Call any particular cast of characters “interchangeable” and, for most games, you’d be speaking in the pejorative. But for Swap Heroes 2, the second action-puzzler of its name from developer Chris Savory, rolling with a foursome of interchangeable fantasy archetypes is the whole point. As the name suggests, the idea isn’t that your squad is comprised of bland nobodies who wouldn’t stand out at your average weekend LARP (let alone a week-long camp where everyone’s armored to the nines), but rather that your team adheres to one specific, rigid tactical formation, a formation which only allows for two characters to change places at any one time.
Posts by: Sean Clancy
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.
Our Adventure Game of the Year is the game you’ll jump to–or, the one you ought to jump to–when trying to explain just what interactive fiction is.
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.
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.
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.
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.