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Devolver serves up Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike for free on Steam

If the ongoing Steam Holiday Sale has you strapped for cash, Devolver Digital's faux CFO Fork Parker wants to cut you a deal in Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike, a freeware platformer released today on Steam.

Developed by Enter the Gungeon creator Dodge Roll Games, Holiday Profit Hike is a vertically scrolling action game that blends gameplay mechanics from Nintendo's Ice Climber and the classic arcade game Roc'n Rope. Players ascend an icy mountain using an infinite supply of ropes and pulleys, grabbing any cash they find along the way to fill Parker's pocketbook. Be careful, though -- the climb is perilous, and each death deducts cash from Parker's savings to cover medical costs.

It's a short game (there's an achievement for players who can climb the mountain in under 12 minutes), but the platforming within is surprisingly complex, and it'll take you a while to fully grasp how the rope mechanics work. Good luck, and try not to bankrupt Devolver Digital. Think of the indies!

[Image: Devolver Digital)

Far Cry 4 plans a prison break for January 13

Far Cry 4's "Escape from Durgesh Prison" DLC will be available to download on January 13, Ubisoft announced today. The DLC will have players racing across Kyrat to finish challenges and recover lost weapons, upgrading their gear and skills along the way. Escape from Durgesh Prison will be playable in both single player and cooperative multiplayer modes, but should they die in the DLC, players will have to start the mission over from the beginning.

Escape from Durgesh Prison was revealed as part of Far Cry 4's season pass in October, which gives buyers access to multiple add-on missions including the season pass-exclusive DLC, The Syringe. Those without the $30 season pass can still pick up Escape from Durgesh Prison separately for $10. Far Cry 4 launched in November and received praise for its "interesting and absorbing" world in our review.

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Assassin's Creed Unity free game offer now active for Season Pass buyers

Ubisoft is giving away free games to Assassin's Creed Unity players who purchased a Season Pass before November 25, fulfilling an offer made in response to widespread bug reports following Unity's November launch.

Eligible players can head to this site to submit a claim. Ubisoft is offering affected players their choice of one of several featured free games, including Far Cry 4, The Crew, Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Watch Dogs, Rayman Legends, and Just Dance 2015.

All Assassin's Creed Unity players will receive the upcoming Dead Kings DLC expansion free of charge once it launches next year. Season Pass buyers have until March 15, 2015, to redeem their free game codes.

[Image: Ubisoft)

Reminder: Steam Holiday Sale starts today at 1 p.m. Eastern

Update: Valve themselves have officially announced the beginning of the Steam Holiday Sale, writing in a short press release that "The Steam Holiday Sale is on now thru January 2, 2015. Throughout the sale, Steam customers may take advantage of special deals running every 12 hours and new Featured Deals happening each day. In addition, holiday shoppers may vote in the Community Choice promotion to determine which games receive deeper discounts. And those who participate in the sale may also earn exclusive Holiday Sale Trading Cards."

Original: Valve has a very special gift for all you last-minute holiday shoppers out there: a Steam sale on PC video games! Yaaaaaaaay! Or at least, that's what we expect if recent reports from Reddit, which held up Japanese PayPal emails as evidence of a December 18 start date, turn out to be correct. (Eurogamer also reports to have verified the claim.)

Going by the Reddit thread and emails, the sale will begin today at 1 p.m. Eastern, and last until January 2. That should be plenty of time to not only snag some games before the holidays, but also put some gift cards to use if you should find one left in your house by a certain jolly, bearded man. By which of course we mean Valve boss Gabe Newell.

Valve attempted a special "holiday auction" earlier this month, but "issues with [auction-specific currency]" caused the event to be suspended. That suspension was quickly lifted however, as Valve fixed the irregularities and the auction continued as planned.
[Image: Valve]

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Simogo launches The Sensational December Machine on PC, Mac

Hot on the heels of launching its last narrative-driven game roughly one month ago, Simogo offered another game today for free, The Sensational December Machine. The Device 6 developer just teased the PC and Mac game on its Twitter account yesterday before offering it as a holiday gift to its fans today. Simogo's last game, The Sailor's Dream, was received rather well in our review and is available on iPad for $3.99.

