A Sneak Peek into the Ghostly Realm of OXENFREE II: Lost Signals
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, the follow-up to the supernatural, narrative-driven thriller Oxenfree, will launch on July 12, 2023, on mobile, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Steam. The game was developed by Night School Studio, an indie games studio that was recently acquired by Netflix. Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals launches seven years after the original Oxenfree debuted its radio-tuning, time-looping, coming-of-age story. “Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals will take players on a gripping narrative-driven adventure featuring an all-new cast of characters and original story,” Netflix teased in a press release.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals
Taking place five years after the events of Oxenfree, Lost Signals follows Riley Poverly, a character who did not appear in the first game. Riley has reluctantly returned to her hometown of Camena to investigate unnaturally occurring radio frequency signals causing disturbances in electronic equipment. Riley soon discovers a long history of ghostly happenings on the nearby Edwards Island and becomes entangled in a frightening, supernatural mystery. Riley takes an entry-level job as an environmental researcher, and one of her main tasks is to plant radio transmitters around Camena to help a research group gather data about the electromagnetic signals that have been plaguing the coastal town. Not everything is as it appears, however, and soon Riley finds herself in conflict with Parentage, a mysterious collective that seems to be manipulating the same strange anomaly that was first discovered in Oxenfree.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals gameplay mechanics
Players will shape the story through Riley’s actions and dialogue choices, taking advantage of Night School Studio’s signature dialogue system. The system involves players selecting dialogue responses from options that pop up above Riley’s head in the form of speech bubbles that slowly start to fade away, imbuing conversations with a natural, organic flow. Each dialogue choice affects Riley’s character development and relationships between characters, influencing the available story paths. Throughout your journey in Camena, your conversations with Jacob, your main companion, and the other characters you encounter along the way will shape how you are perceived and the eventual story outcome.
Once a dialogue response has been selected, Riley will interrupt whoever is speaking to immediately say the chosen response, and this can feel jarring, but the game often tries to make Riley’s interruptions feel natural by having the other characters say empty sentences like “But, you know, it’s something, like,” that a player would feel comfortable cutting short. These kinds of filler sentences, which are ultimately redundant yet commonly used in everyday speech, are a big part of what makes the characters in Lost Signals believable. You can also choose to remain silent during conversations; the other characters will react to that. For example, if you do not respond to a question, the other character will assume that you either do not know the answer or do not want to answer and will react accordingly.
Through this dialogue system, you can control the pace of conversations. If you want to listen to what a character has to say, you can let them speak before responding, although dialogue options may disappear if you wait too long. If you feel strongly about something, you can interject. And if it feels appropriate, you can stay silent. This dialogue system allows the timing of responses to be as important as what is being said.
Those who have played Oxenfree will be familiar with the unique radio mechanic it featured that allowed Alex, the main character of the game, to communicate with mysterious specters and manipulate her world. In Lost Signals, this idea has evolved. Lost Signals features a new walkie-talkie mechanic that puts the player in charge of when and how Riley will engage in conversations with off-screen residents of Camena. From mysterious strangers to locals in need of assistance, the walkie-talkie adds a sense of scale and depth by bringing in side quests and an additional layer of choice. When Riley receives a call on the walkie-talkie, she can decide whether to respond to it, and if she does take the call, she can decide whether to assist the caller.
The walkie-talkie allows Riley to speak to a much wider cast of characters than just nearby companions. The walkie-talkie can be opened at just about any time throughout the game, and players can browse the radio channels until they find someone for Riley to talk to.
Time tears are rifts that Riley can open to explore a location in another timeline and see it as it was in the past. In a 2021 preview of Lost Signals, Night School Studio showcased a section of the game in which Riley and Jacob have become trapped while traversing through a cave. Riley opens a time tear to find another way out. The pair are then taken back in time to 1899, at which time the cave happened to be a mine with a working elevator shaft that facilitates their escape. Time tears at other places may open up clues to the backstories of the characters in intriguing and mysterious ways.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals graphics and music
The sound design in Lost Signals is one of the game’s most crucial elements and helps build the mood of the game and support its story. The distorted sounds from the walkie-talkie, other ghostly sound effects, and the deeply atmospheric music that follows characters throughout work beautifully together to capture the haunting atmosphere. The soundtrack was created by electronic musician SCNTFC.
Lost Signals features subtle cartoon-like characters that appear tiny atop beautifully drawn backdrops. When Riley and Jacob travel through time tears, the screen fuzzes out like an old VHS tape to exaggerate the time skip. These types of visual glitches, which also include sending things topsy-turvy or completely blurring out the field of vision, intensify during various creepy situations.
