Posts by: Owen Faraday

Old World blues: A new iOS port of the original Sid Meier’s Colonization appears

(Manifest) Destiny: The Taken King.

There was some surprise on the PT Forums last week when a no-frills iOS port of the classic Civ spin-off Sid Meier’s Colonization appeared on the App Store. Among Civ heads there’s quite a lot of fond memories of the 1994-vintage Colonization, which was (wisely) not followed by the sequels Sid Meier’s Indian Removal and Sid Meier’s Cultural Appropriation.

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Take me to the river: Simogo promises a new game this year

Drop me in the water.

Drop me in the water.

It was less than a week ago that I was bemoaning the absence of new Simogo games. Their last offering–2014’s too-cute-for-its-own-good Sailor’s Dream–left me slightly exhausted rather than entertained, but that hasn’t dampened my appetite for more Simogo, who have earned a great deal of our confidence with the Scandinavian gothic adventure Year Walk and the charmingly self-aware puzzler Device 6. When we heard about the off-brand Simogo-like The Guides, I was ready to tuck right in. When you can’t get the good stuff, sometimes you’ll just take whatever’s to hand, as anyone who’s ever done bath salts or watched SyFy Channel before 8pm can attest.

But my wish seems to have come true: just days after my post Simogo popped up on Twitter with the news that we’ll see a new game this year, now that their Wii U port of Year Walk is complete.

Given Simogo’s usual affinity for iOS and the flagging fortunes of the Wii U, I think it’s a safe bet that they’re talking about a mobile game.

So let that be a lesson to you: Owen makes it rain, people. What should I wish for next? My shortlist right now is a new Outkast record and a Rocket League management sim. After the jump, get creeped out by the Year Walk trailer again, for old times’ sake.

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Danger close: 24 minutes of Space Grunts’ explosive turn-based dungeon crawling

He's just a grunt! A SPACE GRUNT

I believe that Corporal Hicks has authority here.

Space Grunts is not a film about Danny Trejo and Tommy Lee Jones having a conversation in orbit. Though I’d watch that. No, Space Grunts is a game from Dutch dev OrangePixel, who made his bones with the sort of arcade action games we tend not to cover around here.

Space Grunts is entirely more our sort of thing: it’s a sci-fi turn-based roguelike that reminds me a bit of Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon games. You can see OrangePixel’s arcade pedigree in the game’s weapon effects and exuberant explosions  — there might be a gas leak somewhere in that dungeon.

This game is coming to PC later this year with Android and iOS versions to follow in 2016. You can pre-order the PC version now at a hefty discount.

OrangePixel just posted an extended gameplay video of a development build that will let you avoid work for the next 24 minutes, provided you turn the sound down. Check it out after the jump.

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Old soldiers never die: Free update to Battle of the Bulge adds x-platform and more next month

Rise from your grave.

Rise from your grave.

When Philadelphia’s finest studio Shenandoah was consumed last year by Slitherine, the Galactus of wargaming, grognards started to worry — as grognards do. There hasn’t been much in the way of news forthcoming since the acquisition, which some took as evidence that the makers of Battle of the Bulge and Drive on Moscow would vanish down the memory hole.

That is apparently not so. Shenandoah rises anew, according to news sent my way last night — and its first order of business is to re-release its first (and most brilliant) game: Battle of the Bulge. A new edition of the WWII sim will be released on the 17th of September, bringing the game to PC and Mac for the first time and adding a bevy of new features.

The biggest change will be cross-platform multiplayer across iPad, iPhone, and desktop platforms. Battle of the Bulge was always at its best as a head-to-head multiplayer game, and increasing the size of the user pool will be just the defibrillator it needs. The new multiplayer setup will include in-app tournament support.

Additionally, revenant Shenandoah say that they’ve re-written the game’s AIs — both Axis and Allied. I seem to recall that Bulge’s AI was relatively sharp back in 2012, so I’m curious to see what that means.

Most importantly (and I just verified this with Slitherine’s PR a few minutes ago), Battle of the Bulge won’t be a new app on iOS. If you already own it, you get all the new features (and the benefits of a re-invigorated multiplayer community) gratis.

