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01-01-2012, 01:58 AM #1
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- Jun 2011
Games you're currently loving the heck out of that aren't insanely hyped.
I feel I don't praise games enough. I mean, I talked about To the Moon, but in general I just don't. I'm not really sure if it's something that anyone would want to hear. But some games I just don't think are yapped about enough, they just sit there being rather magnificent and glorious in their own special little ways, the brilliant, shining stars in a sky that's often too big for us to notice. And that's a big sky out there, big sky, and it's easy to miss some of them.
So let's talk about some of those games. Those games that could easily be overlooked.
That'll be the first. I always liked the concept of card games but I could never really get into them because there wasn't enough of a hook, there. And frankly, they were a bit too nerdy for me. As I'd said elsewhere, the hero cards all looked the same to me. When you have a typical fantasy setting, often the human heroes will look so much alike that you can barely tell them apart. Like rocks in a quarry, there might be minor variations but ultimately they're just going to be much the same. The monen will be scantily clad, and the men will either be wearing robes or ridiculous armour.
Well, I have to admit that one of the factions of Shadow Era is a bit like that, but thankfully, Shadow Era has others, and this is how it came to my attention. You can play the other faction available, and this faction is constructed of all sorts of crazy looking critters - including werewolves. That was enough of a hook for me. Now, I've never really sat down with a game like this before, I'd tampered, but it never really 'got' me. I was determined to give this one a look though because I liked the art on the shadow faction cards, I'm as simple as that, sometimes. I like art.
I don't know whether this is a testament to their development or whether it's always this easy, but within five minutes of sitting down with it, I felt like I was quickly getting the hang of things. Within an hour? I felt like I was playing like a pro. And here's the thing: There are cards with text on them, but they display the cards in an easy to read fashion, whenever a new card is laid down by your opponent, it pops up on the screen so you can read and understand all that it does before you dismiss it, then you can fully understand its effects on the rectangular card-laden 'battlefield.'
Choosing cards also results in magnification. It pops up a full view of the card, allowing you to admire its art and read what it does, and you can examine each card closely before either playing it, putting it back, or sacrificing it at the start of each round. Sacrificing is an interesting mechanic - sacrificing a card gives you resources, the more resources you have, the more you can do at the beginning of each round. Some people like to play fast and loose by building resources as they go, some like setting up defences and slowly building resources at the start of the round.
The game is essentially played with allies and items, items can buff you or your allies, you can also have weapons and armour - weapons allow your hero to attack. Now here's a fun thing: Many cards have abilities, including ally and hero cards. So that beam behemoth you just put down? It has a plasma burst that does four damage, you can use that and attack. Often, when I get three beam behemoths in a hand you'll hear me cackling like a madman. If you can manage to get a damage buff card in with them, then you can absolutely decimate with a group of them.
And yes. I have a group of beam behemoths that turn up frequently, along with those nasty werewolf buffs that turn them into machines of doom. I'm one of those players. Shadow Era players who've come up against one of those werewolf players who've ridiculously powerful allies, and even more powerful buffs, will probably be thinking how much they hate that sort of play. Yeah, I can imagine. I haven't played against too many actual people yet though as I don't have the confidence for it, I mostly stick to the AI opponents, so you won't be seeing my beam behemoths out there often.
There are a few special effects going on on the field and they're neat. Fireballs and arcane blasts will trigger, but largely it's abstracted, the card is the star and mostly it features around damned good looking cards. If this were a game where the cards were actual creatures and they were running around beheading each other, I may be put off by it a bit, but because it's an actual card game, I'm not bothered. It's a nice abstraction layer.
I wish I could sit down and play cards with people in games rather than having to chop their heads off. ...and now I'm reminded of how much I loved Diplomacy in Vanguard. I'd actually play a game based around that idea, I really would. So I have had some experience with this sort of thing before, now that I come to think about it, but it hasn't been too much. Though Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was hilariously entertaining, having dignified discussions with via 'discussion cards' with buff wolven warriors. I appreciated that.
...can I have another game where I'm a card playing diplomat? Does anyone want to make that?
