Posts by: Sean Clancy

Review: Hadean Lands

There's also a Hot Topic and an Orange Julius.

There’s also a Hot Topic and an Orange Julius.

Paper is the most important item in Hadean Lands. That’s odd for a text adventure, especially one wholeheartedly classic in form. More important here than hidden keys, improvised rope ladders and hackneyed riddles are ideas—rituals and obscure geological information, specifically—and ideas are written on paper. (Ideas are also occasionally free-floating energy halls invisible to the naked eye. But you’ll figure that one out pretty quickly.)

Hadean Lands is a game about alchemy, where progress is measured primarily through the acquisition of knowledge. The genre-standard march of soon-to-be-unlocked doors and “impenetrable” safes is nothing but a series of trifles next to the synthesis of pure elemental forms. Rest assured you’ll need to assume sure-handed mastery over the elements in order to… well, unlock bigger, more impressive doors and safes.

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Action Game of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Wayward Souls

Quickly hooked.

Quickly hooked.

Unlike many of the games we’ll be gushing over during these awards, there’s nothing about our Action GOTY Runner-up that particularly endears the fantasy roguelike to touch devices–nothing that jumps out, at least. You could take the same basic ingredients–meaty top-down action, a handful of classes, procedurally constructed stages, permanent and semi-permanent upgrade systems–and plop them onto a PC, or Xbox, or Super Nintendo, and you wouldn’t lose the effect. A cynic might look at this game and say its best achievement is doing virtual sticks right.

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Up for a game of Jax: Sons of Anarchy mobile title announced

The skull indicates the gang are DEALERS OF DEATH. And that they *really* like Halloween.

The skull indicates the gang are DEALERS OF DEATH. And that they *really* like Halloween.

Amid the glut of quality shows available to those living in the Golden Age of Binge TV, FX’s Sons of Anarchy has always seemed like an also-ran. Good enough for seven seasons (with the series finale airing tonight), but next to the likes of Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, House of Cards… well, you get the picture.

Maybe that impression is simply due to “gun-trafficking motorcycle gang” being a bit on-the-nose, theme-wise, for a show trying to grab an ever-diminishing slice of viewers jonesing for unexpected character deaths. Or, maybe, it’s because Sons of Anarchy has yet to have its own video game tie-in.

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Advection connection: Thievery 4X Antihero sports new visuals, London fog

The neighborhood *is* a bit rundown. But it's also a short walk to the metro station!

The neighborhood *is* a bit rundown. But it’s also a short walk to the metro station!

It’s a rare 4X strategy that fails to cast you as a high-minded prodigy and social architect–even if the title then gives you room to craft your “perfect” world through either deft political maneuevers or ruthless warfare. Whether it’s as a historically proven leader in Civ or a Tolkien knockoff in Age of Wonders, your avatar will see themself as the hero (even if you’re playing as a villain).

Antihero is, naturally, the counterpoint to this. The game’s an in-development, streamlined 4X that sees you as a gentleperson thief running a guild of Victorian street urchins and fellow pickpockets. A recent announcment in /r/gamedev revealed that Antihero now has the billowing London fog (orphange-factory runoff) befitting its setting, as well as some improved visuals.

Designer Tim Conkling has also told us, via email, that this fog isn’t just a literal take on fog of war–rather, these new visuals herald “a significant change to the game’s dynamics.”

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It also rises, again: Ossian Studios’ The Shadow Sun released for Android

...then they throw down their weapons and embrace.

…then they throw down their weapons and embrace.

Bah, bah I say to all you console drones and PC snobs (excepting, of course, those who frequent PT sister site Red Door Blue Key), with your Farrelly Cries and your Dragon Eggs: Inquiring. Who needs ‘em when we iOS folks have sweet, sweet preinstalled Health app action? Oh, right, and Ossian Studios’ sweeping fantasy RPG The Shadow Sun.

And wouldn’t you know it, former Bioware employee and current Ossian CEO Alan Miranda has just informed us that The Shadow Sun is now out on Android as well, after several months of open beta. The Android version is debuting at $5, with the iOS universal version dropping down from $8 to the same price. That’s a permanent price-drop, and not just a sale.

I quite liked The Shadow Sun when I took a look at it last year. The game’s shorter than you might expect, but that expectation’s only there in the first place because The Shadow Sun does an excellent job invoking the epic tone of past classics. Baldur’s Gate is a natural comparison (in part because Miranda worked on Throne of Bhaal while at Bioware), but I feel TES: Morrowind is more illustrative of how The Shadow Sun approaches its not-quite-high fantasy setting.

With this price drop now’s definitely a good time to try the game out, regardless of whether you’re on Android or iOS. Trailer after the jump.

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Review: Caverns of the Snow Witch

You're as cold as ice, willing to sacrifice... full stop.

You’re as cold as ice, willing to sacrifice… full stop.

Many gamebooks and interactive fictions encourage guesswork. In the best of the former, that guesswork feels more like sleuthing, with the narrative jumping in like a good improv partner to back up whatever arbitrary choices you make—a shrug and a click on your part might become “you recall that bane of ivy-wort has restorative properties, you clever so-and-so.” In the best of the latter a guess—even a wrong guess—has rewards outside the dubious pleasures of winning the fiction, especially if the story’s been designed to weather mistakes on the player’s part and has “game over” scenes written with the same care as the rest of the work.

Caverns of the Snow Witch is tricky, then. This latest digital adaptation from Tin Man Games is a game of chance primarily, like most of the Fighting Fantasy line, and yet it’s also a story of chance, one where coincidence and the time-tested tactic of “grab everything that’s not nailed down” take center stage.

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Shooting at the walls the zeds ate: Chainsaw Warrior gets sequel, discount

"Got into my hand and it went bad, so I lopped it off at the wrist. It, uh, got in that guy's head too. Definitely."

“Got into my hand and it went bad, so I lopped it off at the wrist. It, uh, got in that guy’s head too. Definitely.”

Auroch Digital’s updated Chainsaw Warrior was seen by many as a wholly faithful adaptation of the 1987 Games Workshop original. Like its progenitor, digital Warrior is a timed, single-player, dice-driven jaunt through a deck of zombified nasties that have overrun New York City (maybe upstate New York, too, but who would notice?) with the help of a supernatural evil, Darkness.

Owen praised the game’s grimy sci-fi while lambasting how it played in his review. In short: the thing’s heavy on chance, light on decisions, and that goes for both the ’87 classic and the newfangled app.

Now, appearing from the shadows like some alternate Earth mutation, comes Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, a full sequel to Chainsaw Warrior that will hopefully temper the dice rolling with some more substantial mechanics. Auroch are making special mention of improved combat, an upgrades system, and mini-bosses that promise tactical challenge, though it remains to be seen just how far the game will stray from the original’s formula.

Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night will be $4.99 on iOS, Android, and Steam early next year. To celebrate the sequel announcement, Chainsaw Warrior is on sale today, down to $1.99 from $4.99 on iOS, with a similar Android and PC drop coming as well (though at the time of writing those two versions still appear full-price).

Chainsaw Warrior trailer after the jump, as well as the PT Predict-O-Tron’s estimation of what Lords of the Night might look like.

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