Wot I Did On My Staycation

By Alec Meer on October 17th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

scores on the doors?

As you didn’t notice, I’ve been away for the last three months, to focus on helping raise the child which will one day destroy the universe. In between prising the crushed, partially-chewed remains of smaller star systems from her tiny, iron grip, I managed to play a few videogames. Some for a while, but most only for a couple of hours. Despite myself, it was difficult not to have opinions about them, and to want to write those opinions on some manner of ‘web’ ‘site.’ I bided my time. I waited. And now here I am, able to force you to listen to my single-sentence opinions on 13 recent videogames – the likes of Saints Row IV, Gone Home, The Bureau, Papers Please and even that car-stealing thing on console. For the first time on RPS, I have even included a rating for each game.

Papers, Please (3909)

I had so much outstanding paperwork, my ancient nemesis, which I unwisely avoiding doing while away, but I so eagerly and compulsively did similar in this harrowingly well-observed simulation of nightmare bureaucracy.
Rating: 

 

Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Despite this detail-rich tale thematically being the polar opposite – a celebration of self rather than a demand to subsume it – of Papers, Please, to my mind they’re this year’s great rivals in terms of emotional clout.
Rating: 

 

Godus (22 Cans)

Well, it might improve later, but currently this is a strong candidate for the most abysmal game I’ll play this year – the tedium of its inchoate mechanics made it come across like the cashgrab without a design we’ve all worried it was.
Rating: 

 

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs (The Chinese Room)

Unlike some, I really dug the move to less interactivity and more atmosphere and story; despite reliance on any number on horror tropes, it made me pause for long moments before each and every new door.
Rating: 

 

Shadowrun Returns (Harebrained Schemes)

Most excellent theme, RPG mechanics and tools but the campaign it launched with made surprisingly muted use of it – I hope and suspect we’ll see something far more thoughtful come out of the community.
Rating: 

 

Saints Row IV (Volition)

It’s dead funny and some of the unexpected segues – particularly the 50s housewife skit – are the refreshing sign of a developer with both budget and creative freedom, but as a game it bored me too soon; damned ugly too.
Rating: 

 

Shadow Warrior (Flying Wild Hog)

And here’s SR4′s opposite – the humour made me want to claw my eyes out with shuriken, but the elaborate-yet-slick combat systems and deluge of cartoon carnage was just what Mr First Person’s knackered old reticule needed.
Rating: 

 

Rayman Legumes (Ubisoft)

Effortlessly charming, endlessly ingenious, the latest Rayman put thoroughly to bed any concern that predecessor Oranges had exhausted the formula – and made old man Mario look very unimaginative indeed.
Rating: 

 

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2K Marin)

Mostly, the long, fixed walks through disproportionately impressive period environments in this airless, characterless squad shooter made me mourn for the more brave and flexible game the realtime XCOM was once intended to be.
Rating: 

 

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons (Starbreeze)

This gently clever one-player co-op puzzle game from an unlikely source blends charm and sadness, light and dark in equal measure – a buddy game free from everything that might usually suggest, and one I strongly suggest you seek out.
Rating: 

 

Spelunky (Mossmouth)

The balance of this unassuming masterpiece, so many elements and so many potential outcomes to juggle, yet it feels so controlled despite its infinite nature – rarely is a videogame so fully-formed, so elegant, so timeless and so darkly hilarious.
Rating: 

 

NOT PLAYED ON PC SORRY PLEASE HAVE ME EXECUTED FORTHWITH

Persona 4: Golden (Atlus; played PS Vita)

I’d essentially sworn off JRPGs for life until I broke in my shiny new toy (a present to myself to aid recuperation from a minor operation) with Atlus’ extraordinary, mammoth cocktail of teen angst, Japan noir and tactical fantasy combat; oh, for a PC port of this thoroughly modern anti-epic.
Rating: 

 

Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar; played on PS3)

Sad but unsurprising to see this controversy-hungry developer’s storytelling, characterisation and humour escalate to more repugnant, arrogant, hollow and incoherent than ever, but I simply won’t hear a word said against the mighty environment, distractions and spectacle on offer here.
Rating: 

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60 Comments »

  1. Ross Angus says:

    OK, who’s the geezer used for Brothers? I’ve no idea.

    I’ve also no idea who this Alex fellow is, but I wish him good tidings, on his first day working for RPS.

  2. eldwl says:

    Welcome back, Alec. You were missed, honest.