Anyway, as it stands, Shadow Era has proved to be a lot of fun. It's easy to get into, and it's very accessible, they even have camera angles for the playing field and things like that, it's neat. I don't know if all card games are impenetrable or whether games like Shadow Era are more common. But if you find that most card games just blow your mind, and that you have no interest in them, then try Shadow Era. I think it'll just sit well with most people.
The presentation is there, the art is there, the rock music playing in the background and the incredible level of presentation eschews any outright nerdiness, and the friendly tutorial at the start gets you playing pretty quickly. I think that this is probably going to be the entry level card game for most people.
I like things like this, I really do. It's an action platform puzzler with lots of humour and loads of hidden collectibles. I admit, I've a huge weakness for collectibles, even if they become worthless. Blade Kitten? I don't think many people liked that one, but that's because they were just playing straight through, and it is a bit boring that way, the combat in Blade Kitten wasn't great. But exploring and looking for collectibles was.
In a lot of ways, Explodemon! is just like that, and that's either going to annoy you or you're going to be pleased by the thought. The combat isn't that great, it's a bit silly and involves exploding at people, but exploring the levels and looking for secrets is great fun. And it has a truly wonderful sense of humour. It might not click with you if you didn't happen to have played any (any!) of the console games of the 8- and 16-bit generations, but if you did play some of those, then you'll likely understand what some of the humour is getting at.
There's a bit of Knytt Stories to this, too. Not too much, but a bit. The way I'm double-jumping (sorry, explode-o-jumping) around the levels and seeing how high up I can get in various places, or what unexpected secrets I can find, reminds me a lot of Knytt. But Explodemon is a lot larger than Knytt, and the experience is a lot more action-oriented. Mostly though, it's about the collectibles. There will be shiny things which you can obviously get at, and there will be tantalising shiny things which you can't even begin to imagine how to get at. And there will be things where you have to use your explode powers to 'guide' objects through areas which you can't get into, since... uh, somehow you can explode through walls. Don't ask me to explain that, it just obeys the rule of fun.
Outside of the combat, which I feel is a bit fiddly, the controls are really, really tight, and it's not hard at all to learn how to explode jump, the timing of it comes easily, and it just feels familiar to anyone who's ever played a platformer. It just feels right, and that they've put a lot of effort into getting the controls just right.
And the humour holds up throughout. The NPCs are always great for a laugh, and ... Explodemon himself always talks like a badly translated 8-bit game. He is a living font for NES Metal Gear style dialogue.
Oh, and it's also kind of pretty at times. Not Blade Kitten levels thereof, but it's fine!
This, I feel, is the kind of game which you're either going to love or hate, and how much you do depends on how much you feel like hunting for shinies, all of the shinies, every shiny.
This was another one I saw via TotalBiscuit and immediately there were a few things I loved about it:
- It had enemies but at least you didn't have to handle them by being some gun-toting idiot.
- The hero is an everyman, he's also overweight, and this fills me with joy. I can't remember the last time I played an overweight guy in something. I appreciate that.
- The music... look, I can't convey this with words. Just click
- The voice actor is Duke Nukem sounding nothing at all like Duke Nukem!
- The art style is actually quite cartoony.
I went into this one at first expecting not to like it too much. I was worried it would be a mainstream-esque man-with-gun affair. Oh was I wrong. It is a man with a gun, but there's nothing average about him or his gun. It's a gravity gun, essentially, from Half-Life. This is, as TB said, all the gravity bits form HL2. But it's those as a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer. Do you remember how the flash portal game was a bit good? This is sort of like that, but better, as it throws lots of its own ideas into the mix.
And I find it impossible not to like the main character. I'm sorry, but he's eminently loveable, from his South-American drawl to his really, really corny puns, which he likes to make at every opportunity, despite them being puns you've heard a billion times before. He feels like a simple person, but one of those people whom we only tend to see in stories - simple, and with a good heart. And unless you play him that way, he's not a killer. Whether he kills or not is your choice, which immediately grants it acclaim in my book.