Netflix’s shift toward gaming
Netflix, the giant of the film and TV streaming industry, has taken a number of steps toward expanding into video games, starting with the formation of its games division in 2021 and the hiring of Mike Verdu as the company’s “vice president of game development.” Night School Studio was the first gaming studio to be acquired by Netflix. Since then, the streaming giant has acquired several other studios, including Spry Fox, Next Games, and Boss Fight Entertainment. Netflix also opened a new gaming studio in Southern California and established an internal games studio in Helsinki, Finland.
In a recent press release, Netflix revealed that it has 40 games slated for launch this year and 70 in development with its partners. This comes atop the 55 titles the company has already released since its games division was launched. Netflix is primarily focused on mobile gaming, and several of the games already launched are role-playing games. We reviewed the most popular titles they have on offer and came up with a list of the top 10 Netflix games to play.
Oxenfree 2 release date
Lost Signals is slated for release on July 12, 2023, and the game is coming to Switch, PlayStation, Steam, and Netflix. Although Lost Signals will not be released on Xbox, be sure to check out the Xbox Game Pass and see why Acer is an official sponsor.
Gaming in Harmony: Feng Shui Tips for PC Gaming Rooms
PC gaming and feng shui are not words that you see too often in the same sentence. As a gamer, perhaps you are familiar with the practice of feng shui in creating a balanced, harmonious gaming room setup? Or maybe you are more into a chaotic and messy style of pc gaming setup? Whatever your gaming setup, chances are you aim for the best performance possible in your gaming. What if we told you that by following some of the concepts of feng shui, you may be able to maximize the flow of energy in your room, and improve your gaming, as well as other aspects of your life? If this sounds good, then read on, we will explain the essential concepts of feng shui, and how you can use it to create a better gaming computer setup.
What is feng shui?
In western countries, feng shui is a term that is mostly banded around in relation to interior design or the correct placement of furniture. In common with other Chinese philosophical terms and concepts, such as Zen (Chan), the diverse practices that constitute feng shui are often misunderstood, over-mystified, or even lost in translation.
First, let’s find out what feng shui really is! Feng shui (風水) literally means wind-water. In practical terms, feng shui is the philosophy that the elements of wind and water can be channeled to direct the flow of energy in rooms, buildings and towns in order to bring harmony and good fortune. This energy, or qi (氣), is the vital cosmic energy that practitioners believe sustains all life.
Your internal energy, and consequently, your good fortune, directly benefit from managing your environment to optimize the energy. By aligning your external environment according to the cosmological, astronomical, and astrological rules of feng shui, harmony and balance will be achieved. This will maximize the energy flow, and result in good fortune.
What are the essential concepts of Feng Shui?
Before we harness the awesome power of this ancient Chinese tradition to set up your PC gaming room, let’s dig a little deeper and discover five of the essential concepts behind feng shui.
1. Qi (氣）
We touched on qi above, but with no equivalent in western science or religion, it can be a rather tricky concept to grasp. A central tenet of Chinese traditional medicine, Daoism, martial arts, and many other fields of traditional Chinese culture, qi is the vital energy that permeates everything. In the context of a feng shui room, the retention and dissipation of qi inside a space affects the occupants. Different objects affect the flow of qi in different ways, with positive qi moving in curved lines, while negative qi travels straight. By maximizing positive qi, health and prosperity of the occupants will follow.
2. Yin Yang (陰陽)
Another concept originating in ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is now available to help with your feng shui room layout! As the well-known symbol illustrates, yin and yang are opposite, interconnected forces. In relation to feng shui, the force of yin is defined by darkness, cold, and softness, symbolizing femininity, night and the moon. Yang is defined by brightness, heat and hardness, symbolizing masculinity and the sun. Obviously different rooms require different balances of yin and yang. Your feng shui desktop may need the yang energy of the sun, and a wooden tabletop, coupled with the yin energy of a water feature. Balance of these two complementary forces can create harmony inside and out.
3. The five elements (五行）
The five elements (wuxing) of fire, water, wood, metal, and earth is a philosophical concept applied to a wide array of traditional Chinese practices. The wuxing are the essential elements of the universe, overcoming and succeeding each other in an endless cycle. As with the other concepts in our brief discussion, the significance and application of the five elements varies somewhat between different practices. In relation to feng shui, the wuxing can be used to control energy flow, creating balance and harmony in a space. Each of the five elements are associated with various aspects of nature, all interacting according to cycles of interaction that are either generative, or destructive. This interaction can be influenced by arranging the energy flow to create an optimal space. The five elements all have corresponding colors and materials, which can be applied to decoration and furnishing in order to optimize the energy flow.
4. Bagua (八卦）
Following the concepts discussed above, we arrive at the bagua, the eight trigrams of Daoist cosmology. These broken (yin) and unbroken (yang) lines are commonly referred to as the eight trigrams. In the contemporary western application of feng shui, these eight trigrams are used as a feng shui (bagua) map to arrange interior and exterior spaces. A bagua map is a somewhat simplified approach to feng shui, where each of the eight trigrams represent a crucial aspect of human existence. The bagua can be used to identify energy flow and blockages in a space, which can then be altered accordingly, by repositioning, removing or adding items. In this manner, optimal energy can flow to each of the corresponding trigrams, resulting in a harmonious existence. Here’s a beginner’s guide worth checking out.