    • McDan says:

      Er. Yes. Missed, I will admit to not quite noticing Alec was gone, but now I realise what that aching emptiness in my heart was. Cracking article to come back with, fan of the scoring.

    • P7uen says:

      I had actually clicked on Alexecses name at the bottom of the site to see if I could find where he was but his website had a webcation as well :(

      Welcome back!

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah i missed him too, his opinions generally align with mine, notably in Far Cry 3 (he was the only one who didn’t consider it for the last spot on the Calendar).

      He did write one or two things in between, though.

      • zapatapon says:

        I align with Alex’s opinions about 50% of the time, and alternatively want to hug and strangle him. Which makes him all the more interesting to read: I never know what to expect. Glad you’re back!

  3. Cleave says:

    Welcome back. Did you have a chance to play Space Hulk?

    • lowprices says:

      Yes, enquiring minds demand to know wot you thought!

      Also: Hello. Good to have you back.

  4. Arathain says:

    Good to have you back. I am ashamed to say I have played none of those games, although some are on my list. That may or may not mean I’ll ever play them, but having the list makes me feel better about myself.

    It’s hard to play much games and have a Small, before they get old enough to play co-op.

  5. Llewyn says:

    Of course we noticed, this place has gone to the cats while you’ve been away. Welcome home.

    I notice that only a couple of your homework assignments merited more than one star; this must have been a source of great disappointment. (Thanks for the reviews though, a couple of them in particular got my attention.)

  6. amateurviking says:

    I also recently picked up a Vita as a surrogate for the PC while I’m doing field work. Worth it just for FF: Tactics and Rayman: Plantae on-the-go.

  7. serioussgtstu says:

    Simon Cowell is a very respectable score to give Godus, but Kanye couldn’t look less impressed with his likeness being invoked to represent that conservative lump of a game.

    • The Random One says:

      Maybe Alec meant to rate it Chris Brown and got, uh, confused.

  8. Michael Fogg says:

    A clever joke to use the charachters from the British sitcom Eastenders as ratings.

  9. Laketown says:

    As a PC only player, one would only be able to play Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei online

    and no one should suffer that indignity

    (I would buy ports of their PS2 catalogue so hard even though I’ve already played all of them)

    • McDan says:

      It is a damn shame Persona 4 or Golden isn’t on the PC but they are amazing games, pretty much the only reason I keep the playstation 2 plugged in still.

      • TimePointFive says:

        Will i get in trouble for mentioning emulation???? I am thoroughly enjoying my first play-through of FFXII in 3200×1800

  10. morbiusnl says:

    really dig the new rating system!

  11. DanMan says:

    This should be a series: if this game was a person, who’d it be?

  12. Laurentius says:

    Oh come now RPS, just start writing about console games already, do it upfront and stop being bashful about, only PC is misleading and pretentious. You want it, majority of present readers wants it, it’s not 2008 anymore.

    TBH I didn’t notice you being gone, i just read your WIT on Knife of Dunwal recently , didn’t ? ? Holly hell it was in April, time really flys by…

    • Fliver says:

      Nah. Even if we finished the RPS cloning device so expanding to consoles wouldn’t adversely effecting pc coverage, the pc scene is unique and focusing on it changes what topics are relevant. It’s unlikely that specialized articles, such as Yang’s “A People’s History of the FPS,” would be posted on a general gaming site. Certainly there’s not many other sites where something like the Teleglitch DLC could make front page news. Wish my English was better so this sentence could be, but it’s RPS’ pc focus that gives ‘weight’ to niche stories.

      Usually good console articles linked in the Sunday Papers too, they’re not being ‘pretentious’ and faking ignorance of the rest of the game’s industry. I love it when RPS staff write about consoles (strongly recommend anyone reading this google Quintin Smith Forza Horizon), but it would be a tradeoff. For what little it’s worth: Reading Walker’s review of Pathologic wasn’t enough to get me to play it, read a bunch of reviews on Eurogamer that day, but Smith’s featured three-part essay was. Turned out to be my favorite game; still is.

      • Laurentius says:

        I’m not saying about covering console news, no. RPS covering PC news is still very unique but if authors find some console game interesting and want to write WIT, Verdict or just write about it, they should freely do so imo. In 2008 Pc was consider niche and dying so other big gaming sties wouldn’t cover games like Papers Please, Gone Home or Shelter, now it’s pretty common, so it could work the other way, especially since RPS authors evidently play console games.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      You may be the only person here who wants console coverage.