And really, it's his character that pulls it together and makes it work, you know the puns he's going to make and he makes them away, you might sigh, or chuckle, or do one then the other, and then you move on. This is an everyman trying to look out for the people he's come to think of as family, and doing it in the only way he knows how. It's a tale of an average person becoming a superhero without needing the aid of a radioactive spider.
And it appeals to me.
Rochard steps into the fray with aplomb and nothing really seems to faze him - it's just his job, and he wants to do his job really well. He's been on a station where everything has been falling apart for a time now, he's gotten into countless life threatening situations and learned from them, so by the time he actually meets something that wants to take him out, rather than just it happening incidentally due to his workplace being so naturally dangerous, he's perfectly capable of handling himself.
The puzzles often feel portal like in nature, too, which is also good. You have these light bridges and doors, some of which stop non-organic matter, some of which stop organic matter, so you can walk over some of these light bridges, and some you fall through, some you have to arrange blocks to pass as you may have seen in TB's video.
But you can just go watch that to get the gist of it, really.
I'm just saying that beyond that, I really like the feel of this game. It feels like although it's not really bringing anything mechanically unique to the table (although what it does have is polished), it's still doing something different. And I find it impossible to resist its charms.
(Another reason I think I've taken to Rochard is that, aside from the music, it just feels in ways like something plucked out of the past. Something that shouldn't exist today. If you look at the art that accompanies the track I linked... that's something that might have been on a game cover decades ago, but today? It's supposed to be serious, and yet at the same time it's just so completely, intentionally silly. Thank goodness for indie developers.)
So that's my post done, then. Take it away from there.
Last edited by Wulf; 01-01-2012 at 02:16 AM.
01-01-2012, 02:41 AM #2
I've spent about 22 hours in Avadon: The Black Fortress over a week. It feels good to finally be engrossed in an RPG after bouncing off of the handful of others I purchased (bought a bunch of stuff on the GOG sale). As is typical with Vogel RPGs, the game is mostly stripped of character generation, but I guess that's exactly what I needed after playing too many rogue-likes and D&D style games. I chose a Shadowwalker, the games only non-generic class, and was immediately hooked by the opening exposition where I learned I would be working for what is essentially a fantasy styled UNATCO. The game makes up for the lack of the aforementioned stat management with a shit-load of dialogue and atmosphere text, all of it competently written.
01-01-2012, 02:52 AM #3
I'm really loving Anno 2070, which may be too mainstream compared to the picks so far, but I consider it very under-hyped for the quality of game play so far. It's so easy to just blink and you've spent 4 hours juggling trades, building little hamlets and techno corridors to keep things moving, baiting enemy units into static defenses, and watching all the tiny people do their thing thanks to your benign (or malevolent) blessings. The one major thorn is the ark which loses all your upgrades the second your internet connection burps, so I just cracked it to be perm-offline and ignore it. Makes it even more challenging and rewarding then, frankly.
Honorable past mention is the Drakensang series which doesn't get much press in the US at least, but are really amazingly high quality games.All times I have enjoyed greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those that loved me, and alone.
01-01-2012, 02:59 AM #4
01-01-2012, 03:01 AM #5
01-01-2012, 03:33 AM #6
Been playing a lot of Revenge of the Titans. It's a straightforward enough tower defense game, but I like the charming, glossy, retro aesthetic, and the little, moustached general, and bald egghead scientist giving me tips and peptalks. The legions of enemies trying to make a dash for my base feel dangerous and menacing despite their cuteness. The tech tree is fun as well. The game has been gobbling up a surprising amount of my time.
Snapped up Rochard today as well since it's on sale. Looking forward to dipping into that game when I have some time.
01-01-2012, 03:45 AM #7
Just played the Rochard demo and 'Portal if it was 2d, but not just a browser game" was what came to mind, its rather good but I'm not sure i want more of it
I have a hard time calling "game that's not hyped" because half of my games I'd desperately wave in a friends face are 10 years old but they have never heard of it, my real flag waver games are not unknown though, they are simply games with massive barriers to entry that I feel are worth it. You've probably heard of all of these, maybe even launched them but never really broke the crust of inaccessibility to the tasty game underneath.