5. The command position (furniture placement)
If you’re still reading, congratulations, now we get to the more practical part of our discussion! The command position, not unlike a command center is the place where you are in control of your space. Let’s consider the command position in relation to setting up your gaming room. Start by situating your desk diagonally from the door, with a clear, uninterrupted view. That way, you will be able to control who enters and interrupts your gaming. A solid wall behind you, ideally with no window directly above will further add to the sense of security, as will an equal space on either side of your desk. In terms of your seat, get the best gaming chair you can afford, with a solid, supportive back, and headrest.
How to use feng shui to help set up your gaming computer?
Setting up your gaming computer should be an exciting, well planned exercise. Again, most of us don’t have perfect, open plan spaces to furnish as we wish, but don’t worry, feng shui is flexible. Try to adapt some of the elements discussed above, even small changes can have big impacts on a space.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.”
* Many gaming rooms lack yang energy, so investing in a wooden table, or even a few house plants and or some red, orange or yellow objects might be a good start!
* Let the light in! Although you don’t want too much light in the room as it may interfere with your screen display, light can help to optimize the energy in your space. Using natural, or balanced artificial lighting will enhance the flow of qi in your gaming room, ensuring that you perform at your utmost.
* Next, set up your gaming computer according to the command position, ideally in a separate space from where you sleep. By balancing the five elements, you will be able to maximize the flow of qi, which in turn inspire you to perform at your best.
* Don’t fall into the gamer’s trap of black metal and dark toned plastic furnishings! For a guide to harnessing the power of feng shui using objects and colors, check out this article.
* If you’ve got trash or clutter on your desk, clear it off! A clean, well organized space maximizes energy flow. Keep your gaming area dedicated to the art of gaming and free of distractions.
* Cables and wires should also be concealed if possible, and organized, so as not to disrupt energy flow. Get your duster out and keep the dust off your desk and your computer: a clean, well organized and maintained will help with your gaming performance.
We hope that you’ve gained some insight into feng shui from reading this article. Whatever your gaming setup looks like, chances are that a few alterations, adapted to your personal preferences could benefit you greatly. Applying the principles of feng shui to your gaming setup can contribute to a harmonious environment. By optimizing the energy flow in your personal space, you will not only enhance your daily gaming experience, but also your life as a whole. Try it!
9 Easy Ways to Boost Web Security in Google Chrome
As we navigate a digital age where cyber-attacks strike every 11 seconds, reinforcing Chrome's security is vital.
Today's cybercriminals have evolved into masters of deception. Their skill in creating websites indistinguishable from the real deal means that our passwords - those keys to our online worlds - face relentless siege.
With Google Chrome's arsenal of in-built protective tools, amplifying its defenses isn't a mere recommendation; it's a necessity. We outline 10 ways to boost your security.
1) Tweak Chrome's Safe Browsing for optimal security
Google Chrome's Safe Browsing is enabled by default, guarding you against shady sites and dangerous downloads. But you can up your defense by switching to Enhanced Protection. Google's data suggests those activating Enhanced Protection are 35% less likely to fall victim to phishing scams.
Let's dive into your options for Safe Browsing:
* Enhanced Protection: Proactive, offering real-time alerts for suspect sites, downloads, extensions, and even password breaches. Note: This grants Google deeper insights into your browsing activities as you're sending your browsing activities.
* Standard Protection: Alerts you to questionable sites, downloads, and extensions. You also have the choice to get password breach notifications and to share extra security data with Google.
* Advanced: For those feeling tech-savvy, tailor the settings to fit your needs.
* No Protection: Ditch the safety net with no safety alerts or precautions.
Steps to modify Safe Browsing settings:
* Click the Three Dots in Chrome's top right.
* Go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Security.
* Under the Safe Browsing section, pick your desired setting.
* If maximum security is your aim, opt for Enhanced Protection. Remember that this mode allows Chrome to check URLs via Safe Browsing, linking the data to your Google Account momentarily.
2) Leverage Google Password Manager for strong passwords
Never compromise on password strength again. Google's Password Manager remembers all your passwords and ensures they're both strong and unique. Bid farewell to "86753099" and welcome in a new era of cyber-security.
How to use Google Password Manager:
* In Chrome, click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon.
* Select Settings.
* Under Autofill, click on Passwords.
* Ensure Offer to save passwords and Auto Sign-in are enabled.
* To check or modify saved passwords, scroll to the Saved Passwords section. To generate a strong password for a new account, click on the key icon when signing up on a website, and Google will suggest a robust password for you.