      • Jody Macgregor says:

        I would read a weekly “Dispatches From Console Land” column, covered sort of like the way RPS covers board games. I’d read a similar column on tabletop RPGs as well.

        I would read a lot of things.

        • Laketown says:

          Hell, even a “this game isn’t coming to PC ever but it’s really good” segment on occasion, especially for things that probably wouldn’t ever come to PC (like 3DS games and sony/MS/nintendo 1st party shit)

        • bill says:

          I might too. But mainly because I also have a sprog and I no longer have time to keep up with full on console news on other websites.
          I’d imagine most readers can just go to joystiq/kotaku/polygon/ign/etc… if they want console news though.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Um, no not really. My main draw to RPS initially was that it’s PC only, and what made me stay was the excellent, thoughtful and entertaining writing.

  13. Freud says:

    So every game got 1 out of 5?

  14. Hardlylikely says:

    I fear it will take quite some time to shake the image of Mr First Person’s knackered old reticule. Thanks Alec and welcome back.

  15. Rikard Peterson says:

    Wow – a Jim Henson rating for Rayman! That exceeds my expectations. I should finish oranges, and put legumes on my wishlist.

  16. Danopian says:

    I’m so glad Spelunky was rated Orson Welles smoking a pipe, because if Alec had only rated it Orson Welles I would have rioted in front of the RPS castle.

  17. almostDead says:

    Fucking Godus man.

    I have watched about an hour’s let’s play on this. And some of the Dev. videos. Molyneux is like out of a Dilbert cartoon. It’s quite sad to watch this old dude wander around the offices annoying people, waving his arms about asking for shit.

    And they are like that scene where George Lucas showed Ep. 1 to all his top dogs and they just don’t know what to say, or where to look thinking ‘holy shit, what did we let him do’.

  18. Panda Powered says:

    Glanced over the reviews to read the scores. Brothers is at most 0.95 Lassgård.

  19. Casimir's Blake says:

    Bravo Alec. You’ve found a legitimate use for Simon Cowell’s face. Best rating system, ever, surely?

  20. mazzratazz says:

    OK so forgive my OCD tendencies but I get really obsessive about stuff like this, and perhaps others do too (especially non-Brits who are bad with faces like myself). Here’s some names to attach to the faces:

    - Papers, Please: writer George Orwell
    - Gone Home: actress Claire Danes
    - Godus: talent show douchebag Simon Cowell
    - Amnesia: actor Anthony Hopkins
    - Shadowrun: actor Keanu Reeves
    - Saint’s Row: the Chuckle Brothers (I have no idea who these people are)
    - Shadow Warrior: actress Lucy Liu
    - Rayman: puppeteer Jim Henson
    - Bureau: actor Sam Worthington
    - A Tale of Two Sons: actor Rolf Lassgard
    - Spelunky: actor, director, writer Orson Welles
    - Persona: pop singer Robyn
    - GTAV: hiphopper Kanye West

    (I apologise if this was obvious to everyone else. You guys can decide how exactly the people are linked to their respective games.)

    • almostDead says:

      Well, I wanted to know who the people I didn’t know were. But I could’ve died not knowing.

      So now I don’t have to, so thank you.

    • almostDead says:

      Still can’t edit posts….

      So the chuckle brothers as the internet would tell you better, are a children’s TV comedy duo.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Ah yes, Anthony Hopkins. Not Paul Daniels.

    • Panda Powered says:

      Haha I thought Papers, Please was Nikola Tesla and wondered what the hell the thematic connection was there.

    • Ragnar says:

      Thank you for this. I only recognized three of the faces. To busy stalking John Walker doing things to keep up with what media personalities look like.

  21. Tams80 says:

    Chuckle, chuckle vision!

  22. Radiant says:

    Who the fuck is Alex Mear?
    Where’s Nathan?

  23. Greggh says:

    Welcome back!

    Now go give John his foot massage ‘cus he’s quite grumpy as of late…

  24. drewski says:

    I think I have a pretty similar relationship to GTA V. So much fun to tool about without any specific goal. Trevor’s airfield sub-missions are maybe my favourite, just because flying is so good.

  25. mwaha says:

    Very nice rating system, pretty much dead on.

  26. Thermal Ions says:

    So is that what Alex has really been doing?