I mean, even saying that I know many of my favourites are inaccessible or even downright menacing to try and play. Things like Splinter Cell Chaos Theroy - Versus
I often joke its hide and seek with guns, but its actually far more than that, an objective driven stealth action game with teams of 2. You can win without being seen and without firing a shot, its one of the most intimidating games I can think of to get into.
Project Reality is a Battlefield 2 mod, but it feels more like an action variant of ARMA, massive careful spun maps and due to the free-form nature of territory and the sparsity and brutality of engagements, patience and caution win out over reflexes.
Assassins Creed Brotherhood might be a AA super accessible game in single player and a popular franchise, but the multiplayer can be brutal and harrowing and is nearly unknown even among owners of the game, a whole different flavour of paranoia, you will see your murder coming but you wont realise until its too late.
Natural Selection is the reason I keep Half-Life 1 installed, it might be technically replaced by its retail sequel but the fact that its terrifyingly tense and nuanced FPS/RTS makes both versions of it a game 99% of even fps players will bounce off the first time a fade comes around the corner, eats every bullet in a clip and still kills you.
Up until this point they are all Multiplayer action games, i choose these because they allow for freeform tactics that no turn based or single player game can keep up with but without them ever getting broken down into maths.
But these same qualities can be found in slower single player games too. Settlers 2: 10th anniversary Is a real crush of mine, no buying buildings from your cash, they get build, no zerg rushes, you need infrastructure, a game where a fisherman can be more valuable than a knight? Sure settlers 7 exists to make this game seem undynamic, but this game is about the logistics and game logic being naked to understanding, nothing is hidden in the game, its a game about traffic and logistics, about need and supply, about farmers and cute donkeys.
Sure these are the same games I shouted about last year, well I don't see that they have been toppled and 90% of you still haven't put any hours in on them because they are old and thus uninteresting, I'm not afraid of being the Wizardry of overly complicated shooters.
Some of my other flag waving games are more loved like SWAT 4,Sword of the Stars or Company of Heroes Multiplayer but many people will never really break into them either. Others like the Simcity but sociopathic Tropico 3 (I dismiss 4 for various reasons) will suffer the extreme judegement of "not really my thing" because of other titles in the genre. Really, is a game where you have your political opponents imprisoned and supress riots with propoganda and dishonest political promises not your kind of game? Tropico 4 ruined the fornula for me by being too easy by default, Tropico is a game best served with failure. Spelunky is too hard, and its free meaning it gets ignored as a novelty by many, but its one of the sharpest pieces of the use of procedural generation I can think of.
Hell, I think I think too many "difficult" games get ignored because of that feature, you really need to break through that skin, non of them that unknown but all worth in my mind.
01-01-2012, 04:03 AM #8
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- Jun 2011
I have to admit that I'm familiar with almost everything that's been mentioned thus far, but eventually something's going to pop up that's going to catch my attention - something that I'm unfamiliar with, and I'll probably end up playing that. And that's kind of what I want this thread to be about. Really, so many great games that don't get talked about just because they're not part of the hype machine. Well, let's talk about them! Everyone is welcome to do so.
01-01-2012, 04:09 AM #9
I have 1 addition Bluebery Garden is listed on steam as Genre: Indie, Adventure what is not mentioned is that it is a survival horror game. A tense and complicated truly open world survival horror game with an ecology which just happens to be cute and pocket sized.
01-01-2012, 04:18 AM #10
As for games that aren't hyped... since joining RPS I've found a different kind of hype so I'm really hard-pressed to think of something that hasn't been hyped either by the mainstream gaming media or by RPS and its community. I guess I'd have to pick DCS: Black Shark 2, though I guess even it is hyped at least somewhat by people saying "It's soooo real!"
I think this year I spent more time ditching games that were hyped too much (and not all of them are mainstream), or which people kept insisting I play despite me thinking they weren't particularly interesting for me. Also I gave up on some games which I'd tolerated for the sake of a few glorious seconds of decent gameplay mixed in with a lot of frustration (ARMA2, come on BIS your engine just keeps getting worse).
