point," he says. I'm supposed to feel vulnerable, miniscule, and alone. Even in a crowd of gamers who are getting their first taste of Capy's upcoming roguelike, I do feel alone.

Oculus Rift "Crystal Cove" prototype hands-on at CES 2014

Cory Banks at

That's me, leaning forward in the cockpit during my Oculus Rift demo of EVE: Valkyrie this morning. I'm reading the words printed on a screen to the left side of my cockpit, as my fighter sits in the launch bay. The words were blurred as I reclined in the char, but came into sharp focus as I got closer.

But there's something else, something more subtle happening in that photo: I'm amazed that I haven't thrown up.

Hands-on with Steam Controller at CES 2014

Cory Banks at

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Valve's Steam Machines are king. The Half-Life developer and Steam creator held a press conference that that everyone wanted to attend, but flipped the script when it devoted the majority of the event to its hardware partners. But even though Gabe Newell gave the briefest of briefs, some Valve-only content was still available: The company's press area included six Steam Machine prototype stations, giving the press a chance to try some popular games with the fabled Steam Controller.

Dark Souls 2 hands-on: Four deaths in 15 minutes

Cory Banks at

Considering how brutal Dark Souls is—a brutality that keeps many gamers at arm’s length–it’d be easy to think that its sequel would try to be more inviting for new players. My fears of a kinder, gentler game plagued my wait in line for the Dark Souls 2 E3 demo, even as I watched players ahead of me get crushed by the low-level undead warriors that populate the first halls.

Xenonauts hands-on preview

Ian Birnbaum at

Xenonauts begins quietly. Very quietly. In the pre-release build there is no objective stated and no opening cinematic, just a map of our pale blue marble half in darkness. Manipulating the time controls, I advance time until klaxons sound and a UFO appears over Ireland.

Windows 8 beta first impressions: brave but flawed

Adam Oxford at

Microsoft made the public beta, or 'Consumer Preview', of Windows 8 available for download on Wednesday afternoon, so we've had the best part of two days now to play around with it and work out what we like and what we don't. So far, I've used three PCs to try it out – one normal machine, one with a touchscreen and one Atom-powered tablet.

People have described Windows 8 as genius, ground breaking. A long overdue reworking of the tired desktop metaphor that better reflects how people really use their computers. Others look at it as a mess, forcing a look and feel designed for mobile phones onto unwilling desktop users. They see it as broken in the ways that Windows ME or Vista were.

Me? I see it as both. Fabulous and flawed at the same time.