S.EXE: Teen Girl Squad

By Cara Ellison on April 11th, 2014.

Jack! I'm flying Jack!No, not the beloved Homestar Runner animation, this fortnight it’s a celebration of teenage girls and their sexual agency being front and centre of the narrative! “Hey Cara,” I might hear you say, “I have never heard of a game that even gave the tiniest crap about teenage girls’ libidos!” Well, I’d say, you’ve clearly never been near the Otome genre, or a copy of Duel Love, but that’s okay. We’ll leave Otome to another day, because I found two perfectly free games that give women a good sense of bodily autonomy without having to relate their self-worth to what a dude thinks of them. How healthy!

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City Car Driving Is As Much About Roleplay As DayZ

By Graham Smith on April 11th, 2014.

I am in my car and I am slowly learning how to drive. I’ve put my seatbelt on, started my engine, turned on the lights, set the wipers wiping, slipped into first gear and pulled smoothly into traffic. Naturally, my instructor dryly points out that I’ve forgotten to indicate.

Pulling up at the first set of traffic lights, I lean forward and peer into the night beyond the rain-streaked windscreen. The traffic is bad tonight. I use the spare moment to take a drink of beer. My instructor – Russian simulator City Car Driving – says nothing, but drinking while driving still feels wrong. I put the beer back down on my desk, push down on the parking brake and continue my journey into the night.

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Elite Dangerous, Nostalgia, Joysticks & Returning To Space

By Alec Meer on April 11th, 2014.

I come and go on old franchises and old ideas being resurrected by rich old men for rather less rich and old men and women. Sometimes it seems like a roadblock to fresh invention, other times it seems like returning to roads that games were forcibly and unfairly turned away from as forces of marketing and demographic-chasing decided they weren’t suitably commercially viable. For example: space sims didn’t all but die out because the possibilities were exhausted. Though there have always been survivors, they all but died out because they required huge budgets to pull off well, but could not command the sort of easily advertised-at mainstream audience required to earn their keep. What remained turned inwards, servicing the very particular demands of a passionate few, and making themselves all the more inaccessible to those who were interested but not quite so fervent about it.

The comeback, thanks to the removal of almost all middlemen and the ability to engage directly with an audience large enough but spread far and wide, is something I find incredibly exciting. After having barely touched space games for years, I now find myself owning a £120 joystick and obsessed with Elite 4.
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The Flare Path: For Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

By Tim Stone on April 11th, 2014.

Here at Flare Path we take flight simulation extremely seriously. When a company like Eagle Dynamics goes to the trouble of releasing a free aerodyne as lifelike and lively as the ‘new’ DCS World Mustang, we believe it’s important that machine is flown responsibly and realistically. If you know yourself to be a hellraiser, a tearaway, a speed merchant, a rowdy, a clown, a daisy botherer or a beret shredder, be sure to read the following Enjoyment Guide before clambering into the cockpit of the weaponless TF-51D.

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Week in Tech: World’s Best GPU, Elite 4 + VR + IR

By Jeremy Laird on April 10th, 2014.

Is Sapphire’s Tri-X Radeon R9 290 the world’s best graphics card? I think it just might be. OK, it’s only the best graphics card in the world in a given context – one in which you’re willing and able to cough up £330 for a graphics card. Likewise, a few other add-in board makers have similarly impressive custom-cooled offerings based on the R9 290 chipset. And somehow all this would hang together a bit better if the Tri-X was available for £290, which is the figure I’d hoped the R9 290 would have to slipped to by now (damn you, cryptocurrencies!). But the Tri-X still ticks all my boxes, I reckon it’s right in the sweet spot and I’m going to explain why. In other news, last week I saw the most exciting thing in gaming since I gazed fecklessly at the goldfish-bowl-proportioned cathode ray tube that masqueraded as a PC monitor and experienced hardware T&L and filtered textures (Tomb Raider on a TNT2, if you must) for the first time. The funny thing is, the bit I’m most excited about I haven’t even seen. I’m talking Elite: Dangerous. I’m talking TrackIR. I’m talking Oculus Rift DK2. Read the rest of this entry »

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Introducing Last Life, Aka ‘Kentucky Route Zero In Space’

By Nathan Grayson on April 10th, 2014.