01-01-2012, 05:22 AM #11
01-01-2012, 05:48 AM #12
Serious Sam games never had an insane amount of hype as it had an insane amount of enemies. I've only played little of Serious Sam 3 but I've played a lot of the older games to know how brilliant the gameplay was.
I'm with Heliocentric on Tropico 3. Tropico 3 was one of the best city building games that ever came out since SimCity 4, with or without hype.
01-01-2012, 06:34 AM #13
Helio: You have really, really good taste in games. I've always wanted to try Chaos Theory multiplayer - that video looked like amazing nailbiting fun. Natural Selection and Project Reality are both barred for me as a remote Australian, but I did manage to wrangle my friends into the imposing/daunting SWAT 4 for a four-player LAN and they loved it! Very happy about that. I've been playing through vanilla Freespace 2 and it is literally exactly the kind of space sim I always wanted as a boy. Why oh why did I never try it before? Stuff like disabling subsystems, ordering around wings of fighters, ridiculously advanced targeting, adjusting directional shields, diverting power to your various subsystems, chasing down individual bombs in an interceptor... it's delicious and surprisingly tight spaceporn - very glad I read that Starcraft 2 comparison article by Gillen. Speaking of which, Starcraft 2 has sucked me up completely in the, like, five days that I've owned it. It's brilliant, and it's taught me that polish can be extremely important when it comes to attracting and maintaining a good base of players - it has the straight-up best front end (menus, Battle.net, options, chat system with fucking inbuilt VOIP (BF3 - what the shit, where is the casual teamwork without in-game VOIP?), and that really, really helps the game as a competitive platform and environment of its own. I find myself wanting to practice, learn builds, and slowly get better more so than any RTS I've played before. Stealth Bastard - one of the very few games that truly works best in filling short interludes rather than extended play. It's quite good. Finally, Trine 2 is the most sumptuous games I've played in a while - it almost seems far overqualified for the kind of game it is. It deserves to be played by absolutely everyone. The tech running it is incredible, too. Some of the stuff with water physics and 2.5D animations is just so lovely to behold. It's cheerful and feels good in every way.
EDIT: Oh whoops, Sc2 was insanely hyped.
01-01-2012, 06:39 AM #14
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- Jun 2011
And sometimes some of my favourite games are even the ones I fail horribly at.
(I even tried ARMA! But it wasn't long before I realised that I was in completely over my head. I'm not at all ashamed to admit that games like that confuse me. Take on Helicopters got a try, too, but I had no idea at all what I was doing. Despite that sense of cluelessness I still had a degree of fun with it. I... just didn't know what I was doing. I'd love to see TotalBiscuit do a 'WTF is' of Take on Helicopters, frankly. Some games just aren't for me, doesn't mean I won't try though.)
As for Blueberry Garden.... that was a delightful little thing, wasn't it? So odd. It was weird to play a game where everything was on a timer like that, and a game where it felt like you were supposed to complete it in a sitting. As bizarre as it is, there was something oddly... roguelike about it, and yet not. It was quite clever.
01-01-2012, 06:45 AM #15
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- Jun 2011
Separating this from the above as it's a different topic.
If we're talking about older stuff, then I really want to throw a mention for FUEL out there. It's one of those games that's stuck in my head as something that wasn't super-hyped, something that I didn't think I'd really like, but I thought I'd try anyway. And... the driving just felt really right to me. I ignored the races, unlocked everything with a cheat, and just used it to drive around. It was a really fun way to relax, and it was really very, very beautiful. I enjoyed how serene it was, in its own way.
This tends to get me to thinking on how much I'd probably enjoy a GTA-like thing but in a science-fantasy steampunk setting with lots of open space between settlements. And with people piloting Sci-Fantasy Transformers, just because. With all sorts of bizarre stuff tossed in there amongst the scenery, ruins and Morrowind-esque crazy stuff abounds. That's one game I'd really like to see plucked out of my imagination and made real, but I digress.