For more on password protection, read our password security guide for additional tips.
3) Fortify your passwords with enhanced encryption
While storing passwords in Google Password Manager is uber handy, you can beef up their security with enhanced encryption.
Here's your pathway to bolstering password encryption:
* Standard Encryption: The default choice. It uses Google's encryption methods, which store your passwords on their servers. When passwords zoom across the internet, they're cloaked, making it trickier for cybercriminals to snatch them. Yet, there's a slim possibility Google might peek.
* Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase (AES): This cranks up security with encrypted passwords on both ends. The perk? Only you possess the unlock key. On the flip side, it slightly complicates the syncing process, as you'll need the passphrase every time you activate sync on a new device. Some features like site suggestions, online password viewing, and history syncing are also disabled.
To arm Chrome with AES, a quick dive into settings gets the job done.
Adjust Chrome's encryption settings:
* Head to Chrome's Settings in the Three Dots menu in Chrome's top right.
* Tap You and Google in the left menu (ensure you're logged into your Google Account).
* Tap Sync.
* Under Sync, click Encryption Options.
* Choose an encryption method. For standard encryption, select Encrypt Synced Passwords with Your Google Account. Otherwise, select Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase for fortified encryption, which keeps passwords safer from prying eyes.
4) Deploy Chrome's Safety Check
Bolster your browser's defenses with Chrome's Safety Check. It actively scans for:
* Compromised, weak, or reused passwords
* Pending updates
* Confirmation that Safe Browsing is active
* Potentially harmful extensions
Steps to run a Safety Check:
* Click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon in Chrome.
* Select Settings.
* Navigate to Privacy and security on the left panel.
* Tap the Check Now button under Safety Check.
* If issues emerge, click the prompt and follow on-screen guidance.
5) Clear cache and cookie data
Chrome stashes info from websites you visit, storing them in its cache and cookies. Cookies can be time savers, keeping you logged in or personalizing settings on websites you visit. Yet, they can have a dark side when it comes to security:
* Tracking Cookies: Advertisers monitor your online activities and build a profile about you. In the wrong hands, they reveal much about your habits, preferences, and even location.
* Third-Party Cookies: Cookies from another site that can be exploited to monitor your actions without you knowing.
* Session Hijacking: Stealing your session cookie lets attackers impersonate you on a site and access your account.
* Expired Cookies: Cookies that don't expire properly increase vulnerability.
* Weak Encryption: Unencrypted cookies can be snatched, especially on insecure networks.
Clear your cookies? A smart move for more privacy and tighter security.
Steps to clear cache and cookies in Chrome:
* Click the three vertical dots in the top right corner of Chrome.
* Select Settings.
* Scroll down and click Privacy and security.
* Choose Clear browsing data.
* Ensure Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files are on.
* Click Clear data to finish the job.
Note: Doing this might log you out from some sites, so keep those passwords handy!
6) Opt-out of Topics API in Chrome
After shelving FLoC, Google's Topics API refines interest-based advertising, sidestepping the intrusiveness of third-party cookies. Where FLoC categorized users into "cohorts," Topics API tailors ads to your specific interests from 470 topics.
Your Chrome browser keeps track of topics you seem interested in over time. Chrome can then deduce which subjects are your top interests by checking which topics appear most frequently in your browsing history. This list is updated weekly to offer advertisers a refined targeting method without peeking at your specific site visits.
Curious about your topical profile through Google's lens? Navigate through Chrome's settings to discover. You can block specific topics or opt-out altogether if you value your privacy.
Want to opt out? Here's how:
* Open Chrome Settings.
* Navigate to Privacy and Security on the left panel.
* Select Ad Privacy. Choose to turn on or off the following:
* Add topics: Use the Ad topics toggle to either switch off entirely or manage individual topics under Your topics.
* Site-suggested ads: Websites you browse can gauge your preferences and pitch ads accordingly. Choose to toggle this on or off.
* Ad measurement: This allows sites and advertisers to gauge their ads' performance. Opt to disable.
7) Prioritize secure browsing with HTTPS-First mode
Many websites rely on Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). But HTTP has a glaring flaw: it leaves your privacy out in the open.
With HTTP, browser requests to view a site are in plain text for all to see. Any nosy hacker monitoring the connection can read your requests, posing risks when keying in passwords or credit card numbers.
Enter HTTPS, where the "S" stands for secure. Notice the padlock icon next to a URL in your browser. That's your sign of a secure connection.
Boost your browsing protection by activating Chrome's HTTPS-First mode. This setting nudges Chrome towards HTTPS and waves a red flag when it stumbles upon less secure HTTP.
Activate HTTPS-First mode:
* Launch Chrome Settings.
* Head to Privacy and security > Security.
* Under the Advanced section, turn on Always use secure connections.
