OUR STREAMERS

Disclaimer: We received a near-final build of the game in exchange for an honest preview. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and not influenced by Future Friends Games, and/or its affiliates, in any way.

It's been a while since I've played an endless runner - the last one I remember being Subway Surfer or some other Canabalt clone. So when the opportunity to check out Gibbon: Beyond the Trees arrived, I expressed my interest and boy, I was glad I did. Gibbon is the latest game from Broken Rules, an indie development studio known for the award-winning Old Man's Journey back in 2017, and I gotta say it lived up to my expectations. I received access to a near-final build of the game to give my impressions and here are my thoughts.

Right off the bat, we are treated with gorgeously stylish graphics that the devs are known for. The game has some of the most luscious greenery I've ever seen (until the destruction set in and even then it also looked stunning). Playing the game felt like watching the pages of a masterfully illustrated picture book come to life, Gibbon is a treat for the eyes. The animation for the colourful apes was also well-executed - swinging from tree to tree looked and felt great.

In terms of gameplay, Gibbon is pretty straightforward. There are no points to score in this game - you move from left to right of the screen, jumping, sliding and somersaulting along the way to avoid obstacles in your way. By paying attention to the changes in the background, you can deduce the story of what's going on around you. You play a lost (pink) gibbon who embarks on a dangerous journey into unknown lands and uncover the plight of creatures around the world. Yes, it isn't all fun and games - the story contains some very real issues faced by the animal kingdom. Following the story isn't mandatory but it adds to the experience of the game.

The controls took a while to get used to (coming from other endless runners) and eventually felt adequate and "right" to use. Tap and hold one finger to swing from branch to branch, release your finger to let go of your branch and fling yourself forward, tap and hold with two fingers to slide down branches/trunks, or run on the ground, and swipe any direction to perform a somersault while in the air (gaining speed once it completes).

Gibbon reminded me a lot of Skate City (another Apple Arcade game) despite having completely different subject matter, they both have breathtaking visuals and are easy to pick up but hard to master. Yes, don't let its charming appearance fool you. Gibbon gets challenging at times, and it is possible to fail. There are sections in the game where you are required to jump across an obstacle - be it a huge ravine or a stretch of wildfire - and failing to do so leads to your death.

This brings me to my main gripe with the game: checkpoints. Since they aren't very frequent, it can make the game feel a bit repetitive as you'll have to swing for a bit before reaching the obstacle you have to retry. It would have helped if your character moved a tad faster but I guess it was done this way so you could enjoy the scenery at the same time.

Once you're finished with the story, there's an endless mode for you to play around with if you can't get enough brachiation action on your phone. All in all, Gibbon is a fun and entertaining endless runner that's worth checking out for the brilliant visuals alone. If you're expecting something more complex, this game isn't for you. However, if you want something that's light and easy to pass some time, I'd recommend it. Gibbon: Beyond the Trees is available now on Apple Arcade.

It won't be long until Valorant Episode 3 Act II releases and along with it the game's latest map, Fracture. Expanding on the lore of the "mirrorverse" of the game, Fracture features a unique design where the Defenders spawn in the middle of the map, flanked by Attackers on both sides. Here's what the complete map looks like:

Visually, the map is breathtaking. I love how distinct the two halves are - one side is filled with lush green and concrete, while the other is deserted, warm and sandy. The fact that you can see the exact point where the two sides differ is a nice touch, it's like being transported from one world to another.

Littered around the map are hidden interactable objects (only during the Buy phase, presumably not to disrupt gameplay) that drop hints about the game when activated. Here are the ones I've discovered though I'm sure there's more to be found:

If you need to get from one end of the Attacker spawn to the other side, there's a zipline that allows you to get there quickly. You can't hop off midway (which would probably lead to some spectacular deaths) but it can still be used for some tactical escapes - just make sure you don't get shot while zipping away!

There are a couple of ropes to help you reach higher rooms (you can jump down without taking damage).

The most important areas of the map: the Spike planting sites. There are many ways to approach Site A/B and Defenders and Attackers will have to be wary of their opponents approaching from all the various angles.