The Sensational December Machine is a "short interactive story about an inventor and her unusual new creation." The brief interactive story took three weeks to create and includes hand-drawn art and text as well as "dynamic music" that evolves alongside the story provided by Daniel Olsén, the composer for Device 6 and Year Walk. "We hope you'll snuggle up with this little seasonal, and very three-dimensional, tale in fullscreen mode," the developer added. "Perhaps with some good headphones, and a warm drink by your side." The Sensational December Machine can be downloaded through Simogo's website.
[Image: Simogo]

Evolve's Wraith monster steals the show

Fear is meant to follow in the wake of most monsters, but I've never found Evolve to be scary. It's a hunting game that puts you on edge, though leaning forward – as if to stick your head through the foliage just to glimpse the cloaked creature – is an act of determination, not angst. When you're a glorified exterminator with a big gun, joined by three others playing to win, you get camaraderie, strategy and failure divided equally. The monster (and the fifth player) is nothing to be scared of.

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Evolve tests creature features in open beta on Jan. 15

Evolve is doing another round of online testing to ensure a roaring launch in February, with 2K Games announcing an open beta to run January 15-19. The beta will test Evolve's giant goals on Xbox One with a curtailed selection of monsters – the "Goliath" and "Kraken" – along with 8 hunters and 12 different maps. (And as with all monster products, there's a premium: you must be an Xbox Live Gold subscriber to gain access.)

Ferocious opposition and considered team play are both valued in Evolve, which pits one beastly player against 4 human-controlled hunters on a wild planet. Though the game hinges on the different permutations of Muldoons and monsters, it does have a campaign variant (playable offline and solo in the full game) called "Evacuation," which will enter the Xbox One beta test on January 17th. "Evacuation" offers a skeleton of a story, with sequential mission outcomes affecting the conditions of the next until the planet of Shear is evacuated. If you win consecutive rounds as the monster, for instance, few people escape and the hunters get thrashed. Unlocks in the Xbox One beta will carry over to the final game.

2K Games says "closed technical tests" for Evolve will also be conducted on other platforms, though not to the extent of the Xbox One beta (so, no "Evacuation" there). PC players can encroach upon the poaching as of January 16, provided they have invites to the "Big Alpha," or have Left 4 Dead or BioShock Infinite in their Steam libraries. PlayStation 4 owners, meanwhile, can start on January 17th with a Big Alpha invite and PS Plus subscription in hand.

Lords of the Fallen 'will be released' on iOS, Android

Action-RPG Lords of the Fallen is bringing its dark, fantastical challenges to iOS and Anfroid next year, CI Games announced. The publisher's wording in a tweet published last night would seem to indicate a port of the PS4, Xbox One and PC game, though that's not stated explicitly. We've reached out to CI Games for clarification.

The news arrives hot on the heels of confirmation that a Lords of the Fallen sequel is in the early stages of development. Executive Producer Tomasz Gop revealed conceptual work on what he dubbed "Lords of the Fallen 2" has already begun.

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'Lords of the Fallen 2' in early stages of development

It looks like Bandai Namco's other brutally punishing action RPG, Lords of the Fallen, is getting a sequel. The news comes by way of developer CI Games executive producer Tomasz Gop, who confirmed on Facebook (and also to Eurogamer) that development on the sequel's "vision and concepts" has begun. Gop refers to the game simply as "Lords of the Fallen 2," though we fully expect a grim subtitle to be tacked on at some point. Lords of the Fallen 2: Dim Spirits, perhaps.

Our own review of Lords of the Fallen praised the game's departures from the Dark Souls series, with which it shares a great deal, but ultimately found that "there comes a point at which it has no more tricks up its sleeve."
[Image: Bandai Namco]

Natural Selection 2 dev's 'Subnautica' dives into Steam Early Access

Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds launched its latest game on Steam Early Access this week, Subnautica. In it, players submerse themselves in an "alien underwater world" with brightly-colored creatures and environments, such as coral reefs and volcanoes. Fighting to survive, the swimmers also hunt for resources to build new gear and submarines, allowing them to further explore the aquatic areas.

