It’s odd that we’ve so unironically embraced the term “Black Friday”. It got its start as the lament of retail employees who had to endure the mobs of wild-eyed parents seeking out Tickle Me Elmos, but now we all call it that. Is it still a joke? Are we, on some level, collectively bemoaning how enthralled we’ve become by consumerism?
Oh well, whatever. Let’s buy some cheap games. A long list of sales awaits your attention below.
I’m the last one left here at PT HQ. I’ve been going around clicking off lights, cleaning off desks, and throwing out this Chia Pet that Phil’s been trying to grow into a topiary of Bootsy Collins.
One last thing to do before we take off for Thanksgiving: the games of the month for November. Even in this, probably the year’s most competitive month, one of the picks is a blast from the (recent) past that might surprise you.
In the afterlife — you could be headed for the serious strife.
I don’t doubt that the overwhelming majority of you didn’t play one of the year’s best strategy games — through no fault of your own, of course. Turn-based strategy game Skulls of the Shogun was universally lauded by critics (including Strategy Core‘s Geoff Byers, who was kind enough to guest review it for us) but launched as a Windows 8 exclusive. Versions of Windows adhere strictly to the Star Trek feature film rule: only every other one is any good, and thus a great game went unplayed by most.
17-Bit’s current project is the Playstation 4 arcade shooter Galak-Z. I spoke with Skulls producer Borut Pfiefer yesterday — he’s not working with 17-Bit at the moment, and he’s currently toiling away on ”a more serious cross-genre RPG, set during the election protests in Iran in 2009″. Can’t wait to hear more about that.
Skulls of the Shogun casts you as the shade of a Japanese general on a crusade through the underworld to become Shogun of the Dead, leading armies of ghost samurai in turn-based battles. The game is single-player primarily but there’s pass-and-play multiplayer on iOS. Watch the trailer below.
UPDATE: A couple of readers have written in to inform me that there’s online multiplayer that’s cross-platform with the PC edition of the game. Nice one, 17-Bit.
When Oberon’s Court begins, you are already dead. And in hell, no less. Having nowhere to go but up takes some pressure off. A powerful being named Oberon is imprisoned in this underworld, and he’s compelled you to undertake a journey to set him free, collecting an army of other shades on the way. Your companions in this iOS- and Android-bound RTS aren’t joining you out of any sense of altruism — they’ll only stay with you for as long as you can supply them with the souls they hunger for. It’s dark stuff.
“I think its a bit more personal to me than most other projects I’ve ever done,” developer Tomas Sala tells me. “It’s an attempt to bring together all my disjointed and slightly twisted fantasies I’ve been dreaming up since childhood. So its purely a flight of fancy.” If this is Sala’s idea of fancy I’d hate to see his notion of “gritty”.
The other projects Sala is referring to include airline sim advergame Aviation Empire (which we’ve talked about before) and the impressive Skyrim mod Moonpath to Elsweyr, which transforms the the faux-Viking landscapes of Skyrim into the desert and jungle world of the cat-like Khajiit.
“Things sort of got out of control over the span of 6 months [with Moonpath],” Sala says. “In the end I ended up engaging with people on the forums, writing dialogue, recording voice-acting and more. This was one of the most exhilarating development cycles I’ve ever experienced — and I’ve been developing games for over a decade! But in the end, it was just a mod, an addition to someone else’s vision and technology.
“So that’s where Oberon’s Court came from, try to create something from scratch and share as much of the creative process as possible. You have to aim high, to see if people are interested in the stories you have to tell.”
Somebody see if we can get this wizard to summon Fleet Captains next.
Eyebrows elevated around the digital board gaming world earlier this month when Heroclix and Star Trek: Fleet Captains makers Wizkids announced that they were bringing “dice-building” tabletop game Quarriors to iPad. We hadn’t seen the hybrid deck-building and dice combat game in motion until now — Wizkids have sent along this first gameplay trailer of Quarriors, exclusive to Pocket Tactics today.
I don’t have a concrete release date for Quarriors yet, but the announcement from a few weeks back said “November” — so if that still holds, we should see the game this week. This will be Wizkids’ first digital board game, but Pandemic has already showed us this year that it’s possible to hit it out of the park on your first swing.
Rumor: Your right index finger may sign for Force India next season.
With the proper gaming double-whammy of Lords of Waterdeep and Drive on Moscow arriving earlier this week (to say nothing of last week’s clutch of interesting releases), I can’t imagine you’re too anxious to buy anything else. With the deluge of great stuff that we’ve had since October, you must be set until… maybe not Christmas. But at least until after Thanksgiving, right?
It was just last month that we talked about Codemasters’ F1 Challenge, the top-down racing game with the unusual touch control scheme. I liked what little I played of it and but I haven’t gone back to it since October and haven’t heard much about it elsewhere. I’ve got nothing but sympathy for Codemasters here as they had the misfortune of releasing just before Sorcery Part 2 and Ace Patrol Pacific Skies. It’s tough to get good games noticed when we’re lazily pulling great game after great game out of the App Store cornucopia.
In a bid to draw our attention back, F1 Challenge has cut its price down to a buck from three. Watch the trailer for it and a few other noteworthy sales after the jump.
Now, I’ve found over the years that IGN-reported rumours enjoy the roughly the same 50/50 hit rate as prayers made to the sun and predictions made by Mani the Psychic Parakeet, but I’ll repeat this one because I wish for it to be true. “Multiple” anonymous sources are telling IGN that Telltale are working on a series of Game of Thrones titles that will presumably make their way to iOS like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.
Certainly, this has the ring of truth to it. Telltale have made their name by delivering unflinchingly adult-oriented adventures over the past couple of years — surely there’s nobody better positioned to take on George R. R. Martin’s novels and come back with games that are true to his unsentimentally violent and sexually frank stories. And it’s not implausible that Martin’s reps would want to go for an adventure game, either, as they’ve tried licensing games in pretty much every other logical genre: two poorly-recieved games produced by Cyanide — an RPG and a Paradox-style strategy game, and a free-to-play browser game that is by most accounts pretty decent but whose appeal is pretty limited.
So maybe Martin & Co. have realised that the popularity of Game of Thrones isn’t enough to float a game and that they need to get a developer on board whose reputation for quality is on par with his books’. But like I said, take this with a significant grain of salt. We’ll see.
Witching Hour’s fantasy wargame Ravenmark Mercenaries is an attractive, polished release with interesting combat mechanics and one of the most agreeable free-to-play systems I’ve come across. It’s also a rabbit hole of fiction; the Witching Hour guys have built a richly detailed universe for their Ravenmark games. There’s probably weird Ravenmark fan fiction somewhere. You know what, I’m not going to look. Just gonna leave that where it is.
Ravenmark Mercenaries casts you as the captain of a company of sellswords, taking on contracts to fight turn-based tactical battles in randomised fights against the AI or (where the game’s real meat is) in online multiplayer bouts. It’s a direct sequel to the more single-player-focused Ravenmark Scourge of Estellion.