At this time of writing, I couldn't get a public match on the map so this is based on speculation, but Fracture seems to be trickier for Defenders to protect the sites. They will need to be more aggressive from the get go in order to scout out the Attackers since the sites are on opposite ends of the map. This means that Defenders will have to make a decision to split up or move to a single site as a unit if they want to catch the Attackers early. This introduces a new dynamic to the Defender playstyle/approach in Valorant, which should be a nice change of pace.

Fracture will be available to all players with the Act 3 Episode II update, 8 September.

Valorant's upcoming Episode 3 Act 1 introduces a new Agent into the fray: KAY/O, an Initiator who is essentially Valorant's version of the Terminator. Instead of going back in time to kill John Connor, this war machine (not with Iron Man) was built with the sole intent of eliminating Radiants, hypernatural individuals such as other agents: Jett, Sage, Reyna, Phoenix, just to name a few.

It's a new kind of backstory that beckons throwing in a new meta into the mix, and thanks to Riot Games giving eGG Network early access into this new content, we can finally unravel first-hand how new Valorant Agent KAY/O shakes up the battlefield:

Skills

ZERO/point

"EQUIP a suppression blade. FIRE to throw. The blade sticks to the first surface it hits, winds up, and suppresses anyone in the radius of the explosion."

KAY/O is the first-ever Agent to have a set of ability-suppressing skills, with ZERO/point as his main tool to disable other Agents' abilities. The effect lasts as long as eight seconds, and the explosion is so huge that it almost covers an entire Spike site, dangerous to those who stick too close together. Plus, the ability is free so each cooldown time is 40 seconds.

Home run: The knife can be thrown as far as Sova's arrows.

KAY/O's ZERO/point skill is half the reason why they would be a fantastic Initiator. Let's say if KAY/O players can predict where enemies are coming from, they can suppress their abilities ahead of time to prevent being blinded by flashes and smoke. That's just one of many tactical advantages that KAY/O can produce.

FLASH/drive

"EQUIP a flash grenade. FIRE to throw. The flash grenade explodes after a short fuse, blinding anyone in line of sight."

CS:GO players will feel right at home with this. However, the cooking time is a little longer with KAY/O's FLASH/drive - a long throw (left-click) flashes in 1.6 seconds, while lobbing it (right-click) explodes in 1 second.

Lobbing it like Kobe.

FRAG/ment

"EQUIP an explosive fragment. FIRE to throw. The fragment sticks to the floor and explodes multiple times, dealing near-lethal damage at the centre with each explosion."

FRAG/ment can be lobbed too.

KAY/O's FRAG/ment isn't your ordinary frag grenade gifted by your Dad. Instead of going boom once, this cyber frag pulses a total of four times, even damaging through obstacles/walls. Each pulse deals as much as 60 damage at the centre, though it is reduced when enemies are at the edges.

FRAG/ment's damage goes beyond the physical.

NULL/cmd (Ultimate)

"INSTANTLY overload with polarized radianite energy that empowers KAY/O and causes large energy pulses to emit from his location. Enemies hit with these pulses are suppressed for a short duration."

This is the other half of why KAY/O would control the arena so well. The NULL/cmd is a great way to deny/discourage enemies from advancing towards you, especially if you're an Attacker whose Spike is blowing up soon. KAY/O's ultimate pulses a total of five times every four three seconds, and the effect on suppressed enemies lasts four seconds each.

On top of that, KAY/O would have the Combat Stim buff upon activation, increasing movement speed, as well as increase your weapon's fire rate, recoil recovery, reload speed and weapon swap speed.

Plus, when they're downed in the Overloaded state, they can still be revived by teammates without Sage. Whilst destabilised, KAY/O has 850 HP and a 15 second countdown. They can restore up to 100 HP, depending on how much damage they took when destabilised.

Final thoughts

Overall, KAY/O is a blend of both old and new playing styles in tactical shooters. His FLASH/drive and FRAG/ment abilities screams CS:GO, but on the other hand, the execution of his ability-suppressing arsenal is unique and definitely a game-changer. Though KAY/O is labelled as an Initiator (and a great one at that), he'd be a great Duelist too with his CS:GO-like utilities.

KAY/O will be released alongside Valorant Episode 3 Act 1 tomorrow. Download Valorant for free today and get in the hype!

Special thanks to Afiz for helping out! Do check out his Twitch channel for live streams of Genshin Impact, Valorant and more.

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