FUEL gets me thinking about things like that, because in FUEL I see a lot of potential for something brilliant. As it is though, it's just very fun to drive in. There's really not a lot I can say in it, but... you can just head off the road and drive anywhere, you can take a motorbike up to the top of a mountain and be treated to the most fantastic sunset. It had some really memorable moments and I still go back to it every now and then when I feel like I just want to drive around. It frequently gets picked even over the likes of Burnout Paradise, which I also like a lot.
01-01-2012, 06:56 AM #16
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- Jun 2011
I hate threads like this because almost all the games I enjoy playing fit into it, yet I can't be bothered to list them all. Even highly popular RPGs in their day such as the Gold Box games aren't mentioned on sites like this. I've never seen a single person on RPS that has played through any of them. And how about the obscure ones I play? I'm sure hardly anyone here has even heard of them.
Last edited by Wizardry; 01-01-2012 at 07:00 AM.
01-01-2012, 07:47 AM #17
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- Jun 2011
I can't say I'd be playing it every day, or even that I have played it very recently, but I still must give a nod to a personal favorite of mine, Machines, an old Acclaim RTS developed by Charybdis. The style was rather nice, there was good unit diversity, the resource collection scheme was interesting, it was fairly groundbreaking, being 3D in 1999, and it had a cool first-person mode which let you control any unit directly. Took me a while to find all the necessary patches, but I did manage to get it working on Windows 7 x64, no less.
Otherwise, I frequently play OpenTTD, a superb open-source clone of the 1995 classic Transport Tycoon Deluxe. I personally find it the superior game to the arguably far more widespread Rollercoaster Tycoon (also by Chris Sawyer) and Railroad Tycoon. The art style has a nice retro feel to it that manages to look good even to this day, the music was surprisingly solid despite being mainly MIDI jazz and the gameplay is just a ton of fun. If you've looked at Cities in Motion, play this instead. It might not have the pretty graphics, but the gameplay is a lot more enjoyable through its elegant simplicity. Build infrastructure, plan routes, launch, develop, restart. Making huge railroads has never been this much fun.
Finally, I must list my favorite game of all time, Freelancer. It's had a fair amount of advertising at launch and disproportionate amounts of hype through its development, but thanks to it not delivering on the initial promises, it mostly fell flat on its face after the first few months, which is a crying shame. The game's perhaps the pinnacle of arcade space simulation; I think the controls simply can't get any better using a mouse and keyboard (and I find they're also superior to the old joystick paradigm). It also heralded the death of the genre, which is perhaps even more of a shame. The few games that were released after it have either been underwhelming (Darkstar One, Black Prophecy) or only interesting to a limited/different audience (X3/EVE Online). However, I'm not all that bothered considering just how good Freelancer is. I've been playing the game for about 8 years by now and I'm not seeing myself stop. I've played the core game for years before moving onto a wide variety of mods, going as far as founding one of the major communities for the game and starting/joining a fair share of mod projects. There's just so, so much to see and do that I can't stress enough how more people should be playing this!
01-01-2012, 07:58 AM #18
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- Dec 2011
- The hero is an everyman, he's also overweight, and this fills me with joy. I can't remember the last time I played an overweight guy in something. I appreciate that.
Mario is a plumber and he is always depicted as being slightly overweight. In fact, Rochard the character seems to take quite a few visual queues from Mario.
I can't really contribute anything else to the list currently as I haven't really had time to really dive into anything, sadly, so Fate of the World is my only contribution for now.
01-01-2012, 09:04 AM #19
It kind of annoys me because I desperately want to love the series (OFP is one of my favourite games, easily within my Top 10) but each one brings new graphics and some new mechanics, but never manages to progress much in terms of being an efficient engine or fixing the AI.
Also I'd add Take on Helicopters to my list (to bring this back on topic). I heard practically nothing much about it (I initially thought it was a joke prior to ARMA3's announcement) but found it to be a reasonably solid helicopter sim that sits nicely between the arcade and the realistic. Nice departure from what BIS normally do and I had a lot of fun with it.
01-01-2012, 09:13 AM #20