“You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him.”
There’s a plasma-hot streak of can-do spirit and 1950s pizzazz in Space Age, an unwavering optimism that colors every moment of the game’s pulp adventure. Early space race kitsch is the style here, with our cast of cosmic explorers decked out in fishbowl helmets and garish spacesuits (with hoop skirts for the ladies, of course). Out of this crew tasked with investigating the alien world of Kepler-16—a crew which includes a suspenders-wearing, toolbox-carrying engineer and an Obvious Love Interest/chief science officer—we have a most average of Seemingly Average Heroes, a lowly private who can barely manage to communicate with his fellows between rapid-fire gees, goshes, shucks, and painfully naïve quips. (Quick paraphrase: “Is there a special girl back home, Private?” “Of course! My mom! Oh, and the family dog’s a girl too, I think. And maybe my neighb- OH YOU MEAN ROMANTICALLY.”)
Space Age is an odd mash-up of action, adventure, and some light (like, lunar gravity light) squad-based tactics. The game itself, as befits the dream of a push-button future, seems to want it all: a little bit of twee sensibility here, a little bit of stealth-game sneakery there, some timing puzzles off to the side and then a big, earnest slice of American apple pie on top. That is a tough ship to get into orbit.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.