Mode 7 have sent a message back in time from the future cyber-dystopia where they live: Frozen Synapse, the simultaneous-turn tactical combat game that we deemed our 2013 Multiplayer Game of the Year Runner-Up is free for the next couple of days. That’s a very steep discount on the usual price of $10, so chop chop.
Dev Paul Kilduff-Taylor shot over this note: “We really would like some new people to try out simultaneous turn-based gameplay because it’s fantastic. We think Frozen Cortex is the next level of this so we’d love all of our new Frozen Synapse players to check that out.”
Frozen Synapse has a long and very enjoyable single-player campaign that I strongly suggest you meditate on for some time before attempting the online multiplayer: the dudes who are still playing FS online are super-mega-sharks from hell and they will shred the unworthy. But do pop over to the App Store and pick up Frozen Synapse for free — you won’t regret it.
It is an undebateable fact that Adam Saltsman is one of the most influential game developers still above ground. The creator of Canabalt single-handedly invented the infinite runner, a genre that (for better or worse) grew like kudzu over the App Store. I still get three or four pitches a week for new Canabalt clones, six years on from its release. And we don’t even cover infinite runners here — imagine how many the TouchArcade guys get. Saltsman’s big follow-up was producing the uniquely elegant Hundreds in 2013, which was probably the App Store’s most religiously-played puzzler until the reign of Threes began.
Saltsman’s been quiet for the past year or so, but not idle. He’s been lurking behind the scenes, collecting his various games under the single roof of his new games imprint Finji. The label’s first original production is planned to ship later this year; it’s called Overland, and it’s a turn-based tactical game that’s packing a lot of new ideas.
After the jump, my conversation with Adam Saltsman and the very first publicly released screenshots and concept images of Overland, which will be playable at GDC this spring.
Gypsy is actually the one you have to watch out for.
French devs Studio Nyx got in touch over the weekend with the first trailer for Legions of Steel, the iOS-, Android- and PC-bound digital resurrection of the eponymous cult hit tabletop miniatures game of the early 1990s. We’ve been following this one for a good long while: from the studio’s ill-fated Kickstarter back in 2013 to their rescue by Slitherine, who funded the remainder of the development.
Legions is a turn-based tactical game that’s very faithful to the miniatures game it emulates: you lead a squad of human commandos fighting an insurgency against the machines that rule our solar system in turn-based combat. Developer Romain Soulie tells me that the online multiplayer is going to be hot, and I believe him. The hook with Legions is the order system, which is more complex and nuanced than many tactical games, giving you granular control over how your squad provides cover fire and overwatch. I messed with a development build last year and liked it a lot.
Legions was due out end of last year — that clearly didn’t happen but the devs tell me that it’s almost go time for this one. Check out the trailer after the jump and keep tabs on Studio Nyx via Facebook.
We’re the first English-language publication to get this news, which has already been revealed in a French magazine, a Klingon Usenet group, and an Esperanto skater zine: Mi-Clos Studio’s next major release will be Sigma Theory, a turn-based political espionage game with a sci-fi-flavoured contemporary setting. If you don’t want to play a House of Cards-inspired spy thriller from the team that made Out There, you need to talk to your doctor about adjusting your meds.
When I catch wind of a new Sid Meier game coming, a sort of primal fight-or-flight response takes over. I have to find out everything I can about that new game, and anything else takes a back seat until I do. Turns out, more or less the same thing happens within Firaxis, Sid’s own studio.
“We have a studio shared drive that everybody can upload to.” I’m talking to Firaxis producers Pete Murray and Stuart Zissu — this is Murray. “Most people just use the shared drive to upload funny gifs and cat pictures — but Sid uploads prototype games. When there’s a new Sid prototype up, I know that I’m not going to get anything else done that day.”
Sid Meier’s name appears on every single edition of Civilization released since the original in 1991, but the legendary designer leaves that cash cow franchise in the hands of his proteges these days. “Sid’s a designer who can also code,” Zissu tells me, “so that gives him a lot of flexibility. Some people will come up with a game idea and try to explain it to you. Sid comes up with a game idea and builds a prototype to show you.”
Every once in a while, one of those prototypes really catches on at Firaxis and moves from Sid’s desk into full production. Sid Meier’s Starships, coming this spring to iOS and PC was one of those.
“That’s a team, gentlemen, and either, we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as robot individuals.”
Over the weekend, Mode 7 posted a video with a big, meaty update to their turn-based sci-fi football sim Frozen Cortex, which has been available on PC early access since last year. The creators of Frozen Synapse (our 2013 Multiplayer Game of the Year) have made positive noises in the past about eventually bringing Frozen Cortex to mobile as well, and I wanted to know how likely it was that we’d see robot cyber-football on our iPads this year.
So I talked to Mode 7’s Paul Kilduff-Taylor, and here’s what he told me.
After allowing us to subsist on the merest scraps of information about the recently revealed iPad-bound Sid Meier’s Starships, devs Firaxis are letting it all hang out at PAX South. At a panel there, Uncle Sid himself played through Starships live, showing off a big chunk of gameplay.
When we scrutinized the few available screenshots a couple of weeks back, some PT readers saw the influence of Ace Patrol, Sid Meier’s Pirates, and Civilization. Clearly, Starships is borrowing ideas from those games, but after watching the video, it’s not easily pigeon-holed as a spiritual successor to any of those. Starships is most definitely its own freaky space animal.
What really grabbed my attention in this video is the “Shore Leave” mechanic (jump to around the 45-minute mark to see that specifically) — it’s a totally fresh approach to the way turn-based games play. Your crew’s stamina is a push-your-luck system: you can take on almost as many missions as you like, but the further you push your crew, the worse they perform in combat. When you grant your crew shore leave, the other empires in the game play their turns. That’s a very cool idea.
The whole video is after the jump. I’ve been in touch with 2K about release dates and the possibility of an Android port — I’ll hear back about that soon, hopefully.
Owen here, covering Out Tonight while Dave gallivants around San Francisco on a press trip. Or at least, that’s what he told me he was doing. Dave, you better not be lollygagging out on the Best Coast. No lollygagging, Dave.
This week’s releases are very, very sexy, people: Slitherine’s early modern warfare game Pike & Shot is making the jump from PC to iPad tomorrow. Not tonight, strictly speaking — Slitherine will pull the release lever tomorrow morning, but I’ll be sure to let you know when that is.
There are other releases worth looking at for the night owls who want to watch the App Store tick over at midnight. Let’s chat about ‘em and watch videos after the jump.