8) Be cautious with Chrome Extensions
Extensions might seem like the Swiss Army knife of Chrome - fixing your grammar, blocking annoying ads, and more. Yet, some can lurk with darker intentions, from browser hijacking to covert spying to malware.
Rule of thumb? Stick with trusted sources when adding extensions. Google recently added web store badges to help you rank the extension's credibility.
Want to check or manage your extensions? Type chrome://extensions/ into Chrome's address bar. Here, the Details button will give you a peek into each extension's permissions and a direct link to its Chrome Web Store page. And if an extension seems shady, remove it!
9) Keep Chrome up to date
Staying updated is your first line of defense. Chrome frequently scans for updates and fetches them instantly. These updates apply automatically the next time you restart your browser.
Haven't closed Chrome recently? You might notice a pending update indicator at the top right. Click Update or restart Chrome. The process is quick, ensuring you won't lose your tabs.
Cybersecurity isn't a set-it-and-forget-it deal; it demands ongoing attention. Knowing the ins and outs of potential risks, from weak passwords to invasive tracking cookies, puts you in control. By diving deep into Chrome's security features, you can make your online experience safer and more private.
An Early Access Look at Witchfire
Witchfire is an upcoming dark fantasy first-person shooter set in an alternative world in which witches are real and very dangerous, and where players take on the role of witch hunters in a war between powerful witches and the Church. The title is being developed by The Astronauts and was first announced more than six years ago with a brief reveal at E3 2017. The game was released in early access mode on September 20 on the Epic Games Store.
Who is the team behind Witchfire?
Unless you have played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you have probably not heard of The Astronauts—an independent game developer made up of less than ten people and operating out of Warsaw, Poland. The Vanishing is their debut title; a weird fiction mystery game for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One that sold more than a million copies. The fact that the same developers are now working on Witchfire is significant for several reasons. The Vanishing won countless awards at the time of its release, including a prized BAFTA award, for its incredible storytelling and eye popping graphics that had no business being in this generation of gaming. With their first title, The Astronauts firmly established their reputation as skilled developers that can deliver beautiful games. The premise of Witchfire, as a frantic shooter, seems well suited to The Astronauts—some of the members of the team previously worked on first-person shooters Bulletstorm and Painkiller, and the team's prior effort, The Vanishing, serves to demonstrate their ability to incorporate amazing graphics into an engrossing story.
What is Witchfire about?
Witchfire was originally conceived as a sci-fi survival title; however, over the course of its 7-year development, The Astronauts transformed the game into what it is today: a combination of dark fantasy roguelite with first-person shooter mechanics. In their deadly war against witches, the Church has been calling on forbidden pagan magic to turn willing sinners into immortal witch hunters called preyers. As preyers, players are tasked with hunting and killing the infamous witch of the Black Sea using guns and spells. That journey from sci-fi survival to grimdark shooter brought with it changes just as significant as its shift in setting, tone, and genre.
Most recently, the team decided to shift the title from arena-style to open-world combat. Although Witchfire is not a fully open-world game, it does now feature what the studio calls open-world levels. That means it will be up to the player to decide how and in what order to explore a given area. The change to this new approach from one that was more akin to something like Killing Floor led to significant work and the decision to delay Early Access release to this year.
In the game, players will inhabit the shoes of a badass revolver-wielding witch hunter. Armed with old-fashioned weapons and forbidden magic, witch hunters are tasked by Vatican sorcerers to help the war effort against the very real and very dangerous witches and other threats that abound. An evil witch’s influence has stretched across the land, awakening an army of the dead and all sorts of other monstrosities. The player's primary mission is to find the infamous witch of the Black Sea, destroy the phantom army that protects her, and retrieve a mysterious artifact that can finally turn the tide of war.
The Astronauts have been fairly ambiguous with regards to information about the story of Witchfire. In a 2018 blog post, studio cofounder and creative director Adrian Chmielarz confirmed that Witchfire is not a traditional cinematics-filled journey like, for example, Uncharted or Bioshock, where you spend a relatively short time in an area, unlock a cinematic, and move on to the next area. Instead, Chmielarz likens The Astronauts’ approach to the storytelling done by From Software games. Which means Witchfire will offer various branching pathways that each tell snippets of the game’s story through the strength of its world design.
The Preyer short story
In October 2022, The Astronauts released a short story, The Preyer, that gave a brief look into the lore and powers at work in the game. Written by Chmielarz, The Preyer is set in the world of Witchfire and serves as an introduction to the world and some of what players can expect from the theme. The story unfolds in the forest one night, where a preyer, close to death, is tracking a witch when a group of bandits show up and make threats, not knowing who they’ve encountered. The short story also includes illustrations from artist Bernard Kowalczuk using a style similar to that of the game itself.