You might remember that we liked sleepy-as-the-night, sharp-as-a-knife adventure Kentucky Route Zero quite a lot. We even gave it game of the year, doncha know. So when Last Life creator Sam Farmer told me his game was best described as “Kentucky Route Zero in space,” I nearly warbled with glee. The noir-themed tale of a detective trying to solve the mystery of his own murder has Double Fine‘s blessing and backing, and it’s taking to Kickstarter for one more boost. I sat down with Farmer for what turned out to be his first interview ever, and we discussed Last Life’s universe and story, Sherlock-style inspection mechanics, Double Fine’s involvement, what it means to be “noir,” and transhumanism. It’s all below.

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Wot I Think: The Wolf Among Us Episode 3

By Alec Meer on April 10th, 2014.

The third chapter of Telltale’s adventure game adaptation of the ‘what if fairy tales were real and lived in New York?’ comic Fables was released on Tuesday. I played it on Wednesday. I then published an article about it on Thursday. I might play it again on Friday. Here’s why.

Ah, that’s much better. After such a strong start – for me, the most compelling Telltale opener yet – The Wolf Among Us hit lengthy and mysterious delays, followed by a disappointingly perfunctory episode 2. It left me wondering if the series was playing for time, but now it has had that time. Fortunately, it seems to have paid off. Longer, with many more decisions, a stronger sense of consequence and a wise focus on character development above melodrama, this series can once again be said to be a wolf rather than a poodle.
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SOMA’s Grip On BioShock Comparisons, Indie Influences

By Nathan Grayson on April 10th, 2014.

SOMA didn’t scare the scuba suit off me, but I did find a creeping sort of potential in its soaked-to-the-bone corridors. Amnesia: The Dark Descent 2 this ain’t. Or at least, it’s not aiming to be. Currently, it still feels a lot like a slower-paced, less-monster-packed Amnesia in a different (though still very traditionally survival-horror-y) setting, but Frictional creative director Thomas Grip has big plans. I spoke with him about how he hopes to evolve the game, inevitable comparisons to the Big Daddy of gaming’s small undersea pond, BioShock, why simple monster AI is better than more sophisticated options, the mundanity of death, and how SOMA’s been pretty profoundly influenced by indie mega-hits like Dear Esther and Gone Home.

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Hands-On Impressions: A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

By Nathan Grayson on April 9th, 2014.

Being from Texas, I can count the number of snowmen I’ve built on one hand. Being from Texas, they were also about the size of said one hand. I did get the chance to slap together a bulbous yeti of truly epic proportions in college, though. I took so much pride in that dumb thing that I nearly tried to put a hit out on whomever kicked it down during that coldest of winter nights. I can identify with A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build‘s title, is what I’m saying. The game itself, however, is probably not what you’re expecting – a thing of snow-white relaxation and contemplation, not astute snowperson defense. It’s a simple yet wickedly challenging puzzler from Sokobond designer Alan Hazelden, with lovably, huggably soft personality to match.

Each snowperson has a name. A name! Awwwwwwwww.

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What’s Up With Warframe?

By Jim Rossignol on April 9th, 2014.

By which I mean: I’ve played Warframe over the past couple of weeks and will now write about it, for your possible edification.

Warframe is a sci-fi over-the-shoulder shooter where space ninjas have upgradeable sharkfin heads. Sadly that doesn’t quite clinch the deal, because the free-to-play beast of Digital Extremes has been in beta for a year now, and still hasn’t quite driven home the wakizashi of success. But has that journey delivered it from the hollow purgatory of its early release? Or will it determine to be a footnote in the history of free-to-play experimentation?

I donned my impossible fish helmet to find out.

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Wot I Think: Rehearsals and Returns

By Alec Meer on April 9th, 2014.

Rehearsals and Return is the new game from (primarily) Peter Brinson, creator of the remarkable art/history/politics vignette The Cat & The Coup. This shares a certain cut-up appearance and a maudlin tone (well, depending on how you approach it), but it’s a rudimentary platform game set to surrealistic, sometimes chaotic backgrounds, wherein you collect dialogue options then make decisions about how to treat assorted famous and infamous figures. And a few less famous ones too.

At present it costs just $1, and will eventually rise to $4. This is a discussion of the experience I had with it, not of its value proposition.
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