The new Bulge drops on iOS and desktops on the 17th of September.

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Review: Galactic Keep

Do my student loans count as "another sentient creature"?

Do my student loans count as “another sentient creature”?

Galactic Keep was very nearly iOS gaming’s own Duke Nukem Forever, the vaporware yardstick that internet wiseguys trot out to declare that some other game is doing comparatively better — as in, “at least it came out before Galactic Keep.” When Duke Nukem Forever finally slouched over the finish line in 2011, punters wondered where all the effort had gone. No one had expected DNF to be good, exactly, but we expected a spectacle — fifteen years’ worth of it.

By contrast, there is no question at all where Galactic Keep’s six years of development were spent. This is a game that is hand-made the way a Fabergé egg is. There is extraordinary detail everywhere, from the character back-stories to the enormous bestiary of enemies right down to every last insignificant corner of the options menu. Though the game is the work of a handful of people, the game’s art direction is so cohesive and so out-there-weird that it sometimes feels like a found object from an earlier time, like a pen-and-paper RPG printed in a forgotten zine self-published by a slightly unhinged neighborhood character.

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Tales from decrypt: The Guides is a unique puzzler for a year with no Simogo games

Somehow, a satellite

Somehow, a satellite

The Guides came out for iOS and Android a couple of weeks ago, and it escaped our notice then. I am filled with regret about that because The Guides is one of the year’s most interesting puzzle games. It’s a beautifully designed toy box filled with an enormous variety of code-breaking ciphers and visual riddles with a weirdly unsettling story lurking behind them. It’s the sort of game that reminds us why puzzlers have found their greatest form on mobile devices, where they can act as gateways into a surreal universe.

The last couple of years have been well-served with a (mostly) brilliant array of these sorts of games: you ought to have played 2 Dreams and Matchstick Memories but above all else the offerings of Sweden’s Simogo starting with Device 6 and Year Walk. But Simogo have been all quiet this year with their heads buried in the forthcoming Wii U re-imagining of Year Walk. When I say that The Guides is the closest thing we’ve had this year to a new Simogo game I mean that as some extra-strength praise.

The game is the first adult-targeted outing for children’s game maker Kevin Bradford and designer partner Luke Lisi, who designed the badge and branding for the MLS’s Sporting Kansas City. Kelsey’s doing a full review for us but you can get The Guides for two bucks. Check out the trailer after the jump.

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To somewhat reluctantly go: Star Trek Timelines tries to redeem an ill-served franchise this fall

We'll give it a Troi.

We’ll give it a Troi.

We’re big Star Trek fans here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap — just look at the three-dimensional chess set that Clancy and Neumann have ginned up out of old juice boxes and gruel bowls down in the Writers’ Dungeon. But it would be an unfortunate falsehood to say that we’re big fans of Star Trek games.

Star Trek‘s track record with mobile games is uglier than the grotty oil slick that killed Tasha Yar. Last year there was a nostalgia-driven hamster wheel masquerading as a game called Star Trek Trexels. Back in 2013 there was the insipid Triple Triad clone Star Trek Rivals — the less said about which the better.

On the bright side, there’s nowhere to go but up for the newly-announced Star Trek Timelines. It’s due out this autumn for iOS and Android from developers Disruptor Beam, who were responsible the free-to-play title Game of Thrones Ascent earlier this year. GoT Ascent was a very deft handling of the license — the game truly felt like a part of the show’s universe. But it was also almost entirely devoid of anything like real gameplay. It was a timer game that had more in common with Cow Clicker than Crusader Kings, and if I was hellbent on saying something nice about it I would call it “almost interesting”.

So set your expectation phasers to the lowest setting for Star Trek Timelines, which looks very pretty in the trailer after the jump. You’ll note that the trailer (which features the always delightful John de Lancie) talks a lot about atmosphere and a sense of “being there” whilst avoiding discussion of gameplay entirely. Were I a cynic I would suggest that that’s because there isn’t any gameplay to speak of, but I’m not a cynic. Star Trek Timelines might be just fantastic.

Anything’s possible.

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