As a first-person shooter, Witchfire blends traditional shooting elements with the backdrop of a fantasy game in a roguelite style. The goal is to find some big guns and blow mystical enemies to pieces. The gameplay borrows from Bioshock and Dishonored by allowing players to cast magical energy with their free hand. Gunplay looks frantic and intense and has immediate arena-shooter vibes similar to Painkiller, DOOM, and Shadow Warrior 3.
Combat mechanics involve jumping, strafing, and dodging and are heavily focused on smart player movement while taking care of crowd control situations. There are crossbows, shotguns, repeating rifles, and revolvers, as well as some great spell effects that can cause chain reactions or freeze a powerful enemy mid-attack.
In a gameplay trailer released this February, Chmielarz delved into the intricacies of the game's weaponry, specifically focusing on a powerful hand cannon known as Hunger. This formidable firearm rewards players for landing critical hits by granting them extra powerful bullets upon reloading. As players progress through Hunger's Attunements, they can increase the power of their bullets even further by consistently landing critical hits. At the final level of Attunement, Hunger becomes even deadlier as the first body shot counts as a critical hit, allowing players to freeze their enemies if they manage to land all critical shots.
Spellcraft involves light spells and heavy spells, with the former being quicker to deploy and costing less stamina but not being as powerful as the latter. The different types of spellcraft available to witch hunters to use against enemies include spells, hexes, and curses, and the majority of spells comprise the four core elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Each has unique properties, such as setting enemies aflame and increasing the damage players can take. Using different elemental spells in quick succession can achieve combined effects.
Players will have complete freedom over the pace and direction of their exploration in any given region. This shift to an open-level design transformed the game from its original vision into an entirely new and superior experience, providing players with a greater sense of freedom and agency and making new paths to mastery available.
Built using Unreal Engine 4, Witchfire uses advanced photogrammetry to achieve a gorgeous and immersive dark fantasy world for players to explore, and the game's graphics look as though they could compete in the AAA space. The game features an impressive amount of particle effects, fire, explosions, and more that take up screen real estate, making for a vibrant and happening world.
The photogrammetry technique used to design the environments in Witchcraft involves finding structures and areas in real life, taking various shots from various angles, and loading them into a smart piece of software that rebuilds and renders them. The whole process takes a lot of time and effort as the images need to be captured in exactly the right light, and after the initial wireframe is reconstructed, a lot of texturing and polishing needs to be placed on top. The end result is exceptional photorealism. It is partly for this reason that, for the time being, Witchfire is being developed exclusively for the high-end PCs that can run all of this while processing the frantic fights that will be going down. Witchfire will support DLSS 3.0 for users with Nvidia’s top-tier graphics cards, specifically the GeForce RTX 4000 series GPUs. DLSS 3.0 will enable the game to run at much better framerates even at high quality settings.
Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
* Intel® Core™ i7-12650H processor Deca-core 2.30 GHz
* NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4060 with 8 GB dedicated memory
* 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 165 Hz
* 16 GB, DDR5 SDRAM
* 512 GB SSD
If you're in the market for a new gaming machine that will deliver the best playing experience in Witchcraft, consider taking a look at Acer’s Nitro 5 gaming laptop. This machine is excellent value for money, coming in at a low price point yet still being capable of handling the most demanding modern games. Acer has given this particular model a decent amount of high-speed RAM, and its inclusion of a GeForce RTX™ 4000 series GPU, which supports DLSS 3.0, makes it capable of running Witchcraft and other modern games at ultrahigh quality. The price of this machine is kept low thanks to the screen, hard drive, and battery, all of which are smaller than those in similar but more expensive machines. The laptop also has a responsive full-size keyboard and trackpad.
Witchfire release date and platforms
Witchfire will be made available on PC, with it being restricted to Epic Games during early access. For those with an Xbox, check out the amazing selection of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. If you’re thinking of subscribing, please note that with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
How to Protect Your Laptop from Theft and Damage
Laptops are probably one of the most expensive gadgets we own. But like any technology, they are vulnerable to theft and damage. Taking an eye off our devices for just a second in a crowded public area could give thieves a golden opportunity to strike, taking our data and cherished photos along with them. Likewise, knocking a cup of coffee over the keyboard or accidentally dropping it on the floor can cause significant damage.
Digital nomads and hybrid workers have no choice but to carry their laptops around in a bag or backpack, but this also carries risk. Leaving a laptop unattended when working remotely from a coffee shop or public workspace is risky. Your device could get stolen and, in a worst-case scenario, hacked to access your private information. For thieves, stealing devices may simply be a way to make money, but for owners, it means losing something crucial to their everyday lives.
How can I protect my laptop from physical dangers?
Traveling with a laptop or leaving it unattended in a hotel room or coffee shop is risky. Here are some ways users can safeguard devices from physical dangers and damage for ultimate laptop protection.