Subnautica is currently 10 percent off ($18) until December 23 and supports virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift. Unknown Worlds handed development duties for Natural Selection 2 to a group of dedicated fans in June, after announcing Subnautica one year ago. Head past the break to see a trailer for Subnautica, showing some of the pretty (and some of the ferocious) creatures in the Early Access game.
[Image: Unknown Worlds]

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Joystiq Deals: Borderlands - The Pre-Sequel 48-hour sale

Joystiq Deals is offering the latest entry in Gearbox's acclaimed Borderlands series at a special price over the next 48 hours. Today and tomorrow only, you can grab a Steam-redeemable copy of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for only $39.99, shaving $20 off its regular retail price.

If you want to hang out with Handsome Jack, you'll need to act fast - our sale ends tomorrow. Good luck out there, vault hunters.


Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Xeodrifter review: Snacktroid

3DS, PC

There's a purity to Xeodrifter that I really admire. The 2D action exploration game is brief, but Xeodrifter explores its simple, well-executed mechanics to a T. It takes the best elements of other exploration-driven action games like Castlevania and Metroid and packs them neatly into a handful of hours.

Nimbly rewarding you with health extensions, gun upgrades and special abilities along the way, Xeodrifter plays something like a "greatest hits" compilation of the genre, though not without adding a few B-sides of its own. Before long, you'll be running at turbo speed, soaring into the sky with rocket-propelled leaps and cleaving your way through enemies with enhanced firepower.

There's no cruft, no filler – just a competent, compact adventure.

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The Sims 4 update gets paid time off, adds holiday cheer

EA updated The Sims 4 this week, adding a significant amount of new content to the life simulation game. Your sims can now go after an athletic or business career like Hall of Famer or Business Tycoon and accrue paid time off for any of their occupations, plus they can take family leave from their jobs to celebrate new life entering their families. The developer also changed career objectives, cleaning out repetitive or overly specific goals and tweaking ones that were too difficult to complete.

The update also introduces the free, downloadable Holiday Celebration Pack, which adds a wreath, snowman, holiday decorations and festive sweaters to the game. Additionally, sims are now able to eat the fruits and vegetables they harvest from gardening activities, and can also die at venues. EA also fixed a few game-crashing bugs and other issues, such as a crash that occurred when players tried placing roofs away from their lot. Head to The Sims 4's patch notes page to see the full list of changes.

Time-bending teen drama Life is Strange debuts next month

The debut episode of the DONTNOD-developed Life is Strange arrives on January 30, 2015, Square Enix announced today. The publisher commemorated the news with a new trailer showing the game in action. To see how Remember Me studio DONTNOD is mixing emotional teenage drama with supernatural time manipulation, check out the video below the break.

Life is Strange caught our eye at Gamescom this year, particularly in the way it presented a convincing glimpse of modern teenage life. As Joystiq's Jess Conditt put it, "Life is Strange presents two fully realized, genuine young women navigating adolescence, betrayal, love and loss. Chloe's pot-smoking and profanity-laced room feel honest to her character, as does her reception of Max. Anyone who's drifted apart from a teenage best friend can relate to the guarded, chilly reunion between these two girls, as well as the spark of envy that Max can display when she learns about Rachel, the new best – and perhaps better – friend."

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Dragon Age: Inquisition add-ons expand multiplayer, go Deluxe

Today, Dragon Age: Inquisition gets a piece of free multiplayer content and a $10 upgrade that elevates the Standard Edition of the game to the Deluxe Edition, all across PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. The free multiplayer expansion is titled Destruction and it adds new paths to existing destinations, BioWare writes on the Dragon Age blog:

"The conflicts raging throughout the world have upset the balance of nature. Wild creatures now roam the battlefield, introducing chaos as they attack both friend and foe."

The $10 Deluxe Upgrade "is ideal for players who purchased the Standard Edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition," mostly because it features swag already in the $70 Digital Deluxe Edition, including the Skyhold Throne, Bog Unicorn, Red Hart Halla, Flames of the Inquisition weapons, Inquisitor Armor and an armored mount.

Dragon Age: Inquisition received a day-one patch and a second patch released last week that addressed stability and multiplayer issues. BioWare says it's already working on a third patch. These are all tweaks to an already robust, enchanting and "gorgeous" game, as outlined in our five-star review.
[Image: BioWare]

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