1. Use a laptop lock
Laptop locks are handy gadgets that help prevent devices from being stolen. They are physical locks, much like bicycle locks, that keep devices grounded to a specific area. Laptop locks are a two-ended piece of equipment, with one end that slides into the device’s universal slot and one that wraps around an immovable object. It can be unlocked and released by entering the correct code.
Although not necessarily aesthetic, laptop locks work as an anti-theft device and deterrent for thieves. Securing a device to a table or chair leg in a coffee shop means thieves would have to work twice as hard to steal it.
2. Avoid leaving your laptop unattended
Working outside in a stunning coffee shop or even on a beach is great until we have to take a private call or bathroom break. It is crucial to always be wary of thieves and avoid leaving laptops or other devices unattended. We must bear in mind that thieves are not always obvious and that anyone could take a chance to swipe at an unattended laptop. Therefore, leaving laptops unattended is strongly discouraged.
3. Track your laptop
Some laptop devices come with a Find My Device setting and can be tracked if they are lost or stolen. Enabling this feature is relatively quick and easy, and it can be a godsend if devices are missing. Moreover, putting an AirTag or similar tracking device in a laptop bag can help locate devices before they are transported too far away. Tracking devices are a worthwhile investment and can be used in other scenarios too, such as keeping an eye on wallets, keys, and phones.
4. Protect laptops with shock-resistant bags or sleeves
Laptops are supposed to be portable devices, so it makes sense that we use a protective case or laptop backpack to protect them. After all, our laptops work hard to keep us connected and able to work. Good laptop bags or protective sleeves should be a perfect fit with no wiggle room for laptops to bounce around and have a separate compartment for chargers and cables. Waterproof fabric is a must-have to protect devices from sudden downpours while in transit.
5. Keep laptops on stable surfaces away from food and drinks
Bumpy or uneven surfaces are unsafe as devices could slip or fall. Moreover, setting drinks or food down on an unstable desk or table could cause accidental spillages. Laptop users should avoid sudden jolts or bumps to prevent devices from getting a nasty shock that could cause internal damage.
6. Clean your laptop on a regular basis
Regular cleaning prevents dust build-ups and can enhance the functionality of a laptop and cause overheating or freezing. It also keeps devices free from crumbs or food particles that could end up below keyboard keys or in ports. Cleaning a device includes more than just a quick wipe over. Blowing into ports or using a cylinder of compressed air helps remove hard-to-reach dust. Experts advise preventative cleaning should be conducted at least once a year to keep laptops dust-free and working smoothly. For day-to-day management, users can consider investing in a keyboard cover to prevent crumbs from falling between keys.
7. Consider getting insurance
We never know the value of insurance before we need it. If a device gets lost or stolen, insurance can often provide the safety net we need to purchase a new one. This is particularly important for costly or high-end devices that would be expensive to replace. When choosing insurance, you should consider daily habits, such as where the device is used and stored, so that brokers can provide the best policy for your needs and avoid any surprises when making a claim.
Protecting laptops and other devices from theft and damage contributes to their longevity. Although we never know what will happen in life, we can take action to mitigate potential harm to technology. Damage may be avoided by investing in a quality laptop case, sleeve, or backpack, and regular cleaning can prevent dirt from building up in the keyboard or ports. Users can reduce the risk of a stolen laptop by purchasing a lock and attaching it to an immovable object. Remember that vigilance is key to prevent thieves from taking personal objects, and try to avoid leaving devices unattended.
A Review of El Paso, Elsewhere
Strange Scaffold, Xalavier Nelson Jr.’s multi-development, multi-collaborator video game studio, has always been true to their name: since the beginning, they’ve been known for their eccentric games that feature mysterious plotlines and out-of-this-world atmospheres. Their upcoming release, El Paso, Elsewhere, is a novel third-person shooter that brilliantly showcases all of the magic the studio is famous for.
You might know Xalavier Nelson Jr.’s work from titles like Stranger Things VR, An Airport for Aliens Currently Run By Dogs, Hypnospace Outlaw, SkateBIRD, or Can Androids Pray. Strange Scaffold’s most recent release, however, is Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, a game true to its name and just as strange as it sounds. The game, described by Strange Scaffold themselves as “our critically-acclaimed sci-fi body-horror market tycoon,” was well received when released in 2021, and as such the hype has been building for the next game in line, El Paso, Elsewhere.
El Paso, Elsewhere, the Max Payne-inspired neo-noir third person shooter with a surreal twist, is a hit that was released on September 26, 2023. In this review, we’ll take a look at the design influences behind the game as well as what you can expect when it comes to storyline and gameplay.
El Paso, Elsewhere: the modern-day neo-noir third-person shooter
If you feel like you hear the term “neo-noir” thrown around a lot but aren’t quite sure what it means, you’re not alone. Though the concept has solid historical roots and represents a valid style, it’s applied to so many things that it’s become unclear what its meaning really is.
The term neo-noir has its origins in the world of cinema. Though it is hard to say whether it is a genre or simply a visual style, for our purposes, we can say that it refers to “a grim tone, a mystery subplot, and/or a limited color palette.”
The “neo” in neo-noir implies, of course, that neo-noir is not the first iteration of its kind. That would be the film noir, or “dark film” in French. Film noir, pioneered by French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard in films like Breathless (1960) and Alphaville (1965), emphasizes plotlines and subjects set in the underworld of society. The grim tone and uncertain attitudes towards the future represented in these films was characteristic of the postwar era.
Neo-noir took film noir to a new level. Films like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974) and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) took advantage of the end of the Hays Office Code, a set of standards for film production that in effect was a list of censorship guidelines, to depict more controversial topics like drugs and crime. Themes of these neo-noir movies also dealt with moral ambiguity and general distrust of authority, reflecting the societal ambivalence that followed the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
Besides neo-noir, however, El Paso, Elsewhere also takes a lot of its inspiration from the Max Payne series. In many ways, El Paso, Elsewhere can be said to be a modern-day version of the Max Payne series, the first game of which was released in 2001. We’ll take a closer look at the differences and similarities between these two games in the next section.
Storyline and gameplay
As the Steam description states, “El Paso, Elsewhere is a supernatural neo-noir third-person shooter. Hunt werewolves, fallen angels, and other damned creatures in a vivid slow motion love letter to action classics. Fight your way through a reality-shifting motel, floor by bloody floor. Save the victims of Draculae, lord of the vampires. Destroy the villain you loved--even if it means dying yourself.”
You’ll play as James Savage, whose ex-girlfriend Draculae is out to destroy the world. You’ll have to navigate the unending floors of a seedy motel with the objective of saving the innocent through the elevator. To complete your goal of saving the world from Draculae’s wrath, you’ll have to battle hordes of undead creatures, including vampires, fallen angels, and the lord of the vampires herself, Draculae.
As you continue your mission, you’ll be shown some flashbacks that shed light on Savage’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend and what caused them to break up. In doing so, the game deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, including addiction, trauma, and emotional abuse. This makes for a potentially upsetting but also very compelling story.
In many aspects of gameplay as well as some aesthetic characteristics, El Paso, Elsewhere takes inspiration from Max Payne. Specifically, El Paso, Elsewhere borrows the third-person shooter aspect of Max Payne as well as its gritty neo-noir style. It also takes many cues from its predecessor in terms of gameplay: in both games, you can use slow motion as a tool to improve your own reaction time and vanquish several enemies at once.
In terms of weapons, you’ll have access to a range of tools both modern and ancient: uzis, pistols, stakes, and more. You can even use molotov cocktails with holy blue flames to attack your enemies, adding a supernatural touch to your attacks. With a combination of the game’s heavy use of slow-motion mechanics and diversified arsenal, you’ll be sure to find that the fights are a huge aspect of the game’s appeal.
This technique was highly innovative when it was incorporated into Max Payne in 2001, as it was the first time that Matrix-style slow cuts were ever seen in a video game. El Paso, Elsewhere pays homage to this aspect of video game history.
Where El Paso, Elsewhere departs from its source of inspiration is in the main antagonist of the game: as one review on Gamerant notes, instead of going after the mob, you’re going after zombies. This makes each battle more interesting: whereas in Max Payne, all of the mobster enemies are somewhat similar, the otherworldly creatures in El Paso, Elsewhere add a layer of novelty and excitement.
For some players, Max Payne can become somewhat monotonous, as you must constantly defend yourself against hordes of the same mob enemies. In El Paso, Elsewhere, you are kept on your toes: your strategy must continually change to deal with different types of creatures, including werewolves, vampires, or ambiguous beings that leap out at you out of nowhere.
Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy of El Paso, Elsewhere? If you’re looking forward to the release, you won’t have to wait at all: the latest game from Strange Scaffold is available for purchase now for both Xbox and PC.
Before you start your mission to save the victims of Draculae, however, you’ll wanna make sure your gaming setup is up to date and able to process the game in all of its glorious detail. With a high-quality gaming laptop like the Nitro 5, you can equip yourself with a state-of-the-art Intel® Core™ i5 processor and a top-notch 1920x1080 screen resolution to succeed in your journey and have fun doing it.
Loaded with the latest technology, the Nitro 5 is available for $999.99, and when you add additional items like the Predator Connect W6 Wi-Fi 6E Router, you can save up to 40%! The savings don’t end there, however - with the purchase of any ACER Windows 11 PC, you’ll get an Xbox Game Pass for free! That means you’ll be able to play El Paso, Elsewhere the moment it comes out for no additional cost.
Don’t hesitate - get your Nitro 5 now so you can get the most out of your gaming experience as soon as El Paso, Elsewhere now!